Tuesday, November 20, 2012

. . . Liam lately (15 months)

Here we are, another month gone by, and Liam is 15 months old! At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it is amazing how much he is growing and learning every day and week! As I did last month, the pictures in this post are some of favorites from the month . . . doesn't he get cuter with each passing day??

Fell asleep in the stroller for the first time in forever -- had to capture it!
Bubbles in the bath!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

If it looks like a duck . . .

Considering Halloween isn't widely celebrated around here, it seemed to last all month! We were lucky enough to get Liam a costume ordered and he was his very favorite animal -- a duck! "Duck" was his first real animal word and definitely the first animal sound he made. He loves to tell you that the "duck duck" says "quack quack." I figured he would love to wear the costume, plus I don't know how many more years I'll have a say in dressing him the way I want!

The first event we attended was the Harvest Festival, a fun Halloween party put on by the North American Women's Club of Eindhoven. It was a great turnout and we had fun looking at the animals at the farm next door. Lots of good friends, fun activities, and even a costume parade and contest! Here's a picture of Liam at last year's Harvest Festival (at 2 months old) and another one taken in the exact same spot at this year's Harvest Festival (14 months old).

Monday, November 12, 2012

. . . date night and chocolate pie

October 4th marked the 10th anniversary of my first date with Keith. It's hard to believe we met that long along ago, set up by my stepmom who happened to work with Keith. I remember her telling me not to break his heart because he was like a son to her! Funny how things work out -- now he really is her son!

Flowers from Keith on our anniversary :)
We decided to celebrate by getting a sitter and going out for a nice dinner. It couldn't have been a more wonderful night -- we chose to eat at Mykonos, a Greek restaurant in Son, where the owner remembered me from the one time I was there six months earlier! After perusing the 10 page menu (all in Dutch or Greek) and having a hard time deciding on anything, the owner asked if we would like for him to choose our menu and he would bring out all kinds of good stuff -- um, yes please! He started with hummus, pita bread, and calamari as an appetizer, followed by a perfect Greek salad. He then brought a huge plate full of meats, poultry, and fish, all grilled Greek-style to perfection, accompanied by rice and fries (because, hey, it's the Netherlands). Even after paying for our dinner he insisted on bringing after-dinner drinks, a cognac for Keith and a yummy liqueur for me. The owner is so attentive and every part of the meal was thought-out and personal, besides being delicious! And as if the night couldn't get any better, it absolutely did . . . it was one of those nights were we just talked and talked, all about our past, present, and future, and a few hours just flew by. It was one of those nights where I fell in love again. Ten years after the first time.

Moms' weekend in Barcelona!

I realize this post is a little late, but there's no way I could continue to blog without writing about an incredible trip I took a few months back. Some friends and I were talking about how fun it would be to do a girls trip while we're here, so we pretty quickly decided on a place, a date, and got the ok from the hubbies who would keep the kiddos that weekend! We ended up in Barcelona for three whole nights, leaving behind strollers and pack n' plays and diapers bags . . . we literally did not know what to do with ourselves that first morning! But we quickly settled into our "previous" life, where we could shop, eat, and travel while only having to think about ourselves. Those of you still in this life stage -- SAVOR IT! Our flight leaving Eindhoven was delayed by a few hours, but we didn't let that put a damper on our trip! :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

. . . say cheese!

At the beginning of September Liam and I headed up to the north of Holland to go to a cheese market with Lindsey and Jackson. This wasn't just any cheese market though -- Holland is one of the biggest exporters of cheese in the world, and this is one of the biggest markets! At the Alkmaar cheese market it was so interesting to watch the time-honored traditions of cheese traders, sellers, makers, and buyers. This particular market runs for two and a half hours every Friday from April to September. It was super crowded, but I don't know if it's because we were there on the very last Friday of the year or if it's always that busy.

Monday, October 22, 2012

apple pickin' . . .

There happens to be an orchard right down the street from us, and coincidentally it is run by Philips! The Philips Fruittuin is HUGE and allows anyone and everyone to come in and pick apples and pears off their trees -- there is no fee to go and you just pay for what you pick! It was so cheap, only €0.25 a kilo! They give you a canvas sack to collect your apples in, and we got about a bushel for €1.25! There were a TON of people there, but it wasn't crowded because the orchard is so gigantic. Our friends Lindsey and Josh met us there with their son Jackson, and the boys were so funny checking out all the apples on the trees and the ground. The only problem was once Liam figured out we were putting apples in our bag he wanted to put every apple in the bag! We basically walked around the first dozen rows and didn't go much further because we were all ready for lunch!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Celebrating America in The Netherlands

While these pictures may look like something straight out of the history books, they were actually taken last month when we visited a castle to watch a World War II reenactment. September 17th is a day that Eindhoven commemorates the American paratroopers landing in Eindhoven during WWII. The planes missed their original landing site and actually landed at Kasteel Heeswijk, so each year around the anniversary of the landing the Dutch celebrate this turn in the war by doing a reenactment for all to see. Keith, Liam, and I went to see the parachuters drop out of airplanes, which originally was supposed to happen at 2 pm but didn't happen until 4 pm. In the meantime we hung out with friends, walking the grounds around the castle, and then excitedly listened for the plane flying overhead.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

. . . Liam lately (14 months)

It's been a few months since I have given a real update on Liam and how much he's grown. My "baby" is a baby no longer -- he is a full-on toddler and proves it to me on a daily basis. The way he moves, talks, interacts, and communicates with us is unbelievable! I am having so much fun being his Mama and watching him learn new things . . . this age is truly amazing! Included in this post are some of my favorite pictures from the last month, so you can see how much fun we've been having!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

. . . playing catch up

So in order to bring this blog up to speed, I think I'm just going to do a little "picture dump" of some things we have been up to here in the NL, which is basically a lot of pictures of Liam because who can resist his cuteness? Not me!

