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!