Day 206: Amsterdam Tourist

The fun part of having guests in town is being a tourist again. It was fun to explore some familiar sites of Amsterdam again, even though we’ve already see them, but this time with a little more depth.

We went with April and Steve and the kids through Amsterdam today, walking down PC Hoofstraat, Museumplein, and Vondelpark. We were wandering around while we waited for our 1:00pm departure on the Blue boat canal ride. We had been on the cruise before and love it every time. It gives you a great view of the city.

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We stopped for a warm up lunch at Wagamama!

Life is good! I hope you enjoyed seeing another bit of Amsterdam with me. What’s your favorite tourist place?

Day 53: Van Gogh and Friends

We visited the Van Gogh museum with two other families today, which for me, was a HUGE success just to coordinate and execute the event itself before the museum closed. 

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Juliana and Van Gogh

I was fascinated watching our lively group move around the museum, especially enjoying the 4 young boys and Juliana with their Treasure Hunt map. Children are more than welcome at the museum and were given a treasure map, a writing board and pencil to discover clues to uncover a secret word. At the end of the treasure hunt, they received a prize – a post card they could choose from their favorite Van Gogh’s masterpieces.  Even watching what they picked entertained me. I liked seeing what drew their attention, and by them picking, we got to have a conversation afterwards. The treasure hunt was a brilliant idea and occupied their attention, taking them from floor to floor and exploring the different works of art. They all became Van Gogh “Experts”. 

One connection I had with Van Gogh, came on the first floor of the museum. When you first walk in, the room is filled mainly with art from other artists. What intrigued me was what was written on the wall about Van Gogh, and his interest and relations with the other artists and why they were important to him. He mentioned that he learned from the others and wanted to collaborate with them. He looked for kindred spirits and wanted to exchange ideas.  

‘People strengthen each other when they work together, and an entity is formed without personality having to be blotted out by the collaboration. … We don’t actually work together, but we have similar ideas about many questions’

This made me think of the friends I choose to surround myself with – I want to collaborate and share ideas and help each other and promote one another. I want to make life better for all of us and enjoy the company of other women creating the same type of “art” as me – creating a balanced, happy, family life and supporting each other through the messy process. I don’t want to take away from anyone else or necessarily copy anyone else, but I want to watch and learn and adopt and create best practices. I used to do this for work once upon a time… hmmm… I like this knowledge sharing thing.

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Girlfriends in Vondelpark

I also really liked the simplicity of Vincent’s work (he used to sign his paintings with only his first name – much less informal which I tend to appreciate!). I liked looking at his brush strokes, the colors and contrasts and details. When we walked over to Vondelpark afterwards, I especially noticed the colors of the trees changing to fall already. Already? Oh, and the light is changing too – it got dark much earlier today.  Change is good.  

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Fall is coming soon

And before I close out today, I wanted to remember Christopher Stevens and his family – the US Ambassador to Libya. We were warned, as Americans, to stay away from the Mueseumplein today as that is where the US Consulate is located. We didn’t want fear to stop us and we thought if we felt afraid, then we would leave the area. When we arrived there today, the front of the building was being guarded by several police on horseback. The flag was at half staff and there were barricades surrounding the building. We did not feel threatened, but we did feel saddened for Mr. Stevens and his family, as well as the other Navy Seals who were killed in the attack.  Rest in peace…Namaste…thank you.

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US Consulate in Amsterdam.

Day 19: Vondelpark * Rijksmuseum * Houseboat * Tram

We’re getting better at preparing for the day. Each kid carries a backpack and today I gave them each a checklist:

1. Backpack

2. Water Bottle

3. Light Rain Coat

4. Umbrella

5. Something to Read

All of these things are to help them take care of themselves. They can carry their own pack and their own jacket and always have something to drink. If they want to add more, they can, but they still have to carry it all day. Teaching them to take care of themselves while also being responsible for their own stuff!

