A Visit From The States!

by farrah on July 10, 2013 · 20 comments

My sister was here for the past two weeks- beloved  ‘Aunt Staci’ was our visitor from the states. It was a wonderful trip- by far and away the fastest two weeks I’ve had in a long time. She arrived just as the boys were in their final days of school until ‘summer break’ (a month, in truth) and we had so much fun I wanted to do a wrap up for the sake of posterity documenting what we did.

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She kissed a famous stone in Ireland!

I wasn’t feeling she (or I) was an alien the entire visit. There was no disconnection- if anything I think she really saw that how we live is the same as it would be anywhere (with a couple of minor tweaks). Additionally I didn’t find myself longing to go back- but enjoyed the opportunity to host visitors here instead as much as possible. It was fun to see our new home through her eyes. My mother in law and her brother came to visit last February and she was our first stateside visitor since.

We picked her up on a Tuesday morning from the train station in Breda. She had successfully navigated Schiphol and central station by herself in Amsterdam- quite a feat for someone who has never been to Europe or really traveled by herself, heck- for anyone! And she did it. We came back to our house and she bestowed upon me the ultimate in expat list bounty- everything I had asked for, and more!

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We had a great day just trying to keep her awake- dragged her down to the city center for a quick meeting with a blogger friend on her own recon trip to the Netherlands, and made it back in time for the groceries to arrive.

Ireland

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My beer is the big one!

After that it all kind of blurs together. I let her catch up from jet lag and get her fill of the boys as I swept her off to Ireland two days later. The following Monday we returned from Cork, Waterford and Dublin. I still have yet to recap Dublin, but the two aforementioned links talk about what we did and saw- and oh, by the way- I totally recommend a trip to Ireland at some point in your life! — She also got the best pic of the trip here– the one from our B&B view in Waterford.

‘s-Hertogenbosch

We toured Den Bosch (officially knowns as ‘s-Hertogenbosch, do not ask me to pronounce that) one afternoon- which never fails to impress. Toting along three little boys isn’t something she’s used to (my nieces are almost 11 and 8) but it was fun and nice to have assistance wrangling them. We shopped, ate at a cafe and appreciated the winding, narrow streets and old architecture. I was so happy she was with me, since we drove and I couldn’t get us OUT of Den Bosch due to my inability to read the detour signs. That, however, is a story for another day.

Delft

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Just one of the gorgeous buildings in Delft

After that I wasn’t sure where to take her, so we planned a day trip to Delft. I had never been there myself- and wow- was I impressed with all that it had to offer. I wasn’t expecting it to be as charming as it was- and we had a great time arriving by train, taking a canal ride through the city and lunching in a traditional cafe while following that up with some open-air market shopping. I was so pleased with Delft I can’t wait to write it up for Travel Mamas later this month and share all it can offer families with kids. It was also the 4th of July, so I made sure to dress everyone in red, white and blue- but I don’t think anyone noticed.

Around Oisterwijk

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My pancake: goat cheese, brie, pecans, layer of bacon (!) and honey to drizzle.

Friday we invited my friend Ann of Travel Turtle over with her family to celebrate the American holiday, play, bbq and hang out just like y’all do back in the states. The weather was starting to get much nicer by this point- so we knew that the days ahead would be nice.

Saturday we took her to one of the amazing pancake houses of the Netherlands, specifically the one we like close by- Pannenkoekenhuis De Ontdekking. We were joined by Ann and her family and let the kids go nuts on the bounce house, trampolines, bicycle racetrack and playroom. We all had a different kind of pancake- this time I tried the French one and she had a Mexican pancake.

Domburg Beach

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She’s the green speck on the left, the other specks are my guys

By this point the weather was so so so nice I got the idea for hitting a beach in my head. I was really nervous- as I didn’t know how someone here did that and competed with the entire country next door for beach space- but I did some research- asked around to local friends and decided we were going to give it a shot. Nothing short of a military operation the night before had us on the road by 7:30am and arriving in Domburg just before 9. All I can say here is Yes, I Will Take Credit For This Perfect Idea. It was everything you want from a day at the beach- albeit the water a little chilly (not that the boys cared) and I was thrilled with the super fine (I’m talking ash-tray quality) sand.

Full Circle

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Kerkhovense windmill in Oisterwijk

Monday we took her on some pretty typical Oisterwijk errands- one stop being our favorite store, the nursery Coppelman’s just down the street. This has everything you can possibly want to make your outdoor living space the perfect place to be. We bought fish for our water feature thing in the yard (long story, post is coming) and then took her to our very own beloved Kerkhovense windmill in Oisterwijk for some ‘applesap’ and a coffee before lunch and a nap.

