Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Last couple of weeks

We are all starting to feel more settled and into a routine here, which is so nice.  We haven't traveled the last couple of weeks because of the weather not being great and Ryan had a school fun fair on April 14th.  Ryan's school is such a melting pot of people from all over the world.  It is really neat to hear what Ryan is learning from the other kids about their language and culture.  The school puts together what they call a Fun Fair every year as a fundraiser.  They have a flea market with all sorts of items people donate.  So interesting they do this, but it makes sense since there are so many people coming and going.  They also have simple carnival type games, bouncy house, and our favorite was the food.  Many families made authentic food from their country and the sales of this went to the school.  There was a French, Indian, Japanese, Turkish, Taiwan, Italian, UK, and American booth.  It was amazing food!  I was a little embarrassed about the American food.  All the other tables had these beautiful spreads and the American had mostly packaged goods (potato chips, candy, cookies, etc.) and a bbq.  But, I guess when you think of American food that is it?!  It was nice to meet some new people from the school as well.  I volunteered for part of the day at one of the game booths.  There are quite a few American military families at his school.  I was surprised to hear we have bases in the Netherlands.

We also signed Ryan up on a soccer team.  It is every Saturday for 45 min and there are a couple of coaches running them thru drills and then they scrimmage.  They all wear the same uniform.  We were surprised at this since they are so little, but we are in soccer country!  The coaches are really great and Ryan is loving it.  One of his friends from school is also on the team, so they can get silly together.  I think they are the only 2 English speaking, but the coaches are really great at giving directions in English and Dutch.  I found out as well that girls don't play soccer here! There are no teams whatsoever!!  My Italian friend from school said it is not ladylike to learn how to play soccer and to kick a ball. Ha!  

Abby is changing so fast these days.  She is really starting to say more and more words and let us know when she needs something.  The girlish screech has started! :)  She is so fun and just a really happy girl.  She is very sensitive and gets really embarrassed/sad when you tell her no at something she did or is doing.  I get sad watching her lip start to quiver and bury her head in my shoulder.  I took the kids to the Parrot Park again yesterday and it was so funny to watch how they play.  Ryan was running around the playground, up and down the slide and ladders and she sat for a good 30 minutes on this rocking horse just rocking and looking around.

I think we are headed to Paris this weekend to see a couple I use to work with.  I haven't seen her in over 4 years, so I'm very excited!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Keukenhof - Amsterdam

Happy Easter!  Troy returned from Portland the Saturday before Easter.  We all were so happy to see him!  Very strange that he was at home and we were all here.  He brought lots of Easter goodies (thank you Judy and Amy!) and I had quite the list of things for him to bring back.  It felt like Christmas with everything he brought back!  A little piece of home!!

On Sunday, Ryan woke up and went racing downstairs to see what the Easter bunny brought.  I hid some Easter eggs in the other room thinking we would do this after breakfast, but he didn't see his Easter basket and went straight for the other room.  By the time we got downstairs he had found most of the eggs and thought this was what the Easter bunny brought.  He is really into the next 4+ year legos, so he spent a long time working on his new lego helicopter.  Abby is still a little too little to understand.  She just wanted to hold the chocolate eggs and walk around.  Her new word is ball, so she just kept saying ball to all of the Easter eggs.

We decided to go to Keukenhof up near Amsterdam on Easter Sunday.  We have heard many people talk of this place as a must see.  It's a park with mostly tulips and areas to walk around.  It's only open for about 2 months (April and May) when all of the tulips bloom.  It was beautiful, but VERY crowded and not really a kid type place.  There is a small jungle gym, but mostly it is walking around to the different showcases of flowers and looking at all of the beautiful flowers in the gardens.  It was neat to see.  Troy also had Monday off, so we just relaxed and hung around the house.  Troy brought back the first 2 Hunger Games books and I could not stop reading them.  I already finished the first 2!

Love their faces here

 One of the many surrounding tulip fields/farms


Monday, April 9, 2012

Parrot Park in Veldhoven

Thru a friend in a mom's group I joined, Abby and I went to this parrot park 2 weeks ago near our house in a town called Veldhoven.  I knew Ryan would love.  Ryan had this last Thursday and Friday off of school for Easter break, so I thought it was the perfect place to take him.  The park has all kinds of birds and other animals too.  It also has this really cool jungle gym that Ryan sprinted to when we got there.  It's amazing how close the parks let you get to the animals here.  The fun part for the kids is that you can feed the birds.  Abigail loved looking at all of the birds and Ryan had so much fun feeding the birds.  Also, just down the road from the park, there is a flour mill that grows their own grain with a bakery and restaurant. There is a windmill (only built in 1987), but looks old and it's a very cute, quaint place.  We ate lunch here and sat outside.  I loved it.

Here are some pictures from our day:
Abby play in the playground
Ryan starting up the jungle gym
Ryan in the jungle gym
Feeding the birds

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Brugge, Belgium

We took our first overnight trip to Brugge, Belgium last weekend.  We had such a great time and loved the city.  It is about a 2 hour drive from where we live.  The architecture was beautiful, chocolate shops were amazing, and such a great walking city.  The town hall was built in the 1300's and is still used as their town hall today!  Brugge is well-known for their chocolate shops and they were all beautifully decorated for Easter.  Of course we had to indulge (or mostly I did :) ).  We did lots and lots of walking and went to a couple of the squares, churches (one has a Michelangelo statue), old windmill, very old nunnery, and a boat ride.  Our first stop was the the church with the Michelangelo statue, which was amazing to see, but very hard to go to places like this with small kids.  Abby realized her voice would echo in the church, so she kept getting a kick out of hearing herself.  The first few times were ok, but then we started getting the looks from the workers.  I had to leave, while Troy and Ryan finished looking.  After they came out Ryan requested not to go to anymore churches.  So, for the rest of the day, every time we were going somewhere new he made a point to ask "We aren't going to anymore churches, right?"  I don't think he liked having to stay quiet for that long! :)  Plus, places like this aren't too exciting for a 4 year olds mind.

We also went with a co-worker of Troy's and his family.  Their kids are pretty close in age to ours, so it was great to go with another family with kids!  The amazing thing is that their kids only speak Dutch and Czech, so Ryan and their son, Ondrej, only have a few similar words, but figured out other ways to communicate and had the best time together.  It was really neat to see how they were able to communicate when they didn't understand the language each other spoke.  Their parents had to do some translating between the 2 boys and us.  I am amazed daily at the multiple languages many of the kids here know.

Here are a few pics of our trip:
 One of the many beautiful chocolate shops

 Ryan's friend Ondrej inside the Church of Our Lady

Bell Tower 
 Small house with big houses built around it

 Brugge also has lots of Belgian Waffle shops.  We ate lots of these thru the weekend too. :)
 Bridge before entering the nunnery
 Abby LOVES birds.  She just spotted one!

 The nunnery