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Archive for the 'Friends' Category

European Adventure: Part I – Amsterdam

European Adventure: Part I


Hello!  Nice to be back!

I have been absent for a while for a few reasons, some being personal.  One of the big ones, though, was that I was trying to organize, prepare and pack up my little family for a semi-extended overseas jaunt.  We are lucky enough to have been able to plan a grand two week adventure to Europe with both little boys and my mom.  The inspiration behind this trip is the temporary residence of my childhood best friend, her husband and their little boy who is just a few months younger than our oldest.  I never thought we’d be able to visit them while they lived abroad, as they moved 3 months before we were due to have our second son.  But my courageous husband said he wanted to go see them in Amsterdam, AND take the kids!  Whoo boy!  We were planning, but we weren’t sure if we were brave or insane…but in deciding to travel with two small children we wanted to make the effort worth it and we used up all of my husband’s vacation time for the year.

After a month long expedition in Australia and New Zealand back in 2006 with my husband and my immediate family and being aboard 18 flights in 26 days, I swore I would never never take small children on an airplane for any reason to any place.  And looky here…we were about to take two tots international.  A very daunting thought, and I had major anxiety about the actual process of getting to and fro.  I wasn’t worried about being there, I knew the kids would be fine after the initial time adjustment, but I sprouted what I swear are my first gray hairs worrying about the 7-8 hour flights across the Atlantic.

To our amazement and great pleasure, both boys were excellent travelers. We prepped for the time difference a few days before our journey by waking earlier and earlier, and moving nap times and bedtimes accordingly.  It really only took a day for us to find our balance again when we got to Amsterdam.  Of course, the extended sunlight hours messed us up (it was light outside till 10pm!!!) but we kept our early morning wake-ups and naps regular and did the best we could.  I had a large zip lock bag filled with little cars and trains that were new to our toddler (that were doled out one at a time if the situation called for it), we uploaded his favorite Disney movies in the iPad and purchased a child-size set of puffy headphones (which he thought made him super cool), and AMEN for the snacks I packed (granola bars, peanut butter crackers and snack packs of mini-fig newtons).

The weather was typical for Amsterdam so we were told…in the 50’s and rainy.  But because we were there to see our friends and let the kids play, it didn’t matter much and it wasn’t a mood/sightseeing killer.  My mom and I took the baby to the Van Gogh museum one afternoon (y’all – it was heaven for me…rooms and rooms of his work and his sketches AND there was a Picasso exhibit, too!!!!), we took a canal boat tour, the guys had a guy’s night out, and the girls had a girl’s night out…both evenings involved a stroll through the famous Red Light District, which was verrrrry interesting in a weird way (maybe another post on that later).  We ate out at a few divine places – one Italian, one Persian, had Greek delivered, napped, went to the local “mall” where a Kitchen Aid stand mixer cost a whopping 579 Euros (that’s like $700 or more US dollars!!!  I can’t do the conversion math in my head, but GEEEZ y’all, that it TOO much for their stand mixer!), and were generally lazy bums and just played with the kids.

The Dutch people were very cold in general.  Very snooty and mostly horrified that they had to endure the presence of Americans AND our offspring.  It was completely off-putting and amusing at the same time (trying to smile, be sweet and see how much we could make them squirm).  A strange highlight for me, though, was a street waffle vendor just outside the RL district, who proclaimed his love for me after less then 30 seconds…compared me to Hillary Clinton (um…thanks, I think??) and whom I bought a delicious fluffy “waffle to go” that I ate happily as we made our way home from our evening escapades.

Mom and I had time during nap hour & in the evenings to write/sketch/watercolor in our travel journals.  I still need to affix a few things in mine and finish decorating a few pages.  I may post pictures of that later.  Heck, I may borrow my mom’s to show you – she went wild with the watercolors, while I dabbled and returned to my favored black ink.  We saw a few flower markets, we saw old and new windmills, we saw the canals, we saw the girls with the Red Lights and we experienced the rainy cold grey weather in late May.  I think I can satisfactorily check Amsterdam off my list!

