After some last-minute panic, we arrived in Son just in time to see F. and P., friends of paultje, who had come to visit with their son Max, who is one year younger than Joep. They left soon after our arrival, and everyone took Joep to see the arrival of Sinterklaas in Beek & Donk. Living in Denmark, Joep misses those little cultural references, and I think it's great paultje makes sure he learns those typically Dutch things too. I stayed home to read my book (and I got to answer the phone -- it was some old lady who wanted to know "when mommy would be back"... WTF!?).
When the whole group returned, Joep told me enthusiastically that he had shaken hands with Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet! It took little persuasion to convince him later on the day, that it was Sinterklaas who had banged on the door and rang the bell, leaving all those presents on the doorstep!
The next few hours were spent with Joep unwrapping his gifts. Biggest hits were the hobbyhorse and the clothes to dress up (especially the knight-stuff like a sword and the shield -- which could, not quite coincidentally, be ideally combined with the hobbyhorse).
When Joep had been put to bed, it was time for the 'grown-up' presents. It was fun, though tiring. I don't know what caused it, but I was completely devastated at the end of the evening. We all got great gifts and some great poems as well. I got 120 ping-pong balls, a headset, an external USB harddisk enclosure, Paranoia XP and a host of other great gifts!
After breakfast today, paultje and H. were off again to visit more friends (their time in the Netherlands is always strictly divided between their family and friends -- like a whirlwind they travel through the country).
My parents had given themselves and paultje a webcam, so that they can video-conference with Joep over the internet. I offered to install it (knowing that when my dad gets down with hardware, all sorts of disasters start happening) -- but I had to troubleshoot some other problems first... After a lengthy install, we had the camera up and working. I found ankie willing and able to demonstrate how to use the webcam in combination with MSN Messenger, which was a huge hit.
My mom was very interested (because this would mean she would get to talk to Joep in a much more direct way than over the phone), and gradually the idea formed to give my mom her own computer. Only install what's needed, give a clear manual, and she'll be video-conferencing like there's no tomorrow. There was the problem of space, but I still have that desktop-case lying around: I have been charged with building a stable computer with it. We will also need to set up a wireless ADSL router, so that we don't have to worry about wires...
My dad is pretty bad with spyware and stuff like that: when presented with a screen that offers 'help', he is prone to click 'Yes'. Result: lots of junk installed on his machine, which gives unpredictable results and loss of speed. I downloaded Spybot S&D and did a sweep: lots and lots of stuff installed, as I had guessed. We left when the second sweep was in progress, and my dad called me in the evening to tell me that network traffic had been sped up considerably.
I hope it'll be a lesson for him, but somehow I think it won't be. Perhaps we should give the normal account of my mom's new computer no administrator rights...