Monday, May 25, 2009

Gallavanting in Europe

Hey! I am typing this from a computer at our hotel in Prague. I have so much that I want to write and share, but I have to make this quick. I plan to post more detailed descriptions with photos and videos later.

What can I say? It has been almost 4 years to the date that we were last in Europe, yet the moment we arrived it was if we've never left. This time, we have our daughters to share these moments with. We are having so, so, so much fun. The girls were perfect on the flight and have been really great in the car too. For those who don't know, we are in the midst of a European roadtrip.

Since I'm not yet sure how to post pics and videos yet I will type a top ten list. Kudos Tanya.

These are a few of our "top ten" favorite things so far:

10. Drinking lots of beer and singing really loud at the Haufbrau Haus in Munich. Complete with kids.
9. Hearing Bella say hallo and auf wiedersehen to anyone who'll listen.
8. German and Austrian street names. Upyurazzestrasse. Poopenzefaceahstrasse.
7. Mia's non-judgemental foreign appetite. The girl will eat anything!
6. Watching Bella's excitement as she sang Do Re Mi through the streets of Salzburg.
5. Crossing into Czech border, Eugene says "Oh look, a lonely hitchiker." One mile later Eugene says, "Oh look, a lonely hitchiker with high heels and a short skirt. Uh-Oh."
4. Our GPS navigation lady---without her we'd be lost. Tee hee.
3. Yay! We have an Ipod auxillary input for the car. Boo! Bella won't let anyone else sing.
2. Really feeling a sense of togetherness as we paddled a boat in Munich, hearing Bella say, "I love my baby sister."
1. Mmmm.....Mozart Balls.

Until next time.....

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Show Must Go On

This past Friday was Bella's hugely anticipated ballet and tap recital. No kidding on that one. Bella has been patiently awaiting this recital for 2 whole months. And bless her heart, she practiced every chance she could. Which pretty much meant non stop tapping and ballet-ing all over the house!

This was her second recital since we moved here and the first one in December was hilarious, complete with an antler malfunction and all. Honestly, there is nothing cuter than a toddler ballet recital. It wreaks of cuteness. They don't even need to dance all they have to do is stand there and they're super cute.

Ah, the delicate "Blue Steel" facial.

If you look closely, you'll notice Bella is not wearing her ballet shoes. Hee hee. She arrived with them, that I know for sure. But they didn't quite make it to the stage. I don't think she minded--in fact, I don't even think she noticed.

Here's a rather long clip that shows, if anything, our little Bella beats to her own drum.

Bravo Bella Bravo!

Friday, May 15, 2009

So Long....Farewell

"Auf Wiedersehen good bye, I Hate to go and leave this pretty sight" were the words sung by Brigitta in the Sound of Music. This movie is quite popular around our house these days. Partly because Bella enjoys singing and dancing to the snappy tunes, partly because secretly it was Eugene's favorite movie as a kid and partly because we will be in Austria in the next two weeks. However, these lyrics really hit home this week as we bid farewell to Eugene's parents after such a memorable visit. It was precious to watch Mia interact with her Grandparents this time around. She really became attached to them. We are so thankful that they were a part of her first birthday. Bella, too, loved having them here. Who could blame her? They never say no. To anything. In fact, Bella really perfected her strategy. You want a rice krispie treat at 8:30 in the morning, ask Grandpa. Don't ask Mommy. Always ask Grandpa. It was hilarious!

I know they enjoyed themselves too. Springtime in Chicago, when it's not raining, is really beautiful. Every time they visit, I think they gain a new appreciation of why we moved here. Some examples:

Chicago has two really great baseball teams.

Nature in Chicago is very different than the nature in Southern California, in the sense that we actually have some.

Palos Park has the Plush Horse, super yummy ice cream!

But most of all, they enjoy Chicago because this is where our 2 little girls are. Whom they love, unconditionally. Thank you for such a wonderful visit Lola and Lolo. We love you!


Monday, May 11, 2009

A Party with a Purpose

As many of you know, Mia had her 1st birthday on May 8th. Instead of throwing a traditional 1st birthday party for Mia we instead threw a party for other children in need. As a family unit, we hosted a "Fun Fair" for a homeless shelter for kids in the city of Chicago. Our hope is that when Mia looks back on her first birthday she'll know that her life started in service to others.
From games to prizes to hot dogs and popcorn we worked together to give these kids a special day. What we witnessed was pure joy.

The shelter is a part of Bethel New Life, a faith-based organization whose goal is to seek justice for all people.

Bethel New Life has successfully moved 56% of formerly homeless families into permanent housing and transitioned over 7,000 people into the workforce.

Now, don't get me wrong, we're no Ringling Bros. but shockingly, we pulled it off. I proudly introduce our cast:

Tossin' Tom refereed the Quarter Back Challenge

Jugglin' Jammee rocked the Sticky Tennis booth

Tiffany and Chad Olsen really walked the ropes as they managed The Kid Zone

The Amazing Chris delighted and amused those who dared to enter the Wii zone

Glorious Gabe gave out sparkly tattoos

Matt the Incredible managed the bowling station

Frank the Furious (that's his hand pictured) was in charge of the Ring Toss

Marvelous Mila, Kathy the Crusader and Rich the Bearded Lady worked tirelessly in the kitchen to get everything just right!

Gina the Ring Leader started it off

Eugene the Great was the one behind the camera, responsible for these precious memories.

Regrettably, after 24 years of dedicated service to the West Chicago community, in just one month this program will close its doors due to our current, unfortunate times.

And when this happens many of these kids and their families will be out on the streets again.

Today was special for so many reasons. Every single one of us had a great time. I know for me, it was one of those days that will remain etched in my memories. In turn I think these kids tought us a little something about ourselves. We were reminded that helping others is and always will be, the right thing to do.

A Purpose well worth our time.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Let them eat cake!

Rise and shine sweet Mia, it's your first birthday!

Eugene, Bella and I have been looking forward to this day for so long. We take birthdays (of any age) pretty seriously over here and totally overdo it with the kisses, the hugs and the special attention. Today was no different. In fact, I pretty much threw caution to the wind as I let you do whatever you pleased.

Like devouring the head of a baby.

Or throwing a mid-morning tea party.

Or thumbing through a Seuss classic.

And who could resist personalized pancakes?

With butter.

And syrup.

And whipped cream!

It was a perfect morning Mia.

365 days ago, I too, had a perfect morning.

At 8:08 we welcomed you into our family.

Holding you, I felt complete. The concept of family, as I knew it, was forever changed and all I can say is that it felt so right.

We have had such a great year together. Your life already began with adventure.

There's so much more to see and many, many more adventures ahead of us. Tonight we sang happy birthday (for the fourtieth time this week) to you.

Surrounded by family, you engulfed your cake.

And we watched as you relished every moment of it. Happy 1st Birthday Mia!


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