Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Netherlands report (part I)

OK, as promised here is the post all about my trip. I feel like I need to disclose that my in-laws flew us over there and paid for our hotel and most of our meals. So, with that said, it was a great trip and I enjoyed seeing Amsterdam.

Our flights went fine. The kids slept only after watching movies over and over. I saw "No Reservations" on the plane and can say that I am glad I didn't pay to see it in the theater. It was fine, just not worth whatever a movie ticket costs these days. The food was surprisingly good but our kids didn't eat it if my memory serves me correctly.

We arrived into Schipol Airport and immediately, it hits you that you are in Europe. The cigarette smoke about knocks you over. It seems like in the U.S. that the smoking sections are not right by the gates as you get off the plane. Oh well. We gather our bags and head outside to grab a taxi. I think if I were traveling alone or without kids, I would have taken the train into Amsterdam. Once we arrive to the fabulous hotel, we check in, but then we have to walk around because our room is not ready. I take in the sights of water, boats, bicycles and people. Amsterdam does not disappoint. And why is it that Europeans are so impeccably dressed?

One sight that was amazing was how the women dressed in dresses, opaque tights and dress shoes were riding bicycles. And the bicyclists have the right-a-way. That includes over pedestrians, too.

Here is a view out of our hotel room. I believe the first time we stayed in Amsterdam, our room looked over the Singel canal.

This is the living room:
This was our bedroom. We were in the attic of an old house that was probably built in the 1500's.
We actually had to climb up some stairs from the living room to get to the bathroom and bedroom. It was quite enchanting.

The night we arrived, my in-laws had made reservations at this fantastic restaurant where we had dinner with a couple that was in town for the day. The husband is Dutch and is waiting on his green card, and the wife is a former student of my father-in-law's. She had just arrived that day, too. My in-laws eat really well and this meal was no exception. The chef let the children into the kitchen and they came out with their own desserts. It was really cute.

The next day (Saturday) was spent walking around town and taking in the sights again. We had arranged for a babysitter for the evening so the adults went out for dinner by ourselves.

On Sunday, we took taxis to a town called Leiden. The oldest university in the Netherlands is here. The town was smaller and the hotel was not that great. Let me rephrase that. It was fine for me and my family, but not acceptable for my in laws. We stayed in Leiden two days and then headed back to the Ambassade Hotel in Amsterdam. Before we left Leiden, however, we did take a train to Den Haag (The Hague) for a day trip and we saw a miniature place called Maduradam. It is Holland in miniature. I was the only one that appreciated it. The kids were a bit too young and my mother in law's Alzheimer's disease keeps her from understanding what is going on.

Here is the windmill in Leiden:

And here I am at the miniature place called Maduradam.

We did go to some museums while we were in Leiden. They have an excellent natural history museum called Naturalis. Clayton enjoyed looking at the dinosaur bones. We also went to the American Pilgrim Museum. The pilgrims set out from Leiden before they left from Plymouth. Because of the Netherlands liberal government, all groups were welcome for refuge back then. The pilgrims were one of those groups.

Here is a shot of the "commuter" lot at the Leiden train station. I'll continue my report later.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I'm back from the Netherlands...

I really think I could live in Amsterdam. It is a beautiful city. I'll write more later, but for now, you can see some pictures here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Almost time to go...

Wow! It just hit me. I am a procrastinator. I thought I was organized last night and now I am feeling the crunch. You know, that nervous little feeling in your chest and your brain just can't stay focused? And why the heck am I blogging right now? Ah, yes, procrastinating.

I am really excited and realized a while back that you can almost buy whatever you leave behind (soap, shampoo, socks, etc.). I don't want to buy stuff like that, but it does help with the worrying.

So, I'm off to the Netherlands. I will take a ton of pictures! Can't wait. I better go finish packing....

Friday, November 09, 2007


My husband made it back this afternoon. The kids and I were glad to see him. The weather has turned cooler and we even had snow flurries today. Kendall and Clayton were so excited about the snow and were asking if they could see Santa.

I went to Barnes and Noble today to look at travel books. I just loooovvvvveeeee looking at travel books. I didn't buy one because I left the 25% off coupon at home. That means I get to go back tomorrow! I think we are going to take the kids to the story time and then pick out a book for the Netherlands. It's always nice to know what's going on and what museums are around, etc. I have to admit I am getting excited. Don't worry, I'm not kidding myself. This trip won't be a "vacation"--it never is when you are traveling with young children. Some good news is that we won't be bringing pull-ups for the little man! Now, if that isn't light at the end of the tunnel, I don't know what is. He's finally in underwear (about time)!

