Tuesday, October 21, 2008

busybee!

one of the nicknames adam has bestowed upon his favorite daughter is "busybee." why, you may ask? well, watch this video to fully understand.

THIS is why i never have time to blog anymore, and why it takes me weeks at a time before i finally get around to uploading videos and pictures to send to you all. AND probably the number two reason i've lost all the baby weight.

it's three minutes of exhaustion. seriously! i bet you feel tired after watching this!

she's SOOOO much fun!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

theehuis

loyal followers of this blog will know that i've been fortunate enough to sample the various teahouses in the lovely twente countryside. my dear friends, jolanda and mariska, whom i know from my time working at that sucky callcenter, have joined me on each occasion. and, on each occasion, we have had a marvelous time, just talking, drinking tea, and eating WAY too many sweet things.





we have been to two other teahouses in the area -- the first one was incredible, the second one rather disappointing, and this third one was absolutely delightful. it was this beautiful, twente-style farmhouse with a thatched roof and a lovely garden. the property bordered a pasture where cows lazed in the hazy, misty sunshine, and the autumn trees were just beginning to change. it was like god sneezed a little color on them -- just the slightest tinge of yellows and reds on the tips of the leaves. so pretty!




jolanda picked me up near my house and we drove about 40 minutes west along the speedway. (on the way home, we took the scenic route so we could enjoy the fall colors as we rambled through the cutest little dutch villages.) there we met mariska, who is 6 months pregnant with twins (a boy AND a girl! what a blessing!). we all laughed because at the last two teahouses i've been pregnant, and now this time she is the one who is pregnant! will jolanda be next?




because the day was BEAUTIFUL and sunny and just a little crisp, we were happy to sit outside in the garden. the hoestinkhof, as this place is called, also had a little pension there, and i took some time to explore the grounds and take some pictures of the flowers and clogs and trees. there were numerous original sculptures there, scattered throughout the gardens, resting under trees and accenting blooming bushes, and they were all for sale too. it would have been a nice souvenir to take home with me to remember this outing, but i decided that a couple of hundred euros was a little too much for me, and chose to purchase a bag of loose-leaf tea at their teashop instead. (i picked out this delectable black tea with caramel -- omg i love it!)




we all agreed that this place was by far the prettiest teahouse we had been to -- the scenery was truly pastoral and the garden was well-maintained with lots of little surprises in every corner. AND the tea and the food were delicious. but we think the food at the first teahouse we went to was just a little better (we're STILL talking about the sandwiches they served at that first place, and it's nearly a year later!!), and i think that the tea selection at the first teahouse was more extensive, too. however, i would definitely go back to the hoestinkhof again -- the service was friendly, the food was great, and the scenery both inside and out was a pleasure.



it was such a treat to get out of the house for a couple of hours and to hang out with my girlfriends on a sunny saturday afternoon. thank you to adam for making it possible, and thank you also to mary grace who is SUCH a good girl that i can feel comfortable leaving her for such a long time. and a great big thank you to mariska and jolanda for being such good company and going to all these girly teahouses with me! yay!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

videos!

i hope you have some time, cuz here's a whole mess of gracie videos, all the way back from the summer.

(ps the reason we're unable to post these more frequently is because of the time-consuming technology we have. first we make the video, then we have to download each video separately onto our computer, then we have to upload them onto youtube -- which takes FOREVER -- and then we put links here on the blog. not as easy as just uploading a few pictures. but at least it's worth your time, cuz we usually post a bunch of videos all together, so that's fun...)

okay, get yourself a cup of tea and settle in for a while. here we go!

gracie and her friend james had a playdate this summer and here is the video to go along with the blog entry that i wrote over the summer. a brief video, mostly of mary grace and james laying on the floor and playing with toys separately from each other. i think that "other-awareness" must have come later, cuz if she was in the same situation now she'd be MUCH more interested in the other baby next to her, instead of the toys in her face.

gracie is constantly learning new sounds -- by now she is babbling and singing a little bit, but earlier in the summer she learned how to snort. here she is in her swing, exploring her new sounds!

