Day 340: Family + Sun + BBQ = Life is Good


The sun was shining and it was so gorgeous out today in London. Nate and Becky have this fabulous roof deck and we sat outside nearly all day and soaked it all in.  Her family came to join us and we all enjoyed being together.

Becky is an amazing hostess and planned and organised a wonderful BBQ for us. I loved watching Juliana work with her auntie,  cutting fruit to make a fruit salad and slicing the bread and making a tomato and basil salad.  Seeing them work together made me aware how grown up my little girl is becoming, and watching them bond together reminded me of the importance of family and how much I miss them.

There was so much food and everyone was so content just being outside, that it was a double BBQ kinda day.  Jeff and Nate grilled twice and we never wanted to go in.  We celebrated CJs birthday and Ant and Emma’s anniversary and Nate and Becky’s new place.  Some people went for a walk around the marina and others went to the local pubs for a few pints, and Charlie fought his fever again all day.  All in all it was a wonderful day of togetherness. I am thankful.


Day 339: Staycation on Vacation


I believe in accepting what ever comes your way, and even when you have a plan, expect the plan to change. This way you’re never really disappointed.
As we were leaving for London yesterday, Charlie said he wasn’t feeling well. I was wishfully thinking he was just overtired. But today the thermometer and the feel of his skin and his watery eyes told me otherwise.

So instead of touring around London as expected, I got to spend a relaxing day with my little boy sitting on the couch and watching a movie, playing Connect Four and just being a mama. When he fell asleep, I got to enjoy Nate and Becky’s beautiful roof top terrace and sat in the sun with my book and Becky’s iPad. There isn’t wifi here, so I’m unable to use my iPhone or iPad as usual, and thus cannot post pictures from the events this weekend unless I use Becky’s iPad to take photos or leverage some from Facebook!

When everyone else came back, they all joined me on the terrace, including Charlie for some snacks and a family game of Pictionary.

We had tickets for the theatre tonight and Jeff graciously volunteered to stay home with Charlie. Poor kid. It was so sad to leave him behind when he really wanted to go, but his fever had other plans. The theatre district in London includes several different theatres in a general vicinity. Juliana and I went to see Mathilda and Nate, Becky and Christian went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as we couldn’t get enough tickets for Mathilda, and Becky was able to find tickets for the other show at the same time for everyone else. Both shows were fantastic and we enjoyed the evening at the theatre. The weather is warm, like California and I loved being outside tonight. I’m hoping Charlie feels better tomorrow and his fever breaks so that we can enjoy Sunday,all together as a family.

How was your day?  Did things go as planned?  Hope it was a good one.  xx

Day 338: Greetings from London!


No rest for the wicked…We are in London for the next few days, visiting with Uncle Nate and Aunt Becky. This is our last European vacation before we move back to California in 10 days!  We are so lucky to be able to travel and spend time with family in such a great city.

Today we were busy packing and cleaning and doing laundry and shopping. We took the 51 tram to Station Zuid and took a train to the airport. It’s so easy and inexpensive to travel this way. We flew into London City airport which is smaller and so much easier to travel through than Heathrow. We took the DLR train to Limehouse and walked in a light drizzle to see our family.

Life is good!

We had a wonderful Indian feast and enjoyed the views from Nate and Becky’s new place. Tomorrow we will explore more of the city. TGIF!!

Hope y’all have a good weekend!!  Goodnight, from London.

Day 337: Waiting and Awaiting

Juliana and I are waiting at the Paris Gare Du Nord train station. We are waiting to return to Amsterdam and it made me think about how much time we spend waiting and awaiting something else to come, to happen, to arrive. I kind of like that anticipation feeling, when its something good. I don’t mind waiting for the train because I’m anticipating the joy of seeing my boys again. I’m enjoying the stillness, sitting and reflecting on the fun and memorable experience Juliana and I just shared, smiling at the snapshots on my iPhone.

As I wait and and have time to think, I’m anticipating our last trip to see Nate and Becky in London before the packing chaos begins. We move home in less than 2 weeks and I’m giving myself 5 days to do all the finishing work that goes into this BIG transition. I plan to work during the day and play in the evenings. I’m getting excited to go back home and am anticipating all the hugs and kisses to be shared with those I haven’t hugged or kissed in almost a year! I can hardly WAIT!!

What are you waiting for and/or anticipating? I hope it’s something good.

Here is a snapshot from our last day in Paris today. We were lucky as we were awaiting rain that never came.

Life is good. xxoo


Day 336: Paris – Day 2


It was another gorgeous day in Paris. I just like the vibe of this city and don’t even have to really do anything but just be here, and it makes me smile.

I love the light, the sunshine, the buildings, the people, the sound of the language, the food, the shops, the architecture, the history, and the sounds of cars driving down the cobblestoned streets. I love the way Parisian women dress. I just like being here.

