Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Baby Lolo

There has been a new addition to the family: Baby Lolo. For all you edge-of-the-seat types, calm down! Baby Lolo belongs to Ellie. Our little love seemed to want a little love of her own, and now Ellie has her first realistically-featured baby doll (whose eyes open and close; very important!). After trying out many names, we settled on Lolo since it's the only one Ellie will consistently repeat. We're not quite sure if Ellie let Lolo out of her grip for a single second during the first 24 hours. Even in her sleep, the bond was tight! So, this weekend, we bought a stroller for Baby Lolo. Oh boy! Let's just say this has gone over EXTREMELY well.

As you can see, wearing oneself out is no excuse to let go of the stroller.

This weekend was exciting for many reasons. Top of the list for Ellie, of course, was Stroller Olympics with Baby Lolo. She walked her all around Blijdorp, and she even remembered to pause at different exhibits so Baby Lolo could see. She strolled down to Parliament to feed the birds, and when we got near the water, she made sure to press her foot down on the back of the stroller like Mama does (to brake, which her stroller lacks...but why be particular?). In the adult realm, Markus's good friend Alex from Cape Town finally caught up to us! He stopped in town for a brief (less than 24 hour) visit on his way from Canada to South Africa. Markus hadn't seen him in 8 years, so it was a fun reunion! We hope Alex will be able to stay longer next time! Now, we are slowly gearing up for a trip back to the States. While we are soooo excited to see family and friends, the main drive for the visit at this time is to finally sort out the house. The house was supposed to be finished three weeks ago, but of course, that deadline seems irrelevant to our errant contractor. With a small miracle, he may be close by the time I get into town. Wish us luck!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Motherhood isn't for wimps

Speaking as someone who is admittedly sensitive, I have to say that becoming a mother has increased my sensitivity on all topics relating to children and babies at least tenfold (if not hundred-fold). Classic example: Ellie really enjoys watching the Pixar shorts we have downloaded from iTunes. To provide some variety, I also downloaded several of the Disney shorts for her. I remember watching them on the Disney Channel when I was a child, and I liked them. One I specifically remembered and downloaded is "The Ugly Duckling." Well, now it seems I CAN'T WATCH IT. That sweet, good-natured little swan hatches, and no one wants him. The duck whom he thinks is his mother is mean to him and rejects him. The only acceptance he finds is from a decoy, until it bonks him on the head while bobbing in the water. He cries and is miserable and all alone, and I CAN'T STAND IT! I cry every time! I even start crying of happiness when the mother swan finally finds and embraces him.
And don't even get me started on "The Little Matchgirl."
This did not happen pre-birth.
Sensitive women be warned!

A very Dutch experience

Yesterday afternoon, Charlotte and I were out for lunch together in the beautiful sunshine while Ellie slept soundly in her stroller. I ordered a coffee, which turned out to be undrinkable. Charlotte insisted I tell the server, though I had no belief that the server would care (it wasn't a coffee place, so it isn't their specialty). At the end of the meal when we had our server's attention, Charlotte politely informed her that my coffee was undrinkable and tasted quite bitter. The server's response did not disappoint. She merely said, "Yes, that's how it tastes."
Welcome to Holland.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Beware: if you aren't interested in my picture fest, RUN AWAY NOW.

Yesterday morning, the dipe squad and Profesora Brancaforte visited Keukenhof, a spectacular public garden that is only open two months per year when the bulbs are a-bloomin'. One danger of having an amazing camera with LOTS of memory is taking too many photos. I shot over 200, deleted down to 88, and narrowed it further from there to post here. I still had a hard time weeding things out, so don't get lost as you tiptoe through the tulips!

Given its limited availability, Keukenhof was quite crowded, even early in the day. As we left before lunch, cars were lined up for several kilometers all the way back to the main highway. License plates were from all over Europe (The Netherlands, Germany, and the UK being the most prevalent). We heard that Easter weekend saw over 25,000 visitors at Keukenhof! As happy as we are to have avoided that madness, we were sorry that Markus's mom and sister missed it. We just hadn't thought of it...a side effect of being a first-timer! Looking forward to next year! If you have a to-do-before-I-die list, we suggest adding "see the tulips blooming in Holland" to it. You won't be sorry!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Good times with good friends

This evening, we enjoyed a visit from our friends Michiel and Aafke and their three gorgeous blond kiddos. Beautiful springtime weather allowed for a relaxing dinner outside. The kids ran and played like mad things, and the adults were able to sit and chat over good food at (once again) the delightful family-friendly place nearby.

The weather has been amazing this past week or so. We have been blessed with sunny day after sunny day. Ellie and I are being sure not to take this for granted, and we have spent all available time playing outside. Indoors, the dust bunnies are starting to get territorial, but they may have to wait for a rainy day before there is serious intervention.

I realize I've been running a picture-heavy blog recently, and today will be no exception. Here are a few more shots of our latest fun. The first two were taken on Oma's last day in town out at the Scheveningen beach; the other is pretty self-explanatory. Ellie is just as dessert-obsessed as her mama. I have myself (and her papa!) to blame.

We hope you all enjoy a lovely weekend!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Outside Central Station

Something tells me that the Dutch would manage well if there were to be an energy crisis...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Happy Easter!

Greetings from the tail-end of our four day Easter weekend! Markus's mom and sister came into town for a visit (their first since Christmas!), and it was wonderful to spend time with them!

Ellie held everyone in thrall. Her development has hit the fast-forward button lately, and she is doing new things and trying new words every day. The weather also cooperated beautifully, and we enjoyed a lovely Easter weekend together. We made a day trip to Gouda and spent some time at the Rotterdam zoo, as well as jaunts to the beach and Clingendael park. Unfortunately, the Gouda trip was the only one without sunshine. We drove out of it leaving The Hague and ended up with some cold greyness that may have negatively impacted our impressions of the city. We will have to try it again sometime in the future. The city hall was beautiful, but there wasn't much else to speak for the town as we saw it.

Blijdorp is always a favorite, and we had a fun time there. The zoo is so big that there is always something new to see. Springtime means the flowering trees are in bloom, and new leaves are budding everywhere we look.

Easter lunch was good food in good company! Jennifer prepared a vegetarian entree of pasta with asparagus, hazelnuts and mascarpone cheese with some bread and a side salad. Dessert was a heavenly strawberry icebox pie. Yummy springtime treats!

When all was done, we relaxed and enjoyed ourselves in the garden.

Alas, there are always chores. Having a little helper makes a big difference!

We hope you and yours had a lovely weekend! Happy Easter to all!

Sunday, April 01, 2007


We were blessed with beautiful spring weather this weekend! Unfortunately, Markus and I took turns battling a nasty stomach bug over the weekend, too. Thankfully, it seems to have missed the third person in the house (won't mention names so sickness demons won't hear), and we were able to take turns keeping her busy (no mean feat these days!).

This afternoon's family excursion was to Clingendael park. What gorgeous grounds! What a beautiful place to soak up every wonderful bit of a sunny spring day! Clingendael apparently used to be a private estate (must research this to learn more), and it has truly amazing property. These days, the mansion house is home to an international affairs school. The grounds are both wooded and open farmland with lots of animals for kiddos to see and feed. We were so excited to see so many lambs, and of course, the many different birds must be chased and/or fed. Ellie was happy to run around and burn some energy with her pokey parents in tow.

just visiting the locals...(not the mansion house, in case you wondered)

practicing animal sounds for call and response? Ellie insistently "baaaa"-ed at the sheep to no avail.

so many stones, so little time

What do you mean geese don't eat stones?!