With all the ups and downs 2015 brought us, I found myself entering December with trepidation. I wasn’t sure I wanted to start a new year. I wasn’t sure I was ready. But as it is fast approaching (I am writing this on December 27th,) I am becoming more excited. God had everything in control in 2015, He’ll see us through another year, and I’m curious about what He might have in store. I have plans, I have a deep belief that some of my plans will be overruled and overturned and I have both trepidation and faith as I say goodbye to the old year and welcome the new…
If you’re not following me on Facebook, you are probably wondering “where in heck” I’ve run off to. I don’t know why I never thought of posting an explanation here! Truth be told, I still adore blogging (I will probably blog my whole life!) and plan to do so more and more. The hang up is, I’m not going to be doing it here.
Yes, you heard me. I’m hanging up the key to Clickety-Clack very soon. After more than eight years of blogging here, it is time for me to move on to a new, more accommodating space. The lovely Charlotte Boyer (of The Boyer Sisters) is designing a brand new site where I will continue to write all the things on my heart, including the posts about adoption which used to pop up on Pineapple Siblings.
It’s going to be très chic, super user-friendly, organized, clean, new and fresh! Merry Christmas to me!
So do not despair. I’m still here, I’m still writing, I’m still a blogger. I’m even writing (and illustrating) a book!
Oh, and one more thing. It’s actually the thing I’ve had the hardest time with. On the new blog, I’ll be using my legal name. Everly will forever be an old nickname which will bring back lots of happy, bloggy memories…but I’m going to try to make my life, on and offline, more seamless in the future.
We’re not crying, are we? Perfect.
See you on the other side, my dears!
One last time as,
My sister delivered a perfect gift from God yesterday! She did an exceptional job and she and Baby are both doing great. We are on Cloud 9! Thank you to those who prayed.
April 15, 2015
Rented Apartment, Old Riga
We didn’t do a lot today, which was actually really nice. Because I didn’t use any public transportation today, I am about to put my pajamas on and watch “Decoy Bride” with the parents and then hit the hay! Yay!
We got up this morning and went to Golden Coffee for pancakes, but sadly-we don’t think their favorite waitress, Daniella works there anymore. The pancakes were good and I ate them all, which was good too! I have not had much of an appetite during our trip, especially in the morning. The latte at Costa is much better, however.
After breakfast, we came back to the apartment to get word about our visa appointment. When we found out it was one o’clock, we hurried over to Saint Peter’s to give ourselves a little tour. St. Peter’s was really pretty and the view from the tower is amazing. I loved it.
After that, we came back to the apartment to regroup before Mommy, Daddy and Dorothy had to head out. There wasn’t room for everyone in the car, so Phoebe and I stayed behind. They first had to run by the doctor’s office to have her sign off that Dot’s TB test came back negative. They didn’t get home until about four!
Meanwhile, Phoebe and I had a relaxing afternoon watching “Support Your Local Sheriff” (one of those movies Phoebe loves but Dorothy doesn’t “get,”) painting and taking a nap. We also ate a whole bag of paprika potato chips while watching the movie. That’s what happens when you are locked in an apartment with no lunch!
By the time they got home, of course everyone was very hungry, so we had a celebratory “lupper” at a nice Italian place called “Felicitia” down the road a bit. I had baked chicken with vegetables and it was delicious. After that, we went back to Kuuka Kafe for coffee and dessert an walked around some souvenir shops.
We are home now, ready to wind down. Goodnight!
April 21, 2015
Well, I was doing really well for a while there! Once we were on the downhill slope of the trip, it was hard to slow down to write. Before we left Riga, we were able to do a limited tour of The Dome Cathedral (much of it is under construction) and spend a day with *Sintija! She took us to a new restaurant called Zoyste that a Latvian-American just opened. They use organic ingredients and put a Latvian spin on American dishes. It was pretty good!
We then went to our favorite place–Costa! Best coffee in Riga. After that, we met the lawyers assistant at House of Blackheads to pick up Dorothy’s visa and new, Latvian passport. It was a great moment to have all the documents—complete at last! But it was also bittersweet, knowing we have no “reason” to return to Lativa–or Europe for that matter. And it also meant we had to say “goodbye” to our Latvian friends, for who-knows-how-long. Wah.
So we had mixed feelings as we left the apartment and boarded our plane to Stockholm. However, we had all been looking forward to our time in Sweden, so we focused on that! Sweden was awesome. It really felt like a place I would like to live. The people were much friendlier than I expected. The sun was out almost the whole time we were there and, though it was cold, we kept comfortable by sitting in the sunlight whenever possible and continuing to layer our clothes as we had done for the entire trip.
