Car photography

With so much of our time spent in the car going to and from school, swimming, football, competitions, etc and both Maya and Nila now fully equipped with the latest gadgets, a new art form has been developing: art photography with a big focus on selfies. See – and judge – for yourself! I think they rock!

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Car photography

January

January has been a good month. We were well rested after the Christmas holidays and everything just feel back into place again when school started. We managed to return to our early time schedule for the swim trainings, Maya did well in school with lots of tests and exams, Nila was excited to continue the COBIS trials as part of the pre-selection team. We were also all super happy to return to healthy living after completely stuffing ourselves in Germany. I joined a gym, which has been surprisingly fun. Only tricky bit continues to be the times that Raj is away travelling. He’s loving his job, but it’s hard when he’s away for anything between 7 and 14 days at a time. Well done though to THNK’s big milestone for opening their Vancouver office!

Nila and her friend Julie before dance lessons:

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Car selfie Maya:

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Swimming competition at the Hofbad:

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Nerves and expectations at the COBIS trials:

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Raj helps open THNK Vancouver:

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My dad visits for a day and we go see the new Market Hall in Rotterdam, which has the most amazing ceiling:

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Camilla having Sunday pancakes with us after a sleepover with Nila:

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Now onto February! We are ready! More swimming competitions, the selection of the final COBIS team and one week in Dubai with Rana and Aparna during the half term. Let’s see, if I manage to update this blog without too much delay…

January

5 months since summer…

Is it really the 2nd of February 2015? I still remember writing my summer blog post like it was yesterday, but apparently, that is now 5 months ago. Oh guilt! And disbelief. Where has the time gone? Did nothing noteworthy enough happen to trigger my “must put that on the blog” action? Or were there just too many of those daily, weekly special moments that I thought, I can better combine them all in one big summary blog. That’s it! That’s what it is going to be – a summary blog post of 5 months since summer.

Autumn for us has definitely a season filled with, above all, sports. Starting with me and Maya doing the 5km peace run, it continued with the girls doing their first competitions as official Albion swimmers.

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We switched to the new club just before the summer and were as excited about their trainings as we are still today, 5 months later. The trainings are all in the morning, so 3 days a week we wake up around 5 to head first to the pool and then to school. It’s a shock to the system at first, but once the biological clock is reset a little, it actually works out far better, because it results in… free afternoons. Of course, we added a few other afternoon activities too – football for Maya, dancing for Nila – but it still means we have lots of afternoons off for homework and relaxing. Not bad.

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So, back to the competitions. The girls have been swimming the most amazing PBs (personal bests) since then. Nila in particular is taking off chunks of seconds in her races and Maya too is making huge improvements with her already sharp times. A wonderful reward for the effort they put in. And we even got to go to Aachen in Germany, where Maya competed in the same event as Dutch world record holder Ranomi Kromowidjojo – impressive and intimidating at the same time.

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Meanwhile, we had lots of fun starting to make Christmas presents for family – what a fun thing sock teddy making can be – going to a coding workshop, trick-or-treating with friends in Wassenaar, and going to school parties with fireworks.

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Lots of time was spent in car rides taking selfies:

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And Nila entered the trials for the COBIS Junior Games, which will be held in Athens this May. Fingers crossed – we’ll find out soon, if she makes the final team. In any case, she looks great on the pictures:

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Maya also competed for the school, going to London to swim with a group of very senior kids – ahhh. It’s a whole new world for her, but she loves to finally meet new people through her swimming. The big ISST championships will me in The Netherlands in March. Can’t wait to cheer…. and host some foreign swimmers at our place.

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It was time again for school photos, school assemblies, Christmas concerts etc:
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FILMS AND MANY MORE PHOTOS OF OUR ACTIVE AUTUMN ARE HERE.

And now comes my Christmas report…

5 months since summer…

Summer Holiday – one of our best ever!

With autumn firmly settling in The Hague and Christmas plans being finalised, I thought it was high time to close the gaps in this blog by reporting back just a little bit from our summer holiday. This is particularly important given that it was one of our best family holidays ever although it involved no long-distance flights or five-star-hotels or infinity pools. It also did not involve any iPads or much TV at that. And for some reason, I believe that this absence of screen-time-escape made this holiday so special. We communicated more, saw more, discussed more, had more fun, played more, rested more, enjoyed more.

Of course, it was also the wonderful mix of places we visited, starting with a day at Europapark with our good friends Moegi, Iwao and Misaki. Nila and Maya love that place and I find it a lot more tolerable than Disneyland ever was. It’s down-to-earth, authentic fun with rides and I am still blessed to be able to stay with Nila, who is not at all into all the crazy rides – phew.

From there, we drove to Italy, spending a week in the Dolomites – our first Italian hiking holiday. Despite a bit of rain, we found it to be truly beautiful there, quite different to the French Alps, again a bit simpler somehow and with some very different, quite spectacular rock formations. It’s become a kind of addiction for me and Raj and the kids too – that one week in the mountains, the best way of all to switch off and relax, to literally see this world from a different perspective. I love the peace, the crisp air, the sense of strength you feel up there. It’s magical.

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Just two hours drive from that scenery was Venice, a first for the girls and a great place to return to civilisation, pizza and ice cream. We walked and walked and walked, from our little hotel right next to St. Marks square to the Guggenheim Collection, through the Jewish quarter, across uncountable bridges, through narrow alleyways and past lots of little markets, millions of shops, massive cruise ships and… tourists. And we ended up buying some laser souvenir on St. Marks on the last evening – amazingly enough, it’s still Nila’s favourite toy.

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While this had already been a rich and relaxing break, it was even more wonderful to realise that we were only half-way through. From Venice we headed to Croatia, driving hours along an amazing coastline – it really is quite special! – and finally locating our little apartement in a pretty remote bay just north of Split. Villa Lavanda was a beautiful find, we had the most amazing view from our balcony. For a whole week, we simply enjoyed the views, the sea – the water was spectacularly warm and clear – the towns and the sunshine. Although the girls are swimmers, the open sea is quite a different experience and it took a little while for them to feel comfortable in the deep, amongst fish and sea urchins and algae. One thing is for sure, as holiday near the sea, this was our best ever. I guess, it was just so relaxing to not have to worry about big waves and currents…

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After a week of maximum chilling, we drove to Germany. It was a long trip, but as with all our trips up to then, we kept ourselves entertained with audio books, endless talking, singing, drawing, quizzes and games – it was fun! We stopped over in Landshut for a few nights with Angelika and family and for Raj, sadly, the holiday was over and he headed back to The Hague. The girls enjoyed playing with other kids again and we loved cycling and spending our time with friends in between delicious German food. A few hours of driving later, we arrived in Weimar, spent one night washing our laundry and stepped in the car again – this time with my parents – in the direction of Berlin, where we were going to be for a week visiting friends and my grandmother. This time, the weather was less favourable, it was actually cold, so the plan of spending days at the lakes didn’t really work out. Still, we walked and ate and walked and ate and took a dip in the water and ate again and enjoyed memories and stories from different generations of my family. Oh, I almost forgot: we also went to see the European swimming championships, a super important experience in the run-up to our upcoming new life with Albion.

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As you can imagine, we took hundreds of pictures of this fantastic holiday – you can see a selection of them here, in our smugmug gallery. Enjoy!

Summer Holiday – one of our best ever!