one of gracie's favoritest games is to play "scarfie" with daddy. she especially loved this game when she was still immobile and could only play with objects directly near her -- so to have someone throw something up in the air, down over her face, and back up again while talking to her and smiling at her, well, that was just the best thing EVER for her! i think we have a few videos of gracie playing scarfie with daddy, so here's yet another from the summer.

it's very important to the both of us that gracie grows up to appreciate music. that's why i sang during my pregnancy and why we are always playing music in the house (mostly bluegrass cuz i kinda have this fantasy of us someday being like the judds -- i'll play the guitar and sing harmony, and she can play the fiddle and sing the melody. is that totally dumb? i hope not!) anyway, oma and opa have this old keyboard in their house, and someone brought it up from the basement one day, and gracie loved playing it whenever she could get her hands on it. here she is making pretty music with momma on a peaceful summer afternoon.

during the summer we spent a little time in minnesota, seeing my side of the family and introducing gracie to her 2nd cousins, her aunts and uncles, and her great-gramma. we stayed with my uncle steve and aunt rachael, who have a pool in their backyard. it was pretty chilly to swim in because they had just filled it up a few days before we arrived, but that didn't stop us from enjoying it anyway! here's a short video of gracie and daddy floating in the pool.

you know from previous videos that gracie really likes her bathtime. here in this clip we are playing in the tub after a day of splashing in the pool. her mema and auntie teresa are there with us too. the game we're playing here is squirting some water in her face with her little bathtime toys -- her favorite is the purple walrus buddy. most kids i would think would not like water squirted in her face, but it's kinda' extreme, so of course gracie likes it. (strangely enough, though, she doesn't like the bucket of water poured over her head to rinse her hair. that's not so much fun for her. but a little squirted into her eyes is UBER fun!)

i found gracie a saucer at a garage sale this summer, and she really liked to work in it whenever she could. it gave her a new perspective on the world to be able to stand straight up while she was playing with her books and toys and teething rings and pretty much anything she could get her hands on. here's one video, and here's another video that show her having a good time in her saucer!

our little adventurer didn't sit still for long -- as soon as she figured out how to roll over and sit up, that's all she wanted to do. so of course, crawling wasn't far behind. in this video she is working on getting up onto her knees, which means it was only a matter of time before she was cruising around on all fours. (which she's totally doing now, by the way. but that's another video to be posted later...)

and lastly, here's a video of our doodlebug hanging out at home here in hengelo. i had just gone to ikea a few days before to get her an area rug on which to play (our floors are all hardwood, and we didn't think that would be very cozy to play on all the time). anyway, she is really scooching around in this clip -- not crawling forward quite yet, but moving backwards and sideways pretty well. especially on the slippery floors that we have! it's like sliding on your socks, but way more fun cuz it's your whole body. but anyway, this is gracie and her daddy playing together, scooching around on the floor, and having some nice one-on-one time.


so, enjoy! we're going to try to post another batch of clips very soon -- hopefully next week, so stay tuned! (and if you're interested, you can always just subscribe to our "channel" on youtube -- we are adbriggle. there should be a way for you to subscribe to our channel, so that when new videos are uploaded you can see them there first instead of waiting for us to do it on our blog. does that make sense? give it a try and let us know what you think!)

love you!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

you never know what's going to happen...

... when you leave the house.


a couple of weeks ago, gracie and i were on our way home from the grocery store when i heard some music on the street. good thing i had my camera, so i could capture this bicycling band as they rode past us!

too cool!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

how does she travel?

considering gracie has vacationed in greece, taken the train all over northern europe, flown across the atlantic ocean, and roadtripped halfway across the united states, we tend to get that question a lot.


and our answer? always "piece of cake!"



when we were pregnant, adam and i talked often about how much we still wanted to travel after our little spruitje arrived. we knew that travelling would be different somehow, that maybe we couldn't do it all and see it all in one trip, or that it would take us longer to see the places we wanted to see, but we still wanted to be able to get out into the big, wide world to experience it. we didn't want a baby to hold us back!



