Acadia, Maine– Hiking to Bubble Rock

40f3664f-1b26-4eb3-909c-2210b5c9879e

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!

b7ab5209-d906-402b-b2a9-9d887b55ca92

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.

cbe3f115-0a12-4206-bf31-20a52eeba788

Acadia, Maine— Echo Lake

DSC08925

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.

DSC08920

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.

DSC08911

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!

DSC08933

Acadia, Maine– Sand Beach

DSC08987

I want to write a series of short posts about our trip to Maine, New England, and N.Y. We did a lot in 3 week, perhaps too much. At some point Jaap said, “Maybe this trip was a bit too ambitious.” I agree and I blame myself completely. But, it’s done, we survived, and we have some great memories to think back upon.

One thing we learned on this trip, our kids love the beach. There was a lot of swimming these past three weeks. Flora is motivated now! I have to thank Grandma for this. Flora listens to her in the water and takes risks. On our last day in Acadia we went to Sand Beach. I thought we would do a quick stop and stay for 30 minutes, but we spent a good chuck of time there. The kids were having so much fun and the setting is incredible.

DSC08989

They loved running in and out of the water with the tide and also just sitting and playing in the sand. The water is absolutely freezing and with the exception of a few, the only people in the water are kids and teenagers running in and out screaming. It’s a hilarious sight and such a joy to see all of these families having an exhilarating time.

This water was cold enough for even Thibault to take pause. But, given the chance— he would have run in by himself. It was the perfect way to end our stay in Acadia.

Family Camping Trip, Maine & Acadia

DSC08998

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.

IMG_9791

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!

Snapshots: Girls Weekend in Antwerpen

IMG_9176

Rewind to several weeks ago…girls weekend in Antwerpen! Here are just a few snapshots from my night away with the Mama friends. It was 36+ hours full of girl chat, shopping, coffee, wine & cocktails!!!, and relaxation. I’m so thankful for their friendship, my husband’s ability to watch our kids while I enjoy some “me” time, and for living so close to such beautiful places. I was so impressed by Antwerpen and we didn’t even get to see that much. It’s a very beautiful city. I’m looking forward to exploring it more with the family.

IMG_9187

IMG_9173

IMG_9187

Dinant, Belgium with Family

 

IMG_9323

Hugging the mermaid saxophone in Dinant

Dinant is the perfect weekend getaway from Maastricht. I have wanted to travel here for a long time. I always thought we would make it a day trip, but with two little ones, it’s too far from Maastricht because there are so many great activities and sights to see.

IMG_9333

So, in no particular order– here are my top 10 favorite memories in Dinant.

1. Saxophones on Charles-de-Gaulle Bridge. 

Flora and I both agreed. The best saxophone on this bridge was the mermaid sax from Denmark. What a unique and modern twist to this city. Very nice to stroll and look at all the saxophones from different countries. And also cool to be in the birthplace of the saxophone.

IMG_9321

2. Dinner by the water on Rue Adolphe Sax

A friend of mine gave us a recommendation for a “cheap and cheerful” pizzeria on the main street next to the water. Yummy eats and rosé wine! We were happy customers and the view was great.

3. Cable car ride up to the Citadel 

Just one of the many reasons I thought this city was child friendly—the cable car. It was a family hit and the views are really stunning. The top of the cathedral is so unique. This was special. It reminded Jaap and I of the Roosevelt Island days in NYC.

IMG_9360

4. Beer & a Speeltuin at the Citadel

We walked around the Citadel a little bit. You have to take a guided tour (which is included in the cable car ride price) to see most of the Citadel, but sometimes when traveling with little tots—the guided tours are just not possible. So we walked around parts of the Citadel, learned a little bit more about Dinant’s history during WWI, and headed to the speeltuin. Of course, this was the highlight. And what better way to enjoy a playground than drinking a beer and watching your kids play. The Leffe Abbey & brewery is right in Dinant, so we were drinking local. 🙂

5. Marsedsous Brewery

Another great place to go with kids. We took a stroll through the church, enjoyed their large playground, sat outside for a bit, and enjoyed dinner and a beer flight at the cafeteria. Ordering our meal was a nightmare (nobody spoke Dutch or English), but we still had a good meal. Another beer and speeltuin recommendation!

IMG_9439

6. Learning about Adolphe Sax

Dinant has a free, one room museum about Adolphe Sax and how he invented a new family of instruments. A museum that only takes 5 minutes to see. Another win for small children!

IMG_9420

7. Côte Sax Tea Room 

This cute little tea room was a great place for us to grab a cup of coffee, some ice cream, and an late afternoon snack. We enjoyed some yummy crêpes and they were very welcoming with children. And everyone was fluent in Dutch and English.

IMG_9426

8. Railbikes in Warnant

This was my favorite part of the trip! This was a huge family hit. We did an 8K route from Warnant, which was only 10 minutes from our house. The weather was perfect, the views were beautiful, and everyone had a great time. After our coffee break at the turn around point, Thibault fell asleep on Mom all the way back. It was hilarious. Cycling there Jaap and I didn’t realize we were on a small incline because on the way back, we pretty much coasted the whole way.

9. Dinant Cathedral

The top of this cathedral is quite unique. Of course, we had to light a candle. 🙂

10. Château de Frëyr and a picnic lunch

IMG_9445

Jaap’s favorite meal of the trip was our lunch at Château de Frëyr. Bread and Nutella is the way to this man’s heart. There is no food on site, but the cashier suggested us making a picnic lunch. Perfect. This was a fun place for us to walk around the grounds. The large hedges were fun to walk through. Another bonus were the rock climbers across the river leading up to the castle. It was fun to try and find them on the rocks.

IMG_9464

Another successful family trip. I absolutely fell in love with this little city and continue to fall more in love with Belgium. What a beautiful and delicious country! I just felt so happy the entire weekend. Maybe it was the beer, being with all my favorite people, I’m not sure. Whatever it was— I will always have great memories of this trip to Dinant.

 

The Goat Whisperer

IMG_9135

Thibault is an animal lover. His new favorite book is First 100 Animals, which has just taken over Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? He just loves pictures of animals and making animal sounds. Just recently (within the last few days) he has started making more than one animal sound. I just love how enthusiastic he is when he is around animals. My father-in-law told me we should buy a dog because he walked around our neighbourhood playground following  a dog for about 30 minutes last week. 🙂

IMG_9133

We took my mom to the Gaia Zoo two weeks ago. I knew she would love it as much as the kids. It was a great day. Thibault has no fear, which is scary as hell. He tried to jump into the Reindeer and monkey quarters just to get a closer look. I love his spirit and “anything is possible” attitude. I have to remind myself to live more like Thibault everyday. A little less dangerous, but without second guessing anything.

IMG_9116

IMG_9126