Fall Photos '08

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Fall in A'dam

We've had a very busy fall.  The weather is a lot like Portland, so no big surprises here.  September was a mix of wet days with many beautiful sunny and 70 degree days.  The sunny days are often spent in Vondel Park on the climbing tree and playing frisbee.  Kiley is becoming quite the little frisbee player.   We spent one of the gorgeous sunny days in September with friends picking apples at a farm near by.  

After a few short weeks of school, Kiley and Jacqui took off for a quick trip to Utah for Aunt Jenni and Uncle Dave's wedding.  It was so great to see the family!  It was sad to leave them behind as the plane flew east over the Atlantic, but the homesickness didn't last for long.  A few days after returning we started getting our first of many visitors come our way.  

Priscilla, a friend of Jacqui's, (but don't tell Kiley that cuz she has laid claim to Pri as her friend),  left her hubby at home and came out to visit for a week.  The sun was out all week which made touring the city a pleasure and Brian hung out with the kids while Jac and Pri snuck in a weekend to Paris.  The kids adore Pri especially playing the burrito game which involves getting rolled up in a blanket and being tossed over her shoulder.  

We've spent time with some friends from club sport.  Deb and Mike were on a 6 week tour around Europe and Amsterdam was one of their stops.   They came bearing gifts from friends back in 'Feverton' as Quinn calls it.  We got together a few times.  One of them being at our favorite sushi restaurant where we had a fight over paying the bill.  Thank you again!   Cindi Murray and her husband Doug who used to take classes with Jacqui at the club made it into town for a couple of days after spending a month in Spain.   So great to see you!  We look forward to having many more visitors.

Kids had 'fall break' mid October so we took advantage of their time off and headed to Tenerife, Spain which is one of the Canary Islands.   We travelled with our back door neighbors Jo and Drew who have two children Megan and Halie.  Our second day at the resort we met another couple, Sarah and Mark who are from the Isle of Man.   They have a son Jack who is Quinn's age and the two became fast friends.  Kiley adored their 2 year old daughter Megan.  All three families spent the entire week together at the pool, the beach, meals, kids disco, the animal park ect. We have been keeping in touch and hope to make it to visit them possibly on our way to Ireland next year.  

The American Women's Club of Amsterdam hosted a Trick-or-Treat night on Halloween since they don't celebrate that here.  Quinn was a cow after much protest.  A friend gave the costume to us a few months ago and he loved it then, but it had worn off it's appeal by the time October 31st rolled around.  Unfortunately for him, there is not a Target or Old Navy around the corner to buy a transformer costume.  Kiley once again didn't really care what she was...it's all about the candy.  She ended up being a witch.

Jacqui's parents flew in on Halloween day and we dragged them around that night till they collapsed.  Over their two week stay we covered all of Amsterdam by tram, bus and walking as well as making weekend trips to Brugge, Belgium and Koln, Germany.  The kids are still asking when Mimi Dori and Papa John are going to come back.  

It snowed this past weekend.  They say it's been a long time since it snowed here in Amsterdam. Word is that about every 10 years there is a deep freeze.  All the canals freeze over and there is a big ice skating race that takes place on the canals.  We're keeping our fingers crossed that it happens while we are here.  

We just got Priscilla back on a plane heading to Portland this morning.  She flew in town on Saturday for the weekend to go to the Tracy Chapman concert with Jacqui.  The tickets were purchased a few months ago however Brian couldn't go with her because he is in sunny Florida for 10 days for sales meetings.  He is enjoying the 75 degree weather from inside the hotel conference room. We've been skyping with him every day which makes the 10 days a little easier to handle.

We hope and pray you all have a fabulous Thanksgiving Day!  The kids will be in school since they don't have it here, but we are planning on getting together with some American friends over the weekend to celebrate. 

We miss  and love you all!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Summer Time

The Sloggers are back after spending time in the A'Dam and beyond. Summer brought us a new understanding of "Holidays"; An extended 2+ week vacation to various countries all over Europe with one goal--complete relaxation.  I know someone who was wondering why people we talking about the winter holiday season in the middle of summer...We, on the other hand, stuck to the classic U.S. one-week vacation with a vow to embrace the European holiday summer-break next year when we have more time to plan.

While our holiday was only one week, it was fantastic.  We went to T
he Algarve, Portugal--Southern tip of Portugal.  We had a small 2-floor villa with the all important pool and a spectacular view of the beach from our place.  The weather was a perfect, sunny 26 degree celsius (double the number and add 30 and you will feel what we are talking about) with a slight wind during the day.

