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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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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Girls Weekend

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Not a bad view!

I have fallen off the blog bandwagon again. My intentions to consistently blog throughout the holidays did not happen. Life was too much fun, busy, sick, and exhausted to blog! I want to upload a “snapshots” post soon, just so I have the photo memories of our Christmas season somewhere. We had such a great holiday season complete with the cookie baking days, Christmas and NYE with friends, Christmas with the Jansens, a day trip to the Spoorweg Museum in Utrecht with friends, and the flu! Overall, a fantastic holiday! Flora has fallen in love with Christmas and there’s just not much more you can ask for.

Back to normal life and I was lucky that my friends and I had something fun to look forward after the back to work/end of Christmas slump. The Mamas had a weekend getaway planned! We planned a “spa” weekend in the Ardennes (Malmedy) at a house in the countryside complete with a relaxing sauna. 48 hours, no children, no mess to clean up, nobody to take care of in the middle of the night, late dinners, lots of coffee and wine, and hours of girl chat! Not to mention a couple of hours drinking beer in the sauna, hopping in and out of the cold in our towels and reheating again in the sauna. Thank you to my Swedish friends who taught us how to properly “sauna”. I am converted and a big fan now!

It was a fantastic weekend and I have nobody but my amazing husband to thank. Thank you for letting me recharge, regroup, and mostly RELAX! After 48 hours I actually missed my family. That’s a good sign! And I feel grateful for this life. Cheers to friends and family ┬áin 2018!

Famliy Trip: Lecce, Italy

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This photo pretty much sums up our last day in Italy. Taking advantage of the good life and delicious Italian food. We drove to Lecce for the day—famous for it’s (Lecce baroque) architecture. We had a great day strolling the city’s centre and enjoying the cuisine!

Flora and Jaap always make a donation to churches we visit and light the candles. A little tradition that Oma and Opa have taught her. ­čÖé

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Some of our best eats of the trip were at casual eateries. We ate lunch outside this Italian deli-like place and had a delicious meal. Good pizza and delicious orecchiette with this amazing burrata cheese. It was fantastic! Flora was eating a ham and cheese sandwich (!!??) and all were merry. After a stroll through a local park and a short nap for Thibault, we treated ourselves to the last (and best!) gelato of the trip. This shop is to die for.┬áIf you’re ever in Lecce, stop at Natale! This place is heavenly and has so many delicious treats! Thibault approved. Our first family trip to Italy ended on a high note! Grazie, Salento!

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