My unexpected road trip to Holland was filled with wonderful moments. I promise to babble about cows, dogs & castles on Saturday but today it’s all about family. I drove up to pick up my dad, flying into Brussels, and visit my suddenly seriously ill uncle. In between driving, sick call and working; I also fit in visits with other family. Lots of family.

Sometimes visits are just visits. You sit, talk, walk and just enjoy each others company. Other times you pull out the camera and document the giggles & smiles. Saturday night at dinner I pulled out the camera. There were giggles & smiles in every corner.

My dad had planned to take me to dinner, a little thank you for my driving. I didn’t need a thank you, dad time all to myself was pretty great. However. He suggested “Chinees”, literally Chinese. Practically Indonesian-Chinese-Dutch fusion. There is a long history on the interwebs of how Dutch Chinees came to be, bottomline, it’s a result of Dutch tastebuds & Asian immigrants. My favorite. Available only, truly, in Holland.

But. If you have family you know plans often don’t go as, um, planned. In between visits to my grandparents (at the church graveyard), my sick uncle, the local butcher for some delicious headcheese, the bread baker for “Limburgs” brood, history lessons from my unusually talkative father, I got texts & whatsapps from cousins. After everything was decided I showed up at my cousins bakery to pick up vlaai to take with my dad to his oldest sister. According to plan. And plans changed again.

My cousin would go with us.  Her daughter would follow on her bike. Once at my aunt & uncles house plans changed again. My aunt didn’t want to say goodbye to her little brother, so they followed us back to my cousins house. Cousin frantically cleaned the backyard table & set it for 9, more cousins were coming, also new-to-the-plan. Me & my other cousin picked up Chinees rather than all of us going out. And my dad & I had dinner with extended family rather than a quiet dinner for two. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

At dinner everyone was happy. Sure, Chinees will make everyone smile. It’s delicious! I overstuffed on kip sate (chicken on a stick in a spicy peanut sauce), babi pangang (sauteed pork with savory sweet/sour sauce), bami goreng (fried noodles), ku lo yuk (basically sweet & sour chicken) and kroepoek (deep fried shrimp chips). While the food certainly put smiles on faces, just being together was even better.

My dad & his sister, Annie, sat next to each other. Tante Annie glowing the whole time. Every fiber of her being was happy to be with her baby brother (my dad is 75!). I finally couldn’t resist, and pulled out my camera. I’m hesitant, always, to bring it out. Some people don’t like being photographed. I don’t want people to feel awkward, or on the spot. I ask for permission. Always. My aunt was happy, ecstatic even, to pose. I have 100+ amazing photo’s of her hamming it up, smiling, loving the camera’s attention.

It’s rare that I get this many people to cooperate for photo’s. It’s rare that this many turn out beautifully. This is 8 out of 173 beautiful photo’s

Oom Giel

Tante Annie

Annie (oldest) & Wino (youngest, my dad)

A balloon flew over head!

Me & my dad, my cousin Leny & her mom

Annie & my dad (sister & brother)

Giel & Annie, their daughter Leny with her son & daughter. Family ❤

60+ years. Still holding hands ❤ ❤ ❤