24 December 2010

Christmas Eve

x-mas eve 2010 - Copy

Tree - check.

Kids in jammies - check.

Stockings - Copy

Stockings - check.

Gingie Men Gingie men 2 Gingie men 3

Gingie Men (AJ's newest obsession - "not da gum dwop butens") for Santa/Father Christmas - check.

monkey bread

Monkey bread for the morning - check.

A good nights sleep - hopeful.

20 December 2010


England snow

It was fun the first time around.

England snow 5 England snow 3    England snow 6 

The kids were off school for 4 days - we built snowmen, drank hot chocolate and threw snowballs.

England snow 4

The children were so excited to see the snow they went out before the sun even came up.
This time, however, there is no school to be missed and the snow has lost much of its appeal.  We are supposed to be in Spain right now warming ourselves, eating tapas, drinking Sherry and touring the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, but instead we are trapped in a "Frozen Britain". 

One plus (of many - like, we are not stuck at an airport somewhere), we were able to try out the sleds I bought after the last snow!

10 December 2010

Not Messing Around


A lot of people asked if we celebrated Thanksgiving this year and the answer is "yes", kind of.  Obviously Thanksgiving is not observed here so Sam still went to work and the children still went to school, but we did have a turkey dinner complete with cranberries imported from the USA.  It was certainly not the same as being at home with family, but we made it work. 

It just so happens that one of the bigger English celebrations, Guy Fawkes Day, is celebrated at the beginning of November.  The day is to commemorate the day that King James 1 survived an assassination attempt.  Long story short November 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes, a participant of the Gunpowder Plot, attempted to blow up Parliament to rid England of the Protestant king and replace him with a Catholic head of state.  He was caught guarding barrels of gun powder, captured, questioned, tortured, tried, sentenced and ultimately jumped from the scaffolding from where he was to have been hanged, drawn and quartered (yuck).  Because the English don't mess around he was still drawn, quartered and distributed to the four corners of the kingdom. 

Like many of our American celebrations it is celebrated today with a lighter tone - many elaborate fireworks displays, massive bonfires (sometimes with an effigy of Guy Fawkes in the middle) and lots of food. 

Our house happens to back up to a golf course and they were having a big party to celebrate the day.  Not really knowing what to expect we decided to hang back this year and see what was what, but once we saw what was going on the kids and I grabbed our wellies and headed outside. 


Here is a what we saw:


Seriously, they do not mess around with this bonfire stuff.


No that is not a rope to keep people away, just something to mark the footpath at the back of the yard!


The fireworks were impressive (and close) and as a finale they set of floating lanterns that were so beautiful in the night sky.  The best part is unlike the 4th of July when you have to wait so long for it to get dark, it gets dark at 4:00 PM in November, so all the festivities are over by 8:00 PM.  At the end of the day, I'm not sure I would trade my 4th of July apple pie or Thanksgiving turkey dinner, but it is definitely nice to enjoy while we are here. 

09 December 2010


Amber 2

Meet the newest member of the family.  Her name is Amber and just like Penny she came with a few quirks (don't ask - it was very expensive), but now she is just as she should be - healthy, happy and very naughty!

Amber small close encounters

Poor Penny - she puts up with this little whippersnapper with such grace. 


But, I guess what goes around comes around... 

08 December 2010

Hmmm, Holland

Sometimes things don't go as planned.  This trip was one of them. 

I had found a place to rent in The Hague months before our departure.  One week before we are ready to leave, the owners contacted me to tell me they couldn't rent their house because some neighbors complained and they weren't really permitted to rent it as a vacation home in the first place.  Great! By this time the slim pickings of rental houses were even worse.  I did manage to find a place, but it was, um, quirky?  Glass bathroom doors (in addition to the Dutch shower - the kind where there is a drain in the middle of the floor and a shower curtain and that's it), really steep stairs, construction next door and on and on. 