Liam walking around at his 1 year doctor appointment :)

Liam turns ONE!

I know I already did a birthday post for Liam, but I never got around to saying what we did on his actual birthday, and how we celebrated in the NL, so here it goes . . .

See you later, Alligator!

The rest of our week in Georgia was spent with family and friends, enjoying our last few days together. "Lita" (my mom) came to pick us up Monday and Tuesday to hang out with Liam, which was nice. One day we went to the mall and walked around, and let Liam get in some of the rides, which he loved. He also learned to drink from a straw that day, which he found to be so awesome!

Birthday Party #1

Ok, back to catching up on here! While we were in Georgia we had Liam's first 1st Birthday Party, albeit 10 days early. : )

Several months ago I decided I wanted to do a vintage airplane theme for his birthday (since the kid has been on more planes in one year than many people I know!). I enlisted the help of one of my best friends, Jenny, who designs cards and invitations and whatnot. She is super creative, and was able to take examples of things I'd seen (hello, Pinterest!) and turn them into the perfect invitation, decorations, etc. for Liam's party.

After going back and forth on locations for the birthday party, I finally had the brilliant idea late one night to have it at the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant in Atlanta. Keith and I used to go there for their amazing Sunday brunch back when we were dating, and the place is SO cool. It's actually at Peachtree-Dekalb Airport and the restaurant overlooks the airfield and runways. There are also old planes parked around and the inside is decorated with WWII-esque memorabilia, pictures, and style. It was the perfect location for an airplane party!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

sleepover with friends!

After a great few days with Jane and her family and then a nice, relaxing weekend in Alabama, we were finally back in Georgia! But before I get to Liam's birthday party, one of the things we knew we had to do was also spend some time with our friends Courtney, Pete, and their son Casey. Unfortunately for us (and fortunately for them!) they were headed out of town that weekend for Courtney's birthday, so this would be our only opportunity to see them -- hence, a sleepover!

Liam and Casey are only five months apart and they had a GREAT time playing together! They "painted" with paint rollers, read books, ate, and pushed things all around the house! It was so much fun. :)

Sweet Home Alabama . . .

After being at Jane's for a few nights we headed to Alabama to visit Keith's mom. I'm so glad we did because the following week she got strep throat and wasn't able to come to Georgia for Liam's birthday party -- had we not gone to visit her she wouldn't have been able to see Liam at all this trip! She of course was thrilled the second we got there and couldn't wait to get her hands on him. And I'm so thankful for Skype because Liam immediately recognized her and was comfortable around her right away. We Skype with Grandma on a daily basis and he gets so excited to see her, so it was awesome for them to be together in person!

Liam playing in Grandma's furniture!

. . . fun with friends

Ten days before we left for Georgia we found out Liam had hand, foot, and mouth disease. Very lucky for him (and us), he had an extremely mild case, and was totally fine by the time we flew. However, since my sister-in-law is pregnant we had to be extra careful to ensure she didn't catch it, so we didn't stay at my parents house that first week in Georgia. Instead we spent a few nights at one of my best friend's house, and then drove to Alabama for the weekend to spend time with my mother-in-law. 

When we got to Jane's that night we let Liam play for a few minutes before putting him to bed, crossing our fingers that he would sleep all night. Then Jane and I cracked open a bottle (or two?) of Prosecco and got to catch up while eating chocolate covered pomegranates (ummmm, seriously one of the best things I've put in my mouth!). 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Like an old sweet song . . .

Now that Liam's birthday week is over, I think I finally have some time to blog about our recent trip to Georgia!

We left for Georgia on July 24th, a Tuesday afternoon. The problem with taking an international flight west is that they are always day flights, and day flights do not bode well for an active baby/toddler. Everyone told us that traveling with a baby between one and two years old is really hard, so I was a little prepared, but it was still a shock . . . after all, a ten-hour flight is hard for anyone, let alone a mobile baby who just wants to be anywhere but in your lap!

I always try to feed Liam something on the way up and on the way down to help his ears pop, which inevitably means takeoff will be around feeding time. And of course, most flights are delayed (as was this one), so trying to not feed a hungry baby is no fun. By the time he finally did eat (after an hour on the plane, much later than anticipated), he passed out for the first two hours in the air. That was a welcome relief for Keith and I, but we quickly learned that he was just resting for what would become the flight from h-e-double-hockey-sticks.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday sweet boy . . .

Some people already know this, but Keith and I set up an email account for Liam before he was born and have been emailing him periodically throughout his little life thus far. Sometimes I write him when something big has happened, like a fun trip or milestone, and other times I just write him to tell him how I'm feeling about his sweet baby snuggles or growing personality. It is our hope that one day he will appreciate these emails and thoughts from his parents as he grows into a young man. With that said, the following is Liam's birthday email that I sent at exactly 1:36 am.

To my very favorite one year old,

Liam, I can hardly believe that a year has gone by in the blink of an eye. Your dad and I could not be more in love with each other and with you since that early August morning. You came at the end of a very long weekend, and the second I held you on my chest nothing else mattered. Since that day, you have brought us SO MUCH joy and laughter and tears and worry and frustration and pride and heart-melting goodness. 

There's a saying that the days are long, but the years are fast -- I definitely believe that. There have been days that I couldn't wait for your dad to walk through the door because I needed a BREAK. No lie. Awful days where you cried all day and nothing I did made it any better. Times where you spit out anything I tried to feed you and I feared you would starve. I can see how mothers can worry themselves to death! 

