Friday, June 22, 2012

First look

Here is the first peek into baby #3...

Even after the 3rd go around it still amazes me to look at an ultrasound and see the little being we have created. Completely fascinating to watch the baby. Already love this little one.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

{Croatia} Flashback: Part 2

We did take an evening to head into the city of Dubrovnik. It was a charming little walled city with a million sets of stairs (killer) and quaint little alley ways filled with restaurants and shops.

We found a darling restaurant for dinner were we had to go above the building and eat on the rooftops, secluded from the busyness of the crowds, and completely isolated 360 degrees by other surrounding buildings. So romantic.

We finished dinner in time to go down amongst the crowd already gathering at all restaurants/bars in anticipation to watch Croatia vs Spain in the Euro 2012. We were in The Netherlands when they were playing against Denmark in the European cup, but this time it was nice to be out in the city and soak in the locals intensity and love for the game of football. I wanted to join right in with wearing their crazy gear! Way rad atmosphere.

So, (sigh), I come to a close in Croatia. It was a much needed sunny and super relaxing break for us. If only it was easier to get to from the United States...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

{Croatia} Flashback: Part 1


Wow. Wow. WOW.

Before all our European adventures started I was pretty bitter towards London. After a long winter I was ready for spring and touches of sunshine. Instead, we got day after day after DAYS of rain. All day long, every day, and it was cold outside. While everyone was beginning to bask in the sun back in the U.S, I was still wearing scarfs and coats. Totally bitter.  I now know that I am a type of person that physically and psychologically needs sun.

Luckily, we have had a few sunny breaks on our holidays, but nothing really drastically warmer from London. Until Croatia that is...

Tim and I celebrated our 6 year wedding anniversary on June 2nd and this year we decided to go to Croatia for a long weekend without the kids to celebrate. I was so giddy when packing for our trip because I was just SO anxious to feel warmth! And of course spend one-on-one time with my hubby.

When we landed in Croatia, I was blown away with the beauty of the country.
Stunning. Absolutely gorgeous.
And our resort was like a dream. Pools, restaurants, spas, private beaches, all we need in one spot! And all comparatively cheap as Poland! I had my daily virgin strawberry daiquiris poolside and delicious food every night. Tim ordered a local Bosnian dish for lunch one day, the "Cevapcici" with pita bread served with a mixed salad and ajvar. It was actually really good.

At one point I even said to Tim, "Oh my gosh, is this real? Pinch me!" Which he actually happily did. :) I also kept thinking about the girls. Oh how they would have loved to be here! So child friendly everywhere we went. Tim and I decided that if we lived in London permanently that Croatia would be our yearly family vacation spot without a doubt. Love this place.

Tim and I bought two rafts to lay on so we could just float in the calm, blue, and clear Adriatic Sea. It was heavenly. We drifted/paddled to the other side of the beach where there is a small secluded beach. Along the way were pretty secluded coves where we finally joined the "S-D" club in broad daylight which most Harts are members of. ;)
This was also our view every time we sat by the pool and turned our chairs around. We are used to having children with us and didn't even think to bring a book to read, so we had nothing to do but stare at this, nap, and chit-chat with each other. I know, so horrible.

Ironically, right before this trip my morning sickness "suddenly" disappeared. ;) Just kidding. I'm usually only sick during my first trimester and it just so happened that right before this trip I was starting my second and my nausea went down greatly. Perfect timing! Thanks little baby!

I didn't take that many pictures on this trip. Do I need to explain why??? We soaked up every minute of paradise and we were out in the water all day. The first day I was even the first one to get up and get ready! That never happens in this household! haha

{To my loving husband,
I love you more and more each day and feel so blessed that I have you in my life. You are the man that I have dreamed of having and the very father I have wanted for my children. Life and marriage has truly been wonderful with you by my side and I look forward to many more years of adventure and happiness. And thank you for making me laugh every single day and getting me to do adventurous things. :)
Happy Anniversary, my love.
I love you!}

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

{Poland} Flashback: Day 2

Auschwitz is one of the main reasons for visiting Krakow and the main reason for leaving our girls behind. Since elementary school I have always known that someday I would visit a concentration camp. Specifically, Auschwitz. I grew up in South Florida where the Jewish community is quite large. My best friend in fact was Jewish. I remember having school assemblies where Holocaust survivors would come and speak to us and I even remember having fellow class mates discuss their families history with the Holocaust. I remember the speakers who came describing their vivid horrifying memories of their imprisonment and seeing first hand myself their number tattooed on their arms. I don't know if it is because of my exposure as a young child to the Holocaust but I have always wanted to learn more about the subject in and outside of school. Which has lead me to this point in my life. Finally visiting Auschwitz.

I expected to cry throughout the whole thing. But my experience was nothing as I had expected it to be. Instead, I had a whirlwind of emotions. Shocked, somber, confused, sad, angry, humbled.


I was numb for a lot of it. I'm not sure if it humanly possible to wrap one's mind around such atrocities. This actually happened and took place, right here, not that long ago, to millions of innocent people? We all learn so much about the Holocaust growing up. I'm sure every single one of us can spit out tens of facts about it.
But being in Auschwitz was something else.

"Arbeit Macht Frei"
"Work makes you free"

Auschwitz is divided into three sections. Auschwitz I, II, and III. First, we saw Auschwitz I which was the SS headquarters and torture centre.

We had a tour guide throughout our tour that spoke to us through headsets so as to not have to shout and better able to keep the reverence of the place. She still spoke quietly and guided us along carefully explaining everything in full detail.

