Category Archives: Travel

Amsterdam Playgrounds

The playgrounds in Amsterdam are phenomenal.

Starting with two that are in Artis, the zoo, which in itself is an incredible place.

The little kid playground is creative, playful and colorful. You climb up rungs between the giraffe’s hind legs, enter the butt area, and slide down the neck.

The owl side has back stairs and a spiral inside. I think she liked it.

The bigger kid playground strongly demonstrates the sense of personal responsibility that is assumed in Dutch playgrounds. See that netting that Anja is traversing? It’s a straight drop down into WATER.

The slides and play structures here are HIGH and large.

And certainly made for children older than 4 and a half. No barrier for my kid, she is determined, I must give her that.

The climb up this section was 3 times her height, and only started at her shoulders.

And that was the only way up. Her stance says it all. And it was a long slide down.

On our bakfiets day we discovered a cute little sidewalk playground.

And we also explored all of Vondelpark. Including two amazing playgrounds. This  rope tower and slide blew my mind. I cannot believe Anja did it. Only through sheer determination. It was several stories high, and the ropes inside were all askew, irregular, with wide spaces between. Again, clearly designed for older kids. Anja chanted to herself the entire time, I think partly focus and partly self encouragement. “climb, climb, climb, climb, climb”  Did I mention it was lightly raining? Making everything wet and slightly slippery; I could barely watch. Of course upon accomplishing it once, she had to go up and do it again.

While on the playground subject, I can’t miss this gorgeous climbing structure… I mean tree.

This playground had three mini personal sized trampolines built into the ground.

Another day, this time in Osterpark: a pedal powered merry go round.

A zip line.

A mini size kid swing. Just her height.

And to top it all off… this thing: it spun around, it bounced up and down, it was sort of a teeter toter, sort of a spinning thing… and made for loads of laughter.

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The land of bikes

Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities. Everyone is friendly, it’s beautiful, they have a bike priority culture, they are welcoming to kids, there’s a wide variety of food and the playgrounds ROCK. More on that in another post. For now bikes:

Canals:

And a canal boat ride in the rain. Severely jet-lagged too.

Over the hills and far away… aka tables and their meals

Italy was a dream. I’ll start with the quintessential scenery. This view was a few minutes walk from our house. It was one of the few times I wished hard for the 5D.

 

Photos don’t do it justice. It’s sort of like the grand canyon in that sense. You just sit or stand there breathing it all in. Absorbing the view, the smells, the light. Ideally while sipping your morning coffee or evening wine.

At this table we enjoyed most of our breakfasts:

At this one, our evening meals:

And at this table we enjoyed a THREE hour meal from heaven, in a 300 year old restaurant.

Ready, set, go!

This one doesn’t need much words. Just a snowy day, two cousins, a couple of playful skirts, a window sill and a bed. Hours of entertainment. Much twirling, giggles and flight ensued.

The joy of seeing these two, who live on opposite sides of the country, playing together harmoniously, unaided (finally!) and gleefully is just simply immense.

Love love and more love. Red skirts don’t hurt either.

Golden Gate Birthday

We recently attended the most exquisitely located birthday party, ever. Our dear friends Andy and Carolyn invited us to join them for a picnic in Sausalito, CA to celebrate Andy’s birthday. It was a summery November afternoon, clear and warm. But what made the day so stunning, aside from the best of friends, was the view. I’ll let the images speak for themselves…

Here’s our view upon arrival. Walking from the parking lot. Not bad.

I don’t think picnics get more Sunset Magazine than this.

And looking the other way

And then of course there was birthday pie. Almond plum. Yum!

The clouds danced.

The moon came out.

And the sun set on another day on San Francisco Bay.

Free range camping kids: AKA 3 moms, 5 kids and a campsite

Okay, this post is about 4 weeks late. But better late than never, right?

In early September Anja and I went camping with two other moms and their kids. We called it the 3 moms, 5 kids camping trip. And it was spectacular. Truly one of our best camping trips ever. Sharing the meals, sharing the kid coverage, and an ideal gang of kids in which to explore and play. Ages 3-7. And all sweet, considerate and intelligent kids.

Additionally, we lucked out with a natural sliding board IN our campsite. An ancient tipped redwood stump, smoothed by years of kid butts sliding down it, was the perfect play thing for the kids. They ran, biked, climbed, and on rare occasions sat down to draw or play with toy figures.

My biggest lesson of the weekend was a practice of free ranging the kids. We were at Memorial Park Campground, in San Mateo, only an hour from home. We were deep in the redwoods and felt miles away from it all, including being off the grid (iphone wise). It was the weekend after Labor Day, and although there were people around, it was a relatively quite campground (save for our posse of kids whooping it up).

Our kids would bike the loop of the campground together. Circling around our “block.” A few of the younger kids were on balance bikes, the older kids were on bicycles. And at first, they went as a group. But as the weekend wore on, there were times when some wanted to go and others didn’t. At one point Anja wanted to go by herself. (Brace yourself fellow parents and please reserve any judgement.) I paused for a moment, asked her what she would do if she saw a car on the “road” and after receiving the exact answer I was looking for, said yes. I allowed my 3.5 year old to go do the loop by herself. <gulp> I felt my heart strings tug as I watched her excitedly and confidently roll away from our campsite.

She returned full of pride and thrilled at the rush of independence and asked to do it again. After her second loop she came back, dropped her balance bike and joined the other kids in whatever game they were current up to. And something big had changed. For me and for Anja.  I’m still a little rocked, in a very positive way, by this experience.

And now, a few of my favorites from the weekend:

Julian (6) & Annapurna(5) on top, and Anja(3), Adrian(3) & Kenyon(7) stuffed into the top shelf of the raccoon pantry (amazingly).

Brothers

Buddies

Siblings

Stunning blue eyes, every single one of them.

The gang, on our last day. A little dirty…

and a lot silly.

Imperfection. Morning style.

I love this image.

It’s not pretty. Certainly not the best shot of the Aunties or Anja, but I love the story that it tells. And the absolute love that comes through loud and clear on the tails of the imperfection. The framing of the tent window, versus the haze of the screen. First thing in the morning. Groggy eyes and messy hair, yet welcoming and cozy, imperfection and total open hearted love.

Because that’s what you have to be to invite (someone else’s) dirty 3 year old into your tent first thing in the morning. Into your bed for that matter. Absolute LOVE.

I welcome the lessons this image brought to me. I’ve been working with being accepting and peaceful with imperfection. And yet I’ve been paralyzed on blog posts. And it’s fear of not being good enough that keeps me, at a root level, from posting more than I do.  I lurk alot. I peruse other’s blogs, other’s pictures. But I don’t put mine out there.

Now I realize what I really want is to make and post the images that move me. And it doesn’t have to be technically or visually perfect. It just has to speak to my heart.

What speaks to your heart?