But there have been many more days that you and I played and played and read and snuggled and giggled and surprised each other in awesome ways. One day recently we were in Georgia and you were playing with your cousin at your grandparents' house . . . my back was hurting so I laid down on the floor -- you saw me, crawled over to me and kissed me right on the mouth, then turned and crawled back to Bailey to play. Tears welled up in my eyes, out of the pure, unconditional love I felt from you and for you. Lately I love to just pull you into our bed after a nap because you roll around and laugh and play peek-a-boo with the covers, and we stay like that for a long time. I. Love. It. There are so many days that I think, "I AM SO LUCKY. GOD HAS BLESSED ME." I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but this is exceeding my expectations. 

Everyone has told me that each stage is better than the last. While there are some things I definitely miss (like putting you in one place for five seconds while I go to the bathroom and you actually being in the same place when I return), it's so true. YOU ARE SO MUCH FUN. Your expressions kill me -- like, sometimes bring tears to my eyes because I can't stop laughing and can't be mad at something you've done because you look so darn cute. Lately when you do something you know you're not supposed to, you shake your head, say "nooo" and then kiss me or put your head in my lap, as if to say, "I'm sorry, Mama, I know I shouldn't do that, but I REALLY want to." And I pretty much melt (but I still don't let you do it, so don't get any ideas!). 

While you are constantly cracking us up on a daily basis, we have to work a little harder for you . . . you are not one to laugh at anything and everything, but are more discerned in your taste of what you find funny. You often make this face where you purse your lips together when you're trying not to smile, "because, duh, Mom, you are not that funny." You have a serious side to you, and a seriously sweet side. You love to snuggle, kiss, hold hands, and no one makes you feel better like your Mom (this year). Things could quite possibly change in the future, so I'll take what I can get. 

Right now you still look like your dad, though some of my family sees me in you, too. But to me, you look like YOU. I will sometimes see your dad when you make a certain face or are concentrating on something, but more often than not you just look like LIAM to me. You haven't changed much since those early days of infancy, besides growing some hair, and those precious blue eyes I prayed for are still as beautiful as the day you were born. You are finally growing into your monstrous hands and feet, and I have a feeling you will start to thin out now that you are a WALKING MACHINE.

I know there are many people who wish they could be with you right now and wish they were seeing you as much as we are. And truth be told, you will never remember any of this experience and will grow up with your grandparents and cousins as if we've always lived close to them, never knowing the pain of missing them like they miss you. But the fact that this expat experience allows me to be with you on a daily basis and explore the world a little more at the same time -- there's a lot to be said for that. I LOVE that I am watching you grow up and learn new things and meet new friends . . . I wouldn't trade this for anything. 

So much has changed in one year, and I can only imagine the changes to come. But the one constant is how much your dad and I love you. No matter what. Through the good, the bad, and the ugly, we are here forever. We both want what is best for you, and while sometimes you may not agree, our intentions are good, I promise. I've made many mistakes in the last year and I have no doubt I will make many more before you read these emails. But I promise I am trying my best and doing what I think is right at each moment. And that is all I ask of you too. 

When you are older (and become a MAN -- GASP!), I hope you have the absolute pleasure of having a child so you can catch a glimpse of all I am feeling right now -- you won't have carried and birthed your baby, but you may still have an inkling ;)  Thank you for showing me my potential and making me want to be a better person, because you deserve it. You are one helluva kid and I pray that your next years go by much more    s l o w l y    than this last one -- I don't think I'll get my wish (since it's your birthday and all), but a mother can dream. 

There are a million other things I want to tell you, but for now I will just say this: Happy 1st Birthday, Liam. YOU are a GIFT to US. 

Love you yesterday, today, and tomorrow,


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why did we move here again?

Well, illness has hit the littlest Coffey this week . . .

Last weekend we noticed Liam had a little bump on his leg, and the next day I saw two small blisters on his index finger. By Monday he had several bumps on his hands and we began to see them on his feet as well. Most of you have figured out by now that he has hand, foot, and mouth disease. Big bummer. : (  I'm not quite sure where he got it since he wasn't around other kids while we were on vacation, but it could've been on the airplane or even the plane ride Liam loved so much in Mallorca -- who knows? Besides the few small sores, he has also been coughing and sneezing, drooling like crazy, and had a low grade fever for a couple days. I could tell his throat is sore so I've been giving him a cup of water throughout the day and he guzzles down the cool water as quickly as he can, as I'm sure it soothes his throat.

Monday, July 16, 2012

. . . Liam lately (11 months)

Where has the time gone? In less than one month my "baby" will be a year old. I can hardly believe it! This time last year I was eagerly counting down the days to Liam's arrival, thinking, "it could be any time now!"And now here he is, an almost-walking, kinda-talking little being!

Picture taking has now become a constant battle trying to keep him in his chair

Bien venido a Espana!

Keith and I decided about a month ago that we wanted to go to Spain for our beach vacation because we had heard great things about Mallorca and how family-friendly it is, with beautiful beaches and delicious foods -- sounded perfect to us! For those who don't know (like me, before we booked this trip), Mallorca is a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea (technically the Balearic Sea), off the coast of Spain near Barcelona (and a stones throw from Ibiza). There are many Brits and Germans who live and vacation there, but not many Americans (most people thought we were British, haha!).

Having fun while we wait at the airport
So we booked our holiday just weeks before we left and planned to spend eleven days in Mallorca at the beginning of July. We were lucky enough to have great friends keep Murphy while we were gone, and off we headed to Eindhoven airport (luckily only ten minutes from our house) to catch a two-hour plane ride to Palma, followed by a 45 minute drive to the other side of the island where we were staying, in Playa de Alcudia. Unfortunately the board said our plane was delayed. Indefinitely. Until further notice. Seriously? So we fed Liam and had a drink ourselves, knowing we would eventually make it to the beach that day. And we did. Just two hours later than we thought. Lucky for us, the temperature was perfect the entire time -- in the mid-80s (28-29 C), sunny, breezy, and perfect.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

feels like home . . .

