Teia started at her brand new school - De Nieuwe International School Espirit (DENISE). Her class is still growing at the moment - 17 students - combined with 4 and 5 years olds of all different backgrounds. The majority of the day is taught in Dutch and ends with English. She is really enjoying making new friends and learning how to "spreken Nederlands". I've also picked up my Dutch game trying to dedicate some time each day so I can be of more help at home, plus its been far too long living here and not really speaking the local language - feeling a bit ashamed.
For extra activities after school Teia started ballet at the Amsterdam Dance Centre which is about a stone's throw from our home. Teia continues swim lessons at Mirandabad, and also does Little Gym. It's busy busy for this little active lady!
Courtney and Michael made it back for a quick work/family trip. It was bitter sweet to say the least. Happy to see them here, but sad to know they would return to their new home in London. Also, Kevin my soccer buddy from Santa Monica, was out in Amsterdam on holiday with his girlfriend, Trihn. Thanks for coming over to the meet the girls and for drinks out (bummed we didn't get a single picture)!
Kirk turned 37 this October and to celebrate the occasion we made him breakfast and then met up with some friends for dinner and drinks. Kirk also managed to get in a round of golf with friends - I think he had an excellent birthday weekend!
To start getting into the Halloween spirit we joined the Nelson's for a long bike ride out to the pumpkin patch at the Zomer Bloemen Pluktuin. Teia picked out the perfect pumpkin and carved it out.
The next week Teia's school decorated their classrooms and building with Halloween decor, and myself and a couple other parents helped host a Halloween party. The party consisted of a scary story, pumpkin carving, and making a spooky mask. It was darling and the kids seemed to really enjoy themselves. And yes, Teia had 2 outfits - she was a unicorn, but underneath her costume she wore her scary skeleton pajamas!
The Larter's flew out from Barcelona for a quick visit - just in time for Halloween. Us adults got out for dinner one night and also some brunch/UW football earlier in the afternoon. On Halloween we took the kiddos to the Oud Zuid for expat Trick-Or-Treating. Teia wore her unicorn outfit and Colette was a pumpkin obviously! We had a lot of fun and it was great to meet Ryan and see our kiddos reconnect.
While Liz was here, Erin and Chad (Amsterdam Alum) came out for a work trip and brought their sweet Esmae. We all met up for a delicious dinner at De Luwte with Liz, Kirk and the Rohrer's friends Steve and Annie. The next night our friends from Portland, Ryan and Sarah Beth, came out for a visit. We all got on Paaps boat for a late night boating and boozing on the canals. It was a beautiful crisp and clear night and we had a lot of fun reminiscing about the good old days. Please come back Erin and Chad!!! It was really great meeting you Sarah Beth and loved seeing you Ryan! We feel so much love at this moment with all these guests - keep them coming!
Our old neighbors Kate and Steve were also out in the Netherlands for a quick work trip/vacation. They came over to our place to meet the offspring and then we hit up Cafe Loetje for some buttery steak, frites, and the best sticky toffee cake. It was wonderful reminiscing about our time in Santa Monica - we lived in the same building (631) and oddly enough when we received our our reservation number it was #631 - mind blown. Kate and Steve, we hope to see you out in our neck of the woods again!
For Thanksgiving this year we celebrated with a massive fun bunch at a beautiful venue hosted by Kristi and Maria (and families). It was potluck style so plenty of delicious dishes from all over. On Friday we stayed in to watch Apple Cup - UW vs WSU. Glad to see our Huskies dominated the majority of the game - winning once again! Over the weekend we celebrated our 2nd Friendsgiving at Kevin and Jill's house.
Teia's school got a visit from Sinterklaas and Chimney Piet. They spent the day singing songs, eating pepernoten, and even got a little gift. At home we received more special gifts from Sinterklaas - chocolate coins and letters, pepernoten and a couple toys.
The day has come - Colette's first birthday! For the occasion we flew to London to visit the Haleys. We stayed in their lovely home in Chiswick. For the first night we hung out in their neighborhood and hit up a local pizza joint for some yummy eats. The next day we tubed to central London and had lunch at the Borough Market. Then we walked along the Thames and strolled through a little Christmas Market at Tate Modern.
We celebrated Colette's birthday with delicious cupcakes back at the house. Our dear friend Ali (Amsterdam alum who lives in London) came by for a visit. It was so great seeing you Ali! Please enjoy this lovely rendition of Happy Birthday video accompanied by Teia's crying. That evening we got a sitter and had dinner at the Smoke House - it was incredible and an absolute must if you ever have a chance to eat there.
On Sunday we explored Spitafields and Brick Lane in East London. First stop was a delightful Mexican restuarant, then some shopping for clothes, a quick dip into a cereal bar, and walking/enjoying our surroundings. Later we ordered Indian food and watched some shows before heading to bed. The weekend was perfect and though Colette will not remember where we spent her 1st birthday we most certainly will. Thanks again for hosting us and showing us your beautiful city Courtney and Michael, and Happy Birthday Colette!
For Christmas schools were out for a few weeks so we did some last minute shopping and even got to go out on Paap's boat with friends for a tour of the lovely Amsterdam Light Festival. The kids loved it. Later that evening we went to Sarah and Dragan's Christmas Cocktail party.
On December 23rd our sweet little niece was born - Harper Olivia Johnsen. She is healthy and a whopping 8lbs 3oz. We can't wait to give her a squeeze and cuddle. Congrats Ryan, Nicole and Peyton.
For Christmas Eve we went over to the Keyrouse's for some sushi and champagne. As the kiddos ran around and played like crazy we also got in some card games!
For the rest of the break we had a lot of family quality time. Teia was busy with swim and Little Gym camp. Our friends had us over for some cheese and Californian wine, and we went out to dinner with some of Kirk's co-workers. On Thursday I took Teia to Disney on Ice (present from Grandma Sharon). And also we managed to get in a boozy lunch with Ben and Erica.
It was hard to believe when New Years Eve came around. Since the UW football game was at 9pm we opted to have a low key night at home with the girls. I managed to be in pj's and slippers by 7pm and we made a massive plate of nachos and margaritas. Per usual the fireworks were crazy - we had our very own private show thanks to our neighbors. We hope everyone had a lovely and safe NYE.
Unfortunately during the holiday break I received a call from my mom that my Uncle Daryl had passed away. He was 73 years old and had been up and down for the last year with brain cancer. We will miss him dearly. It's hard to imagine that I will not see him again. For the past few years he was able to visit me in Amsterdam when the cruise ship he played piano on would come through town. I will miss our walks, tea and chats, his hugs and the twinkle in his eyes. Hearing a piano playing will never be the same. Love you, Daryl. I was fortunate enough to fly back home and spend time with my cousin, his family, and my family in Tacoma for the memorial. It was beautiful just like his soul.