Wednesday, March 26, 2008

springtime!

spring is arriving here in holland, and gracie and i have enjoyed getting outside as much as we can to soak it all up. it has snowed off and on for the past week or so but occasionally the sun will peek out and melt it all and we are able to get out and see the blooming daffodils and budding trees. on nice days, she and i try to get out of the house for at least an hour if possible.





easter sunday was GORGEOUS. we were told that it was supposed to snow and be nasty all day long, so when we woke up and the sun was shining and the sky was a deep blue color, we thought we had better get our butts outside before the weather changed. fortunately, it never did! it stayed beautiful all day long! so the three of us walked through the downtown area, then crossed the ring road and explored a neighborhood that had a nice little grassy park where we'd like to take gracie someday, and then came back through the large park near the library on our way home. but as it was such a lovely day, we chose to go out for a drink before we headed inside, so we went to a cafe nearby and sat outside, beneath the towering church steeple. the cafes were still mostly empty as it was easter sunday, but by the time we left around 2:00 places were starting to get some customers.





click here to see a video of the church bells ringing for mass on easter sunday morning. the video was taken from our living room, and i kinda scan across the downstairs area so you can see where we live.








we love the giant planters that the city puts out in the spring and summer time. right now they are filled with daffodils (narcissen in dutch) but in summer they are packed full of drooping geraniums or viney petunias.





gracie sleeps really well in her stroller, and just today we were out for about 90 minutes because the weather was so pretty and she was having such a good nap. i got a lot done in the sunshine too: we went to the grocery store, the market, and the bakery, and we even met adam out at a cafe for a glass of juice and a baguette! i love this sunny weather!

more videos

we have posted more videos onto youtube.com:

click here to watch a video of gracie enjoying her mobile in her crib. (oh she's so excited!)

and click here to see her taking a bath and getting dressed. (how calm she is in the tub! it's the part AFTERWARDS that upsets her.... so cold!)

enjoy!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

opa bob and oma rae

recently rae and bob came back to holland to meet gracie. they were here in october 2006 just a few weeks after we had moved, so it was nice for us to be able to show them how our lives have progressed and changed in the 18 months we've been dutch residents. last time they were here, we were living in a dingy 2-room apartment on campus and could barely say more than "goodmorning," "thank you" and "two beers please." this time around was different: we have a beautiful home, we can speak significantly more dutch (but we still have a hard time conversing in that language), and most importantly, we have a baby!







they were able to come out for a whole week and stayed at the hotel around the corner , only about a 2 minute walk from their door to ours. we mostly spent our time at home snuggling with little mg, but we also took short walks around town, explored the market, and took a side trip to the beautiful hanseatic city of zutphen.














i was really nervous to take gracie all the way to zutphen. granted, it's only about 50 minutes on a direct train, but it seemed soooo far away! what will we do if she gets cranky? how am i going to feed her? won't we get too tired? but we went for it anyway, and like most things in life it totally worked out. we bought goodies at a little bonbon shop (i had the most delectable piece of lavender chocolate! oh!), walked through the historic city center, had a little lunch at a brewery, and found this cool statue where YOU get to be the statue! i think it must have been made for kids but i was just thin enough to slide about half of my body in there and stick my head up into the hole for the face. there were also holes for the hands, but i couldn't do both things at the same time, so i just did this much.




we were able to get in a couple of games of shanghai, our favorite card game. it obviously took longer with a baby (between hands we'd take turns burping her or changing her or finding her a binky, etc.) but we were still able to do it!




we are soooo grateful that opa bob and oma rae have the means and the time to come out here to see our lives and to meet their first grandbaby! we miss them already but know that we will see them in just a few months when we go home this summer -- we're already looking forward to it!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

videos!

so we're trying out this new-fangled camcorder we got for christmas. i published a 7-minute video of gracie onto youtube.com. technically it's 3 videos all together in one, because we're still trying to figure out how to use this technology.

click here to see a video of gracie hiccuping with her grandma and grandpa, playing with her daddy, and kissing her mommy.

we hope to post more videos on this blog in the future, but also know that there is apparently a way for you to "subscribe" to our "channel" on youtube so you can always see if there is a new video on there too.

