Family Travel: Rainy day in Galway

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After two days with beautiful weather, it was time for us to experience the real Ireland. Our last day in the Burren region was a rainy one. We dodged the rain with some lunch in Galway, a visit to the aquarium, and a quick stroll around the inner city.

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Here’s Thibault enjoying his carrot soup. My fish chowder was the best of the trip. I was so impressed by Irish cuisine. It’s really just comfort food, but it was delicious.

I was pretty underwhelmed by the aquarium in Galway, but for a rainy day activity it kept us entertained for 45 minutes. ­čÖé

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Family Travel: Cliffs of Moher & Tin Whistles in Doolin

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More “luck of the Irish” at the Cliffs of Moher! Blue skies and sunshine. It was an Irish miracle. Our day at the Cliffs of Moher was powerful. To quote my father, “I’m having a Grand Canyon experience.” My father was praising Jesus a lot that day and how can you not. Look at these views. Pop took a long hike along the cliffs and I’m happy he got to experience it alone. He said it was a spiritual experience and I think that statement makes this whole trip worth while.

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The stars aligned for us that day. The weather was perfect, the kids were happy, and we spent most of our day admiring the natural beauty of Ireland. I’m so happy we got there early in the morning because by mid-afternoon the place was very crowded.

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I love this photo. It appears that we’re hanging off this cliff, but we were safe behind the large barriers they have put up. And below are some shots of Thibault experiencing the Cliffs. He loved the hike and he walked quite far. We had a break near the tower and he just started rolling around on the steps giggling at himself with the sun beating down. It was so cute.

It seems that a trip to Doolin and a visit to the Cliffs go together. We stopped at Gus O’Connor’s Pub in Doolin for some beer and tin whistle playing. We bought some Irish tin whistles and it kept us entertained all day. Here’s Jaap entertaining us with some “Irish” tunes.

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How beautiful is this?

 

As if the day couldn’t get any better, the evening ended for Jaap and I (and Pop) with a traditional Irish music session at Linnanes Pub back in Kilfenora. The music festival was still going on and I can’t thank my mother enough for staying home to babysit while we ate apple pie, drank some Guinness, and listened to some traditional music. It was a memorable experience!

Family Travel: Ireland

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Poulnabrone Doulmen

We just got back from an 8 day adventure with the kids and grandparents in Ireland. What an amazing country. It took me by surprise how much I fell in love with this country, the natural beauty, friendly Irish hospitality, and unique culture. What a beautiful country.

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Jaap & Thibault hiking The Burren

We were expecting rain everyday, but it only rained once. Our first two days exploring the Burren region were full of sunshine. I felt like we had already achieved more than expected! Plus the fact that we survived a 12 hour day of travel to get to Schipol, then Dublin Airport, then a 3 hour trip to Kilfenora. That in itself was an accomplishment. If anything, my children learned patience that day.

We stayed on a farm in a tiny town called Kilfenora and we just so happened to be there on the weekend of their annual music festival. It was meant to be. I had read this particular region (near Doolin) was famous for their traditional Irish music scene and the fact that we could experience it in the community where we were staying was just perfect. Set dancing, the Kilfenora ceili band, sunshine, exploring the moonscape of the Burren, and happy kids all created the perfect first day. Throw in some Guinness and being able to hear traditional Irish music and watch the locals break out the set dancing— I was in heaven.

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Couch to 5K

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I have decided to run a 5K this spring and I have started my Couch to 5K training. I had such a great training run on Monday night. I really was not in the mood to hit the trail after the kids had fallen asleep, but I’m happy Jaap gave me that little nudge. It was such a beautiful evening.

I feel grateful that we live so close to nature and these scenes are right at the end of our street. We are very fortunate. Spring has finally arrived and it felt so good to be outside exercising. I completely understand why Jaap does this every weekend. It’s also very liberating to know that I am done having babies, done being pregnant, and will eventually be done with the breastfeeding phase of my life. It’s time to take ownership of my physical body again. Yesterday I biked to work and all the way back up that long hill and it felt great. I was actually enjoying it at one point. Sunny weather also added to that mood, but even still. It’s time to get more physically active!

Spring has sprung!

 

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Our best toy purchase ever!

