Do you know what the kids toy market is missing... a grandma & grandpa Barbie! When we decided to buy our daughter the Barbie Dream House my head started swirling with memories of my childhood. I had every type of Barbie you could imagine, I think by the time I sold the dolls I easily had 40 in my personal play collection and I still have around 15 collectibles (in the box) stored back in Florida. Part of my vast collection was a grandma & grandpa doll, I thought they were Barbie but when I started searching online I found out they were actually part of the Heart Family (also Mattel). No matter what, they looked just like a Barbie and as I kid I could have cared less. My daughter loves to act out her life through her dolls and grandparents (she has 6) are a big part of her life. Since multiple members of my family are already hitting me up for Christmas ideas (I will not mention names) these dolls popped in mind. I wasn't having any luck here in The Netherlands so I asked for assistance from a family member in The States.
And we both ended up with the same result... Heart Family dolls no longer exist and yes, they made a grandma & grandpa Barbie once... you can buy them on Ebay for $199.99!!! Yes, you read this correct, $199.99!!! Needless to say, my daughter will not be getting grandparent dolls. That's unless someone from Mattel happens to read my post, and thinks you know what, we should put those dolls back on the market. Why? How many different Barbie Fashionistas does the market need? Some kids actually play with Barbie's because of the role playing, because of their vast imaginations, and not because they have on a glittery dress and ridiculous heels. Do you hear me Mattel, the market is missing some wholesome Barbie Families!
As usual, I've included pictures... as you can see the Heart Family is definitely outdated and the grandma/grandpa Barbie blends into this time period, but they're not worth the Ebay price!
SeaWorld is again receiving a lot of negative attention due to the release of a documentary titled, Blackfish. (Here's a link to the article on CNN if you're interested.) Have I seen Blackfish yet, no... do I plan on it, yes.
After reading this article and thinking back to previous debates about SeaWorld and their captive killer whales, I started wondering how other people felt about this topic. Do you think what Sea World does as far as keeping these creatures captive is wrong? Do you think having the orcas perform is cruel? Have you ever been to SeaWorld?
Now for my opinion (and yes, it might be a little bias because I grew up in Florida, not so far from from Orlando)... I have high regards for SeaWorld. I think what they do there is amazing. I have such great memories from my childhood of watching the performances and being able to come so close to a creature in my lifetime I would most likely never see or interact with in nature. (Seeing the trainers dive deep in the tanks and then be shot through the air on the orcas nose was breathtaking and magical.) I think SeaWorld is the cream of the crop, I have attended other oceanariums and so far, nowhere compares. They have the money and knowledge to do great research and care for the animals as needed, and I think it is very unfair that they are being scrutinized as cruel or immoral.
I am capable of seeing all sides of the debate. By nature these animals should be free. And yes, trainers have died in the water (our hearts go out to their families). But look at science and its history, sacrifices have to be made in order to learn and discover. I admit, I struggle at zoos, it is hard seeing the animals confined, but I know they are being treated well and it's for a good cause. I have learned so much by attending zoos and ocenariums, and I know the money I spend while at the parks goes back to the animals, and not only the ones on display.
I think when SeaWorld sees an issue they make an adjustment. Did you know they no longer allow the trainers to perform with the orcas since 2010? But back to the actual debate... its not about the trainers or the money raised, its about the killer whales being confined. Would the debate end if they stopped with the orcas and focused on other sea life... I doubt it, I think the focus would then just shift to another creature. What's your opinion?
After over a year of small monthly donations to the KWF (the Dutch cancer society) we are switching over to another charity organization, Hulphond (Dutch charity for service dogs). There are so many charities throughout the world, at times it is hard to pick one over the other (donations are also great gift ideas for the holidays). So, we do our best to spread the donations, at times we change charities per quarter and at times per year. The KWF was important to us because we have known many people throughout our lifetime with cancer, one of which, my husbands aunt. After watching her fight with breast cancer we wanted to do our part to help support others with cancer.
But now it's time to switch and coincidentally we ran into collectors who had spent the entire day outside of supermarket with a service dog drumming up new donators. Knowing someone first hand that uses a service dog helps us to see just what they're capable of doing. The woman we know is confined to wheelchair with little use of her hands. The service dog does everything from turning on the water in the sink to pressing the button at the crosswalk. It is quite amazing. When speaking to the collector we found out that some dogs can even peel a banana for their owners. And it's not just wheelchair bound people that need service dogs, the other day at the park we met a middle-aged man who went blind 3 yrs ago and now is dependent on his dog. This service dog gives this man a chance at living a normal life, at safely leaving the house, and also having a companion. Being a dog owner and seeing just how much they can do when trained properly, we see the double fold benefit of this charity, we're helping people and animals.
Do any of you support charities? Is it because of life experiences or just because you want to help out?
Wow, it's been 2 years since I let you all into the quirky world of Danica's Thoughts!! Like any blog there have been ups and downs... times when I managed to pop out 20 posts in a month (October 2012) and even times when I considered ending the blog. You have seen my huge collection of Wordless Wednesdays (75 and counting) and you have read my endless comparisons of The States versus The Netherlands. Who knows what comes next, but as of now, I am still happy sharing my journey through life with you and showing you how normal & abnormal living abroad can be. That's just it, my blog is random, I don't focus on being an expat, a woman, or a mom, I talk about many aspects of a life. I appreciate you peaking into my world, and letting me into yours. No matter the walk of life, we all have something to share!
