Saturday, August 01, 2015

Grandson Nicholas in the Netherlands: Week Two

As I write this, Nicholas has been gone less than 24 hours.  How is that possible?  Tears in my eyes this time but with so many happy memories from the second week of his 2-week visit to see G'ma here in the Netherlands.

Day 8, Friday, 24 July:  War Bunker and the Lindeborg Happy Hour

It so happens that every Friday afternoon I play Rummikub in our senior-center's recreation hall.  We all decided that I'd still do it this particular Friday so that Nicholas could experience our Happy Hour afterwards.

So, while I played Rummikub, Astrid took Nicholas to this WWII Bunker 599 from 1940.
We had seen it before in September 2013 when Chris and Chad were visiting from England.
It's been split in half so you can see what it was like inside.

When they came back, it was time to join me for our Borreltje (Happy Hour) after Rummikub.
Nicholas had the chance to sample the hapjes...bite-sized, deep-fried goodies.
The lady at bottom-left just turned 100, so the photo-op was a must.
100, 70, 15:  That's about the size of it.

Day 9, Saturday, 25 July:  Rotterdam

Unbenownst to us at the time, this day ended up having the most severe storm weather in Dutch recorded history for July since 1901. 

So guess what we did?!  
We took the Waterbus from Papendrecht to Rotterdam on the Nieuwe Maas river, a 45 min. ride.
Besides visiting the Maritime Museum, we walked around the area to see the crazy architecture.
Nicholas and I giggled all day because it was so blustery.

Day 10, Sunday, 26 July:  Scheveningen Pier and Den Haag

Grabbing good weather, we drove to the North Sea after all that stormy craziness,
to walk the Scheveningen Pier and beach.

Look what Astrid found.  A wee little star fish (zee ster).
And yes, that's Nicholas' voice saying "they regenerate."

Just as we left the beach, it started to rain,
but we still drove to the Peace Palace in nearby Den Haag (The Hague).
We told Nicholas that if Hitler were still alive when the United Nations was founded in 1946,
he would have been one of the war criminals tried here.

Day 11, Monday, 27 July:  All Day at HOME

About this time into the second week, we all started needing HOME time and made the decision to do nothing.   In fact, about every other day Nicholas was able to sleep in till noon, which gave us all some "me" time.

Astrid decided to make her home-made macaroni specialty for Nicholas for supper.
Yum Yum Yum Yum.  I think he had 3 helpings?!

During the afternoon he finished his 1,000 dot-to-dot drawing of Amsterdam.
In fact, we both did since I had made a copy for him from the Cityscapes book I had just purchased.
(Thank you, Anne, for the great idea!)
Amsterdam was the first of 20 cities in the book, which made a good souvenir from our trip on Day 6.

Day 12, Tuesday, 28 July:  Brussels, Belgium

Okay, so this isn't the Netherlands, but because we can drive to Belgium within 30 minutes and to Brussels within 1.5 hours (80 miles), it made sense to make an extra-special trip to Brussels, the seat of the European Union, just to say we did it...and to give Nicholas another country-notch in his belt.

 We first drove to Mini-Europe on the north side of the city where we parked for the day.
On-n-off rain did not hamper us at all.
We told Nicholas he saw all of Europe in 1.5 hours.  HA!

From that point we all got Metro day passes and took the train to the European Parliament.
I told Nicholas this was like going to the Capitol in Washington, D.C., where he visited with G'pa Bill.
It was Astrid's and my first time to see it, too, so a real sight for sore eyes.

Then it was back on the train to the Grand Place in city center.
Mussels in Brussels was a must for Astrid and Nicholas,
followed by a real Belgian waffle and hand-picked chocolates by Nicholas.

BTW, at the start of the day Nicholas wondered if anyone would recognize his shirt's logo.
I told him that I bet at least one person would!  And indeed, one guy said "GO DUCKS."
Nicholas wants to go to Oregon once he graduates from high school!

Day 13, Wednesday, 29 July:  All Day at HOME (again)

It was laundry day and Nicholas got to sleep in again.
This is how we do our main living area where some clothes hang to dry,
and the rest goes to the community commercial-sized dryer.
See Nicholas' bed for the 2 weeks?  Yup.  The couch.
And once he was up, he had the entire afternoon to "game" on his laptop.

Day 14, Thursday 30 July:  Zuiderzee Museum in Enkhuizen

Our last full day together was perfect weather-wise, NE of Amsterdam.
I don't think we could have had a better last day together!
There was enough interactive Dutch experience to last a lifetime.
And because Nicholas bought a family plaque with his "Grannan" name there (now on order,
 see the handshake?), he said it was a "clutch gift" right at the end of his trip.
We'll take it to him when we visit Atlanta in October.