What a fantastic weekend. 20+ degree weather, sunshine, short sleeves, outdoor play. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Our weekend was off to a good start. The kids and I went to Gulpen Friday morning to pick a child safety harness that I purchased second hand from someone. We’re traveling to Ireland in three weeks and I having these visions of Thibault running away from us and jumping off the Cliffs of Moher. It probably sounds ridiculous and a little bit paranoid, but then I saw a toddler wearing one when Flora and I were in Amsterdam. I wanted to high five the mom. I just can’t keep up with T all the time. He gets away quickly and I need some more security with him at the airport and such. Well— turned out to be a nice little trip. Gulpen has a great bakery! Flora and I each had a Berliner bol and Thibault had this delicious homemade pretzel. We’re going back! I can’t stop thinking about the Berliner bol!

Thibault had a great week. He slept through the night several times! It was a miracle. The miracle has now ended. Back to waking up multiple times a night, but fingers crossed that he is trending in the right direction! I think the good weather and allowing us to play outside for pretty much three days straight also helped. The funny thing is— I was still tired! Probably because he was waking up between 5:00-5:45. Here you can see him playing with our aromatherapy diffuser at 5:30 a.m. He loves this, but loves destroying it most of all. My little man is active, active, active! Good for him. I’m seeing toddlerhood in another light this time around. He’s not afraid of anything, which makes me twice as afraid of everything! I love his adventurous spirit. Sometimes I just want to sit down and cuddle. Thankfully— Flora is still a big snuggler. Happy spring!

First Girls Trip to Amsterdam

 

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People watching in Vondelpark

Flora and I had our first (of many!) girls trips to Amsterdam over the Easter weekend. We had a blast! This trip came at the perfect time for me. I just finished a music show at school and have been very busy leading up to its production. It was the perfect way to unwind and relax with my little lady.

The original idea came when Flora showed an interest in Vincent van Gogh. Earlier in the winter, their theme at school was “Art” and learning about van Gogh really had an impact on her. She would talk a lot about it at dinner and such. I told her that van Gogh had his own museum and she just couldn’t believe it. So I thought, girls trip! Jaap and Thibault could care less, so what a great opportunity!

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Enjoying the playgrounds at Vondelpark

We had such a great time. Lunch at my favorite lunchroom, De Bakkerswinkel complete with carrot cake, of course, followed by the entire afternoon at Vondelpark. Just enjoying the speeltuin, taking in the balmy breeze, and watching the people of Amsterdam walk on by.

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Flora also wanted a sushi dinner at some point during this trip. We ended up at a cozy little place near Museumplein for dinner. We’ll definitely go back there the next time we need lunch near the Museum Quarter. They brought us warm hand towels after the main course and we ordered some Japanese green tea and Flora loved it. It’s these small details that are special. Sometimes you don’t think about something or realize how interesting something is, until a little person points it out to you. Our sushi experience was the perfect ending to our long and busy day.

Flora loved the hotel. I knew she would find it fun. Breakfast was a highlight!┬áCitizen M is still one of my favorites too. The mood lighting, toilet and shower in a glass dome, and the feel of modernity. She loved it. The next morning we were off to the van Gogh Museum, but Flora was feeling a little bit under the weather. Our time at the new Japanese exhibit was cut short because she was not feeling good. However, she still had a nice time. For me, it was a dream come true. Walking around an art museum in Amsterdam with my daughter who is correcting my Dutch pronunciation of “van Gogh”, talking to me about van Gogh’s favorite color, and what paintings she likes the most and why. It was definitely a parenting highlight! These are the moments that we live for and what makes life so amazing.

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Friday Brunch

A few weeks ago, Flora and I had a Friday morning brunch, just the two of us. Thibault was at the creche having missed several days from Carnaval and the girls had some down time. I feel so relaxed when Thibault is not around. That sounds awful, but it’s true. I’m grateful for these peaceful moments where I’m still hanging out with my family, but not struggling. A little moment of zen here at Piece of Cake.

How cute is Flora’s admiration for her hot chocolate? We ate pancakes, scones, and took a stroll through Museum aan het Vrijthof. What a fab morning!

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My day ended on a high note— cocktails with the Mamas! This was supposed to be a Cosmopolitan, but my New York self thought otherwise!