Joined July 2017 Message
  • Day13

    TELNAS Selfies & Team Pics

    May 7, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 9 °C

    It's back to work and life and school today. After a weekend of laundry, jetlag, rest, organizing, playing and visits to the park in the beautiful spring weather, we're all gearing up for a week of normalcy. I'm reveling in my reflections these past few days and hope I can continue to think and process as I reintegrate into life here at home. Travel experiences have a way of sticking in our memories and hearts. I suspect this adventure will not disappoint in that department and we all will have bright spots and memories for many years to come.Read more

  • Explore, what other travelers do in:
  • Day8

    Basalt

    May 2, 2018 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    Early morning start after a short sleep in our rented camper van. Alarm sounds. Sleepy eyes. Wide eyes. Fellow camper van travelers waking, eating and taking in the morning alongside our crew. An understanding of quiet amongst us. Respectful nods to and from one another as we emerge from our homes away from home; as we ready ourselves for our day of travel ahead. Mainly adults in the various camper vans nearby. Smiles and connection as our four begin to rustle and stumble outside and make noise as only children can. Unfiltered and unabashed for the littles, sleepy and a feeling of newness and adventure on the faces of the bigs.

    Chilly sunshiny morning - the view of the sea to the South, busy chattery sea birds nesting to the North in the hill just beyond the campground and our full day of adventure awaiting us to the West. Rousing children stretching, wrestling, eating, dressing and questioning. What do I wear today? Is that a puffin? What kinds of birds are these? Do I have to get up now? How do I get my clothes out of the back compartment? Can we make this bed more comfortable tonight? What's for breakfast? Can I have more juice? How do I flush the camper van toilet? Where are we headed first?

    The town of Vik coming into view - a little town nestled in below the hills to the North and West. A small fishing village with the signs of tourism showing. Renovations at the campground we are staying at. Construction of a new large hotel has begun nearby with the promise of obscuring the view of the ocean for all unlucky enough to be behind it, including the campground. A different town in some ways from our last visit.

    Breakfast duties, tidying duties, first stop of our day explained - we are ready to part from our little borrowed piece of land that housed us so safely and quietly for our first night in Iceland. Thank you, free parking lot in Vik, just beside the only campground nearby that just so happened to be closed for the winter season still.

    What are basalt columns? How are they formed? What do they look like? How far away are they? How long do we have to drive to get there? Questions answered to the best of our abilities. Wishing we had researched how basalt is formed more in depth before our travels. Wishing we could explain in more detail how volcanic activity had formed where we were headed for our first stop. Wishing we had the parenting super power to answer all questions at once, most especially when they come at you simultaneously with the expectation you will answer them expediently, efficiently and correctly.

    Can I hold the camera? It's MY turn to use the camera! It's so cold, I need my gloves. No, I don't need a coat, I'm fine. It's not that cold. I'll grab your hat just in case you decide you need it. I need my hat; it's actually really cold out! Look at the photo shoot and the model in that pretty red dress. She must be freezing! She is freezing. Look how they are warming her between takes. Be very careful of the ocean waves. Tourists have been lost at this beach because they get too close to the water. There is a big undertoe. What's an undertoe? How cold is the water? Look at the black sand! Don't climb too high! Be careful! Let's take a picture. Can you take my picture over here? Can you take my picture too? Can I take your picture? No, it's my turn to use your phone for pictures now. Why can't we climb that hill? Because the sign says you're not allowed and it's much steeper than you think. Look at the sheep way up there! Look at the picture I just took! Mom. MOM! Dad. DAD! Can we go now? Where are we going next? How long of a drive is it? Can I have a snack? What can we have? Is there any more juice?

    I wonder if there is a coffee shop we can stop at on the way out of Vik. I need another coffee. Nope, no coffee shop nearby. Snapcracklefizz of the diet coke we just cracked open. A coveted diet coke to share for the next leg of our journey. Our campervan climbs up and over the steep hill as we head West, leaving Vik behind us. "Next time we're in Vik, I'd like to go for a horseback trail ride. Or, maybe we could spend two nights and take in the beach at sunset."

