I have to go back almost two months to wish Dane a happy birthday!  I can’t believe how fast time flies.  My parents have already been gone for weeks. I miss them.  We were so lucky to have more than a month with them. To have them here for Dane & Tessa’s birthdays and Cole’s graduation.  And now, I’m still struggling with empty-house syndrome.

Dane had an AMAZING 9th birthday (The Animals of Beekse Bergen; Pimp your Clog), filled with lots of family, cake & fun. We were blessed to be in Holland for my Aunt & Uncle’s 50th Wedding Anniversary, with my parents, in a fantabulous rental house surrounded by sheep.  On his actual birthday Oma & Opa spoiled him with presents, then took all of us to play lasertag in a cave! You’d think that alone would be enough. But nope! There was more!

That afternoon a big chunk of my family, from my father’s side, stopped by our little bungalow amongst the sheep to wish Dane a happy birthday.  For the first time he had a birthday surrounded by cousins!  His joy could not be contained. He and Sanne (my cousins little girl) spent the rest of the day running through fields, sheeps, farms and wrestling on the floor like puppies. Like long-lost best friends.

For me, besides family of course, the best part was the cake. Hans (Hans; Saying Goodbye) had promised to bake Dane’s cake for him. Sadly Hans did not live to see Dane’s 9th birthday, and inside I not only missed Hans but also his fantabulous baking skills. A cake by Hans is not one you forget.

But Mr. Chlorine (my cousins husband, my kids can’t say “Cleuren”), stepped into Hans’ shoes and baked Dane a fantabulous cake. A gorgeous cake. A cake that would’ve done Hans proud.  I admit I teared up a little, both because it wasn’t by Hans, but also because his spirit lives on.  There is something beautiful about passing down the family trade, skills and recipes.  A little bit of Hans lives on in not just his kids, but also his son-in-law and his baking skills.


The day started off perfectly with lots of presents!


Dane and Opa ❤


Kasteel Valkenburg


Oma worrying we will have to take the chairlift.


Going underground for a little cave laser tag!


Castle Schaloen


Back to the little bungalow for Birthday Cake by Mr. Chlorine!


My Dutch family thought it was very funny to put “Nein” (German for no) on the birthday cake for the American boy from Germany… instead of “Nine”.


He blew them out in one big puff!


Feeding goats with cousins.


The watermill… with our rental bungalow in the background.




At the watermill!


Opa & Dane taking a little Lego play-break.


Dinner out at the most fabulous restaurant with EVERYTHING! Restaurant Parkstadt Plaza!


A little last-minute sunset birthday photo posing.


Happy 9th Birthday Dane!