Tuesday, October 18, 2016


The day after we went to Bruges, we took a day trip to Amsterdam with the Bakers. (Kim, Caleb, Sam, Eliza, and Zoe) Amsterdam! A perplexing mixture of still & peaceful canals, weed-filled alleyways, colorful charm, delicious food, and aggressive bikers. We got to a park n ride and rode a train into the city center. The train was definitely one of THE highlights for the kids. 
I loved Amsterdam so much last time I came (only for a few hours) and was anxious to get back. When I was here last, though, it was hardly crowded. The crowds, and particularly the types of crowds can sure make an enormous difference on the buzzing energy of the city. We went to the same Pancakes & Waffles place I went to last time. It was an innocent, empty alley-way last time with hardly anyone walking around. But this time, with 5 kids in tow, I realized how incredibly non kid-friendly this little area was. Sandwiched in between stores that were either explicitly inappropriate or selling weed-flavored everything, we sat and ate our pancakes with our kids; trying desperately to divert their eyes away from, well, nearly everything. Let's just say, we were not about to start a game of I Spy With My Little Eye. 
  We decided to rent bikes, and brought bikes for Sam and Eliza. I was a little worried about them biking through such a busy and crazy city; and rightly so! You have to have a certain level of confidence, bravery, and aggressiveness to bike your way through the streets of Amsterdam. But those kids rose to the occasion, and surprised us all.

I'm so in love with the canals, and tall skinny buildings. The house boats, the peacefulness of the canals; especially in contrast to the center of the city which can be chaotic, crowded, and overwhelming.
 The Biking Baker Bunch. I tip my hat to them. Especially since riding a bike WITH a trailer carrying 2 children (one of them being mine) makes this excursion exponentially more difficult!
 Kim got an even better picture a few minutes later of BOTH of them zonked out, necks dangling in different directions, mouths wide open with drips of slobber spilling out of the sides. A true classic.
 I love it when we get to bike through small non-touristy neighborhoods because you feel like you are getting a more authentic experience. However, I did come to greatly, greatly appreciate the paths that were especially for bikes; they had their own traffic lights and everything! Bikes have the right of way in this city, and it's a wonderful thing, as long as you are riding a bike! ;)
 There were definitely times when the lack of a bike path led to a very crowded street full of cars, pedestrians, and bikers all squished and moving together in all different directions. A few silent prayers were said in my head throughout the day.
 The Rijks museum has a tunnel right through it; making it the only museum in the world that you can bike through. I had the wrong idea though, and assumed you could actually bike through and see the exhibits as you do so. No. You bike through, find a place to park your bike, and THEN go get tickets to go inside. It was cool nonetheless.
 Ok, how much of an EYE SORE is that "no pictures inside" billboard?? What a horrible, permanent, photo-bomber of a sign.
 We locked our bikes like true dutchmen, and went to explore this beautiful area.
 The famous Iamsterdam sign. It mostly serves as a jungle gym for tourists though, and so it wasn't possible to get a good picture of the whole thing. So we settled for a picture in front of the "a".
 Had to give this woman her moment of glory on my blog because I stood here for, no joke, 10 minutes waiting for her to be done ordering her husband to take "just one more, but angle the camera this way." I surely hope she got one that she loved.
 She finally moved, and it was worth this gorgeous shot!
 THE perfect place to let the kids run around and play for a little bit.
We finally found -and ate!- some warm and delicious stroopwafels. I love these things, dearly. They are so good warm, but they sell them in the stores too and they have made it into my top 3 favorite desserts of all time. I can't buy them or they are GONE much, much sooner than they should be. Jane said her favorite part of this trip was "eating a stroopwafel". DO NOT BLAME HER.
Gooey warm caramel dripping from her chin; the BEST kind of a messy face.
 "Mom! How have you let me live 15 months of my life without trying one of these?!"
 I think Jeff and Lyla enjoyed them as much as Jane did too.
 They had so much fun with the bubble guy too. 

Seriously, these children deserve a standing ovation for braving those busy city streets like a couple of champions. We all clapped and cheered as they rode their last few meters up to the bike rental.
^^ Sort of ghetto upon first inspection, but super cheap and reliable!
 We drove home that night after picking up some ham and cheese croissants and some bananas (the holy grail of all food as far as Lyla is concerned) for dinner. This is our go-to on trips; getting most of our food at bakeries or grocery stores; we hardly spend more than we would on a regular at-home basis! 

I remember driving away from the city just as the sun was setting, and a peace came over me as the sky gave us a colorful farewell. Jeff and I marveled at the silhouettes of the old, giant windmills on the horizon; the gleaming kaleidoscope of colors pouring out behind the cracks of trees and old brick houses. It was the vision that pairs perfectly with the deep breath of relief and gratitude you take after a long day of exhilarating, yet exhausting, travel. I remember feeling a sense of gratitude for what we are experiencing in this phase of our lives. I love it all. I treasure it all. There is nothing sweeter than the realization, day in and day out, that I am truly living the ultimate dream. Raising my 2 daughters with my husband as my trusty sidekick. Seeing the world. Trying out best. It's fulfilling and joyful; so thanks to the sunset for bringing it to the forefront of my mind on that beautiful drive through Holland.

 The next day was sunday. After church, and a multitude of bribes, we wrangled the girls into the back yard to take pictures with their matching skirts that Grandma Andersen made for them.

You can see Lyla's flushed cheeks. The poor dear was sick, sick, sick that day. She even resorted to falling asleep on the hard, rough carpet at church. But I could hardly complain because she spent the whole day cuddling with me or sitting right by my side; tired and defeated. All 5 of these girls are absolutely bursting at the seams with the very own and unique personality; but together I'd say they mesh pretty well. Each of them bringing something new and good to the table. I'm glad they will always have each other. And I hope one day in 10 years, they will go out and buy matching clothes (or better still, wearing yet another article of clothing sewn with love and tender care by their sweet grandma,) and eagerly try to recreate this picture :)


  1. Love your pictures! What a fun trip. I'm missing Amsterdam and can't wait to go back....maybe we'll be brave like you guys next time and bring the girls....

  2. I love how well you documented this day! So much craziness and fun. What a neat insight on your drive home. A great reminder to just soak it all in!

  3. Such a wonderful idea to have them recreate this picture as often as can be managed! I can just see them as YW and throughout their lives doing just that!



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