hasta luego

Saying goodbye stinks. Like, really, really, really stinks. But we have had to do it anyway. Our dear friends have moved to Costa Rica for a year long adventure full of spectacular beaches and howler monkeys and . . .well . . . adventure. And it is going to be amazing. I am in awe, and I am heartbroken. We miss them like crazy, and they’ve only been gone a week!

Fortunately, there is internet in Costa Rica so Lola Gray has already been able to Face Time with her sweet friend. I hope that is something they can do on a regular basis. Plus we will see each other when they return for Christmas. And who knows, if we win the lottery we might even hop down to Costa Rica for a visit before the year is up. But in the mean time, I miss my friend.

Blink

I blinked. And suddenly, my tiny, sweet baby boy is in middle school. Middle school! And my beautiful baby girl  isn’t a baby anymore either – she’s a 4th grader! It’s crazy, but true. So, here’s to 4th and 6th grades being the best grades yet!

Hang Ten

Surf’s up, dude! What better way to send summer off in style, than with a surf lesson with friends and Savannah’s surf guru, Hot Sushi! Both kids took to it right away, though Fletcher was far more enthusiastic than Lola. Something tells me there is more surfing in our future . . .

 

St. Augustine

It has been a summer full of travel for us, across 3 different countries, but sometimes you don’t have to travel far from home to find yourself a world away. We wrapped up summer just a few miles down the coast in St. Augustine, Florida with the Gaddy clan. The beach was spectacular – wide and clean and nearly empty. We rode waves, collected diggers, saw a shark and dolphins and a manatee, found a beautiful star fish and lots of not so beautiful sand fleas – we even witnessed the excavation of a turtle nest. Plus there were aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents, lots of ice cream and nightly movies on the big back porch. Oh if only summer could last forever!!

 

 

 

Virginia in July

Just a few days after our return from Europe, we were on the road again, this time headed to Virginia to pick up Pepper and spend some long over-due time with the Waldvogel clan! It was a relaxing long weekend of swimming in NayNay and Grandaddy’s pool, picnicking and paddle boating at Carvan’s Cove, dinners outdoors, and lots of crazy cousin time. We even managed to squeeze in a father/daughter(s) outing to a concert in Rocky Mount.

Zaanse Schans

One of these days, I am just going to have to admit that I am really not a city girl. On our second day in the Netherlands we escaped Amsterdam for a few hours to visit the quaint windmill village of Zaanse Schans.

Raymond and I visited Zaanse Schans once before, on our honeymoon in December with record low temperatures. It was so cold that the canals froze and people were ice skating. The walk from the train station into the village was brutal, with wind whipping relentlessly over the water. But on this visit, that wind was a cool and refreshing breeze, the sun was shining brightly, and the air was sweet with the smell of fresh grass.

We spent much of our time in the pigment grinding windmill of De Kaat, but also visited the cheese shop, the bakery (where we ate warm stroopwaffles despite the heat of the day), and the wooden shoe factory. It was a slow and relaxed day, and maybe a bit on the touristy side, but it was lovely – and exactly what we needed.

 

 

3 Days in Amsterdam

After our 30 days in Rome, the four of us hopped a plane and headed north for a few days of family time in the Netherlands! (Ok, it wasn’t really that easy, and involved a super early morning, lots of lugging of bags, more waiting in airports, more navigating of public transit systems, and even more lugging of bags – but we made it!)

The main reason for our trip to Amsterdam was for Raymond to investigate starting at study abroad program there in the near future, so while we only had a few days we packed in as much as we could. On our first day we spent an incredible 6 hours in the Rijksmuseum, during which our incredible children lead the charge, armed with an iPhone scavenger hunt game and an insistence that we see everything in the museum. I’m glad they did, because Raymond and I would never have gone downstairs on our own to see the model ships, the weapons, the collection of intricate locks and all the other treasures housed in the museum, which would have been a shame. And at the end of all that art viewing, they wanted more! Who are these children? Not to argue, we headed over to the Van Gogh Museum and spent the last few hours before closing. Then drinks and snacks in an actual windmill (and one of Raymond’s favorite breweries) before heading home to dinner on the deck of our houseboat. In the summer, the sun doesn’t set in the Netherlands until well past 10pm (a far cry from the 3pm sunsets Raymond and I experienced on our honeymoon there years ago!) and the canals were full of locals and tourists alike, cruising on boats of all shapes and sizes. It was like a parade right past our door! Nope. Not a bad day at all.

With our remaining days in Amsterdam, we waited in an insanely long line for the Anne Frank House (which was totally worth the wait, and which I cried all the way through again, just like I did when I visited years ago), and visited the Rembrandt House where we not only learned about how Rembrandt lived but also saw a printmaking demonstration and spent time drawing in Rembrandt’s apprentice workspace. We also ate at our favorite restaurant, The Pancake Bakery, not once but twice, tried quite a few stroopwaffles, wandered through the Vondlepark, visited the floating flower market and spent a lovely evening drinking beer outside the Rijksmuseum while the kids played in the fountains and Lola made a new friend. We visited the Amsterdam Cheese Museum (which was really more of a shop than a museum.) We laughed a lot at how everyone assumed Raymond was Dutch. And then there was out visit to Zaanse Schans, but that deserves it’s own post.

Not everything went exactly according to plan though. We had hoped Amsterdam would be a nice respite from the heat of Rome, but of course we were there during a heat wave. We could have handled the daytime temperatures, but our lovely little houseboat had no air conditioning and tiny little portal windows that didn’t really help much. So we didn’t sleep much. That was unfortunate. And then there was the fact that on our last day Fletcher came down with a high fever. Things could have gone more smoothly . . . but all in all it was a lovely visit to the Netherlands and we all hope to be back there again (for longer!) very soon.