This was already Babel’s second Halloween. This year we got him a costume and we even went trick or treating, twice!

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Wedding photo booth madness

One of the drawbacks of living abroad is missing big family events back in my home country. Today my cousin Marjolein got married to her Danny. I was sad to have to miss it and I’m anxious to see their wedding photos. I heard the ceremony was beautiful.
At the wedding party they had a photo booth for guests and I’ve really been enjoying seeing those photos pop up on facebook. My favorites are the ones with my crazy little brothers and their pretty ladies. The group of shots on the right has my cousin’s new husband joining in on the fun as well.

Master Yasu

In 2010 we moved to the United States so that Yasu could start a Master Program in Counseling Psychology. He finished that in December and today was his graduation ceremony!
So he got to wear that really cool gown and cap, you always see graduates wear in movies! A little photoshoot was in order:
His graduation ceremony took place at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts, which provided a beautiful backdrop for photos.
And it’s a perfect place to get your daily jumping in:
The commencement ceremony was inside the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, and it was pretty packed. Lots of people were graduating from Bachelors, Masters and Doctors Programs (all listed in a booklet) and even more people came to see people receive their degrees. Our friend Idonnah joined me in the audience.
When I received my Master’s degree in 2006, I forgot to bring my camera. A friend brought an emergency low-quality digital camera in the end, which was better than nothing, but of course I regretted not bringing my own, especially since I used to bring it almost everywhere.
So today I made sure I brought my Canon camera and of course my iPhone. When Yasu was about to receive his degree I crouched right in front of the stage and had two goals. I would get a video with my iPhone and great photos with my ‘real’ camera. It didn’t go quite as planned. I guess I kind of have a graduation-photo-curse.
I positioned my iPhone video-ready on the stage and all I had to was touch it to turn the camera on at the right time. But somehow I had already turned it on, so when I thought I turned it on to film Yasu I actually turned it off again, and when I thought I turned it off I turned it on again… And I didn’t notice I was filming everything else but what I wanted to film, because I was trying to work my Canon to take photos.
Well, I did manage to take some photos… Yet, I had neglected my Canon for so long (blame it on the iPhone) I really wasn’t as comfortable with it anymore. I was way too slow to clearly capture Yasu receiving his degree: he was moving at turbo-speed. These fuzzies are all I got:
1. Yasu’s name get called and he walks up to the front of the stage.
2. Yasu shakes the school president’s hand and receives his degree.
3. Yasu quickly taking off again.
After the ceremony, when all the graduates were leaving the stage in lines, I went back up to the front to make sure I got a good photo of him on the stage. But Yasu had already left via the backstage exit and already taken his gown off! Oh, Yasu.
A phonecall later we had him back on the empty stage in his graduation outfit and we took some photobooth pictures with Idonnah:
At the reception we encountered a bunch of our friends and Yasu’s fellow graduates and they were all elated and slightly crazy:
And jumpy:
After the ceremony, Jenny’s wonderful parents took us all to dinner at a hidden gem of a restaurant called Scoma’s for the most delicious celebratory dinner. It was great to meet Jenny’s parents and boyfriend and to catch up with Jenny and Hannah. It was the perfect end to a great day.
I’m very proud of my hubbie, Master Yasu!

Mother’s Day My Way

When I was a child, I would get up early on Mother’s Day and bring my mom breakfast in bed and a gift. Both the breakfast and the gift were made by me, she always ate the breakfast (quite brave) and always treasured her present.
I love traditions and keeping them alive. Especially when they involve handmade gifts that require some extra love and effort, so the recipients can really feel how much they mean to me.
Tomorrow it’s Mother’s Day. My mom lives in the Netherlands and I live in the States. I can’t send her homemade breakfast over the post, but I can surely send her handmade gifts.
iPhones are how we connect on a daily basis. Even though we live on different continents, we are still very much part of each other’s lives, and we use iMessage, Facetime and other apps to do that. So her iPhone is important and therefore it requires protection.
My mom is obsessed with cows, she thinks they’re the cutest thing ever and has a large collection of cow plushies (only some made by me) and all kinds of other cow trinkets.
So I made her an iPhone case, disguised as a cow:
Currently, NerdWallet is hosting a Mother’s Day Your Way contest. They’re collecting blog post entries about the best Mother’s Day presents under $25. 
My handmade Cow iPhone 4 Case is defintely the best present for my mom this Mother’s Day. I’m sure my mom will love it. I hope she will treasure it and show it off to her friends, like she did with all the other Mother’s Day gifts I made her as a child.
I had to make sure not to post my entry for the contest too early, I didn’t want to spoil the surprise for my mom. But it’s past midnight in the Netherlands now, so she should be sound asleep.
Below are a few photos of my beautiful mom and I, from my last visit to the Netherlands. 
Yep, these were made using an app on our iPhones!