    A quick stop on the way out to take a picture beside the sign "Vik" for Vic. :)

    The kids settle into snacks and a card game. Trevor and I chat about next times and last times and this time and the sunshine, as we trade turns sipping on our liquid caffeine. Day two in Iceland has begun.
    Read more

  • Day7

    Vanlife

    May 1, 2018 in Iceland ⋅ 🌙 14 °C

    Giggles and card games, inside jokes and passing the time while driving. Happily smushed in together for the upcoming four days with our own little kitchen, washroom and sleeping quarters. Cabinets to explore, luggage to cram in the hold in the back and decisions to be made as to who would sit facing forward and who would sit facing towards the back, who would sleep with whom on which bed and what game was to be played first. The division was clear: adulting, navigating and charting our path for the cab in the front and goofing around, snacks and carefree fun for the back.

    Our first experience in a motor home as a team of six began as soon as we arrived in Iceland. Well, that is to say it began after we waited for our luggage, after we took in some fresh air as we waited for the airport shuttle, after we warmed up in the sunny car rental office for the one and only attendant to help us only to then inform us that we were to wait for the shuttle to the camper van office, which was at a separate location. Once we finally arrived at the actual camper van rental spot it was time to sign papers, watch safety videos and get loaded up in our new borrowed rig. Nerves and excitement were felt as Trevor drove us out of the building and into the bright sunshine.

    As always is the case when traveling, especially with 4 kids, we were behind where we thought we would be in our estimated timeline. Groceries were the first priority. Trevor, Liam, Ava and I headed into the store to buy up what we thought we'd need for the next few days while the two youngest fellas played cards in the motor-home. Thankfully the fellas wanted to stay back to guard our rig because at this point we didn't know how to lock all the doors. We were sure it wasn't rocket science but after a long day of travel, groceries on our minds and a three hour drive ahead of us, we didn't seem to have the head space to sort this seemingly difficult problem out in that moment.

    With plans to live the decedent fancy life in Iceland, we stocked up on high brow items such as pasta, bread, milk, cheese, butter, juice and of course chips and treats. Oh, and we bought one onion and one pepper to jazz up our pasta sauce and a few apples just for good measure. ;) These fresh food stocks were combined with the stashed foods we lugged in our suitcases from Canada, which included things like coffee, peanut butter, oats and energy bars.

    As it was past dinner time, we decided to stay put and cook up a big vat of pasta right then and there in the grocery store parking lot before our drive to Vik. Hungry tired hangry's were setting in and we knew that if we didn't feed ourselves we'd be in for it soon after setting off. We were a bit clunky as we sorted out how to function in the space but thankfully the kids were patient as we cooked. After a good feed, we stuffed our dishes in the sink, tossed the food away and buckled up for our first leg of our time in Iceland.

    Thankfully, Trevor had a good rest on the flight from the Netherlands so he was feeling ready for the trek but unfortunately I couldn't say the same for myself. Exhaustion was setting in for me. Our day began very early that morning back in Friesland. Packing, cleaning, kid-wrangling, Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, a three hour flight, campervan rental fun and grocery acquiring. By the time we were setting out I was about ready to confess quietly to Trevor that I wanted to change our plans and make the suggestion that we camp for the night close by in Grindavik and make the drive to Vik in the morning. Instead, I started by asking him how he was feeling and if he needed anything. Sensing my tiredness, Trevor reassured me with a big smile that he was feeling great, was excited and was very ready to get us safely to Vik. With the kids settled and happy in the back, I sat back as Trevor took the lead. This was teamwork at its best. It's always a good idea to plan out your meltdowns to ensure only one of you is close to one at any given time so the sane one can pick up the slack and carry the load. Although my tired tears were close I settled into navigation and kid duties so that Trevor could drive us to our destination. We sipped away on Diet Coke, snacked on treats and began our drive.