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Macaroni & Cheese go to the beach

Macaroni & Cheese go to the beach

My sister-in-law & I dubbed ourselves Macaroni & Cheese after seeing “Juno” in theaters and hearing the line that went something like, “you are the cheese to my macaroni.”  If we could have a long lost twin sister, we’d have each other.  Our taste in everything is freakishly similar (translate: exactly the same).  We have the same clothes, shoes, jewelry, silverware, furniture, lamps, paint colors in the houses, we’ve seen the same hair stylist for years now, have artwork by the same artists, and for several years we had the same car (2004 mini-coopers ~ hers blue, mine silver) until I traded mine in for a more practical baby-mobile.  And the kind of scary part is that half of the stuff we do and have the same of, we aren’t even together when we pick it out!  We have joked that we should just build one giant house with two master wings, so we could save ourselves some money and just buy ONE of everything and share the living space instead of buying two of everything for our separate households.

Flashback: I met Tiffany in the summer of 1998 through my brother’s summer job (coincidentally also where I met my husband for the first time).  Tiff and my bro started dating in early 1999, and were married 6 months before my hubby and I took our own vows in 2004.  We’ve been kind of a “4 Muskateers” deal since we all met,  but more so after Matt & I started dating in fall of 2002….trips all over the country and the world, movies, get-togethers, game nights, it’s a pretty awesome little group.  And Tiffany and I have been basically inseparable since the first year we met.

Life is so much easier and awesomer (yes, that’s a word I use) when you like your sibling’s spouse!  So, this weekend – TODAY will be our first girly adventure to the Carolina coastline since all our babies were born.  The last trip I remember was a week or so we spent together in June 2008, a few months before my son arrived.

I’m skipping around, I know, I do that…but here’s a brief timeline for you of the last couple years so perhaps you can see why we are so ecstatic about this barely 48 hour escape…

February 2008 – I find out about being preggo with Evan

September 2008 – Tiffany finds out about being preggo

October-ish 2008 – Tiffany & my brother discover they are expecting TWINS

October 2008 – I deliver my precious redheaded son, Evan

November 2008 – Tiffany gets placed on bed rest due to some minor complications with “Baby A”

And from November-early May 2009, I chauffeur her to most all of her doctor appointments and we hang around the house making use of our Netflix subscriptions and enjoying the lazy days of having a newborn who just eats and sleeps all day (sigh….kinda miss those days now!)

May 2009 – Twin boys are delivered safely into the world, and the chaos hasn’t stopped since!

It’s a zoo around here, and I thought being a new mom to one was hard – I don’t even know how Tiffany and her husband have made it through the last year without their hair falling out and admitting themselves to the looney bin!

So, it’s been two years since Tiff and I were able to abscond together and go somewhere other than just a dinner out, or a monthly pedicure.  And I am fairly sure this will be the least exciting beach trip we’ve ever taken – we both predict lots of SLEEPING, a few of our fave restaurants, some trashy tv, and some more sleep.  But we’re looking forward to it!  We’ve been to the beach a thousand times and been to all the shops and gallivanted down the coastline to Pawley’s Island and Charelston, and I know we’ll go a thousand more times and do the same…so this one time we’re allowed a bum weekend.

It feels odd leaving the kids at home.  We’ve each made several beach trips with our respective mothers and sons, just not together (there isn’t enough room at the condo for all adults and all babies at the same time), and this is the first time for each of us to leave our kiddos for more than a few hours.  We’re not freaking out about it, and we’re confidant in the husbands’ parenting abilities…it just feels kind of weird to take a couple days to ourselves…not to have to get a child (or two) in and out of the car, not to do middle of the night diaper changes, not to have to consciously think of a child friendly place to eat, hell – it’ll be weird not having the car stuffed to the brim with high chairs, pack & plays, strollers, diapers, kid movies and toys ALONG with our stuff!!!

Baby #4 (between the two of us) is due in 11 weeks and counting, and the chaos will continue I’m sure….

This is the first time IN a long time, and the last time FOR a long time so we better enjoy it! 

Macaroni & Cheese ride again!

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