Monday, July 18, 2011

So Much to Catch Up On!

Be prepared to enjoy many pictures since I have about four weeks worth and lots to catch up on. Most of the pictures were taken by Kaitlyn, she's turning into a great photographer.

Several weeks ago we received a phone call from a family, the Johnson's, in our ward asking us if we would like to show them where a certain pond was that had turtles. So we got in the car a drove down the street to the African Museum in Tervuren. The complex itself is beautiful on the outside, we haven't yet been on the inside to see all the treasures there. But the outside is beautiful.

I'm sure that when it's up and running in all it's glory the outside is beautiful with all the fountains running and the lights lit. The Tervuren park is very extensive and is probably several kilometers long with a walking path all the way around it. It is also surrounded by woods.

We were able to find a ChiChi's Tex-Mex closer to our home in Waterloo, rather than having to travel all the way downtown in the middle of Brussels. Right outside of the restraunt is a "Pizza'a Box," the most bizzare thing I've ever seen in my life. There is NO ONE inside to make your pizza, it's available 24 hours a day and makes your pizza hot and ready to eat in 3 minutes! Don't know that I would ever be brave enough to try it though.

Happy 12th Birthday to Kaitlyn, July 14!! I can't believe my baby is 12 and will be moving from Primary to Young Women! She has been such a joy in our family. After several years of heartache, trials and sadness, we were blessed with this sweet girl. Three years before she was born we were told we would never have any more children, so we thanked Heavenly Father for the two daughters we had already and promised to be righteous in order to raise the two children He had already called home. I'm sure that Dave's Mom and Dad pleaded with Heavenly Father to bless us with another child, and He saw fit to bless us with our last one. We love her so much and have had to work hard at keeping her here with us.

Kaitlyn has been begging for a year or so to have her hair cut short, but Mommie thought that all little girls should have long hair. On her 12th birthday Mommie gave in and allowed her to get her hair cut into a more big girl style. Of course, Mommie cried to see that her baby truly isn't a baby any more!

Dave had to go TDY for the first time the weekend of Kaitlyn's birthday, so he was able to get it approved for Kaitlyn and Pam to go with him to The Hague in The Netherlands. It's only a 2 hour drive but we were authorized to rent a car and spend the night! What a great way to spend Kaitlyn's birthday weekend!

We stayed at the Carlton Beach hotel in Scheveningen, Holland, The Netherlands. The hotel sits right on the beach of the North Sea!! We arrived to blue skies and a slight cool breeze.

We were unable to check into our room for several hours, so while Dave went to his meeting, Kaitlyn and Pam walked the boardwalk and along the beach.

The beginning of the boardwalk!

It was so quiet and there was no one around until midafternoon, so we walked all along the beach and watched as the vendors and restraunts received their shipments for the day.

When Dave returned from his meeting we went to this Mexican restraunt for dinner. It was so yummy!!! All the restraunts had indoor and outdoor seating, we chose indoor because of all the birds flying around. It's quite common to have the seagulls join you for dinner any where you sit. We saw a couple walking along the boardwalk eating their french fries and there were seagulls RIGHT OVER their heads trying to swoop down to steal them some fries!! It was funny, glad it wasn't me!!

The air was pretty clear, or at least clear enough that you could see the ships out along the shipping lane. We were really surprised about how dirty the water looked, maybe just because it was low tide?

Each hotel has a "beach club" on the beach where you can get a drink, a beach bed, and a snack. This beach club had a cool "sand castle" right on it's floor! When renting a beach bed in the beach club beware that it is clothes optional! We were used to it because we saw topless sunbathers at the beaches in Italy while living there, so really no surprise to us. But Kaitlyn was still grossed out by the topless sunbather.

The Dutch love them McDonald's! It seems like where ever we turned we could see the Golden Arches. For lunch we found one along the beach and shared our meal with the pigeon. I know it's not very sanitary, but what do ya do?! I must say that European McDonald's is 100% better then American McDonald's!!

