Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Into the first grade

Ava started the first grade when we arrived in Budapest - what a difference a year makes!  See how much she has grown since last year when she started kindergarten? She is still the best little girl and is so fun to be around.  She has an awesome sense of humor and is super smart.  She is reading, writing, and is really enjoying school with Pam.  We are so lucky to have a kid like Ava - we realize it every day.

Hello to Hungary!

 We are in Budapest for the month of September and are so happy to be here.  We came for a long weekend while we lived in Prague a few years ago and knew we would be back someday.  We were right!  It is a gorgeous, clean, safe, energetic and modern/historic city.  We are definitely enjoying our time here so far. More to come on where we are living and what we are getting up to on our European leg.  I know these 2 months are going to fly by....

Friday, September 20, 2013

Home Sweet Pennsylvania Home

It is amazing what a few years and about 40 countries under your belt can do to put things in perspective.  I grew up in rural Pennsylvania - in between Philadelphia and Allentown, right on the edge of Bucks County...and not far from Amish Country.  When I was a kid, I loved it.  We went wherever we wanted all day in the summer and on weekends - riding our bikes around, hiking in the woods, fishing, jumping in hay and riding our horses. We stayed outside until the last bit of day slipped into dark, playing kick the can, catching fireflies and playing with our neighbors.  In the winter we lived in a wonderland with the trees dripping with ice and snow days spent sledding with our friends and making snowmen.

When I was a teenager, all I wanted to do was move away from this place. Sure, I loved my friends, but I was so curious about what the rest of the country... the rest of the world had to offer.  I have spent the past 17 years exploring the rest of the world and coming back home was somewhat surreal.  I saw it with different eyes than when I left at 18.  I think I saw it through my 8 year old eyes again - seeing the freedom I had to do what I wanted as a kid.  Seeing the beauty in the nature and the simplicity of life.  I realized how good we had it and how safe we were. It is no wonder Ava said many times that she wished she could live here. I am glad Ava and Arlo were able to see where I grew up.

Chile - better late than never

Funny story about Chile.  We spent the day there (and night) in Santiago on our way to Peru.  Most of the flight options from Buenos Aires had super long layovers in Santiago, so we thought, what the hay - let's spend the day!  So, we booked a hotel room at the airport and packed a day pack for the plane and our plans were set. 

Fast forward to when we arrive at the airport.  Apparently Chile doesn't have transit visas for layovers.  And they have a reciprocity fee for U.S. citizens that happens to be $160 per person (which is basically an FU fee to us since apparently we make it hard for Chileans to get into the US, fair enough).  So, multiply $160 by 5 of us...and damn, Chile was expensive!  We tried our hardest to get out of it, but it did nothing but raise our blood pressure and take a few years off our lives.  In any case, Santiago is a lovely city and I would like to go back and spend more time someday - especially since I laid down some major Benjamins to do so.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

We left our heart in Pisac

 We always heard Peru was an amazing place.  I mean, when you  have Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley and all.  We didn't realize how much we would fall in love with it, especially Pisac.  There is something truly magical about Pisac that drew us in and will forever have a place in our heart (tear).

Oh, the people we met! The food we ate!  The beautiful scenery!  The history!

Irma, the woman who looked after our house every day and made us the most amazing eggs on the planet every morning, and amazing Quinoa soap and Lomo saltado and other Peruvian delicacies.  She is an amazing woman and housekeeper and cook, but what we didn't realize is how close we would become to her without even being able to communicate that well with her.  We will forever remember her and will be back someday to visit her.  Arlo fell in love with Irma and ran into her arms every day. 

Pasqual (and his girlfriend Tomasa), who took care of the house outside - what a friendly, amazing man who works so hard every day.  What we didn't realize is the effect we would have on him.  He expressed to us many times how lively it was to have young children there and how much he was going to miss us. The neighbors at Melissa Wasi, Chito and Joyce were so welcoming and the perfect neighbors - helping us and getting to know us.  Ava developed a strong liking for Chito - asking about him all the time!

We said goodbye to Pisac at the end of August, but we know we will be back someday.  It is the type of place that really lives up to the saying - "it is not goodbye, it is see you later."

The freedom of a yard

 Living in cities the past 15 years has been wonderful, but has also shown us the freedom you have with a yard.  With kids, it is even more important.  In Pisac, they had the freedom to go anywhere and do anything.  It is really important for kids to have this - and we will make a point to make sure our kids are able to have this freedom growing up  - whether it is for a month in a far away place, in our weekend house in Sonoma....or maybe when we live full time on a farm :)