We visited 4 different beaches, a water park (aqualand), a sand park that featured
Hollywood movies and their stars (sandland) and feasted on some great seafood while over looking the sun setting into the ocean

Which earned the all important kid's approval...

Kiley learned how to dive as well as snorkel as she spent 25 hours of the day in her bathing suit.  She also enjoyed the delicious deserts served at all the local
beaches. Specifically, the chocolate covered ice cream bars or sundaes.


Quinn graduated from a yellow inner-tube to putting his entire face in the water blowing bubbles like a crocodile. He also quickly learned the game of hurdling over the waves and splashing his parents with the freezing cold water. 

This created some serious Carpenter Stink Eye moments which he made him do it more.

We all got a little burned as only real Oregonians could (especially translucent Dad) but worked through it with some 1,500 SPF and one cloudy morning...we did some tide pool exploring as well as saw a real life pirate ship.

As with every trip, the end of the week arrived too quickly but we felt well rested as we headed back to A'Dam and started planning our next European Holiday.


Sunday, August 31, 2008


Need to get away?  Why not head to Portugal?  

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


a new word we learned while settling in A'Dam during the past 3 months. The english translation is...slow bloggers. Yes, we have not been blogging regularly but wanted to gather up all our stories for this edition. Big edition.

First, a foot update. Kiley has survived her first real Dutch experience in flying colors. The cast came off two weeks ago and she is slowly getting back to her speedy ways. She continues to bike around town (with or without the cast) and is quite good with her hand signals. School is out for the summer so a lot of her classmates (all five girls in a class of 18 kids) are spending their holidays back in their home countries. We talk about her friends from home as she really misses all of them--Avery, Alexis, Abby, Brandi, Kaleelah, Kaylee--but continues to make new friends on the block. A lot of the kids on our part of the straat only speak Dutch so they are learning how to get around the language thing. She is a huge helper around the house and does a great job watching out for her younger brother (who still thinks we are on vacation).

Our crib is coming together thanks to the creative eye of Jacqui and her memorizing every single page of the IKEA catalog with her trusty tape measure. She speaks in meters and actually knows what she is talking about vs Brian who has absolutely no clue (but doesn't have to since his bride knows the metric system). Speaking of the metric system, it will be coming to the U.S. shortly...

The great weather has allowed us to explore the city and taken in some of the local sites which has given us a pretty good feel of where to show people whenever ANYONE feels like visiting. Staked out some good local restaurants--Tai, Italian, Fancy, Cheap, Bad, Good, Dutch--Tulip garden, hot spots, dutch people, neighboring countries, bikes and parks. In fact, Jacqui has become such a local that she pushes a shopping cart full of groceries from our local super de boer right down the straat to our front door. Sorry if I am peppering in some Dutch words, they are the only four words I know so I thought I would show-off a little bit.

Our neighbor calls us "the Americans" as in--"Oh there are The Americans." Whenever we pull up to our house or come riding up, that is our greeting. Jeanette is a nurse in the emergency room and is quite funny. She just threw her own 50th birthday party out on the sidewalk (complete with a tent) so pretty much everyone was invited; even if you were walking through the party. One of our other neighbors is Dave who moved here 10+ years ago from California. Dave and his wife recently had a little girl, Annika, as well as two older "daughters" of the canine persuasion which Kiley adores. She actually was their dogsitter for a night and took this responsibilities quite seriously as they are very important to her.

Quinn is marching down the steps as we type announcing he only likes Scout because we are attempting to get him to sleep at 10:30pm night with the sun still hanging around (reference blog submission #2). "See, it's still daytime dad." Took about 7 minutes for him to fall asleep after reading his dinosaur book. He still likes to ride on the front of the "Boys bike" with his dad and announce to the people on the sidewalk that we are coming by. He also is the person giving the hand signals on the bike even if his left and right signals get confused some times. His other hobby is to say hi to most people walking by, then quickly ask them their name so he can launch into some story. He usually is able to keep an audience for a few minutes. One announcement he likes to make on a very regular basis is "I tooted." whether he did or not, whether the doors or windows are wide open and our neighbor's to our left are having dinner 6 feet away. According to Quinn, tooting is funny in any language.