A couple weeks ago we were lucky enough to have visitors from Georgia -- my BFF Jane and her son Mason came to stay with us for a few days while Spencer worked in Amsterdam. Jane and Spencer were the first of our friends to meet Liam when he was mere days old, and it was awesome to have them back again to visit, especially because our "nephew" Mason got to come this time! They planned to do a little European vacation and spend time in Amsterdam, Eindhoven, and Paris. I was lucky that they got to spend three whole days with us, but boy was it not enough!

I picked up Jane and Mason from the train station Wednesday morning, and we first headed to our Winkelcentrum Woensel so they could experience the market and fresh stroopwafels. They agreed that it's probably one the best things you can put in your mouth. We did a little grocery shopping, walked around the centrum, and then headed home so they could get settled and take a little [ahem] nap. Mason's "nap" turned into a two hour sleep on the couch, with us begging him to get up so he wouldn't be jet-lagged. Jane and I got to catch up and play with Liam, and it really felt like no time had passed since we'd been together.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

. . . on his terms

We have been going on play dates for quite some time now, usually once or twice a week. It's been so great to know so many moms here and connect via the Baby Toddler Play Group, part of the International Women's Club in Eindhoven (IWCE). There are several moms that live super close, but I haven't had to travel further than 30 minutes to go to a coffee morning or brunch or potluck lunch with moms!

One thing that I have learned about Liam is that he is slow to adjust to the play date chaos -- I'm sure it's a combination of waking up from his car-nap and walking into an unfamiliar place with LOTS of moms and kiddos. It just takes him a few minutes to get settled and see what's going on. And there's no way I can just set him down in a play room and walk away -- too overwhelming for my shy boy! BUT, if I sit at the table and talk for a few minutes, he will want to get down . . . he'll sit at my feet for a minute or two, then slowly crawl away, glancing back every little bit as if to say, "Ok, mom, you stay there and I'm going to go over here. But you stay there. I'm a big boy." He wants to play, but he needs to do it on his own time, in his own way. But once he's gone, he has a great time playing and won't even need or want me for a long time, which is a great opportunity for me to socialize and eat and enjoy some adult time. He loves to watch the big boys play, but that can be a bit chaotic sometimes, so he sticks to the younger girls (and who am I kidding, he LOVES the ladies).

He is loving his play dates more and more, and just needs to exercise his independence without me forcing it on him. He wants to do things on his terms, definitely giving me a peek into this little boy's growing personality . . .

I'm ready to go play now . . . see ya, Mom
I wonder what Colette's doing?
Playing on the chalkboard
These girls aren't paying any attention to what I'm teaching them . . .
Another play date -- he loves the bucket and blocks!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the great dads out there! This is my second Father's Day away from my dad and it's not any easier. I wish I could be there, lounging by the pool and hanging with my family, but at least we got to make it a great first Fathers' Day for Keith. Our first Father's Day wasn't that much different than our first Mother's Day . . . french toast for breakfast, lots of play time, a long nap, and an afternoon at the park looking at animals!

Friday, June 15, 2012

. . . Liam lately (10 months)

I feel like I JUST did his 9 month update and here we are again! Not too much has changed since his last update, but I'll fill you in anyway . . .

I don't have an update on his weight and height because our next consultatiebureau isn't for a while. Liam is still in 12 and 18 month clothing and is wearing size 20 shoe (not sure what that is in American sizes?). He's still in size 4 diapers as well. Lucky for us his Gram Gram bought him some new pj's so I think Liam is set for the rest of the summer! Liam has grown a lot more hair in recent months and so far it's pretty blonde. His dad and I both had blonde hair as babies, so that's no surprise, though I'm sure it will get darker through the years. His eyes are still blue, which I love, but they definitely change color depending on what he's wearing, and even time of day -- if he's just waking up or is tired they are more grey, but if he's wide awake and alert they are super blue. Pretty funny!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

1 year anniversary!

Today marks one year that we've been in the Netherlands. The day we left was one of the hardest days I've ever been through. I'm not gonna lie, there were tears. Lots and lots of tears. And that was even knowing we'd be back soon! I've told many people that I can really enjoy this experience knowing it's not forever -- I can do anything for a short amount of time, including pack up all our belongings and move 4500 miles away! If you want to see how the beginning of our journey started, check back here.

Since that day, there have been 365 more . . . awesome ones, terrible ones, and everything in between. Our global coordinates do not make us immune to bad days, and our joys are not multiplied just because we live in Europe. Life is what you make of it, no matter where you are. So the good days are wonderful because we see them as wonderful, not because of the view out our window (although it is a beautiful view!)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

. . . Liam lately (9 months)

I didn't think it was possible for one little boy to grow so much in one month! I don't just mean physically, even though he is growing in those areas too. His 9 month stats are:

weight: 21 lbs. 6 oz. (9.7 kg)
length: 29.13 in. (74 cm)
head circumference: 18 in. (45.8 cm)

(side note: when does it go from "length" to height"? Because now that he's standing, I'm tempted to say "height." Or are they always interchangeable no matter what the age? ANYways . . . ) In my last post, I said that my brother had weighed him at the airport and he was 22 pounds, but it's hard to know how accurate that was. It was, after all, on a scale at the airport, with Liam fully dressed, and my brother did the whole "stand on the scale with and without the baby" trick and subtract the difference. So who knows? Regardless, he's grown from his last official weigh-in at the doctor and is in the 65-75 percentiles for his growth.

I forgot to get his Sleep Giraffe, so I had to start over after taking several pictures!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

a day at the park . . .

Today Lindsey and I decided to meet at the park near my house to let the boys play, which we've done several times now. However, I guess we've never done it on a Wednesday, because we were in for a quite a shock! I forgot that the schools have half days every Wednesday . . . so that, plus the fact that it was a gorgeous, albeit HOT, day, and everyone plus their brother was at the park today. I'm talking HUNDREDS of kids. We saw birthday parties, parents chasing naked babies, and lots of ice cream eating going on. Luckily, the park is huge and very spread out with lots of different areas for kids to play, including . . . a pool! Well, not so much a pool as a shallow water play area, but still.