Today Juliana and I wandered around Montmartre again. We stopped for bread at Coquelicot for breakfast and wandered in and out of the quaint shops. Today was the first sale shopping day of the season, we learned, and the shops were quite crowded. We enjoyed the early morning browsing but hated the crowds mid afternoon.

We hung out by the Garnier Opera theater and explored the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps mega department stores. Because of the sales, we could hardly move and it was a bit overwhelming.

The glass dome in the Galeries Lafayette.


We managed to have a wonderful lunch on the 9th floor outdoor terrace at Printemps and enjoyed the panoramic views of the city.



Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain so we wanted to be outside as much as possible.

Sampling a salted caramel and rasberry macarons from Laduree.

We took the metro back to our studio to relax for a couple hours before heading back out again, even though we were tired. I’m so glad the Christine told us to try the best falafel place on the planet (outside the Middle East). We ventured around Marais and loved the Jewish side of town. The shops and streets were so cozy on Rue des Rosiers, and we arrived just in time to avoid long lines and got a table at L’as du Falafel. The falafel was so moist and the eggplant dish I ordered was delicious. Thanks, Christine!!

After dinner we wandered up Rue du Temple and then up Rue de Rivoli toward the Hotel De Ville. I’m amazed by how old and huge the buildings are. From there, we had to see the water and walked along the Seine and across Pont Neuf to see and touch the locks of love. We both love that place. The sky was gorgeous and people watching was entertaining. We would have liked to stay out later to watch the sunset and to see the buildings all lit up, but it really doesn’t get dark until after 10 pm. And our feet were tired… So we took the metro back and are enjoying our quiet time together. I’m so thankful to have such a kind and loving daughter. She’s at such a great age and I already treasure our time together. Thanks for coming on this journey with me, baby girl.

Je t’aime Juliana. xoxo

Day 335: Bon Jour from Paris!

I love this living in the moment idea.

I love having a dream and then seeing it come true.

I love this life, right now.

I love that I’m in Paris with my daughter, just the two of us on a dream vacation for a couple days. I can’t stop smiling. Thank you Jeff for letting us sneak away and for taking care of the other two, and the house and work and letting possible new tenants come take a peek at our place. You are amazing!

I love that when we decided to become expats that I learned to really dream and learned to make the time for fun, despite the chaos and to do lists. This is one of the biggest gifts I was given…to be fully alive and to not make excuses and to do it now. Whatever IT may be, and IT is always changing. I hope you do the same…it’s never too late to dream a new dream.

This IT was coming back to Paris with Juliana to just wander the streets and to do and see and eat whatever and wherever we felt like doing, eating, or going, without having to worry about anyone else. We are having so much fun! Below are some pictures from our first evening in Paris.

Life is good.

At the Starbucks upstairs at the Amsterdam train station…a little secret gem of a location. Such a cool building you should check out if you’re ever there.

On the train…ready to go to Paris.

Love the cloudscape…makes me think of my mama who loves this.

Bread and meringues from Coquelicot Patisserie and Boulangerie. Yum!

Famous bar from the movie Amelie. Juliana and I sat at the bar to enjoy a moment.


The most delicious French onion soup.

Sacre Coeur at sunset, around 9:30 pm. We walked up the steps to burn off some of our good eats.

Bonne Nuit from Paris, with love.

Day 334: 2 Weeks To Go!

We leave Holland in 2 weeks! I have extreme anxiety today. It’s feeling so real. I know in my mind that by the end of the month, the transition will be done and I can breathe more easily again. I know that it will take some time to repatriate and feel at home again and that a lot will have changed while we’ve been away and a lot will still be the same. I have anxiety about the move and transitioning back to where I came from, although I feel different and the same. Does that make any sense?

I wish I had a tribe of expats who have already been there, done that, who could tell me what to expect. I’m reading a book called The Art of Coming Home that tells me a bit about what to expect, but I’m sure it’s just like having a baby… you can read about it and hear stories, but until you go through it, you won’t know what the experience is really like, and it’s different for everyone. I’m sure it’ll all be good (well, mostly all good) but I do have anxiety in anticipation of what’s to come and what it will be like and all that.

But for now, I’m just busy doing the work and enjoying the moment, despite the anxious feeling. This too, shall pass, and in five years, it won’t matter any more. 😉

Here are some of the tasks I did today to prepare for our move:

1. Went to the Honda dealer to pick up the death certificate for our minivan. So sad… but at least we have a receipt and can stop paying taxes and insurance on the car.

2. Did several loads of laundry (and still going) and not done! Did I tell you the laundry machines in the Netherlands are teeny tiny, inefficient and do 1/4 the load size in 3 times the time it takes to do a load in the States? Yes, this is a problem for me!

3. Met with a house cleaner to do a walk through and to get an estimate for the final cleaning.

4. Went to the mobile phone store to figure out how to cancel my contract.

5. Went grocery shopping – we still have to eat!! 😉

6. Bought birthday presents for my birthday boys.

7. Decided on a birthday plan for our littlest one. Just gotta book the venue and send out invitations.

8. Mailed a package to the US. Do you know it costs like $40 to mail some cookies and candy in a shoe box? So expensive, don’t you think?

