Norway & Netherlands 2016: Days 1-3

Well hello.
I’ve missed you guys!
We came back from our summer vacation on Sunday night and I have approximately 4 billion pictures to share with you.  Settle in friends :).  Here’s our trip by the numbers:
10 days on vacation.
2 different countries visited.
1 birthday girl was celebrated.
About 18 whales were spotted.
0 times I threw up on a small boat (quite the little miracle!).
1 black eye came home.
4,596 games of Crazy 8s were played.
2 to 3 hours a day was all the darkness we experienced (holy sunshine!).
4 fjords were explored.
8,569,235 times Ashby said “I miss Bowen”
Too many laughs, hugs, kisses, cuddles and time together as a family to count.  It was such a special little vacation.
So, I’m always telling you how Andrew and I plan our family vacations way in advance.  We plan, save, prepare, and decide typically two years before we depart.  That being said, this trip has been in the works since 2011.  Way back then, we decided that we wanted to visit Norway and specifically its fjords.  That being said, that’s a vacation for bigger kids (and in 2011, we had two babies).  So, the years went by and we waited for the perfect time to take our family to Norway…and landed on this year.  This trip was especially fun because of how much my big kids enjoyed planning and preparing for it.  We all watched Rick Steves videos together preparing, my kids checked out books at their school library on Norway the entire month of May (which was funny because their little elementary school doesn’t have that many books on Norway, so every week they would come home with the books the other one had just turned back in), we studied the Vikings beforehand and talked a lot about World War II and the Holocaust (especially about Anne Frank).  We even watched The Diary of Anne Frank as a family (with the big kids only) and a documentary on the Holocaust.  So, needless to say…we were all super pumped and ready to leave.  And we decided to leave…
 …on Ashby’s FOURTH BIRTHDAY!  Woohoo!  This was the morning of June 9th, otherwise known as this girl’s birthday.  Our flight didn’t leave until that evening, so we slept in, opened presents and then met my family for brunch on our town square…

…everyone knows that Ashby doesn’t enjoy breakfast but she totally digs brunch!  My parents, grandparents, Sean and Catherine all met us to celebrate sweet Ashby.

Pink cupcakes to celebrate our sweet Ashby.
After brunch, we all came home and showered up (because we knew it would be a long time before we had the chance to shower again…) and headed to the airport.

 Three excited travelers at the airport!

Love exploring with this guy.
(And pssst: because I just don’t know a better way to do it, I’ll link to random things below pictures when I think you’ll ask me what we’re wearing.  Like this shirt for instance is that linen-like Lush shirt I can’t stop wearing.  Love it so much because it doesn’t wrinkle…which is good because I’m about to wear it for two days!)
And off we went!  DFW to London was our first leg of the trip.

 And here we are!  Some 10 hours later…eating breakfast in the airport in London waiting on our connecting flight to Amsterdam.  Remember when we took our kids to Amsterdam when they were babies?  We ate here with them while waiting for our connection…
…look at baby Kensington!  This was July 2010.  Same breakfast for the same connection.

But this time around, we’re a family of FIVE headed to Amsterdam!
So, we took the short flight from London to Amsterdam and arrived right after lunch.  We checked into our hotel and hit the streets to explore.  First stop, a meal outside…

And then we walked (and tour guide Andrew pointed out things ;)…love this guy!).

Crazies on a canal.

All the wooden shoes make this girl happy!

The last two times we’ve been in Amsterdam (2010 and 2012), I’ve bought these little houses to sit on the shelves in my office by Royal Delft.  Here we are in the same shop buying three more.  I love having little trinkets from trips around my house.

Jet. Lag.

Ordering his crepe outside of Rembrandt Square.

She hasn’t slept in over 24 hours but she’s happy and excited to be on vacation!

And this Nutella Crepe made me extremely happy!!
We continued walking around Amsterdam until about 7:00 and then we were tired and ready for long showers and bed.  The next morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel…

And it made me reminisce about the last time they were here…
…same hotel just six years earlier.  Sweet babies!  They get big so fast!

My favorite little sidekick :).
Hinge military jacket (exact jacket now 35% off!)

After breakfast, we took to the streets of Amsterdam for one more walk (in the rain) before our car arrived to take us to Rotterdam for…

…our Norwegian Fjords Cruise.
So…if you want to see the fjords…you gotta be in a boat, right?  And we all know that I don’t do boats that well (to say the least!), so after lots of careful consideration, planning and research, we found a cruise that stopped inside the fjords PLUS toured them each evening.  Win, win, win.
 We got on board our Holland America Line ship at noon and were so pumped!  Inside each elevator, they change the rug daily to what day of the week it is and for some reason, we LOVED this.  I’m going to need to get these rugs for my house :).

Because we have a family of five, we had to get two cabins…which at first we thought was a big bummer (because we enjoyed having one cabin on our Disney Cruise), but they were right next door to each other and having two cabins meant having two bathrooms, tubs, showers, etc and it ended up being really nice.  I took pics of this cabin on day one before it was destroyed by our presence.  This is us right after getting inside.