Friday, May 11, 2012


I'm sure most of you have seen the recent TIME cover, with a mother breastfeeding her three year old child and the words "ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH?" I have been thinking about it for a couple days now, and have a few thoughts on the subject . . .

First of all, SO WHAT? This mom chooses to breastfeed her child at three years old (along with many, many others). That's her prerogative. It's not the breastfeeding mother that offends me, but the words "ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH?"

I have the privilege of being around many incredible mothers -- sisters, friends, aunts, cousins -- and the beauty of it is that much like every child, every mother is different too. I've had friends who have done cloth diapers, while others do disposable. Some moms do "Cry It Out" while others don't. I have friends who make baby food and others who do store-bought. Some moms want thumb-suckers while just as many give a binky. I know moms who went back to work and I have friends who've stayed home. And some mom breastfeed while others give formula.

The point is WE ARE DIFFERENT.


But the one thing we have in common is that we are doing the best we can. Every day. And, I'll be honest, some days my best sucks. Today was one of those days. But that doesn't make me any less of a Mom to my sweet boy.

What makes me mad is that TIME magazine, and frankly much of the media, wants to pit moms against each other in some fictitious war that they think we ought to be fighting. Stay at Home Mom vs. Working Mom. Breastfed Baby vs. Formula-fed Baby. It's ridiculous! Don't we have enough on our plates than to compare ourselves to other moms and decide "who is doing it better?" Believe me, I put enough pressure on myself to be a good mother without the media telling me I'm doing it wrong.

It is my hope that we Moms see through this ludicrous tactic to gain attention and earn dollars through magazines sales -- we are smarter than that.

We are doing the best we can.

I am doing the best I can.

I am Mom enough for Liam. No matter what. Because I love him so much it hurts. Because I'd do anything for him. Because even at my worst, I'm doing the best I know how.   We all are.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals!

SO because I've been out of town for the last five days, this post comes a little late, but better late than never!

I am so excited to be participating in the biggest thing to sweep the blogosphere since . . . well, I don't know what, but it sure is fun and exciting! Carol Anne over at This Is Rock Salt has organized a pen pal food swap in Europe, much like The Lean Bean Green has done in the States. Link up here or on the right hand side of my blog to see how you can become a foodie pen pal too!

Basically, Carol Anne matches everyone up with another foodie and we are responsible for sending them a food package, spending no more than 10 euros, and in return we also get a food package from another foodie. Before putting together our parcel we contact the recipient and get some info, like any food allergies, likes, dislikes, healthy vs. sweets, cook vs. baker, etc. You can send ready to eat food, or food that needs to be prepared, or spices, or whatever!

Friday, April 20, 2012

bumps and bruises . . .

In one hour of play today, Liam has fallen countless times and hit his head or his face at least five times, crying for less than a minute each time. He even rolled onto his face one time and cut the inside of his lip with his little tooth. He just whimpered that time because it wasn't a hard fall, he just rolled at the exact right angle. Now that Liam is crawling and pulling up, he LOVES to be standing and cruise the  world  ottoman because he has learned there's a whole other perspective up there!

And all this crawling and pulling up and standing has led to more falls and rolls and tumbles . . . inevitably bumps and bruises are in our future. And that's ok.

The first night Liam and I returned from Georgia, Keith and I decided that we would let Liam cry it out that night to help with his self-soothing. Because I was jet-lagged Keith let me go to bed while he stayed up watching the monitor and listened to Liam. The next night we did it together and I asked Keith how he could stand to hear Liam cry, all alone the night before while I slept soundly . . . he said that the one thought that kept him from going to pick up Liam was that this would not be the hardest thing we go through with our son.

I think about that statement a lot since then. First, because my husband was so strong and realized that the bigger picture and ultimate goal was worth the temporary heartache he was enduring. Second, because he is so right.

Letting Liam grow up means that there will be times he is hurt, both physically and emotionally -- and as his parents we can be there and soothe his pains, but in no way can we prevent most of them. Pain is a part of life and it's important for him to learn to endure and recover. And watching him in pain is teaching me to endure and recover as well.

Being a parent is not easy by any means and I know it's only going to get tougher. There are much harder decisions to be made than "cry it out." There will be worse cries than those from falls or tumbles. Kisses might heal knees, but there will be some things that parents can't make better. And I've got to be ok with that.

But for now I will kiss and hug and hold, while he still lets me.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

. . . Liam's Law

Today was the very first time I've left Liam in the care of someone other than family . . . and we both survived! I wanted to attend the monthly IWCE meeting at Thermae Son like I did last month, but this time I would be taking Liam and letting him play in the creche (what they call daycare here) with the other kids while I got to attend the meeting and have lunch with friends. I was a nervous wreck, to say the least!

But before we left Liam decided it was time to take a nap, which was fine because he normally takes an hour morning nap and I would much rather him sleep in his crib than get a not-so-decent nap in the car or at the creche. He went down at 9:30, which normally would have been perfect . . . however, this morning Liam's Law was in full effect.

Liam's Law states: "Whenever there is a time that Mom or Dad need to be somewhere at a given hour, Liam shall sleep extra long and make Mom or Dad late."

Good for Liam, bad for Mom or Dad.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

. . . Liam lately (8 months)

These days are so much fun with Liam! I feel like he is learning new things every day and immediately continues to do whatever it is -- no more waiting days before we see his tricks again! The way he moves and babbles and interacts with us is absolutely amazing. I feel so blessed, lucky to be his mom and have this opportunity to take care of him each day.