9. Set up phone and internet service appointment back in the States, so I can stay wired once I returned.

10. Talked to my family in California for over an hour – it’s important to stay in touch.

11. Picked up Charlie from a play date in Amsterdam… trying to get those last goodbyes in before we go! We’re not done playing and exploring yet!!

12. Made baked pasta dishes and sprayed tomato puree all over my curtains when the can exploded in my hands and sprayed 5 feet away! Gotta love messy surprises and cleaning and scrubbing tomato sauce off white curtains. One more thing to fix before we leave!

13. Began packing for our girls’ trip tomorrow!! Juliana and I are off on a girls’ adventure, just the two of us! So excited… stay tuned tomorrow to find out where in the world we went. 😉

The list goes on and on.. but just wanted to share some of the more mundane details of the weeks leading up to lift off. LIfe is good! Hope you’re enjoying the first few days of summer… still raining here and California too, I hear… xoxo


Keep Calm and Carry On

Day 333: Our Last European Road trip…(at least for awhile)


We’re in the process of preparing to move back to the United States. Part of this process included one last family road trip this weekend. I’m thankful that Jeff had a few ideas of places to see today outside Bruges, as the weather was still bad today.

We drove to Ieper, where some of the important battles of World War One happened.

At one point 500,000 men died within 100 days. We explored the In Flanders Field museum, which was one of the best hands on, interactive and multi-media museums we’ve visited.


The red poppy symbol comes from this region.

We next drove to find the biggest British Commonwealth cemetery in the world.

Tyne Cot Cemetery.

Standing on top of an old bunker in the cemetery.

From Ieper, we drove to Oostende, a beach town in Belgium. I was so happy to see the water and feel the ocean spray, but it was so windy and rainy too!

Windy and cold at the seaside.

Artistic tree at the beach.

Sitting on an art sculpture.

We wandered around anyway, sampling chocolates, Belgian beer, waffles, and some kibbling (fried fish) that was snatched right out of my hand by an aggressive seagull! I shrieked and let him have it!! Wow – that was freaky!!

And finally we drove home… Only 3 hours more in the car!! So glad we went and so glad to be “house,” as Juliana would say.

Rainbows in the sky near Breda.

Life is good.

Day 332: Exploring Bruges

It’s pouring rain again and it’s making everyone cranky. It makes traveling less exciting and we are not as motivated to be walking and exploring, yet we’re doing it anyway, frizzy hair and all.

Bruges is a beautiful city, with quaint architecture, curved and narrow streets, tasty food and great beer. We found the chocolate store everyone talks about and sampled a few flavors, loving the bacon and chocolate mix!!

Here are a few pictures from the town and the castle.

In the castle, they have a small chapel and bar!! How crazy is that? It’s an honor system bar where you pick your drinks and write down what you had. No lying in a church!!


Rainy canal ride.

Delicious Belgian chocolate from the Chocolate Line.

What a great job!

Famous photo op in Bruges of the canal and The Belltower.

The markt with beautiful gabled houses.

Relaxing at the castle, looking across the moat at the cows in the field. So quiet and bucolic. Awe….

In the castle lobby.

All is well. Hope you enjoy the weekend! Happy anniversary today, mama and papa!! Can’t wait to see you again. xoxo

Day 331: Brugge – Celebrating 16 Years of Marriage

16 years ago today, we threw a great party with all our friends and loved ones. It was one of my favorite days. We smiled, we laughed, we cried, we danced and danced and celebrated and brought everyone together to celebrate love – my favorite virtue.

We’ve worked hard to maintain our friendship and love, struggled and cried and fought and played and argued and danced and moved and had babies and traveled and made several new friends. We keep discovering and learning and laughing at ourselves, keeping life fresh, funny and new.

I think the secret to our marriage is that we both appreciate each other and respect one another, and truly love each other, despite any frustrations we face. I think these qualities are important in any relationship, and we’ve been lucky!

Thank you Jeff for loving me and going through this life journey with me and our three babies. Life is good and I’m thankful for you and our family.

We are celebrating with our little family this year in Bruges. I booked a REAL castle with a family room for us to enjoy that Patti Beth told me about. It’s so cool!! Thank you for the idea my friend. I love it.

We made it through Belgium just in time for our scheduled, last brewery tour of the day at De Halve Maan, that was especially booked for Jeff’s anniversary gift.

The family brewery was established in 1856 and is the only remaining brewery in the centre of Bruges. We ran into traffic in Antwerp, which is always a bottleneck, but luckily we found easy parking and they still let us in. Afterwards, we got to sample the blonde beer and the kids had some creme brûlée.


Hope you have a wonderful weekend and happy anniversary to Mom and Dad, Kris and Pat, and Dani and Sean this weekend. Love you. xoxo