Diane here. I will leave you in suspense about Gail's school experience so far except to say that she did not actually die on the first day of school. Or the second or third. Jury's still out on the 4th.
Last week we were a little ahead of things - all moved into our apartment and five free days before school started. So we did what any rational family would do - we went to the Netherlands for a long weekend! Amsterdam is such a gorgeous city - just walking around is a pleasure (at least when I don't have plantar fasciitis)! It's also a city of SERIOUS bicyclists. Crossing the street requires attention to the car lanes, the tram lanes and the bike lanes. The bikes move quickly!
After we arrived on Wednesday afternoon we went to the Van Gogh museum, which I love. There aren't many museums where you can see an artist's progression through his entire career, which in Van Gogh's case was only ten years.
From there we walked to the Anne Frank house. The lines there are always long, but we got in after a 30 minute wait. Gail had just read the diary in school last year. The first time I visited, as a Girl Scout, I found it inconceivable that anyone could live in such a small space. As an adult, the space doesn't bother me nearly as much as the thought of living without natural light for years.
On Thursday we went to the Rijkstag, the national art museum which has been extensively remodeled. It was also amazing. "Nightwatch" is the most famous painting there, but we also loved lots of other things, including a fanciful chess set (picture attached), incredibly carved furniture, and a piece of modern art that was a grandfather clock with the image of a person in it. Every minute the person would erase the hands and redraw them in the new correct time.
Then it was a quiet lunch at a sidewalk café, a quick visit to the Oude Kerk (the Old Church), and a train to Leeuvarden to visit our friends Peter and Leonie and their son Pieter who was home for the weekend. We were sad to miss their daughter Krystal (though perhaps she's avoiding me after I inadvertently attempted to poison her with nut-laden pesto in Italy a few years ago). In Leeuvarden we rented an electric boat and took a tour of the city's canals. It was beautiful. We avoided all museums in deference to our heathen daughter who thought that two all-day art museums in two days was too much for a human to bear. I mean, really! The nerve. (That was Gail's addition to the blog.)
From Leeuvarden we headed down to Voorburg to visit Hester and her family. Their town is also beautiful, and her parents and her home are gezellig. (Gezellig is a virtually untranslatable Dutch word that means cozy, welcoming, comfortable).