Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Brad didn't get much vacation time this summer but I did't let that stop the kids and I from traveling, exploring, and visiting family and friends!  I packed the 4 of us up into on hiking backpack and we set off for a summer in Europe and Canada!
Brad dropped us off at the airport!  With a long hug goodbye we were ready to start!  As soon as we walked through the customs gate the tears started.  Heartbreaking!  However, I knew it was for the best.  Summers in Saudi are HOT and not many people stay behind.  I knew were were headed for cooler temps and lots of adventure, I just had to let the kids get past this sad moment!

Saudi isn't know for their clean, kid-friendly airport so I don't really like hanging out in it trying to kill time with 3 little ones!  I decided to go to the business lounge and see if there was any way possible to get in!  Lucky for us, the guy at the counter had sympathy for the kids so he let us in!!  Score!!!  A clean lounging space filled with yummy snacks and clean bathrooms!  A great start to our trip!
The direct flight was at night so the kids slept most of the way!  It was perfect!  We landed early so we had a bit of time before our friend Pascal was going to be picking us up!  Here is what I get for asking the kids their opinion on being in the Netherlands (they like to give me a vote opposite of what they think I'm looking for!  Funny kids!)
I knew I was happy to be there!  Cheers!
Our first stop was breakfast at our friends' house!  They were getting their day started and it was perfect to let the kids run and stretch their legs before heading to our final destination.

This in ground trampoline was a huge hit!!!  Wish we had these in the States!
Our goal of this trip was to spend time in the woods with our friends Marieke, Pascal, Stijn, and Benthe who had recently moved back to the Netherlands from Saudi.  So, after visiting their house in town we made the drive to the woods!  Look at these sweet, sleeping boys!
I didn't get any pictures of the little community we stayed in or our house, bummer!  But I got LOTS of pictures where we spent most of our time!  In the woods!
We picnicked in the woods!
Took pictures in the woods!
Enjoyed our time together in the woods!
And picked LOTS of blueberries in the woods!!!!!

After coming from a country that is dusty, grey, hot, and not full of much wildlife, hanging out in the woods was a much needed change!!!!  It was also nice to kick back and relax after a busy 2 months of working and finishing up projects with activities!
We ate lots of good food, drank lots of good beer (well some of us did), and ate lots of fresh blueberries!!!!  Life was good!
We also did exploring.  About a 30 minute walk through the woods was a big campground area with a nice park, inside play ground, swimming pool, kid activities (like face painting and dancing), and a mini animal petting area.  I am SO bummed that I cannot get this pictures off my iPad onto my computer (I have tried everything!!!!  Hopefully one day I can update this blog with the pictures!)
We left that area happy and exhausted!  What a day!  We were also lucky to see deer running through the woods on our walk home!!!!
We had an amazing time in the Netherlands with the Kruysifix family!  Thank you for the wonderful time!!!  We leave with happy hearts full of wonderful memories!!!  Now its on to Germany!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Our Hotel at Mt. Batur

When reading the guide book on Bali it had said that there wasn't much to do in the Mt. Batur area and that many people make it a day trip, however, we decided to take a risk and go against the advice and we book 3 nights in this area.  Upon arrival, we quickly realized that we should have taken the advice.  There isn't much to do here.  Only 2 restaurants open and not much to do.  Plus the hotel is older and expensive.  After the piece of mind that our reservation could be changed we decided to make the most out of our stay!  Here is our open breakfast area between our two rooms.
The hotels are known for their hot springs!!  Many people hike the volcano in the morning and then stop at the hotel for the day to swim in the hot springs and eat lunch before driving back to their hotel in another town.
Taking advantage of our hotel included fishing with Owen's new travel rod!!!  Look at this scenery!!
While Owen was fishing, Addyson was enjoying one of the many hot springs!  A benefit of a non-touristy area, open space!! It wasn't crowded so we were free to roam and do as we liked!

We also took full advantage of the ladies offering pool-side massages!!!
Beautiful scenery, amazing weather, and a relaxing massage- what more could one ask for?!?!
In-between our two rooms we had our own hot spring pool!!!!  We took full advantage of this!!
There was another hot spring resort area beside our hotel so we walked over for a change of scenery.  There they had pedal boats to take out so we took a dragon for a spin!
This trip has taught us to embrace the small things and make the most of a situation.  It might not have been our ideal hotel but we found many things to enjoy and ways to make memories!
I would suggest that if you are traveling with young kids, an overnight in this area is ideal especially if you are planning on doing the early morning volcano hike!!!  There is beauty here to be found!

Trunyan Tour

There are not many touristy things to do around our hotel.  This is really an area people come to just for the day to hike the volcano.  Since we had a couple of nights booked here we tried to find as many things as we could in the area to do.  The hotel offers an outing called the Trunyan Tour where you get to go visit a local village at the base of one of the volcanos as well as going to visit one of their cemeteries.  We wanted to take full advantage of getting to know as much about that locals as possible.  Can you see the tiny village at the base of the two mountains???
This is the village!  This small area!
The only want into and out of the village is by boat!  A couple of the teachers come from neighboring villages so they have to take a boat to school!
As we got closer to the village we saw people out washing their laundry.

After we docked, we were able to walk through the village.  This was eye opening for us to see what poverty these villagers live in.  It was also a chance to talk to our children as we walked through to show they how others live and how fortunate we are!
The main source of income for these people is Cock Fighting.  Sad to see but their reality.  We saw several roosters caged up as we walked through the village.

Another sight to see was the number of temples.  This village is SUPER small but had several temples.  It is a rule that each village has to have at least three!  It was amazing to see that some families had their own!

At the top of the steeples were HUGE spiders!!!!  HUGE!!!!!!  Yikes!!!

 I was just glad I didn't walk into one of the many spider webs!!!

Children at recess.

While we were walking through the village the students were at recess. I took the opportunity to go talk with the kids.  They were SO cute and so happy to have a visitor.  They were anxious to practice their English!  I really wanted my kids to get involved and talk with the kids (the students were trying SO hard to get my kids engaged) however, I think it was a bit overwhelming for our kids and they spent most of the time hiding behind me!

Fishing is a main source of providing for their families!

After leaving the village, we got on the boat and went to visit their cemetery.

With limited resources, this is a very basic cemetery with exposed bones.  It was fascinating and eerie  all at the same time.
Here are some recent burials.  They bring lots of offerings for the lost soul so we saw lots of personal care items, plates, money, and other personal belongings left.  Also, the bodies are not covered by much so you are able to see the people if you choose.

This morning was an overwhelming and powerful experience!  Thankful for the opportunity to learn about the people whose country we visit and thankful for the reminder to be thankful and grateful for all we have and to count our blessings!

What a beautiful and moving morning!