Here is a view of our hotel from the beach. Very unique design! Our accomidations included breakfast, so we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast on Saturday before we left to go home. We would have loved to stay another night, especially after the wonderful bed we slept in. Maybe next summer we will have to book a long weekend.

This Momma had to rest after spending several hours walking on the beach and boardwalk. We bought our usual souveniors, thimbles, magnets, spoons, and had to get some wooden shoes!!

Here is a view from our balcony on Friday! Doesn't it look so lovely?

Kaitlyn and Dave found this crab that washed up on shore on Saturday. They found some unique seashells for our growing collection. We totally forgot to bring a baggie for sand from the shore, maybe we will remember the next time.

We woke up Saturday morning to this....rain! It rained ALL day as we traveled back toward home.

I love the sound of the sea/ocean as the waves come into the shore. I have several CDs of the sounds of the waves, but nothing sounds better then the real thing in person!!

Going into and out of the resort town of Scheveningen where we stayed for the night, we passed UNDER several buildings!! It was the most bizzare thing I've ever seen! Here we are headed to the temple in Zeometeer.

There are so many bridges where ever you go in the area because so much of the land is surrounded by water! It's a good thing that the car we rented had a GPS because we would NEVER have found the places we wanted and needed to go!

Kaitlyn is now old enough to perform Baptisms for the Dead at the temple, but since she doesn't have her recommend yet we decided to just stop by so that she can see the temple where she will have her first experience in October.

It is a very small temple, but just as beautiful as all the others around the world.

Following a GPS may be good sometimes, but if you are trying to pay attention to the cars in front, behind and at the sides of you while still trying to follow the directions that the mechanical monster gives you, you and still end up lost in Rotterdam, The Netherlands!! We noticed a lot of sailboats on the rivers.

Okay, so when I think of The Netherlands, I picture big huge wooden traditional windmills....we couldn't find any!! Dave found this replica of one a few blocks from the temple, so this was as good as we got.

Do you see the spots hanging in midair from that building? Those are PEOPLE repelling!! CRAZY!!! Dave says he thinks that it's some kind of amusement park in Rotterdam.

Another of the many bridges we crossed.

This was weird. I sure hope that the floor of that building isn't seethrough!!

We were pretty shocked to see so many Muslims in the area and even saw this Mosque!

This is the only windmills we saw in The Netherlands and the only ones we see in Belgium!

We decided to meet up with some friends in Antwerp on our way home. We were not impressed at all with the city.

It was extremely crowded, the streets that we walked down were dirty. Maybe it was because it was raining and Pam was having a hard time walking and Kaitlyn was cold, but we were not impressed at all. So we took some pictures, bought a couple of souveniors....

The carvings in the cathedral was amazing.

visited with friends from our ward, the Nielsens and Rasmussens...

had drinks and then we headed home while the rest went and did more sightseeing. We had a most enjoyable weekend and call it our mini-vacation. We wish we could have stayed longer, but when you have a missionary, a college student, and trying to follow the Prophet's counsel to get out of debt we have to be moderate in all things including our vacations.

Here is Kaitlyn on her first day of Young Women's! She bought this dress while we were on vacation. She was so excited yet scared to be doing something new at church. She's very excited to go back next week and can't wait for September to get here when activities will begin again. All activities are suspended during the summer holiday because so many people leave on vacations, seems weird to us Americans, but that's the way they do things here in Europe.


T8 and Christy said...

My twelve year old daughter loves photography, too. =) fun!

Kari said...

I miss our mini vacations we did over there! What a beautiful country! We enjoyed the Netherlands and Holland. Lots of fun and unique architecture! Thanks for sharing these cool pics!

heather said...

That dress is beautiful!! It looks like you've been having so much fun!

The Christensen Family said...

I love seeing all the pictures. I love the dress, it makes her look grown up.