Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday in Amsterdam

No baskets this year.  Celebrating in a different country just made it somewhat difficult to coordinate, so in stead of eggs and silly putty (which I love) the kids opened up some random figurines I got at the Delft factory yesterday.  We headed into Amsterdam to catch church, and then made our way to the Van Gogh Museum, and then to the Anne Frank Museum.  Apparently, Easter Sunday is the busiest museum day of the year, and both museums had crazy long lines, and several hour waits, with regular winter closing hours.  Basically the perfect combination of being so close to getting in, and yet so far.  Instead of enjoying museum tours, we wandered along the streets of Amsterdam, enjoying the sunshine and hot cocoa.

What we did today isn't nearly as important as what is celebrated today.  Easter Sunday changed everything. Because of his life, ministry, Atonement, and death, we can all live again.  Too many thoughts of gratitude are swimming around in my head, making it difficult to share my testimony of how this single individual was able to change the world.  So I will cheat and quote a favorite hymn we sang in church today; I Believe in Christ;

I believe in Christ; he is my King!
With all my heart to him I'll sing;
I'll raise my voice in praise and joy,
In grand amens my tongue employ.
I believe in Christ; he is God's Son.
On earth to dwell his soul did come.
He healed the sick; the dead he raised.
Good works were his; his name be praised.

Happy Easter figurines.  Owen: Turtle, Annie: little jewelry case, Simon: Chicken, Calvin: wise owl, Preston: Bird in flight, Ryan: Ornament, he loves Christmas ornaments.

Proof that we were outside an LDS meeting house.  Did we go in?

Yes, we did!  We are wearing headphones receiving the English version of the Dutch service we attended.  It was wonderful.

The giant steeple outside the church had a crane's nest on top.  Cranes in Holland love LDS steeples.

Lunch at the hotdog stand. Chilli cheese dog with saurkraut, gherkins, and tortilla chips.  Good stuff.

The closest we got to Van Gogh's original works, 30 feet from the entrance.  What a ripper.

Hot Cocoa and whipped cream, take 11 since we've arrived in the Netherlands.

WWII Monument at Dam Square. Romantic.

Nothing says Easter dinner like a Chinese buffett. Fah-rah-rah-rah.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Today was Delft Day, with a ride boat tour along the canals of Delft, and a tour of the Delft factory (gorgeous hand crafted porcelain ceramics world famous and made right here in Holland.) Both experiences were really fantastic... and cold. Really really cold. So according to the calendar, Spring is in the air and flowers are supposed to be blooming, light jacket weather. In reality, Holland, just like Scotland, is holding onto winter with a vice grip and we were caught in a few light snow storms today.  It will literally be an Easter miracle if there are more than 5 tulips to visit at the world famous tulip garden.  That being said, we are in Holland! Playing together! Making memories!

Thats why we came to Holland, so that our kids could get a picture with a Giant Sonic statue.

Climbing a sculpture in the open air market.

City Center Delft.  We ordered three large fries at a street vendor, and they dumped tons of mayonnaise right on top. It was delicious and made me feel at one with my Dutch taste buds.

In front of our canal boat tour.

Inside the actual Delft factory.  Each item is handcrafted, which is why a tiny cup an saucer is like 200 euros.  If it were 200 Oreos, I would have purchased a matching set for 12.

Plates on wall with orange sweater in front.

Right behind our hotel is this awesome, huge, park with several play structures, a lake, horse racing property and loads of ducks.  The kids raced to the top of this rope structure.  Tears were shed as the winners and losers were declared.  When we cry, we all end up losing.

Operation Rad: a rope swing attached to a pole. Difficult to describe, but the laws of fun and momentum here are working together in perfect harmony.

A Dutch Markt.  That's how they spell Market.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Hiding Place

Personal favorites for today:
Annie, Preston and Mom: The Hiding Place Museum
Calvin and Owen:  The Clog Store where we got to see the making of a wood clog demo
Ryan: Our visit to the temple. We got a personal tour, but the temple wasn't staffed this morning to do any actual work in the temple. still a fantastic experience.
Simon: Chasing a duck at the Zaans Schans Open Air Museum. He thought he had it cornered, and said "You're trapped!" but then the duck ducked under the fence. Oh, the irony!

Breakfast at the local Bakery.

The Hague Temple in the Netherlands, small and lovely.

The Hiding Place Museum.  The actual room where Corrie Ten Boom and her family hid 6 jews, saving their lives, during a Nazi raid on their home.

Tour guide on the left, kids in the fake room, dutch woman on the right there for the tour.

The upstairs family room of the Ten Boom home.

Calvin and Simon trying on some clogs.

Me and Preston deep in thought.

Kids playing at the Zaan Schans Open Air Museum.

Giant Shoe. We had to try it on. Cute Annie.

Yes, we are in Holland. Look at those windmills!

Cheese shop! We got samples and lots of whiffs of smelly cheese.