so i think because gracie has been travelling ever since she was a newborn (her first roadtrip was to zutphen, when she was about a month old), it's kind of the only thing she knows. we never really got into the routine of naptime at a specific time in a specific place (though we do make sure she has two good naps a day), so because she didn't always have to sleep in her crib at say 10:30 every day, she learned to be adaptable. want to see the acropolis, but she's a little sleepy? throw her in the sling and go! it's time for her to eat but you're still at the beach? good thing she's still breastfeeding! poopy diaper? no problem, we'll just stop in at this cute pub for a drink and change her in there!


of course, this is all made much easier by the fact that until recently, she's been pretty immobile. she's only been crawling for a few weeks, so we've been able to keep her confined and stationary for long periods of time fairly easily. this is i'm sure going to change as she learns to walk and wants to do everything herself. then i suppose we'll take fewer trips, or stay closer to home for those few years, or maybe we might be lucky enough to have oma and opa babysit for a long weekend so we can have some grown-up time.




anyway, she did just fine in her car seat all summer long. one of us would sit back there with her during our longer trips, so she'd always have someone to play with. we'd stop at rest stops along the way (nebraska has surprisingly lovely rest areas, iowa has nice ones but there are fewer of them, and minnesota doesn't seem to have any at all swear to god). occasionally we'd have to pull over in some ghost town to change a diaper, but mostly we were lucky and could make it several hundred miles before we'd have to stop. our stops took longer, of course -- we'd really make them worthwhile, with a picnic and lots of play time for gracie to kick and squirm.





she OF COURSE loves the trains, and likes to look out the windows and make friends with the other passengers (who can't NOT play with her!). fortunately for her, we don't have a car out here, so we're constantly on the trains and buses to our various destinations. she's getting to be such a big girl now that she sometimes will need a seat all for herself, and doesn't want to sit on our laps all the time. watch this video to see for yourself just how happy she is looking out the window! (and keep in mind that this video was taken on the train ride back from our huge international flight this summer -- we had been travelling already for about 20 hours i think, and she's still just as happy as can be!) and here's another clip of her on the train home from amsterdam last weekend, making goofy sounds and playing. she's so much fun!



and as for the flight across the pond this summer, she did AMAZING. she sat on our laps the whole way over there (but she was only 4 1/2 months old so it wasn't hard). and honest to goodness she was not even jet lagged the next day -- she had a little less energy than usual, but her day was pretty much right on schedule! same story on the way back here, actually. she would wake up and want to play in the night, but we'd lay her in bed with us and within an hour or so she'd fall right back to sleep. and on the way home from colorado this summer, we upgraded our seats to sit behind the bulkhead (the best $180 we ever spent!) and gracie got her very own bassinette, which just BARELY fit her. another week and she would have been too big. but she was such a big, brave girl -- she slept peacefully for probably 6 hours out of a 9 hour flight, and then took a little nap on a couch in a pub in london while we waited for our next flight to amsterdam.



getting around town is obviously a lot easier than hopping across europe on a train, or flying over an ocean at 35,000 feet. usually when we have an errand to run here in hengelo, we take the stroller. but sometimes, just for fun (and when i have a lot of groceries to get), we take my bike. she's got a little seat in front, with a windshield to keep the cold dutch wind from blowing in her little face, and she just loves it! she loves to play with my bike bell, and try to catch the streamers on my handlebars when i ride really fast. i finally got her a helmet after searching three different stores -- i have yet to see an adult out here wear a helmet, and come to think of it, i don't think i've ever seen a child wear one either. and certainly not a baby (even though i think they probably need one the most). fortunately gracie has inherited the large dryden cranium that i share with my dad, so she's now the proud owner of an ages-2-years-and-up helmet that is just slightly too big for her but which i'm sure will fit her perfectly in a couple of months. it's better than nothing, i suppose!

it's so much fun to have a little buddy who we can take everywhere with us! yay, gracie, for being so adaptable and easygoing! we have such a good time with you!

lunchtime

omg, i can't decide which picture is the cutest, so i have to post ALL of them!






(well, not really, cuz i took i think 800 of them, so here's a sampling of my favorites.)







these were all taken today at lunchtime -- she was eating sweet potatoes, beets, chicken, and some breastmilk all schmooshed up together.







i can't stand it! she's just so freaking cute!







i DARE you to not laugh or smile when you're looking at these... it can't be done!