Here's a look back at some of my favorite posts :)
These are just a handful of posts from 2011 & 2012, so far there have been 302 posts since I started this blog!!!
Thank you for all of your support & comments, whether you're one of the 66 Google Friend Connect followers, one of the 34 Bloglovin' followers, or even just someone stopping by, it's the readers that make this blog possible!
This is an old photo from a disposable camera (well a scanned version), you know before we all had cameras on our phones! This particular photo was taken over 10yrs ago (summer 2003), hard to believe... I swear we're still that young at heart (and looks, of course). This photo was taken during our first year together here in The Netherlands. Well, the pic itself was taken in Dunkerque (Dunkirk), France... back in the days when we used to explore the country or bordering countries every weekend. Before we left Florida to start our new life here, we offered an open invitation to all of our friends and family that if they scrounged up the money for the flight we would give them a place to stay. At the time we didn't really expect anyone to visit except for family. Of course my Mom & step-dad turned up a few months after we arrived, and that summer a whole lot of friends decided to visit also. They all picked the same summer (heat wave without a/c)... as soon as one set left another set arrived. By the time the 3rd set of friends arrived we were unfortunately out of vacation time from work and money (sorry Ashley & Ursula!) But it was so nice giving our young friends (all in their early 20's at the time) a chance to see Europe and to experience The Netherlands as we knew it, beyond Amsterdam and windmills. Since then well, a lot of these friendships have faded away over time and I think only one more friend has taken the trip over to see us. But luckily for us my parents & their partners have become regulars, even to the point I don't panic when they say they're going for a stroll through town. (In years past I was sure they would never find their way back.) Our living situation is more limited now that we have a kid, so nowadays when my family visits it is a small investment because they also have to arrange accommodations. Hopefully one day we'll be able to sell our apartment and get the house we talk about so often. And then maybe the extended family will decide to make the journey, hint-hint!
I'm not so thrilled with the weather changing, but I am definitely happy that the autumn vegetables are back! The first thing that crossed my mind when the chill hit the air was the road side veggie stand in Riethoven (Walik)! Last year we stumbled upon a beautiful assortment of pumpkins and squashes, and I was eager to head back. We took the risk of going a few weeks earlier than last year, but luckily the stand was up and running. She didn't have as big of a selection yet, so I think we'll be taking the 1hr round trip again later in the month. Besides the stunning, colorful display being perfect for a hobby photographer, the vegetables are actually delicious. I don't cook the pumpkins though, as of yet we gave them to family and also displayed one in the living room (maybe we'll get around to carving it). But I do cook the large squashes. This year I picked up a butternut squash and a spaghetti squash to bake, and they were both soooo delicious!
I can't help but show you pictures from our stop at the self-service veggie stand (but I'm saving my favorite shot for a Wordless Wednesday)!
Growing up I was a huge Barbie fan, and of course I have done my best to get my daughter also interested in Barbie's. She started collecting dolls last year, and since she has taken fairly good care of them we decided to take her collection a step further. We invested (it's a small fortune here) in a Barbie Malibu Dream House! There were a few options online, all different style and size Barbie houses, but I wanted the one closest to the first house I ever had. It took a while to assemble (so many stickers). I should have thought back to my childhood Barbie houses and assembled it while she was sleeping instead while she watched on, attempting to play every time I stuck the next piece on. In the end, I managed to get it put together without breaking anything or losing any pieces. (Well, one piece of the Barbie laptop is missing so I told her it was a tablet.) Everyday, she goes in her room and acts out things that have happened in her life or things she wants to happen, role playing is a great form of expression. The only issue is that her room is carpeted, so I might go out and buy a wood plank to put underneath it. It's already hard enough for her not to knock all of the furniture over, the house doesn't need to move with!
Were any of you Barbie fans growing up? What toys from your past are you steering your kids toward?
Thought I'd throw in a pic of what my first Dream House looked like, not too much has changed in the overall look in the past 30 some odd years.
Every autumn our town hosts "Lichtjesroute" (Route of Lights). It is exactly what it says, it's a route you can follow via car, bike, or even on foot with lots of light displays on the side of the road. The event begins on September 18th, marking the liberation of Eindhoven during World War II. Our daughter went last year on bike for the first time, and she talked about it all year. So of course when the event rolled around again we were sure to take her. But somehow she's ended up going about 4 times this year, every time a new reason... last time I wasn't on the bike... last time Dad wasn't with... well my cousin hasn't seen it... I'm sure our daughter could come up with more reasons! I can only imagine how impressed our 4 yr old would be with Christmas light displays in The States. Who knows, maybe one day we'll make it there around that time of year. But as for now she can just keep enjoying Lichtjesroute. My husband put together a quick collage of pics from his phone to give you an idea of what the displays look like. And if any of you are in the Eindhoven area, the event goes on until the 13th of October.