Sunday, September 2, 2018

Making the most of a 24hr layover in Amsterdam!

It was such an incredible 24 hours!!

I saw so much and learned so much. 

I'm SO grateful I booked my flight to Kenya separate from the group and got to enjoy this little trip-within-a-trip! It made me a tiny bit nervous to be out by myself in the great big world...always a risky thing to do....but everything went magically delicious and I had the experience of a lifetime. 

Honestly my favorite part was just riding bikes around the city. I got to see more in a day than most do in a week!

I loved it so much!!
Almost felt like a local. 

 The brick streets are so cool...I felt like I was on a movie set. Or had gone back in time 100-200 years.

What a fascinating city and lifestyle.
Everyone on bikes, very few vehicles.
Canals everywhere.
Giant churches/cathedrals - catholic and protestant.
The city lived up to it's *sinful* reputation...the Red Light District was more explicit than I imagined!
Weed smoking is everywhere ("coffee shops" always offer marijuana and coffee).
Lots of bars, and they were quite proud of being the first to legalize gay marriage.

But it wasn't hard to ignore all that and just enjoy the good stuff.
Our church building wasn't far from town and it was beautiful! The temple was over an hour away so I didn't get to go.
The number of museums - wow! 
They had a museum for everything.  Cheese, cows, and then the usual stuff - art, history, architecture, ships, etc. 
I'm a big fan of a bikeable city. 
So great for everyone, in every way. Physically, mentally, environmentally... so awesome.  
I read that there are about 900,000 people, and over a million bikes!! Some of the "bicycle parking lots" hold over 25,000 bikes!  
PJ said they end up fishing about 10,000 bikes out of the canal every year. Funny.

***Fresh hot STROOPWAFELS are so delicious!!!***
Attending the Catholic church service Sunday morning was interesting. Such ornate decor and intimidating atmosphere. It was interesting, but....
I'm really really glad to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints :)

The open air markets were awesome, especially the FLOWER markets!! 
I could've shopped around all day. 

But I didn't want to spend much or buy things I'd have to carry around the next 2 weeks. 
So I just got a cute magnet to add to my travel-magnet collection, plus some cute little yellow dutch clogs. 

The canals at night were so so so beautiful!! 
Beautiful lights everywhere. 
LOTS of other boats out. 
I was surprised, but PJ said it's because it's a weekend, plus fantastic weather.  
I had brought a jacket but didn't even need it. 
Which means I have to bring it to Kenya with me now, but leave it there - who knows if they'll ever use it! ha. Oh well. 

The Anne Frank house was an amazing experience. Very sobering to actually see where she and her family hid away for so long.  And hear the same bell she heard every day every hour.  It was so small.  
What a sad sad part of history for the whole world. It's awful what one small group of evil men can accomplish and manipulate others into doing. 

I had WiFi several times so I got to chat with Brian πŸ’›πŸ’›. 
I think it's going to be a very interesting and intense 2 weeks for him with me away! 
I was surprised at how emotional I was at our goodbye. And with the kids. And by myself. I cried hard.
It didn't help that I was sleep deprived.
But still, it was so sad! Super overwhelming.
But I'm fine now.
I know I'm meant to be on this adventure! 

My day of play was such a fun treat.
 Now I'm looking forward to actually getting to work and doing some good in Kenya πŸ‡°πŸ‡ͺπŸ™Œ

Here is the flexible itinerary the tour guide PJ sent me, and we followed semi close with a few changes as we went about.
14:25   Arrival Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, DL 8213
14:55   Passport control
15:00   Meetup local PJ at arrival hall 3
15:10   Taking the train to Central Station

15:25   Arriving at Amsterdam Central Station, walk to bike flat
15:30   Bike tour including Dam Square, Royal Palace, Red light District,
 (see a coffeeshop from the inside), Old Church, De Waag, Nieuwmarkt,
China Town, Jewish district, Skinny Bridge, Rembrandt square, Albert Cuyp Market

16:45   Visit farmer's market Albert Cuyp and eat a fresh 'Stroopwafel'
17:15   Cycle to Amsterdam-East and see windmill 'De Gooyer'
17:30   Cycle to Nemo Science Museum to have a good view from the roof terrace

17:50   Cycle to Museum square and see museums from the outside and IAmsterdam sign
18:20   Cycle to the open air theater in the Vondelpark and see a short concert in the park (concert is till 7PM)
18:50   Cycle to ANNE FRANK house
19:10   Boat UNESCO listed canals and other small canals and have a local snack on boat
20:25   Boat to Foodhallen, local place to have food
20:40   Eat at Foodhallen
21:10   Boat to Jordan district
21:45   Walk through UNESCO listed Jordan District

22:15   Walk to Proeflokaal A. van Wees, a traditional Dutch Brown CafΓ© and see inside. See the Nine little streets
0:00    Sleep
8:15    Shower, have breakfast and prepare for flight
9:45    Cycle to Central Station, park bike and say bye to PJ
10:00   Take the train back to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport 
10:15   Arrival at Airport
10:25   Go through security
12:25   Boarding aircraft

12:55   Flight to Nairobi,
Kenya, DL9585 (KL565)


Thanks to a 5 hour layover in SLC and cousin Jill being kind enough to pick me up, I got to see my grandmother! Plus a few other cousins, and Uncle Kit. It was so wonderful! I can't believe it's been so long since I've visited. I love this grand lady! 95 years old and still full of life and personality, despite her body failing her. I'm so so grateful for this visit. And it was interesting to see how that area has changed since we moved!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Work partner...?

