Sunday, June 6, 2010

Greetings from Holland

So we have been in the land of windmills and wooden shoes for a little over a week already. My how time flies. It has been great seeing all the family again and a lot of family for the first time. Everyone is thrilled to death over Julianne as I knew they would be. Especially Oma and Opa. Except for their regularly scheduled visits over webcam on Friday afternoon (well afternoon for us in Canada but late at night for them over in Holland) this is the first time Oma is getting to hold and cuddle her first born grandchild. It's great to see that light in her eyes each time Julianne does something funny or cuddles with her and it pains me to see the sadness that overcomes her when she realizes that we will be leaving soon. Just this evening she mentioned we were only here for about 5 more days and I could see she was holding back the tears. In some ways I feel bad because I have taken her son away to another country even though I know it was totally his choice to move. And then on the other hand if he had never met me and moved to Canada then the chances are really good that he would not have any grandchildren for her. At least not from him. So which is worse? That she can't see her grandchild all the time or that she didn't have one at all? I wish I had the answer. All I know for sure is that when we leave on Saturday there are going to be many tears shed. And not just from Oma. Julianne has taken so well to both her grandparents, I really don't think she is going to be happy to say goodbye. She's even learning things while here. She has learned how to blow kisses. Even with the kissing sound effects. It's adorable. She has learned to bark like a dog and all to rev like a car. There are little woof woofs followed by vroooooooooom. And she is just plain happy. She has only thrown one temper tantrum in the whole time we have been here and that was one night when she was extremely overtired. Other than that, she has been an absolute dream. If only she were like that all of the time. *sigh*

We have also seen some pretty amazing stuff while here. One day we went to this a little town in Germany called Monschau which really reminded me of Banff. It's a little town nestled in the mountains that if you were not really looking for it you would probably miss it. Absolutely beautiful. Surrounded by trees and streams it's a little hideaway and completely packed full of tourists. Cobblestone roads just like you see in the movies guide you through a maze of shops and homes and in the centre of the town is an old monestary. Then way up on a hill overlooking the town is what used to be a castle but now is used as a youth hostel. Monschau is apparently well known for their glassmaking shops and mustard. All different types of mustard. We never actually found the mustard factory but we did see the glass shop and holy cow, there are some amazing things done with glass.

Later we visited a nearby concentration camp. Kamp Vught was one of four camps situated in the Netherlands during the Second World War. Used primarily as holding camps for those to be transported to Auschwitz in Poland or one of the others in Germany there were still many people killed. Usually by execution. This particular camp saw a little over 700 people killed during the war. But if it hadn't been for the allied forces coming in when they did it could have been a lot worse. Thankfully this one had only been started in early mid to late 1944 and was shut down in early 1945. (my dates could be slightly off here). Though little of it stands today what we did see was enough to bring tears to your eyes and your heart feel heavy. Seeing the remains of where many atrocities were committed makes you feel very fortunate to be Canadian. Afterwards, through the help of my handy translator (husband) I discovered that my father-in-laws father actually worked security at this particular camp. He was no where near a German supporter but in order to put food on the table for his family he was forced to do what needed to be done so he worked for the Germans, not with the Germans. Each night he would sneak food out of the camp and take it to the mayor and his family. He did this until the camp was shut down without getting caught. After the war was finally over and the Dutch were able to start getting back on their feet, his father was rewarded by the mayor for doing what he did. He was given a house and money and work.

The rest of our trip thus far has been mostly visiting with family and Arie has been catching up with old friends. Oh and I have done a bit of shopping. Tomorrow is a kid filled day as we are taking Julianne to an amusement park. Should be a lot of fun.

Until later...

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