December 2004

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1 December 2004 - Halloween

Tristan and I were very happy to be spending Halloween in the US this year, because last year we didn't get a change to really do Halloween the right way. We went to an old friend's house. They used to live in Pacifica, but now they live close to Sacramento. We have celebrated Halloween with them before, and those were our favorite Halloweens. I dressed up as a Night Elf, from a computer game called Warcraft. Tristan was some kind of freaky person with a scary mask, also based on a Warcraft character. Marty, the dad, always likes to make a big maze or a haunted house for Halloween. This year he had a haunted house constructed in his garage. Tristan got to help him scare people, because he had such a scary mask. I had fun going trick-or-treat-ing with my friends. I even made some new friends because Betsy had a party on Halloween night, and on the night before.

Right after Halloween we left for Europe to visit my oma and opa, my aunt and uncle and my cousins. We saw opa en oma in Sydney, but we hadn't seen the rest of the family for 1 ˝ years. It was kind of crazy when we first landed because everybody came to pick us up. What a great surprise! I was especially happy to Frederike, my cousin who's my age, again. We are really good friends. I was very happy because her school had given permission for me to go to school with her for the month of November. It was a very interesting experience, because it was all in Flemish, and it was kind of strict. But she has the nicest friends and friendly teachers. I did really well. I had to learn Dutch and French. Social studies was about recycling (I already knew a lot about that). For math we learned something new very often. Nobody wanted me to leave in the end, but I was ready to spend some more quiet time with my opa and oma and my mom again.

3 December 2004 - Sinterklaas

A Sinterklaas rhyme while we are in NL

These last two weeks were really fun
'cause I went to school, but now I'm done.
There is so much to do
but all my cousins talk about is poo.
Well, that's not completely true,
we also played with their Playmobile Zoo.

My cousins were excited to see me,
they were as happy as could be.
We had so much fun together,
we got to know each other so much better.
It was good to be in their house,
and I didn't have to be quiet as a mouse.

There are scores of presents these times,
and most of them come with rhymes.
Because Sinterklaas is in the Netherlands,
and he brings with him lots of helping hands.
There is also lots of food,
which brings everyone in a good mood.

My oma is a doll,
and that's not even all,
she's also a wonderful cook,
and she never needs to use a cookbook.
My opa is a funny guy,
you may wonder why ...
because he likes to tease,
and that puts everyone at ease.

So it's been great to visit,
I wouldn't have want to miss it.

4 December 2004 - Gravensteen

Yesterday, we went to a medieval town called Gent. The “Gravensteen” is an old castle that was previously occupied by counts. The castle began as a large stone house in 918. These days you can hardly see any longer that it began that way, because there were so many modifications that it now looks like a real castle. Some people think that castles are just stone walls and a big stone building inside but that's not true. There are actually houses built in the outer wall, when Castles were being used. These houses are called Rampants. The way the Castle is set up right now, makes you feel that it is a kind of museum, but it was still fun. There was one part that I didn't like, and that was the room filled with torture devices. The one that I thought was the worst torture devices was a collar with lots of pins on the inside. The prisoner would sit in the middle of a square room with the collar on and attached to it were 4 chains that were attached to the wall. The prisoner would have to sit still, otherwise of course it would hurt a lot. We read that at most people were able to sit still for 40 minutes or so. We also saw a real guillotine. Freaky! I loved being able to walk around in the Castle without being on a guided tour.