Acadia, Maine— Echo Lake

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I think my favorite day of the entire trip was our time spent at Echo Lake. It was a warm, sunny day, the sun was shining and we had the most beautiful setting for our swimming day at the lake. A huge lake surrounds by rocky mountains, soaring birds, nesting loons, and peace. Surprisingly it was not very busy and the swimming conditions were just right for our little ones. Flora had the greatest time hanging out with her cousin (and idol) Elin. They splashed around in the water together all afternoon. My cousin Tish came were her two year old son and it was the perfect time for us to catch up.

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All the little cousins got to play together. Thibault loved playing in the sand, but also exploring the water with us. There was a raft of nesting loons roped off near the swimming area. I couldn’t believe. It was like seeing a rare species up close! The Mama and Papa protecting the little raft and nest the National Park created for them. It was truly an amazing thing to see.

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The day ended with dinner at Jordan Pond. Popovers were a must, of course. And for the grand finale— wild blueberry crisp with Jordan Pond vanilla ice cream. Definitely the best tasting thing I ate on this entire vacation! Maine blueberries have such a unique taste. I savored every second of that dessert. Delicious!

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Family Camping Trip, Maine & Acadia

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As jetlag improves and we are settling back into the time zone and our house again, I want to write down some of our most memorable moments from our trip to Maine before I forget. I feel like I have waited my whole life for this trip and I’m so happy Jaap was finally introduced to the beauty of Maine. I know this won’t be the last time we travel to Maine and Acadia. I want to return when the children are old enough to bike and hike longer. But for now, it was the perfect Maine camping vacation.

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Jaap and I ventured north with my niece Elin joining the first leg of the trip. My parents came a day later, but we knew Thibault would kill us, if he had to be in a car for 9 hours. We barely survived the first leg, but Elin was an incredible help and we were so lucky to have her in the car with us. And the hotel had a pool! Yippee and thank God! It kept us busy until dinner time and we survived the first part of the journey.

Dinner at Chilis, corn on the cob, and some happy kids. Maine was off to a good start!

Family Travel: Dublin Days

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Blue skies at Trinity College! We had a great time exploring Dublin and one of it’s surround neighbourhoods, Monkstown. We rented an Airbnb near Dun Laoghaire and I can’t recommend this neighbourhood enough. Some nice walks down by the water, outdoor playgrounds, easy access to the DART, and some great restaurants. We ate at Cinnamon twice. We highly recommend it!

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Flora and Thibault were beyond excited to be playing on a playground. It was quite funny. A few days out in the Irish countryside, they were ready for some traditional playground equipment.

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Our time in Dublin was spent exploring just a  few of the major sites. A walk through the Temple Bar neighbourhood, a visit to the Dublinia museum (good one about Vikings for kids!), and lunch at a pub with Guinness, of course. Day two started off at the EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. This was very interesting and Flora really enjoyed stamping her passport in all the rooms. There was an outdoor monument of statues honouring the Potato Famine in the neighbourhood and it was hard for Flora to understand why the statues looked so sick. We talked a little bit about the Potato Famine and why people died. She called it the potato story and was curious about it, but obviously did not grasp the severity of it. Still— it was a nice mini lesson in Irish history.

And for the grand finale, a stroll through Trinity College, Grafton Street, some great outdoor play at St. Stephen’s Green and a fractured arm!

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Flora and Thibault had a blast at the playground at St. Stephen’s Green. It was such a beautiful day. Beautiful grounds, flowers, and walking paths. It was a great park to spend the morning in. Things were a little too perfect. Flora took a fall off the monkey bars and had a rough landing. We knew pretty quickly that something was wrong. So, for the rest of the day Jaap and I went to the hospital with her, while Thibault and my parents enjoyed some more of Dublin. So if you’re wondering, Irish healthcare is great. We received some great care from the doctor and nurses and I’m grateful for the EU healthcare system. I was shocked that we didn’t have to pay anything and the doctor said, “Well, that’s why you pay taxes.”

As for Flora, she was a champ. I’m so proud of her. She was an excellent patient. Despite the broken arm, I’m proud of her for climbing those monkey bars. Seeing her fall was the worst thing, but I was so impressed by her. My little climber is almost back in shape. I was afraid this fall might make her scared, but it seems to have had no effect on her. 🙂

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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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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! Citizen 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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7 months with T

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Seven months old and getting big! Look at this cuteness. I hope this love they share for each other remains forever. Flora is completely in love with her brother and Thibault is fascinated by her. She walks in and it lights up his world. These moments are precious.

 

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A lot has happened since my last post. Thibault is now 7.5 months old. He’s rolling around so much that we have to keep an eye on him. No more chilling on the bed because he must might roll off one day! Solids seem to be getting better. Here you see him enjoying some Wheetabix and kiwis.

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We have had a lot of firsts—swimming, lots of new foods, new babbling sounds, and a new clothing size! But with the good, there are always rough patches. This weekend was his first sick day, more like TWO sicks days. So, we’re basically exhausted right now.IMG_3983

Thank God Grandma is still in town! We’re starting to slow down and get ready for her departure in 10 days. I will be sad to see my Mom leave. I love having family this close. It feels like it should be this way always. But, I am extremely grateful for the all the quality time we got to spend with her this spring. It has been a wonderful visit. XOXO