Els’s 60th Surprise Party!

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This year was a special birthday for Koen’s mom, Els – she turned 60! So to celebrate it in a special way, we wanted to surprise her with a party! We were very sneaky, telling her that we planned a lunch with the children in Zeeland, but to her surprise we invited family and friends to surprise her at Sand & Pepper Beachbar in Burgh-Haamstede!

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Sinterklaas 2013

My surprise for Dook!

My surprise for Dook!

Now that it’s almost Christmas, I realized I still need to share my photos from Sinterklaas! In case you don’t remember from last year, the “surprises” are homemade gifts tailored to the likes and hobbies of the person whose name you’ve drawn. This year I drew Dook, Koen’s dad. Because Dook is the biggest wine lover I know, my surprise had to do with wine. I fingerpainted a map of the world, then created a pathway through the major wine countries. Starting in California, Dook had to answer questions about wine to move forward. After successfully completing the game Dook was able to open his gift!

 

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Sinterklaas with the Brörmanns!

Sinterklaas in the Netherlands is celebrated the 5th of December (and the 6th in Belgium) but because my sister-in-law Nikki was in Pakistan, we celebrated a bit later.  There are a few differences between the Dutch Sinterklaas and the American Santa Clause. Although the Sint brings gifts to the “braaf” or good children, he is much more strict than my dear Santa. If you are bad, not only do you receive a “roe”, or a cane to be whipped with, but also you will be taken from your parents and home in Sinterklaas’ bag and brought back to Spain, where the Sint lives!

Also, Sinterklaas does not have elves to help him with the days up to Christmas, instead he has Zwarte Pieten, black companions that arrive with him on his steamboat from Spain to help distribute treats. Although originally black to represent the Moorish people who once occupied the Netherlands, they are now black because they are covered in soot from the chimneys!  But as an American here, I don’t think I will ever get used to seeing so many people in black face with huge red lips, afros, and golden hoop earrings!

Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet

Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet

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