Prinsengracht Canal

Prinsengracht Canal

Friday, May 26, 2017

Spring is flying by....


I know, it's been ages since our last post. As Colette is getting bigger and more demanding of my time, my headspace to sit down and retell all of the stuff going in our lives is certainly getting a bit challenging. But I am happy to keep writing and documenting our lives. I love looking back on all the things we have done - it's incredible and wonderful. So many adventures, friendships and experiences. And maybe someday our little ones will go back in time and see what we were like before they were born, and as young parents. And maybe - just maybe - they'll think we were kinda cool. Only time will tell.


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So we'll continue to travel, participate in Women's Marches, wonder what the hell is going on with the US, volunteer for Teia's field trips, assist as Class Parent, complete an Escape Room, enjoy boozy brunches with the Nelsons, get out for monthly drinks with ladies of the Dam, see friends move away (and meet new people), watch our little ladies grow up way too fast, and enjoy our special time in the Dam.

    






My mom came out to visit for 3 magical weeks. Most of our time was spent inside due to nasty weather but we made the most of it. The first Sunday that she was here we went to De Italiaan to celebrate what would have been my Uncle's 74th birthday. We miss you Uncle Daryl.


For winter break from Teia's school we drove to Austria for an epic ski trip. We stopped overnight in Flonheim, Germany on the way there. The car ride was ok but Colette unfortunately inherited her sisters distaste for driving and puked all over. Good times. This is the route we drove. With traffic it was almost 30 hours in the car!


The drive to Zell Am See, Austria continued the next day. We hit some major traffic setting us back hours in our drive time, so when we finally made it we were all a bit relieved. Near our apartment was the city center where we picked up some food for the night and settled in.



The next day Kirk, myself and Teia went to the Schmitten (Zell Am See - Kaprun) mountain. It was Teia's first time with ski lessons and our first time skiing in Austria. My mom stayed with Colette at the house (THANK YOU). We were happy to find that her ski instructor was Dutch so she could chat it up with Teia. After a brief intro we left Teia and made our way up the lifts.  For lunch we picked up Teia and brought her up to the top of the mountain. She really enjoyed the Gondola ride. That evening we drove to the city center and window shopped before picking up some groceries and getting back to our apartment.



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The following day, Teia spent the entire day with her ski school (including lunch) so that Kirk and I could have the day to try out the other side of the mountain. We found it to be not nearly as crowded, and lunch on the snowy hillside was the perfect way to have a break and a beer! We also hit the "Fun Run" skiing obstacle course - which was noted as the longest Fun Run in all of the world. Teia made friends with a Dutch girl named Fenna in her class - they had the best day together. This was Teia's last day in ski school and her instructors were super sad to see her go so soon. For our 3rd and final ski day my mom took both of the girls for us (since the conditions were not so great) and we headed about 30 minutes away to meet our friends Blake and Frances for some snowboarding/skiing on a nearby mountain. We met their friends Damian and his wife for lunch on the top of the mountain. The conditions were windy, with very poor visibility and some rain. But the lunch, company, and the few runs we did get in, made it worth it.







On our drive home we stayed overnight in Deidesheim, Germany. On the way there we stopped off in Heidelberg to visit its famous castle - massive, with an amazing view and the biggest wine keg in the world! We had the best time. Thanks mom for helping us out with the girls and for coming out and spending a dreary but fun winter with us.




Teia has started up football on Saturday's with her friends Noaa and Noelia. It's a mixed 4-5 year old group. Obviously a dream of mine that she will take to soccer and want to play, but we'll see. For now it's fun just watching her explore!


Kirk went to New York on another work trip and fortunately had a little spare time to hang out with Jesse & Molly while he was there. And he was lucky enough to meet their beautiful new son, Benjamin. After Chef Jesse whipped up a delicious Mexican brunch, the four of them cruised around the Upper West Side - consuming cookies and beer along the way.


My friend Zach was had a layover in Amsterdam before heading off to France for work so we got to catch up over some coffee and lunch at one of my local favorite spots. It was so wonderful spending time with you Zach.


