I started letting Geert “sleep in”. I would get up and dressed, set out his clothes for him, and all by his big old self, he would wake up, see the clothes, put them on and come upstairs. This seemed to get him 30-40 extra minutes of sleeping time, which he desperately needed. After being used to anywhere from 11-12 hours of sleep every night at home, 10 and activity all day was starting to catch up. This morning, however, he came up to THIS. Dutch pancakes with margarine and chocolate sprinkles. Dad would be proud.

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We had some sailing to do this morning, so he started the day playing Legos with Malachi, who always shared without being asked.

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We started calling the boys the “twins” because they always seemed to be wearing similar clothes and were the same size, despite Malachi being almost a year older. We cruised for a few hours down a large canal towards Dordrecht and then up towards Kinderdijk. We always had great weather for sailing.

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We got off the boat and had a short ride towards Kinderdijk, a place I’ve wanted to see forever! It wasn’t as majestic as I’d imagined, but still, that’s a lot of windmills in one place.

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Apparently, we came in the back way – which afforded us this great view, without a lot of traffic.

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Unfortunately, right after I took this picture, the path got a bit congested. Folks were stopping to take pictures (unlike me, with my catlike mobile phone snapping) and Hans, who perpetually was looking around where he was going, rather than at where he was going, sideswiped an old lady who was paused on the side of the path. I heard a yelp and so as I pulled up, got off my bike to make sure she was okay. She was frozen and when I looked down, she was bleeding everywhere. I think the fender had sliced her calf. She handed me a tissue (she spoke no English) and I held pressure until it seemed to stop. Sitting, on the ground, getting blood all over myself. Once it stopped, it wasn’t too deep, but her skin was so fragile that she was developing a hematoma under it. Katherine stopped by and what do you know, she’s a wound care nurse. We used Rita’s kit to make a pretty pathetic bandage and Rita explained to her that she needed to go right to the hospital for stitches and to make sure she had a tetanus shot up to date. When she pulled her foot out of her shoe, it was filled with a giant clot of blood. Ew. Hans was crying – he knew it was his fault – and stayed away. But ultimately, they left, and we rode close to the windmills.

At this point, Geert really started lagging behind. I saw him really pushing on the pedals and he was going NOWHERE. He started to cry. I got off and checked his bike and his brakes were on so hard he couldn’t turn the pedals over! I felt TERRIBLE – had his brakes been on this whole trip?? What happened that they suddenly got so much worse? My baby! He walked his bike closer to the snack shack, where we were going to take a break, and we let Rita take a look at it.

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Here she is looking at the bike (which took, seriously, over 30 minutes) and if you look closely, you’ll see that his handlebars are spun around 360deg. Which puts on the brake. Which she didn’t notice.

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She examined the brake forever and I slowly realized: she doesn’t know how to fix bikes. But she has the tools. And I don’t know how to fix bikes. This would have all been so much easier had Brad been there – he could have figured it out immediately AND fixed the brake (which was also broken, it turned out), but rather, we watched her fiddle forever. After she got the bars turned around, we saw that the brake pads would keep listing to one side and rub against the wheel as well. Tightening helped temporarily, but soon they would move and the “run” of the bike would slow down impressively. So we developed a system. Geert would not realize he couldn’t keep up because he was jetlagged and on the oblivious side anyway, but I would realize and have him stop his bike. I could reach over and re-center the brake pads, and he would speed up double. We did this for the rest of the trip, and yes, he was fast, and yes, his brakes had been on pretty much the whole time since we had started. Sorry, G. :(

We took a group shot for posterity

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Wrestled Aldo (which was great, I think Geert missed his dad and Aldo was so generous to let him in on the pile-on)

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After lunch, the twins got a snack

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And we headed off again. Before we even got out of the town, Aisling blew another flat. The same one from Efteling. Argh. So we spent an hour (an HOUR), while Rita attempted to fix the tire. Again, I’m not sure why there’s not a test for this before you get the job. Rather than just replace the tube and patch the flat at the boat (which would have taken 5 minutes), she spent the hour trying to patch the tube while it was still ON THE WHEEL. This is 100% embarrassing. When I told Brad later, he laughed incredulously. But now resigned, I sat in the shade, and the Malachi taught Geert to wrestle up on the Dike. It was so funny – the report I got from Malachi (in his Irish accent): “I taught G to wrestle! He was quite good. I beat him three times but he beat me twice!” Geert beamed. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever really known Geert to wrestle around with another boy. It might seem silly, but it was like magic to me.

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We rode an hour or two and stopped for a snack in a small park. Rita brought out a soccer ball, but the kids weren’t too interested. We looked for bugs and someone accidentally sat in stinging nettle, which I’d heard of, but never seen before! Apparently it really burns, but there is another plant that grows nearby with leaves that you tear off and rub on your rash to help it feel better. Hmmm. Malachi said it worked.

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Rode in the sunshine for another hour or two, which was lovely. Here we are on a path that’s 2 meters BELOW sea level.

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The path wound through parks and over canals

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And when we finally arrived at the boat in Gouda, the captain had set up the ladder from the side of the boat and encouraged the kids to jump right in! Rein facetiously told us how warm the water was (we all knew he’s a big liar by now), but the kids ran to get their suits on. Even I jumped in. No, I did not touch the bottom.

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We had a stupendous dinner (yes, I took a picture of my plate, don’t judge me) and Geert was thrilled to have pork cutlets!

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After dinner, we propped the kids up in front of a movie on Aldo’s laptop, and Rita took us out for a brief tour of Gouda. Here’s the “land side” of our docking for the night – reminds me of Oma’s windmill painting.

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We headed over a lock that once upon a time kept boats from coming into Gouda unless they paid a toll, and up the little canal towards the city center.

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And I really wish I could remember why I took this picture. It had to do with the architecture of this particular building – the glass maybe? But already I don’t remember. I need to write these blog posts sooner after I get home than I do.

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Gouda was darling. This is a church from the 1300’s that is famous for its windows and something else that I forget. See what I mean about writing these posts?

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And this is the little alley directly across from its front door. Directly across – 20 feet, I think!

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Tiny, well-kept gardens were everywhere. I took a picture of this one to think of tips for my own garden back home (which will never look like this).

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Towards the city center and to the main square

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Where we found city hall

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This square is where we would come for the Kaas Market tomorrow (cheese market!) So we went home, put the kids to bed and called it a day.