Family Travel: Cliffs of Moher & Tin Whistles in Doolin

IMG_8809

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.

IMG_8797IMG_8794

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.

IMG_8830

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.

IMG_8840-2

 

IMG_8832-2

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!

Advertisements

Family Travel: Ireland

IMG_8733

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.

IMG_8738

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.

IMG_8767

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

First Girls Trip to Amsterdam

 

IMG_8443

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!

IMG_8433

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

IMG_8484

 

7 months with T

IMG_3944

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.

 

IMG_3903

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.

IMG_3791

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

Visiting Thorn

img_2293

On Sunday we did a family day trip to Thorn, also known as “the white village”. What a cute little place. Not much to do there, except stroll through town and eat some pancakes. It was a perfect Sunday family activity.

img_2296

Flora is developing an adventurous spirit on her bike. There were some nice slopes coming down from the church and at one point she forgot to break and hit a wall with a five foot drop on the other side. For a split second my mind saw her catapulting herself off her bike and over the wall. I gasped for air. She just laughed and said, “Can I do it again?”.

img_2309

Thibault at 11 weeks

img_2093

Thibault, you’re 11 weeks old and incredibly cute! The big 3 month birthday is right around the corner. These last few weeks have flown by! We’re so happy to see you emerging as a smiling, happy baby. You love looking at your Muppet mobile in your box, playing on your activity mat in the morning, but most of all, you love interacting with your sister. Whenever she is around you start to smile. It melts my heart. You’re starting to talk more and more and we love hearing these new sounds. We love you!

img_2105

Merry Christmas 2016

Well, my previous post about sick days was premature. Our house experienced a relapse and we weren’t quite in the clear with all the illnesses. As soon as I wrote about us being sick and thinking we made it through the worst of it, the following day was another day where I felt like it was getting worse. Ugh. Regardless of our illnesses, I can now safely say that everyone is feeling better and conditions continue to improve! Thankfully…just in time for Christmas!

img_1703

Onze Lieve Vrouweplein lit up!

On Thursday we went into Maastricht to experience the “Winter Wonderland” on the Vrijthof. Flora got to ride the carousel (always a highlight), Rudolph’s train, and the Ferris Wheel with me. We ate olliebollen and had an early dinner at a cafe. It was wonderful. We deserved a little bit of fun after 10+ sick days. It was time to get out and experience Christmas.

This holiday season was a learning experience for me. It was time I learned to keep my “mommy” expectations real. It’s okay that I didn’t get to bake Christmas cookies with Flora, and we didn’t get to visit the Christmas market that I wanted to go to, and there was no time for me to get my Christmas manicure that I was hoping for. Life is just busy right now with a toddler and baby. These fun things and traditions will come again, when we have more time. For now, our time is spent where it matters most. Merry Christmas and cheers to a happy and healthy 2017!

img_1677