Merry Christmas fom David, Carmen, Cate and Maggie

I think these are the most important words you'll hear at Christmas (or ever). [previously]

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains He shall break, for the slave is our brother;
and in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is our Lord! O praise His name Forever!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!

- Placide Cappeau


Something new

Check it.



One more day in Paris

I've still got stories. Stay tuned.


Some news

We've started something. It's pretty small. It could be big, but it could be nothing. Time will tell.

It's called Rowan Jane Photography.

This is something Carmen and I have been talking about for a long time. I guess you could say it's been in the planning stages for about a year, but in Europe we had a lot of time to talk and reflect on things. So instead of just putting things off and waiting for the 'right' time, we just went ahead and did it. The business and the website are still a work in progress, and there will be some additions and changes as things develop.

Take a look. Let us know what you think. And spread the word. (Seriously, Google Analytics tells me this blog is read in some pretty cool places in the world, so spread the friggin' word).

And here's a shot from our first session as a business:


A bit of Bruges

We were really starting to get tired by the time we left Amsterdam. I've never walked as much in my life as we did in our first 10 days in Europe. Carmen's knee was really sore (not that she ever complained about it) and we were really, really starting to miss Cate and Maggie.

The train from Amsterdam to Rosendahl, and then the connection to Heide, felt surreal. It was a dreary morning and the Dutch countryside was covered in fog. You get used to being surrounded by a different culture and language, but the scenery never seems to get old. For the second time in three days, we hung out at the Rosendahl train station, with nothing to do but take pictures of bikes, and nothing to eat but the ham and cheese sandwiches in the vending machine.

Peit and Carla, bless their collective heart, picked us up at the train station in Heide and drove us across Belgium to one of the oldest cities in Europe: Bruges (or Brugge, or Bruge). This was our first choice of places we wanted to visit when we were planning out trip, and probably the one we were looking forward to the most.

This was the view from our hotel room:

And this was our walk from the hotel to the city centre:

On the second day, we woke up from church bells across the street, and walked outside to see the locals in their Sunday best. This picture could've been taken 200 years ago:

We splurged on our last meal. It only took us about 90 minutes of wandering and reading menus before we decided where to go. I'll make a separate post for the food and beer of Bruges. It's worth it.

Another Begijnfhof (amazing experience - more to come on this, too):

The more I look at pictures from this trip, the more it blows my mind that I experienced these places with my beautiful wife. Wandering cities like Bruges, making life plans, talking about our girls, seeing the world ... best. vacation. ever.

I haven't even talked about Bruges beer yet. Or waffles. Or chocolate. I guess I'll have to do that later. Keep checking.


Preview: Bruges


Amsterdam: Two wheels are deadlier than none

I liked Amsterdam. I really think I did. It's just that it's a really, really weird place.

And I don't mean weird as in strange. Just weird as in I can't figure out what Amsterdam really is. It's always been top of my list of places I want to see. I wanted to walk the canal-side streets and see the bike lanes. And that stuff is great ... but there isn't that much else. It's such a picturesque city, and that's what Amsterdam is: a picture that you walk through and just look.

I was really looking forward to this place. Everything about it. But when we stepped off the train I got a really weird vibe. I think it's the first time in all my travels (which, admittedly, isn't much) that I felt uncomfortable physically. There were three guys sitting around us on the train from Rosendahl who were traveling together. I'm pretty sure they were all former members of White Zombie, and they all appeared to be in some sort of open-eyed coma for the entire trip. But when the train stopped in Amsterdam, they woke into full celebration, and I guarantee they haven't been even close to sober since. That seedy, nomad culture that you picture in dodgy, dirty little cafes in Amsterdam ... is everywhere in Amsterdam. You get used to it, but it's everywhere.

K, that all sounds a bit negative. It's actually a fantastic city. Completely different from anywhere I've ever been. And that's a good thing. The bike lanes are phenomenal. Bicyclists are clearly the priority. I was nearly hit several times, and it was never their fault. Normally, as a pedestrian, you pay attention to the roadways and oncoming automobiles, but you don't think to watch for friggin' bikes. But trust me, they're not watching for you, so get the hell outta the way.

So, here we go then ... early morning - Dam Square:

We didn't have anything in particular planned to do in Amsterdam, besides the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House, both of which are unexplainable for different reasons.

Morning coffee ... in a pub (welcome to the Dam):

Checklist for a day out with two little girls: diapers, wipes, crackers, fruit, sippy cup, hair clips, toys, dolls, blankies and a soother. Checklist for a day out in Europe: sunglasses and an iPod.

People in Amsterdam are really cool:

And nothing is cooler than texting on your bicycle:

And just like Paris, they like to sit outside:

Bikes. Lots of bikes. Everywhere:

On our second night, we got absolutely ridiculously lost, and ended up literally - literally - miles away from where we thought we were, and where we were supposed to be. If you know Amsterdam at all, we thought we were at Station Centraal, but we were actually on Museumstraat, next to the Van Gogh Museum. How? It's Amsterdam, I guess. Found this bakery along the way:

We left early the next morning and it was eerily quiet. Foggy and quiet. Beautiful, foggy and quiet:

Took the tram to Station Centraal, jumped on the train back to Rosendahl, and thus began the second leg of our Belgium experience ...

*I've got loads more photos from Amsterdam and I'll post them as life goes on. And as with every post, there are way more stories than I can fit here, so feel free to ask.


A Sunday Drive


Another Amsterdam Preview

This building is better than the flu.


Amsterdam Preview

We've been really busy and now I'm sick, so I haven't been able to update our story lately. But here's a preview of what's coming (starring moi):

And here are a couple more views of Antwerp: