Sunday with Friends

I’ve declared Sunday family days, where we try to not schedule anything and to celebrate a day of rest.  That is, until friends decide to celebrate life and I have to go with the flow.

Today was such a day. Kelly turned 50 and her friends chose to celebrate today and who was I to say no?

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We spent the day up in San Francisco on a gorgeous day.  We drove up in two cars and parked along the Embarcadero and the water. We had a delicious and healthy lunch at the Plant on Pier 3.  We all enjoyed our time together, sharing conversation and mimosas and wonderful food.  Afterwards, we walked along the Embarcadero and through the Ferry Building and along the water.  The sun was shining and there wasn’t any wind, so we were all warm and comfortable.

I tried a Blue Bottle Coffee for the first time and enjoyed every sip of the rich, creamy cafe latte.

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I loved that we all took the time to enjoy each other’s company and to celebrate our dear friend.  Becky was awesome and decorated the cars and brought party favors and bubbles for all the guests.

I have the best of friends and am so thankful for the women in my life. I learned so much and admired all the women and their life choices and hearing about what they are doing and where they are going. Some moms are working, some are looking for work and some are stay at home moms. Some have advanced degrees, some are teachers and one is doctor. And everyone took the time to celebrate our friend and each other. The laundry can wait.

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I am thankful and happy to have such cool women in my life and a supportive family that says, “Yes, go and play with your friends and have a good time.”  I got home in time to spend time together with my family too, with a delicious BBQ on our outdoor patio. Life is balanced.

Life is good.

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Circle of friends

Day 347: Last Night in Holland

All my bags are packed and weighed.

Boarding passes are printed and passports are ready to go.

The car is coming bright and early to bring us and all our luggage to the airport.

My day was filled with anxiety and sadness as I prepared to let go and leave Holland behind. I felt so much stress in my body, even though I’m happy to be moving back home. It kind of feels like breaking up with a boyfriend that you still love, but you know it’s time to move on, but you still feel sad breaking up, even though its the right thing to do. Does that make any sense? All I know is that anxiety is real and not really any fun. And the quicker it leaves my body, the better. A few deep breathes helped, but it took awhile and isn’t fully gone yet.

It’s time to leave Holland, but I fell in love here. I liked my life here and my friends and all that Holland had to offer and I’m extremely sad moving on and leaving my friends, even though I’m happy for the next phase too. I think that’s what creates the anxiety. I have so much to love about California and my friends and family and life there too and I’m excited to see everyone again and be back in my home again.

I’m so thankful for having had the experience to live in Europe for a year with my family.

So as Jen and Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

So I took a shower and cleaned up and off we went to enjoy our last night in Holland. Live in the moment, right?

There were three things I wanted to do…take a boat ride, take a family picture on the milk meisje bridge and eat bitterballen one last time.

We took the 5 tram into Amsterdam and met up with Ton and Loes for a boat ride through the canals. It was a gorgeous and warm evening and they made my dream come true. I am happiest on the water and felt my anxiety melt away. Thank you Ton and Loes for sharing your boat with us and giving us such a great going away present!

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Afterwards, Loes took our family photo on the bridge by their home on the Herengracht.

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And finally, we went to discover Loetje in Amsterdam, for bitterballen.

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My night is done.

My heart is content.

My journey in Holland is complete.

It’s been a wonderful year of exploring and discovering and loving life.

I Am. Thankful.

Thank you for sharing the journey with me.

Namaste

Day 292: The Simple Beauty of Swans and Ice Cream

We were so tired today that I let the kids sleep in and skip school. We needed a day of rest. They woke up at 10:30 am!! We weren’t ready to really move or get out of the house until 3pm. After coming home from a long trip, there’s more work to do like putting away luggage, lots of laundry, grocery shopping and sorting all the stuff.

I’ve adopted the Dutch way of going to the grocery store and buying what we need for dinner that day and buying what looks fresh, available and on sale. For tonight’s dinner, Charlie picked steaks for the grill, baked potatoes, Chinese broccoli and I picked whole carrots to roast with balsamic, Dijon, a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.

While I was preparing dinner, the little ones were out riding bikes. Juliana came home and told me I had to come with her quickly. My first thought was something happened to Charlie, but she had a smile on her face. I jumped on my bike and headed up the road with her, as she requested and dropped everything. (I’m listening to all the wise women who tell me to enjoy them while they’re young!)

What she shared, made my day!

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A little swan family!! How adorable are the babies??

And just yesterday we were at the Swan Castle, Neuschwanstein! King Ludwig’s favorite animal was the swan and the swan motif played throughout his castle.

Swans mate for life and protect one another. Seeing this family swimming and eating together and my family enjoying them made me happy. While we were visiting with the swans, our neighbor Peggy walked by with her dog. I really love the feeling of a small neighborhood, and really love the simplicity of life…Shopping, cooking, playing, experiencing nature, visiting with friends, and being with my family.

Afterwards, we came home and finished preparing dinner together. During dinner, I told the kids we were cutting out junk food from our kitchen! I didn’t buy any today,except for one box of cereal. I want our family to eat more delicious and nutritious foods, not that we don’t already, but we also snack too much. But the irony of the conversation came when the ice cream man came by, playing his music and parking outside our front window. In the spirit of letting the kids be kids, and enjoying the moment, we let them go outside and splurge! I hope they remember their fun parents one day when they think we don’t know anything! And I’m not saying they can’t have junk food, but I don’t have to keep a stash in the house, readily available. Yin and yang, it’s all the same!

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Life is good. Hope you had a good day and got outside to play!

