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Archive for June, 2010

I think we should be back to our normal routine in this space soon. Recipes should go up like normal on Mondays and I will write more updates about our family life.

The last few months have been hard. I finished writing a book, though I am now in the editing phase and have yet. more. writing. to. do. After 4 months of concentrated effort, I was tired of writing and short on time. That pretty much accounts for the silence from me around here. The book should be well and truly wrapped up in a few short weeks and that will be that, thank God.

I just got back from a librarian conference, which are always fun. I will be writing regularly now at an old gig I used to have and I am excited about getting back up to speed professionally. I was also able to see a lot of friends, many of which I only see once or twice a year and who are very dear to me. I thought a lot while I was gone about the people in our lives that we care about. Besides my librarian friends, I also saw a group of friends from high school. That’s right. MCC Bands nerds in the house. It was amazing, hilarious, and ended with a bar I did not even remember being in the next day. Ah, memories I wish I remembered.

Seriously though. It was fun and I came home with a head full of great ideas and a heart full of friends. I am a blessed lady.

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I think Ries hit all the highlights of our trip, which really can be summarized by the word beer. We had some truly amazing beer on our trip. The most amazing was what a friend called the “holy grail of beers;” a little brew called Westvleteren. It is a beer that is very hard to get and worth every effort to do so. Absolutely fabulous.

The picture in this post was taken at our favorite brown cafe in Amsterdam, a tiny hole in the wall called Gollem that serves 200 different kinds of beer, mostly Belgian. We went back three times to this amazing, lovely, little pub. I think I would have moved in and stayed if I had been able.

The canals were beautiful. The cheese, sausage, and other food was fantastic. The gardens and parks were lovely. Everything was perfect. We wandered around each city absorbing the atmosphere and watching the people go about their lives. The people watching was superb!

We were able to stay at the house of some friends who are living in Amsterdam and it was especially nice to be able to spend some time with Yvette, whom I have missed greatly since she moved. She is a blessing in my life.

Besides the beer, the other best thing about the vacation was spending time with Ries, alone. I missed Gideon a lot and cried over his being away, though he never cried for us, if the grandmothers are to be believed. It was nice to be with Ries and enjoy doing things we both love, wandering different cities and experiencing a different pace of life. For those of you that have yet to go on a kid free vacation with your spouse, I highly recommend it. It is nice to remember what you are like without a kid around and just be, in silence, with food, or over a good beer. Preferably over both.

The trip to Amsterdam reminded me again of the blessings I have in my husband. He is the perfect vacation partner for me and I dearly love vacations. There is no one else I would rather share a pint of life with.

I was, however, very happy to get home to my boy who was happy to see us. It was good to have our family back together after 2 weeks apart.

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I said I would let Michelle post about our Amsterdam trip.  But she is busy and will likely never get to it.  I tend to describe every detail about every event that ever happened so I was refraining from posting.  I could gladly talk a long time about our trip.  We had a great time.  And I would love to talk about all the great beers and brown cafés that we went to and how it has inspired our own new projects.  So if you want to talk about it, by all means, call me.  But I am going to keep this post to a bare minimum.  Michelle just posted our pictures so I will link the different sets (organized by city) as I get to them.

Thursday:  Arrived Mid-day and just hung out a bit with Tom, Yvette, and Bernadette (Yvette’s mom’s last day of her trip there).  And I can’t forget Analisa and Baxter.  We spent the first of several nights winding down with a couple beers on the patio with the slugs.  The weather was fantastic for the whole trip.

You can find all the pictures for Amsterdam here

Friday:  This was our first full day in Amsterdam.  Yvette (with Analisa and Baxter) got us acclimated.  We walked through a few parks (Amsterdam had a lot of great parks), most important of which was Vondelpark.  We found out from the get go that it wasn’t too much of a walk from Tom & Yvette’s house (T&Y’s) to the center of town.  It was actually a nice walk through Vondelpark, which we continued to do almost every day for the rest of the trip.  Spent the rest of the day just walking around and getting acclimated to the city.

Saturday:  Probably the best day in Amsterdam.  We got up early (but later than planned) and hoofed it into town.  Stood too long in the wrong line to see the Ann Frank House.  Timing worked because we were done just in time for the opening of the Pancake Bakery (mmm, good.  Ended up going back at the end of the trip, too.)  It is probably not what you think of as Pancakes.  They are dutch Pancakes.  Next we continued to walk around the canals (in case I don’t get it in later, I loved the canals and how it creates the charm of the city) and visited a few brown cafés (that is like a very old bar, some older than the USA, that serve good beer) and then made our way to the Bols Distillery Tour building.  Really cool tour.  Wound up with quite a few bottles of genever (dutch gin, better than English) and even a Yogurt liqueur.  More brown cafés and then made it home before dark (which didn’t occur while we there until 11:00).

Sunday: Honestly, I forget what we did this morning but we got up and did something.  Then made it back in time for T&Y’s house warming party (they had just moved in) where they “bbq’d” fajitas for their dutch and expatriate friends.  Too bad the Velveeta we brought them got confiscated by customs.