Day 15, Friday, 31 July:  Back to Schiphol Airport for the Trip Home

The last meal we had before taking Nicholas back to the Amsterdam airport was erwtensoep,
which reminded me to show the Dutch food experiences he had while here.
As I said on Facebook, he tried everything Dutch we offered him:
 uitsmijter (fried eggs on cheese, ham and toast), erwtensoep (split pea soup), hapjes (bite-sized goodies), appeltaart (Astrid's specialty), patat friet (fried potatoes in a cone), pannenkoeken (pancakes), zoethout (licorice root), beenham (hot baked ham) sandwich, gerookte haring (smoked herring), suikerbrood (sugar bread from Friesland)...
and many ijsjes (ice creams). 
He was such a good sport!

 After lunch, as we left for the airport, I already had a sob in my throat.
In fact, as I've written this post today, the sob has returned.
The only good news about that is it'll be 2.5 fast months before we'll see him again,
on our annual trip to Atlanta.

I guess the other good news is that we fell in love with him all over again.
Though it's always good to get back to "normalcy," we both miss him like the dickens.

Now it's time to make the photo book...full of second blessings as we review them.

A Series of Very Fortunate Events!


  1. How much can you pack in two weeks.... HA, we proved to be able to pack a lot into two weeks and we all survived it. We had a grand time with Nicholas, he is a good sport. Sometimes he would ask me, 'how many more pictures is G'ma going to take??' My response was always, 'a gazillion and do you know you make her very happy?'.... We all enjoyed the two weeks. We tried to give him a taste from the Netherlands (1 day Brussels) in my opinion he really likes it here. Nicholas was surprised that 'we look each other in the eyes when we talk' (except when I am driving), and the air is so thin....
    Pictures don't lie, we love him and we had a wonderful time, see you again soon!!

    1. We all survived and have smiles on our faces, especially now that he's back home safe-n-sound. We'll never forget it! Thanks for being my Partner in Crime all along the way.

  2. You have both changed Nicholas' life for the better in soooo many ways. I get a lump in my throat thinking about it. I can't even name the number of things you did and all because of love love love. What a terrific kid he seems to be! Please tell him he has Ducks fans in Oregon forever! US! And give him our number if he ever needs help in Oregon,. (503) 203-6805.

    1. That is so sweet of you, Susie. It tickles me to death that he has been rooting for Oregon for several years now. It seems to have come out of nowhere, with him at first liking the school colors. HA! He'll watch every football game this fall he possibly can, trust me. :)

  3. Love it all! Totally cracked up reading Astrid's comments..."how many more pictures is G'ma going to take??" Too funny! But no gotta have a ton to choose from for your book! I know you totally cherished this time...and I know he did too! What a wonderful experience for him!

    1. Oh, yes. YES to everything, Robin. But he knew from the get-go that we wanted to make a surprise book for Mom (until she suggested it herself and we had to tell her we were one step ahead of her!) and so he would be obliging with all the photos. HA! He actually did a good job. I have LOADS to choose from and will hand-pick from them to get the best of the lot. This is fun!

  4. Oh yes thank goodness you'll be in the States soon! This was all so everything good. Very funny about all the pics and his response. :)

    I love seeing additional photos here. And that dot-to-dot!!!! Wow, I love that. So much better than paint-by-number. What a brilliant idea!

    1. It was good for me, Ruth, to make the synopsis like this before making the book. You couldn't have asked for a better two weeks, seriously!

      You would LOVE that dot-to-dot book! Today I started Barcelona...and usually have to do it in 2 sittings because the numbers are so small. Each 100 numbers is a separate color, which helps. Very "free" and fun! :)

  5. He had a jampacked vacation. Really happy you had this time together.

    1. Yes and Yes, Maria. It's a memory that will last forever, especially once I get the book done. :)

  6. Well, I've said it several times, and it's fitting to say it again now... what an amazing trip and experience for Nicholas! Thank you, Mom, for capturing his visit with so many photos in your detailed posts. Nicholas showed us a few from his phone as well, and last night he shared the dot-to-dot drawing. His desk is lined with the gifts he brought back for everyone. So thoughtful. Glad to have him home, of course, but also very grateful he was able to make the trip. A once-in-a-lifetime summer experience!

    1. You are ever so welcome, of course, Amykins. I still pinch myself that the whole thing happened. We're all very blessed and fortunate that it was possible. Many years from now I'm quite sure he'll look back on this experience and smile...and maybe even pinch himself. How sweet and wonderful. Thanks for being willing to let it happen!

  7. Your grandson is really growing up into a handsome young man.

    1. How fun to see you again, Sham. And yes. They all grow up way too fast. I'm sure that's what's happened to yours!

  8. Oh Ginnie I have so enjoyed reading about your grandson's visit both here and on FB....what an incredible experience for him and such a wonderful time for much love in each picture!

    1. Thank you, Donna. It's been one of my life's greatest gifts and memories, so I've been delighted to share it with you!