Monday, November 25, 2013

Hoensbroek Castle

Hoensbroek Castle
Now that we are slightly less mobile with a baby, we're exploring Limburg, the neighboring forests of Belgium and all that the region has to offer. I guess this was the plan all along. Have fun traveling and exploring other parts of Europe before we decide to have a family. Now is the time to enjoy what we have around us locally. 
Someone's not happy
I'm an American obsessed with castles. Since we don't have any structures this old in the U.S., I'm fascinated by them. I've wanted to visit Hoensbroek Castle since we moved here. Three and a half years later...we made it!

Feeling better :)
The scientist always has to stop to do a puzzle. :)
Nap time

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Anniversary Jaap!

Happy one year wedding anniversary to my partner in crime! A year ago (yesterday) we stood in front of our family and friends (me a blubbering mess) and entered this incredible journey of marriage together. What an incredible year it has been for us. You're an amazing husband and father. I can't imagine this adventure with anybody but you. 
All photos by Caylena Cahill

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hikes in Hoge Kempen

Maastricht is very close to Hoge Kempen, a large National Park in Belgium with tons of hiking and bike trails. A few weeks ago we drove to Maasmechelen and had our first hike with Flora as a family.
As you can see, she loves sleeping on Papa in her baby carrier.
My mountain man hiking the trail
It was a weekend of firsts for Flora. Jeker Jazz was also in Maastricht with different jazz concerts throughout the city all weekend long. Flora enjoyed sleepig through her first jazz quartet at Cafe Falstaff while Papa enjoyed a beer. See... we can have a baby and still have a life. Yay for us!
 I had to include this picture. I'm just in love with this cute little face. Flora too. :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mom in Germany

For Mom's last full day in the Netherlands we decided to have a little day trip to Aachen. It was Mom's first visit to Germany and a special day for us. The last outing for the Pardo girls all together. 
Mom in front of the Rathaus
I feel very fortunate to have had all this quality time with my mother. It was the first time that we ever vacationed together without the rest of the family. I thought that adding an extra trip outside Maastricht following Amsterdam would be too much, but Flora was extra cooperative that day. She had a record number of naps and Mom and I got to explore Aachen "peacefully." :)
Aachen Cathedral 
What's cuter than this?
I was really hoping that Mom and I could experience something that was typically "German". Mom had some good German beer at an outdoor cafe and for a nice late lunch we had flammkuchen. This was surprisingly delicious!
Then it was Flora's time to eat, so we headed to Starbucks. Not very German, but I still enjoy drinking coffee in a to-go cup. It's a shame that it's still such a novelty here in Europe. (I sound very American now).

Thanks for a great visit Mom and for passing on all your great Mommy wisdom. These two weeks were very special for us. Flora's already looking forward to her first Christmas in NY!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mom in Amsterdam

Part of Mom's visit to meet Flora included a two night trip to Amsterdam. Mom's trip was full of sunshine, blue skies, and warm weather. I told her this was very "un-Dutch".
Per Mom's request, we visited the Van Gogh Museum. I was happy to see it since it's renovation. Afterwards we enjoyed a sunny walk through the Museumkwartier.
We had lots of time to kill before our visit to the Amsterdam Expo, so we had a very leisurely stroll and rest in the Vondel Park. 
Van Gogh Museum
Flora's first visit to a museum. She was unimpressed.
It was a beautiful, crisp fall day. Perfect for some exercise in the park. After the walk I was craving a nice cup of coffee. As we turn a corner, there it was. My favorite little coffee place, Douwe Egberts. Perfect timing!
Jaap wanted to check out the Pixar exhibit at the Amsterdam Expo. My husband is really just a big kid at heart. I realized this very early in our relationship, since our second date was to a Pixar movie. Here he is with some friends.
On Sunday we went to the Anne Frank Huis (something new for me) and walked around the Negen Straatjes and admired all the beautiful canals. What's not to love about Amsterdam? I love this city.
Flora's favorite hold

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mom in Maastricht

My favorite pic of the week. Lunch at Grand Cafe Maastricht Soiron

I feel like I waited all summer for my Mom to arrive for her official visit with Flora and it's already over. Time really flies when you're having fun (and busy with a newborn). Mom's visit came at the perfect time. Just when I needed a little Mommy confidence boost, my mother arrives to tell me that everything I'm doing is fine and to trust my "Mommy instincts". I needed that extra reassurance.
Long walk in the Stad Park
I'm sure this visit was more special for my Mom than it was for me. Meeting your newest grandchild for the first time is a big deal. We had lots of relaxed quality time together. Our days were full of long walks, frequent trips to cafes all over Maastricht, home cooked meals, and of course, lots of cuddles with Flora. We even made it to Amsterdam for two nights. Our first overnight trip with Flora was a success!
And now I'm settling back into life without having my Mom around all the time. The first few days after saying good bye to my parents are always the hardest and this time it was particularly difficult. The thing I miss the most is the warm, cozy feeling my Mom gives me. Now it's my turn to share it with little Flora. :)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Flora Grows

Two months into parenthood and we're all still alive! Our little Flora is growing and changing everyday. I am with this little person 24/7 and it's so exciting to see how she develops from one day to the next. 
It's hard to believe that she is already eight weeks old. I can't believe it. I sometimes feel that I'm learning more from Flora than perhaps she is learning from us. I'm amazed at how much this little being is teaching us.
I've had overwhelming feelings of love and gratitude these past couple of weeks. We feel so fortunate to have her in our lives. This picture below pretty much sums it up. Could the proud papa be any happier?