So, without further adieu, here are some more of Liam's 8 month pictures, along with more about my little boy . . .

Dorito! Lorito! Loteria!

Lindsey and I before the game started --
she still likes me here
Our lovely coordinator for Baby Toddler Play, Mariana, planned a fun game night for us moms last Friday night -- it was a kid-free, husband-free evening filled with lots of delicious food, prizes for everyone, and the best company around. Mariana is Mexican and had the idea to the play the game Loteria, which is like a Spanish BINGO with pictures instead of numbers. Each card had a different combination of sixteen random pictures, but there were probably about 30 pictures total,  like "el sol" (the sun),"el parajo" (the bird), and "el violoncello" (the violin). It is purely a game of luck, much like BINGO, but those of you who know me know that I am competitive no matter what the game! Keith won't even play Taboo with me anymore because I get so mean into the game. sigh.

So Loteria was no exception -- I picked out my card and told everyone they might as well give up now because I was going to the be the big winner! Like Keith always says, "Winner, winner, chicken dinner!" However, Mariana planned the night to ensure that everyone went home a winner, so we continued to play round after round until everyone had won a prize. We decided before each round how it would go -- whether you had to get the middle four, full card, or a diagonal, horizontal, or vertical line , etc. When you had the winning combination you got to yell out "LOTERIA!" Except many people would forget what to say or mispronounce it or even yell "BINGO!" It was pretty funny to see what people would scream out when they won. : )

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Easter!

It's hard to put into words what Easter means to me . . . I was on the verge of tears throughout the day as I thought about the resurrection and read things by people who can put it into words much better than I can. It is the most defining of days for Christians, where in a single moment we were granted the opportunity to have eternal life. God loves us that much, that He would watch his Son suffer and die so that I might truly live. Wow.

Easter here was probably like most of yours, spent with family. I got to prepare Liam's first Easter basket and watch him sort through it, which to be honest, was a bit anticlimactic at this age. I did put a lot of thought into what I wanted him to have in there, and I also had to do some improvising because it was difficult to find anything Easter-y here besides some chocolate bunnies and eggs. No traditional Easter baskets (which was fine with me), no green plastic grass (also fine), but I think the end result turned out great . . .

Monday, April 9, 2012

. . . sweet cousins

And because I think it deserves it's own post, here are some precious pictures of Liam and Bailey from our trip . . . I'm so glad they are close in age and will get to grow up together. : )

Liam is thinking, "What's going on? . . . "

wedding weekend!

Anyone who has had the honor of standing beside a friend on their wedding day knows that it can be the most fun, beautiful day, and both emotionally and physically exhausting! I had such a weekend in preparation for one of my best friend and sorority sister's wedding. We had two full days of events that started with the bridal luncheon on Friday afternoon . . .

We met at Park Cafe in Duluth for an absolutely exquisite lunch hosted by Lindsey's aunts. We had our choice of appetizer, entree, and dessert, and I seriously did not eat one bite that wasn't mouth-watering. I got a picture of my appetizer and dessert, but devoured my crab cake sandwich before I had the chance to click the camera!

fried green tomatoes with warm brie, candied pecans,
 and a bacon balsamic emulsion -- wow
praline cheesecake . . . perfection 

Georgia on my mind . . .

Two weeks ago Liam and I boarded a plane and headed back to Georgia -- just the two of us! I really prayed a lot before the trip about our flight, and specifically the people who I would encounter on our journey. It really couldn't have gone better, thanks be to God. We had a day flight, which meant that I had to feed Liam all his meals (breastfeeding and solids) three times during the flight. Yikes! Out of the nine hour flight, Liam took three thirty minute naps on my lap -- that made for one very long day! Lucky for me, Liam never cried, but just fussed a few times when he would get tired or hungry. We also were fortunate to have the nicest people around us, all young folks who loved to give Liam attention, which let's face it, is what the boy lives on . . .

Liam and Gram Gram : )
Case in point: he loves to be held!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The price of gas . . .

Yesterday I stopped to fill up the gas tank on my way home from Baby Play Group, and I just had to share for those of you back in the States . . . this may put things into perspective a little . . .

The price at the pump was €1.839 per liter of gas.

I pumped 51.47 liters of gas, totaling €94.65.

51.47 liters = 13.59 gallons

€94.65 = $125.24

Therefore, I paid $9.22 per gallon of gas.

Lucky for us, we have one car, walk a lot, and don't have to fill up often. Just one more reason to bike everywhere!



Not only was my Thursday busy because of Baby Play Group, but we also had a fun night planned for LNO -- Ladies Night Out! Kate is due with her second baby in one week so we figured we better take advantage of her last days as a Mommy of one and celebrate the upcoming birth! Nine of us got together for dinner and toasted to babies (another mom is preggo and one friend has convinced her hubby to try for another one!) . . .

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know we're always on the lookout for a good restaurant . . . not only is eating out expensive in the Netherlands (and yet groceries are so cheap!), but when we add a baby to the mix, it really needs to be worth our while to get out, fight tiny restaurants, and try to eat quickly enough and make it out before any tired meltdowns occur.

19 kids and counting . . .

Thursday was the IWCE's monthly Baby Play Group, where one mom hosts other moms and their kiddos from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. It is a big undertaking, providing snacks and lunch for your visitors and entertaining a gaggle of babies and toddlers. My friend Jessica hosted, and let me tell you, this was no small feat! At one point I counted about thirteen moms and nineteen little ones! Liam was the youngest at seven months, and I believe the oldest was three years old. Jessica had the perfect house to entertain us all, and because it was another beautiful spring day we all were inside and outside enjoying her huge play room and fabulous back yard, complete with playground and all kinds of fun toys for the young children as well as the older ones. There were also all kinds of healthy snacks for everyone, and Jessica served a delicious southwest-style soup for lunch, complete with all the yummy condiments we could want like cheese, sour cream, and nacho chips! Jessica set up a high chair outside and us moms with little ones took turns feeding the babies who weren't running around with sandwiches and juice boxes -- I think Liam was the fourth child to take his turn in the high chair and eat his lunch! We all had an absolutely fabulous time, and Liam slept all the way home and took another long nap later that afternoon. : ) Thank you Jessica for a great day!