Monday, October 06, 2008

kinderboerderijen

it's pronounced kin-der-boor-der-eye-en. and it literally means "children's farms", but it's more like a petting zoo.


apparently hengelo has a kinderboerderij but i didn't know this until just a few weeks ago, when our american friend, chuck, clued us in on this. chuck has two kids of his own and lives just across the street from the petting zoo here (lucky kids!) so about a week ago he invited us out on a field trip with his children.


we rode our bikes there, and it really only took about ten minutes door to door. i couldn't believe it! we DEFINITELY need to take gracie there more often, because it's soooo easy to get to!


the kinderboerderij had a lot of birds that you could feed -- ducks and geese primarily, but also a couple of goofy looking emus which gracie liked to study. there were also several beautiful deer (smaller looking than what i am used to seeing in the usa) and also a pony who didn't seem very interested in the children throwing bread at him. there was a nature trail through the forest, about a 2 km loop, but we weren't able to explore that part that day.




the best part was the goats, who were just roaming freely throughout the park. they had their own area where they could sleep and eat, which was away from the children and behind a fence, but there was a big opening in the fence specially built for the goats so that they could leave their pen if they wanted to. i think that's a good idea, cuz then the goats get to live outside in the fresh air, and can get away from people touching them all the time if they're tired of it all. and it's nice for the children, too, because they are always surprised by which goat they are able to pet.


gracie looooooved LOVED petting the goats!





there were also a few bunnies in cages, some pigs in a pen, and a little barn with guinea pigs, more bunnies, and some parakeets which gracie LOVED. i especially like this picture, because the expression on gracie's face and adam's face are identical. (i think she's looking more and more like adam every day, actually.) she's daddy's girl alright!



we also went to amsterdam over the weekend to see valerie and to go to church. (but it was so rainy and nasty outside on sunday that we were delayed getting out of valerie's place -- where we had spent the night -- so all we did on sunday was get pannekoeken and go home, so we missed church! bummer!) we met valerie at the train station on saturday afternoon, stashed our backpack, and caught a bus to the westerpark. the weather was COOOOLD and windy, but dry, so we explored the park a bit and went to a kinderboerderij there as well.


gracie fell asleep in her stroller by the time we got to the park, so we adults stopped at a really cool cafe in this old, renovated gasfabriek and had cups of hot tea. and when she woke up, we walked a bit further and saw the kinderboerderij which was much smaller than the one in hengelo, but had chickens and a big, beautiful cow who liked to stick her head out the window in the side of the barn. there were children there who were taking care of the animals (like they were a part of 4-H or something similar) and we had to leave the barn early because the sheep were coming inside. "meneer, de schapen komen binnen." so we had to leave. no matter, since it was getting late in the day anyway and we wanted to go out to eat before heading back to valerie's.


and, incidentally, we went out to eat that night at a restaurant that valerie suggested. we were in the mood for dutch food (i know, crazy, right?!) because the weather was so cold and blustery (oh, now you understand), and she suggested this restaurant which apparently had some of the best traditional dutch food in all of amsterdam. and it was SOOO WEIRD because before we even walked in, i recognized the place! it was a restaurant that adam and i had eaten at our VERY FIRST TIME to amsterdam, before we even moved to holland! i remember it well, and i remember that we had to climb all these stairs to get to our table, and climb even more stairs to get to the toilet, and we didn't have any money so all we could afford was a cup of tomato soup and tiny glass of beer. and i have thought of this place many times in the years since, wondering if we'd ever be able to find it again and what it would be like to go back there. and then, a native amsterdammer brought us there because it was one of her favorite places -- our friend, born and raised in amsterdam, whom we visit on a regular basis because we all three live in the netherlands... what a change! and how ironic! and, by the way, the food was heerlijk and we ate every bite, and gracie cleaned her plate too!

it's wet!

we went to amsterdam this weekend, to see our friend valerie and to go to church. and it pretty much rained the whole time.

well, not the whole time. it was dry on saturday, but WINDY as hell, which made it really cold. but sunday it basically poured on us the entire day.