I don't know how he gets anything done in this messy office! Oh, and with a giant baby on his shoulders...🀣🀣
Seriously though, she's huge! She's losing her baby chub as she's getting older 😫😫😫 ugh. Whhhhhhy. I just want my squishy squish ball to stay littleπŸ’›

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sunday, August 26, 2018


We found out about someone looking for a new home for their rabbit. It's a little risky, since it's a boy and we already have a boy and they might fight. But the kids (AND Brian!!) are just so excited. So we talked the owners into letting us have him, assuring him a nice cleaned up cage (Brian's job). We get him on Wednesday. 5 yr old Holland Lop named Pepper (we'll rename him). This will be interesting!

Friday, August 24, 2018



When your sister is an esthetician....


Spelling tests and cucumber snacks πŸ₯’



We've been working hard and having so much fun doing formal swimming lessons at the Lahtinen's home! I asked Jane if she would be so kind as to let me utilize her indoor pool for teaching my kids.  She was very gracious. But made it clear I can't start teaching other kids swimming lessons there.... HA! The last thing I want is to start round 2 of "Smith Swim Lessons."  BTDT.  Exhausting.  This little group was just perfect, and about all I can handle.  They're doing so great!! Making big improvements. Super proud of their hard work. And super grateful for good friends with sweet indoor pools :)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Easy summer dance camp

One of the many reasons I'll never quit Facebook is because it's how I find out about awesome stuff going on!  This is so great:  a sweet teen and her mom are putting on a 3 day dance camp for girls ages 4-12.  Only $15, and it's a fundraiser for their humanitarian trip, and it's like 10 minutes away. Ummmm, PERRRRRFECT.  Best thing ever!  And while they dance, Bennett and I go across the street to play at the park. Throw frisbees, read our books, snack, chat, etc.  Great mommy-son time.   

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Matchy Matchy

Her Grandma McKell sent these outfits! We love it!  And I love that I have a daughter who doesn't have to be asked or reminded to put on an undershirt when a top is too short. She just does it, all on her own.  She's MY doll  :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Primary time

Our friend Laura Williams is such a great Primary Music Leader!! The kids absolutely love all the games she plays to help them learn the songs.  I feel so blessed to be a member of this church and have programs like this to help my kids love learning the Gospel!

Finally old enough!

I've been feeling guilty for awhile that I hadn't taken the time to teach my kids more cleaning skills. There's really no where else they're going to learn them if I don't make it happen! And it'd just be embarrassing to send little humans out into the world who don't know how to clean. 
It's hard though, because it takes minutes to just get it done myself.  Much longer if I'm coaching someone else.
Finally I just did it! And they did great!  Super proud of them... and myself, to be honest:)

Bennett at piano lessons

  I reallyreally love that our piano teacher is right around the corner. Just a quick bike ride away. And that she's reasonably priced, and great with the kids.  We keep up lessons in the summer - it's far too long to take that much time off - but just intermittently. Whenever hers and our schedules align. 
Bennett LOVES to play piano. He jumps on it at home all the time, making up songs, goofing around, figuring out how to play by ear.  I have to encourage him a little more to actually work on improving site reading the music.  I'm super excited to see what he does in the future with piano!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Greatest ShowTwins!

  Their birthday party was a big hit! A TON of work for me, but worth it. I love these circus ring leader jackets I found on Oriental Trading. SO cute.  And our face painter, Micaela, did an incredible job!

Monday, August 6, 2018

8 is great!

The Greatest PiΓ±ata!

  We are excitedly prepping for the big birthday party!!  Filled up this homemade pinata with 5 lbs of organic lollipops, a couple dozen light-up glow stick necklaces, and a hundred circus themed tattoos.  I just used a big cardboard box and decorated it with tissue paper.  It's hard to find a commercial pinata that's big enough, and not flimsy - you don't want kids busting it open too fast! This one was perfect. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Evening stroll with Sammy

I love taking Sammy out. So much.

Splish splash

So ...I'm not even sure what they're doing here!!
Brian sent me these pictures while I was out at my friend Cara's birthday party girls night.
So I didn't even ask for an explanation.... just was happy to see they're happy :)

extra kids around

This is a sweet little girl named Summer. We're watching her occasionally while her mom's in a rough spot. And by occasionally.... there have been a few 12 hour days.  Yah.  Kinda intense. But it's ok, we like helping, and I think it's good for my kids.   We've taken in the kids of a few other ward member kids lately who need a day out... so I'm getting a bit of a reputation with my fam and those who see this.  My unofficial foster mom job ;)
Because we have been given much..... eh!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Senior Citizen rabbits

These two are like Grandma and Grandpa Rabbit.  They're so old.... they're infertile!!! Though that doesn't stop them from trying ;)  No baby bunnies for us. That's ok. Don't need the extra work. Would've been cute though.
They seem to like laying on the cement sometimes. Maybe it's warmer?

Reading to Miles

 Bennett did such a great job helping me take care of this cute little friend!!  His mom went to an appointment so we had him over. He's seriously the cutest little guy.


Bennett wasn't so sure about watermelon that isn't red! 
But one taste and he was sold.  
So yummy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Activity Day Girls Camp

 Brianna, Courtney and Lily had SO much fun at this 2-day ADG camp! It was perfect. We rode our bikes over to the Greenbluff building and they got 5 hours of skill building, testimony building, and friendship building. 
I'm so glad they let Courtney in despite her being a few days short of old enough for camp :)
And I love the look on Brianna's beautiful face in this pic!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Operation with Tucker

These two cousins play together so well, it's super cute! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Chelsea the plumber

So ridiculously proud of myself.
Sink clogged, didn't call my dad, didn't call neighbor Dan, didn't call a plumber.
I looked up youtube videos on dissembling sink pipes, and one hour later things were flowing clear again. 
This plastic spoon, plus cantaloupe seeds, were the main culprits. 
I'm kinda amazing. Well me and YouTube anyway. 

Manito Park with Nonny and COUSINS!