Finished the night in a 50's diner, that played 80's music.  They even had Millie Vanillie playing in the back ground. How lucky are we?!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Can't Dutch This

No really we can't. We can't speak Dutch. We have no idea where to go.  We're now driving on the right side of the road again, but with the steering wheel still on the Scottish right side as well.  Our maps failed us, as did the gas station "where are we" queries. Our current sat nav (GPS) apparently only works in the UK and Ireland (what a scam! Satellites are flying all over the earth and it is a total rip off that it won't work here...) So we are now the proud owners of two GPS systems, one Dutch and one UK, that won't work in the US upon our arrival. Let us not discuss. Anywhoo, we still had such lovely exciting moments today: seeing Holland for the first time as the ship pulled into the dock, spotting the first of many massive windmills, bicyclists everywhere, tulips starting to bud, sauna at the hotel, and a delicious meal of pannekoeks (pancakes similar to crepes and mighty tasty.) I wish my mother and my Oma were here to share in this special time.  My mom is in Arizona, but since my Oma has passed, I plan on her being here with us at least some of the time.

Cold out side on the deck.  Holland coming into view (but not actually visable in this picture.)

Breakfast Buffett on the boat.

Lighthouse in view.  Fantastic!

Inside the Dutch pancake house.  It was wonderful, and since we couldn't read a word on the menu, we got to choose from the list of local favorites that our lovely waitress told us about in broken English.  So fun, and we really all ended up ordering winners!

Another shot. I love the tulip wall paper in the background.

Had the Marriot workout room all to ourselves.  No injuries, and we headed to the sauna right after. A very relaxing evening.

You Aint Much if You Aint Dutch

In honor of living just a hop, skip and jump away from the Netherlands, our family decided that we should visit Holland for Easter.  I am, after all, 1/4 Dutch.  My mother always told me how her mother always told her, "You aint much if you aint Dutch." So yesterday, March 27th we hopped in our car and drove to New Castle in England to catch the ferry cruise (overnight fun) to just outside of Amsterdam (not Hamsterdam, as Owen keeps calling it.)

The Car Ride to the ship.  It went fairly well, about 2 1/2 hours long, and I packed some amazing sandwiches for our car picnic drive


We feared showing up too late to get onto the boat, so we arrived an hour before we could get on.  What to do? A race in the parking lot.  Owen declared, in sobs, that everyone was just too fast and Calvin stopped mid race to comfort his little brother.

The ferry boat cruise ship.

Annie and me looking at the water from the deck on the front of the ship.

They had a kids area, complete with lego tables and a ball pit area.

We only had three time-outs based on ball pit behavior, a minor accomplishment after an exciting day.

The ship even had a movie theatre.  We enjoyed "Wreck it Ralph" which Ryan thoroughly enjoyed, since he recalled having actually played many of the games featured in the show.  I thought of my dad, who went to see this movie on his birthday with all of our Arizona family.  Happy belated birthday Dad!

All you can eat Buffett for dinner.  Annie couldn't stop eating the drumsticks.

Simon relaxing in his bunk. It proved to be the worst night's sleep of my entire life.  The North Sea has a rep of being pretty tumultuous, and our boat was not massive.  Calvin asked me if I woke up like 7 times, and I told him to add a zero and make it a two digit number.  At one point in time, I worried that Annie or Owen, who were sleeping on the top, would fall out due to the constant rocking and injure themselves.  In spite of the movement, I am proud to report that no one fell seasick.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Young Men and Young Women

Ryan and I have both been assigned to help out in the Young Men's and Young Women's organizations of our church.  This has us working with the youth aged 12-18.  It just so happens that our own Preston Smith falls into this category, which is great fun. The downside (obvious for any couple who have both been called to serve in YM/YW) is that basically now there is no parent at home left to man the fort during youth group activities.  Our first sitter option is also unable to chip in, as he is supposed to be at the activity.  Which leads me to my second oldest son, Calvin, aka. Calzone.  Good, kind, reliable Calvin.  Tonight he watched after his three siblings, even putting two of them to sleep in his own bed (Owen and Annie) to make sure that he could watch them whilst they slept and he read.  What a champion.  The bright side is that our meetinghouse is literally across the street, so if disaster strikes, we wont be hard to find.

Ryan planned the Young Men's activity tonight: Missionary Olympics.  The boys were timed doing  missionary activities in various stations, such as ironing shirts, tying ties, stacking chairs, scripture chase, writing letters to their mom's, etc. Winner was the guy with the lowest time. It was well planned, had treats at the end, and the boys loved it.  Basically, Preston is twice blessed to have Ryan as his Dad and Young Men leader.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Easter Family Home Evening

Monday Night = Family Night.  We were lucky enough to have our good friends, Silvia and Gordon Stevensen over for dinner and FHE.  So after some lasagna and foccacia, the fun began with a lesson taken from the scriptures on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  That was followed by a mini talent show with Annie doing a very well rehearsed dance, Simon following with a street dance he has been practicing at his after school street dance class, Ryan played the theme song to the Lone Ranger with a pen on his teeth, and Silvia did a cartwheel.  Next we had delicious cake made by our guests, a belated birthday party for me, since last week my "special day" was massively overshadowed by the the push to finish cookery school on a high note, sickness, and general mayhem.  We concluded the night by dying brown eggs with home-made dye, which didn't go very well, but we had joy in the journey.

I remember doing this when I was little too.  There is something so very satisfying about climbing walls.  It's just fun.

Log in the park. It was soooo cold.

The kids have 2 weeks off for Easter. TWO WEEKS! Annie and Simon found some classmates to play with.

Another FHE performance by Annie Joy.  Check out that outfit!

Egg dying with friends. Easter fun.