8 Hours...April 27, 2018 in the Netherlands ⋅
Of sleep! In a row! The sun is up, the neighbourhood is quiet and peaceful and all of the kiddos are still snoozing. Trevor’s gone for a run and I’m sitting on the couch nursing this cold with a hot tea, listening to the birds chattering all the while drinking in the smell of netherlands spring. Lilacs and magnolias are in bloom, neighbourhood cats are everywhere and locals are sleepily walking their dogs. It’s a national holiday today so that is likely why there aren’t bikes zooming by; everyone is resting and taking it easy this morning. I’m feeling much more myself today after the sleepless whirlwind that yesterday brought and am slowly waking up to what’s in store for day two!
Today we have plans to enjoy King’s day here in Utrecht by hitting up a canal tour at 11. A planned quiet morning with a slow start to give us all some time to decompress and rest. After which we’ll come back to this beautiful Airbnb home for some lunch. We’ll then head to Caroline and Henk’s to meet up with their three rascals and head to Rotterdam to see the windmills. Famke, Caroline’s daughter, is on school holiday already and joined us yesterday for the airport pick up. She’s a lovely gal and all the little kids hit it off very well chatting and cracking us up at lunch yesterday. I’m looking forward to seeing how much Kai and Nieske have grown today too and watching all the kids interact and play. We’ll have dinner at Caroline’s home tonight as well.
But as promised, let’s finish out yesterday’s account first. Now, where did I leave off. Oh right, breezing through customs and rental van woes. Seriously, why did the Netherlands not care who was coming for a visit? Sullivan was so excited to have his new passport stamped in Iceland as we transferred planes yesterday and cleared customs and was then disappointed to not have a flashy stamp from Netherlands. So weird! No complaints of course - it’s far better to waltz through rather than have to answer questions and nervously dig for paperwork - but still, so puzzled by the ease of this hurdle.
It’s fun to sit here this morning and reflect on yesterday’s travel day. A good night's sleep adds a fresh perspective and a bit of distance. I’m smiling to myself at the funny quips all the kids said throughout the day. The kids handled themselves marvelously through all the “new” but a few times had us all covering our mouths trying to suppress our laughter. We hoped this trip would stretch us all, teach us to try new things and jump in openly to fun and new situations. Trevor and I have both worked hard to prep the kids to be open and that situations my be different than their expectations and to be mature and roll with the punches. As we were walking on our first flight yesterday, after all the nerves and logistics of getting all 6 of us through security behind us, Sully was navigating his way back to our seats in rows 32 and 33. People were filing politely down the aisles as Sullivan loudly yell/exclaims, as only a newly 8 year old can “THEY HAVE TV’S!!”. Each seat on the flight had its own tv, as most flights are wont to have these days but this revelation was pure magic to Sully. His relief and joy was felt by all around him. All fellow passengers, including all of us, cracked up and enjoyed the moment as he very happily found his seat and settled in for the long overnight flight - in front of his very own tv screen.
The flight went smoothly overall. As predicted, I didn’t sleep, but that’s par for the course for me. But thankfully, Nolan and Sully slept for a good few hours. Liam and Trevor caught a bit of sleep as well but poor Ava struggled to get comfy and didn’t sleep either. All the kids took it in stride and before we knew it, we were losing altitude and preparing for landing in Iceland. We were all tired for our 1 hour layover in Iceland and zombie walked with the hundreds of other passengers - some transferring to France and others like us to Netherlands. Shuttle buses, teeming rain and snow, small waiting areas, long queues but after an hr we were seated on our second flight ready for our second leg of the journey. We were in the exit row this time and low and behold each seat had its own tv again! The joy! But this time, you had to press a button while simultaneously pulling on a lever to bring the tv up from its hidden compartment. Sullivan was over the moon! That tv, in seat 19e, has never seen more of a workout in its life.
After breezing through customs we were greeted by Caroline, Aunt Anneke and Famke. It was such a relief having them there to help us navigate the airport and our rental car fiasco. We’re making do with a smaller suv but its not ideal. On the bright side, driving a smaller car through small streets and busy traffic has been a blessing in disguise. We followed Caroline past the Koekenhof and took in the brilliance of colourful tulips and ended up at a lovely cafe for lunch. As we settled in and got sorted with menus, Nolan in true Nolan style had trouble finding something to suit his tastes. Before he and Sullivan, our two pickiest eaters decided on pancakes for lunch, Trevor reminded him he needed to keep an open mind. Tired stretched weary Nolan leaned into his dad and with a shaky voice and near tears about to spring form his eyes, he said “I do have an open mind I just can’t find anything on the menu I like”. It was a very serious matter of course but the humour was not lost on us. Pancakes saved the day and both boys happily defended their lunch choice and gobbled up their traditional Netherlands pancake with joy.
The rest of the night was a bit of a blur. Settling into our beautiful temporary home, a grocery run, backyard and nearby park romp, showers to wash off the grime of travel and bedtime tuck ins. I mindfully went from room to room to sing to each little kid and settle them for the night. When I asked Sullivan what his very favourite part of our trip so far was, without missing a beat he of course said the tv on the second flight. Nolan surprised me and said the tulips. He doesn’t miss much that kid and is very reflective. Ava was already asleep by the time I could get to her room so will have to ask her today. And Liam, who is too big for songs and cuddles but deserves to be asked too, said the sandwich he just ate was his favourite part. A perfect cheeky happy almost 16 year old response.
Well, it’s time to rally the kids and get some warm oatmeal into us. Day two, here we come.Read more