Saturday, December 31, 2011

{Flashback}: Day 1

Arriving in Venice was like having a dream become a reality. Even at the end of December I could feel the warmth of the Italian sun on my face bringing out the inner smile of my heart. Being near the water made me realize how much of a California girl I am and how much I miss openness. It was refreshing and rejuvenating to hear waves crashing against the dock; it was peaceful and calm to look out and see nothing but open water.

After our boat ride into Central Venice we dropped our suitcases off at the hotel and immediately left to find a gondola. We don't mess around!
Our gondolier, Fabio, was fantastic. I requested mainly only back canals and it was perfect.

I'm so glad Tim got video of our gondola ride. It really captured our experience.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


We are back from our amazing holiday in Venice! It was everything I hoped and imagined it would be. And I'm happy to announce, we arrived back to London robbery free. ;)

It's been a long day of traveling back home but I will for sure tell you all about it. Buonanotte!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

What a beautiful Christmas Day it was. My heart is full. I am one blessed girl.
Another year, another hit. In Marisa's words, "This is the best Christmas EVER!" I'm looking forward to another new year and what it may hold in store for us. Life is good. On that note...

Partiamo per un'altra avventura! Torno presto!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

an English Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! I really hope you all have a merry weekend! Our fun has only barely begun but we are loving it so far.
This year is our very first time having Christmas just us. Our little family. As much as we wish we were back in the states celebrating with family it is actually super nice to have Christmas Eve and Day all to ourselves.
One of the highlights is planning my first Christmas Eve dinner entirely.


Maple-Roasted Duck
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
My mother-in-law's famous stuffing
Pear Hazelnut Salad
Sparkling Apple Juice
Homemade Pumpkin Pie
Vanilla Icecream

I have to toot my own horn for this dinner. It was seriously so DE-VINE. Tim thinks this dinner may be a tradition for us from now on.

Speaking of traditions, I wanted to incorporate English Christmas traditions this year as much as possible, and probably will do so from here on out. We will always carry London in our hearts. It is customary here in the UK to have "Christmas Crackers" before the Christmas dinner. I was at the grocery store when I first came across these Chrismas Crackers and my thought was "Wow, that is fancy wrapping for crackers. They must be some fancy, tasty crackers."

It wasn't until Tim told me when he himself learned about them at his work Christmas party when I figured out what they were. The "cracker" is actually short for "firecracker". So they are these small packaged tubes that are pulled by everyone before Christmas dinner by everyone crossing their arms, sitting around the table, then pulling your neighbours cracker with the free left hand. The packaging allows the tube to make a fire cracker sound when opened and out pop 3 things: -A paper crown, -A joke, and -A toy.

You can read the history here.

I of course jumped on buying these when I realized what they were. It is British tradition! And they have these everywhere. At the luxury department store, Harrods, they even sell some for £599! What's in it? Gold?
It was hard for the girls to pull so Tim and I had to do it ourselves.

Of course, we had to keep our American tradition of Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve.

Another tradition in the UK is for the kids to leave mince pies instead of cookies for Father Christmas. That is one tradition I can happily leave out. :) Santa likes cookies in this house. We are excited to see what he brings tonight! Good night!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Last day of school

Today was Marisa's last day of nursery. She has really enjoyed going to school and it has been really fun to see her blossom even more by making new friends, from literally all over the world, and exploring new boundaries and adventures. (With an added bonus being her picking up a British accent every single time she asks questions now.)

We are almost always the first ones to enter the classroom every morning and when Marisa registers herself she at first would always put her name and picture on spot 4. Then when she realized she could be the driver of the bus, that became her new spot of choice for awhile.
But of course, all the children want to be the driver and when kids started being competitive for that spot Marisa changed to always putting herself on spot 14 for the remainder of the year.

This is Oscar. Oscar was Marisa's first real friend. The first friend whose name she remembered and we heard about. He is from Romania and speaks Romanian but has a cute British accent and speaks English really well. Oscar and Marisa really complemented each other and the teachers said they played so well together.

Natalie loved being able to play around the school area before and after school even if it was for a few short minutes while we dropped off/picked up Marisa. Isn't this bike so neat?!

This past Tuesday was "Stay and Play" in Marisa's shelter and Natalie loved being able to stay the entire time instead of having to leave. And Marisa was so excited to show me and her litle sister around.

Luckily Tim was able to experience Marisa's environment at school last Friday. He had a work Christmas party that was an all day event and didn't have to be at work until noon so he took her to school in the morning and picked her up! Marisa was smiling from ear to ear when they left for school in the morning and Tim said she was bouncing all over her classroom with excitement when she was giving him a tour of her shelter.
I don't have pictures of that day, but I do have pictures of pictures of Marisa and things she has done at school all around her classroom.
(Side story, one day her teachers excitedly told me one morning, "Look, Marisa is famous! Her picture was printed in a book for a teachers conference we all went to and you can buy the book at any bookstore!" I still need to go pick up that book but they showed me the picture and indeed there she was! So she has pictures truly everywhere!)

During parent teacher conference a couple weeks ago her teachers had nothing but nice things to say about Marisa...

-A great example to the other kids
-Confident and independent.
-lovely to have around
-amazing at small world play

I actually really liked all her teachers. They were fantastic. Zaida, Gill, and Siobhan...


and Mandy. And not pictured anywhere are Toyen and John.

Lots of teachers and lots of love! Marisa was given a book that was signed by all her teachers and nearly made me cry. We are going to miss all her lovely teachers! I'm so glad she, and we, had such a fantastic experience!


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