I actually have callouses on my legs from wearing tights under my pants every day. Didn’t know that was possible!
Our first night in Stockholm, our contact came and got us settled in to the apartment. Her name is Juliet and she was born in Uganda, but has lived in Stockholm for nineteen years. She speaks perfect English and was very helpful. Our apartment was super nice. It was a very stereotypical Swedish design–sleek, minimalistic and mostly white. It had a sauna, heated floors and a nice, big kitchen.My room was a loft with a curtain for a door and a fold-out couch for a bed. I had a balcony and, though it was too cold tone hang out there, I did occasionally open the door and let the breeze come through.
Our first full day in Sweden, we went to the National Palace and saw the changing of the guard. We were told to “be early or be tall,” so we waited out in the cold for probably half an hour before it began. Sure enough, quite a crowd had gathered by the time it started. What I was imagining to be a five minute ceremony was actually a forty-five minute performance! There were horses, a marching band, commentary, salutes, and all sorts of “pomp.” We had a blast watching from our perfect spot on “front row.” Everything was very formal until near the end when suddenly, the band started to play “Sway” by Dean Martin! They played the whole song and the conductor wiggled to the music atop his steed. We had a great time watching the whole thing.
Before it began, Daddy tried to ask one of the guards a question and stepped a bit too close! He was loudly commanded to “halt!” Then Daddy wanted me to go ask him and see if he would treat me the same way. Not happening…
The changing of the guard happens every day but Monday (much is closed on Mondays in Stockholm) and a different “squadron” (or whatever they’re called) performs every day!
We ate lunch at a place not far from The Nobel Museum. We had “toast” (grilled sandwiches) and soup. Our first night, Daddy and I walked across the street to “Mama Dou” and got oriental food and brought it back to the apartment. The second night, we were too hungry to look for another place to eat, so we heated up our left-overs for dinner.
While in Stockholm, we also got to tour two museums: Vasa Museum and Skansen. Both were lovely!
The Vasa was way more interesting than I expected. It is a museum built around a warship that’s over three hundred years old. 98% of the materials are original! We also saw much of what was recovered from Vasa, including several human skeletons, some of which were so well persevered by the cold, briny harbor that their hair, brain and clothing remained intact!
Skansen is meant to be a “little Sweden” from the past and is the oldest living history museum in the world. It has lots of actual buildings from centuries past, collected from other parts of the country. The park is huge and beautiful and is a strange balance of kept-up and left-free. There are gardens, animals, a zoo, shops, places to eat, glass-blowing workshops, a pottery studio, a blacksmiths, and much more. Unfortunately, we only gave ourselves about an hour there before much of these things closed for the night. The employees who dress in old-fashioned costumes and much of the “living history” activities were gone.
However, the park itself, including the zoo, doesn’t appear to close…ever! We walked to our heart’s content, discovering new pathways and habitats for hours.
Before closing time, we were abel to see a short glass-blowing demonstration, during which Phoebe and Dorothy got to blow some glass themselves. It was probably the best of our day for them! We also got to see The Great Cathedral of Stockholm that day, including the ancient statue of Saint George slaying the dragon. Awesome! Other than that, we took a boat tour, shopped for souvenirs, drank lots of coffee (“fika!”) watched the swans and ducks at the short near our apartment (on Kungsholmen) and walked and walked and walked.
Sadly, Sweden is far behind me as I write…along with the rest of the European continent. We got up at three o’clock this morning for a six-thirty flight from Stockholm to Amsterdam and are now on our flight from Amsterdam to Houston, where it all began.
I am so sad it’s over, but also very excited to see the rest of the family and be home.
*Sintija was Dorothy’s chaperone the first time she came to the states. We love her and have enjoyed keeping in touch with her. Parting ways was very sad. Come back to the U.S. soon, Sintija!!!
This concludes my journal entries from my trip to Europe, April 2015. There is always so much more to say, but I hope you all enjoyed “following along” in a way. It was an unforgettable adventure. A big “thanks” should go out to my parents for letting me tag along and for buying me so many lattes in so many countries. It was a blast, such a fun, special, insane, difficult, lovely blast…
Since we only had one day in Venice, it was really hard to decide what to see and do. Sadly, much our time on the trip as a whole has been spent discussing, deciding on and getting to our destinations. We thought we definitely wanted to ride in a gondola and tour St. Marc’s Basilica, but when we learned the price of a gondola ride and saw the line at St. Marc’s, we reconsidered all of our plans.
