Home Sweet Home

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Jeff came home today!! Our family is complete. I was glad that we came home first and got settled and over jet lag and that he stayed back to close up shop, so to speak. He handled the packers and movers and cleaners and final walk through. I am blessed to have a great life partner and I’m so thankful he’s home with us again. I bet I’ll be able to sleep better now!

We had a wonderful homecoming dinner with our family friends and our beloved shared Traeger smoker!!

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Life is good and simple!

Day 211: Down on the Farm

It feels like Friday today, but its only Thursday. My timing is off because the kids are off from school this week and April and Steve are here on vacation with us. But the sad part is that they are leaving to go back home tomorrow. But I told the littlest one we couldn’t be sad today because we have to enjoy the moment. She agreed, until it was bed time and she looked at me with her big brown eyes, full of happiness and sadness all swirled together. And the big tears started rolling out, until Juliana told her to look up to stop the tears. It kinda worked but not really. We all just felt it, and hugged and agreed to not really cry until tomorrow.

Today we wanted to just chill at the house and didn’t get dressed until after lunch time. Everyone was happy just hanging out together.

20130222-000510.jpg Breakfast croissants

20130222-000601.jpg Fresh flowers that opened as soon as Jeff brought them home to me. Aren’t they beautiful?
When we finally decided to get out and enjoy the sunshine, we were shocked how cold it actually was. But we braved the literally freezing temperature and (ad)ventured over to the forest to explore Adventure Island and the goat farm. We all had fun being outdoors, but had to keep moving so our hands and feet wouldn’t freeze.

20130222-001236.jpg Rope Swingin’

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20130222-001542.jpg Walkin’ the planks!

20130222-001643.jpg Running on the wiggly bridge

20130222-001838.jpg Enjoying the mama pig and the baby pig nudging her to move for milk access. So funny to watch.

20130222-002056.jpg Seesaw fun for five

Day 210: Home Again

Traveling is fun and exhausting. We had a great last day exploring the top of the Eiffel Tower and being amazed by the metro system. We all enjoyed one last crepe before leaving Paris, and enjoyed the 3+ hour train ride back to Amsterdam.

When I asked everyone what they loved about the trip, we all had similar things to share. We enjoyed the food, the light, the sun, the houseboat, the monuments, just being together, the shopping, and the transportation system. We loved going up the Eiffel Tower this morning before we had to leave, and all the amazing views. What a cool experience for all of us! We’re already dreading April and Steve leaving us in a couple days! It’s so nice to have friends visiting for awhile.

Going up the Eiffel Tower

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Our house boat is the one the furthest from the bridge, away from the Eiffel Tower and closest to the shore😁😣. We were so close to everything and the location was perfect for the 9 of us.

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One last crepe!

Running for the train, for the fun of it. We weren’t late!

20130220-223108.jpgMy bottle of wine for the train ride home! So appropriate.

Life is good!

Day 209: 3 Days in Paris

Today was our third day in Paris. There is so much to see and do, but traveling in a herd of 9 slows you down a bit. We still managed to cover a ton of ground and saw so many sites, cute stores, and sampled delicious food.

The fun started this morning on the metro, listening to musicians entertain us and strolling for tips before the next stops.

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We were headed to the Sacre Couer, high up on a hill in the Montmartre section of Paris.

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The kids enjoyed riding the funicular to the top. The lighting today was amazing again.

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No pictures were allowed inside the cathedral, and a few who took the risk were yelled at and made to destroy their images before leaving the building. Yikes!
Juliana and I got a half hour to go shopping alone in the Montmartre area. We loved it and want to come back, just the two of us to wander and shop without any time limits.

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We trammed over to the Latin Quarters part of town and discovered the Universities and the Pantheon. We also found a great place for dinner, which included cheese and mushroom fondue. Mmm!!!

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For dessert, we promised the kids sweet crepes and found a cute street shop with a friendly guy selling and serving.

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We packed so much into one day, and the kids were great sports! I think if you’re traveling with kids, breaking up the day into smaller chunks and stopping for a drink or a snack helps to reenergize them and everyone else for that matter!

Hope you enjoyed our little view into Paris!
xo. Adriana

Day 208: Paris, Day 2

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I could go on and on about what I love about Paris, but the thing I love the most is the natural light and its glow reflecting off buildings and the water. I kept stopping just to admire the light. Well, I also stopped to look in bakeries, and cute boutiques and to admire the vast architecture of old buildings. There is so much wonder in Paris, that I was constantly in awe.

Here are some pictures from the day.

20130218-230817.jpgGood morning, Paris!

20130218-230931.jpgGood morning, Eiffel Tower.

20130218-230944.jpg Good morning, Louvre.

20130218-231238.jpgHello, Venus De Milo.

20130218-231350.jpg Jeff and I in a thousand years.

20130218-231645.jpgYear of the snake?!?

20130218-232410.jpg The infamous Mona Lisa

20130218-232639.jpg Love locks on a Parisian Bridge.

20130218-232829.jpg Saint Chappelle.

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Warm afternoon sunlight.

20130218-233209.jpg Sweet couple gazing in the Sweet Shoppe at night.

20130218-233234.jpg Lollipops!

20130218-233702.jpgNotre Dame at night.

What a great, cold,long day it’s been. Namaste.

Day 205: The Night Lights

Finally the weather warmed up a bit to above freezing and walking around town was more enjoyable. I knew it was going to be cold in Holland, but it has been colder than I expected this week. The good news is my definition of cold has changed, and I think I’ve acquired a higher tolerance level to the cold weather!!