Both children still have held onto their personal routine of grabbing your ears when she is next to you (Kiley) or scratching his arms and holding his hand when falling asleep (Quinn). Infant routines are great at any age or in any country.

We took in the European Championship Football tournament (happens every 4 years) which was amazing to experience. The entire city shut down and watched the Dutch national team advance into the quarterfinals. You could tell how the game was going by the sounds of the city.

We jumped in the car and took a family trip to Brugge, Belgium this past weekend. Great european city where the local language is flemish (Dutch launguage, just with a phlemish accent thrown-in), fantastic chocolate shops are on every corner and the world's best beer is brewed. 'nuff said.

The Europeans plan their summer holidays way in advance so we were quite late in the process by the time we arrived in early April. So, we had to first get Scout into a doggy boarding house and then work around those dates to get a place and airline tix which was not an easy task. We just finalized our August trip to Portugal and got pretty lucky this late in the game with a nice villa by the beach. We are now onto fall and winter as well as next spring so we've got to stop blogging so we check out the avails at scout's boarding house...

Until next time we slog...Tot zeins

Monday, May 19, 2008

some photos

7 things you might want know about Amsterdam

1. Don't get your foot caught in the back wheel of your parent's bike..results in a 5 hour trip to the emergency room and a broken foot.
Kiley had a scary experience this past Saturday as we were driving to get our bikes "safe" again. Her back heel slipped into the back wheel of the bike she was on and proceeded to pull her shoe, sock and skin right off her foot. She was extremely brave as her Mom pulled her in and covered her left heel that needed immediate medical attention. Only problem was her parents were on their bikes, in the rain and had no idea of who or where a medical outlet was located. We finally got through some Dutch medical telephone lines to be directed to the Emergency room. Everyone was extremely nice and helpful as we waited the results of the x-rays. In the end, Kiley has a fracture in her left foot and will be in a cast for the next 4 weeks. Not fun, but the other injuries and issues that we saw coming through the emergency room doors left us realizing how lucky we were that day.

2. Don't get fooled by the sunny daylight at 10:30pm...go to bed as the sunny daylight will be back at 5:15am.
Yes, Portland summers are great and you usually wind up with bags under your eyes since it stays light out so long. Well, Amsterdam has PDX beat. We've been so lucky with the weather that it has been sunny for the past two weeks and with that great sun comes an evening that lasts well into the night. And, a sunrise that is here before you brainwaves can get into some serious REM sleep. No complaints, just an observation that I don't need to put my nightlight on since it never really gets dark and scary...

3. Don't go down a one way street and think the other car will move because you got their first...old man will get out of his car and explain in Dutch, then English some local insight.
Long story short, the street signs are a little hard to read some times and in this case, very hard. We were cruising down a tight streeet right by our house when we could see another car coming the other direction. We've naviagted this situation before as you usually work together. Both move over a little and squeeze by slowly but this was a different scenario. There was no room to move over or squeeze. We were just facing each other which was kind of awkward since we had been told "the Dutch rule is whoever gets to the point first, the other person moves." but there was no place to move so you couldn't figure out who go to the "point" first. Well, the old man in the opposite car, pulled up his emergency brake and jumped out of his car. He came over to the window I had rolled down so I could hear what mistake I obviously had made and proceeded to say some things in a rapid Dutch dialect with some slight hand movements. I waited a little bit and then said "sorry, don't speak Dutch." He took a breath and then said--"You are going the wrong way. Have a nice day!"

4. Don't try to walk the canals during Queens' Day...as you will be stuck in a human traffic jam with orange wearing, smelly breathe tourists (the locals stay far away).
A fun day for the family by heading to Vondelpaark to take in some great flea/swap market opportunities as well as discover some local artistic talent (2 young friends dancing to Abba qualifies as talent on Queen's Day). Later on, a little adventure to the more adult part of Queen's day brought us around Museumplein and some interesting sights. Eventually a human street jam let us back to our bikes we were rode up to a block party with a great crooner singing "My Way." A great day for the city that is overtaken by many tourists (we consider ourselves locals now after the one way street incident).

5. Don't forget to plan your Sunday and holiday meals a few days earlier...or you wil be eating peanut butter lolipops for dinner.
Everything really closes on Sunday so you have to plan your full meal schedule out for that day as well as Monday since your refridgerators are so small and you don't have much storage to depend on. So, when you realize you have no meat, chicken, vegetables, bread, milk...Peanut butter on a spoon makes a great family meal that is easy to make, healthy and simple to clean-up. We survived and are pretty certain it will happen again.