And one last thing. I'm worried about my friend, NYKAT. Just want to let her know that I'm thinking of her and hoping she is all right.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

An acquaintance told me about a website that helps with getting rid of clutter. A couple of weeks ago I was really overwhelmed with my house, kids, etc. Anyway, she told me about it and I signed up. Now, they send me emails and tell me what to tidy, etc. It's great. I really needed someone other than my husband to point me in the right direction. This site helps you with the C.H.A.O.S. (can't have anyone over syndrome). So, now my house looks a little more tidy than it did a week ago. I just thought I would pass it along....

Is it bad to wish a few days away?

Is it Friday, yet? And I was doing so well. I read somewhere that raising a toddler (however, I think this can apply to any young child) is like being plucked to death by a duck. I feel like I am barely alive right now....

In other news, my in laws are headed to Stockholm, Sweden right now. They will be there for a week and then we will meet them in Amsterdam next Friday morning. Yep, they are flying the four of us over there for Thanksgiving. I doubt we will be able to find some turkey, green bean casserole, and candied sweet potatoes. I guess that will be OK for this year. Ha ha.

I have no idea what kind of clothes to pack for this trip. I guess sweaters, jeans and a coat? Is it rainy or snowy or cold? I've only been through the airport at Amsterdam before so I don't know what it is like there.

Roll on Friday...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Two down....three to go!

This is day 2 of being a single parent. Pete will return on Friday. He is in New Orleans for a meeting. On his way to the hotel on Sunday, the taxi driver offered to locate a prostitute if Pete wanted one. After a long silence, the taxi driver started talking about touristy things. I see New Orleans hasn't changed. Yes, it is one of the seediest cities in the U. S. and our government wants to bring it back.

The kids were great today (up to this point) and I actually am not stressed at all. At 4:30 pm, I picked Kendall up from school and then we went to the docs to get their flu vaccines. I had arranged for the nasal kind. Clayton did it like a pro and Kendall was a little uncoordinated. I had to help hold one nostril closed while she 'snorted' the dose. On the way out the nurse said "no picking your nose for 30 minutes!" And Kendall did listen. About an hour later, she asked if she could pick her nose. Oh, to be 5!

They are watching the Backyardigans right now. It came today from Netflix. I was hoping I had picked a grown up movie, but they are happy vegging in front of the TV. I say since daddy's away, I am taking the easy route.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Relaxing Saturday to report

Well, my husband left for New Orleans this morning. He won't get back until Friday (ugh)! I think he knew I needed to 'store up' some energy, so yesterday he took the kids out with him while he ran errands. I was in the house by myself. Ahhhh. That does not happen very often. What did I do? I watched "The Queen" with Helen Mirren. And I thought my job as the queen of my household was hard? I loved it. I am an anglophile so I was soaking it all up. I didn't realize that the film was going to be about Princess Di's death and how the Queen responded. It was still a good movie, I just thought it would be about other things. I did learn some things about the Queen that I didn't know, however. 1) She was a mechanic in the war -if you can believe the movie and 2) She couldn't vote. I did like how they portrayed her as very practical and a can-do person. The makers of the filmed must have adored Diana because she was held in a very good light. And they totally loved Tony Blair.
All in all, a good film.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Good (and easy) chicken recipe

Last night, I had some chicken that I needed to cook (it had thawed, so there was no going back), so I looked up the Food Network on line and searched under chicken breast. I found this really easy and good recipe by Rachel Ray. It is *Chicken in Tarragon Cream Sauce, White and Wild Rice with Walnuts. I had to modify it a bit since I didn't have tomato paste. I used diced tomatoes instead, making sure I didn't put any of the liquid in. I used sour cream but next time I will make sure I make it with the heavy cream and tomato paste. I didn't use the walnuts because the wild rice I used had pine nuts (pinoli) in it. This recipe was really good and user-friendly. Anybody can do it! (yes, even you, Ronda). :) I just had to pass this on. It was too good to keep to myself.

*ps it looks like the link doesn't connect to the recipe. Just go to the website and under 'search' put in the title of the recipe. It should come up.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween is over...(yeah!)

Well, we have been busy with Halloween activities the last few days, and I'm relieved all the hoopla is over. But, nevertheless, I have some cute photos of the kids.

Tuesday, Clayton and I went with the local MOPS group to a nursing home/elderly care facility to spread some good Halloween cheer. The kids paraded through and sang some songs. Clayton insisted on bringing his toy guitar that plays songs. So, he would sing for the residents and dance, sort of.

Here he is above showing off his talent. (Notice the lolly-pop in his mouth). He insisted on being Superman this day (this is last year's costume and it is actually PJ's.)

Of course, last night the kids went trick-or-treating. They really scored with the candy and I can't wait to partake of the bounty. We have been going to our friend's neighborhood for about 3 years now since our neighborhood is smallish. It's a fun tradition.

Clayton was Bob, the Builder, Kendall was Ariel as a bride, and Michaela was a cowgirl. The weather was great and the kids had a blast!

And last but not least, here is a picture of our jack-o-lanterns:

We grew the two big ones.