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??


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

. . . Liam lately (6 months)

Our big boy is half way to one -- time flies when you're trying to keep up with an active baby! He has truly grown in so many ways, and all my mommy friends were right . . . each stage is more fun than the last! I am really trying to savor the passing months though. I love that he isn't super mobile yet (but I'm sure that's right around the corner), and I love listening to his baby babbles and squeals. He is finding his voice and will have "conversations" with us or Murphy. He also loves to be the center of attention and tries to get people to notice him when he sees someone new. He is such a flirt! He also LOVES to Skype with family and friends and will perk right up when he hears Skype ringing on the computer -- not kidding. It's like he's thinking, "Oooh, goody, who's going to talk with me now??"

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day was a great day . . . despite the fact that Liam only took one nap. Seriously. I'm about to pull my hair out! ANYway, despite that fact, we still had an awesome day and Liam was in a great mood. AND Keith surprised me by coming home at lunchtime with flowers and lunch for me! We got to spend a little bit of time together in the middle of his crazy work day. Awesome hubby. : ) That night Keith made us dinner and we relaxed together and enjoyed our happy baby. Not only is Keith the best husband, but he is a wonderful dad . . . he even bought a big valentine for Liam. Suh-weet! : )

Thanks, Dad!
the card reads "You're the sweetest" in Dutch
Happy Valentine's Day!

Love is in the air!


Monday, February 13, 2012

. . . potluckin' with friends

Last summer at my very first potluck with the North American Women's Club I signed up to host potluck in February, thinking we would be pretty settled by then (and, selfishly, who wants to get a baby out in the February cold weather if they don't have to??). February rolled around before I knew it and the email went out inviting all the women in the club to my home on Tuesday, the 7th. Leading up to the weekend before the potluck I had only received 3 RSVPs, so I didn't feel any pressure at all about the big event. I sent out any email giving details about where to park and asked for any more RSVPs . . . and then they came flooding in! I went from 3 to 16 people in 24 hours. I was thrilled that so many people were coming,  and glad I hadn't known it until right before -- no time to feel anxious!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

they grow up so fast . . .

First, Liam has been doing really great with sitting up . . . he still teeters a lot, but is getting stronger by the day. He loves to be up -- he's gaining some independence and loves playing with toys in front of him. : )

Saturday, February 4, 2012

fun in the snow . . .

Five days after the first snowfall we got hit with even more snow -- it started snowing around 1:30 pm on Friday and didn't stop for several hours! We got about five more inches yesterday and it was absolutely breathtaking! The flakes were HUGE and made beautiful powder all over EVERYTHING. Even today the snow on the ground was powdery soft. Back in Georgia our snow quickly turns to slush and ice so this was a nice surprise.