On Cinco de Mayo, Jon and I celebrated Cinco years of marriage. In some ways my life before marriage seems a distant memory, and in others, the past five years have absolutely flown by in a whirlwind of unforgettable trips and experiences no newly married couple should be lucky enough to live. After spending last year's anniversary apart, I was so thrilled that we could spend our 5th anniversary together. With our month-long rotation of visitors in April, the 5th of May completely snuck up on me. I assumed we would spend a relaxing weekend at home, relishing the opportunity to simply spend time one-on-one. To my complete surprise, Jon had planned a weekend getaway for us in the midst of his TDY to Slovakia and our non-stop company. On Friday May 4th, he came home from work saying we would be going somewhere the following day and night, but would be within two hours from home. It didn't take me long to guess where we were going, as Jon had been talking about visiting the town of Amersfoort since we moved to the NL, and we hadn't managed to get there yet. He confirmed my guess, but made no mention of the plans he had in store.
|Our wedding day, May 5, 2007|
Later that evening, we kicked off our anniversary weekend with a blanket and our favorite wine in the orchard. Jon has become quite the bird-watcher and had noticed we have several Great Tits (that's an actual name) in our backyard. We soon realized that the tree directly in front of where we were hanging in the orchard had a hole where some Great Tits lived. They had a nest down below (where we could hear the baby birds) and the mama and papa went back and forth bringing insects to the babies. We managed to get a pic of one of the proud parents entering the hole below.
|Kicking off the Anniversary Weekend in the Orchard|
|Our Great Tit|
After arriving at the adorable hotel Jon had booked, I found an enormous bouquet of flowers waiting for me in our room. They were absolutely gorgeous and it was so thoughtful for him to arrange that beforehand. One of many thoughtful gestures he was so sweet to plan. And just when I thought he had forgotten how to plan a trip on his own.
|My beautiful anniversary flowers|
|Amersfoort medieval gate|
|A pit stop in the Drie Ringen Brewery|
That evening, I bundled up for my vague outdoor excursion and our taxi picked us up to drive us to our destination. All the while the anticipation was killing me. As we left Amersfoort and drove into the countryside, I quickly realized we would not be doing a canal cruise and soon began to see signs for hot air balloon rides. Before I knew it, we came upon a field where I saw this....
Yep, that was it, a hot air balloon ride! I was soooo excited as I'd never done this before and what a unique way to celebrate 5 years of marriage. We hopped in the basket with our pilot and up up and away we went. Soon, we were floating over Amersfoort, sailing where the wind took us. Although the pilot could take us up or down, he had no influence over which direction we went, which made it an adventure for us all. From our incredible viewpoint, we could see Utrecht, the reclaimed land area to the north and the edge of the Amsterdam harbor. We flew over wooded areas, beautiful mansions and plenty of farm fields with cows, sheep, and horses.
|An unforgettable 5th Anniversary from high above Amersfoort|
|Flying over fields of cows|
|The horses got excited as we floated by|
Eventually, we were flying directly over Utrecht where we got great views of the church and old town. We noticed we were not the only aircraft in the sky and saw a Chinook helicopter coming towards us to participate in the Dutch Liberation Day festivities (also on the 5th).
|Utrecht canal leading to Amsterdam|
After 2.5 hours in the air, our pilot looked for a place to land and decided to use a small spit of land between a lake and clump of trees. I wasn't sure of his skill as it seemed we were headed straight for the water, but he was obviously quite experienced as we landed on dry land. We were instructed to hold on to the side of the basket facing up. Though it was a pretty tough, bumpy landing and we got a bit jostled, it was SO MUCH FUN! It's crazy to think that one minute you're suspended high in the air by mere fabric and hot air in nothing more than a wicker basket, and the next you're on the ground again. After the "flight" we toasted with bubbles and made our way back to Amersfoort for a night out on the town.
|About to land, floating dangerously close to this lake|
|Our landing site|
The following morning, we drove home and straight to church where we heard a sermon about the roles of husbands and wives. It couldn't have been a more appropriate message to hear on a weekend all about celebrating our marriage. The message was about submission and specifically how we should "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" - Ephesians 5:21. Paul writes that this is not a one-sided submission, but a reciprocal relationship. In reflecting upon my own marriage during church, I felt so blessed to have a husband who devotes himself to my well-being and that couldn't have been more apparent than his wonderful gestures to celebrate our marriage that weekend. But, it's not only in his gallant surprises, but also his everyday actions and love he shows in the smallest details. I joke about how we've had a five-year honeymoon living in Europe. Although I do feel we've lived in a fairy-tale bubble over here, I pray that no matter where we live, our marriage will continue to be a reciprocal relationship, striving to always put the Lord first. Feliz Cinco, mi amor!