Jan 23, 2014

2013 Review, Part 2: Too Little Too Late?

So I crawled out from under my rock the other day, checked to make sure there were no more holidays waiting to ambush me, peeked in on Laundry Mountain (still there), and took a good long look at the calendar.

MARTHA HELEN STEWART. How did we get this far into January? It feels like 2014 is almost over, and I didn't even get to give you a detailed recap of all of our vacations from last year.

For shame.

I remedy that today. Except without so much of the detail, because who has time for that when there are New Years Resolutions to talk about ad nauseam? Too late for that too? Well, crap.

Because it's January 21st (when I started this), here are 21 things from 2013 I never got around to blogging about. And because my resolution is to be suuuuuper cute this year, it's all in a pinterest-worthy infograph pimped out with owls, mason jars, and chevron stripes.

Actually, I don't know how to do any of that. It's just a list with some pictures. I even give up on captions half-way through, but here are some mason jars:

That's right Kyle and Ann, mason jars 4ever.

Ok, that's all the cuteness I can handle-- here we go: 
  1. On January 3, 2013, we had cinnamon rolls for dinner. It's true. I wrote it in my journal even. 

2. Also from my journal in early 2013: "So far I've been diving into writing as my focus for the year. But I keep wondering-- is that really what I want to do? Should I focus instead on being nicer to my kids?" Neither one really panned out. Should have focused on the cinnamon rolls for dinner thing. 
3. We went to Morocco in February. Some highlights: couscous, mint tea, camel rides, turtles in the hotel pool, sunshine, crazy markets, vibrant Islamic culture, and the most amazing hotel we've ever stayed in. Lowlights: winter rain storm, crazy markets, battles over electronic devices with the kids, haggling with vendors, Sam's loud questions in public about Islam, and a 2+ hour quest to find a restaurant from Trip Advisor. 

 We loved Essaouria, just don't ask 
us how to pronounce it. 
We hopped into this VW Bus and happened to meet another American 
family living just outside of Amsterdam. Now we hang out and stuff. 
Nicely done, Fate. 
For so many reasons, Camels are hilarious.
How you doin'? 
Somehow we ended up in this palatial hotel room. 
Seriously, this is just the sitting room. It was way 
out of our league. 
Exploring the Souks in Marrakesh. If we hadn't 
hired a guide, we would still be lost in that maze. 

4. I signed up to chaperon a school field trip here for the first time. It involved supervising 25 oblivious 8 year-olds through the streets of Amsterdam. 8 year-olds who didn't speak my language.
Try not to die, kids! 

5. Mark turned 39, and what better way to celebrate than with a big whack in the face with a pillow? 
International Pillow Fight Day

 6. We traipsed through Budapest for a week like no body's business. 
It doesn't get much more Budapest than men in gold
necklaces playing chess in a thermal mineral bath.
We had this delicious, unpronounceable pastry, and Nate took full advantage of my distracted euphoria.

7. The 16th Wedding Anniversary is the awkward selfie anniversary right? 
What am I supposed to be looking at? Is this on video? 

8. Mia's class did a gardening unit, and she liked it. Mia liked it!  
All the kids are into mutant carrots these days. 

9. We took our boat out on the canals occasionally, and one time it didn't even break down. 

 10. To celebrate July 4th with friends, we schlepped 3 watermelons, 2 pies, and a case of root beer on the metro.  All because we love freedom (from the tyranny of automobiles). 

11. On the eve of our 2nd anniversary in Amsterdam, we boarded a night train for Copenhagen. It was all fun and games until we realized the beds were just slabs of granite in disguise. We were only in Copenhagen 2 days, and we ate at 7-11 at least three times-- don't judge, they're better in Denmark. From there we took a train to Berlin, where we melted in the Summer heat, and cursed Europeans and their disdain for ice cold drinks. Then, we went to an old nuclear bunker (it'll be fun kids!), which caused Sam to have his first panic attack and scarred his tender little soul. Best Parents Award 2013! 

