Four and a half years of flying across the Atlantic on a regular basis, and I'm still in awe of the capacity for loved ones to budget the time and expense to visit us here. Certainly flights are more available and ticket costs not completely out of range. But still, it is a gift to us every time we get to open our door and see a familiar smiling face on the other side.
This spring, we had a fantastic burst of visitors on our side of the Big Blue. Besides Norm and Brenda's visit in March, we saw Jenn and Ryan Alexander here in Amsterdam, Dave's Aunt Vivian and Uncle Ted in Copenhagen, my mom's long-time Norwegian pen pal also here in Amsterdam.
And last but not even remotely the least, my parents made their first visit to Amsterdam (or anywhere in Europe, for that matter) in the second part of May.
Long-time friends Jenn and Ryan were able to leave their two-and-a-half year old son behind with family in Seattle to spend nearly a week with us here. And spending quality time with these two has become nothing but more valuable over the years. Two passionate, talented, intelligent people in our house for five days straight? Like a vibrant shot in the arm, morning after morning. We played, ate, rested (Jenn is ALSO pregnant! She's expecting a baby boy a few weeks after our daughter is due), talked, talked and talked some more. It was wonderful. Hard to say good-bye when the time came, but we were grateful for the time we had.
Dave's Aunt Vivian and Uncle Ted were on vacation in Copenhagen and invited us to join them for dinner sometime during their stay. Copenhagen is a mere stone's throw away from Amsterdam, so a one-night visit was completely feasible. Dave was able to plan a business meeting around our 24-hour stint, and we enjoyed a lovely dinner in Tivoli Gardens with Norm's sister and brother-in-law.
This was the most quality time I had ever spent with this fascinating couple, and we didn't waste any time getting to the heart of what was going on with all of us. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more intentional and thoughtful conversationalist than Vivian. And Ted is an endless source of fantastic anecdotes, having climbed mountains, swam across channels, and ran across countries globe-wide. They are beautiful people and I was so glad to have a chance to have a Danish rendezvous with them.
(I also managed to squeeze in a visit to an amazing Danish piano store, spending time playing a few pianos I had never seen before...AND...my long-standing favorite...a Yamaha S6. Good times all around!)
The night before we left for Majorca, I intersected with Liv, a long-time pen pal friend of my mother's, who was visiting Amsterdam with a group of girlfriends celebrating the 50th anniversary of their sewing club. Our time together was brief, starting with a tour of our home (Dutch canal houses are always fascinating to see), and ending with dinner at Nomad's, a Lebanese restaurant near our house.
Having lived in America for some years in the seventies (the period in which she met my mother), Liv's English is nearly impeccable. Her friends had to work a little harder to communicate with me. But after they had had a few drinks, their English improved dramatically! A wonderful group of ladies, they were, and always nice to meet folks from the Motherland.
And then, there are my parents.
There are some happenings that I have longed for so hard that, when one is about to come true, I wonder if it will live up to my imagination. One such happening was finding and falling in love with my husband. And after that one worked out so beautifully, not far down the list was the opportunity to share with my parents our life here in Amsterdam.
They were here for 9 days. One better than the next. Amsterdam's weather even managed to level out for their stay.
We spent some time visiting Amsterdam's "must sees"...the Rijksmuseum (complete with a personal guided tour from good friend and art historian Blanka Pesje), the Van Gogh Museum, the canal boat tour, the Anne Frank house, the Saturday morning market. But I think we agreed that the best time of all was spent in our house, cooking and eating together, playing with remote-controlled helicopters and the Wii, Dad teaching 5 how to catch treats, Mom going to pick out baby clothes with me.
And, perhaps the most special happening of all was going to our 20-week ultrasound - all four-and-a-half of us to check on the health and (baby's position allowing) the gender of this new Sheldon-to-be. Mom and dad were in the room with us, checking out what we discovered is their newest granddaughter on the echo screen.
Moments not to be forgotten.
To everyone who has come to visit us in the last four+ years, thank you thank you thank you! We can't tell you how much your effort means to us. There are countless brilliant places to visit on this planet, and that you choose to allocate time and funds to be with us is an irreplaceable gift.