6. Don't be surprised when a IKEA's direction still stink...a bad picture in Dutch is the same as a bad picture in English.
Wow. They have great, fun stuff but the worst directions. Bar none. Someone could make a billion dollars if they created a visual aid helper for their directions. I would pay for it and a few other ex-pats from around the world would kick-in.

7. Don't miss out on the beautiful, Holland scenario....because Amsterdam is such a cool city to explore.
The people, city, countryside, weather, food, etc have all been great so we look forward to learning and experiencing more in this country.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Home Sweet Home...
We've been in our permanent home now for 2 weeks. Valeriusstraat 280 HS. HS means house or ground floor. We were very fortunate to find this place. We have the ground floor with a garden out back and our bedrooms are on the first floor above. People are on top of us, right next to us, all around us. It's always a bonus when you can find a spot to lock up your bike right in front of your house. Now that we have a car, you're lucky if you can find a parking spot on your own street. It's totally different but we are totally loving it. We've met some very nice people and we have great neighbors who have been extrememly helpful. The children on our end of the street don't speak english, (they start learning english in the 5th grade) so Kiley and Quinn have a lot of opportunity to practice their dutch.

We were warned that if we ever had a need for construction workers in Amsterdam to be patient. Well, let's just say we've been practicing patience. Just before we moved in we had a walkthrough and the owner made a list of things that would be fixed. The process was started on the Monday we moved in. When we showed up that evening, there was dust and dirt all over the kitchen, a light hanging from underneath the cabinet and a latter in the middle of the hallway. We just expected that they would show up and finish the job on Tuesday, but that didn't happen. Wednesday was Queen's Day and the entire city is shut down so we thought maybe they would show on Thursday. Nope... so placed a call and we were told that it was PARTY WEEK and no one would be there till the following Tuesday. Wow, party week, okay we'll see you Tuesday. Tuesday rolls in. No one shows, no answer on their phone, no call back. Now these are not major repairs, but they do need fixing. A call was placed again on Wednesday..."We can't seem to get ahold of you, our next step is to call the owner." Within 10 minutes there is a call back. "I am out of the country, please call Ralph, he will come and help you." Okay, let's call Ralph. Friday Ralph replies and says he will be there next Tuesday. He shows up at 8am...looks at the work and says he will be back in one hour. At 3pm he calls and says, "There is a problem with work today. The problem is I can't come back to do the work, so I see you tomorrow. Ya?" At this point we just have to laugh. "Uh ya okay...see you tomorrow." So over two weeks later they are here, right now! It's getting done!

Our local neighborhood market is about 100 yards down the street. Very convenient, but very small and very expensive. We just found Dirk's, another market just over the canal about a 3 minute bike ride away. It's much bigger and has better prices and a better selection. Right now when we shop, you basically buy what you can carry. Tomorrow while the kids are in school, Jacqui is going to stock up a bit and use her friends bike with a huge wheelbarrow like box attached to the front to go shopping at Dirk's. We'll report later on how she does steering the bike back filled with groceries.

There are many cafe's and restaurants all around our neighborhood with seating out on the sidewalk. The weather has been amazing the last 10 days so the sidewalks have been packed with people sitting and eating. It's a very relaxed atmosphere and no rush for you to vacate your table so someone else can have it. This is partly due to the fact that you don't tip, so the waiters and waitresses are not trying to turn tables over. It feels odd initially, but you begin to get used to it. It's very common to be at your table at 6pm and still be there at 10pm just hanging out and chatting.

Go Tom Tom or don't go at all
Travelling by bike, tram or train...a piece of cake. Watching an American drive a car for the first time here...priceless. It's a bit stressful watching out for pedestrians and bikes travelling in packs strung throughout the streets like christmas lights. Not to mention the oncoming tram heading straight for you. Then there is tne way streets that seem to sneak up on you and you can't make a right on red. Like anything else, it gets easier the more you do it, but we owe the survival of our first two weeks in a car to our trusted new best friend...the Tom Tom. Plug in the address and city and her voice (you choose male or female) gently guides you to your destination. She doesn't even yell at you if you make a wrong turn. She patiently picks a new route and gets you back on track. She makes you feel and drive like you've been living here for years. It makes it much easier to pay attention to that oncoming tram.

