What I should have been concerned about before we left Sweden is packing extra sets of clothes in my carry-on, because there were high winds at our connection in Amsterdam that caused flight delays. After running through the airport only to narrowly miss our plane to Washington Dulles, then waiting for hours in line to rebook and get a hotel, we found ourselves staying overnight in Amsterdam without our checked bags. KLM did a terrific job of keeping us comfortable despite the circumstances. They put us up in adjoining hotel rooms (!), including dinner (steak, mashed potatoes, and pears poached in mulled wine which tasted like Christmas), and an incredible breakfast buffet (including sprinkles on toast). The kids got an activity pack, including wooden yo-yos (pictured). They were sad to miss the airplane to Virginia but thrilled to stay in a hotel. Considering the windy weather, lack of research, and short daylight we opted not to explore the city this time. I fully intend to go back and see Amsterdam for real when I know more about coffeeshops vs. coffeehouses and how to avoid the red light district. This time we had plenty to keep us entertained right at Schiphol airport.
There was a vocal group performing live, Santa and his elf were handing out hats, and parts of a DC-9 were available to see up close.
When we were finally on our way to Dulles the kids did a great job on the plane. We had plenty of entertainment and they feed you every couple of hours, but an 8-hour flight is loooong. The international arrivals hall is an exciting place to be, especially at Christmas, and we were thrilled to see this familiar face there to greet us.
|Dulles selfie with my dad|
The next day was Christmas Eve, and the kids woke up at 2am ready to play. Would not go back to sleep. Apparently their internal clocks are stronger than their need for sufficient sleep, and considering 2am in Virginia is 8am in Sweden they technically slept in. Steve let me sleep while he and the kids watched movies and played with my parents' stash of toys in the basement.
|Spot the Bowen in this picture|
And when my mom got up she let the kids decorate the Christmas tree.
Later on Steve and Dad and I went to the grocery store, and during my happy dance in front of the corn tortillas my friend Ruth spotted us. I almost cried. Winchester isn't such a small town, and running into someone always warms my heart! That night was the Christmas Eve service at church, and the kids were so quiet and well-behaved while we chatted with friends afterward.
The next morning (Christmas) the kids woke up at 2:30am, and we let Steve sleep while we watched a Pippi Longstocking movie (whom, ironically, Olivia had never really heard of in Sweden) and An American Tale (the irony!).
|Dress-up + movies + Grandma|
|Sugar cereal: a Christmas tradition|
And after second breakfast Olivia was our little elf and handed out gifts from under the tree. My dad taught Bowen to gather the torn wrapping paper into a pile, and after we were finished they took turns being buried.
|Spot the Bowen in this picture|
The next day I drove up to Pennsylvania to see two dear friends, Molly and Jessica.
I had a chance to see several friends I dearly miss, but I wasn't very good about taking pictures! I am so thankful for several people taking the time to come and see us, or have us over to visit. Steve's parents came down to visit for a couple of days, and the kids were thrilled to see both sets of grandparents.
|Tea party birthday for Olivia at The Tea Cart|
Maybe you don't want quite so much detail about our trip. Here are some photos to highlight the rest of our visit.
|Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum|
|Running trains with Papa|
|Getting a sweet visit from Miss Reid (and trying on her boots!)|
|Wagon sledding with Grandma|
|Winchester Model Railroad Club on New Year's Eve|
|Seeing friends like Ruth and her son Isaiah, who hosted a get-together|
|Having things we can't get in Sweden, like egg nog in my coffee and a bowl of grits.|
|Visiting our storage unit, like shopping for free|
|Waffles for my birthday|
|Sledding with Papa before heading back to Dulles|