    The sun shone nearly the whole way to our first campground stop. In May, the sun doesn't set in Iceland until nearly midnight. As luck would have it, the weather was brilliant. The wind was down and the sun was out. We donned our sunglasses in the front and took in the gorgeous scenery as we drove. As this was the second time Trevor and I had been to Iceland, this first drive was especially meaningful. We chatted away in the front, reminiscing about our trip a few years back and what looked and felt different, what we remembered and how fun and surreal it was to be able to be here with our four fools, who by this point were whoopin in up behind us. Strangely, our tolerance for their schenangans was uncannily high for this drive. We intermittently shouted back to them to look at the amazing mountain view, see the steam rising out of the ground or take in a nearby waterfall. These pitches for their admiration of the sights around them fell on completely deaf ears for this first drive. It was one of the loudest, funniest, craziest drives we've ever experienced. I wanted to video them at many points but knew that if I brought out my camera that the spell would be broken and their hyper giggles would fade. The kids were functioning solely on adrenaline and treats and were in their own world. We decided to leave them be and focus on the final hour of the drive.

    We arrived in Vik just before midnight, Iceland time, which felt like 2 am Netherlands time to us. As we arrived at the campground, we soon learned that our camping spot was not open as the websites listed and was under construction. However, there were many other camper vans parked in the nearby lot so we soon joined them and found a decent spot to land for the night.

    After a mad dash to find pyjamas, brush teeth, sort out who was sleeping where and wipe away some tired kid tears with some bedtime hugs and cuddles, we all proceeded to crash out for the night. Utterly exhausted and very ready for a few hours rest and recovery, we slept hard that night in anticipation for a big day of exploration ahead of us the next day.
    Read more

  • Day6

    Friesland, Family, Friendship & Farewell

    April 30, 2018 in the Netherlands ⋅ ☁️ 8 °C

    Its been a busy wonderful few days and it’s time to carve out some time and space to share my thoughts and feelings. We are currently sitting on our 3rd flight and are on our way to Keflavik. We’re all in one row again so I’m separated from the kids by an aisle. Trevor is snoozing at the far end of the row in a window seat and is beside Liam, who is self-sufficiently on his phone or watching a show. Ava and Nolan are sipping on their free drinks and watching shows as well. Meanwhile, the toothless wonder seems to be switching between his iPad, retrieving gum from his backpack, putting his tray table out, putting his tray table back up, squeezing himself between his seat and the seat in front of him to pick up dropped headphones, reaching past Ava to ask me a question and so on. Ava and Nolan don’t seem bothered by his antics and he’s smart enough not to bang into the person in front of him (thanks to a few reminders about airplane etiquette earlier) so I’ll leave him be to sort himself out and carry on with my journaling.

    It feels a bit strange to already be on our way to Iceland. The days have felt long but here I sit now already three quarters of our way through our trip. In the blink of an eye, the Netherlands portion has whirled by. We’ve managed to see and do just about everything on our wish-list, which of course made for busy days. We planned a relatively short stay and felt we needed to make good use of time. Within reason, we kept to our schedule and saw and visited and hit up the sights we hoped to see.

    A few days ago we said goodbye to the South and headed North to the long awaited reunion. We were originally hoping to meet up in the morning with Trevor’s cousin Ignarts and his fiancé Joke at a new info centre near the sea wall but practicality and tiredness prevailed and we decided to meet in Wier at the gathering instead. After a busy morning of packing, tidying and rallying sleepy kids, we were soon sitting snugly in our NOT-a-minivan small SUV and were waving goodbye to our beautiful rented home. The rainy drive went smoothly and we even fit in a short stop on the sea wall to overlook the ocean and fresh water lake, which 4/6’s of TELNAS partook in (the TEAN portion) and the remaining 2/6’s chose to stay dry in the car. During a second stop for a necessary washroom break at a convenient nearby McDonald’s, the opportunistic kids used some of their 40 euro to try a sampling of chicken McNuggets (which I suspect was in hopes of avoiding the pre-made boring sandwiches I’d packed). Well, did you know the chicken nuggets in Netherlands are far superior to those from Canada? The reports are that they are much less greasy! ;)