Long Live King Willem-Alexander

Today I got up at 5:20am. Very early. 
Last night was date night. We went to an evening baseball game. We debated staying until the end of the game, but since we had to get up early today we went home after the 8th inning. That was a good decision because that game ended up lasting a record number of 19 innings! It ended at 1:41am! Less than four hours before I woke up today.
Anyways, so we woke up really early today. Why? 
Well, we had to be at the Dutch Consulate in San Francisco at 7:00am to watch the abdication of Queen Beatrix and the investiture of King Willem-Alexander, of course!
With the new King came a rather nice but controversial King Song, that introduced a new hand gesture for the King. Three fingers in the air to make a W; a W for Willem-Alexander. See us flashing our three fingers at the Consulate:
Even though we are crazy busy this month, we are very happy we made time to attend this event. After all, it is not everyday your country gets a new king! The last Dutch king died in 1890. The ceremonies were very moving and made me realize I’m more nationalistic than I ever thought before. 
I even took some photos of the big screen. See below our King Willem-Alexander and his Queen Maxima on top, and on the bottom our future Queen Amalia and our previous Queen Beatrix.
The Dutch Consul General made a speech and provided the dozens of early-bird Dutchies with a nice breakfast and a piece of a beautiful windmill cake to celebrate this momentous day.
Oh, and this day is very special for another, not so royal but nevertheles grand, reason: today is our 9th anniversary as a couple! 9 years ago, at Emory University, Yasu and I shared our first kiss, never even imagining that we were kissing our future spouses.

Last Queen’s Day

Every year the Dutch celebrate Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) on April 30th, a holiday in honor of our Queen Beatrix. This year she will abdicate on Queen’s Day and her first son, Willem-Alexander, will become King Willem IV.

That’s right: next year’s Queen’s Day will be King’s Day. The future king only has daughters so there will be a Queen and a Queen’s Day again someday, but I expect that may take a while. So this will be our last Queen’s Day for now.

In San Francisco we celebrate Queen’s Day today, since it’s not an official holiday here and most people need to work on Tuesday. So we donned our orange and Dutch gear (leftover from the WBC semifinal last month) and got ourselves to the Murphy Windmill in Golden Gate Park.
Yasu and I volunteered to help out this year. I originally signed up for four different volunteer duties, but somehow 3 got canceled, all for different reasons. So in the end we only helped out selling bar tickets, handing out bar wristbands, and checking IDs (since you need to be 21+ to drink alcohol in the US) for an hour. That was a lot of fun though and time just flew by.
There were food trucks. And they weren’t selling tacos, no no, they were selling Dutch food. Or at least their best imitation of Dutch fries, frikandellen en kroketten, and there was one place that was selling raw herring from the North Sea! 
That made me a happy Dutchie, since I love raw herring with chopped onions! And if you want to be really Dutch you eat it in a specific way. See me demonstrate that way below with actual herring and Yasu with a Dutch fry, since (for some inexplicable reason) he doesn’t like herring.
Any Dutch festival isn’t complete without some Indonesian food. We got ourselves some barbecued pork satays and they were delicious and very authentic.
There was a silent disco. This may sound weird, and it certainly looks really weird when you just look at it. A DJ at a turn table and a bunch of people with headphones shaking and moving their bodies to no music. Of course, when you get yourself some headphones you soon find yourself doing exactly the same. 
It was fun and we would have done it longer if we didn’t get distracted by a familiar face in the crowd of Dutchies. Our SambaFunk friend Jeroen stopped by with his parents, who are visiting from the Netherlands. Jeroen loves Dutch stroopwafels and has even made his own from scratch in the past. He was the perfect person to try out the freshly-made stroopwafels from The Stroopie Gourmet from the East Bay. Final judgement: way too much cinnamon. These stroopwafels may taste okay, but they don’t taste traditionally Dutch. Oh well.

There was a makeshift Dutch grocery store. This was a happy place filled to the brim with almost only imported goodies from the Netherlands. I had a hard time picking just a few items, I really just wanted to bring everything home. I wish Albert Heijn (my favorite Dutch supermarket chain) would just open up shop in the Bay Area already.

All in all, it was an exciting day, especially for Yasu: