Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sinterklaas is coming to town!

It's that time of the year again! Sinterklaas has arrived with his steamboat in Holland!

Sinterklaas is a holiday celebrated in the Netherlands on 5 December (the eve of the feast day of St. Nicholas (6 December)) and in Flanders on 6 December, where presents are given, in particular to children. Adults tend to give eachother tongue in cheek gifts that are hidden in home made creations, often referring to some 'mistake' that the receiver made earlier in the year. The 'surprise' is accompanied by a poem, that ridicules the receiver of the gift.

Since my girls still believe and they follow Sinterklaas on Dutch TV, they are asking me when they can put up their shoe under the shimney. I explained to them that first Sinterklaas has to go to all the children in Holland and THEN he comes and visits us here in South Africa. So soon they can celebrate this Dutch tradition too!!

Here a trailer of the Dutch news cast that is daily on TV in November and beginning of December and a pre view of the new movie. And the girls are following this every day!

In Holland, children couldn't care less about Santa or Father Christmas. They know he's not real but just a man in a fat suit. The man they are waiting for, and who gives them their presents is Sinterklaas, along with Zwarte Piet, his helper. (note: of course this is not the case for every child, but in general Sinterklaas is more exciting! The whole atmosphere around it is so much fun!)

Sinterklaas, or Sint Nicolaas, is a bishop dressed in red robes and a red mitre, and he arrives in Holland (and Belgium) on a steamboat from Spain. This year he will arrive on the 17th of November. Kids wait anxiously at the harbor for him to show up. The boat does not only bring Sinterklaas, but also his helpers, Zwarte Pieten, black men and women who are acrobats, jugglers, and hand out sweeties to the children. They are also the ones who keep track of who's been naughty or nice, so parents keep telling their children to be careful because 'Zwarte Piet can see and hear everything!'

After Sinterklaas has arrived, children can start putting their shoes out in front of the fire (or radiator as the case may be) for him at night. They will put a bowl of water next to it and a carrot in it for Sinterklaas' horse, on which he rides the rooftops, and usually a letter to Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet, to let them know what they'd like to get. Just putting your shoes out isn't enough, you have to sing a few songs too! There are lots of special Sinterklaas songs, about the gifts he might bring, the sweeties, his helper Zwarte Piet and how they come through the chimneys (hence Zwarte Piet being black) to bring it all to the children.

Then, if you're lucky and have been good enough, you will find a little something in your shoe. Chocolate coins, chocolate initials, marzipan figures (typically Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet, but also boats, carrots and shoes), or even a little toy, but nothing big. That's for Sinterklaasavond, Sinterklaas night, the evening of the 5th of december.

That evening, Sinterklaas will bring his presents to all those who have been good this year. Sinterklaas keeps track of all this in a big book, red with a gold cross on it. Some children are lucky enough to have Sinterklaas come visit their home, others will find a big bag of gifts on their doorstep, in the loft or sometimese they'll find gifts on the dinner table the next morning. It's a very magical time for young kids.

But then comes the time of doubt and disbelief. Maybe Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet aren't real. He did look a lot like the neighbour... And wasn't that Dad's hand throwing sweets in the living room when you weren't looking? And that letter that Sint wrote, that looked like Mum's handwriting....

By the time children are 8 or 9, they will have figured out (or have been told by their classmates) that Sint isn't real and their parents have been fibbing. As sad and heartbreaking as this news can be, it does open the door to a whole new ritual: lootjes trekken, or drawing names to figure out who you need to buy a present for, something that's done in clubs, families and even schools.

But buying presents isn't all: you have to write a poem and sign it with 'Sint and Piet' in which you will tease the person you've bought for, and give some hints about what the present might be, and you need to 'wrap' it in a so called surprise.

A surprise is something you yourself have crafted, and which takes the mick out of the person you're buying for, or is something that they like, or something they don't want anyone to know. It could be anything, from a giant lipstick for the girl who can't get enough of looking at herself in the mirror to stinky socks for your smelly brother to a huge bucket of sticky stuff for your mum to wade through.

Sinterklaas can cause an awful lot of stress. Not only do you have to buy for someone, but thinking of what surprise to make them and actually crafting it as well as writing a poem can be difficult. In lots of homes there will be 'keep out' signs on bedroom doors, and people yelling to each other about where they left the sticky tape and glue, or how come they can't find the scissors or needle and thread. But come Sinterklaas avond it will all be worth it.

