Posts Tagged ‘Gefeliciteerd’

Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag, Francis!

October 20, 2008
Van harte gefeliciteerd Francis!

Van harte gefeliciteerd Francis!

Today is a very special birthday for Francis Kok-van Ingen, my schoonmoeder, or mother-in-law. She’s celebrating a “kroonjaar”  (kroon = ) meaning a milestone year, and that’s all I can reveal. As faithful readers know, the Dutchies make a big deal out of their birthdays, so I must now congratulate the entire family Kok. Gefeliciteerd, familie Kok!

Francis during visit to Durham in 2004

Francis puts to use her quickly-created newspaper hat during a visit to Durham

Francis is a very creative woman. Not only does she make a mean newspaper hat, she’s a wonderful artist. I covet many of her paintings, especially one in particular that I keep asking for but no one seems to pay attention to my pleas. She also is a genius with “handwerken,” conveniently translating to “handwork.” For Francis this means not only knitting and crocheting, but even spinning yarn and weaving.

Francis and Karel have a beautiful garden with flowers throughout the year

Francis and Karel have a beautiful garden with flowers throughout the year

Her artistry extends to the amazing garden she and Wessel’s dad, Karel, have created in their long, narrow yard in Nieuw-Amsterdam, a village outside of the small city of Emmen in northeast Netherlands. Although the Dutch are known for their beautiful gardens, theirs is truly a show-stopper, with a huge variety of plants blooming at different times all year. Every time I travel with her I’ll see her reaching down to collect seeds here and there. She even planted a pecan tree from a seedling in our yard. Of course I think the best work of art Francis ever created was her son and my spouse, Wessel, but then I’m biased.

Francis (right) and Karel cycle on Pinellas trail in 2004

Karel and Francis cycle (= fietsen) on the Pinellas Trail in Florida

Although Francis enjoys exploring cities, she’s more of a country girl, and remains involved in a group called “plattelandsvrouwen,” or “country women.” I love that name. In that she has two older brothers and a younger one, I can understand why she seeks out the company of other women. (Then again, don’t we all?)

Francis’s favorite activities of late are nordic walking with friends, where she admits she’s more focused on the talking than the walking, and riding around the area on her new electric bicycle. Here’s to another decade of fietsen and fun, Francis!

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Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag, Thamar!

August 15, 2008

Thamar is my schoonzuster, or sister-in-law, and she hits the big 4-0 today! (Her name is pronounced TAM-ar.)

Thamar unpacks gifts

Thamar displays her talent for gift opening

While 40 is considered a “kroonjaar” (a sig-nificant year) because a new decade starts, there’s no hoopla surrounding it the way there is when Dutchies turn 50. But, heck, they have enough hoopla just celebrating their birthdays in the Netherlands. Not only do you always go out of your way to congratulate and even visit the birthday boy or girl, but also their family. So Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag, Thamar! Gefeliciteerd met de verjaardag van Thamar, familie Kok!

Ecuador is located on the equator

Ecuador is located on the equator

Thamar, who works for the Dutch government doing land design, has a wonderful 14-year-old son, Valentin. His Ecuadoran father, Luis, lives part time in a home nearby and part-time in Ecuador. The first time I met Thamar and the rest of the family was in Tabacundo, Ecuador, where she did a college study abroad project, working in irrigation. That was in the early 1990s. (We were all visiting there when I met her in 2003.)

Valentin and Thamar in Surinam restaurant in Wageningen (Click to ENLARGE)

Valentin and Thamar in Surinam restaurant Duniya in Wageningen (Click to ENLARGE)

Now Thamar lives in Wageningen, which is known for Wageningen University (focused on agriculture), where both Wessel and Thamar went to school. Wageningen is also known for a bit of history. It’s where the Germans surrendered to the Allied Forces ending World War II in the Netherlands. The lesser thing Wageningen is known for is that it’s one of the Dutch words I can never pronounce correctly. You try.

Thamar recently became a first-time homeowner (Click to ENLARGE)

Thamar left the world of renters to move into her first house this past October. Home ownership isn’t as common in the Netherlands as it is in the US. So that was a huge achievement and the best birthday gift she could have given herself. We’re very proud of her! I’m sure she’ll get many visitors there this weekend, when everyone stops by to wish her gefeliciteerd. (I can’t pronounce that word either.)

Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag, Guido!

April 9, 2008

If you’re a regular reader, you know that the Dutchies go bonkers for their birthdays. You have to congratulate not only the birthday recepient but his or her family, extended family, and pets. OK, not pets. They don’t care so much about the pets.

Guido and his son OliverGuido is my zwager, or brother-in-law, and today is his 41st birthday. He’s the baby of the three children of the Family Kok. Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag, Guido! Gefeliciteerd met de verjaardag van Guido, familie Kok!

I can just hear you Americans chortling to yourself while saying “Yo, Guido!” Well, NL ain’t NJ, and they don’t say GWEE-do, so drop that “W” and make it GEE-do, with a hard G.

I know that Guido loves me because he allowed me to drag him around to all the cool design stores in De Negen Straatjes (the Nine Streets) district of Amsterdam a couple years ago. He enjoyed himself until about the sixth shop, then I could tell it was time to wrap things up.

Guido's artwork; CLICK TO OPEN WEBSITE AvondwandelaarGuido’s talents include writing, drawing, sculpture, and, recently, video making, which he does from his home in Arnhem. Check out some of his work here. Wessel will get to give in-person birthday greetings this weekend, when he visits his homeland for a week of work and a day of play.

Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag, Karel

March 14, 2008

Here’s a shout-out to my schoonvader (father-in-law), Karel Kok. (You non-Dutchies can just say “Karl.”) Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag, Karel!  If you’ll recall, those Dutch folks are really into their birthdays. So now I must congratulate the whole family. Congratulations Family Kok!

Not only is Karel a loyal blog reader, all the way from Nieuw Amsterdam, the Netherlands, he’s a wonderful man and the best father-in-law I could imagine having. My father died in 1997 and it’s nice to have another father figure back in my life. I am sure that Dad and Karel would have enjoyed each other’s company, and I can just imagine the happy sounds in the room if their booming laughs commingled.

Karel and my lovely mother-in-law, Francis, will be visiting us at our cute little beach condo in Florida next month! Can’t wait!

Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag!

January 9, 2008

This is a Dutch shout-out to my husband, Wessel. It’s his 44th birthday. I don’t think he minds me giving his age, but maybe I should have asked first. One of the things I love about living with a Dutch person is they love their birthdays. I’m a big birthday gal, too. For my 50th last month, Wessel decorated my office with all sorts of “Sarah” things. She’s the wise woman who leads the Dutch women into their 50s. (The men are led by Abraham.) The other great thing about Dutch birthday celebrations is that folks congratulate not just the birthday boy or girl, but the entire family. This cracks me up, but I think it’s a great tradition. So, gefeliciteerd to me and the Family Kok, too! One of my favorite sites is the Dutch Word of the Day, to which one can subscribe and be emailed a word a day. I love learning a new Dutch word every day. Now if only I could remember them! Kusjes, Wessel!