A detail, like watching the kids listen to someone speak a language they have never heard of, or gawk at canals, small houses, and busy streets of bikes was incredible. Things that we might see, and accept as part of life here, they will stew over, stare at, and spend hours trying to understand life different than their own.
Why does everyone ride trams? What are these strange cars on tracks? The kids learned a lot just from discovering how to ride from one side of town to the other on a tram.
A big field outside the rijksmuseum is fun to walk through. But with kids that field becomes an incredible imaginative playground. Hours were spent there.
They watched the street performers who preform an adequate at best show outside the rijksmuseum 6 different times. I couldn't stop talking about how first of all they were preforming outside for everyone for free. And second, of course how funny they were. I usually watch a little of those street shows and move on, maybe stay until the end. But I wouldn't watch it multiple times. When they wanted to watch every time they saw the performers setting up I saw the talent in the show, the uniqueness of it, and how hard these guys worked to be able to make a living doing this 3 times a day. Something I would have never cared about before.
They ask questions about every person we pass, and want to understand everything about the people and place we are visiting. Even seeing the inside of a European McDonald's is shocking and an amazing experience.
There are hard moments for them as well. When they don't understand why the can't order the food they are used to in the states, or why we had to walk, tram, and train so much to get around. They missed their English speaking playground buddies, and their favorite toys.
But they also showed me how to accept culture and new experiences in ways I never have before. Suddenly running around playing with Dutch kids on a playground despite the fact that they cannot speak a word of the same language. Laughing their heads of in glee while taking a simple bike ride around the park (and also screaming for joy which is what the kiddos on my bike did....)
When I asked my girls on our last night what they would miss about this place, they had interesting answers. I would have said things like the beautiful canal lined streets, the atmosphere in vondelpark, the incredible museums, the friendly Dutch people, walking down kalverstraat, enjoying coffee at the cafe near our house, reading a book out on the museumplein.
Monkey said that she would miss all of her climbing trees in Vondelpark, climbing on the Iamsterdam letters, and walking with me to the grocery store every morning. Nugget said she would miss riding on the tram, and playing pony-unicorn in the museumplein (which was essentially our backyard). I know the baby will miss riding a bike daily since she was just about obsessed with it.
They will miss the little things. Just the small lifestyle changes that they got to experience from living in a place pretty drastically different than their own. They won't miss the massive things that I will miss, the big cultural differences, and the large experiences of the city. They will just miss the new normal that they were able to experience in this city. The small changes that they adjusted too as a natural part of their Amsterdam life.
But what I will miss most of all, is of course those sweet little faces.
I have never been good at goodbyes. As a traveler that tends to be unpleasant but traveler friends are adults, and they are who they are when you meet them. But these little people will change so very much when I am gone. And the way they looked at me when I was leaving- it was like their world was shattering.
Well girls, mine was shattering too.
I cried real, big, tears watching these faces disappear out of the tram window.
Little diva over here was my adventure partner, always asking me when we could go out and do something new. She took Amsterdam by storm!! and climbed what seemed like every tree in Vondelpark. I see travel in this little lady's future. Nothing phases her!
I told her while I was gone she need to be the "smartest girl she can be". And she promised to write me e-mails detailing every bit of her life. I guarantee she is not kidding. And the life of a 7-year-old is full of exciting details. She promised me she would watch out for her sisters, and was adamant that if I didn't come home to her soon she was going to write me a very angry e-mail
This sweet lil nugget soaked up every minute of life in Amsterdam- amazed by the world around here. She still gives the best snuggles, and I have never played "pony-unicorn-magical-fox-
My last night putting her to bed she told me that she would draw a picture of us and draw a heart on it, because she loved me so much and didn't want me to leave. And then when I left she stood at the door, in just her underwear, trying to block me from leaving with her tiny little body. (that's the first time I started crying)
"Nugget, don't grow up too much while I'm gone"- me
"But lexie- that's the thing about being little, you have to get bigger. I'm sorry but I'm going to have to be a big girl when you get back" - nugget **Cue Tears**
This babe learned to clap while we were away, fell in love with riding on a bike, and grew about an inch of adorable curly fuzzy hair! I spent most of my free time trying to get her to laugh and smile. And took every chance I could to walk around with her, on bike or on my bike, and let her soak in the hustle and excitement of the city. She broke the ice for us with many a stranger, smiling and waving, hoping to get their attention.
Babies grow up alarmingly face. I know she will be drastically different by the time I get home. I cuddling this one before I put her to bed last night. She let me snuggle her extra long, and I sang her a favorite song of ours. I took a sniff of that sweet baby smell and new that seeing her again I would see an amazing little toddler, even if I had to miss the 6 months that got her there.