We were happy to venture out to meet the Petersons again today. We met in the Museumplein and walked over to Vondelpark together. We got a later start than usual, and everyone was already hungry soon after we gathered. I had read about a cooking cafe for kids and both my youngest, and Kris’ youngest like to cook so I thought this would give us a destination to seek out in Vondelpark. I’m good at coming up with ideas, but not always so good with following up with the details! For example, I knew the name of the restaurant in VP (generally), but didn’t jot down the address, hoping to explore the park and venture upon it by chance. Not such a good idea when you have 8 hungry people! Eventually we found it after stopping to ask at least 3 strangers. But I think the kids had a good time making their own pizzas and ham and cheese croissants. It was a fun experience at the Kinderkookkafe.

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After the kids refueled, they wandered over to a playground and enjoyed running around together in a new park. They found some fun swings where 3 people could swing at once. I loved seeing their smiles. The boys then disappeared for a while and we could see their shadowy figures through the trees. They found some tall pieces of wood and were building a teepee. I think they could have stayed for hours.

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Weather reports showed that afternoon thunderstorms were quite possible so we had planned to check out the Rijksmuseum. The good news was that the rain never came. We still were able to walk around and enjoy the art at the museum. Luckily, only a part of the museum was open as the rest is under renovation. This proved well for the kids as their attention span for art is not that high. I actually enjoyed hearing their perspective about what they saw and what stood out. J and I kept trying to determine from what angle the light source was used to paint the layers of light and shadow. We never did agree, but I think that will help us to discover some new art research. Our family favorite exhibit was one from 2008, which was a rather unique and unusual Grandfather Clock, that was in the shape of a tall, grandfather clock, with a frosted glass face with dry erase numbers written on the face from the inside. Behind the glass, it appeared a man was inside the clock and counting the minutes passing by erasing the arms of the clock and re-writing them again. It was to show the passing of time and we all got a kick out of it. Of course we all loved Rembrandt’s Night Watch painting and discussed how the sword looked three-D, how we liked the shadow of the hand on the other man’s jacket, and the element of surprise with people’s faces hiding and peeking through the crowd.

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After our brief tour of the museum, we played in the Museumplein again as the kids love the big, flat swing and wanted to share it with the Peterson kids.

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If the kids are happy, I’m happy and so we stayed for awhile. We then walked to the tram and took it to visit the P’s houseboat, which was very cozy and nicely decorated in a Dutch theme with blue and white and red colors. I think it would be fun to stay on a vacation houseboat. However, I felt a bit sad for them, as the owner’s houseboat was parked directly in front of their vacation boat which completely obstructed the view of the water. They did have a small window portal from the bedroom to look off and see a bit of water, but if they wanted to see more, they had to wander over to the owner’s floating backyard or walk to the top and sit on top of the houseboat. They of course, were gracious and the owner was very kind to them, so no worries… The kids all had fun exploring and being in a new environment with their California friends.

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I had fun sitting with Kris and just relaxing as I felt tired by the end of the day… staying up until 1 am watching the Olympic Closing Ceremonies was probably not such a good idea! Did you watch them too?

The kids and I soon said goodbye and found our way to a new tram stop and journeyed home on the Metro. On the tram, J asked me if I missed California yet. She said she did a little bit but knew that we weren’t going back any time soon, so she really didn’t think about it much. I told her we would feel home sick at times but that we’ll adapt and that we have to live in the moment, which she is doing. She is very smart and realizes that she must manage her expectations, even though she doesn’t know that is what she is doing. I believe that happiness comes from when your expectations are in alignment with your reality. She expects to live here and doesn’t expect to move back home, so she’s happy. Pretty simple. I shared with her the expression that the grass isn’t always greener, and she started to sing a Justin Bieber song about the same topic. It’s amazing, but I think she gets it. We are here now and our job is to enjoy BEING just where we are. As a family, we chose to come on this journey and so we are enjoying our green grass, so to speak, right here, right now. And we’re enjoying keeping in touch with our family and friends back home too. Little C especially loved talking to one of his BFFs this afternoon, as you can see by his smile.Image

All is well and today was another good day. I hope you had a good day right where you are too. xoxo