Monday, May 28, 2012

Play Amsterdam 29 / 425

Here are the photos from our latest playground adventures! When I decided to take the kids to all 425 parks in Amsterdam I had no clue how memorable it would become. The kids love seeking out new places, trying new climbing structures and PLAYING CHASE! In just the past few months they have become so adventurous and confident at the playground. Luke has mastered the somersault bar and Audrey can climb any ladder to FLY down the slides. I love the impromptu play that occurs also- like playing knight and princess, king of the jungle, starting a marching band with buckets in the sandbox, collecting rocks and practicing counting to 25! 
Z1 Vondelpark

Z52- Gerrit Van Der Veenstraat

Z12-Theophile de Bockstraat

W116-Alberdingk Thijmstraat

W119- WG Plein
Z2-Van De Veldstraat


Z61-Hygieaplein #2

Z4- Museumplein

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Bikes of Amsterdam

Bike riding as a kid was one of my favorite childhood memories- I can recall finding a gorgeous pink and grey huffy one year on the side porch as a Christmas gift- and who could forget their favorite Banana seat bike with streamers hanging from the handle bars! I've ridden a bike a few times since early childhood- like the time at Radford when I got pulled over riding a bike home for not having a bike light, and the time I ran my new mountain bike straight into a tree within 5 minutes of riding on a trail (not quite the happy childhood memories). To be honest- I am (and always have been) a terrible bike rider. Balance and I are not friends- and within one day of purchasing my Amsterdam Bike (European minivan)- I was reminded of my poor balance as I took my first fall (kids in bakfiet- dutch for bike bucket- at least that is what I have translated it to mean). Luckily in the past two months I have become a little more Dutch in my bike riding skills- oh the things the dutch can do on a bike!! It is endless - see below for a list of some of the things I have seen in just a short period of time- I can't wait until winter to see how truly devoted they are to biking!

All ages ride bikes here- can you see the baby on the front of this kid bike? Pretty sure they don't sell that at Toy R Us in the States! At Luke's 3 year old check up they asked if he could ride a bike without training wheels (he only rides his Balance bike and scooter- no petals involved)
This sign is not too clear- but it reads "Private Parking: Staff Only" I laugh EVERY time I ride past it!
The Clog Bike
A Bike Must have-Rain Cover
The School Carpool Lane
Shopping for a bike was truly like shopping for a car- so many options and prices! Here are some of them (I stole a few photos from other moms I've met-too funny not to share)
The Mega Mama Bike- for a family of five
The four seater for when the kids get bigger?

Mama Fiet (school bus)- Two toddlers in the Back
The Three Seater- Kid in front Pedals 
Carries an infant in the front (6 months) and a car seat on the back(see that flimsy wire thing in the back?
That is a CAR SEAT ADAPTOR- again not sold in the US Babies R US)
The Three Wheeled Trike- I've seen up to SIX kids in these!
Daycares use these a lot
The Long Bakfiet- Room for four kids
The Short Bakfiet (The Lester's European Minivan) Room for Two
Here are a few others- and I know there will be MANY more to come!

The Duck Taped Bike
Motor Bike carrying bike around waist- I guess
he was afraid he would run out of gas?!?
The Green Bike- (unfortunately an act of Vandalism- Not cool for the owner- Funny for me to see and smell on a morning run!)

College Friends riding around at night (RU police- check out my bike light!)
At first the whole idea of loading and unloading the kids into the bike was exhausting- but I must admit- I prefer it to the car (at least for now while the weather is bearable). Luke and Audrey absolutely LOVE putting on their helmets and riding in the bike. They talk to people as we pass by, yell at dogs and ducks, sing songs and laugh hysterically! Derek has started to ride his bike to work daily (30 minute ride) and finds it helpful for preparing for and winding down from the work day. The kids know the exact minute he arrives home when they hear him locking his bike up outside of the kitchen window-I'm not sure sure that I am so fond of greeting a sweaty husband!

So friends at home (have I mentioned lately how much I miss you all!) What are you waiting for- go to the garage- dust off your bike and start riding- I promise you don't have to wear the silly spandex outfits- the Dutch do it :
  • Wearing Business Suites and High Heels
  • Carrying and entire family-the more the merrier!
  • Carrying boat rowing oars, coat racks, another bike, newborn babies in car seats/ or in the baby bjorn
  • Carrying an entire week worth of groceries
  • Holding hands while on dates
  • Riding them when they are 3 years old or 90 years old!
  • While texting or working on their Ipads
  • While playing frogger- running red lights, dodging tourist, trams, and cars
  • Even if their bike has a bent wheel and their seat is rusted 
*** This Family Abroad LOVES and MISSES you ALL! ( A LOT)***

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers Day Abroad...

This Mothers Day (weekend) was truly memorable not because we are abroad- but because the kids were totally into it! They were so cuddly and wanted to give me special little things all day long. Luke went with Derek to the market to get me flowers ....
We live in a country with some of the most amazing flower in the world- and when you send a three year old to the Market to pick some up... you end up with Neon Orange Gerber daisies- the MOST AMAZING flowers in all the WORLD (at least to me)!

Saturday we took a long (very long) bike ride down the Amstel River. The trip was filled with your typical Holland sites- goats, sheeps, cows, flowers, thatched houses, windmills, cheese and clog shops-

Of course the only two people that took a nap after this journey was Derek and I!

Perhaps the most memorable part of the weekend was our trip to the Amsterdam Bos (forest). Its such a large place with so many things to do. Todays activity was a ride on a boat from miniworld. Check out my adorable Captains- (Audrey is working hard to perfect her "cheese" face)
Luke picked out a rescue boat for our tour of the Lake. Audrey loved steering the boat with Derek and talking to the Ducks as we passed by. Luke called out to everyone he saw on bridges and the shore that he would rescue them if they fell in! 

 I just adore these two kids- even when they refuse to pose for a picture with me!
 I am also so grateful for sharing these moments with their incredible Dad!

We hope that all the amazing Moms we know back in the States had a wonderful Mother's Day as well! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Family time...

If there is one thing that Derek and I have repeatedly said during our two months (Two FULL months now!) it is "how close being away has made us as a family". Neither of us can figure out what distracted us so much from how truly amazing it is to spend time with your kids- constantly. Maybe too big of a house/ yard, too much TV/ computer, long days in the office, time in the car, or just a to do list that never ended. In Amsterdam- we dont have much of a social life, driving in a car is not easy for fear of hitting a bicycle (everything is so close by anyways), TV is in Dutch and your English choices tend to be The Dog Whisperer, Toddlers and Tiaras or Jersey Shore repeats (the Dutch must have a really bad view of Americans!) and we rent so no yard or house work! So- We find ourselves more then ever before heading out for a walk or bike ride after dinner, playing at the park, reading books, and just being goofy with Luke and Audrey! Derek travels  A LOT but when in town- he works from home or makes it a point to be home shortly after Luke gets home from his afternoon school. The kids are at such an amazing age together- Luke is into learning about everything around him. He loves reading books and watching you tube videos about how things in the world around him work. Audrey is chatting up a storm- She is hilarious- singing, dancing, and laughing- all day. We are having a great time as a small family- it eases the struggle of missing everyone back home (and boy do we miss our friends and family!)

Soon I will get it together enough to do a post on our house, neighborhood and what it is like to live in another culture!