Sinterklaas is slowly losing it from his cousin Santa. Shops owners seem to be more interested in a commercial Christmas than this Dutch tradition, but I would hate to see this wonderful tradition go.

So even though we now live abroad, I'm trying to keep the spirit of Sinterklaas alive. We will be watching Sint's arrival in Holland on telly for sure! And who knows, he might even send a Zwarte Piet over who will put something in our shoes. I have been a good girl this year, after all.... (source: Eveline Hessels)

See my posts about Sinterklaas from 2008 en 2009 here, here and here.

This year the girls don't want to go and visit him at school, but we will see him and his helpers at the Dutch golf open we are going to soon. So more pictures will follow...

After coming back from our Thanksgiving trip the girls wanted to see all the sinterklaas news we had taped, so they were updated again what is going on in Holland... as usual they are not sitting on the couch, but this time instead of sitting on the table they decided to lay down :-)

And they were also excited to put the shoe in front of the chimney in the hopes they get some surprises in there!! Exciting times for the kids this week!!

Very concentrated watching the Zwarte Pieten on TV.

Are you celebrating Sinterklaas??

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving break at the shore of Durban

We are back from our Thanksgiving weekend at the coast of Durban. We had a great time and we met even 4 more families of our school AISJ who were there as well, which we had no clue, so a small world!

At Zimbali were several pools and of course we all tried them out. This one was next to the ocean, looked great, but the girls thought it was a bit boring the whole setting, so we left for another one... well, at least we had enough choice!

Jasmine and Juliet were so happy to see that there were kids from their school, here with Sola and Kyle, who even lives in our street!

So much more fun when you have a few friends around!

Kyle, Juliet, Sola, Jasmine and Cecile.... having fun all day together!

This was the pool the kids had the most fun, and for us it was great too since we had a shaded cabana and a bar with tapas and cocktails! Easily we spent the whole day there! LOL

After checking out, I made the girls stand next to Santa, but they didn't want to, since there were other people in the reception area and that makes them shy... Our first encounter with Xmas here in SA!

Me and the girls flew to Durban, since Dirk was already there for work, and we all drove back, but since the drive is 7 hours we decided to drive a bit and stay our last night in a B&B halfway. This was located in the middle of the Midlands Meander, an area full of arts and crafts and local farmers, cheese makers, wine farms for tasting etc. So we stopped at all the cute and quaint locations, testing goat cheeses, buying cute stuffed dolls, delicious home made jellies, interesting spices and wines on our way to Tamakwa Country lodge, where we stayed the last night before heading home.

The lodge had a beautiful garden and we say a great sunset, a nice touch for our last night!

And then when we arrived home we found our bunnies lounging on our chairs, they taught by themselves, when they can vacation we can too!! LOL How funny these rabbits are!

A great little break! Thankful of having such a great life, family, friends and health!!
And before we know it our Xmas break is coming up!!
What did you do during the Thanksgiving break? Share with me your activities. Ate a lot of turkey??

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends! I hope you are enjoying a nice turkey dinner with all the trimmings! Enjoying the company of your family and friends!

We are on the coast of Durban, as our tradition is now for the 3rd year in a row and this year we are at Zimbali coastal resort, just north of Durban. Last year we were here at the South Coast and the year before we were here at the Dolphin Coast.

It is beautiful here and the weather is warm and sunny, although sometimes a bit cloudy but still good enough to enjoy the swimming pools.

Below the view from our room.

Instead of a turkey dinner we are having an Asian buffet in the Coral restaurant...

Have a great weekend y'all!
I am sure we will as well :-)


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You get hooked to Thailand...

I got this post from another blog but had to share it, too funny!

(Farang is what the Thais call foreigners)

1. You start to think about having your first ever holiday in Thailand:

- Thailand is somewhere in Asia.
- Consists of Bangkok and the islands: Pattaya and Phuket.
- People who live there are cheap prostitutes and people who earn three dollars a year.
- There are many palm trees, terrible diseases like malaria, tsunamis, and Thai massage.
- People live mostly in the jungle and ride an elephant.
- Bangkok is the ghetto of Asia.
- We can't take our kids there with us, as it's too far, it's Third World country so i won't be able to find any nappies, and there are too many insects.

