Hunting the Hummingbird - by David C Hoffman

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Amsterdam - the first few days



We made it! 

The train ride was so pretty, but we were SO HAPPY to be in Amsterdam!

I'd flown into and out of Amsterdam on my way to and from Portland for my sister's wedding, and just what I saw from the airport I'd adored! I really, really wanted to come back and visit for a bit before we headed back to the States, and I'm so glad we were able to make it happen.

I pretty much fell in love with Amsterdam. 
I kept asking David "don't they need ESL teachers here? Can't we just live here?" and he kept replying "Kendra, why are you choosing to ignore that everyone here already speaks English?" 
Because I was willing it to be so.

Anyways.

Well we may not get to live there, it sure was a fabulous five days.

We rented an Airbnb right near downtown, and it had a lovely little play area directly in front of our door...


The kids thought this was pretty fantastic...



There was a houseboat (with rooftop patio!) and crane blocking our view of the canal from our front door...




But you could easily walk over and peak at it...


The place was super cute...


...and we settled in quickly =)



It had a living room, kitchen, and half bath upstairs, and then down the spiral staircase to two bedrooms and a bathroom...






the world's tiniest bathroom sink ...





Okay, so you're gonna need to brace yourself for 8472 pictures of canals, boats and rowhouses. Just accept it. It's happening.
Amsterdam was just so lovely.
I could not help myself.






We decided to take a walk around and explore downtown...













I could not get over how seriously adorable these tiny little cars were! 
And that teeny spare tire? I die!









































And when you're in Holland, you must drink Heineken...
 





 





 
 
 

 (she was pretending to be a kitty cat asleep up here...she's not sad or in trouble or anything ;) )




Our second evening there, after the kids were in bed for the night, I sat on the windowsill with a glass of wine and watched the sunset over the canal...


I remember this so vividly.
I was thinking about how beautiful Amsterdam was, and how lucky I felt to be able to spend five days there with my family. And how we'd just been in lovely Paris with great friends. And how we were headed to see Iceland soon. And how we'd survived - and eventually, thrived, - spending two years living in the Middle East together.



I looked over at David and told him in that moment, it'd all been worth it. Every single moment. Even with the challenges and hard times and medical scares and just all of it, I still felt just so incredibly blessed to be sitting there, slowly sipping a glass of wine, watching nighttime appear over the nearby canal, having spent the day wondering around Amsterdam.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

On to Amsterdam!

We got in late from Disneyland, and Tuesday morning when our friends came into their living room, we looked like this:


Those are four exhausted people, not awoken by the sunlight streaming in, or the person entering the room.

We got up, said our goodbyes, and they left for school/work while we finished our packing and caught our taxi to take us to the train station...




This next picture is so funny, because the taxi driver had told us to beware of pick-pockets while we were in the train station. So Brother is valiantly guarding our luggage here, as he was SURE that gentleman next to him was a pick-pocket...



I was crazy proud of our kids during this time. 
We had four good sized suitcases, a carry-on suitcase, my giant bag, four backpacks, my large purse, and a partridge in a pear tree.

It was not easy navigating all of that luggage through a narrow train station.
But our kids really owned the problem with us and each pulled a suitcase and wore a backpack, all while (mostly) keeping up and (mostly) not complaining...


TROOPERS!



Finally, we were on our high-speed train and headed to Amsterdam!




The high-speed train was really cool! We enjoyed the views between Paris and Amsterdam a lot. 

Next up, Amsterdam!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Image result for oregon state green heart sticker
We've just returned from a ten day road trip around Oregon.
 
Dave planned the whole thing, back while we were still living in Kuwait.
I remember when he showed me all the stops he had planned, and how excited he was.
"We've shown the kids so much of the rest of the world, time to show them how beautiful our home is!"
He was so right, Oregon is just stunningly gorgeous.
 
Ten days was a bit ambitious though ;).
Six stops, four of those were camping.
 
Luckily, because Jesus loves us, He ordained it that David's parents were actually camping at the same spot as our last stop during the same time we were going to be there...it was SO FUN to get to spend time with them camping and SO GREAT to be able to have them absorb some of the twin-seven-year-olds-on-a-ten-day-roadtrip-madness =).
 
We made some great memories, and soaked up all the beautiful summer colors (the greens! the blues!) and I'm so glad we went.
 
It was worth ALL the laundry I'm still climbing out from underneath.
 
 
My hope is to finishing blogging about our Europe travels, and then blog about our Oregon trip. I intend to print Kuwaitforit in book form so our family can always look back on our time in the Middle East, and honestly traveling around back home and trying to re-orient ourselves is part of that.
 
But first, the laundry.
 


Friday, June 30, 2017

Disneyland!

