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Flippin’ Dutch

Various covers for The Undutchables book

Various covers for The Undutchables book

I had a Dutch moment the day after reading about how to acclimate to unwritten rules of the road in The Netherlands.

…sound your horn violently in tribute while you visually scold the violator….Move along side him and pound your head with your right hand (alternatives: tap forehead repeatedly with your index finger or demonstrate your internationalism by raising your middle finger). Appropriate angry facial expressions, bouncing up and down on your seat. Yelling idioot, godverdomme, and klootzak (scrotum)….Never mind…you are more of a traffic hazard than he was as you accelerate, slow down and wander across the fast lane, while concentrating on your gesticulating. (The UnDutchables by Colin White & Laurie Boucke)

The highway near our town has sections of limited access where the speed limit is 120 kph (75 mph). Yet the same highway leads straight into The Hague turning into a road with 70 kph (43 mph) stretches on the outskirts and then 50 kph (30 mph) with stop lights and turning lanes spritzed about these two speed zones until you reach the blocks punctuated by lights for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and tramlines.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 10.10.04 AMIn the 70 klicks area, I slipped as far into the left turn line as I could due to traffic. My car was almost two feet left in the gradually widening from nothing turning lane. A couple cars were queuing up behind me when the Dutchman came. Cruising by in the fast lane with breaks applied so he could express his disgust. Head waggling like a dashboard ornament, whole body moving in his seat and visible jabbering of the mouth, he flipped the whole line of cars the bird which flapped about with the energetic motion of his connected body.

 

I had to laugh.

The three-fingered salute of "read between the lines" has been totally revamped for following generations by the Hunger Games.

The three-fingered salute of “read between the lines” has been totally revamped for following generations by the Hunger Games.

So different was this from my first experience of being flipped off as a child that a cultural difference glared. Heading to recess in primary (elementary) school, a boy I liked gave me the single finger salute from which I turned and cried. The manner of delivery really was a salute, drawing focus on the gesture with the still seriousness of the person behind it.

Are Americans more likely to roll out that one finger slowly? Get someone’s attention and tell them to “read between the lines?” Or thrust it forward like a punch to add emphasis from a dead calm stance? One friend I mentioned this incident to got back to me about a flippin’ Brit who favored the two-fingered, two-handed gesture pumped up and up for emphasis.

Could you guess someone’s background based on their crude gesticulations? She’s a flippin’ American. He’s a flippin’ Dutchman.  Add this to the stack of questions generated when you live in another flippin’ culture.

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Kristin King is an expat, author, speaker, army wife, mom etc. who runs a nonprofit. She encourages everyone who shops on Amazon to use the smile.amazon.com webpage so that a portion of your every purchase goes to charity. Consider supporting Future Hope Africa while shopping in the coming season. Thank you!

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Posted by on November 5, 2015 in Living in Holland

 

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International School Requires… (Holland Expat)

Currently Reading Shelf

Currently Reading Shelf

I sighed with relief the week before school began because we didn’t have to attend all the orientation meetings. We’re in our second year, so the gauntlet is much shorter with elementary and middle school open houses. For middle school night you receive your son or daughter’s schedule and run through nine periods to the tune of the dismissal bell. Ten minutes in each class gives the teachers enough time to show you the units your child will be covering, major projects, and introduce the teacher themselves. Where can we see the children’s homework assignments, or their tardies, or project progress? Parents get the answers, see each other in classrooms, and become increasingly information overloaded since every class handles work differently.

I came home impressed not only with the school (which is really top notch) but also with my son. He is doing so much more each day than I ever did back in the day. The time it takes to walk from the arts center to Social Studies–yikes, I’m proud he hasn’t had a tardy. I had one conversation in passing–literally still moving in opposite directions–and arrived after “class” began.

Beyond all this, though, the coolest thing that came out of the night for me was coming home to find my son on Goodreads and become “Friends.” I’ve enjoyed tracking my reading for a few years now on this social reading site, and now my 8th grader is required to have an account and use it to discuss books with his classmates. Yay!