One of the first things I noticed quickly were the barbed wire fencing. It was a daunting feeling to have to see it at every. angle. you look at. And this is without having to hear the constant humming of the electricity flowing through it.

Once we entered the extermination building the tears immediately began to flow. Auschwitz II-Birkenau is where most of the extermination took place, but in this building for museum purposes it showed all of the artifacts.

One of the first things I saw upon entering the room were little children's clothes, shoes, and pictures of dying young ones after the war. The countless number of children's shoes, the suitcases of little ones just under 5 years old. I was surprised how I didn't feel in an ounce of anger at that moment. Instead, I was overwhelmed with such sadness. Such immense sadness that I can physically feel the weight of it on my heart. I just couldn't stop crying.

No mother wants to envision their children in such turmoil but my mind instantly went there when I saw a picture of an extremely fragile two year old little girl in complete fetal position, crying.
I had to look away so fast to remove such a thought from my head. What horror. I think that picture will be with me through my whole life. I cried for this little girl, I cried for her mother who was ripped away from her, I cried for her pain and suffering, I cried because I felt helpless, and I cried for such hate that existed toward this child.
I can't explain how much my heart hurt for this child in the picture. The horror stories her eyes alone told where so piercing.

How can the Nazis be so past feeling? How could they have done this? Absolutely horrifying.

I also felt a little guilty for feeling the worst for the mothers and children. After all, weren't most of them the "lucky" ones anyway??  Most of women and children were sent directly to "take showers" and in a matter of 20 minutes poisoned to death in gas chambers. I mean, there was a sense of grace in that, right? Such conflicting, hard to handle feelings just lead me back to feeling numb again.

The tour continued with other such mind blowing insanities. Room after room...

There are only a couple of blocks that are completely closed. Block 10 being one of them. And this is why,

"Several hundred women prisoners, mainly Jewish were held in two upstairs rooms of this block and used as human guinea-pigs for sterilization experiments conducted by Prof. Dr Carl Clauberg, a German gynaecologist, from April 1943 to May 1944. Some of them died from the treatment they received, others were murdered so that autopsies could be performed on them. Those who survived were left with permanent injuries.
Other SS doctors also conducted experiments on women in this block."

If the walls on this block could repeat the cries of what happened within...

Block 11 is where thousands were tortured, shot and killed. The torture methods were twisted and cruel beyond comprehension.

"The Death Wall"

I am purposely leaving details out for multiple reason but the main reason being that you must visit this place and see it for yourself. It is life changing and puts a much needed perspective on life.

SS guards took cover in these towers under inclement weather during roll call while the prisoners had to stand outside for 3-4 hours.

I was the last one to enter the gas chamber with the group quite ahead of me. I turned back to see what some of the prisoners may have saw as they may have looked back too. Did they know this was the last time they were going to see light and that they were walking straight to their deaths? This was my last view of the outside world before turning around to a big room with only a few holes above where the poison was dropped.

Next, Auschwitz II-Birkenau. An extermination camp. The largest Nazi German concentration camp. We have all seen the pictures. We are all very familiar with the long brick building and high tower where cattle carriages transported millions of Jews unknowingly to their death.
Birkenau is massive. Absolutely massive. I couldn't believe I was standing in the very place I have learned so much about. The train tracks were the most haunting to me.

Those who survived the injustice from the Nazis up to this point of being brought to Auschwitz had no idea what they were in for. 100 people would be crammed into one carriage. Many died while on the journey. In my own guess you could probably fit 25 people and it would be crammed. Every passenger that arrived to Auschwitz had to pay for their own tickets here.
At one point near this spot near the tracks I stood in the very place where the selection process took place. 80% of the prisoners who arrived were sent to the gas chambers in one direction and only about 20%, mainly Jews, who seemed fit enough to work, went the other direction to work as labour slaves. Each prisoner was designed by the Germans to only live 3 months.

I asked our tour guide the significance of leaving rocks at the tombstones and some I saw on the steps of the carriage, she replied that it is Jewish custom to leave a rock because it signifies strength versus the flower which most people leave because the flower is alive.

It was such a beautiful day when we visited the camp. It was hard to imagine the hell that existed in this place. At the back of the camp there were gas chambers with fields of small flowers and dandelions growing. Gas chambers at Auschwitz I only fit around 700 people in them where as the gas chambers in Birkenau fit 7,000 people. The gas chambers and crematoriums were destroyed only days before liberation by the Nazis who tried in vain to hide their crimes. It was ironic for me to see the green beauty, which was fertilized by the ashes of the dead below and a gas chamber in rubble behind it.

We got to walk inside one of the very few standing barracks that again were not destroyed by the Nazis when the war ended. I walked around the very hallways where hundreds of people were crammed into beds where lice, diarrhea, and many other diseases were rampant. These are the original beds of the prisoners.

These are toilets. The reason for the prisoners waking up at 4 am is because getting up, using the toilet, washing up, and roll call could take hours. After roll call they would work 10-12 hour days and then come back and do the whole thing again. German officers did not go inside these toilet barracks, Jews worked in them. Working in the toilet barrack was actually one of the few coveted jobs for you were sheltered against the harsh weather, despite the atrocious smell.

The very last thing we got to do is actually go up the very top of the tower that overlooked the entire camp. I saw the very same sight that many German officers saw on a daily basis. This was also an eerie feeling.

I learned a lot of lessons from being in Auschwitz. The main one I want to share with you is that we must not forget. We must not forget what happened in history and especially the lives of so many innocent people. We also must not forget those who fought so bravely from our great country and gave up their lives to help stop the war.

"The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again." George Santayana


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