The holidays are upon us. We celebrated Sinterklaas a couple days early on Sunday. We had such a great weekend. First it was soccer and Scouts, then Erwin adn I attended the yearly "dobbelsteen avond" with all of his old friends. It's greta to catch up with everyone. I was amazed at howe much people's lives have changed in the past year...one couple bought a new home, another two are moving in together, another is adding on to their home...and I saw an almost two-year-old I haven't seen since she was a baby and pictures of another friends baby. It was fun...Erwin and i took the bikes so we could drink and got there pretty soaked...but it was dry on the way home as we rode back to oma and opa's to spend the night. Sunday we woke and quickly got ready to take the kids to a movie. We're making our own tradition, spending Sinterklas morning at a family movie with our kdis. We all enjoyed the movie, but it was a bit too deep for Jari...Kruistocht in Spijkerbroek. Then we walked around the shops a bit before heading to another friend's birthday/graduation party. And then, the big thrill was upon us! We arrived abck at oma and opa's and immediately put on some music for Sinterklaas. We sang and got excited and suddenly there was pepernoten being thrown into the room adn all the windows and doors were shaking from Zwarte Piet. The boys were so excited...not sure where to look first or which cookies to grab from the floor...and then, as they checked out the window, big ooh's and aah's escaped their spirit and gathered big smiles on their faces as the presents were discovered under the porch! Jute sacks filled with brightly wrapped gifts, a tub full of goodies...and Jari's huge sigh as the excitement leadign to that moment escaped him. It was a pleasant evening...the boys were so well-behaved and not at all the wild monekys they normally are. Each gift Jari received was opened with a huge sigh...his sign that it was just breathtaking! And Kaeden sat quietly next to oma the entire evening, happily showing off his gifts and carefully placing them into his pile on the floor. As we read our poems to each other, the boys listened contentedly. Jari played with his new garage, Kaeden listened to his new CD on his new CD player, Ilse let her motorized puppy walk across the floor, I read a book with children's oldtime games in it, Erwin checked out all the dates on his new calendar, oma set up her new digital scale, and opa flashed us all decked out in his new bathrobe. And we all ate snacks and yummy bits oma had put together, as well as candy carefully placed within everyone's reach! It was a relaxed evening, and after 4 hours everything was exchanged and a mess left behind in oma and opa's living room. We all received the gift of tickets to the Efteling, a wonderful amusement park for young and old, from Ilse Piet, and made plans to go on Saturday. So, that's where we're headed this weekend. The kids both had Sinterklaas celebrations at school today and came home with some cute things they had made. And tomorrow they are both off, for a chance to get over the excitement and play with their new toys. A short list? Mama: digital scale, lottery tickets, an angel candleholder, a movie, tea towels, game book, splatter paint kit, uhm...there is more to be sure, but that's what I rememebr at the moment. Papa: calendar X2, 2 new sweaters, atari game, lottery tickets, AOE game, ??? Kaeden: Cd stuff, Knex, lots of paper and pens, a stapler, pyjamas, pants, undies, socks, a book starring him, ??? Jari: garage, a new training outfit for his soccer practice, soccer shoes, a book starring him, blocks, a USA puzzle, a catepillar, ??? And we got a new vacuum too! Yes, we certainly were all very good little KIDS this year...and what a loot we received. But I can honestly say that the best gift is that I have such a warm and loving family with whom to share the new cultures and traditions, to learn all about my husband and his heritage, and to create that same excitement and magic for our own children to carry on further through the generations. My dear little boys, you are lucky guys...and I love you both.

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