I realize that I’m way behind on posting about Thanksgiving, but we had family visiting us in Amsterdam last week, so I didn’t get around to writing anything around the actual holiday. And honestly, I’ve had all sorts of ideas for blog posts lately and around zero motivation to sit down and get the words out, so… that’s where we are.
December is always a whirlwind, isn’t it? Not to mention that we’re headed to Berlin, Zagreb (Croatia) and Rome this month, and my family is all coming to Amsterdam for Christmas, so our schedule is pretty packed. But I do think it will be a nice, crazy few weeks before we jump into the monotony of January/February and KC’s busy season at work. But hey! We have a February birthday to celebrate this year, so that’s certainly something to look forward to.
Getting back to the point of this post, I always like to reflect on the things I’m really thankful for at the start of the holiday season. This year I’m so thankful for:
- This amazing little family of mine. Our house is loud, silly, and seems to always have crumbs on the floor (even though I’m ALWAYS sweeping), but I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Well, maybe I would get rid of the crumbs.)
- This adventure we’re having living in Europe. I filled out a preschool application for Prim recently and had to share a little bit about our family, Prim’s personality, and also explain our situation — not currently living in California, but returning to the Bay Area mid-next year. After counting up all the trips we’ve taken and those that we’ve planned and already bought tickets for, I realized that Prim will have visited at least 12 countries by the time we move back, which is sort of crazy given that she will be newly 3 when we come back to California. (And really it will probably be more than 12, since we’re looking at booking trips to at least two more countries while we’re here.)
- How sweet these sisters are with each other. Prim and Lark have been completely smitten with each other since day one, and I feel so lucky that they get the chance to have the amazing sister relationship I have with my own sister.
- Moving back to California next year. While I do have mixed feelings about moving back to the Bay Area (and the US in general), I am really excited to embark on a new chapter which will finally give us some permanence (and hopefully a place to live near my sister!)
- Our home exchanges. Without having stumbled onto this site and taking the plunge and joining, we wouldn’t be traveling nearly as much as we are. The site has been such a great resource for us and our current situation, and I feel so lucky that we get to take advantage of every inch of Europe while we’re over here. And I’m especially thankful that we get to bring these little ladies with us on these adventures. Even though they won’t remember these trips, the memories KC and I are making during these early years with them are just amazing.
Well I’m off to pack for Berlin. I hope you have some fun weekend plans!
The dark season has started here in Amsterdam, and more days than not, it’s grey, cold, and very dim. The sun doesn’t come up until almost 8am and sets before 5pm now, and it won’t be long until it’s still middle-of-the-night dark at 8am with the light starting to disappear at three in the afternoon.
Getting used to the lack of daylight in winter (and abundance of it in the summer) was one of the biggest adjustments of living here. It’s easy to succumb to the winter blues when the sun is only visible for a couple hours each day, if at all. Rather than curse the darkness, though, I have decided to embrace the coziness of the season and celebrate the Dutch idea of “gezelligheid.” Gezelligheid is sort of the Dutch version of the Danish Hygge, which celebrates all things cozy, pleasant, and generally warm.
Here’s what I’m planning on doing this season to make our days as “gezellig” and enjoyable as possible:
- Burning candles everyday. As soon as we get up and head downstairs, we turn on all the lights and light the candles on the dining table. If I forget, Prim always makes sure to remind me to “turn the candles on.”
- Bundling up in warm clothes for our weekly trip to our favorite local bakery. We buy a big loaf of freshly-baked sourdough and often will pick up a little treat like a still-warm croissant or cheesy baguette to enjoy in the afternoon after naptime.
- Dressing in soft, comfortable clothes when we’re just hanging at home during the day. We run the heat, but this old Dutch house is always a little drafty, so I make sure we’re all cozied up in thick socks and big, soft sweatshirts.
- Relaxing my “No TV” policy a bit. So much time indoors inevitably results in a few days that call for A Charlie Brown Christmas or an episode of Puffin Rock while Lark naps.
- Rather than taking a shower, I will take a bath on some nights, which is ideal for unwinding and warming up before bed. I light a few candles, throw in some bath salts, and will listen to one of my favorite podcasts while I remember that last year while I did this, my big, Lark-laden belly stuck up out of the water.
- I’m making big batches of comfort foods these days — simmering homemade chicken stock for batches of risotto or minestrone, and planning on other favorites like beef stew and spaghetti with meatballs.
- Big cups of hot coffee are making these cold, gray mornings bearable, especially when they’re of this delicious variety.
- And of course the evenings leading up to the kids bedtime (which can sometimes feel endless) are much more relaxing with a glass of wine (or really — champagne, which is always my preference).
- If our board games weren’t locked away in storage back in California I would totally force KC to have a Scrabble night.
How are you staying cozy this winter?
I hope your day is festive and your night is full of candy.
And now for the realities of putting an almost one and a half year old into a costume… Maybe it’s a good thing they don’t really have Halloween here, since this little clown lasted all of 30 minutes in her outfit.
PS: This clown costume was made by my grandma and worn by me and all of my siblings. All the heart-eye emojis.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, dads-to-be, step dads, and surrogate dads out there, but especially to the special dads in my life — my own dad, who taught me to always look at the bright side, how to be tenacious, and who’s always there to support me when I have a big decision to work out.
And happy Father’s Day to KC, who is the very best dad to Prim. Kace, you are so patient, sweet, and involved with Prim, and she loves you so much.
Everyday when KC gets home from work, Prim lights up and screams “Dada!” as soon as he walks in the door. Seeing how much she loves him, there’s just nothing like it.
Navigating this move has been 100x easier because you’re here with us, KC. Happy Father’s Day, we love you!
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas, mamas-to-be, surrogate mamas, and mamas at heart, but especially to the special mamas in my life: the mama friends who are always there when I need a break, an ear, or a laugh; my mother in law, who has supported me in so many ways this past year; my sister, who is the conscientious mama I aspire to be like; and my own mom, who taught me everything I know about loving, teaching, and being the very best mama I know how to be.
Mamas, I hope your day is full of all the love you give to others on a daily basis.