Saturday, July 20, 2002

Christine and I took off for Virginia Beach with the kids yesterday, after working out and having lunch. We quickly ran into traffic on the interstate, so we decided to take a very direct scenic route, taking slightly longer, but much calmer and very pretty. We stopped in Tappahannock, Virginia, a very cute and quaint town and drove by the Whitley Peanut Factory, where we'll be stopping on the return, as the Virginia peanuts sold there are out of this world.

And then we had to take a detour through old town Portsmouth, because the traffic before the tunnel from Norfolk to Virginia Beach was so bad, that there was a 30 plus minute delay there. It turned out to be ok, and the drive that would normally take about 4 hours, took us 5.

It was so exciting to drive into Virginia Beach! We knew that our hotel would be just about where the road ended into the ocean ;). Our hotel is nice, no extra amenities, really, but the suite is roomy, we all have our own bed (with an inflatable mattress and rollaway thrown in the mix), so it's working well. Plus we're right in the middle of the busiest area of the boardwalk, so we just have to cross the street for excitement, restaurants, shops and haunted houses, much coveted by the older kids (Saskia shields her eyes passing them).

We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant, Giovanni's, really great spinach ravioli there! And then the wine ;)!

This morning, we didn't have anything for breakfast, so walked to the nearest beach side cafe, where we all had a quick breakfast. We had brought our beach stuff, Christine rented some chairs and an umbrella. We had a grand time in the water and in the sand! Kai and Katja were digging for sandcrabs and Kai found one, who's now living in a bottle here in the room. But then a storm blew in and at the first thunder we got off the beach and into the (very tiny and hot) pool. But that didn't bother the kids, they still had a good time there as well (the good time didn't last long, as tempers flared soon after.).

Once back at the room, we took showers and cleaned up and Christine and I left the others with Katja, so we could go grocery shopping. The good news: the shopping was done in at least half the time it would have taken with all 6 of us along, the bad news: one child was crying and everyone crabby when we got back.

So, we decided to go out and walk along the boardwalk, first we tried to rent a family bike, one that seats 4 and has space for 2 non-peddlers (which we thought Mallory and Saskia to be). But the kids decided to keep being grumpy, which led Christine and me to a meltdown of our, which then had us pacing along the boardwalk, until we reached an ice shaving stand and all kids got their colors of ice shaving and everyone was happy once again (until the next breakdown, ah, but we're keeping our heads up!).

Now that all moods were turned south, we decided to get one of those bikes anyway, so rented a 4 person one with Saskia and Mallory in the middle, pretend peddling. Perfect! And, I tell you what, that is *serious* exercise!!! So, after a mile or so, we turned around and parked the vehicle and ate some fries, great fries, with cheese and bacon, and Christine and I had some Chardonnay, so we were ready for the return trip.

Once back, the gift shop was literally attacked, t-shirts, frisbees, key chains etc. made it to the counter and happy kids (wow, they can be!) went up to the room.

Now.we're getting ready for our second dinner. More of our adventures with 4 kids and 2 ladies tomorrow (or later of course, this all depends on my mood ;)).

Thursday, July 18, 2002

I haven't been keeping up with the things that made me happy category, but I haven't forgotten and I certainly have had plenty of happy things happening. Today's were:
1. Watching a cardinal pick seeds out of the sunflowers in our backyard. When I got my camera, he flew away, unfortunately! The yellow and red was a gorgeous combination!
2. Equally gorgeous was an Eastern Tiger Swallow Tail (Yellow) butterfly feasting on our lavender bush in the backyard.
3. Watching Snickers chase a fly and seriously jumping at least a foot in the air for that! And Snickers and Meike perfectly happily snuggled together on the chair.
4. The anticipation of 5 days at the beach enjoying the kids and my best friend and daughter (too bad the guys won't be there!).
5. Living in a climate where a beach vacation is practically guaranteed to be warm and enjoyable!
I guess this is turning out to be not a daily journal, but a bi-daily journal, I always seem to skip a day. Yesterday was kind of a non-eventful day (yay!). I worked out and then spent the entire afternoon on the phone, first with my sister, then with my uncle who called from the Netherlands (we talked for 2 hours and had a great conversation. He's my mom's brother and wasn't really aware of her recent problems yet) and finally with my brother in the Netherlands. It felt good to talk to all of them. Made me feel connected to family and realize just how important extended family is as well.

Then Lauren came to take the kids to the pool for pizza and Rick and I went out to eat Afghan. We had a great meal! First some dumplings with yogurt and hot sauce and then a dish with raisins, carrots, lamb and tomato sauce over rice. And of course Bakhlava for dessert.

Then we ran some errands to buy stuff for our respective trips (Rick is leaving for business to New Orleans and I am going to Virginia Beach with Christine and all the kids).

Today I had a workout with Christine and then spent the afternoon packing. I can't wait to go, if all goes right, this trip will be very relaxing. Who knows I may just get to read a book!

