It’s a remarkable feeling to be so far from the place you call home, and to be so completely enveloped in family and love.  Tonight we were at a family BBQ in Holland with 41 family members – how lucky are we?  And this wasn’t one of those awkward family reunions when you need to figure out how you are connected through a branchy family tree, but one where we know each and every one of them and are genuinely pleased to see each other.  This is a picture of the second cousins at the party – all of the cousins from this generation on this side of the family were there except for five (two Dutch and three Canadian).  Fantastic!  We had so much fun, and a special shout-out to Sandra and Colin for hosting this crazy bunch.  Gezellig!!

Before the family party we had a really nice lunch in Zaandam with Bart and his family.  Bart is a good friend from when Jeff spent a year living in Holland after high school (and Bart was also a groomsman in our wedding).  It’s always nice to reconnect, and it’s funny how it feels like no time has passed at all (until we look at each other’s children and realize how big they have become!)  I actually have never been in central Zaandam before and it’s a really nice city – check out this cool hotel and its interesting architecture!

We walked from Bart’s house to a restaurant and the weather was… awful.  It was cloudy, chilly, and drizzly which did absolutely nothing for my hair.  (Girl problem, I know.)  During the walk the girls reacquainted themselves with Bart and Nancy’s daughter Summer, who they hung out with 4 years ago.  Even with the language barrier the girls were fast buddies and had a really nice time together.  We had a traditional Dutch lunch (I had to get onion soup and bitterballen, while Chloë had frikandel, and Julia and Jeff had kroketen).  None of these things will mean anything to you if you have not had the pleasure of a Dutch deep fryer and the things they put in it!  This is a picture of me modelling my food with my frizzy hair after the rain. 

I shouldn’t have been concerned about my hair, because on the way back to their house we were caught in an absolutely crazy rainstorm.  It caught us all by surprise as one second it was drizzling, and the next second it was a torrential downpour!  We were drenched – so wet that the front of my pants were a different colour than the back, and the frizz turned to completely soaked.  Timing wasn’t fantastic as we had to get right in to the car and head to the family BBQ!  We arrived at the house in a slightly dishevelled way – it wasn’t the appearance we were hoping to project, but you can’t fight Mother Nature.

In any case, who cares if your hair is weird… nobody - they are just happy to see you.  We had such an enjoyable, fun filled day.  As I type this, Jeff is sitting with his aunt Tineke looking at old photo albums from the 70’s to the present, which is something that not everyone has the opportunity to do.  Julia is fast asleep in her bed, Chloë is pestering her cousin Stefan (with the help of his girlfriend Dani), and I am sitting on a comfy couch trying to capture the feeling from our day.  Excellent indeed.


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