    The reunion was held in a newly renovated town school house. I was later to learn that Trevor’s cousin and wife had a large hand in the building’s restoration and current use. A perfect gathering place for sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, wives, husbands, cousins, new little ones and welcomed family and new friends visiting from Canada to gather and be together for an afternoon. It was overwhelmingly wonderful to witness Trevor reconnect with his family after many years and a privilege for me, Ava and Sullivan to be accepted and welcomed so warmly by everyone. I continue to process my many conversations and chats, sorting names I’ve heard and read on the family tree for months now with faces, warm hand shakes and kisses on my cheek. I watched our four kids attempt to integrate and make connections of their own, at their own pace and in their own ways to suit their personalities. From almost 16 to newly 8 years old, all four successfully relaxed into the crowd as only time, confidence and bravery can provide.

    Food, treats and drinks were in abundance thanks to those tirelessly organizing behind the scenes. A large group picture was organized outside and May, Trevor’s cousin’s wife, who happens to be a photographer, took the shots. I’ve seen a few now, which have quickly circulated on Facebook and whatsapp and they look great. It is such a large group and you see the magnitude when looking through the lens of the camera. Trevor and I have had many moments throughout this trip where we wish for the rest of his family to be here, most especially his dad and mom. We felt this most intensely at the reunion as we watched his three aunts chat and the whole family mill amongst one another so comfortably. Many well wishes and hellos were sent back with us and we fully intend to pass them along when we’re back in Canada.

    We are now two hours into our flight and I’ve nearly written a small novel. In the interest of sparing you all the details of our time in Friesland all at once, I’ll adjourn here and save the update from day two for another post. Hopefully I can squeeze in some time to look back to our last full exploration day in Holland before life in Iceland takes over. It’s now time to turn my head toward customs, chilly weather, motorhome rental, grocery fetching, a three hour drive to Vik all the while helping to steward four tired kids who will most likely be stary-eyed and full of adrenaline for the aforementioned tasks ahead for TELNAS.

    Until then, wish us well.
    Xo
    E
    Read more

  • Day5

    The Quiet of the Morning

    April 29, 2018 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Slowing down a wee bit last night and this morning has been a great choice for TELNAS. After an amazing day in Amsterdam touring the Anne Frank house, walking the city streets, feeling some rain on our faces and navigating a very busy and overwhelming Rijks museum, we were ready for a night of decompression. After once again thanking Caroline, Anneke, Kai and Nieske for their help and hospitality, the kids dispersed to their chosen activities. Liam to his loft space, the two boys to a world in Minecraft far far away, full of giggles and building and storing inventory, and Ava to some homework, nestled in beside me. The only major agenda item on our list for the evening was acquiring groceries and making a nice dinner.

    After some rest and time to ourselves, Trevor and I and the three littles walked the two minutes up the path to the shops to pick up what we needed for the night and coming few days. The kids each have 40 euros for the duration of our time in Holland and boy is it burning a hole in their pockets. Sully is desperate to find Pokémon and the other two are generally on the hunt for interesting treats. We left the kids at a pharmacy type store to scour the shelves for treasures while we went for groceries. It was a successful run for what we all felt we ‘needed’ - food for supper and fudge chocolate for the kids. Oh, and Ava found a very reasonably priced beauty blender, which she was very happy about snagging. Make-up application is important you know and having the right blender makes all the difference.

    On our way back, we left the kids at the park and came home to make a nice familiar spaghetti dinner. After cooking and clanging around, all four kids began to hover and pace as kids are wont to do when they’re hungry. We soon had dinner on the table and their full attention as they devoured. It was a time for a bit of TELNAS reflection, a team check in of sorts on how the day went and what was to come in the next few days. Highs, lows and thankfuls were shared. All of us agreed that the Anne Frank House was a high. Sully said walking the streets for such a long long time was his low, which I’m not sure entirely if that was because he has short legs and was feeling very tired overall or if it had something to do with being scared a few times with some near bike and car misses with my shouts and strong arm yanking him away from the roadway. Adjusting to the narrow streets, compression of thousands of people and cars and bikes a plenty has been tricky for us all but the 8 year old has felt it the most acutely.