A few days later our friends Dave and Cleary flew out for a little less than 2 weeks. They rented an apartment nearby and we spent the first weekend with them exploring around the city. After that we took at trip to Brugge for a couple days (staying in nearby Zeldgem). The girls loved running around the city, eating up waffles and chocolate. The sun was out, and the house we rented was lovely - it even had a hot tub which Teia insisted on soaking in every day. We also managed to get out to Ostend on the coast for a brief run around.






When we got back to Amsterdam I took Teia to her favorite little party - Mini Disco - with a few of her friends, and that evening we went out for a late night dance party to see our buddy Jordan dj.  I don't think we've had a night like that in a long time - it was ridiculous!



The next night we took Paap's boat out around Amsterdam with some friends. Paap dropped us off in the Red Light District and we walked home through the crazy Dam Square, Negenstraatjes and then back to our home. We were so sad to see Dave and Cleary go - please come back!



           

Our dear friend Ben and Erica are moving to Madrid and we attended their going away dinner and drinks party. We have known Ben and Erica for 6 years now. They are one of the longest relationships we've had out here so it's really hard to see them go. We will miss our little expat family and hope to see them soon in Madrid - if they will have us!


For Easter time Teia's school was busy with making Easter Breakfast Boxes - each student designed a box and put their Easter breakfast in it - bread, bread and more bread - so Dutch. For actual Easter we spent the morning with the Keyrouses. They made us delicious breakfast and we had a true Easter Egg Hunt - city-style. The little ones loved running around and eventually sharing all the eggs and treasures they found. That afternoon Fran and family had us over for Easter dinner and Colin's early birthday celebration. The kids ran around and played while we enjoyed Fran's yummy Chamorro food. Thank you Fran!








We hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! Now I am off to quickly write about more fantastic trips with some lovely visitors.....stay tuned!


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New School and Holiday Madness


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!


                             
        

Colette enjoys tagging along to Teia's lessons and being super naughty around the house. We also just started Bouncy Bunch. It's so fun being back in the class where the littles get to play with toys, instruments, sing and play.


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Our friends Brock and Lila flew out from Arizona for their honeymoon and officially got to meet Colette.  Last time we saw them was in Corsica when I was 7 months pregnant so it's wonderful to be able to spend some quality time with them and introduce them to our new addition!



With Brock and Lila we spent the days exploring, wining and dining, and also getting out on the canals. Our friend Grant was in town and he joined us! Thanks for sharing your honeymoon with us congrats on your marital bliss!



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!




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The day after his birthday Kirk left for New York for the week. Per usual, he had some good meetings, some good times, and a good dose of jet lag. While we're on the subject of Kirk's work, he also had a few new ads come out. You can see them here:







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.  








Another soccer buddy of mine, Liz, booked a last minute trip out. It's been years in the making and finally she got out for a visit. The girls immediately fell in love with Liz, just as fast as she fell in love with our city. Thanks for helping out with the kiddos and please come back anytime!!!



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!






Sinterklaas arrived via boat from Spain. I took Teia to Katie's house for a little gathering before taking the little ones to a nearby bridge for a viewing of his arrival with Zwarte Pieten. Zwarte Piet has changed quite a bit. I am happy to see his transition from black-face to Chimney Piet - it now appears that he has chimney soot on his face.



Before Erin left I got to meet Esmae and have lunch together at one of our favorite spots. We miss you guys so much and look forward to another trip in the summer with the whole family!


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 holiday spirit definitely hits this city. We were super busy with shopping for gifts, eating olibollen, cookie decorating, Kirk's work party, and Teia's school had a special Christmas dinner before going on a 3 week holiday. Busy but fun times!








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.




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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!





Christmas morning the girls got up at a reasonable hour and ripped away at their gifts - well mainly Teia as Colette didn't seem to care all that much. The rest of the day we prepped dinner, took naps, went for a walk, and skyped with family back home. Definitely missed our family and friends back home - Merry Christmas everyone!





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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. 


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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.