enjoy!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

twente driving tour

sundays are usually quite lovely around here: all the shops are closed, and the cafes don't normally open until at least 2:00 pm. it's very quiet and easygoing, and adam and i enjoy our lazy weekends together.


except, at 42 weeks pregnant, one can get a little stir crazy. towards the end of my pregnancy, i hardly left the house at all. not because i couldn't move, and not because i didn't have much energy... mostly it was because i was SO SICK of people saying, "oh, are you still pregnant?" and "when is your baby coming?" um, yeah. i'm still pregnant. um, i don't know when the baby is coming. shutup.


so i didn't leave the house. i just stayed indoors all day long, waiting waiting waiting for spruitje to come. one day flowed into the next, and after a while i got a little bit insane.



so i contacted my friend jolanda to see what she was up to on the weekend. she suggested that we take a driving tour of the area, to get me out of the house and to show my mom the beautiful twente countryside. what a good idea! get my mind off of being sooooo damn pregnant, and see some lovely farmhouses and castles! brilliant!




jolanda came over for brunch that day and after we ate a delicious breakfast of homemade american pancakes ("i loooove american pancakes!" jolanda exclaimed), we hopped in her car (they all hopped, i more or less plopped), and headed out.


our first stop was the beautiful village of het stift, a community that began in the 12th century as an abbey of sorts. i kind of understood it to be a sort of beguinehof (sp?), which is something i was first introduced to when adam and i travelled to bruges a few years ago. a beguinehof, at least the one we saw in bruges, is a community of holy lay women, unordained, who live together in a sort of monastic lifestyle. the beguinehof came about in bruges, the way i understand it, because during the middle ages there were just no more men anywhere -- they were killed off by disease or war, and to be a single woman back then was almost like a death sentence. so the women pooled their resources together and lived the lives of nuns basically, but were never ordained as such. and i sort of got the sense that het stift came about in the same sort of fashion. rather than marry, the women contributed their dowries to the abbey here, and lived in community. it was really remarkable to see such a beautiful and historic area so close to our home because so much of this area was destroyed during world war II. there was an old church, a giant communal well, and another well or spring that used to be used for the brewery. the original brewery house is no longer there, but the house that stands on that spot is still quite old. and people actually live in het stift! (in fact there is a woman in adam's department who owns a house there.) it's not just this old village with opening hours and an entrance fee -- it's a real village! how cool would that be to live there?!


after het stift we drove to oldenzaal where we saw the beautiful castle of singraven, where the first structure built on the property was sometime in the mid-15th century. adam visited the inside of this castle during his first outing with the philosophy department but this time around we all just stood outside the gate and admired the grounds and the surroundings. there was a watermill there and a pancake house as well. adam ate there when he was there during that field trip with his coworkers, but this time we only stopped in to look at the beautiful interior and warm up for a brief moment as it was quite windy and cold outside.






after the castle and watermill, we headed out to see another watermill. because we were not really looking at a map but instead tried to get lost so we could see the countryside, we ended up inadvertently driving past castle twickel, which we have seen numerous times already. it seems like whenever we have a guest, we end up taking them to twickel. rae and bob, shep, and joe, jj, and camille have all been there, and adam and i went there on our first weekend living here. it's a beautiful castle and quite nearby so it's a place we like to take our guests. and we just happened to happen by it, so of course we had to stop. mom looooooved it, this gorgeous old castle surrounded by a moat and a garden on the edge of a little dutch village. she just thought it was the most wonderful thing she's ever seen. (ps we discovered later that our kraamverzorgster, wilma, has a son who does reconstruction/maintenance work at twickel. he's the guy that paddles around the moat in a canoe, looking for holes to patch up. that is seriously cool!)




finally at the end of our long day we made our way (somewhat illegally, driving down roads the wrong way and getting lost in the process) to the oldest functioning double water mill in the netherlands. i have no idea where it was, but it was cold and dark and the twilight and the water were all the same color. it was just lovely. we thought we would have stopped there to eat but the restaurant was suuuuuper fancy (read: "expensive!") so we decided to call it a day instead.


it was a really wonderful day, and i'm so grateful to jolanda for getting my pregnant butt out of the house. i know my mom had a great time too and still talks about this trip, even though it was over a month ago. we had a great time! thanks, jolanda!