26 February 2009

Tourists in our own Town

A couple of months back we bought Museum Jaarkaarten. The passes enable you to visit a whole slew of museums throughout the Netherlands for one low fee (35 euro). You also get to bypass the line, and get discounts in the gift shop. In short, they rock.

Last weekend we went to the Rijksmuseum for an hour or so. Earlier this week, Hyland and Addi went to the Amsterdamse Historisch Museum. Addison prefers artifacts to paintings, so this was a fun visit for him. Earlier this month, we stopped by the Verzetsmuseum, a museum dedicated to Dutch Resistance. Addi and I did the children's guided tour all in Dutch. Very interesting, and educational. They focused mostly on the Resistence during the Second World War, but also had an exhibit featuring posters, videos and fashion relating to other eras of social uprising.

When we first moved here, we weren't very interested in all the tourist stuff, and just focused on trying to be locals. Now that we are in a comfort zone with our surroundings, regular museum visits are really attractive.

And, now that it is warming up a tad, we have been exploring the parks again and Addi has been riding his bike like a natural.

Here's a cool swing in a playground we visited in Amsterdam Noord with our friends. The boys dug the panama canal.

Hugs and Kisses,

14 February 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day. Yippee.

This is the first time in my life ever, since the days of walking around the desks in primary school handing out Valentines to every member of your class, that Valentine's Day has been pressure-free. Neither Hyland nor I will worry about gifts, candy, flowers, fancy dinner, or any of that consumer-based loving that has gone on in the past. We're just loving, plain and simple.

Don't get me wrong, they do celebrate Valentine's Day here, it is just FAR more mellow. In the States, there is constant advertising telling you that you are a failure if you don't give or get something fabulous on Valentine's Day. The jewelry stores are pumping propaganda over the sports talk-radio shows for a full month in advance, pushing men to buy buy buy and women to expect. Most of the Americans I know despise this too, it's just so in your face you have to push back to deny it.

One year, I tried to diffuse the situation by scheduling dinner in the steak house at the Diamond Cabaret. (You know the old joke: women get Valentines Day, so men should get Steak and BJ day) To my surprise, we were one of the only couples there that night. Go figure. The steak was awesome ;).

Earlier this week I had a gezzelig lunch with my friend Alex, and was delighted to see these Dutch Valentine Hearts on the counter at the restaurant. They say Leuk and Nee, which translates to Nice and No. It was this cute little reminder that Valentine's Day even existed. If it weren't for these, I might not have remembered at all. It's nice that there is a day especially for remembering love and those you love, but it's just better when that is what it is really about, instead of getting or giving things.

Hearts, Stars, Rainbows, Moons, Love.