    We sat for a bit longer and ran through the coming day’s agenda. The family reunion, timelines, packing up, saying goodbye to the Airbnb and the ever present expectations we have of them for the get together, such as that annoying difficult social task of looking everyone in the eye when they’re introduced, speaking clearly and being present and attentive to whom they are meeting. This can certainly be hard for kiddos and teens, especially in big gatherings and new situations. Watching them grow and practice their social navigation skills is a pleasure. They’re all doing wonderfully on this adventure - stretching and learning and it’s magic to be a part of.

    The quiet of the morning is waning - Sully is now up and our sappy lovey sleepy morning feeling we woke up with is transitioning to adulting thoughts of packing, breakfast and the drive to Friesland. Goodbye sleepy peaceful feeling; until tomorrow when we meet again.
    Read more

  • Day5

    3am

    April 29, 2018 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    It’s 3 am and all are asleep. Well, except for me that is. Maybe I have too many words that are bursting to get out so I need to write. Or, maybe I’ve just had my obligatory 6 hours that I’m far too used to so my mind and body are ready to get life’ng. Or, maybe I’m full of jet lag still and am still on netherlands time. Whatever the reason, I’m quite content laying here listening to the quiet sounds of the icy snow pinging off the outside of the camper, the crew breathing softly all around me and the quiet hum of the heating system.

    We’ve camped for the night just outside Geysir and Gullfoss at an all year round spot. It has all the amenities. Snack bar restaurant dining hall with a stage for summer camp multi purpose room, mini putt course, hottub and even proper flush toilets and showers at our disposal. After a monster day of seeing the sights on very little sleep we arrived to this spot about 7 pm.

    .....................

    Clearly, I didn’t finish this post. Such small quarters that the light is my phone was disturbing Trevor. Fast forward several nights. I sit here now with our motor home all clean, relaxing for a few moments in the beautiful Tjaldsaedi Grindavík campsite common room. I’ve had so many thoughts and words exploding out of me for this blog but not a moment in our schedule to write. I hope to catch up some today and then hopefully more when we get home.

    My first order of business in this choppy post is to go back a few nights and a plane ride to the Netherlands and share some musings on our last day in Friesland.

    ........................

    One more interruption - fast forward a bit more. Lunch, packing up and cleaning the motorhome interrupted your regular programming of this blog post. We’re now at the airport nice and early. There was, let’s just say, a wee bit of Icelandic wind last night. The motorhome rattled and banged as the winds off the oceans whipped by the little campground we stayed at. We were fairly protected by the building and berm that was built by the campground but even still, we woke often as only one does when irrational late night thoughts take over. Will we tip over, should we reposition the camper more toward the wind, what will the drive be like tomorrow, will there be a foot of snow on the ground, will we miss our flight, will we have to stay in Iceland forever, will the volcano erupt! Thankfully, a warm shower, the sun rise and a chat with the local person at the campground office brought us back to reality. We felt ready to make the drive to the motorhome return place and knew all was going to be ok. And it was.

    Ok folks, back we go. Let’s chat about our tour of Friesland and the stops we made. Four or so days ago now we woke for our last morning at Trevor’s cousin’s beautiful cottage in Heeg. The cottage had the perfect number of beds for the six of us and was very comfortable, warm and just what we needed. Although it was rainy on and off for our time in northern Holland we still enjoyed the view of the lake, sail boats navigating the waters and water! Water everywhere. Trevor has done an incredible job driving us around many roads that we certainly are not used to in Canada. The NOT a minivan small SUV was a blessing in disguise at times when driving along a tiny rural road or navigating the many lanes of traffic and speed limits of 130 around the big cities.