Tip Toe Through the Tulips
A short 20 minute drive from our house you'll find the town of Lisse, the home of Keukenhof. They claim to be the most beautiful spring garden in the world. We went last weekend and not only is it absolutely gorgeous, it's huge. Among a varienty of flowers they have every color and shape of tulip you can immagine. The kids even enjoyed walking through the garden and then we hung out at the playground and the kids played on the zip line. If you are planning a visit durig the end of March throught mid May, this is one of the places you will have to visit.

Friday, April 25, 2008

We Are Moving

to our permanent home in A'Dam during the next few days. We will be leaving the tight quarters, small streets of the 9 Straats to a two story place with a garden for Scout to do her business. A garden is a tiny plot of space that is a special treat for renters. We will be able to fit our bbq, a small table and chairs and maybe one other item in our secret garden.

Our new place is located on Valeriusstraat (rhymes with Hilarious) Straat which is the longest street we've seen in awhile. The door to our crib opens up onto a one way street which cuts down on the traffic. There will be kids nearby who break-out the straat chalk will their parents bring out their benches to watch and chat with the other parents. Feels similar to 9570 158th Cul-de-sac.

We've got the kids their beds the other day which are a little different from their Portland set-up due to the size and shapes of the rooms. The Dutch are very resourceful when it comes to making things work in such tight spaces. Kiley has a large room which overlooks the garden and has some interesting demensions to the room. Kiley is upgrading to a bunk bed that has a queen bed on the bottom and a twin bed up top. Her mother promised to carry her up to the top bed when she falls asleep down below (fyi-Dad had surgery on his right hip...). FYI, Kiley's bed/room will be used for all you guests so get your climb on.

Quinn, on the other hand, downgraded from a queen bed to a small single bed which fits into his unique sized "room". He has a cool blue bed, with a neat dresser and a little storage section for his toys. Quinn's room will not be used for the guests unless they are 36 inches or smaller. His room looks over the street, right next to Mom and Dad's room

The honeymoon suite is a standard square room which is off-limits except for some small people who wander into the room at all times throughout the evening/night. The family bathroom is down the hallway right next to THE STAIRWELL...

We have a spiral staircase that is more straight up then spiral. This type of staircase is very traditional in almost all Amsterdam homes so you have to adapt but you still cringe a little bit when the kids cruise down the stairs ("stay to the outside of the stairs.") Or, as one realtor told us, "You just fall once and you remember to be careful. We all fell once."

This Wednesday is Queen's Day which is a national holiday that has about 1 million people dressed in Orange invading the area for the biggest block party in the world. Everyone is out selling anything (kids sell their toys) so we might be picking up some new additions to our house. The party goes well into the night/morning with fireworks and spontaeous celebrations.
We'll have a post party recap...

Tot ziens

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

In the beginning

a family moves to Amsterdam which prompted them to become bloggers. Big bloggers. This is our new life in the 'Dam.

Salsa looks like ketchup but has a surprisingly familiar taste (a lot like chicken...)
Phresh. The food is very fresh and tasty. The bread and cheese are to die for.
Coffee is less about quantity and more about quality conversation.
Pay attention when riding or you will leave your mark on someone.
Every canal looks familiar so don't use them as visual landmarks for directions.
Poffietiers are small, puffy silver dollar-esk pancakes that are fantastic. A little powdered sugar and butter. 'nuf said.
Cartoons have gone global "Hey Mom, Diego can speak DUTCH!"
Bikers RULE everything and anything.

A letter told us we could only bring over belongings that equaled 18 washing machines stacked on top of each other in 3 rows. Translation, please. We thought we were being very strategic in our selection until the moving crew estimated our "stuff" to be 1,300 lbs over the limit. Brian had to quickly reduce his running footwear museum so we wouldn't be paying some serious euros for the overage. In the end, we wound up with a few lbs to spare so Jac was able to squeeze her spinning bike onto the back of the container. We will see our valuables in about 5 weeks if we are lucky. The first part of the move done.

Next was the removal of all remaining "stuff" in our house. Everything had to go either in Storage or Goodwill or the Dumpster or Lisa Eves. The last 24 hours were exhausting but we had great help from our awesome neighbors/friends. No matter how much we loaded, donated or tossed out, there was still more "stuff". It was a bottomless house. After a quick bite at Stephanie and Michael's house, we did finish with a few hours to spare before we had to take off to the airport @ 4:30am (a huge thanks to Lisa and Pri for escorting us out to the airport). Tot Ziens, Portland.