In the end, we had breakfast at the hotel (dry croissants and a cold cup of coffee) and hopped on a “vaporetto” (water bus.) We stopped at every stop to let locals on and off, and finally got off at Saint Marc’s. Of course, when walking around St. Marc’s square, surrounded by thousands of tourists from all over the world, we ran into none other than Veriato! He was with some friends, hitting the hot spots. Veriato became our very own Where’s Waldo?
We didn’t end up touring the Basilica, though I’d really like to do that some day. It is supposed to be incredible inside, but it would’ve taken most of our day and the girls’ were a bit exhausted of fancy old buildings by this point. The outside of the Basilica was memorably in-and-of-itself. I’ve never seen mosaics like we saw in Venice.
We did, however, end up jumping a gondola—and I’m SO glad. The rides are very pricey, but our gondolier had dropped his prices throughout the day. Each gondolier pretty much has one “stop” where they take on new passengers, and if your stop hasn’t been popular that day, you may need to offer a discount. The gondola ride was super fun. It did not disappoint and the time passed too quickly.
Our gondolier is named Alarico and he is a third generation gondolier. He is part of the biggest family of gondoliers in Venice. All of his brothers, his father and grandfather are or were gondoliers. Gondoliers retire at sixty-five, they each own, decorate and maintain their own gondolas and take great pride in their work. Alarico was obviously very proud of his family’s legacy and told us the names of everyone in his family, including his sisters. He hopes to marry and have sons one day, to pass the trade to (though there is ONE female gondolier in Venice, whose name is Georgia!)
He told us the exact number of official gondoliers in Venice (four hundred and something) and where each of his brothers work around the city. Alarico was very friendly. Unlike the other places we had visited thus far, most of the people we encountered in Venice speak minimal English and with a heavy accent. The ride was forty minutes long, and Alarico explained what we were passing along the way. My favorite part was riding past the music academy where we could hear beautiful music ringing out of the upper windows. We also had a little traffic jam with some of the gondolas, one of which had an accordion player on it! That was a highlight, for sure.
All of the gondoliers know each other and yell to each other in a friendly way as they pass. They use their one oar to scoot off of buildings and other boats as they go through narrow canals. They really do wear stripes and, when in the sun, straw hats.
I bought a purple necklace at one of the many shops, made of Venician glass. I sat in the square near the funny statue of a man conquering a crocodile, and drank a cafe latte. Lattes are called something different in every country, and Mommy’s order of coffee with cream was always confusing!
We kept some old bread in our pockets for feeding pigeons (one of my favorite things about everywhere we went!) and ended up having a blast near the end of our day in Venice, feeding the pigeons of St. Marc’s Square. Pigeons were landing on our arms and heads and shoulders and eating out of our hands. It was really fun.
There was one woman in the middle of the square who had lots of soft bread crumbs and the birds positively flocked to her. They even started attacking her boyfriend’s backpack where the bread was being kept! After a while, we ran out of bread and they let us use some of theirs.
The next morning, the coffee was still hot when we got up. Daddy slipped out around dawn to photograph the canal. He said the boats were just unloading at the markets, the gondolas were being prepared for the day and he only saw a total of ten or fifteen people the whole time he was out. But, in a narrow alley, when he came upon one, solitary person, who was it? You get one guess.
At this point, he and Veriato finally exchanged contact information. He was flying out that day as well, but we were heading to Moscow and he was going to Madrid. Sadly, this did turn out to be our final encounter with the Waldo. For now!
We had to take the vaporetto straight to the bus station and the bus straight tot the Marco Polo Airport. Lots of “Marco?” “Polo!” jokes ensued en route.
We flew from Venice to Moscow and spent our entire time in Moscow “power walking” through the enormous airport to our gate. When we got to the gate, they were already boarding, so we hopped on our flight to Riga. The airport in Moscow had English announcements on intercom, non-stop, so you felt a bit like you were in a Dharma training center. The flight boarded about twenty-minutes early, so we didn’t have time to even stop and breathe. When we got on our plane, I was famished. They tossed us boxed sandwiches (three slices of bread, one thin slice of chicken, cheese and pickles) and I devoured it with a cup of coffee. I don’t even like cheese!
We have now been in Riga for two days and I love it here. Thankfully, our time in Latvia is going at a slower pace than the firs part of our journey. We went to Turaida Castle in Sigulda today. It is around 1,000 years old still stands, strong and authentic. We climbed to the top of the tower and, though it was VERY cold and windy up there, the view was worth the climb. I had never been to a real castle before, so that was another “first” for me!
Got to go to bed now. Pancakes and visa appointments in the morning…