Monday, March 30, 2015


This has been the hardest post to write - because I just don't know how to say how I felt about Paris! We were there for two nights and just one full day, and I think that was not nearly enough time to appreciate such an important, great city. It was my first time ever experiencing a true taste of culture shock, which was surprisingly uncomfortable for me. I was in sensory overload the entire 36 hours or so we were there - the architecture, the language, the food (oh, the crepes!) I mean, to stand under the Eiffel Tower, stand face to face with the Mona Lisa, touch the locks lining the bridges over the Seine and eat a French creme brulee all in the same day is overwhelming - to say the least!

It wasn't all easy and fun, though. Matt and I know very little French beyond "bonjour" and "sil vous plait" and that was kind of hard. I would definitely work harder to learn more French phrases before going back again. Most of the people we met in restaurants, etc. did know English fairly well - but we noticed we got much better service when we tried to use French before English. It made for some really funny (and really embarrassing) situations! It was also really cold the day we were there, and we were missing our kids pretty terribly. Paris - I think we need a re-do some day soon!

The highlights for me were: Driving down the Champs Elysees, seeing Mona Lisa and the Venus di Milo, eating a Nutella crepe from a street stand, seeing Notre Dame lit up at night + attending Sunday mass at Notre Dame too, walking underneath the Eiffel Tower and then walking back to it at night to see the light show (twice.) I'll never forget our grumpy French waiter at the cafe we ate dinner at the first night, our cab driver who was a Carly Rae Jepsen fan, the two separate times the perfect French words came to each of us like magic in the nick of time in some sticky situations,  (Rick Steves was right, "Ca va" is the magic phrase,) and of course I can never forget my experience using the public, self-cleaning toilet on the bank of the Seine. 

Here are our pictures, and they're not in any particular order. (Next time, I'm definitely bringing the nice camera, Paris!) Oh, and try not to laugh too hard at the 100 or so pictures of me stuffing my face with a crepe...

Friday, March 27, 2015


Oh, hi again - back with a few more London pictures!

After Matt finished work on Thursday night, we had three whole days to spend together in Europe! We left our hotel near Waterloo Station and traveled up to Kensington.

Kensington was really lovely. Rows and rows of pristine white rowhouses, with iron balconies and ornate carvings. We got a room at a boutique hotel in one of these neighborhoods. It was a neat experience, though it was a bit of a surprise to learn we had a 5th floor room and there was no elevator!

Hotel room in Kensington.

We decided to start the day off with touring Kensington Palace.

Kensington Palace was really beautiful. I loved the park setting, and how modest the palace seemed. It wasn't what I was expecting, but in a good way. I don't know a lot about the histories of the royal families, but what I have learned about Queen Victoria has always fascinated me so I was excited to learn more about her in the place where she spent so much of her life.

But I think I was even more excited about our next stop...

The Orangery at Kensington Palace

We enjoyed a proper, English, afternoon tea at The Orangery. It was such a beautiful building, and the food was so fun. (And of course, the tea was wonderful too!)

^ Royal Albert Hall ^

^ Watching the birds in Kensington gardens. ^

^ The magnificent Albert Memorial. ^

We also made time to go check out the Victoria and Albert museum, though their collection is just mind-bogglingly massive and after almost three hours, we felt like we had barely scratched the surface.

^ The enormous, "Ardabil Rug" at the V&A. ^

Matt at breakfast, at our Kensington hotel.

We were exhausted after all our walking, and went back to our hotel fairly early in the evening to get some sleep before the next big adventure ahead of us...


St. Pancras Station, waiting for our Eurostar train to France!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


It is seriously time to catch up. What is wrong with me? You won't believe it, but I do think about this blog every single day, and yet have the hardest time sitting down to work on it.

Granted, I have little time to even sit lately. (An early wake up and thus early nap time has given me an opportunity today - but the struggle between blogging and laying down to take a quick nap or read from my already over due library book before picking Olive up from school was real.) This has been a busy spring. The days just fly by. The good thing is, where as a couple of months ago the busyness felt overwhelming and awful - now it just feels normal, and pretty good. 

Where to begin... Well, last weekend I took a really fast, spontaneous trip up to Boston to visit some family there, and attend my cousin's baby shower. (She's expecting TWINS soon!)

I got to help make cupcakes the night before - aren't they cute?

Back home in Holland, things are warming up...slowly, of course. These Michigan winters know how to keep us in line, so that when March comes around, all rainy and freezing at 40F, we're just so happy about it because at least the snow is all gone and we don't have to wear 101 layers to prevent losing limbs to frostbite!

^ This was last week - all that snow is finally gone now. Hello mud! ^

^ The tulips are coming! ^

If you have been wanting a Silas update: he keeps himself busy splashing in every mud puddle he sees in spite of my screams, and has to be watched every second or else he's liable to sneak into the bathroom and throw ALL my makeup into the toilet. He also has decided that holding my hand is much too beneath him, and insists he can hold his own hand now (as seen above.) He might be getting a leash for his birthday.

And if you were wanting an Oona update, well, the news isn't much better. She has literally put several prominent gray hairs on my head, front-and-center, in the last two months. She refuses to practice walking, but is an expert climber, and enjoys scaring Matt and I to death. She is a gate-climber, stairway-tumbler, houseplant eater, toilet splasher extraordinaire! Thankfully she is also an amazingly good cuddler, and a sneaky coffee drinker (which isn't really a virtue, but it is hilarious, and I am totally framing that picture of her chugging the remnants of Matt's americano. My baby is hardcore, and I have no idea where she came from.)

Lest you think I'm forgetting my oldest, never fear - Olive is great, she just wouldn't let me get a picture of her this week. She seems so easy now, with the bulk of my day being spent chasing the "terrible two" left and right. She's doing so well in school, and we're really proud of her. She has a music program coming up, and a fun field trip, and can't talk about anything except her upcoming birthday next week. (She is hoping for a big Legos Friends set, as she reminds me 100 times a day.) I'd say she was a perfect child, except for the non-stop fights with Silas, melting down into screams and tears when I ask her to eat anything she doesn't particularly like, and her ability to lose her mittens every single morning we are running late to school. But other than those things, she really is pretty perfect. :) 

Fascinating stuff, I know. I feel very old and boring lately, but am thankfully too busy to waste much time sulking about it. 

I will hopefully be back sooner than later with something better than this, but it's time to pick up Olive at school so my time's up for the day. Over and out!