    We had a quiet morning so the kids could rest. Laundry churned, warm baths and showers were had and iPad wifi time was revelled in. These planned down times have been much needed but they zoom by in a flash. Before we knew it, it was time to get ready to head into Sneek to meet up with Joke for brunch. She recommended this lovely warm restaurant that had a large menu catering to all tastes. And by this I mean they served chicken fingers and fries, which suited a few of our crew quite nicely. the kiddos were showing some wear today. Some grump moments and a bit on one another’s nerves. I think we all could have used a full day of slow but that wasn’t in the cards. After some fuel, we set off on the hunt for Dutch Pokemon. Sully has been on the lookout this whole trip, determined to prove that Pokémon are only in English and Japanese. Boy would it have been crazy to find Pokémon cards in Dutch! But alas, we did find some at a toy store and they were in fact in English. He spent nearly all of his allotted Euros on a booster pack and was one happy kid.

    After some more shops and poking around the downtown we said our thank you’s and goodbyes to Joke and headed back to the cottage to regroup before our afternoon/evening plans commenced. Next up was a stop in Tzum to drive by the home where Trevor’s dad was born and to visit the church and cemetery of his grandparents. Although we didn’t stay long at either place, it was very meaningful to take the time to see them in person.

    We carried on north and headed to the town of Franeker to stop at the planetarium museum. After nearly having a heart attack parking the car beside a canal, we found our way into the museum. As has been the case on this adventure a bit, we didn’t leave quite enough time to really take in this treasure. The museum highlights the life and genius of Eise Eisinga, a young brilliant mind who created a planetarium in the 1700’s in his spare time. I would love to go back again some day to have a second longer tour. It’s definitely something I’ve added to my “research and learn more about later” list from this trip. the kids enjoyed it to varying degrees based on their ages and tiredness levels but overall, we all took something meaningful from this experience.

    By this time the kids needed a bit of a release so the next stop was perfect. We stopped at the dykes and had a run around, learning more about why this is critical for the Netherlands. The kids just couldn’t fathom the size and need. I wonder how their minds will process this kind to info going forward as they learn through school and life about water and resource management. A good bit of fresh air was perfect before a nice dinner at another of Trevor’s cousin’s. Gerbrich and her partner Ship had a lovely dinner for us. We had a nice long chat and lost track of time a wee bit. Time management on a trip is always tricky - it’s limited, we want to connect and visit for as long we possible and we’re also managing 4 kids all at the same time. Time slips away faster than we would have thought possible.

    A bit of a drive back to the cottage and straight to bed for all. Packing, cleaning the cottage and travel lay ahead. Our 5 nights in Holland was at an end and we certainly had mixed feelings about the transition from our Holland adventures with the connection and help of family to the camping motorhome ruggedness of Iceland. Sleep and game faces were prepared; we were ready.
    Read more

  • Day4

    Snaggletooth Sullivan

    April 28, 2018 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    We’ve been making bets as to where or when this kid would lose his front tooth but no one guessed it would happen just before dinner right here at the Airbnb. We thought maybe in the airplane as we flew over Greenland but nope, not there. Someone suggested on the canal tour in Utrecht but nope, not then either. Sully hoped and wished for it to fall out in Iceland somewhere, anywhere but that wasn’t in the cards. This kid has had a sideways sticky outty snaggletooth for weeks and the wait for freedom is finally over. The unending tasks of a mom, I tell ya. I nurture, fix, love, clean, redirect, teach and...yank teeth. ;) I’ve yanked countless teeth between the two of my kiddos but never have I pulled one out in Holland. Goodbye you weird crooked awkward tooth; you won’t be missed.Read more

  • Day4

    Amsterdam day

    April 28, 2018 in the Netherlands ⋅ 🌧 12 °C

    1928 Olympic Stadium, riding the Tram through Amsterdam, Anne Frank house, walking along the canals, going to the Rijks museum. Those little feet can only go so far. I feel so fortunate to have Caroline and Aunt Anneke to spend time with, reconnect, and help us navigate the Netherlands. So fun and lots of laughs :) TrevRead more

  • Day3

    Kinderdijk

    April 27, 2018 in the Netherlands ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    A beautiful afternoon trek to Kinderdijk. Water, water everywhere.

  • Day3

    Beautiful Airbnb...and jetlag

    April 27, 2018 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    Kids crashing out after a long day of travel, followed by a renewing night of sleep and an early morning run.

Never miss updates of Emily Falls with our app:

FindPenguins for iOS FindPenguins for Android