The kids did fabulous start to end. We dressed and carried them out of bed pre-dawn in the U.S. and walked off the plane in Amsterdam 20 hours later without one meltdown. Along the way, we had a four hour layover in Chicago which allowed us to get Scout out of her crate so she coud stretch her legs. The flight into Amsterdam was smooth except for the landing when Quinn exclaimed "I've got to go potty! I've got to go potty!" He did his best to hold it but we were on the longest airplane taxi in history so in the end his body won out and a cute little puddle was left in business class.

After pulling (8) 100lb bags off the carousel, and gathering a XL dog crate that was holding a slightly dazed and confused dog we were stumped on just exactly how you get out of the airport. We figured it out and cruised into a beautiful sunny dutch day that eventually turned into a cloudy, snow day 1 hour later. Our new Dutch friend, Anna, gathered us up and brought us to our temp. apartment on Wolvenstraat. A very small place in a very cool location, Jordaan, which is in the west part of the city (if you know him, Richard Mulder's stomping grounds as a young Dutch boy).

We had a slight snag upon arriving at our temporary apartment. Brian got to the place first and had all of our luggage, crate and Scout laying on the sidewalk when the landlord pulls up and announces "I didn't know there was going to be a dog." We thought we were going to be wandering the streets of Amsterdam with our light (8) 100lbs bags and easy to hold dog crate in search of a place to stay. But, after walking across the street so Brian couldn't hear his lengthy conversation in Dutch (obviously, he thought Brian was already fluent in Dutch), the landlord came back, introduced himself (Paul) and escorted us up to our apartment. Whew. We got to sleep in beds that night.

That same day we decided to freshen up the apartment with some scented candles. We were just starting to settle in (unpacking, relaxing, much needed potty stop) when Kiley came running down the hallway with eyes as wide as saucers calling out "Mommy, Mommy, my HAIR! my HAIR!" We think she got her hair caught or Quinn pulled it but quickly realized it was neither. The smell of burned hair is very distinct...Kiley laid back on the coffee table to watch tv when the back of her head dipped into the candle and gave us all a good scare.

Later, we decided to take a little family nap before heading out for some food. Our quick cat nap turned into a 6+ hour power nap. We woke up at 8pm and did not go back to sleep until 4am. The next day was a wash as our teenage 8 yr old did not get out of bed until 2pm. Jet lag is powerful but only temporary.

The first of couple of days was all about our two feet. We covered a lot of pavement discovering this quaint little city. While it is a small, quaint city, your feet get a little tired walking around in circles because you got lost using the canals as visual landmarks.

Friday we decided to become a little more like locals and take on the tram system. We were on the way home from visiting the kid's school in Amstelveen. We jumped on a tram without tickets thinking we could pay once we were on but found out that was not possible. We jumped off and tried to pay on the platform with one of the machines but they do not accept credit cards or euros. We needed a debit card which we won't have for another week. Not good. We then decided to walk over to the tram that will take us into the city and jump on without tickets. If caught, we decided we would plead ignorance (Marc Patrick was our inspiration). Jacqui and the kids hopped onto a tram while Brian confirmed the time standing outside on the platform. The tram doors slammed shut and Brian watched the family wave goodbye. He had no money and no clue where the tram was going. Inside the tram, Jacqui laughed and then quieted the kids down as they shouted "WE LEFT DADDY! WHY DID WE LEAVE DADDY?! WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING?!" She knew she would see Brian again even though he had no money or clue about the tram system. In the end, they were reunited at the next stop and rode like bandits into the city.

A little fact--The Amsterdam population is 750,000 but home to over a million bikes. Today, we joined the bike population with the purchase of (2) used bikes. Brian has a mini-seat on the frame of his bike where Quinn sits right in front of him, holding onto the handle bars and yelling to the pigeons to look out. Jacqui has a seat and footrests on the back of her bike for Kiley to sit side-saddle. The bikes make it very easy to get around the city but you do have to pay attention. Brian almost rear-ended a woman on her bike the first 5 minutes into their inaugural ride while Jacqui almost tossed Kiley off her bike as she went flying over a speed bump (Kiley's shoe actually did fly off). We survived the initiation so now consider ourselves true locals!

At the end of 5 days, the kids have adjusted quickly and refer to the apartment as home. Quinn announces every time we come up the stairs "It's GREAT to be home!" while Kiley has told us frequently she "loves it here." But, we all miss our friends and family back home.

Photos to come...