On our way up to the flower market area for dinner, we spontaneously decided to get off the tram so that we could start the evening with a quick viewing of the Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum. It was 5:30 pm and our reservation was for 6:30 pm. I checked the hours for the museum and we had 30 minutes before closing and no kids with us. We could do it! The security guard thought we were crazy, but I told him we only needed 10 minutes to see Rembrandt’s work with our museum passes. And we did just that…headed straight upstairs and through the gift shop to see the magical masterpiece from 371 years ago! It was great going there at the end of the day when there was no one else really there. It was like our own private party!

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We still had five minutes to see my favorite exhibit, the simplest of all and one that makes me smile.

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It’s this cool clock with a video projection of a man inside who controls the minute hands with a dry erase marker and eraser, literally changing the clock minute by minute. It makes you aware of time passing and I absolutely love it, because it looks like nothing but makes you think.

We were out of the museum and back on a tram exploring more of the city before dinner.

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Coming into Amsterdam before dusk was beautiful. I loved watching the changing night sky and bright lights.

We were on our way to enjoy an Indonesian rijstaafel, or rice table in English. Indonesian food is my favorite type of cuisine. A rice table is an assortment of several different small dishes, that everyone at the table shares. We probably tried 15 different types of food, including chili eggs, shrimp and tofu, red curry green beans, rendang, gado gado, mango salad, satay skewers, cucumber salad and a couple chicken dishes.

The dinner was delicious and fun to share, although hard to tell from these dimly lit pictures.

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Hope you have a great, light filled weekend!

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Day 202: Doors & Entry Ways

It’s still so cold out today. Luckily the sun was shining, which makes me smile.

While April and Steve were exploring the Anne Frank house, I wandered around nearby since I’ve enjoyed Anne’s house twice before. I enjoyed admiring all the entry ways to the canal houses and imagined who lived there and what life would be like living along the canals. Here are some pictures from the day.

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Hope you are having a good day, exploring and learning and enjoying the moment. xo

Day 201: Clara Maria Cheese Farm and Clog Factory Tour

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It is below zero out today! And it feels like it really is freezing! I was standing outside in the parking lot, trying to chat with friends with my boots, scarf, and down coat on but I couldn’t stay outside for long. It was that cold! So when we were looking for something to do today, we weren’t all that excited to be touring the streets of Amsterdam. Luckily it wasn’t raining, because that would have been even worse.

I took April and Steve to our local cheese and clog farm because I could easily park and go inside with them. Luckily the farmer was available today and chose S to help with the clog making demo. I got a kick out of watching her learn and helping the farmer. She got to take home a souvenir, a hollowed out clog trophy with their family name on it.

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We learned about the cheese making process and they bought some gifts to take home.
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The cheese is made from the dairy cows on the farm.

It was our lucky day as two new calves were born today and yesterday and we got to see the farm animals too.

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Cheese, clogs and cows – not a bad way to fight jet lag!

Day 200: Happy Chinese New Year

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Happy Chinese New Year! Over 1.3 billion people in China and millions of people around the world, including us, celebrated the first day of the Chinese New Year today. Gong Xi Fa Cai is a traditional Chinese New Year greeting that means “wishing you prosperity” in Mandarin. This is the year of the snake, and is meant for steady progress and attention to detail. Might be a challenge for me!

April and Steve arrived today with their girls and we wandered thru Amsterdam’s small Chinatown and then towards the Bijenkorf to catch the tale end of the dragon dance.

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I can’t believe we’ve been living in Holland for 200 days already! I’m very happy to have our family friends with us for two weeks. They came with all kinds of goodies from home and with gifts and greetings from our friends and neighbors. Thank you Brenda for all the Valentine’s day candies. Thank you Val for the beautifully, handmade scarves and warm socks for the kids, and shirt for Christian. You all are so thoughtful! And thanks A&S for coming all this way to enjoy Europe with us! We’re so glad you’re here and are going to enjoy every (freezing cold) minute with you!

Happy Chinese New Year, friends!!

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Day 197: 3 More Sleeps and Nesting

After 3 more sleeps, I’ll get to hug S & J again! I can’t believe it’s been more than 6 months since we’ve played together. Luckily they’re bringing their parents too!  I can’t believe it’s finally time for them to get here. We’ve been waiting forever!! I’m so excited that they are coming for a long visit, since it’s been waaay tooo long. The hardest part of being an expat is missing family and friends from home.

I’ve been nesting the last few days, getting the house ready and planning fun activities, and thinking about what we’ll eat!  I always get a little anxious, even though there is no reason to be – I think it’s just the excitement and anticipation that makes me nervous.  The good thing about anxiety, is that it motivates me to dust and vacuum, and hang pictures and actually put the laundry away. The house repair guy came today to hang a kitchen light and fix the patio light too. Wow, I wish company could come every month!  Who’s coming next to visit?  😉

Juliana and Charlie and I baked cookies tonight — hopefully there will still be some left and they’ll still be fresh when they arrive.  

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I borrowed a booster seat from Patti Beth for J, am going to charge up the OV chip cards for each of them, and have the museum cards ready. Jeff and I collected touristy brochures for them to look at and find ideas of what they might want to see and friends have been giving me ideas of fun things for kids to experience in the city. I know for sure we’ll take a canal boat ride, see a museum or two and visit the goat farm and the cheese and clog place. Efteling is also on the list too.  What’s your favorite thing to see or do in Amsterdam?  What I’m most looking forward to is just sitting on the couch together and hanging out and listening to the kids run up and down the stairs together. And cooking with April and drinking with Steve. Really, it’s the simple things that make me happy.

I wonder what the weather will be like when they arrive. If it’s anything like this week, it’ll be sunny, rainy, gray, hailing, cold, wet, and snowy.  Watching the weather change is an event in itself. Just check out the picture collage of the trees out front of our house this week that Juliana created for me – I see Holland and America and all their beauty tied together. Namaste.

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