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Goodnight, from Holland.

Day 282: Running and Supping

Who knew that today would be so beautiful? I got to run and SUP … what could be better?

I hadn’t planned on going for a run today, but the sun was shining and no wind was blowing and it was too gorgeous to be indoors. I ran 3.4 miles in 33 minutes with several stops to smell the roses, so to speak. I wanted to share the beauty around me on my run through the forests, and plus the breaks gave me a chance to catch my breath. Running isn’t easy for me… But I keep doing it. I hope you enjoy the views…

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So that’s why my run was a bit slower… I had to enjoy my surroundings. Gorgeous, right?

After my run, I showered and got dressed and rode my bike to the Friday market to buy a birthday present, and some things for dinner. I came home and assembled my favorites right now: celery root mashed with creme fraiche and salt and pepper… so delicious, thanks Patti Beth for introducing me to a food I would have never noticed. I also made a roasted beet salad with goat cheese, toasted pine nuts and balsamic vinegar. yum! These were side dishes for the grilling team! We went over to Barbara’s house for dinner and to paddle together. We couldn’t have asked for any better conditions. The sun was warm, the wind was non existent, and the water was smooth as glass. We supped before and after dinner at sunset. I was so happy. I love being on the water. Thanks to Barbara and D for hosting all of us. We loved your company and dinner was great!

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Day 272: The King is Coming

I am so happy to be living in Holland right now. The sun is shining again, the weather is warming up, and there is excitement in the air.

We get to be part of something big! Everyone is making plans and preparing for Queens Day and the coronation of (our) new king. It’s strange to say “our”, since even though we are legal residents of the Netherlands, it feels like theirs and not ours. Nevertheless, we get to enjoy and celebrate along with the locals and I am excited.

The stores are filled with orange decorations and paraphernalia everywhere you go. People are sharing ideas of how and where and when to celebrate and telling us what we need to do. On Monday, our school will have celebrations in honor of the new king and the school will be closed on Tuesday to celebrate Queens Day.

Today during our Dutch class, the teacher told us to look out the window and look at what was happening down in the court yard.

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The people had been working on a brick mosaic in the city center honoring the new king. This year the Queen was supposed to come to our city of Amstelveen to celebrate her special day. Instead, the coronation of her son will be happening in Dam square in Amsterdam. Today there were photos of several people vacuuming the Dam Square, preparing for the royal family’s arrival. The buildings are decorated with banners in the colors of the Dutch flag and orange is everywhere. I can’t wait!! The anticipation is building.

I love Holland!

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Day 245: Art on a Plate

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I had a fabulous lunch at Aan de Poel in Amstelveen today with some new, beautiful, international friends. I loved the leisurely lunch with excellent service and no rush, yet timely and attentive service. It was the best service I’ve experienced in Holland. It’s no wonder why they have earned two Michelin stars.

We all had a great time sharing stories and enjoying the waterfront views and artistic presentation of the different flavorful dishes we were served from the chef’s menu.

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The best part of lunch was the company, shared laughter and connections. The second best part was not having to choose what to order. I liked that the menu was decided, and the waiter would explain what each dish was as it arrived. Every dish was a surprise to me and didn’t disappoint. I loved all the flavor combinations, presentation and colors of each plate and entree, and the small portion sizes.

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I can’t remember what all the dishes were called, but the dessert plate was apple served five ways with a feta sorbet. All was very interesting and delicious and quite the experience. The ambiance was fantastic too!

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Day 235: The Amstel River – aka Where I Plan to SUP

We had the laziest day today. The leprechaun trap didn’t quite catch us a leprechaun, but he did leave Charlie some Euros, and made quite a mess of our house!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day and wishing you the luck of the Irish!

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I love this picture of our littlest traveler, for several reasons. First of all, he still believes in Leprechaun’s and built a trap! Secondly, when we decided to move overseas, we promised Charlie that he could collect soccer jerseys from the places we visited to help him accept the change in his stable living environment. He picked this outfit out last week in Istanbul at the Grand Bazaar and insisted that we stop and get it, waiting for the shop keeper to find just the right one in his size(which I think he obtained by buying it from another vendor for 25 Lira and turning around and selling it to us for 50!). Next to Charlie is a travel book for Dubai. One of our goals moving to Holland was to show the kids as much of the world as possible. They have become pretty good at packing, navigating airports, late night arrivals and early morning departures. Dubai is next on our list and today we were doing some research. They are excited to see the watermarks and aquariums, and to eat American food like Panda Express. I was especially keen on finding a place to paddle board in the sunshine! I actually found a place and it is my dream to paddle on the ocean and find someone else riding a camel on the shore at the same time and snap a picture! I think it’s possible… We’ll see!

Back to our lazy day…while dreaming of warm weather and paddle boarding, I heard about some lakes in Aalsmeer. We all decided to hop in the car and drive around for awhile to see what we could find. What I learned is how small the little neighborhoods are and how they’re so easily connected. We found the lake which is quite large and was choppy from the wind. I wasn’t planning on paddling today as the weather was wet and freezing! Se also saw all the flower distributors. Aalsmeer is known for their flower auction and is also known as the flower capital of the world! Right in our backyard! I want to go see a morning auction before we move back to the States. It sounds really fascinating and highly automated.

But what I loved rediscovering the most today, was the curvy back side of the Amstel river that leads away from Amsterdam and Ouderkerk. The Amstel river and its banks are my favorite parts of Holland and I can’t wait to launch my board there in the next couple of weeks when it’s spring time! Here are some pictures of her beauty, despite the grey skies!

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