I mentioned how nice it was to return to a place that was familiar, but what I did not mention is where our familalarity landed us... As we were looking for a parking place in Bruges, we came across the underground parking garage we had parked the time before.  However, unlike the time before, this time we had a new roof box on the top of the car.  Yeah, we remembered we had the box attached as we heard the fiberglass cracking and crunching.  Doh!  As if that was not bad enough, as Sam was trying to carfeully pull the car back out of the garage half a dozen people gave same the shameful finger wag.  

It just went on and on like this.  We had problems at border control because of our large group.  Laney was sick with a chest cold. I got dog poo all over my new coat at the park.  I lost the Flat Stanley that I was supposed to take pictures with during our trip.  The Internet connection at the house went out just as Sam had a major conference call.  On and on it went.  

Thankfully it wasn't all bad... 

Grammie & AJ
We were able to spend time with Grammie
Holland 2010
We got to walk on the beach.
The kids got to play at the pier.
Photo 1 Photo 2
Well, this would have happened no matter what (it was a complete mouthfull).
Delft 6
There was time to chase some pigeons.
We pretty much had the square in Delft to ourselves. 
delft 5
We were in Delft.
Delft Church
I do love Delft.
Delft 4
Yellow windows and a swan - both plusses.
4 on a slide
The kids had fun at the poop park.
Windmills 2010
We got to go to the outdoor museum Zaanse Schans.
Outdoor Museum windmills
It was really pretty. 
So interesting to see the wind-powered saw mill in action. 
Making friends
Best of all we got to travel. 

In the end, not all went according to plan, but that is part of traveling.  As we were standing at the fish stall this little girl came over to Laney and tried to tell her something.  She didn't speak English and Laney doesn't speak Dutch and yet they were able to share a laugh about the pink toy cat.  I guess that is why I love traveling - sometimes there is something new to see or experience and sometimes it is the same and sometimes the similarities are more profound than the differences. 

07 December 2010

Bruges, Belgium

 On our way to The Netherlands we stopped in one of my favorite places - Bruges.  The last time we were there Spencer was 18 months old.  Man, oh man, was it was different visiting with 3 walking children versus the 1 in a stroller.  Between the bicycles, horse drawn carriages and cars, I was sure we would only be taking the 1 we had in the stroller home.  Aside from my heart stopping every 2 minutes, it was a great day.  The sun was shining, the frites were hot and there is just something nice about going to a place that feels familiar. 
Running through Bruges
Running through Bruges
The Belfry
The Belfry
Provincial Government Palace in Grote Markt
Provincial Government Palace
Bruges 3
The Markt
Bruges 2
One of the many canals
 Grammie navigating the cobblestones in search of her etching shop
Bruges Bruges 3 bruges 8
Beautiful architecture

It is such an amazing place that I couldn't ask for much more - well, perhaps 4 srollers?

06 December 2010

Nine is Grand

Spencer turned 9 the 25th of October, but since we were traveling on his actual birthday and being the easy going guy that he is we celebrated a bit early.  Looking back it really was a grand day filled with big things for our guy.  If anyone should have a massive birthday it should be Spencer.  He is big in all that he does - his love, compassion and empathy for everyone in his life, his passion for learning and his maturity.  So, his breakfast was fitting.

The Pancake

His day of celebration was started with a giant chocolate chip blueberry pancake (his invention, of course) - I can't believe he ate every inch of the massive thing, but, he did. 

Present Time

There were many presents and lots of new things to build.  The rest of the day was filled with some of Spencer's favorites like Nerf wars and baking bread. With Grammie in town the oven was roaring, the flour was flying and the bread was baking.  If you don't know already, Spencer in the carnivore of the family - the guy loves steak.  In fact, on occasion, he will visit a local butcher (where he is quite a celebrity) and order himself up some meat.  So, for his birthday I thought he might like the biggest steak he had ever set eyes on:

Steak Cake

Enter the steak cake. 

Spencer and the Steak Cake

This guy is such a big part of lives - I really am looking forward to seeing the grandeur of the years to come.