Monday, October 27, 2014

October Break

As the kids are in a new school system, one that falls more into the British style, we have had to adjust to a new schedule - not just on a daily basis, but also as far as their school breaks.  A few weeks ago, the kids had their first school break.  Coming from a system that started in September with some long weekends thrown in regularly but no long break until December, it felt weird to have a week long break in mid October.  But given the kids started school in mid August, it was, in fact, time for a much needed week off.

I had originally thought I would take the kids away somewhere, Stockholm to visit friends or perhaps Venice since they had never been.  I thought maybe Rome.  I even thought of taking them back to Barcelona since their friends wouldn't be on break and they'd get to have a nice visit with them.  But poor planning on my end, expensive flights and swim classes and doctor's appointments meant that I couldn't pull it together.  Since we'd only been here just 2 months, it was not a bad thing to have to stick around.  We don't need to travel at every break.  It was one thing when we thought we were only going to be in Europe for 2 years, but now almost 5 years later, the urgency has diminished.

Since Josh was off the week before due to his surgery, I was on my own for planning the fall break. We overall took things easy.  Since nothing here opens on Mondays til around 1, we just laid low. Liam had a friend over and then we went to Almere to look at skateboard wheels for Aidan's skateboard.

Tuesday I had told the kids we would go into Amsterdam for the day.  Since Josh's injury meant that on weekends we couldn't do much walking, we hadn't actually been in to the city since before we moved here.  We have been to Amsterdam a few times over the years, but this would be our first time exploring it as "our" city.  We had no grand plan beyond getting breakfast at Sara's pancake house (our favorite) and perhaps a visit to Tun Fun.  We took the train in with Josh which was good - I knew we could do it on our own, but it felt good to know that Josh was an expert, so to speak, on getting us to Amsterdam Centraal.

Waiting for our train at Weesp

We went to Josh's office and I probably could have just left the kids there for the day as they had a "new" video game in the break room with something like 300 old school video games.  Alas Josh wasn't up for me leaving them ;)

Playing some kind of ninja game

We had our traditional breakfast at Sara's Pancakes - yum!!  And Aidan asked if we could go to the Apple store to look at new itouches.  Given he just got a new ipad this summer I really don't think we need to upgrade his itouch but I was willing to humor him.  And no, we did not upgrade it but left there empty handed.  

Blueberry and ice cream pancakes before 10AM... yeah that gets a thumbs up.

Yay Apple Store!!

However, it was a bonus that leaving the Apple store we happened across the American / British store. Yay!!  Happy day!!  The kids and I went (slightly) crazy at all the American "goodness".  Ok, none of it had any healthy redeeming value to it, but it was a piece of home and made us all happy.

So happy leaving the American store (100 euros poorer)

Of course, I didn't think of the fact that I would have to carry all this crap on my shoulder for the next several hours, but their smiles made it worth it and Aidan helped me out too.  Next time we should bring the granny cart so we can at least pull it along!  

In the end we did make it to Tun Fun.  There was a lot of whining on the 20 minute walk but I attribute that to rain and the ugly hungries.  They had a blast for a good hour in Tun Fun and then we headed back towards Josh's office before heading back home to Naarden.  Along the way we found an English comic book store which had to be explored (thank you Big Bang Theory for that new habit my kids now have).  It turns out there is also an English bookstore that I just found out about but I guess that will have to wait until our next trip into the city.

Wednesday Aidan had swimming but both kids had friends over.  It was a lovely, easy day and the kids were just great.  Made for a great day.  Thursday Aidan had an eye appointment but another mom had told me about the Lego World exposition being held in Utrecht, a city about 30 minutes south of us. Knowing the boys obsession with all things Lego, I knew we had to make this work.

So since we had to be in Hilversum for an eye appointment at 3:45, I took the kids to Utrecht for the opening at 10, knowing that Aidan's friends wouldn't be meeting us until closer to 12.  But since we had to leave by 2:30ish I wanted them to get to explore as much as they could.  And it was super cool! The complaint that Aidan had about Legoland was that there wasn't enough opportunity to just build. Here they had a place to build in every exhibit.  And yet neither of my kids really wanted to do it.  But they loved exploring all around the expo which was huge!!

Free lego guys!

Lego Star Wars - so cool!

Lightsaber battle!

This was a real guy not a statue

Same here

Caring big brother helping Liam

Bacon pancake

Old school legos - Aidan was shocked at what we used to play with ;)  No Star Wars legos for us!

Chima game - trying to find the chi

Aidan's friends from school met up with us and then the building commenced

Lego angels?

We made it to Aidan's eye appointment in the nick of time - still has to wear his glasses but at least his eyes haven't gotten worse.  It was raining on the way and we saw a rainbow which was cool.  We actually see them pretty regularly - if there is a silver lining to living in a rainy climate, it's rainbows on a regular basis.

The rest of the break was overall low key.  We did more than we had anticipated which was fun but exhausting.  We're looking forward to our Christmas break in just 7 weeks.  It's going to be an epic trip but I'm not ready to share the details quite yet but stay tuned.  In the meantime, we're enjoying fall foliage which we haven't had for the last 5 years and the change of seasons (which of course has made us all sick at one time or another).  


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