I meant to bring my camera, but of course forgot, so here are a few iPhone photos from our fun afternoon!

playing in the exersaucer outside
trying to get out of the chair he's sitting in
Liam and Alex are both learning to crawl!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

sterke jongen . . .

. . . means "strong boy" in Dutch. And that is exactly what we have here in the Coffey house. On Sunday I put Liam in his crib to play while I folded some laundry on the floor in his room. He kept looking at me through the bars of his crib and I guess he wanted to see me better because he put his two little hands on the railing and began to pull himself up. Now granted, we had not lowered the mattress on his crib yet so it was definitely within reach, but I was shocked! I called for Keith so he could come watch and Liam was smiling so big and proud as he pulled himself to his knees -- now he could see his Mama!

I tried to get him to do it again while we Skyped with the grandparents later that evening, but to no avail. I figured that, like most new "tricks," it would be a while before he would do this again.

I was wrong.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

virtual brag book

I just had to share some recent pictures of Liam . . . he melts my heart!

(Disclaimer: I apologize in advance for the terrible quality of the photos -- these were all taken with my iPhone, so most are a little blurry!)

I love bath time!
(notice that carrot-colored nose from all the veggies he's been eating!)

Mom's Day Out . . .

. . . should be a regular occurrence, no? 

Thursday I had the wonderful, incredible opportunity to leave the house for a few hours without my main accessory -- Liam. I seriously felt naked. 

But let me back up.

A couple weeks ago I was talking with Keith about how I've been thinking of going to the International Women's Club monthly meeting, but I wasn't comfortable with leaving Liam in the childcare facilities they provided. In my opinion he's a little young as most of the kiddos are in the walking, talking, playing with each other age group. So Keith generously offered to take a couple hours off work and stay with Liam so I could attend the meeting. Husband of the Year, I tell ya!

Liam playing with Dad's wallet while I'm gone
I'm SO glad I was able to go, not just because I got to hear a great lecture on autism (thanks Deepa!), but also because I got to hang out with some old and new friends, and have a nice lunch -- one that didn't involve me worrying about, entertaining, and feeding another human! 

I was only gone about three hours, but boy was it nice! Keith is constantly encouraging me to get out, with and without Liam, meet up with friends, do dinner out, etc. I love that he is so supportive and wanting me to have a life outside of being "Liam's Mom." 

This Thursday I will be headed to dinner with about seven other friends, which I'm really excited about because it's at this great Greek restaurant that everyone here loves and we haven't been to yet. I've got to start thinking about what to wear, since people will be actually looking at me and not the adorable blue-eyed baby I'm usually toting around! Haha! : )


Friday, March 16, 2012

boys just wanna have fun . . .

We've had another fun week, continuing our trend of play dates for Liam! On Wednesday Liam and I went down the street to Sanna's house. She happens to be a five minute walk from our house, door to door, so it was great! Her two boys are precious, and Logan (3 years old) just wanted to entertain Liam the whole time -- so cute! This visit was Liam's first encounter with a cat and I so wish I would've gotten a picture because it was hilarious to see him . . . at first he laughed nervously like he was a little afraid, but a few minutes later he was all about the cat and kept trying to pet it. Luckily the cat is used to two little boys pulling and tugging at it, so Liam was no exception. He was so patient and let Liam grab at him and just wanted to be in our lap the whole time. : ) I can't wait to do more play dates with Sanna, Logan, and Morgan -- especially now that the weather is nice and we live next to a huge park!

Our second play date this week was when Lindsey and Jackson came over today . . . I met Lindsey at a brunch last week and we really hit it off. Jackson is almost one and absolutely precious! Jackson and Liam had a great time playing today and then hung out in their strollers while we walked to the winkelcentrum for a little bit. We had such  good time and I can't wait to do it again!

. . . Liam lately (7 months)

Wow. My baby boy is seven months old and is changing every day. My friends were right when they said how different kids get at this stage. He is doing and learning so much on a daily basis and it is so amazing! I love how interactive he is, "talking" with us, playing with toys, and looking to us to see if we are watching him or if we see what he sees -- absolutely precious!

We had his check-up this week (along with a vaccination -- yuck), and Liam's 7 month stats are:

weight: 19 lbs. 10 oz. (8.9 kg)
length: 27.5 in. (70 cm)
head: 17.7 in.  (45 cm)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

in need of a spare battery . . .

Sunday was an absolutely beautiful day in Eindhoven so Keith and I decided to take Liam for a walk to the park. We luckily have a gigantic park around the corner from our house that has multiple playgrounds of all sizes, a rock wall, miniature zip line, doggie areas, trails, walk ways, petting zoo . . . the list goes on and on! Last fall we went there and did a mini photo shoot when Liam was a couple months old, so we knew we wanted to take the camera again and snap some family photos (especially now that we have a new tripod!). Unfortunately for us, the battery on the camera died after we had only taken a few pictures. Oh well, we still had our camera phones! So here are a few pictures from our family time in the park today . . .

Liam's first time in the stroller without the car seat -- he loved it!
Walking to the park!

. . . busy as a bee!

We had a really busy week here in the NL, so I'm just going to touch on each of the fun things Liam and I did each day!

Ready to walk to lunch!