It was the exact same size as our cabin on board the Disney Magic but…we had two of them, so there was plenty of room and two big balconies on the aft (rear) of the ship so we could see the fjords from both sides during our scenic cruising.

Balcony number 1 ready to depart Rotterdam.

We explored the ship the rest of the day.  This is the kids’ area…on board this ship were about 2000 passengers and only 10 of them were kids.  Needless to say, our kids got the run of things!

Woohoo!  Ready for FUN!

Departing Rotterdam.

On the fifth deck, they had faux Terracotta Warriors all the way from Xi’an, China…just like this girl!  Remember when we went and saw the actual Terracotta Warriors?  One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen!

On one of the balconies leaving Rotterdam.  It took about 3 hours to leave the Rotterdam port because it was so large (one of the largest ports in the world!).  We watched with binoculars as the Netherlands went by.  Next stop, the fjords!
Whew!
So, that’s the beginning.  I told Andrew that one of my favorite parts of this trip was all of the hand holding I did.  As long as I live, I’ll remember the hand holding.  Walking as much as we did on this trip, there were always two people holding my hands…and that was just so sweet.

To see Days 4 & 5 click here.

On my foodie blog today…
My kiddos and I made these out of vanilla Greek yogurt and they were so GOOD!  Perfect for an easy summer snack!  See the recipe here.
Love you ladies!  So happy to be home!
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  • Kerri June 21, 2016 at 10:17 am

    I love Holland America cruises! Can't wait to see the rest of your trip!

  • Katie June 21, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Sounds like an amazing trip! My little family of three just spent four weeks in Amsterdam this last fall! And seeing your pictures brings back such fond memories 🙂 and lots of hand holding with my three year old! Now we are in Barcelona for four weeks and I'm exploring it with an almost four year old! So fun seeing these adventures through their eyes!
    Can't wait to see the Rest of your trip!

  • Laurie Willmann June 21, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Awesome pictures! We sailed Holland America years ago for our honeymoon and loved it. What do you recommend for seasickness?

  • Amy Heinl June 21, 2016 at 10:39 am

    What a wonderful and exciting trip..cant wait to read and see more…thank you for sharing. What a blessing for your children to experience

  • Narci June 21, 2016 at 11:09 am

    So fun!! Glad to have you back, friend!!! We missed y'all tons!! This trip looks like so much fun!! I can't wait to follow along! Xoxo

  • Tara G. June 21, 2016 at 11:11 am

    We are headed to Amsterdam this fall…
    http://annefrank.com/sofia-geelhood-essay/

  • Amber June 21, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Fun!!!! Can't wait to read all about it!!! You look amazing even after a 24 hour travel time!!!

  • Brandy June 21, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Oh goodness! I loved Amsterdam! We, too, pick up trinkets while we travel, especially keychains for the kids to put on their backpacks. I can't wait to hear about the rest of your cruise because this is a cruise We want to do as well.

  • Sarah Shaneyfelt June 21, 2016 at 11:33 am

    My husband and I just returned from a cruise to the Bahamas and I'm recapping the first couple of days today, too! So glad y'all had a great time and I'm curious to read how Ashby gave you that black eye haha!
    Sarah at MeetTheShaneyfelts

  • Sheaffer {Pinterest Told Me To} June 21, 2016 at 11:39 am

    YAY! So happy you had an amazing time and so pumped that now we get to see all the pics! So far it looks like an amazing vacation! And I know what you mean about the hand holding. When in public, it's not happening all that often anymore…but when it does, I take it all in! 🙂 Now I'm off to check out those popsicles!

  • K June 21, 2016 at 11:50 am

    I'm looking forward to reading the rest! My family and I have a Disney cruise planned next year that leaves from Dover and goes to Norway and Iceland. Needless to say, I can't wait!!

  • Stephanie Spring June 21, 2016 at 11:50 am

    This trip looks amazing already! 🙂

  • Sarah Kuykendall June 21, 2016 at 11:51 am

    You are raising the best little travelers!!

  • Holly June 21, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Sounds so wonderful. I get so much anxiety travelling anywhere with my two kiddos (3&8mos) you do it with such ease.

  • Kathy Olson June 21, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Happy you are back! It's fun to read your adventures:)

  • Stephanie June 21, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Random question, but what Crossbody bag do you like for traveling – men's and women's? We are taking an overseas trip with little ones in August and I think they are a necessity! Really like the one Andrew has so would love to know which one it is! Thanks!

    • Mix and Match Mama June 21, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      Mine is Michael Kors and Andrew's is so old that I don't even remember where he bought it??? He's had it for years!

  • Amy Huth Youngblood June 21, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Shay – I get terrible motion sickness and have ruled out boats now because it's just not worth it, but my husband loves them and I think it would be wonderful to do when the kids get bigger. How do you survive? The patch? Bonine? Something better? I'm really curious how you are able to risk this with three kids to manage and make it through successfully! Thanks so much and WELCOME HOME! We missed you too 🙂 – Amy

    • Mix and Match Mama June 21, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      Oh girl! I feel you! I basically walk through life always on the verge of throwing up. It's the worst! I have been on many cruises and only been sick on one (the waters were very rough!). I find that for me, ships are so large enough not to feel the motion. I don't use anything (because I've never found anything that actually works: bands/patches/pills…I've tried them all on smaller vessels).

    • Amy Huth Youngblood June 22, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks! 🙂

  • Rebecca Jo June 21, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Such an adventurous life… cant wait to see more pictures.

  • Holly June 21, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Looks like a fun adventure! My cousins are going to be missionaries in Rotterdam come this fall. Also, Holland America is a great cruise line. Enjoy reading about your travels!

  • Brooke Richardson June 21, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    So glad y'all are back!!! Can't wait to see the rest of the pics!!!! Looks like a blast!

  • Jenny June 21, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    I love vacations. I can't wait to read about the rest of your trip! It's good to have you back! 🙂

  • Ruth June 21, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Welcome back!! I was just telling someone that Norway is one of the top places I want to visit. I can't wait to see pictures from the rest of your trip.

  • Beautifully Seaside // Formerly Chic Coastal Living June 21, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    What a fun vacation Shay! I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of it and the fjords!

  • Megan June 21, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Welcome back!!! Every time I see pics of your travels with your kids as babies, I'm convinced you are super woman!!! Pretty much it's my worst nightmare!! All I can think about is the sleeping or lack of!!! You rock!! And This trip looks amazing! I can't wait to see more.

  • hannaschwee June 21, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Amy, I'm a pharmacist and I get questions about motion sickness all the time! Especially in the summer now with everyone going on vacation! It's really so person-to-person, you will have to see what works for you. I have patients that swear by meclizine (found over the counter), that swear by the wrist band that hits a pressure point (over the counter), and if needed, get scopamine patch (prescription only). My dad gets motion sickness just from sitting in a rocking chair but meclizine works very well for him!!!

    • Amy Huth Youngblood June 22, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      THANK YOU!!! The wrist bands help on planes for me but I'm too scared to try a boat. I will definitely give the meclizine a try. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  • Keisha Dawson June 21, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    So glad you're back, and it looks like an AMAZING vacation! Can't wait to see the rest of your pictures!

  • Darcy Sexson June 21, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    What a fun start to your trip! Can't wait to see more.

  • Caroline June 21, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    I have a family of five as well. Did your cabins connect or did you and Andrew have to each take a kid or two to separate rooms? We seem to encounter this problem frequently.

  • Katie June 21, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    I can't wait to see more of your trip! What size do you wear in the military jacket and tunic?

  • KVC June 21, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    Welcome back! Travel is my passion so I am looking forward to following along to hear about the rest of your vacation.

  • Lindsay at Lindsay'sSweetWorld June 21, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    You sure do know how to plan a vacation! Norway is somewhere that we really want to take our kids one day because my husband's side of the family is from there. His dad is 100% Norwegian, so our babies are 1/4 Norwegian. I would love for them to see where their roots are!

  • Amy @ Getz Girl on Fire June 21, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    I love vacation recaps . . . can't wait to hear more! Your trip is giving me wanderlust . . . even worse than I already have! 🙂

  • Missy June 21, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    Y'all are such a cute family! They are so lucky to have parents to take them on such exciting adventures while they are young! If I ever have kids I will do the same! Welcome back, and I can't wait to see more of the adventures!

  • Mary Feagley June 21, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    Would love to get a Nutella crepe recipe! Have never made crepes at home, but I know my two kids would love them!

  • Jeanie June 21, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    Looks like a wonderful time! I couldn't help but notice how grown up Kensington's looking. When did that happen??

  • TJ June 22, 2016 at 5:24 am

    What are your tricks for getting kids on the new time zone? I can't imagine staying up 24 hours myself (and I'm 40+ years old), let alone one of my kids.

  • The Blue-Eyed Blogger June 22, 2016 at 6:46 am

    So glad you are back on the blog! I missed reading about your adorable family while I drank my morning tea last week! I'm a long time reader who has just created an account on Blogger, which is why I haven't commented until now. This trip looks amazing, I can't WAIT to see those gorgeous fjords.

  • Unknown June 23, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    What fun, Shay!!!! Glad you are back safe! It looks like you guys had an amazing time together. So sorry about your eye, friend!!! Hope it heals soon!

  • Aubrey June 29, 2016 at 8:00 am

    So many things I love about this! Love that you saw a tiny bit of Amsterdam en route to Norway. Love that you went back to a place you’d taken your babies years before. Love that you were cruising with an older crowd. 🙂

  • Danielle June 29, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Do you wear the Lush top tucked in when under the military jacket? The Lush tops are so long so I was curious. Thanks!

    • Mix and Match Mama June 29, 2016 at 10:54 am

      I typically do not. Some of the Lush tops are called “tunics” but this one is not. I think you could wear it in or out.