2. You have just booked your first holiday in Thailand.

- I am going to Pattaya to learn about Thai culture and Thai way of life..
- Shall we take an umbrella? It must be a rainy season over there..
- Let's pack some socks.
- What about their health system? Let's take a bag of medicines, just in case thay don't have hospitals.
- We must have all vaccinations done before we go, plus don't forget malaria tablets.
- Where in Thailand can you eat?
- Still wondering when the rainy season is there and what clothes to take...
- It's always too hot there, so we will need many change of clothes, let's take a couple of suitcases...
- We should only use water from the bottles which are properly sealed and we always have to check where they get their ice.

3. You have arrived in Thailand.

- Is it actually Thailand? Too modern and beautiful. Where is all the ghettos?
- Taxi to the town 400 baht, dinner for two 2,000 Baht - cheap! Shall I move here to live?
- That girl is so tall, slim and beautiful...what's wrong with her voice...
- Everybody smiles at me, but no one asks for money. Strange..
- I can't leave my bike like that on the street...It will definitely be stolen...It needs to be tied up to something..
- Help! There are too many insects here and yesterday one cockroach flew into my room.. They actually fly here!

Lady boy or Katoey.

4. You are leaving Thailand and going home.

- We could eat for 50 baht the food, which we have never dreamt of at home......
- Why the hell did we bring here all these suitcases full of stuff? We could buy cheap clothes and then throw it away...
- 200 baht for a tuk-tuk? No way, you are mad!
- How these people earn three dollars a year and drive one of those huge jeeps? Something isn't right...
- Why do they have good roads and nobody steals?

5. You've just moved to Thailand.

- Great food, cheap, and most importantly - available absolutely everywhere...
- Houses for rent are very affordable and good quality..
- Thai language has too many tones, it's impossible to learn..
- The shops are full of cheap stuff...Great! I will do shopping every day!
- I asked for a double latte, no sugar, the girl nodded three times, smiled, went into the kitchen, brought me a cappuccino with cream and sugar, what the heck?
- Taxi costs nothing but I think I need to buy a car and a motorcycle.
- I urgently need to open a bar, restaurant, or a small resort. I can earn lots of money really fast. Wonder why no one thought of it before...
- The beer is so good and cheap here.

6. You have been living in Thailand for a short while.

- Where shall I go to eat? I am fed up with Khao Pad Moo and Pad Thai, I think I will go to that Korean on the corner...
- Why everything is so expensive? This dish is not worth 5 dollars, it's a pure rip-off!
- I don't want Coke, give me that plastic jug with water and a cup of ice and a straw.
- I know ten phrases in Thai. Why do they pretend that they don't understand me?
- It's actually very easy to get a girl for a little money, just don't look like a silly farang..
- I understand, when my girl says "my friend you" or "he say she no good"
- I don't care about the menu anymore, I just pronounce the name of Thai dishes in Thai... whatever they bring - I eat it.
- My business is built, now I am sure that the money will flow like a river. Let's open a bank account!
- I don't understand why do we, European, need kitchen at home... Food is everywhere.
- Geckos - my little friends. They eat insects.
- They didn't bring the ice for my beer/red wine? They are not trained properly...

7. You have been living in Thailand for a few years.

- The best place to meet a Thai girl is in the food court near our office in a lunch time, it's free!
- One Thai girl lives in your house and you no longer think about where to get food.
- You nearly forgot how to speak in English, but your Thai hasn't improved at all.
- You can walk around in anything. You're farang, you can wear even weird things...
- The business is not bringing any profit and you have been trying to sell it for nearly a year already without any success.
- Shorts for 100 baht - rip off!
- Yesterday was 28 degrees, very cold, and your Thai lady put on three layers of clothing.
- Beer? What beer? Sang Som with soda and M150 ..
- You season vegetables with salt and pepper.
- You drive only barefoot or maybe sometimes in flip-flops, when it's really cold...
- You have difficulty remembering the current month and you stopped linking it with the words "winter, spring, summer, autumn".
- Indian tailors ignore you when you walk past.
- You know the Thai national anthem better than your own, as it is played before each movie in a cinema and twice a day on the radio.

8. You come back home.

- You are so excited you can wear jackets and boots again!
- You can't leave your shower- the pressure is so good and you can control the temperature!
- You can actually download big movies - the speed is great!
- You are using your baby stroller again and wearing high heels at the same time!
- You are surprised to discover that the toilet paper - it's a toilet paper, not cloth on the table.
- On the second day, you already start missing Thai food.
- It's actually terribly cold outside.
- Why there are no decent cheap places to eat? Where do all these people eat?
- The people don't really get it when you smile to them... On the third day you also stop smiling.
- Where have all the motorbikes gone? Have they ever been here.. or not?
- Why the people in the passport office are so rude? Aren't they scared to lose their face?
- Where can I get some chilli to chew?
- Sorry, how much did you say is this cup of tea? No, no, no...it's ridiculous, I don't believe you...I will stick to water...
- You can't wait to go back to Thailand...

Have you been to Thailand? Do you recognize these phrases?? I do!! So true!
Once you have been to Thailand, you get hooked... one way or another! Tell me your experiences!!

Have a great day!
Today a busy day for us, we are having the International parade at school and then when we come back we immediately fly to Durban for a Thanksgiving break on the coast! More about that tomorrow!

Ciao Bellas!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dance away baby...

Juliet and Jasmine have 3 after school activities at AISJ. On Mondays they have 2,5 hours of Dutch class, on Tuesdays they have cooking and on Wednesdays they have dance! Each trimester a different class, the only one that goes on all year long is Dutch.

2 Students from the high school here at AISJ gave dance classes as part of their community service work. And girls from grades 1-5 from the Elementary school could join this class. JJ & Jezz really enjoyed this dance group, so hopefully next trimester they can join again.

At the end of each trimester they do a little performance for the mothers to show what they had learned. Here some pictures of that.

The bigger girls in the back I don't know, but the front row are: Zahra, Jasmine, Clara, Juliet and Cathlynn.

Juliet in the middle... very concentrated. Left from her Clara and right from her Cathlynn. The girls in the back row I don't know their names.

The dance teachers: Jaslynn and her friend.

Great job girls, well done!!
It was fun to watch. Shake that booty another trimester!


Friday, November 19, 2010

The sounds of Joburg...

What do we listen to on the radio you might be thinking.. or not! :-)
Well, here is a overview from the most popular tracks on 94.7 Highveld Stereo ~ Johannesburg's number 1 hit radio station. Ryan Seacrest is even on our radio daily! See the link here with Top 8@8. He is on the air every Monday to Friday from 7pm to 10pm, only on 94.7 Highveld Stereo, Joburg’s number 1 Hit music station, and 94.5 KFM, the Cape’s number 1 Hit music station. This fast-paced programme combines the hottest music with Ryan’s exclusive access to bring listeners inside Hollywood and behind the curtain. This guy dabbles in every business it seems... you see and hear him everywhere!!

Good for him... he came a long way from this chubby kid to a high earned celeb he is today... See the many faces of RS here.

But now back to our top 10! If you click on the title you can hear the song... check it out and tell me which ones you like, hate or otherwise... Do you think our radio stations are cool, boring or fun to listen to??

Share some of your favorite songs of the moment, I like to know what is popular in YOUR country??

Shall I tell you what my favorite is from this list?.....
Kinky Robot on #6












3 of the 10 tracks I can't find a clip. But these are the songs that are playing on the radio now here in Johannesburg.

Tell me, what is your favorite song?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cooking class by Johana

2 Weeks ago we had our first cooking class by Johana. She did 4 years of culinary school in France and about 15 years of experience working in hotels in France. So there is lots to learn! Every week if there are enough participants we will have new and different dishes. The concept is that Johana cooks and we learn and eat later, but we host it in different kitchens, this time we cooked in my kitchen.

We made a classical South African dish; Bobotie, which is a spiced minced meat dish baked with an egg-based topping, and Lemon Mousse for dessert.

Dunke, Tehmina, Hyun and me were the students and Johana the teacher. We had lots of fun and the dishes were yummy!

First we started with the lemon mousse since we have to cool that for several hours in the fridge.

Finally I could use my new gadget, the lemon peeler :-)

Beautiful lemon mousse, but my camera ran out of batteries by the time the Bobotie was ready...

From L to R: Tehmina, Johana, me, Hyun and Dunke.

Here we are all enjoying the bobotie and a glass of wine.

