Monday, March 23, 2009

het stift

we went on this GREAT bike ride over the weekend that we KNOW opa would be suuuuper jealous about -- we rode from hengelo to het stift, a little village dating back to the 12th century. it used to be a beguinehof (like a convent, but for lay women -- they were very common in the middle ages, especially in belgium, and also a bit here in the netherlands too). it was only 15 km away (what is that? like 9 miles? more? less?) which took about an hour by bicycle. we had a picnic under this ANCIENT oak tree that had bolts in it to keep it upright. it looked like it had been struck by lightning a hundred times and was also looked so old that i imagined it might have been planted shortly after the first stone was laid down to build the old church in the courtyard (which used to be a benedictine monastery).

before we left for our bike ride, adam did a quick run to the market since it was saturday and we needed all sorts of produce and bread to get us through the week. while he was out doing that, i got gracie and myself dressed for the day, packed up the diaper bag, and packed a lekker picnic for us all: sandwiches, crackers, lots of fruit, some granola bars, and water bottles for everyone. (gracie loves her own little nalgene bottle that we have for her, and she plays with putting the lid on, and goes "ahhh" when she sees it, which is like her way of saying "drink" because after anyone takes a drink, and does that little gasp afterwards, she has to do it too, so now i think she thinks going "ahhh" is like saying "drink"). after lunch she had a bottle of milk and laid down on the blanket in the sunshine next to her daddy and the two of them took a nice nap while i read a magazine and relaxed. after about 45 minutes gracie woke up, we packed up our mess, and the three of us walked around to see the cute little cottages.

adam and i visited het stift just a few days before gracie was born -- our friend drove us and my mom up there to see this old village, just to get me out of the house and help me forget that i was still pregnant (i was getting a lot stir crazy at that point). and so now this time i actually got to show spruitje what it all looked like, cuz last time we were there spruitje was still in my belly... i thought to myself this time around how SMALL het stift was -- cuz when i was there at 42 weeks pregnant, i thought it was a lot larger than it was. i guess it was just that much harder to walk around, so i must have been a lot slower and more tired. i'm glad we got to go back again so i could see it again -- and REALLY enjoy it this time!

the ride out there was just great: we spent about half of it in the city, but then as soon as we turned off the main road, it was instantly quiet. we rode past dozens of little thatch-roof cottages and farms, and in one field we counted 11 ponies all together! (i told adam that i thought it was cute that the dutch don't have horses, cuz they're too big. they have ponies, cuz they're much smaller and take up less room. cute!) we also saw several goats, a few geese, some cows, and even three black sheep standing in a field. for part of the ride, we were on a dirt road... and i don't mean a dirt road like what we have in the usa, where it's gravel and well-maintained anyway. this was straight up dirt and mud and sand, and the only traffic was a couple of tractors. fortunately there was a bike path on the edge of the muddy road, which was flatter and more compact and more even, but still difficult to navigate with a DANCING toddler in the front seat... (my bike has the child's seat in the front, typical of many bikes out here -- and gracie was singing her own song "la la la la laaaa la laaaa la la" and dancing along by rocking side to side in her bike seat -- which was ADORABLE but it also really made it difficult for me to steer because she was so powerful that my front tire kept rocking from side to side with her movement! AND this bike path we were on was pretty narrow -- muddy road to the left, deep canal ditch to the right -- don't fall!!!) it was definitely an adventure!

we had such a great time! i wish we could have shared it with you! oh, well, i guess you'll just have to enjoy it with us by looking at our pictures instead!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


here's another batch of gracie videos! and don't forget, you can find us on youtube under our channel name: adbriggle

sorry, i'm starting with a couple of old ones that i just realized i never posted until now:

thanksgiving 2008: gracie is being pushed on her choochoo car by her daddy. the wheels have these little ridges on them, so when she goes fast she kind of bounces up and down a little bit, so she'll go "aaaaah" to hear her voice quiver. and watch how her cheeks are bouncing too! adorable! was it only a few months ago that she was this little???

another one from thanksgiving. just hanging out at home, waving to daddy, and being goofy.

12-21-2008: opening a few christmas presents a few days early. it's REALLY a funny video because adam is in charge and he's being ridiculous.

12-22-2008: here is a video of gracie petting the bunnies at the "kinderboerderij" (lit: children's farm -- aka a petting zoo) here in town. she REALLY wanted to get down and crawl around to get a better look!

now some more recent ones:

2-5-2009: gracie all of a sudden got a case of the jumpies, and needed to go crazy after dinner! she hasn't quite figured out how to jump with her feet off the ground, so she gets on her knees and bounces up and down as high as she can. then all of a sudden she lays down and kicks her feet, and pretty much gets wild until she runs out of energy (or until WE run out of energy and send her to bed!)

2-6-2009: okay, we've already posted this one on an earlier blog post, but as long as i'm putting more videos on here, i'll do this one again. here we are singing happy birthday to gracie, in both dutch and in english.

