Monday, April 25


I think me and Amsterdam need a second chance to meet under different circumstances. We were blessed with beautiful weather and did the three things we hoped to given we had our munchkins with us but our schedule was tied to the only available slot available for the Anne Frank museum . . . a 7:45pm admission. My kids usually head to bed at 7:30 most nights and are ready for it. This meant the kids had no naps and would be in a museum after bedtime. Oh yes, and we didn't have a stroller in the bustling city because we rode our bikes to the train station.

On the agenda for the afternoon/evening: the Rijksmuseum's Dutch Golden Age master painters, a canal cruise, dinner at a local pancake house, and Anne Frank's museum. The other things on my list just weren't going to happen with the munchkins but that was fine.

We had a lazy morning and then rode over to the train station. Wouldn't ya know it, I forgot our Anne Frank museum tickets?! Grrrr! Ryan saved the day by biking like a mad man back home to get them and making it back just in time for our train. PHEW! Morgan loved being on a choo-choo and they were all curious what snacks were in the big bag.

We got down to the Rijksmuseum by taking a tram and got right in to the museum. Big bags had to be checked into the cloak room so I scavenged for the kids' candy bribe stash before turning it over. There's just no way we could survive a museum without a stroller AND candy bribes! Luckily, I'd read beforehand about the paintings I wanted to see and with the museum under renovation, all the master works were collected into ten rooms -- totally doable, right? BARELY! The kids all took turns with my audio guide and Ryan had the other one. I got a good minute or so with each of my favorites before little ones necessitated moving on. Not enough time, but it's what we gots!

It was so interesting to see how the Netherland's history so completely influenced their art. Duh, right? Their masterpieces reflected a love of everyday simplicity and regular folks or prominent citizens rather than royalty and much less religious art. Oh the amazing color, technique, and detail captured by the masters - Rembrandt, Vermeer, Jan Steen, Frans Hals and so on. The Dutch were conquered by the bigger, more powerful empires throughout time, but cherished their independence, religious and social tolerance, and industries. I'll refrain from sharing more of my nerd-side now. But I really liked learning more about this country's history and art. Wish I'd had more time . . .

Did I mention Morgan was overdue for her nap by now? At one point she sat on one of the benches in the middle of the room with a couple beautiful Vermeers. She cozied up with the headset and snuggled into the back of a young grandma who was beyond thrilled a lil gal had picked her. Morgan sat there for a good ten minutes, never even looked at the woman, but liked the head rest she provided! When Morgan was done with the museum, she was done and her meltdown began and her and I got real familiar with the elevator. Oh well!

We headed over to the Vondelpark to let the kids run while Ryan and I decompressed in the lovely sunshine. A little later we walked down to catch a canal tour. It was great to see different neighborhoods, canal life, and building facades with the characteristic hooks that were used to help heft large items into the upper stories of homes and buildings. The kids played and snacked, and it was fun to see them having a good time together.

After our canal cruise we were headed toward the pancake house when Ryan stopped at an ATM. Easton and McKay were with Ryan while I walked on with Morgan on my shoulders. Suddenly the boys were all bursting with laughter such that Easton couldn't walk straight or stand! Come to find out, that Easton had let rip a rather loud, long "wind" to which a very elderly gentleman in a tweed jacket and cap standing behind him waiting to use the ATM replied. He said a few words chuckling while Easton and my guys realized Easton had had an audience and couldn't hold in their gut laughter. It was the laugh that keeps on giving!

We made our way to the pancake house and McKay kept lagging behind with his usual thumbsucking. We were all hungry and tired. As we crossed the street to the pancake house, I looked back and told McKay to get a move on it as he neared the curb. We arrived and took our seats but no McKay! Ryan went to look for him but came back a few minutes later without him. Now I was in a panic! Easton and I said a prayer - the pancake house was 20 yards from the crosswalk we'd been on where I'd told McKay to catch up. What a horrible, horrible feeling! Luckily Ryan found him. He'd walked into the wrong building and got scared.

Our Rick Steve recommended meal was fine but took forever because the cook decided to get on the phone and go on a 20 minute tirade about some money she'd lost instead of cooking up our order. Good grief lady, I've got a hungry family that just wants some pancakes! And we were nervous about missing our Anne Frank timed entrance. Aack. Did I mention Ryan had a severe headache? When the food finally arrived, it was fine and we got out of there as fast as we could. Good times.

The Anne Frank Museum was really neat. Having read her book and seen a good movie about her this past year, it was all pretty fresh for me. Easton seemed to enjoy this museum more than any other we've taken him to, he read a lot of the displays and the entire booklet. Luckily the museum is pretty easy to do in an hour with a lot of movement from room to room where her family and friends hid from the Nazi occupiers.

I loved the closing clip of her father talking about his daughter. Her diaries were found by one of their helpers after the family was arrested and sent off to concentration camps. When her father returned to Amsterdam, the friend gave them to him and he got them published. His closing remark was something to the effect that parents don't really know their children. Anne's diaries are very astute for one so young. It seems we all have expectations and understandings of who our family members and friends are, but sometimes miss their depth and where their heart is. I can't hardly imagine the stressful circumstances that small group endured in such close quarters for the duration of their hiding.

We lost McKay again in the museum as it was closing. We barely caught our train back to Amersfoort. We got quizzacle looks as our crew rode bikes home at 10:30 that night. But a good day in the end which we all survived. Having a stroller in a big bustling city is rather a life saver. Not bringing one seriously makes you want to cut the trip short fast so I'm so thankful Ryan stuck with me on this one! Ahhh, it was so nice to have soft beds to crash into! I remember just watching Easton drift off to sleep thinking how fast he's growing up and how handsome he is. Love these kids!

You'll notice there aren't any pictures of Amsterdam here. The camera battery was dying and our hands were too full keeping track of our crew. That's our story and we're stickin' to it!