Monday, August 25, 2014

And they're off!

Today is the first day of school!  Cody is in Group 6 (4th Grade) and Brice is in Group 2 (Kindergarten).  We met their teachers last Friday at orientation, they each have two that work different days of the week. Today we were ready early so we got to school early and waited in the car for about 10 minutes; Brandon was able to come too, and then we waited outside for the teachers to come out. Each class lines up with their teachers and then they all walk in together. We dropped Cody off first when his teacher came out, and then walked Brice around to the other side of the building. He was the first in line for his class and he had a huge smile on his face!  I was worried he wouldn't want us to leave but he did great.  I am excited to hear all about it this afternoon!

In front of his classroom

One of his teachers is from Australia

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Camping Weekend!

All of the camping trips we have done here so far have been at the resort type campgrounds, complete with playgrounds, swimming pool, bowling alley, restaurant and grocery store. This time around we wanted to be in the woods and just enjoy nature. (and show the boys what camping is actually all about!) After much searching and researching we found the Nature campsites. The ANWB store has a little book with the green card required to use these sites, plus the listing of the 139 Nature campsites in The Netherlands. We picked Groesbeek since it was an hour away and looked the most 'woodsy'.  It was a little cold at night for Kyle, but there were blackberry bushes EVERYWHERE which was exciting for all of us, and Saturday we found a dirt bike race and watched a few rounds of that. Brice could have stayed all day to watch if we let him.  We didn't take any cameras with us so these photos are off of Brandon's phone.  One of the best set ups we have ever had I think, and a great campsite overall!

Fort building!! 

Lots of rain cover :)

This is the face of pure trouble...

Camping Selfie! 

The Aarle-Rixtel Castle

I don't remember how we found this, I think I just Googled castles close to the house so we could go take photos of the boys. Vickie took a TON of pictures of them and she is working on them to give us some for the living room.  They haven't been updated since we 2001....oops!

There is a list of castles in The Netherlands (and other countries) here.  Deurne is on my list to go soon and a post for Helmond is coming up!


We took the bus tour all around the city, saw pretty much all of the touristy things you need to see in Paris except the Louvre, but we do have tickets waiting for us at Ticketmaster so Brandon and I need to go back and use them. Apparently we didn't take that many pictures, or Vickie took them all because I don't have any of us!  So here are some that Brandon took.

Had our first Parisian crepes!  Chocolate of course!!  Brandon and Vickie took a ton of pictures in the rain from the other side, and by the time we got over here the weather had cleared up. Of course. 

We ate lunch at a REALLY good cafe around the corner from here. I think it was just the Notre Dame cafe, had a red awning, but it was pretty delicious 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Cheese Dream Come True!

The Alkmaar Cheese Market!  I have been wanting to go here for four years and we finally did!  It's only on Friday so that made it hard for Brandon to be able to go, and we really do not like to go to new places without each other. So since he was on leave while Vickie was here I made sure to put this on our list. If you want to read all about the history and details of the market you can do so here.

Basically, The Market has been around since at least the 1600s, most likely since the 1300s but without exact documentation, and it has been done the same way ever since. There are four cheese guilds, made clear by the colors red, blue, green, and yellow. Their hats and their cheese carriers are these colors. The cheese is inspected by the buyer, and once the buyer and seller agree upon the price, the carriers take the cheese to the scale, then back to the center where it is loaded on a cart and taken to the truck. It used to be taken to the canal and put on a barge. The carriers walk out of step so the cheese does not wobble so much, and the scales are rotated between the guilds so they cannot create any sort of fraud with their scales.

If you want to plan your own trip, all of the information is on the website. There is a free park and ride, you get your ticket like you are paying but that is actually your bus ticket, which is good for 5 people and takes you just outside the Centrum. Follow the crowds of people and you are there!  The Cheese Museum is also worth it, 3 euro per person I believe, and you get a great view of The Market. The presenter gives her spiel in three languages so it takes awhile, but you can get all of the same information from inside the Museum without all of the crowds.

Getting ready to start

Look at all of that cheese!!!

Loading it up

Taking it to the wagon. You can see how they are walking out of step. 

Notice the different colors

The buyers doing their taste test and inspection. We got to eat some too since we were in the front :) 

The museum

Inside the museum

The view from above, inside the museum 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Zaanse Schans

Windmills!  Yay!  This has been on my list of places to go since we have been here (quite a long list) and we saved a bunch of them for Vickie's visit. Here is the official website in case you want to plan your own trip. There is parking on site plus a museum, a free cheese museum with a giant cheese shop (complete with tasting!) and there are a couple of windmills you can go into that cost about 3 euro each. We went in the Spice Mill and just walked around the rest of them. There is also an antique store where I bought some frog bookends (are you surprised?) Most of the windmills have been moved to the area, but it was still cool to see. Different Mills are open on different days so check the website before you go.