12. Mark's mom came to visit in August. We took her to Paris, and raced in rented golf carts at Versailles. Heading home, we stopped for 5 minutes for the kids to buy sparkly Eiffel Tower souvenirs, and missed our nonrefundable, nonexchangeable train back to Amsterdam by three minutes. Our best available option was to rent a car from the airport for nearly 500 euro, and drive home.  Most expensive chotchkies ever. 

13. We picked up our first family pet, Amsterdam style. And so we entered that phase where our house persistently smells vaguely of hamster.

14. We came upon this phenomenon while on a road trip in the Netherlands one weekend, and wondered if we'd entered some sort of alternative dimension.
What the?

 15. My parents popped in for a few days in September. We visited the city of Delft, but opted to skip all the pottery and Vermeer sights, in favor of the plaque to Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Father of Microbiology. Naturally. 
When your parents are Microbiology geeks. 

16. Italia! Two of my sisters and one niece came to visit in October. We thought, hey, why not do a whirlwind 3-city tour of Italy in 9 days with 8 people and billions of other tourists?! So we did. Because Gelato. It was all worth dropping your iPhone from the balcony of St. Mark's Basilica, right Katy? 

17. I indulged my own inner geek, and made the pilgrimage to Beethoven's birthplace in Bonn, Germany. 
Sorry kids, your mother was a music major. 

18. For my birthday, Mark sent me to a writing workshop, during which, we had the following text exchange: 
Me: Don't forget about Sinterklaas on Beethovenstraat. 
Mark: No offense but your writing hasn't changed much. 

19. Christmas Eve: every time I spend hours making something from scratch for a holiday, Sam finds a way to step in it. And every holiday I try not to kill him. 
Yay, traditions.

 20. This:

21. Sometime between April and June of 2013, it happened: Amsterdam began to feel like home. Moving away is going to hurt.

22. While avoiding finishing this blog post, I convinced the kids to help me sort our Lego collection by color. It was an extremely satisfying procrastination + OCD combo. Can't wait to alphabetize the Matchbox cars by make and model. 

Obligatory Owl: 
I believe this is symbolic for "when will the
owl trend just die already?"


Aimee said...

I love readig your updates. I often wish you were on Instagram so I could follow regularly your whereabouts in the world but would it lessen my love for the blog updates? Hmmm...

Looks like a great year. I just read The Fault in our Stars and there was a whole section in Amsterdam and I thought, "Damn it! Why haven't we visited the Bardsley's yet?"

This is going to be a great memory for your children. I am jealous of their experience. Glad it is feeling like home.

And... Are you ever coming back to America?

Jen said...

I love you! Thanks for a great laugh.

Did you eat the camels afterward? Spen found this great restaurant that serves camel but I won't go with him for several reasons, such as the fact that men and women have separate entrances, and now, knowing that camels are hilarious.


claireb said...

I personally think you should write more! Primarily because I don't care how well you nurture your children, and am not around for your cinnamon rolls. So write on Donna. Write on!

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Hi Donna. I found your blog by doing the following Google search: "backpacking Europe with children". Illuminating reading! Thanks so much for documenting your adventures. I teach at an Intl. school in Nairobi and we're contemplating a month in Europe with our three kids. They appear to be similar to yours in relation to one another, just older (by summer, they will be: daughter, 16; son, 13; son, 11). I'm hoping that being older might solve some of the little kid challenges, though it will no doubt raise new ones. At present, I am trying to figure out what might be a doable plan to visit several cities. The idea of spending one or two days per city for a month feels utterly exhausting. Instead, I'm imagining 6 or 7 cities, with 3-6 days in each. Probably focus on northern/central/western Europe. Any suggestions on cities? I'm thinking Paris, London, Amsterdam, maybe Brussels... not sure where else. We're also not high income in the least, and the flights are almost as much as flying all the way back to the States (grrr!), so any suggestions on affordable places to stay for a family of five would be greatly appreciated. My email address is: stevens@rosslynacademy.com. Thanks very much!

Tamkara said...

Fabulous pictures!!! .....reminds me I am yet to start planning for our Easter vacation!
I love your red glasses....I think I might just have found the right colour for my next pair :-)