I mentioned this requirement to a friend who teaches at the Dutch school, and she had never heard of the website. This always amazes me. I tend to think  teachers and readers all know about it and avidly track what they read, leave reviews, and compare what they like to what their friends like. She said she would look into it. Meanwhile I’ll check out how the 8th grade is interacting.

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Kristin King is an American author recently relocated to the Netherlands. To peruse her novels and author information visit this link. You can also connect with her on Goodreads, see what she’s currently reading, and compare reading compatibility.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2015 in Living in Holland

 

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Our Kids’ Vacation Dreams (Living in Holland)

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 1.07.20 PMWe know our time living in Europe is limited, so we decided to ask our sons where they would like to vacation. We brought them in one by one in solitude and simply asked, “Where would you like to visit?”

China (3 votes)

Japan (3 votes)

Also mentioned: Korea, Kentucky, New York City and Vienna.

I think either our kids need a lessons in Geography or attending private school has given them inflated ideas about the “typical” family’s travel budget.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2015 in Living in Holland, Travel

 

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Hair Color Hickey (Holland Expat)

Dream Hair - from my Pinterest Board of Hair Color

Dream Hair – from my Pinterest Board of Hair Color

The only time I’ve paid to maintain my color or cut in Europe was when I went blonde for the first time. Otherwise I do the deeds myself or wait to visit my sister-in-law’s salon in Kentucky.There are couple good reasons for this decision beyond the fact that I have four always hungry or soon to be hungry boys.

Blonde Days

Blonde Days

1) I actually paid for long layers in a highly recommended salon where the stylist made me bend upside down as she combed my wet hair out in a redwood Alf-alpha before cutting off the ends. Gee, I can do that at home, I thought. 2) Dark hair of various shades is easy for someone as not picky about their hair as I am. If coverage isn’t quite even, hey that’s low lights and highlights, right?

This is not to say that I won’t pay the big bucks for a stunning new look. Case in point, hot pink hair. You’ve never seen so many teens talking to a chaperone at church service camp. Hair is fun. Change should be noticeable–especially when you pay full price. My husband, though, could eat cheeseburgers 7 days a week (seriously, I tested this early in our marriage), and he likes my hair long and brown–or black. So I usually only experiment when he is deployed to Afghanistan or such and there is a little extra “pick me up” money in the budget.

Fun!

Fun!

When my adolescent son first starting commenting on how much grey my hair showed, I thought I’d found a fail safe method to determine when to color again. Unfortunately (for my hair which really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things), he came home from his church camp a changed youth.

“You should be yourself. Don’t try to be young,” he said.

“I’m not trying to be young, I’m trying to look young,” I said, not sounding quite the sage. I modified, “Or at least not look older than I am.”

He gives me that “my crazy mom” look and heads off to shoot ball in the front driveway. He’s a great kid–I’m so proud to be his mom.

How do we find balance? Is it “Be yourself” or “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Today we meet the teachers at the international school and enjoy an ice cream social with friends and new faces. How do I prepare? I color my hair. A stray dark smudge on my neck did not get the immediate soap it needed. I scrub at it a bit, pleased to see the smudge grow smaller. Uh oh. Too much scrubbing left a round red spot on my neck.

Wonder what my sons’ teachers will think of my hair color hickey?

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher, mother of 4 sons, president of a nonprofit, and American expat living in Holland (Whew!). She would love to see your new cut or color, and more of her dream colors are on Pinterest. Her first book series, Begotten Bloods (BB), is paranormal romance/suspense which features very normal hair.

 

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Holland Expat – How Long Can a Bike Last?

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 11.04.43 AMWhen I wandered into the local bicycle store and could not find a bike for less than 500 euro, I pulled a pedestrian u-turn right back out the door. Most of the price tags were in the thousands. Perhaps this makes sense in a country where two wheels get you to your destination 5% faster (10% in cities), are easier to park, and the land is fairly flat. These statistics and more can be found on Netherlands By the Numbers which notes:

Every year we [Netherlanders] buy  around 1.3 million bikes, with total value of €1bn. The average price? A whopping great €954 last year.