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Yesterday we could hardly wake up, we were so tired! I did make it to the gym and actually had a good workout, cardio, then lower body weight, then upper body weight and repeat that 6 times, for a total of an hour.

After a quick stop at the grocery store, as we had run out of milk and lunch items, I finally after weeks of not having, got a very much needed massage. It hasn't taken all the pain away, but it certainly made a difference.

Then Christine came for some support, as her dad is in the hospital and had emergency surgery yesterday and did thankfully survive.

Today, after the gym, Katja, Kai and I went to the mall, where we met Christine and the 3 ladies got their nails done, while Kai patiently waited. Then we had lunch and went bathing suit shopping for Katja and Christine. Again, Kai waited patiently. Katja tried on 15 or so suits and chose a few, as they were all half price and her old bathing suits are threadbare, after her visit at her grandpa's. Katja definitely takes "shop till you drop" seriously these days! She also dragged us into Express, because one of her shorts had ripped and everything there was 75% off. We were at the mall from 12 to 5!!

Then Kai got his just reward for being so patient, a few packs of Yu-gi-yoh cards, something he's totally into.

When we got home, Peapod was waiting with the groceries, I love that service!!!

I put pictures of our Chicago/Michigan trip online (album names: Sunsets, Sunsets 2, Chicago, Chicago 2, Chicago 3 and RPKKS6)

I'm hoping to get some time to

Sunday, July 14, 2002

After checking out of the Intercontinental and a nice breakfast, we got on the road to Michigan. This time we saw the nice Chicago skyline well. The weather was and is beautiful!

We did have a mishap with our alarm system at home, which sent everyone there scrambling to figure out what had happened. Thankfully, it looked like a malfunction and not a case where someone actually tried to break in.

Our trip from Chicago to Muskegon was uneventful and took us through Holland, Michigan, where we came right by the Dutch Village, which is ever expanding and has an authentic windmill.

What is always immediately obvious to me are the Dutch names everywhere. Van Woerkom, Kuipers, Zijlstra (there are especially quite a few Frysian names). And the placenames too: Zeeland, Graafschap, just to name a few. The landscape also really corresponds with the Dutch landscape: flat with lots of water.

Once in Muskegon we were thrilled to see Katja and Kai again, as well as Rick’s dad and my nephew Zack. Katja especially had really missed us, Kai probably too, but he was getting along quite well with Zack, so it wasn’t as obvious.

We spent our days lounging at the beach of Lake Michigan. How great to have that practically in your backyard! I’ve taken some great pictures of sunsets! I can’t wait to place them in a Webshots album.

Last night we said our goodbyes to Rick´s dad and Zack and all spent the night at the Holiday Inn in Muskegon. I had serious neck pain and a corresponding headache, suddenly, so we first went on a wild goose chase for some mineral ice to calm my muscle spasming.

Katja sweetly massaged it in and I slept ok. But I did wake up with the same pain and it´s quite torturous to have to sit in the car for 12 hours now. Oh well, I´ll have a massage tomorrow, very highly needed!!

So now we´re driving through the flat land of Central Michigan, on our way to Detroit, where we´ll turn south into Ohio. We´re planning on taking a different route back than we came, just to break the monotony and have as little turnpike as possible.

The speed limit in Michigan is 70 mph, which is great for making fast time. The farms here are mostly dairy, judging by the shiny blue silos.


Yikes, it’s 3 and we’re still in Ohio! I was so engrossed in my Sims Hot Date game, that I forget to tell him to take his turn to Columbus. This made us go too far west and south.
And we had to take a smaller road to Columbus. Heaven knows how much time we lost there .

On a positive note, we went through a pretty part of Ohio with quite a few lakes, I didn’t even know there were that many lakes in this state! Katja kept saying “photo opportunity” to me, but we wanted to keep going.

Now we’re about an hour out of Wheeling, West Virginia. The good thing about WV is that the speed limit is once again 70, so hopefully we’ll be able to make up some time.

Oh, how I dread these long, long drives!

We just had lunch at Burger King (at 3:30pm!) and I had a very soggy veggie burger. I did notice though, that their coffee is Douwe Egberts, a big Dutch coffee supplier. Cool!

At 6:40pm, we just crossed the Eastern Continental Divide, near Cumberland, Maryland. The weather has also much deteriorated, going from 85 degrees to 69 and it’s raining. Surely a sight we haven’t seen in almost a week.

We’re debating on whether to brave the doubtless tough traffic in Washington or bypassing by taking a slightly longer route through West-Virginia and Virginia. The longer route won out, so at Hagerstown, we’ll take I-81 and then I-66.

I don’t see us home before 9pm . Oh well, it’s the last really long drive for a while (the trip to Virginia Beach next week will feel like nothing!

Well, we got home at 8:45pm and I’m beat. Off to eat some pizza