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Bernie's "Stay at Home" Tips, Easter & April Break 2020

Another "shelter-in-place" week has gone by. Many of us are still able to be out in the garden or enjoy a short walk around the block or go grocery shopping. And while we keep our physical distance, we are trying to stay emotionally connected to each other. With the Easter Break ahead of us, many of us were thinking about packing our suitcases to visit family and friends. But fortunately, with a little bit of help of Skype/Face-Time or Whatsapp, we can till be together! So, instead of having a family Easter breakfast, we can do a family Easter meal - for some that will be breakfast, while family members in a different timezone are enjoying their dinner. Or we can do a virtual Easter egg hunt - let your kids hunt for eggs in your house while on the phone with grandma & grandpa!

In the case of my family: my youngest daughter, Michelle, lives in Norway, while my husband Jim is in The Netherlands, and I am with my other daughter Stephanie in the U.S. This means a 7-hour time difference. So to still enjoy some quality family time, we try to have at least meal together during the weekends. We started this tradition long before our current "corona-age," and it works!

In the Netherlands, families usually get together for Easter brunch. A well-known treat here is "Paasbrood": a special type of raisin bread covered with powdered sugar. Every bakery and supermarket sells these. It's delicious for breakfast or lunch, but also for coffee or tea time! And just like at other places, egg painting, Easter egg hunting, and enjoying chocolate eggs together are all family traditions. Spending time in the garden or on a balcony is also a common form of Dutch Easter enjoyment. Please note that in the current "corona-age," many of the garden centers have special opening times. De Bosrand in Wassenaar also accepts online orders, which can be picked up or delivered.

Under different circumstances, we would be going out! Especially busy at this time of the year would be the Keukenhof. But since we can't go there this year, the Keukenhof has decided to come to you! So why not take your family or friends who would have been here on a virtual tour through the Keukenhof?! Some of you have written me that they already enjoyed driving through the flower fields. Don't do this over Easter (the Netherlands celebrates two Easter days, Sunday and Monday) but try it during the week instead; it'll be far less busy, and there is a chance that the smaller routes will be closed between Good Friday and Easter Monday!

I've found a lot of places to visit from the comfort of my couch by going to the following website of CNN. I've seen wonderful collections from museums all over the world, listened to great concerts, and watched mesmerizing ballet performances.

Some Dutch museums that you might like to "visit" and that have great virtual programs - also for your kids - are:

Then again, maybe you promised your kids a trip to Disney... Yep, that cancellation is a tough one to tell them! But have you seen the videos of people re-enacting rides in their own homes? Granted, the ones I saw were not living in an averaged-sized Dutch house, but even in a cozy Dutch house, everyone can enjoy a ride via Virtual Disney World. (This tip, by the way, came from the biggest Disney fan in this family, my daughter Michelle!)

And maybe, this "corona-age" is a great time for you to start learning a new language! Being in The Netherlands, why not start learning Dutch with your whole family? Watch some Dutch TV, and turn on the Dutch subtitles, especially with kids's shows (that's how my husband learned his Dutch!) 

As you see, there is a lot to do in between singing "Happy Birthday" (twice!) during all that hand washing multiple times per day. And of course, there is always music. We all listen to music... at work, while doing homework, or housework; and we all hum melodies (even without realizing), or sing in the shower! Music is also healing. As most of you know, my daughter (Stephanie) and I are in Rochester, MN, where she is undergoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic. Every public area of this Clinic and the associated hospitals have a piano - for everyone to play. Throughout the day, you see and hear patients, doctors, nurses, and other staff playing these pianos and singing songs. Frequently, people often gather during this impromptu "performances" - temporarily stopping while on their way to their next appointment, or while taking stroll off their ward. They stop just to listen, and sometimes even sing along. A brief moment of relaxation in a very hectic and stressful environment. So in this uncertain and stressful "corona-age," I'd like to wrap this up by sharing with you a performance of two Mayo physicians, Drs. Elvis L. Francois and William Robinson, chief residents in the orthopedic department of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota: "Imagine".

On Easter Sunday - April 12 at 7pm, by invitation of the City and of the Duomo cathedral of Milan, Italian global music icon Andrea Bocelli will give a solo performance representing a message of love, healing and hope to Italy and the world. 

Finally, mark your calendars for the ‘One World: Together At Home’ global special to air on Saturday, 18 April 2020 in celebration and support of healthcare workers, broadcast to feature real experiences from doctors, nurses and families around the world. An event to watch with the family!

Happy Easter. Stay safe, healthy, and socially engaged with those you love, even in these days of social isolation.
Bernie