I must have wandered into an upscale store. About a month ago, though, my favorite 2nd hand shop had a tall, light-weight, men’s bicycle out front. I could barely straddle the bar on my tip-toes, but with my older sons out growing me I thought it would be perfect for one of them.

Used Bike = 90 euro

The brand was one I’d seen around Holland, so I couldn’t help but look online to find that new ones cost between 579 euro and 3,000. The upside of our specimen is that it came with functional head light, tail light, built-in lock, rear storage rack, several speeds, and such.  And the bike was obviously fairly old even though it was excellently maintained.

How well maintained was it?

When our Dutch Bike Serviceman came to tune it up for us, he discovered our Gazelle bicycle is more than 40 years old. Wow!

Now, who wants to take bets on how long it will last with my adolescent son perched on top of it?

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and US expat living in the Netherlands. Her top sellers are “Unsinkable Vampire” and “Cain’s Coven.”

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2015 in Living in Holland

 

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Holland Expat – Lucky Poop

Second floor window getting cleaned by brush attached to hose. The Dutchman said their equipment is made in Ohio.

Second floor window getting cleaned by brush attached to hose. The Dutchman said their equipment is made in Ohio.

When we lived in Italy near the US Army Post the locals had a saying, “You can tell where the Americans live by the dirt on the windows.” In the Netherlands it wasn’t long after our move-in that the window cleaning service came by to let us know the previous tenants got all the exterior glass cleaned once a month for 40 euro. Did we want to sign up? No.

However, we were hosting a dinner party recently and I happened to notice the pollen and such on our windows. So I gave the service a call. I’m so glad I did or I might never have learned about Lucky Poop.

See, there’s this huge splat of bird poo in our driveway that I swear was dropped by a low flying condor. So when the window cleaner brought up the stuff…well, it went like this.

(Heavy Dutch accent) “I stepped in de *hit over there.”

“Oh that bird poop is awful,” I said. “I’m so sorry.”

“No,” he said, “de duck *hit.”

“It’s from a duck? I wouldn’t have thought theirs would be so large.”

“No. Duck *hit. Duck.”

Obviously I wasn’t understanding. “Duck?”

“No. In de grass. Duck. Bow-wow. Duck.”

“Oh, dog.”

“Yes. Duck.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“No, no. Good thing.”

“Huh?”

“In de Nederlands we have a saying. Step in dog *hit, you lucky all day.”

Thanks to my dogs, I learned something I might never have known about this country we live in. And since our sons haven’t done that chore for a few days I figure we have one of the luckiest yards in Holland.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and US expat living in the Netherlands. Her top sellers are “Unsinkable Vampire” and “Cain’s Coven.”

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2015 in Living in Holland

 

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Holland Day 2 – KingDogdom

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 3.30.15 PMWe walked to the Centrum where a pedestrian only area of shops abound. One shih tzu pooch road in a woven basket laced with purple flowers at the front of his owner’s bicycle. Three pomeranians perched behind mesh in their tented wagon. Large dogs were left tied outside establishments where their owners browsed or followed some on lead others not behind their peeps. Our golden lab, unused to the busy place, pulled to greet each canine. When Argos choked himself, a lady urged my son to give the dog more space to roam. We have definitely landed in KingDogdom.

Lunch was Italian with Spaghetti Carbonara for me (a portion for each boy), and two pizzas for the boys. The pizzas are thin and the pepperoni spicy. The ham was a thinly sliced round four inches wide, topped with full-circle slices of pineapple. Argos sat under table till the rain came, and then we were all moved inside. I slipped out to purchase whichever bare essentials I could locate in the grocery maze. It is a bit overwhelming to see no English and nothing I could even identify using my limited German, French and Italian. Is that clothes softener or dish soap?

Euro-scoop ice cream atop small waffle cones in hazelnut, vanilla, and stracciatella (chocolate slivers) was the dessert of choice as we meandered home.

I’m going to like living here.

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Kristin King is an author who recently relocated to The Netherlands (which includes Holland). Her top sellers are “Unsinkable Vampire” and “Cain’s Coven,” and her latest novel in the Begotten Bloods Series is Death Taint.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2014 in Living in Holland

 

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