Empty House

This morning, I dropped Rupert and Meredith off at Schiphol for their flight back to Chicago. It seems so strange to be sitting here on the big orange couch with just the dogs. The boys are in their post dinner coma so if it wasn’t for the sounds of the neighbors next door, it would be completely quiet. After the past couple of weeks of having the house filled with laughter, voices, burps and other noises, it seems really different.

They should be landing soon in Chicago, in about an hour. Never let it be said that I stop being the big sister that needs to know exactly when people have made it home safely. I did manage not to cry this morning when I dropped them off. Partially because I basically kicked them out at the curb and squeezed them both twice really hard and told them something along the lines of “get lost”.

We have had so many great adventures over the past few weeks. We saw the Netherlands in miniature at Madurodam. When we were kids, my Opa would take us there and walk with us patiently among all the buildings. We were four adults this time (even Joanne) and we all loved it. For sure it gave us lots of inspiration to see other things in the Netherlands like the castle Muiderslot. We visited castle Muiderslot yesterday morning, a mere 15 minutes from my house and had enough time to explore before I had to be back for my banjo lesson. It is a castle that originally dates from the 12th century but was rebuilt in 1370 – so modern you know! My favorite fun fact was that Dutch people used to sleep sitting up because the belief in the 16 and 1700s was that if you slept lying down, you could lose all your brains. Children were allowed to sleep lying down because they hadn’t yet developed the ability to reason. Followed closely by the fact that the beds had a cord you could pull and it would open a ventilation panel in the roof of the bed to let all the collected gases and aromas out that people generated during the night.

We also explored Haarlem while they were here with the dogs in tow. Haarlem was so cute that I needed a dose of speed metal or other antidote to the cuteness of it. If I decide to leave Amsterdam, Haarlem would be high up on the list of places to go. Tiny little car free streets with houses that are so old. The New Church dates to 1646. Then around corners are these little cafes and restaurants just tucked in somewhere under the wisteria and the planter boxes. Seriously, it was so cute it was killing me.

We also went to Alkmaar that same day. High up on the cuteness factor as well. We had dinner with our Dutch family at a little Italian restaurant called Mamma Peppino’s. The food was so good we stopped after the pasta course and went to the dessert course. We never even made it to the meat/fish. I was the designated driver so I only got to sample sips of the wine. Don’t feel sorry for me though, I made sure I enjoyed my dessert and my personal pot of espresso.

And on other days, we stayed in Amsterdam and we had leisurely evenings eating Indonesian. We also tried out bowling which was HILARIOUS. We also went to De Parade. When I was there with Marianne, we kept talking about the coupe de compress – the cotton candy hair. I completely misunderstood Marianne and thought we would have to go to a hair salon to have it done. No, they were doing it right there on the grounds under the tree with a couple of air compressors. Meredith and I had to do it! It was so awesome. We wanted to go back the next day and have it redone again for our family dinner party but they weren’t open yet, which was a big disappointment. We both had towers of hair standing up. Of course, Meredith has much longer hair than I have so her cotton candy hair was amazing. They don’t use any gel or spray or anything, strictly an air compressor. Can you guess what I might be buying myself for Christmas?

I picked up my new passport this morning. Sunday the doctor will come to the house and give me my vaccinations for traveling to Ethiopia. Monday I will pop down to Brussels on the high speed train to get my visa in person. That is the closest Ethiopian consulate. And it is first come first served so I intend to be standing on their front door before they open. I have been doing some reading on Ethiopia and it sounds like I am definitely going to be in for an adventure!

I returned the loaner bikes today that my corner bike shop had fixed me up with. If I was really Dutch, I would have found a way to ride my bike while towing the two loaner bikes. Instead I walked in between the two bikes and got there more slowly but with less damage to anyone passing by.

Going into the office tomorrow and as long as the weather holds, it will be a bike morning. It will be good to see my coworkers again too. It is almost too quiet right now!

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