We will be having more of these classes I hope because I truly enjoyed Johana's knowledge on cooking!

Today I actually gave a Thai cooking class, but we forgot to take some pictures ;-(

How about you, are you doing or liking cooking classes and learning new techniques?? Tel me about it!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November - National Adoption Awareness month

These precious girls are MY daughters, because I decided to take the road untraveled 8 years ago!
A long and complicated story, but boy am I happy that I chose that path!!
And I know my husband feels the same way!!

~ We should not be asking who this child belongs to, but who belongs to this child. ~ by Jim Gritter

~ Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother. ~ by Oprah Winfrey

~ Too many children in foster care are falling through cracks. Be a hero, take the time learn about adoption today. ~ by Bruce Willis

If you are contemplating... go for it!
If you are not sure.... inform yourself!
If you want to... do it!

Your life will change for the BETTER!! I can promise you!!

Talk to people who have been adopting around you, go to a Foster Care Home and look at those precious faces that need a family forever!!

You will be glad you took the step!

Look at our family, how happy it made ME, how happy it made my husband, how happy these 2 precious girls are.

They are the face of adoption... how can you NOT go for it!!

Happy Adoption Month to all the families that are connected one way or the other!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Olimpia & Lionel's wedding

Marital bliss is so sweet to watch....

One of the youngest of our girls group, Olimpia, got married to Lionel on October 30th here in Fourways. It was such a fun and romantic wedding at this gorgeous location!

Lionel is from France and Olimpia is from Angola, most of their families flew over to be a witness at this happy moment in their lives.. it was a colorful and fun group!

A big step in their lives, and next month even more will change for these love birds, because they are expecting a baby in December!!

Enjoy your lives together Olimpia & Lionel!! Thanks for inviting us to your wedding!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Birthday to my hubby!

Congratulations to my dear hubby!! He has caught up with me now...

We had breakfast at Design Quarter the 4 of us and then he opened some gifts at home...

And last night we had a huge party with 2 other friends Candice and Luciano who also celebrated their birthdays, the 3 couples arranged a huge party with a Drive in DJ with Karaoke and a Belly Dancer with fire and swords... It was fun fun fun!!

The Bday boys and girl, Luciano, Dirk and Candice with Tanya the Belly Dancer.

Our theme was Spanish tapas and the food looked yummy... We had cold cuts with Spanish ham, tuna and tomato crostinis, Gazpacho Andaluz, Albondigas con salsa, Tortilla Espanola, Crostini's with Serrano ham and of course SANGRIA!

Nice, Nice, nice!!

Here some pictures of the party that went on till 3 am.... Not that bad, but the girls had also a Bday party and sleep over and we had to pick them up at 9am, so being in bed by 3 and waking up by 8 was a bit difficult....

Here the guys enjoying the Belly dancer...

The girls are enjoying it as well...

Tehmina and Dirk swinging with Tanya. Tehmina and me arranged the Belly Dancer as a gift for all the Bday boys and girls.
I think they all enjoyed it!

And some of the girls who all enjoyed themselves, what a fantastic group!!

When it was time for the cake we actually had another Bday girl; Adriana who celebrated with us as well! Congrats to you as well Adriana!!

All in all a great and wonderful time spend with so many good and dear friends!!

Up to another fantastic year!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Which ones are missing?

Do you know how many countries there are in the world?

I looked it up... and the answer is 195, according to this website.

When you look at the left side of my blog, you will see that there are 72.936 visitors from 191 countries visited Funky Doodle Donkey.... (at the moment I typed this...)

Isn't that amazing??!!

I mean there are only 4 countries in the whole wide world that haven't been visiting my blog, but at least 1 person of each country expect those 4 have seen my blog.

I find that pretty amazing!!

So now my goal is to try and find a follower from those other 4 countries!

So how can I get more followers from different countries, anybody out there to give me some tips, tricks of the trade?? To get more followers from different countries?

Please help me to get my goal achieved... that would be so nice of you!

I wonder which countries are missing, but to figure that out is a bit too much work... so I am just hoping that they will pop by mysteriously and uninvited!... I don't mind! Come and join my little space in the World Wide Web and hopefully you enjoy my ramblings...

Have a great day y'all!
Go well... as they say here in South Africa.

or my favorite... Ciao Bellas,


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