Yesterday the boys and I made the hour and a half drive to Schiphol without getting lost-and said goodbye to our own dear Aunt Staci. We’re so glad you came- had a wonderful time, and can’t wait for you to come back next year with the rest of the fam!

Have you ever visited expat family members overseas or hosted them? What did you do and how did the visit go?

All photos are mine. Windmill & Waterford B&B shot are hers!

PS- Pssst….Our House Hunters episode airs tomorrow (Thursday, July 11th).

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chamisa July 10, 2013 at 8:45 am

Ahh!! So jealous of your stash!! Look at all that taco seasoning! Enjoy 🙂

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2 farrah July 10, 2013 at 10:34 am

Hahha! I know it. Give me some MSG 🙂

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3 Jen July 10, 2013 at 11:39 am

I can’t see your episode in the listings unless its the New York attorney moves to Maastricht!

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4 farrah July 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm

What?!!!! I’ll have to complain to someone 🙂 It’s episode 5407, Tilburg, NL. Weird!

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5 bevchen July 10, 2013 at 11:57 am

I can’t remember how I got here, but I wanted to say hello anyway.

I visited a friend in Delft last year and LOVED it! It really is a gorgeous place.

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6 farrah July 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Ha! I’m so glad you did- thanks for popping in 🙂

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7 Leighann July 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm

What a wonderful visit! Love the photo’s and WHAT a great bounty she brought!! Awesome!

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8 farrah July 10, 2013 at 1:37 pm

She really did- and what’s so awesome is she had room to bring back goodies for her daughters 🙂

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9 Melissa July 10, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Look at all that loot! Ziploc bags, too!! I can’t live without a good freezer, sandwich & snack bag so I’ll definitely be bringing some with me! It was so nice to meet you, your sister and the boys. It sounds like you had an amazing time together. I’m really impressed that you drive in NL. How do you remember all the rules of the road that are so different from ours? Like, having to yield to people pulling out onto a main road unless there’s that sign of some symbol which says you don’t have to???? So strange! Anyways, I’ve got my DVR set to record HHI (my fav program). I’m so excited to watch it!
xM

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10 farrah July 14, 2013 at 6:35 am

As long as you know people can pop out at any moment from the right- you’re good 🙂 Honestly, other than that, it’s pretty easy. I am still in awe of how they decide who goes first at the one land things- I do not see those working in the US!

Great meeting you too. Really hope you come back soon and we can get together!

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11 Ann July 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Delft is next on my list of new city to go to in NL. Amazing that you did so much with your sister while she was here. The one time I had visitors from the states when I didn’t have a newborn or was in my third-trimester we went to Colmar, France and Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. I love having guests if only for the chance/excuse to travel more. Our next two guests will take us to Paris and Amsterdam.

It was fun hanging out with your clan! And every once in a while I look at my husband and say, “your baby’s eating percy.”

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12 Gayla July 12, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Ann, what were your thoughts on Colmar? We loved it…and recommend the wine route tour in that area. Though, you may be closer to the Mosel wine route, which is just as lovely 🙂
BTW, let us know if you have questions about Paris and Amsterdam, we seem to visit both quite a bit. Enjoy!!

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13 farrah July 14, 2013 at 6:36 am

Haha! B said something the other day about ‘That baby didn’t have a good time at our house.”

And you have to come back. We have since put fish in the water feature (although they do hide when they see us) so that’s fun 🙂

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14 Christie July 10, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I love the orange Keen’s and the pecans on the pancake.

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15 farrah July 14, 2013 at 6:37 am

Those are the Kohls cheap Jumping Beans version. I would be broke buying 3 boys Keen’s 🙂

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16 Robbie July 11, 2013 at 7:40 am

I LOVE every single bit of this..except for the fact that it is nearly 2 am here and I didn’t know your episode aired tonight 🙁

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17 farrah July 14, 2013 at 6:37 am

I think a rerun is the 23rd!

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18 Gayla July 12, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Haha! Red, white and blue kind of gets lost amidst the Dutch colors….which is probably a good reason the Dutch have adopted orange from their French connection. LOL!
Question: what exactly is ash-tray quality sand? That’s a new term for me 🙂
So glad you enjoyed your visit with your sister and managed some new things on your own!! Travel is a real confidence booster, isn’t it…

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19 farrah July 14, 2013 at 6:38 am

I love the red white and blue here. I love it. In fact last night I saw a lamp with it and I MUST buy it. Must. But it’s an expensive lamp and thus glass- which makes me nervous (children). So we shall have to see….

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