I'm going to be honest with you; 
Disneyland intimidates me. 
I've always wanted to take our kids there, but all the planning...the dining plans and fast passes and picture packages...it stresses me out just thinking about it. I'm a PLANNER and that is just TOO MUCH PLANNING for me. 
I know they have people to assist you with the planning, but really? Is that where we're at? I need a Disney employee (albeit for free, but STILL) to help me plan my vacation? And I have very specific times I have to be at very specific places, or I miss out on what I've paid for? 
That's not how I like to roll on vacation.

So when we knew we were gonna be in Paris for four nights, I nagged asked Dave if we could squeeze in a day at Disneyland, both because I thought it would be super fun and because then we could check "Disneyland" off our Parental To Do List, for at least another five years, and check it off the easy way ;). Disneyland Paris is a much smaller version of Disneyland in CA, and so we felt like we could see the majority of it in one day. 

(Some days - when I've had lots of sleep and lots of coffee and feel energetic and hopeful and generally like I could take on the world - I dream about a big, family trip to Disneyland. Cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents, for like five whole days! Wouldn't that be fun!! Everyone would have a blast!! And smile the whole time!!! And NO ONE WOULD WHINE ABOUT ANYTHING THE ENTIRE VACATION!!!!)

For now, for this season in life, Disneyland Paris with for just the four of us was perfect =). We had a blast, we smiled the majority of the time, and while whining did occur, it was minimal.



So, on Monday morning, we got up and got ready to spend the day Disney-Style!


We hopped the Metro and made our way to Disneyland Paris. I couldn't help but smile as our little globe-trotters had become experts at the Metro by this stage in the game, and put their tickets in and went through the gates without any assistance from their parents...







After about an hours ride, we finally MADE IT!!!




As you can see by my cheesy grin in the below picture, I was the most excited out of all four of us, to be sure.



This was the kids' first trip to any Disney park, so they had very limited expectations, and Dave was on board for the day like the trooper dad he is, but I was GIDDY excited. 



Our first ride was the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast...


Since it was a Monday, the lines weren't too bad. We waited about 40 minutes, which was hard being it our first ride, but luckily excitement was high =).

I LOVE Sister's little pose here...


Disney knows what they are doing. 
They had several different attractions to keep you entertained while you waited in line!



Our inaugural ride at Disneyland!!



After that, Sister and I rode on Oribtron...











While Sister and I did the slow moving ride, the boys went on fast rides...







It's Wall-E and Eva!!!!



Then.
THEN!
We got to meet Darth Vader!!!!

He was TALL and very serious. I suggested he just consider coming back from the Dark Side and he did not take kindly to such talk.


They had fancy Disney photographers in there and you could pay to purchase a really good copy of your pictures, but we're too cheap for that ;). 
So these are a bit blurry, but we remember it well!



We went to the Star Wars gift shop, and let each kid pick out a new Light Saber...



The entire Star Wars area was pretty impressive!





This Star Wars loving boy was over the moon happy, and that made the rest of us so happy as well!




We ate lunch in a Star Wars restaurant...


Then we split up again so the boys could do the wilder things and Sister and I could do things more chill. As much as we wanted to make this a "family day", it just worked better when we divided up. Everyone was happier.

"It's a Small World" was actually closed, this day, but we grabbed a pic anyways =)...



Sister loves her a carousel...



After that, the two of us girls made our way over for the afternoon Disney Princess live show...




Sister was enthralled with this little show! She stood with rapt attention and enjoyed every moment. 
Directly after this, she declared she wanted to spend the rest of her spending money on a Princess Jasmine doll, so we made our way over to that gift shop =)


While we were doing that, the boys drove cars at Autotopia...



We met up together to ride the train around the park...



While we waited in line for the train, Sister caught Dave up on the Princess Show we watched...



We took the obligatory pictures in front of Cinderella's castle...



Such a special day with our seven year olds!




Sister gave Jasmine a shoulder ride around the park...



We paired off differently so I could take Brother on my very favorite ride, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
We snapped this pic mid-ride and were pretty proud of ourselves ;)



He ended up loving the ride as well, which made for a fun memory for me and my boy...



We all walked around Agrabah (Aladdin's country)...










Tried to pull the Sword outta the Stone...





We went over and climbed up the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse...


When I was a kid I LOVED that movie, and we showed it to the kids while we were in Kuwait, and they liked it too, so climbing their treehouse in Disneyland was really fun.






We walked around the park a bit more, then went back to the Buzz Lightyear area's gift shop for Brother to spend the rest of his money on a Buzz Lightyear light up sword thing he'd seen earlier in the day, and then decided that since it was after 8:00pm, we better start thinking about making the one+ hours trek back to our beds for the night. 
(Okay so honestly, I'd toyed with the idea of staying through the 11pm fireworks show, but David gently suggested that was a crazy bad  perhaps not a wise parenting idea, as we'd been going going going the last few days, just experienced a major life change by moving from Kuwait, and had to be up early in the morning to pack and hop a train to our next destination...and I had to acknowledge that *maybe* he was right...)

We grabbed some hot dogs and called it a day...



Goodbye Disneyland! We loved you!!