Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter Sonata

It's been a week since the second snowfall and what a lot of snow it was. Apparently Holland had not had this much of snow for quite some time, some said for 20 years and some even said since they were small. My elderly Dutch neighbour said that "it was so unusual to have this much of snow". It was heavy enough to cause cancellations and disruptions to the train schedules on Monday and I'm sure it was the same snow which had caused chaos to the Eurostar services.

But for us, the snow was like a dream come true. That Sunday morning, my dear husband had promised to bring a new Malaysian family to the Turkish market in Beverwijk, a smaller town north of Amsterdam. So, off he went driving slowly in the snow with a promise to come home early. By midday, more and more snow had fallen and its a shame that Ilham didn't have anybody else to enjoy and play in the snow. I persuaded my dear husband to shorten his trip and bring the family to our home instead, so the kids can play together, which he did. We had a wonderful time taking pictures around the area, making snowman and joining the kids in the snow fights. Walking slowly back home, Ilham was suddenly hit by a snowball thrown by a Dutch kid. The startled children rallied back and all signs of tiredness disappeared as they vigorously attacked the 2 kids. Of course the Dutch kids were outnumbered, it was five, including the mothers :) against two.

It was truly a beautiful day and it was certainly the bestest day for Ilham.....

The almost frozen canal

Ais kacang anyone?

Azza, Ilham and Haikal

The giant snowball and............. The snowfight

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Special Card

What is a new year to a seven year old?

Each year, we Malaysians actually enjoy 3 different new years Maal Hijrah, The New Year and The Lunar New Year. Whether we celebrate them or not is another matter, but I'm sure we look forward to the new years simply because they are all public holidays!!

So, what does a new year mean to me? I have to admit that except for The New Year, I rarely keep tracks of the other 2. When The New Year approaches, I sometimes have a certain feeling of regrets, regret that another year has gone by and I have yet to become a better person. As for Maal Hijrah, even though I do not normally count how many more days to Hijrah, I make it a point to call my mother a few days before to remind her. By doing that, I remind myself as well.

I never really think of what these new years mean to my son. Not until I received this present from him on the last day of school last week. Of course I knew that I was going to get a card from him, you see 2 days before he had accidentally blurted that he was making a present for me, that it's supposed to be a secret (can't keep a secret from your mum!) . What else a 7 year old would be making, of course a card, a Christmas card perhaps because Christmas was just around the corner.

So, this is what I received from him....

A New Year is fun, happy to start a New Year
A New Year sounds like fire works exploding in the sky, lion dance
A New Year smells like yummy foods, fire work smoke
A New Year tastes like nice food, nice drinks, mandarin oranges
A New Year feels like a hot day, lion dancing on the street

Regardless of what his impression of the new year is, I treasure it all the same........

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's Snowing !!!

We woke up on Thursday morning to see a blanket of white snow everywhere . It's snowing !!! How wonderful !!! When Ilham and I arrived in Amsterdam December 22nd last year, it was freezingly cold and soon after that the canals were frozen, but there were no snow. Yes, there were frost and sleet, but there were no snow !! It's amazing because last week on Friday, the temperature was still around 10/9 celcius, and on Saturday it dropped to 5 and now it's minus 1/0 celcius.

After a quick breakfast, we both went out to the nearby field to fulfill our own agendas: me - to get some pictures and Ilham - to play with the snow :) Ohh... it's so beautiful. The snow was not as thick as I wanted it to be but it's still serene and beautiful. My mood was spoiled by the fact that the battery was exhausted :( and I couldn't capture the scenic view but I promised myself to come back, afterall it's only walking distance from the house.

But Ilham had fun cycling and kicking the snow at the same time, he even pretended to slip and fall on the slippery snow a few times. As if I didn't know the tactic :) It's a pity that we didn't have a sleigh, he had to make do by sliding using his shoes.

When we got home, Ilham was greeted by a snow ball thrown by our neighbour. That started the snow fight and it went on for quite a while. Our Dutch neighbour was a very nice person. The fact that he couldn't speak English and my own Dutch was limited to "Goede morgen, hoe gaat het met je ?", never stopped him from greeting me every time we met.

It's been a wonderful day, it's even more special for the fact that Maal Hijrah 1431 is on Friday 18th. What a nice way to greet the new year. I just hope that the year ahead will be as pure and as white and unblemished as the white snow for our family, InsyaAllah.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pumpkin Carving

During our trip to Maastrict recently, we found this little shop in the village of Bemelen selling huge pumpkins at low prices. Never seen such big ones before, we decided to buy one well.... a much smaller one. Afterall, it's just over a week until Halloween and perhaps we could make a family activity out of the occasion.

So that Sunday, my dear husband and son were buzy browsing in the internet, looking for interesting designs to copy. We had never done it, so it's important that we did it nicely the first time. Having chosen the design that they wanted, both of them started their most important job of all for that day. It's not easy mind you, we did not have the sharp knife and tools that a fruit carver normally has.....

So, after poking here and there, a little stabbing (is it too strong a word?) here and there and scrape and scrape and scrape for what seemed like hours........ there that's the end result !! They were quite proud of their masterpiece. It might not win the best award but they did it !!