2-9-2009: gracie got this toy for christmas that sings, counts, and plays songs. (oh yeah, this toy was NOT purchased by either of us, who have to live with this toy in the house every day! this was definitely a gift from the grandparents!) here we are after dinner playing along and dancing. we have no idea how gracie learned how to do "head shoulders knees and toes" but here she is, touching her head as we sing the song together!

2-11-2009: gracie and daddy love to do laundry together, first thing in the morning. the sun comes up on this side of the house, and on sunny days, it's a perfect place to hang out and enjoy the sunshine.

2-11-2009: later in the day gracie and i are playing quietly. here we are having a teaparty with her dolly, and listening to ella fitzgerald singing old macdonald.

2-11-2009: this video really highlights how gracie can pretty much be entertained by ANYTHING. she found a lid to a box and spent several minutes just trying to climb on top of it and explore how it moves on the floor. she's never bored.

2-13-2009: her first step was on jan 19, but she didn't really start walking consistently until early march. here she is, only a week past her birthday, and she walked right across the whole living room! it's totally surprising to us because she'd never gone that far before! hooray that we had the camera out and ready!

2-14-2009: walking to the park near our house. the park is actually a school playground, but it's the nicest park that we have in the city center. we are heading out there on a sunny (but chilly!) day. we got the camera out because normally when she sees a playground she FREAKS OUT and starts screaming in joy even when we're 100 meters away! but she didn't do it this time -- maybe because adam was walking backwards with a camera? anyway, it's a decent video of her in her stroller, which we don't really have any videos of except for this one.

2-19-2009: again, i saved the best for last. i know a lot of the videos i put on here might not be as interesting to you as they are to adam and me, but i still want to at least put them all down in the same place so that years from now i know where to find them and i can look back and watch the changes in our beautiful daughter. but this video i know you will like: it's a snowy day outside, and we don't really have anywhere for kids to play on nasty days here in hengelo. the library doesn't have much going on, and there's no sort of mcdonald's playplace or anything, so i'm always trying to think of ways to keep gracie entertained when the weather is gross (which is often!). so today, i pushed the coffeetable into the dining room, lined it with a giant piece of paper, and got out the fingerpaints and the crayons for a big ol' art project. it was a lot of fun, and a great way to keep her busy until dinnertime!

Monday, March 16, 2009


i know, i know, it's been a while since i've been able to catch you all up on the latest gracie videos. my bad. there's like a ZILLION on youtube right now, but i'll just post a few so you don't get stuck in front of your computer all afternoon, mesmerized by all the awesome clips of gracie.

by the way, if you ever want to see these videos before they're on the blog, you can just go to and look for our "channel" -- our username is adbriggle.

so, here's the first one: it's from january 15, 2009: a couple times a week, i will scrub the floor by hand to clean up all the goop and gunk that ends up down there from gracie's messy mealtimes. since this night was a bath night for gracie, i decided to let her help me clean up her mess. it didn't matter so much if she was wet or dirty from it because she was going to get cleaned up before bedtime anyway. she's SUCH a good helper bunny -- always wants to do what mama is doing, and keeps herself busy and occupied so easily!

1-17-2009: she didn't officially take her "first step" until january 19, but she already knew how to walk around as long as she was pushing/holding onto something. (fyi, as of this posting, she's completely 100% walking now -- she started on my birthday and hasn't crawled since!)

1-29-2009: gracie is learning how to feed herself. here she is learning to use a spoon to eat up her yummy yogurt!

1-31-2009: i didn't know it was possible, but gracie somehow found a way to RUN even when she's crawling! here we are at a park near our house on a sunny weekend morning.

2-1-2009: one of gracie's favorite chores is to help with the laundry. she will take one thing out of the basket and wave it around and put it on the drying rack, and take it off again, and wave it around, and put it on and take it off, etc. sometimes she'll put the laundry on, and crawl around with a scarf or a pair of my underwear on her head. it's sooo cute! here's a video of her helping her daddy with the laundry.

2-15-2009: gracie got a baby dolly for her birthday, and it was around that time that she started to learn how to give kisses. here she is playing with her dolly, and kissing him. too sweet!

2-17-2009: remember that choochoo car that she got for st. nicholas day this year? when she first sat on it, her toes didn't even touch the ground. now she's so big she can scooch around all by herself! what a big girlio!

2-19-2009: okay, i saved the best for last! seriously, this one is worth it!

gracie has recently learned how to give kisses (and i think it's the sweetest thing EVER EVER EVER!). here we are before naptime, playing a quiet game: taking out all the stuffed animals and kissing them one at a time. omg, she's adorable! i love how she goes "mmmm" as she kisses them. is there anything cuter?

okay, that's it for now. there are probably about ten more at least that i want to post, but this should keep you happy for a while i hope... enjoy!