A Rondje in Stevensweert

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We had a fantastic day yesterday and discovered a new gem in Zuid Limburg. I LOVE exploring new nature walks. We went with my friend Laura and her family. These kids walked 5,8 kilometres! After the first 1.5 hours of consistent complaining, things went well!

I read about this Rondje Molenplas┬áin our quarterly Natuurmonumenten magazine. Not far from Thorn around a little lake in Stevensweert. It looks like OERR and Natuurmonumenten sponsor the building of the “Speelnatuur” playground outside the brasserie.

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The hike was beautiful. Lots of horses and cows along the way, ducks and swans on the little pebble “beach” on the far side of the lake. Crossing the pond over big boulders and nice lookout points all along. The sun was shining (Thibault was very content and Flora was pretty happy). They both waked a long way and I was super proud of them. 5,8 kilometres is quite the stretch for young children, but we were rewarded nicely with a great play area complete with water pump and sand. I think we could have stayed there another 2 hours!

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Sunshine at St. Gerlach

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We just got back from a refreshing morning outside at St. Gerlach. We spent our time walking the grounds, enjoying the scenery, and taking in the beautiful landscape and sculptures. What an aesthetically pleasing place to visit.

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It feels like spring here. Lots of the sunshine and warmer temps this week. This is climate change I suppose. I’m happy with cold weather in February, but I’ll take the sunshine!

My friend Laura suggested coming here this weekend. So we met up, walked around with the kids, got to see some horses and huge furry cows up close, sat outside in the sun for a couple of hours, and just enjoyed the peace and serenity of this place. We were talking about the joy of doing family activities that don’t involve large, screaming playgrounds. This is fun for the kids, but also nice for us.

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And of course— our little outing had to end with some coffee, vlaai, and some lavender madeleine cookies for myself. A lovely Sunday outing with good friends.

 

Snow Play

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A little time with my man in the snow. A winter walk just the two of us, trip to the playground, and a ride on the sleigh while Jaap was at home recovering from being sick and Flora was watching a movie.

I love the snow (even if it’s only an inch or two and last just a few days). It was still beautiful and so refreshing to be out there in the cold. Shoveling, playing, just breathing. Ahhh. I love it.

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Our Barefoot Walk

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A couple weeks ago we went on the Barefoot Walk in Zutendaal, Belgium. I had done it twice before (years ago with work), so I knew Flora would be able to do it. Jaap and I were both shocked that we finished it within the estimated time the park suggested. I was impressed with how much of the trail Thibault was able to walk. He’s a sporty fellow. It was the perfect family activity for one of our last weekends of summer together. We had so much fun. I was so proud of my brave little hikers and nature lovers.

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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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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!

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!