Category Archives: Life Abroad

Family Fun / Life Abroad / Travel

Our Trip to Rome

January 25, 2018

It’s been a couple of weeks now since we’ve returned from Rome, but between coming down from the high of the holidays and all of our vacations and trying to get the kids back on a schedule over here, there hasn’t been much downtime for posting. Add to that that Prim got the flu that’s been going around and had a super high fever for three days while KC was out of the country on business… hoo, well it’s been a week over here, guys.

Anyway, back to Rome! We went to Rome with my sister’s family and my brother over New Year’s after they had traveled to Amsterdam along with my parents for Christmas. My sister’s kids are really close in age to Prim and Lark, which is awesome; her oldest is about 7 months older than Prim and her youngest is about 7 months older than Lark. (No, we didn’t intentionally plan it that way, it was just a nice coincidence!) We rented this giant house through Airbnb which was a little outside the center, and it accommodated all nine of us really well. Everyday we would head into the center for sightseeing and (the real reason you go to Rome) eating. And since my brother was traveling with us, we were able to go out to dinner a few nights after the kids went to bed, which was heaven. We had so much delicious pasta and so much good cheap wine… it was a dream.  If there’s anything more attractive than a man wearing a baby while pushing a stroller, I certainly haven’t seen it.  We had all been to Rome before (Alexis and I studied there in law school), but this was KC’s first trip to Italy. We hit most of the major sites, including the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colusseum, the Forum, the Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon. Larky thought the Colusseum was riveting. (Also those cheeks and those little lips! I love her.) KC originally wanted to take that top photo of us from underneath so he could get the giant hole in the roof of the Pantheon in the picture. I quickly informed him that nobody needs to be shot from the angle of under-chin up. No one. Primrose the party animal finds fun wherever she goes. And a city where she gets to have gelato more days than not? Well, let’s just say that we’ve been back for three weeks and we’re still talking about the gelato almost daily. (I asked her what her favorite food was the other day — her response: “Um… ice cream.” Me: “What flavor?” Prim: “Gelato.” Noted.) The weather was much warmer than Amsterdam — in the 50’s most days — which felt like a real vacation. Walking all over the place and not having my feet freeze was so, so nice. I mean, eating all the pasta, pizza, and gelato everyday? How can you not love Italy! Let me tell you, it was a rude awakening to come back home and have to start cooking again and stop having wine at lunch. (PS: wine at lunch makes parenting on vacation infinitely more enjoyable. INFINITELY.)We’ll be back again, Rome! Three visits just isn’t enough for one lifetime.

Family Fun / Life Abroad / Winter

The Snowy Day

December 21, 2017

The weekend we were in Croatia was the first snow in Amsterdam. And usually the first snow here isn’t much to write home about — just a few flurries with nothing sticking to the ground, but this year the first snow was a full weekend of flakes with so much snow that we had a hefty pile left over when we returned from our trip.

I have to admit that I was really bummed to miss the first snow here, but seeing these girls out on the deck playing in what was left from the storm did make up for my FOMO a little.    This was Lark’s first real experience with snow. It snowed while we were in Berlin and Croatia, but not enough to really have any snow on the ground that stuck. When KC’s mom first brought Lark outside and put her down in the snow, Prim turned to her and said, “This is snow, Lark!” And if you look at Lark’s face in those pictures, you can see exactly how she feels about Prim (and why I’m always telling KC that we need to have 16 more babies, immediately). Come back soon, snow! (Maybe for Christmas???)

Life Abroad / Personal / Travel

Scenes and Thoughts from a Travel Day

December 20, 2017

Given how much we travel with our kids, and the blog posts which follow our trips, it may appear that we are master jet-setters and have it all figured out. I can assure you that we don’t. While we have figured out a lot, having traveled by plane with one or both kids ten times in the past year and a half, there is no perfect, relaxing travel day with kids.

Travel days tend to always be a little chaotic, and they’re definitely tiring for everyone involved. We do work to book flights during the girls waking hours, as opposed to early morning, late night, or red-eye flights, so we’re not dealing with overtired children refusing to sleep (been there! It’s terrible.) But we have had to wake up at 5am on more than one occasion to catch an early flight, which means we’re waking the girls up at 5:30am so we can hop in a taxi by 5:45am. The girls are certainly seasoned travelers now. Prim has been on 19 flights in a year and a half (more if you decide to count layovers), and Lark has been on 14 flights in less than 10 months. Lark actually didn’t travel until she was 3 months old, so really she’s averaging a little over 2 flights a month, if you figure she’s been on 14 flights in less than 7 months.

