Thursday, October 9, 2014

Settled

We have been living in Holland for two months now. Our house is still exactly what we wanted, and our family is enjoying life to the fullest. Work is going well for both Douglas and me, and Cedric and Ezra are having a great time in school. The weather is starting to turn and we are realizing that not experiencing cold weather for six years has lowered our tolerance for the cold. We turned on the heat last night.

We have been riding bikes to work every day, and taking long rides on the weekends. On last Sunday we rode 27.5km! I have to say that last 5km face to face with the wind was a miserable challenge. Europe has really opened our eyes to how accessible things can be. We can hop on a bus, bike, or train to so many places. Travel and transportation are simple and exciting. We made a quick day trip to Brussels a couple weeks back for some waffles, fries and chocolates; additionally we have been out to the beach a few times since we arrived. The beaches here blew my mind as I was not expecting the Netherlands to have great beaches. The water is far too cold now, but this summer we are going to be beach bums!

We have a few trips coming up for work and pleasure. Next week Douglas will be in London for work. Then in late October we all will be visiting Ireland for the first time.  We expect to spend two days in Dublin and then explore around a bit; Sadly I don't think we will have time to make it to the other side to see the cliffs. Maybe that just means Ireland will require more than one trip. In November I will be in Rome for work. We were in Rome six years ago and the only thing I can remember is how much we ate. On multiple occasions we have said we want to repeat that exact trip just for the food and wine.

Then finally we are heading back to the States for winter break. Our kids have not been to their grandparents for the holidays since we surprised our families when they were just five weeks old. We usually gift ourselves a trip to a nice warm beach, but since we are not going to America this summer we thought this would be a fair trade off for the families.

We are getting used to the darker mornings... which will continue to get darker. A local put a positive spin on it: "You have to look at it as if you are heading to a point (the darkest point), and and once you reach the finish line it stops and it starts to get light again." The long and short is that the days are getting much shorter. The darkness will soon last through our first hour of work and then darkness will greet us as we are going home from work. We will get used to it... that is life... here in Holland.

Chad

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Long Time Gone


Wow it has been a long time! So much has happened since our last post I don't even know where to start. The long and short is that we are officially residents of the Netherlands now. 

It was definitely a crazy end to our six years in India. Without going into detail in regards to the India-United States drama that transpired, we really couldn't bring ourselves to blog in the final months in India. We loved our time in India, but we are very happy we made the decision to leave when we did.

We moved two adults, twin two and a half year olds, a labrador, seven suitcases, and one hundred and two boxes from New Delhi to Amsterdam. The actual moving was painless thanks to wonderful relocation packages from our employers. 

Our new house is fantastic. We rented with only seeing photos and are very happy with our selection. We are about a fifteen minute walk and a five minute bike ride to work. Also we are only a five minute bike ride away from a giant shopping center, and a massive forest to explore in.

In our first few weeks in the Netherlands we have met several new people and are having a great time. We were greeted with fantastic weather the first week. Lately though we have been experiencing the normal rain that is typical for the region.

Amsterdam is refreshing and clean, and just all around easy to navigate. Cedric and Ezra are loving all of the public transportation... trains, trams, busses, and bikes they love it all! 

Our family is in love with our new home. We look forward to getting to know this place as we get settled in. 

Oh and we also plan to get back into regular blogging now that life is a bit more calm.

Here are a few pictures since we last posted.
Chad & Cedric in Mauritius
Mary, Douglas, Cedric @ brunch
102 boxes enroute to The Netherlands
This is our life
Ezra - "Jet lag stinks"
Grandpa's story time
Quick trip through DC 
Douglas & Ezra giant slip and slide fun
Chad & Cedric giant slip and slide fun
Fried everything at Columbus Pride 2014
Ezra surfs up in Outer Banks NC
Douglas & Cedric go to Ivanhoes!
Cousin play time
Fresh haircuts
Cedric - "Take my picture!"
Baltimore MD
Our first family bike ride
Playing in our new back garden
Kitchen singing time
Cheese!

Chad

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Twin Travel Tips

Our twins are 27 months old. They were born in India. So far, we've traveled with them to the following destinations on planes:
  • Delhi - Newark - Indianapolis - 5 weeks 
  • Indianapolis - Houston - Frankfort - Delhi - 8 weeks
  • Delhi - Goa, India (and return) - 4 months
  • Delhi - Istanbul - Paris, France - 6 months
  • Paris - Newark - Indianapolis - 7 months
  • Indianapolis - Newark - Delhi - 9 months
  • Delhi - Hong Kong (and return) - 10 months
  • Delhi - Istanbul (and return) - 12 months
  • Delhi - Bangkok - Koh Chang (and return) - 13 months
  • Delhi - Goa (and return) - 16 months
  • Delhi - Newark - Indianapolis - 19 Months
  • Indianapolis - Newark - Delhi - 21 Months
  • Delhi - Istanbul - Prague (and return) - 25 Months
Over the course of those 13 trips, we've learned a thing or two about traveling with twins. Some of these tips you could probably figure out for yourself. Others may surprise you. 

