Thursday, October 28, 2010

Patience combined with enjoying...

So far, this sweet European adventure has been good. Now, don't get me wrong. It hasn't been perfect, and it has definitely had some serious downsides. The most obvious downer is that Scott has been in the States for three weeks now. We expect about one more week of him being there before he returns to Amsterdam. We are all so excited about him coming home! Hopefully his trial will be successful (either in damages or in learnings), but certainly him returning will be the highlight for the rest of the Hoopers.

If you can possibly take out of the equation his absence, we have had a good few weeks. In fact, I am currently writing this from Edinburgh, Scotland. We walked (and walked and walked and walked) all over the castle today. The kids, Alex (our friend and nanny), and I had a great time as soon as we arrived here from Amsterdam today. Funny enough, one of the kid's highlights was getting goldfish and an orange juice on the plane... Proof that for some small kids, the fun is simply in the journey.

Scotland has been great; and we've only been here less than 24 hours! Give us the next 3 days and I'll be able to write an entire book!

While Scott has been gone, I have assisted with a cadaver lab in Bristol, England. Cadaver labs are always extraordinarily fun as I learn something every time I attend. This one was especially great because I was able to meet a friend of a friend (Sara's friend Howard --- both of whom are narcissistic and will LOVE seeing their name in a blog! (-; Ha! Kidding, kind of! But really I feel like I have a new really good friend from it.) I have been to Italy for the second time, but truly fallen in love with a town called Padova. I can't wait to take Scott for a quick couple of days get-away upon his return. I was in Bilbao, Spain (northern coast of Spain) and was able to see some beautiful Spanish sights. I have traveled extensively through the Netherlands and had an opportunity to fully appreciate the beauty of the country. I have spent a great deal of time in the UK, although I have yet to go to Ireland...

Aside from the travels, I have had time to spend with some very cool new people. I had a great time hanging out with Stacy and Martin, et al. after a delicious dinner at their place, had a great dinner with Lauren and Eric and Lily, had a play date with Caden's classmate and his mom, and am generally feeling completely at home in terms of friends and people.

Another incredibly fun thing that has happened since Scott left is hunting. What kind of hunting, you may ask? Mouse. Amsterdam being overpopulated for the area has a high population of mice. I would guess that over 75% of homes have a cat. Not because everyone here loves cats either. Bad Cat (the selected name for our (initially) not loved cat that we got when we arrived here) has now caught at least four mice. I say "at least" because that is the number she has caught in the few hours we have spent downstairs in the late evening hours. I have to believe she has caught more... She is a good hunter! As I was petting her and telling her how good of a cat she was for catching so many mice, Caden asked last week, "If she keeps catching mice, we may have to change her name to Good Cat."

My opinion is that she will need to do more than catch mice: I'm thinking more along the lines of learning to do dishes, laundry, or simply clean out her own litter box. (If you look very close, you can make out the mouse just in front of Bad Cat in the pic.)

So times are good, and I don't take one moment for granted, but I sure will be happy when Scott comes back!
(pic of Keali, Caden and Scott sitting riverside in Paris just before he left.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Slowing down...

Well, based on the time span alone since the last blog, it is clear that there has been little time to do anything except the bare minimums. Since the last post, we have moved to Amsterdam as a family, traveled already much of Europe, been separated from one another due to work schedules, had wonderfully healthy kids that keep us running 100 mph, and have generally lived life to its fullest.

While I am generally not a hugely emotional person (just ask my kids!), I have recently been reflecting on how unbelievably lucky we are as a family. Scott and I are both gainfully employed and love our jobs. The kids are both very healthy and (genetically) stubborn. We have all that we could ask for, and more than we ever dreamed of.

Today I took the kids (almost 4 y/o and 5 y/o) to a theme park. We ran and walked for 4-5 hours as we completely ran ourselves silly all over the giant park. The only way it could have been better was if Scott had been able to go with us. As I watched the crowds and children, I happened to notice how many kids there were in wheel chairs, congenitally impaired, etc. I looked at their parents and caregivers and noticed almost all were smiling, happy, and generally excited to be where they were today.

I had to remind myself to not hurry the kids from one ride to another, but to rather let them (and myself) enjoy their explorations of things as simple as the trash can that sucks the trash out of your hands. (We spent a long time there, and virtually every piece of trash within about a 30 foot radius was cleaned up.) All in all, we only rode about 5 rides, many of which were a couple of times. The kids would have told you we did nothing but ride rides. A truly successful and happy day. We recounted which parts were our favorites several times over on our 1.5 hour drive home.

It was a good day to remember that they don't want to hurry the day, so why should I. Time to stop and smell the roses...