Prim has visited cities in eight countries, Lark has visited cities in seven. By the time we move back to the states they will have added at least four more countries to that list (and probably more like six or seven since we’re trying to book travel for three to four countries in June right now).

And yes, I would say we have our sh** together travel-wise. I can pack a single bag for me and the girls for any climate and weather and use every single item of clothing and every single diaper and not need anything additional. We know how to navigate airports, new cities and transit systems, and these girls adapt to new sleeping situations like seasoned pros; but that’s not to say that it’s all fun or easy by any means.

Prim gets carsick and it’s always a race against the clock getting to the airport before she throws up. We always, always have a sick bag with us and usually manage to arrive at the airport just in the nick of time, but on our way to Schiphol going to Croatia, the driver made a wrong turn at the last minute, which resulted in an extra 5 minutes in the car and us changing Prim’s shirt and sweatshirt in the middle of the airport lobby.

We have had delays of all kinds — in the airport, on the plane, being returned to the gate, canceled flights, lost bags — all of it. The kids have actually weathered delays quite well, but sometimes after a 5am wake up call and a snow delay of indeterminate duration, you plop your baby on the floor at the gate and just think about how strong their immune system will be afterwards. Overall though, I have to say how proud I am of these little humans. They are amazingly adaptable on our numerous trips, and seem to really enjoy exploring new cities with us, even though it means upending their lives and schedules and subjecting them to all sorts of situations that test their patience.

I hope that these girls will always want to explore and visit new places, and that they continue to be tolerant, patient and adaptable throughout the numerous “travel delays” in their lives. I know they won’t remember any of this, but I’d like to think that it’s helping to shape the people they will become, and that they will be better and more well-rounded humans because of it. And KC and I will certainly remember, and the destinations we’ve been to with these little ladies is more than worth the trying moments and long travel days.

Life Abroad / Travel

Our Trip to Croatia

December 19, 2017

We just returned from Zagreb, Croatia a week ago, which was just the beginning of our busy December. My family arrives in Amsterdam this weekend and we will all be spending Christmas together here this year (I’m so excited!) After the Christmas madness is over we will be heading to Rome with my brother, sister and her family for a week, which should be really fun.

But back to Croatia! I chose to pursue a home exchange in Zagreb because it is supposed to have some of the best Christmas markets in Europe.  Prim got to ride the carousel numerous times, which was a big highlight for her.

We liked the Christmas markets in Zagreb, but they were a little different than the Christmas markets we’re used to. The German and French-German markets tend to be a few food and drink huts sandwiched between numerous vendor huts that sell ornaments, handmade toys, and other fun trinkets. The Croatian markets were more food and drink-based with very few vendor huts, which was fun, but not totally what we expected. We walked all over the city each day, as we normally do on vacation. On our fullest day we clocked in over 9 miles walking, and hit between 4 and 6 miles on the slower days.

Zagreb has this weird tunnel that goes through a lot of the downtown area that was all decorated sort of like one of those indoor Disneyland rides, which was neat.

We woke up to snow on our first full day in Zagreb and it continued to snow throughout much of the day which was so magical.

And of course, who can resist that delicious European architecture?    Just sign me up for a chateau with all the fancy windows, please.

KC’s mom came with us on this trip, so we actually got to sneak away a couple of nights for dinner sans-kids (can you imagine??) It was divine. We so rarely get to go out on dates, and we are never kid-free on vacation, so this was a real treat.  I don’t even care that that picture is bad quality and maybe a little blurry. That’s us walking around the city alone after having dinner by ourselves and it was everything I could have wanted. ^^ That’s real life traveling with kids right there. Prim passed out in the stroller while we warmed up and had drinks at Esplanade 1925 (totally recommend — both the bar and the sleeping child); Prim unamused by the sign outside the craft beer bar we made a stop at; and of course Lark being nursed at a random coffee shop (Eli’s Caffe — which was delicious).

Oh, and if you’re wondering why Lark isn’t wearing pants in that picture even though the temperature was hovering around freezing most of our trip, it’s because she poured water all over herself at lunch that day and fully soaked her outfit. Luckily, I had a random extra onesie and had removed her sweater before the meal, but hadn’t brought spare pants with me (I mean, I’m a second-time mom, my diaper bag is like wipes and a spare diaper and that’s it) so she was pants-less. I was able to just throw her in our carrier and zip up the bottom of my coat around her legs, but I did get questioned by a woman at the coffee shop about whether she was cold, and I’m sure she just assumed I was an idiot and/or a terrible mother for walking around with a 9 month old baby without pants on.Croatia, you were snowy, cold and fun. Maybe we will be back to visit your beaches next summer!

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!