Monday: I might start mixing up my days here but I will come back and correct if I remember.  We spent the first day on bikes as Yvette, Analisa, Michelle and I rode bikes to the Amsterdam Bos.  The forest.  It wasn’t that far and it was a nice day with all the dutch people out and about (surely this must have been a weekend day, I must be remembering wrong).  We ate in a big field next to a pond where the jets flew just over head before they landed at Schipol airport.  And I am talking some big planes.  I’m fairly certain that I got poison ivy this day in a country that I am pretty sure does not have poison ivy.  I tried not to let it bother me the rest of the trip.

Tuesday:  Took the train Northeast for a day-trip  to Groningen.  Not too big of a city but it has a university there and some nice squares and markets and such.  Nothing too much to talk about but we had fun.

Pictures for Groningen are here.

Wednesday:  I am pretty sure it was this day, but it wasn’t the day after Groningen, oh well.  We took the train for a day-trip Southwest to Delft.  Michelle saw the library of her dreams that she always wanted to visit.  Very modern, quite interesting.  We walked around, didn’t buy any expensive delftware, and had another good day in a nice town.

Pictures of Delft are here.

Thursday:  We took an international train south to Belgium where we stayed at a B&B over night in Brugge.  This day we walked around trying to avoid the huge crowd of old-people tourists.  Paid way too much for a lunch before we figured out how to maneuver around the town.  Then we went to a few more places to drink and stayed up long enough to take pictures of all the buildings as they were lit up at night.

Friday:  Tried to hit all the places in Brugge we didn’t hit the day before, including all the places with tons of swans.  Then we took a brewery tour at this great little old brewery called the Half-Moon, which I think is the only remaining brewery left in Brugge (that’s saying a lot for a Belgian town).  We got to see modern brewing actually taking place as well as an adventure through this old building to see the ways they used to do it historically.  We went back to this great hidden bar that we enjoyed the day before (the Belgian beer never disappoints) and then walked the park on the edge of the town on the way back to the train station.  The train ride back was an adventure as I sat with a drunk Brit, a Dutch man and a Belgian girl.  The Brit spoke the worst English of them all, but his manners were even worse (let’s just say it that way).

Brugge pictures are here.

Saturday through Wednesday:  We found out our flight home was cancelled and we would be spending 2 more days in Amsterdam.  We spent most of the rest of this time hitting up parts of Amsterdam that we had missed before.  We used a bunch of the walking tour cards with us to see things like Jewish WWII historical stuff, the shipyards, more churches, residential islands, a brewery in one of the last 2 working windmills in Amsterdam, and lots and lots of brown cafés

Unfortunately, I didn’t capture many of the great things that we enjoyed.  The Dutch people, the house boats, the beer (did I mention that), the flower market, the architecture, the canals, the Golem, all the baby ducks and swans, the cheese, the raw herring sandwiches, the croquettes, the dogs without leashes, the time spent with each other, the beer (I really enjoyed the beer), and all the different things that you see on another continent that I could talk a lot about.

-Ries, I think I’ll stop there…

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I’m turning into my mother.  I used to hate how she would brag on me.  I never felt like anything I did was particularly special but there my mom was, bragging to other people about something I did.  Was embarrasing.  So now, here I am bragging on my child.  I don’t really have a good feel for the development rate of 2 year olds so I don’t know how to compare Gideon’s progress relative to others.  I always felt my mother had the same lack of knowledge.  She didn’t get to see my peers like I did.

That all being said, I think my son is a genius.  Okay, I know he is not really genius, because I know what that word means and I don’t like to really throw it around.  But he is very smart.  At 2 years old (+1 month) he can say the entire alphabet now.  And it is not just singing the song (there is that) but he also tells us that Q is for quail (which he tells us lives in North America) and N is for Nightingale and many others.  Sometimes he forgets a couple when pressed, but he knows all of them.  He is less proficient with numbers, which makes me worry he got more of his mom than his dad.  He will count to 10 but he almost always skips 4 and 8.  And sometimes when we ask how many there is of something he doesn’t get it right past 3 and he usually will have to count up to the number.  “Gideon how many sock’s are there?”  “1, 2 socks!”  Oh and his Gammy (my mom) taught him the difference between his right and his left hand while we were on vacation.  Now I am hoping he can teach that to his mom. 😉

The fight continues whether he will be a jock or a musician.  Michelle is determined that he be a musician.  Why can’t he do both?  I know he’s capable.  He’ll be an all-around type kid.  He is really good with his harmonica.  He plays it really loud, blowing out and sucking in.  He even slides it back and forth on his mouth while playing different notes.  But he is really good with balls.  He has gotten good with kicking balls.  He will drop kick balls.  He will put balls down on the ground and actually kick them up into the air.  He kicks with both feet (with somewhat of a lean towards his left foot) and he kicks them straight.  He is getting better at hitting balls with bats or rackets but the timing is hard to get.  He’ll get there.

Anyways, I’m proud, I’m bragging, and I am enjoying my son as he grows into the person that I am excited to see.

-Ries, raising a Renaissance kid.

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In case you hadn’t noticed, we haven’t posted to the blog in over 2 weeks.  The reason is that we were in Amsterdam for that time.  We came back about 2 days later than expected thanks to striking British Airways employees but we finally made it back.  I am not going to go into details about our trip, because my post would be far too long with the amount of detail I tend to give.  I will leave that job to Michelle.  Suffice to say, we had a very good time.

-Ries, feeling Dutch

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