1. Keep calm and carry on! You choose your attitude during your trip. Having realistic expectations for your child(ren) is helpful in maintaining a cool head. Your child will get fussy or cry at some point. The world will not end. Even if you have to take your screaming child and sit in the bathroom cabin for 30 minutes, the world will still not end.

2. Organize your packing with google docs - Chad and I keep a packing list on a google doc. We can both edit it from anywhere. So, when we're out and about and have a brain flash, we can jump on a smart phone and jot down that we have to remember to take the sleep sheep. Our list has evolved over time as the boys have grown. Things that didn't get much use during one trip get crossed off the list for the next trip.

3. Travel with a friend - This one isn't always possible, and lord knows we've made plenty of trans-Atlantic flights without anyone helping us. But this is really less about the flying than it is about having more possibilities once you arrive at your destination. During our most recent trip to Prague, we travelled with a friend who LOVES the boys. Having her there made the vacation so much better for everyone. When one of us parents needed to stay at the apartment with the boys, the other two adults could still go out and enjoy the city. Our friend even volunteered to babysit once while we ran out and got a bite to eat by ourselves.

4. Know your airline and airplane - Things you need to know include, but aren't limited to: how to book a bassinet, what counts or doesn't count as luggage, whether or not you can take your stroller through security and gate check it, what can and can't go in your diaper bag, how many kids can sit in the same row on a plane (see #5). Finding out all the details before you show up at the airport will save you from stress during your travels.

5. Carry two diaper bags - Not because you have so much stuff (which you will), but because you never know when you're going to be separated. We learned this the hard way on a return flight from Indianapolis to Delhi when our flight got cancelled and we got rerouted through Houston and Frankfort. Because of the configuration of oxygen masks on planes (see #4), we haven't always been able to sit in the same row. On most flights, we're either across the aisle from each other (one parent with one child), or in consecutive rows. On this flight, though, we were 5 rows apart and only had one diaper bag. When you're on a flight and your child needs a bottle, you definitely don't want to have to go hunting to find it.

6. Pay for upgrades to lounges - Seriously! We've had 7-9 hour layovers in Newark, Bangkok and Istanbul. In all of those places, we had access to the lounge and it made the layover easier. In the Newark Star Alliance lounge, there is a private family room with a TV and couches. The boys could lay down, have a proper nap and spread out and play. In the Istanbul airport, there is a play room, changing room (with complimentary diapers and wipes) and nap room with a legitimate crib and frequently changed bedding. In the Bangkok airport (Thai Airways Lounge), there are small rooms similar to the Newark lounge. All of these lounges are so much better than waiting in uncomfortable terminals.

7. Book apartments rather than hotels - Apartments are often bigger, have a separate room for the kids and a kitchen. If you have a place where you can cook your own food, it takes some of the stress out of always having to find a restaurant that is kid-friendly. Also, the kids always enjoy havinga bigger space where they can play. And the apartments we've found are frequently cheaper than hotels.

8.  Book an extra seat on the plane - If you can't get a bassinet, book a seat for your twins even if they're really little (or ask for one on flights that aren't full). On long flights (flights over 10 hours), if both parents have to hold a baby for the entire flight, it gets REALLY tiring -- parents of singletons, never EVER complain! When Cedric and Ezra were little, we were on a flight from Delhi to the US and the bassinets had already been booked by someone else. Luckily, we had a seat in between us where we could make a small bed for the boys (seems funny to me now to think that both of them could lay down in the same seat and have room to spare!) and give our arms a break. When they got a little older, but still could technically be lap babies, we booked them a seat on the long flight from Delhi to Newark and we were all so much more comfortable and less tired on arrival. Trust me, it's worth the money!

9. Soothe the transitions - We have been weaning the boys off of bottles. For several months now, they haven't had a bottle during the day and only have one bottle before bed. They also don't have much time in front of TVs or iPads. However, when we're traveling, all bets are off. During our trip to Prague, they must have watched Cars at least 3 times. They also had a bottle whenever they wanted. They we're super happy to sit with a bottle and a movie on the plane. And when we got home, we resumed our normal routine and the twins didn't miss a beat! (we're totally off the bottle now... but that's another post for another day) When they were just over a year old and had already transitioned to real food instead of baby food, we took along a bunch of baby food on our trip to Thailand on a whim. Turns out, that was all they were interested in eating as they didn't really care for the food on the children's menu at the resort where we stayed.

10. Plan to do less/Let them have space and time to do what they want - This is about managing your expectations (see #1). You aren't going to go see the Louvre, the Musee D'Orsay and the Eiffel Tower in one day with your twins and enjoy the experience. You need to plan days that are manageable and include things like play time, visits to parks and naps. Realize that your trip isn't all about you. It's about your kids too. Once they get old enough to do things other than eat/sleep/poop, they will want to have time to play and have fun. A jam packed schedule full of adult things will not make for a happy set of twins.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Vacation: Traveling Home

A much-belated Happy New Year to all of our friends in the blogosphere. Here is one final post about our winter vacation. Ezra pretty much represents how we all felt after traveling back to India. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, how much is a video worth?