Keith worked from home so the three of us walked to La Place in the winkelcuntrum for lunch. I always love sharing a weekday lunch with Keith -- he spoils us when he works from home because if he's not on a call he can help out if needed. It's nice to sleep in and let Keith get Liam when he wakes up. I don't know who loves it more -- Keith or Liam! They both have big smiles when they see each other in the morning. : )


There was a "Newcomers Brunch" at Rachel's house today that was jam packed! Although we've been here since June, this brunch was for anyone has joined the International Women's Club this year, so that meant me! Keith needed the car that day, so my good friend Megan picked us up (along with two other ladies -- the woman is a saint!) and we all drove out to Son for some good food and company. Speaking of good company, I met a great girl named Lindsey and her sweet almost-one-year-old Jackson. Lindsey and I spent the entire brunch talking and letting the boys stare at each other and play. : ) It was great to ask her advice about certain things like solid foods and sleep habits. I love meeting new moms! I can't wait to hang out with her again soon!

On our way home, Megan passed by the bus stop close to Rachel's and noticed another mom from the brunch with her 2 year old waiting for the bus. So what else does Megan do but pull right over and load them both into the van?? So five adults and two kiddos later, we are all headed back to Eindhoven so she can drop us all off at our respective homes. Did I mention she's a saint?!

7 pairs of shoes . . .

So I have finally gotten around to writing about last weekend -- it was one of those weekends were everything seems to be going right and you just feel so content, you know what I'm sayin'?

Although it started off a little rough . . .


Keith worked late Thursday so that he could be done "early" on Friday. I guess 5:45 pm is "early" for some people, but not me. I had all these plans for us to go shopping in the Centrum and then grab dinner, because as you know, Friday is the only day the shops are open even a little later (8 pm for most shops and 9 pm for others). But by the time Keith finished work, Liam was napping, and when he woke up he needed to be fed before going anywhere . . . so we didn't make it to the Centrum until about 7 pm. Yay (where's that sarcasm font when you need it?).

However, in our limited amount of shopping time, we were still able to do plenty of shoe shopping!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Carnival is in the air . . .

Carnival kicked off the weekend before last, which is a HUGE deal here in Eindhoven. It's bigger here than even in Amsterdam so I hear. The kids were out of school all week and everyone celebrates! People were asking us if we were going to see the parade, so we thought, "Why not?" It's not every day we get to experience things like this so it's important to us to take advantage when we can. I would hate to miss out on such cool experiences with lame excuses like "the weather's not too great" or "it's hard to get out of the house with the baby" . . . yada yada yada. We could make excuses all day long and miss out on life. I have no intention of doing that!

So Saturday afternoon we got bundled up and headed to the City Center to see what all the fuss is about. Now for those of you who have been to Mardis Gras and the like, it's pretty much like that apparently, though I have never been. There was a huge parade and people were dressed up like I've never seen! And when I say "people" I mean EVERYONE -- babies, teenagers, families, and old folks . . . no one was exempt from the craziness. There were "traditional" costumes, by which I mean things that are pretty recognizable: army uniforms, Mario Bros, Bert and Ernie, witches, sailors, hippies, etc. Then there were other get-ups that one can only assume are in some sort of competition called "How Gaudy Can You Get?" People dressed all in gold or glitter or big-wigged or face-painted . . . it goes on and on. We took some pictures but it's really hard to capture the essence of Carnival. It's one of those things you must experience for yourself.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Welcome to Holland

I recently heard an interesting take on raising a child with disabilities. I admit I read it at first because it is titled "Welcome to Holland," but it really struck a chord with me for several reasons. As a former first grade teacher I had the opportunity to spend many of my years in the classroom with students with different disabilities, ranging from autism to downs to cerebral palsy . . . I fell in love with these children and their families and am still in contact with most of them as the years have passed. 
And now that I have a child of my own, I realize that, so far, Liam is a perfectly healthy boy. This brings both relief and fear. He is after all only six months old, and any number of things can happen in his life that I have absolutely zero control over. When so many things can go wrong, I feel blessed that so much has gone right. 
So below is something written by Emily Perl Kingsley in 1987 . . .

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Texas Steakhouse . . . Dutch style

After taking our friend Spencer out to dinner this week (how lucky are we that he has business in the NL every other month this year??), Keith and I were talking about how we rarely go out to eat anymore. Back in the States, we ate out all the time, at least 2-3 nights per week. I can count on one hand the number of times we've eaten out in the last two months here --  no joke. There are many reasons why: we've got a kid now, it's so expensive to eat out, it's so cheap to buy groceries, and we haven't really found any restaurants that we absolutely LOVE. In Georgia, we would get excited to go get Mexican food at our favorite local place on Friday night, or grab wings and beers at Taco Mac, or pizza and salad at Brookyln Joe's . . . we had our favorites so it was easy to always find something we were in the mood for. Here, not so much. Regardless, we have found a few good places, with Usine being one of them. That's where we took Spencer on Wednesday, and we all left pretty satisfied.

ANYway, we were saying how we hardly ever go out to eat anymore and how nice it was to not have a kitchen to clean that night. So Keith suggested we try out Longhorn Steakhouse Friday night. We had heard from different people that it was pretty good, and the Dutch had done a decent job of recreating a Texas-style steakhouse, complete with peanut shells on the floor and country music a playin'. I decided on the chicken breast and Keith got a steak -- plus they bring out bowls of potato salad and mixed greens to share family style. I gotta say, it wasn't too bad, and we really did enjoy listening to country music (which we never hear on the radio). We were serenaded by Carrie Underwood, Zac Brown, Lady Antebellum, and all the big stars . . . even Liam woke up in time to enjoy the atmosphere. I would like to go back again and maybe even go with friends to enjoy the saloon next to the restaurant . . .

Longhorn's menu
We decided against "Longhorn's Crazy Meat Party"
Peanuts and candlelight . . . so romantic : )
Keith with his gigantic steak . . .
and my huge chicken breast
PS -- both dishes came with a big slice of melon??