Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sushi Party

Some old friends dropped in for a brief visit today.
The last time we saw them, they were leaving Brussels for Singapore.
This was the scene back then....

Today, this was the picture.....

We're so glad they took time out on their busy visit from Singapore to spend some time with us. Due to food allergies/food restrictions, we opted to have a sushi party. It was the first time our kids have made sushi and they loved it so much they ended up packing up a couple rolls for school lunches.
Claudio, we missed you, and will hope that next  time you're in Belgium, we'll get to see you as well.
In the meantime, here's hoping we make it to Singapore soon! Thanks again for coming by guys!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Adopt a Veteran

The other day, I was parking the car and shuttling kids to the house when a neighbor who was walking her puppy, crossed our driveway. I stopped her to ask about her new puppy. I'd seen them walking around the neighborhood, and the pup was adorable. She explained that she was just helping to raise him for about 1 year, until he was ready to go off to school. The puppy would grow, hopefully, into a seeing eye dog, or a dog for a handicapped person. She said she couldn't imagine giving this pup up after a year, as it was like looking after a baby- difficult, but incredibly rewarding. She knew she'd grow attached. She said her brother had been injured in the war and now has a dog, trained to help him complete everyday tasks, which is what led her to fostering a guide pup. While the kids asked for permission to cuddle and pet the puppy, I couldn't help but to think about her injured brother and a previous Space A military flight that I took, (click here), with injured soldiers .
Which leads to this Veteran's Day post... some ideas on how you can adopt a veteran.
Check it out!
You can adopt a furry veteran (click here)  or adopt a less furry veteran (hopefully) - click here.
They'd both thank you for it!

Getting Tough on Monsters

Yep, We had to do it. Had to pull out the Monster Spray. Those dreadful beasts have been wrecking peace and quiet at night for this family for far too long. We've had quite enough. We can only hope whistful dreams will return us to the land of nod now that the Monster Spray has banished our home of midnight evil-doers. Daddy prepped his special concoction and socked it to 'em all over the second floor bedrooms, working especially hard in Arleigh's room where the Monsters have been quite active lately.
May those bug-eyed beasts be squelched forever.
Three Cheers for Monster Spray!
Endless cheers for a good night's sleep! Ahhhh.

When she comes back...

"When she comes back mom, can we do that all again?"
That's what they asked. It's an underestatement to say that we had a great time with Aunt Betsy and tears fell hard when it was time to say goodbye.
The goodbyes are always so hard.

She's a great aunt, thinking of everything before she even came- like friendly apps for the kids on her phone, or special treats they never see here, like pez much fun!
We're left with a lot of happy moments and the opportunity to look forward to the next time we get to see her. Thanks for making the trip Aunt Betsy! We miss you already!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Best Thing about Tuscany

So, when I told the kids we were heading out to take Aunt Betsy to see Tuscany, they had a lot to look forward to. They remembered the last trip and were curious about what we'd do and see again. When all was said and done, I asked them what their favorite part about their return trip was. Can you imagine?
Was it the unending car ride to get there and back? No, certainly not.

 But they did find amusement in the way Arleigh entertained himself through the journey....

Was it posing at the leaning tower of Pisa, over and over and over to get that perfect "classic" shot with Aunt Betsy?

 NO, that wasn't their favorite thing either, but the crowds seemed to find it entertaining.
Was it the beautiful, breathtaking, serene settings of Tuscan hillsides that tugged at their tiny hearts?
Well, you might think, but that was more the case for their mom... 

 The olive trees? No.

 The sunset cast over bridges in Florence? No. They didn't find that the least bit interesting.

 OK. Must have been the architecture they thought was impressive right? The outstanding duomos and piazzas scattered throughout the country?

NO,..they've seen an awful lot of those and really, didn't want a "do over".
(but again, mom didn't mind at all!)

What they DID like about the duomos was jumping from the steps, but still, this was not their most favorite thing. This was not what they called "the Best Thing about the Tuscany trip".
So it must have been the food right? Italy's food is amazing!
 But it wasn't the spaghetti,
Or the countless gelatti,

 Or the candy shops mom denied access to,
Did we mention it was not the daily dose of gelati? No.
Neither was their favorite part, waiting outside shops while mom and Aunt Betsy perused charming stores (while they entertained themselves by rolling a chestnut to each other).

The art? Surely their favorite thing about Tuscany must have been the spectacular art surrounding them? Even chalk on the sidewalks was outstanding....

NO, this was not their "best part" either. Hard to believe it wasn't. But it wasn't.
So their favorite part was having Aunt Betsy along?
No, though she was a welcome asset, they didn't even find her the best part. Shocking, but true.
 Posing for ump-teen bazillion photos for mom? Was that the best? No WAY! They hate posing.

 SO it's usually better if we don't pose so much and just explore new places.
Was it the cabin? They had longed to return to the cabin in Tuscany and play at the campground there.
 No, that wasn't their favorite part of the trip either.
 Just being in Italy? The picturesque places and scenes all around? That's pretty awesome right?
Yes, it's lovely, but this isn't quite what captured the kids. Sorry to say.

 Sure, we're talking kids right? Must have been the new and different things like cool "jiffy jons" -toilets that washed themselves. No. though we visited our fair share and more.
Pretending to be like tough Italians? Maybe?
No. But the kids like to pretend a lot.
 A favorite thing - to get lost among the meandering city streets for a day? No, this wasn't really fun for any of us actually, but we did suffer, at times, from some confusion.
I Know! The drive through the Alps to get there. That must be the best part right? Afterall, you can hardly get closer to heaven.
Unfortunately, for mom this is one of the best parts, but for the kids, not such a great moment, because afterall, they were still stuck in a car all day.
Nope. You'll never guess what their "best thing" about Tuscany was....

 This. Playing in the leaves. That's it. A moment when we stopped walking and exploring and just let them pile up leaves and play, and play and play. They rolled down the hillside. They screamed and shouted. They threw leaves. They buried each other. They laughed and giggled. They weren't tourists, or Americans, or onlookers. They were just kids and they loved this moment.
Consequently, so did I. This was their favorite part. The BEST THING about the last trip to Tuscany. Who knew? A lesson learned, over and over, with kids. Like all things Tuscan, keep it simple and you'll be awestruck.