Category Archives: Life Abroad

Family Fun / Life Abroad / Travel

Our Trip to Berlin

December 7, 2017

We just returned from a quick trip to Berlin to visit the Christmas markets, and tomorrow we’re off to Zagreb, Croatia for more! I figured I would try to sit down and write a quick post about our trip before we dive head-first into our next trip and slide directly into Christmas in the days following.

Berlin was the first home exchange we arranged after we joined the site. A nice family contacted us about swapping, and knowing how wonderful Germany is at Christmastime, I jumped at the chance to set up an exchange for December.

It was cold in Berlin, so the kids were forced to be all bundled up for our exploring. Lark was unsure of the number of layers we were requiring her to wear.   We visited the remains of the Berlin wall (yes, America, let’s all take a moment to remember how great that wall was, shall we?)  We visited many a brauhaus and the girls tried (and loved!) Bavarian sausage. (The numerous pretzels and fries we consumed were also a hit, go figure.) There were a couple points where we had both kids sleeping — one in the carrier and one in the stroller — which always feels like the biggest win and most relaxing part of vacation. That last photo above included two sleeping children and hot chocolate with Baileys so… WIN/WIN/WIN.  A couple of the Christmas markets had little rides which Prim got to partake in. It was a big moment for her and probably the beginning of her begging to ride every sad, lonely plastic horse stationed outside a supermarket. (Hooray.)  Prim insisted on riding on the front of the stroller at multiple points during the trip so she could “talk to Larky.” It keeps Lark happy and we get a few minutes of freedom from having to tell Prim to keep walking, so the fact that it may ultimately result in our travel stroller collapsing is a relatively minor concern.   We walked all over Berlin, even though it was really cold (it even snowed while we were there!) I thought we might not walk as much during these winter trips due to the weather, but we managed to clock in over 6 miles one day and over 9 miles another, and between 4 and 5 miles on both of our travel days, so clearly the cold isn’t hindering our exploring much.
Trying to take a decent photo with a 2 year old… it’s a challenge, guys. Just nursing a baby on a German train, like usual.  Germany, your delicious beers and carbs are proof that I was meant to be German. I can’t wait to return someday soon!

Life Abroad / Personal

A Decision Has Been Made

November 14, 2017

We’ve got news, guys. After many months and countless conversations (some more contentious than others…) we have decided what we will be doing next year after KC’s Dutch contract ends. This was not an easy decision, and I can’t tell you just how close things came to working out another way.

Ultimately, we have made the decision to return to the US next year after we finish up our time in the Netherlands. It was down to the wire on whether we would be spending more time in Europe (we were thisclose to doing a year in Dublin after this), but we finally came to the conclusion that we will be returning to the Bay Area.

There is a lot we are looking forward to moving back — being close to family, especially (this was the biggest motivator in our decision to move back). There is also a lot we are going to have to adjust to again when we transition back to the states. (Driving, UGH.) There is still a large part of me that wants to stay in Europe indefinitely. Honestly, if we weren’t close with our families or if they were more spread out geographically, we probably would have stayed.

Right now we’re focusing on enjoying our last seven-ish months in Europe and slowly working through the logistics of moving back to the states. But consider this your final warning — we have a limited amount of time left here (and 7 more trips already booked…) so if you want to come and visit us, your window is closing soon!

Holidays / Life Abroad

Embracing the Gezellig

November 10, 2017

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?

Life Abroad / Motherhood / Travel

Our Trip to Copenhagen

October 23, 2017

As I mentioned in the last post, KC has been traveling for work a bunch lately. Normally he’s gone for 4-5 nights and then returns for the weekend, but since he had back-to-back work weeks in Dublin, he opted to just stay through this past weekend, which meant I was facing 13 solo bedtime routines with the girls while he was gone (because really, isn’t that always the most exhausting part of the day?) and was really not looking forward to two straight weeks of solo-parenting.

I happened to get a home exchange request for part of the period when KC would be gone, and I was lamenting that it seemed like an awesome opportunity and was bummed that we couldn’t take advantage of it. KC immediately chimed in, “Well you could just go,” which, while true, is a bit tricky with both kids and just one me (just navigating the airport with both kids and all the stuff we have to bring on our trips would be near-impossible for just one person). I thought about it for awhile and then thought I would see if another stay-at-home mama friend would want to join along with her 2 year old. We spend a lot of time together already (Prim and her little one are best buds these days) and I know she’s generally down for an adventure, so I thought it might be a good option. She jumped at the chance to get out of town and we set our plans, buying our tickets less than two weeks before our departure date.

We were in Copenhagen for 5 days, and wandered through the city with our three girls, all under the age of 2 1/2. We weathered flight delays coming and going (both times while on the plane) and somehow managed to navigate two airports and an entire city without losing any luggage, children, or our minds.

^^ Don’t mind the caution tape in that picture. I’m sure everything is fine. #goodparenting  And really, looking back on the trip, I have to say how proud I am of these little ones of ours. They are seriously veteran travelers now and go with the flow better than I could ever expect a baby and two toddlers to. Being stuck in a plane seat or stroller, or confined to a restaurant chair is not easy for wiggly two year olds and a newly-mobile 8 month old, but these ladies weathered the challenges like pros.  We did opt to have some slow days so that the kids could nap and sought out activities where they could run around and stretch their little legs. And, honestly, we didn’t see nearly as much as I would hope to see of Copenhagen on our trip (I mean, this is where Mikeller is from — so many more beers to drink! So many awesome restaurants to try!) but we still did a lot and I’m so glad we made the trip.  And yes, of course the kids had their moments where they were just over it, but luckily those were few and far between. (And honestly, sometimes those moments make for the most memorable photos after the fact.) ^^ This wasn’t actually a meltdown, just a point where Prim decided she simply couldn’t carry on and laid down on the ground. Sometimes, as a two year old, this is the only way to assert yourself.  Copenhagen, you were so charming. I can’t wait to visit you again someday!

Life Abroad / Travel

Visiting Amsterdam?

October 11, 2017

I’ve had a few people contact me over the past year or so asking for recommendations for their trips to Amsterdam. I have been sort of dragging my feet writing this post because I think that recommendations for what to see and where to eat in a city is fairly personal, so what I recommend may or may not fit what you’re looking for. But that being said, I’ve put together a list anyway. Obviously a lot of what is below is kid-friendly, since we live here with our two little ones, but there are some bars and date-night options included for those of you who are lucky enough to be traveling sans-babies.

Click on the links for more info.

Groceries, Basics, etc.:




*adult/date night options – less kid-friendly



**There is a pub crawl you can easily do over the course of a day or night (visit this site for more info). You have one beer at each: Arendsnest, Beer Temple, Beer Loves Food, and Craft and Draft, then present your receipts from each bar at Craft and Draft at the end and receive a free t-shirt. (Easiest/Fastest way to do this is on a bike.)


Favorite toy stores:

*These are kid cafes as well as toy stores

Favorite Tourist Activities:

A little outside the city: