Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I had a break between visitors that coincided with a few brief days of sunshine and warmth in the otherwise gray and chilly Netherlands. (People had been telling me all year that summers in Amsterdam were lovely. LIARS!) So I headed to the Zandevoort aan Zee for the (windy) day...

(Flip Flop Tan = Summer!)

One day at the beach is better than no days...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th of July

So (shockingly) the 4th of July isn't all that big in Amsterdam. Luckily, 2 of my fellow American expats were in town, and we celebrated with delicious Dutch beer and a TV on the Radio concert.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's a North Carolina Invasion Y'all! Part I

Alternate Title: 
How Lily and Rory Gnawed on Bread all over Europe :)

So I completely abandon my sister in NC, leaving her to take care of my pretty (but special needs) dog, and what does she do in return? Bring her entire family to Europe to visit me for 2 weeks. Kelly is awesome. Full stop. (Shawn's not so bad either.)

As soon as Lily saw me waiting outside of baggage claim, she started running towards me giggling hysterically and jumped right into my arms. Total movie moment. 

My favorite girl band reunited: 

We started our Eurotastic Adventure by hanging out in the dam for a few days, enjoying the cool, gray, rainy (some might say winter-like) weather. 

There was brunch:

And 4 way hand-holding:

And a stop at Winkel for apple pie, of course:

The girls really loved public transportation. 
I absolutely love the pictures of them snuggled up together, and how Lily is holding on to Rory so she doesn't fall. Love. 

We had lunch at a restaurant near Central Station: 

These photos crack me up, as I had been here for our end of year staff party a week earlier, and may or may not have been doing my own spinning and dancing in the middle of the floor.

There was ice cream to be eaten at the shop on the corner:

And I received high praise from Rory concerning my breakfast selection from the bakery next door:
"Auntie, you food gooood!"

The upside of gray, rainy days? Time to snuggle and read together:

We visited the zoo, where there were a plethora of new baby animals. And playgrounds :)

 I know I keep referring to Lily as my BFF, but Kelly and I were kicking it for 26 years before she came along :)

Keen Family Fun:

And then it was time to take the train to Paris!

Starbucks with my bestie:

Rory being Rory: 

More public transportation. With luggage.

I was all "I've already been to the Eiffel Tower, whatevs." But seeing Lily and Rory's excitement? Words cannot describe. 

It was just as gigantic as I remembered it being: 

And this time, we went all the way to the tippy top:

After a morning of heavy rain (and a bright orange poncho wearing Shawn), the sun came out and we headed to Montmartre  and Sacre Coeur for the afternoon. I may or may not have gotten Lily locked in the toilet of a bakery this day. Auntie of the year award :)

We continued our tour of French churches "about Jesus" (Lily quote) with a visit to Notre Dame:

Where there were more Pigeons! 

Possibly my favorite picture EVER. Biggest lesson learned from living in Northern Europe? When the sun comes out, you stop whatever you're doing and take advantage. Especially when Lily wants to do the same thing :)

Kelly gets mad at me when I read and don't give her enough attention. But what's better than reading in a beautiful Parisian park while listening to your nieces laughing and playing?

Dear Steve Jobs, thank you for inventing iPods and iPads that keep small children entertained in airports. (I am not accustomed to traveling with small children. Although it is rather similar to traveling with Heidi. Good thing she doesn't read my blog...)

After a freakishly long day of travel, we arrived in hot, SUNNY, Madrid. Favorite things about Madrid: rooftop decks, palaces, parks, tapas, and Spanish beer. 

View from our roof:

Plaza Mayor: 

The Palace and its gardens: 

A lovely park (Where Shawn saved the life of a drowning pigeon. Because he's Shawn.)

I also loved Madrid because Rory let me play hairdresser: 

After another freakishly long day of travel, it was back to Amsterdam, where we actually had a few days of SUN! There were boat rides and bike rides and pancakes, oh my!

Safety first!
(You don't even want to know what's in that canal water...)

So all 5 of us were staying in my "cozy" apartment together. Just to make things more interesting, all the windows in my apartment were scheduled to be replaced early one morning...

So we headed off on our bikes to Haarlem:

A Dutch church about Jesus:

And lunch under a windmill. It was a perfect (windowless) day!

A final evening along the canals, topped off by dinner at the pancake house:

2 of the best weeks of my life, with some of my best people. 
I ♥ my sister (and her husband and kids). Full stop. 

(If you'd like to see all 8.2 million photos that Kelly and Shawn took, check out Lily and Rory's blogs!)