Day 98: Volendam


Volendam is an old fishing village on the IJsselmeer. The village is built on a dike in North Holland and is known as a popular tourist attraction, for its old fishing boats and traditional clothing, and small houses in the village.

Today we visited with my mom and dad, enjoyed the sites and antique stores and tasted raw herring, which was not my favorite! Juliana and Christian didn’t have school today because of parent teacher conferences, so they came too. The sun was shining yet it was very cold. I realize how much I appreciate the sun shine when it came back today! I hope for a short winter here!!






Day 97: Halloween in Holland


Happy Halloween!

The PTA and the American Community hosted a Halloween event in our little city this evening. Anyone who wanted to participate was welcome and were asked to donate candy. Some families opened their doors and some families opened their trunks. The families had a map of the neighborhood and knew were to trunk or treat. It was so much fun for kids and adults alike. 


Happy Halloween!!

We decorated our minivan trunk area and sat in the back, handing out candy while scary music played loudly. Most kids said Happy Halloween, some said Trick or Treat, and some just stared and were scared. I think most had fun and we ran out of candy, so it must have been a success. I know my kids were really happy.

I just love Halloween and seeing everyone out socializing and playing together. I am glad that we got to experience Halloween in Holland, as it it not a popular tradition here (yet.) And the reason we celebrated tonight, instead of the 31st, is because the American Women of Amsterdam are hosting another Halloween event tomorrow night in Amsterdam.


For all our friends back home, Happy Halloween!  Hope you and your little goblins enjoy the magic of it all and stay safe and warm.



Parked near a canal, beginning to decorate our trunk.


Trick or Treaters. Luckily it didn’t rain while they were walking around the ‘hood, but it did get quite cold tonight!



Day 96: Being Home


It’s nice to travel but its even nicer to be home. I think we have to leave sometimes to appreciate the comforts and normalcy that home has to offer. I was happy that everyone was happy to be home in Amstelveen, and that this place actually felt like home, if that makes any sense. I enjoyed hearing and seeing their excitement, just walking through the front door and settling back in.

I enjoyed grocery shopping today, for the first time. I was happy to see my friends at school and to share stories together. And I was happy to go to Juliana’s volleyball game tonight.

I think by leaving you get a break from your routine which makes you actually appreciate it again once you return.

I am happy to be home.

*** Sending warm thoughts to family and friends on the East Coast, battling through hurricane Sandy. Stay dry and safe!!

Day 95: Last Day in Italy

20121028-171244.jpgWe got very lucky this morning and were able to see the Statue of David without having to wait in line. Maybe the rain helped, along with the time change and being in line at 9:15 am!!

You’re not allowed to take pictures in the museum, but I was able to take a photo from the bookstore of a modern, Andy Warhol-like, colorful version outside in the courtyard.
We marveled at the original 14 foot high version situated under a renaissance style dome. We noticed the size of his head and hands, his eyes, the veins in his hands, and his tight hiney! We noticed how smooth the marble was, especially when we compared this finished piece to the unfinished prisoner pieces leading up to David. We imagined being Michaelangelo and the amount of patience he must have had working on David for 3 years. The statue is 504 years old and is still stunning.

The weather turned cold and was very rainy! We found a great restaurant for our last lunch in Italy and everyone enjoyed their pasta, pizza, eggplant parmigiana, pork chop and potatoes!
We had a very busy few days and I think we’re all ready to head home…just in time for volleyball games and Halloween!!

Day 94: Florence


We are in Florence today, the place known for the Renaissance and rebirth and “humanism.” I didn’t even have to step off the train to feel “it.”

We took the train from Rome to Florence and had such a pleasant trip. We sat by a great family and shared snacks and toys and conversation. The mother was a Muslim woman, from London, who just relocated to Rome. She is an expat just like me. She was traveling with her two kids and two guinea pigs and husband. She had just celebrated Eid late into the evening last night and was tired. We talked about her holy celebration, helping our children to settle into new locations and finding ways to help them feel comfortable. We talked about religion and peer pressure and discrimination. Our families played together and switched seats to be near one another. We hugged each other when we departed and I think we both felt a connection, even though we didn’t even share our names. There was a human connection, and understanding of what it’s like to be a mother, to raise children with manners and respect and religion and kindness and love, and to show them the world.

Even though we practice different faiths, and dressed very differently, I felt the same way she did. I felt her spirit and kindness and wish more people were like her. And I wish I knew her name. Namaste.







Day 93: Yin and Yang


Ancient and New.

Joy and Sorrow.

Yin and Yang.


My mind is swirling today with happiness and sadness.

Happy to be in Rome with my family and experiencing this journey together.

Sad for our family friends who lost loved ones tragically this week and whose lives will forever be affected. My heart aches for you. Sending prayers of light and peace.



Day 92: Best Part of the Day

This morning I left Jeff back at the hotel with Christian and Juliana, as all three of them were still not feeling well. I had downloaded a TripAdvisor city guide for Rome on my phone and picked a destination to go see that wasn’t mentioned in the Rick Steve’s guide to Rome. I took my parents and Charlie out for a stroll and had such a great time wandering around Rome, and discovering new areas together.

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel to collect the rest of the family, as we scheduled a private tour of the colosseum, Palatine hill and the Roman Forum. The tour was absolutely amazing! Thanks to Michelle and Greg for sharing their contact with us. If you’re ever in Italy, look up Bruno! He’s worth every penny… So smart and passionate and knowledgable and great with the kids! He kept us interested and entertained for 3 hours! Thank goodness everyone survived (with a few potty breaks and complaints, but hey… We’re in ROME!!)

Afterwards, we went to dinner across the river at Roma Sparita in Trastavere. We had read about it and were able to decipher the place from an Anthony Bourdain episode. Bruno also mentioned it as one of his top restaurants. They are known for a simple pasta dish made from Sheeps milk and pepper, served in a Parmesan crisp bowl, called Cassio & pepe.

It was delicious! Pino was a friendly server. The “only” way to get a table was to have a reservation or to be Italian!! When tourists showed up, they were sent away. When the pretty Italian girl showed up, they found a way to seat her party in 30 minutes!!

Jeff asked me what the best part of my day was, and actually my favorite part was people watching, and especially watching my own kids and family. For some reason I like to watch their reactions to what we see, eat, and do!

Charlie has been especially cute and fun and funny this trip and I really enjoyed watching his excitement and making friends with the tour guide and racing after his brother. I liked hearing what he thought of Italy. I liked watching all three kids sit on the subway together. I liked watching my mom walk 20 feet in front of us because she’s fast like that! And my dad was usually 20 feet behind someplace. And I was in the middle, making sure everyone stayed connected. I liked watching Jeff take pictures with our new Lytro camera and Juliana being a trooper even though she was sick. I also loved listening to Christian answer so many trivia questions correctly on our tour. He just amazed me!

So yes, I enjoyed the Ancient Ruins, but I really just enjoyed sharing the experience with everyone.