we met my friend, jenna, for pannekoeken before church. which took twice as long to get there cuz we were carrying our bags and pushing a stroller with one hand (the other hand was desperately clinging to an umbrella), while trying not to get knocked over by the wind and maneuvering around the countless puddles in the uneven, crowded, cobbled streets of amsterdam. so since we got there late, we ate late, and left late -- too late, in fact, to make it to church. no matter, since it was soooo wet and disgusting out that it would have just meant more time in the rain to get to church anyway.

but i wanted to share this picture with you, cuz it shows you how gracie stays dry during the crappy dutch north sea rainstorms that we get in the fall and winter (and in the spring and summer too). she's got this cool plastic shell that goes over her stroller and attaches by velcro, and it keeps her lekker droog during storms like these. i sure wish i had something like that, because my umbrella was pretty worthless with all the wind and both adam and i were SOAKED by the time we got back to the train station to go home! gross!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

i was there!

the following is an email i wrote to my mom describing my experience at mile high stadium in august, when barack obama gave his acceptance speech. seriously cool.



hi, ma.


omg, it was AMAAAAAAZING! we stood in line for about two hours before it even started to move.... but once we got going we were in our seats within a half hour. the line, when we got there, was over two miles long (!!!), but i refused to be grumpy about it. the weather was fine, the people were all really friendly, i had enough water in my bottle, and i absolutely did not want the camera crews on the street to see me complaining about being in line... i thought it could be used as republican propaganda! so i kept a happy face on, because after all, there were over 80,000 people all in one place who were planning on voting for barack obama!!! how could i be grumpy about that?!


(you can see the stadium in the distance. i actually had to walk CLOSER to the stadium from where i was originally at in line, in order to take this picture. the picture above was taken from inside the stadium, and shows the SEA of people still trying to get in at like 5:00 pm.)





our seats were WAAAAAY up there, so close to the fireworks in fact that i thought my hair was going to catch on fire when they shot them off! ha!




it was a really moving experience -- we were there when nancy pelosi called the meeting to order, and we saw/heard her pound her gavel. then shawn johnson, the gymnast, said the pledge of allegiance, and jennifer hudson sang the national anthem. there were a number of speakers, including bill richardson, the colorado gov bill ritter, virginia gov tim kaine, my favorite colorado congressman mark udall (from boulder, running for senate! yay!)... also AL FREAKING GORE was there (omg!!!) and gave a really great speech, very eloquent, poetic, funny, and scary (did you know that the polar ice caps will be completely melted in the summer months during the next president's FIRST TERM IN OFFICE?!). there was music by sheryl crow, stevie wonder, and will.i.am, and several really good speeches by random joes (my favorite was the lady from north carolina). joe biden was there, of course, and after they showed a sweet video of obama, he just walked right out on stage and none of us would shut up for like five whole minutes!




it was a BEAUTIFUL speech, ma, i hope you got a chance to hear it. (if you didn't, you can go to his website www.barackobama.com, and there will be a link on his site so you can see the whole thing.) i realize, ma, that this election isn't about him. and it's not even about ME.... it's about GRACIE! the things i want for her, HE wants for her too! he wants to make college affordable for every american child who wants to attend. he wants to invest 150 BILLION dollars into green energy technologies -- creating american jobs and a cleaner, safer planet for all of us. he wants to create jobs here, and stop the war, and make health care affordable for everyone. these are things i want for my daughter, and i feel like voting for obama is going to give gracie a brighter and happier and safer future. and when he speaks, mom, i really REALLY believe that he can do these things. he is so sincere! he is sooo passionate and so altruistic, and i just know in my heart that he will be an amazing commander in chief. i will seriously cry if he loses the election. omg, what a SAD day for america that would be!



we had a really moving time there. it was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. i mean, to be there at any presidential acceptance speech -- but to be at THIS one!!! on the 45th anniversary of dr. king's 'i have a dream speech'! (and you know what? litereally every african-american that rae and i saw was DRESSED UP!!! like they were going to a wedding!!! beautiful hats, high heeled shoes, gorgeous dresses, men in ties... and it was 85 degrees out there! they looked GOOD. i felt self-conscious in my capris and tank top!) it was incredible. i wish i could express what an awesome experience it was, but you just had to BE there.