But what they did not know was that, they carved the pumpkin much too soon. By the time Halloween came, moles and fungus had started to appear on the inside and the carving was not that firm anymore. But they sure did have fun.......

Monday, December 7, 2009

St. Maarten

Elf November is de dag

Dat mijn lichtje

Dat mijn lichtje

Elf November is de dag

Dat mijn lichtje branden mag

This season of celebrations reminds me of another one celebrated by the Dutch recently, St. Maarten (or St. Martin) on November 11th. Children would go out that evening, carrying lantern and sing a St Maarten song from door to door. In return the occupant would give them candy, sweets and sometimes oranges.

You see, the Dutch do not celebrate Halloween, they have St Maarten instead. The story of St Maarten is like this : One cold winter night, Maarten was going home and met a beggar who was very cold. He felt sorry for him, he tore his coat into two and gave one to the beggar.

So that evening, Ilham had a chance to go and collect candy with three Korean kids. He brought along the lantern which he made during Dutch class and manage to collect a whole bag of sweets and chocolates. In the meantime, we had a few kids who came and knocked on our door. They squealed with delight when we gave them the Halloween candy.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


"Jangan lupa beli gula-gula untuk budak-budak", my dear husband reminded me on Friday morning before the Halloween. "Tapi kat sini depa tak sambut Halloween" I replied. So I didn't buy any....

But my dear husband said that some kids did come to the house last year, so he bought some on Saturday morning. "We don't want to disappoint them when they come". He even bought a vampire cape when Ilham asked for it. "This is just for fun...we do not celebrate Halloween, it's not our culture, but you can wear the cape to greet the kids when they come" he reminded our son

So that evening, Ilham waited anxiously wearing his cape complete with face painting, for the kids, any kid, to come. He even took out the pumpkin that both of them had carved the week before and put it outside next to the door.

He waited and waited and waited, but no one came......

Friday, December 4, 2009


The feast of Sinterklaas (Sint-Nicolaas or Saint Nicholas) is an annual celebration which has been uniquely Dutch and Flemish. Saint Nicholas' Feast Day is actually on the 6th of December and observed primarily as a feast for children. It is also celebrated in parts of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland etc. and the tradition differs from one country to another.

In The Netherlands, the feast is celebrated on the eve of the Feast Day on the 5th December and children will receive their presents on this evening. Since the Eve has become the main occassion for gift-giving, other family members shall also receive their presents on this day. The Dutch has a rather unique way of giving or making presents. Tradition demands that the presents be camouflaged in an imaginative and often unexpected way, accompanied by a fitting poem which could be an embarrassing incident, funny habit or well kept secret. This is the essence of Sinterklaas : lots of fun where people are expected to make fun of each other in a friendly way. The recipient often has to go on a treasure hunt all over the house to search for the gift and is expected to open it and read out aloud the poem. The real giver is supposed to remain anonymous and the recipient shall say out aloud "Thank you Sinterklaas!" even if he/she does not believe in him.

Now each year, Sinterklaas traditionally arrives from Spain by a steamboat in mid-November. Exactly why he does, remain a mystery because Saint Nicholas was originally a Bishop in Myra in present-day Turkey. Sinterklaas is accompanied by two Zwarte Piet assistants who help him give candy and "kruidnoten" or "pepernoten" cookies to the children. "Zwarte" in Dutch means black.

At the ISA, Sinterklaas had arrived this morning to the enjoyment of the Lower School children. They gathered and waited patiently for Sinterklaas and the two Piets. You can tell by the loud cheering and singing that the much awaited Sinterklaas had arrived.

"How are you children? Have you been bad in the past year? Maybe I should rephrase that, have you been good? " to the chorus of "Good!", "No!" and "Yes!". Sinterklaas would then visit each class to talk to the children and give out "pepernoten".

It were the Dutch settlers who brought Saint Nicholas to New Amsterdam, USA where it was later americanised into Santa Claus....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Welcome To Grade 2

After deliberating for so many months, my dear husband had finally given the green light for me to inform the ISA that Ilham would be returning to ISA. Hooray!!! I was so happy, I was not ready to move to Den Haag yet, and Ilham definitely didn't want to go anywhere.... He loved the school and his friends. Despite being the only Malaysian at the school, he had enjoyed his international circle of friends.... Unfortunately grade 1 students had been reshuffled and except for Noah, he has new classmates. "But it's ok, I will make new friends". Ha.... that's the spirit boy.

So, here's the class teacher Ms Kimura a Japanese Canadian and her students.
Sitting on the floor from left : Derk(Dutch) and Nils(German).
Sitting on chair from left : Sofia(Argentinian), Ilham, Noah(American), Victoria(Austrian), Benjamin(Dutch), Kaiya(Japan), Fransisco(American), Lucas(Dutch) and Helen(American)
Standing from left : Dana(Israel), Eitan(Argentinian), Ms Kimura, Su Yeon(Korean) and Britt(American).
There's a new girl, Razan who's not in the picture. She's supposed to be Arabic but Ilham was not sure because the girl does not speak much English. Hmmm.... Quite a mixture of different nationalities huh....


Related Posts with Thumbnails