Acadia, Maine– Hiking to Bubble Rock

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Flora loved our hike up to Bubble Rock. Listed as “strenuous” by the park map, we knew she could do the thirty minute uphill climb. The views at the top made it all worth while!

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This hike was invigorating. I felt alive, fresh, and appreciative of America’s natural beauty. I felt so far from home in this moment, but at the same time, I felt like I arrived. It was an incredible feeling. This trip reminded me of so many childhood memories camping with my family and also of exploring Maine as a chid and pre-teen. It feels like I’ve come full circle being their with my own husband and kids. It was so excited to show Jaap this beautiful place and it filled my heart to see Flora and Thibault appreciating the great outdoors.

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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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Weekend Fun: Leuven, Belgium

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It’s really winter here! Temperatures have dropped and it’s been pretty cold here the last week. We even got a little bit of snow on Monday morning. Sunday was our family activity day and set off to explore Leuven, Belgium. What cute little university city.

It wasn’t a day full of activities, just walking, coffee and beer drinking, and admiring the old architecture. The gothic city hall in the city center is quite impressive. Very ornate and stunning. Set against that blue sky—ahhhh! We had lunch in a tavern, drank some beer, saw the church, and walked to the Grote Begijnhof. Leuven’s university is the oldest in Belgium (15th century) and has so many beautiful buildings throughout the city.

Panic set in at one point when Flora realized we weren’t going to a playground. This seems to be her definition of fun, whether it be indoors or outdoors. But, she is such a happy little traveler, we knew she would come around and find the fun or beauty in something we were seeing. She can still be redirected with a game of tag or “I Spy”. This seems to be her new favorite walking game. I love it. We both take the time to see the things around us and really look at what is in front of us.

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And a bonus— we scored some free drinks at the university because they were hosting an open day. I’m happy we took a little adventure out of our region. Spring feels so far away. We’ll see how we keep warm this weekend!

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Otranto & Baia dei Turchi

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By far, our day at the beach in Otranto was the best! This photo is my favorite of the entire trip. I never actually thought it would be warm enough to take a swim, but it was warmer down in Salento and we were able to have one afternoon on the beach playing in the water.

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Clear turquoise blue water, a wooded path down to the beach, warm water, and beautiful sunshine.

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I really couldn’t believe that this day was possible. Flora was so excited to take a dip. Check out this photo. Thibault would drown himself in about 2 seconds. The boy has no fear. At one point we were sitting on the beach, Flora and Jaap were building a sand castle, and Thibault was eating the sand. I looked at Jaap and said, “Babe, life doesn’t get better than this.” So whenever I have some tough days I think of these moments. Moments where I remember how lucky I am to be living my best life with the love of my life and two happy children. IMG_6333

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Walks with Thibault- Soaking up the sun

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We are taking full advantage of every sunny moment we have with the kids. Trips to the our local playground, trips to big playgrounds & parks, playing in the garden, painting outside, etc. Whenever the sun is shining we are outside. The weather is changing and the warm days are becoming less and less. I feel like I’m clinging to summer!

Our town recently renovated our local “speeltuin”, which is just a five minute walk from our place. We’re so happy with the new changes. It really got a huge upgrade. It’s so nice to see more children and families visiting this spot. We’re so grateful that our children have a nice place to play in our neighbourhood.

Last weekend, Flora and Jaap hung around the speeltuin and Thibault took a nap on the road. I love our neighbourhood. I can leave our house and within five minutes, we’re walking amongst sheep in the meadow. I just love this peace and serenity in our backyard. And what is cuter than a sleeping baby?

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First Day of School

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First few moments in groep 1!

I officially have a school-aged child. The past week has been a whirlwind of emotions and not because Flora was worried about her first day, but because I was worried about her first day. I started writing this post last week, but the emotions were still too raw for me to put this down in words. I just can’t believe my daughter has started Groep 1. All of a sudden I saw the last four years flash before my eyes. I was taken immediately back to being on maternity leave, cuddling Flora, and sipping coffee at Coffeelovers. Where did the time go?! I just can’t believe she is in school now. You see this picture below? I’m happy we have a picture of us smiling because I was fighting back tears! Even though I broke down, I was happy that I was able to hold it together until after we said our good-byes. 🙂

I’m so proud of this little girl. Flora said some things to me that will stick with me forever. The night before I said, “Well, you’re not my baby anymore.” And her response was, “It’s okay, Mom. I can be your baby big girl.” How sweet is that? And on our walk to school, she grabbed my hand and said, “Mom, am I going to be okay?” Cue tears!!! I almost lost it. Thankfully Jaap was there to buffer the whole situation. This mom gig is not easy, but it’s never boring. XOXO

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Joy at the Zoo– Summer Fun

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Flora riding Safari

Saturday was the perfect family day at the zoo. Warm weather, sunny skies, and happy children. It was a day full of many joyful moments and I said to Jaap, “These are the days, Babe.” These are the days I wish we could freeze in time. When the stars align and our children are happy, we are not overly exhausted, and we are out and about living life.

We took a trip to the Gaia Zoo and had a fabulous day. Flora was excited to see the lions, but was most happy at the playgrounds. She’s a happy little climber. Thibault rode the carousel for the first time and despite being completely exhausted at this time of the day, he had a blast. Amen to drama free days!