Tuesday, 30 June 2015


Dear Pia and Rafa, 

We had a very exciting visitor the past few weeks and you could not have been happier. Neither could I. Finally someone would tip the vote to the beach!! Lily arrived early one Sunday. Rafa, you and I met her at the airport while Pia and Papa went to church. We met Lily with a big hug. And as usual, Lily returned the love all day long. 
We tried to hit the beach everyday, but morning were usually slow going. Mostly because we learned that you are a much happier baby when you've had a proper morning nap Rafa. (Poor bootcamp!) But I don't think anyone was complaining. Pia, you played happily with Lilers for a few minutes before ending up in the pool. 
We made it our mission to discover all the beaches of Miami that we'd yet to explore. South Point is a definite favourite. (The jetski handles and blower are from a little girl's picnic, not litter from the beach, I promise.)
I read about a pop up drive in cinema right here in the grove and convinced Lily to come with me. They were playing the original Jurassic Park, which she'd never had the pleasure of seeing. We stuffed our faces with sour gummies and watched from the boot of the volvo, and try as I might, I couldn't spook Lily into screaming even when the velociraptors were in the kitchen. All this while you both slept safely, dinosaur free, at home. 
Papa was babysitting... maybe the sleeping part didn't go quite so well.  But you were definitely dinosaur free.
Later we practiced re-use, by making good use of the left over candy. By making nerd-pretzels. Obviously.
 And you both followed the game by pulling rafa's old moses basket out of the garage.

 In that same spirit, Pia, you were finding good uses for everything. The world is your jungle gym, the stairs your climbing wall, the table your bouldering field, and Rafa's chair your pull up bar.
 Fathers day was fast approaching so we took Lily out to South Miami. The same place you decorated a very special box we picked up to surprise Papa. You wanted to ensure it was filled with chocolate coins for him. So it was. Magic.
 On Fathers Day, we took papa on a walk through the grove collecting coffee along the way and ending up at Cars and Cigars, the annual event at the Barnacle. Papa was excited to see all the classics and we were excited by the craft table. Rafa, you drooled along with Papa while he walked the rows of showpieces. We all thought Opa would have fit in well here. We were missing him!
 Pia, you wrote Apple all by yourself as I spelled it for you and it made me proud. You are getting to be such a big girl.
 We surprised Papa with a hand rolled cigar for the walk home. I think he liked it, and I know he deserved it.
 Then, thinking of Opa, we tried to face time him. We didn't get him that time, but your excitement to talk to him is amazing. This is just you waiting...
 We put Papa to work after all that fun and he manned the BBQ. Rafa, you ate all your food and then, as is your new hobby, you reached over and stole everything you could from your sister's plate before we stopped you. Then you grabbed a brat from the middle of the table and used it to hold us off while you jammed more food in your mouth.
 Then, things got back to business. Lily and I got creative with the rest of the candy while you two were sleeping. We made ice cream sausages that were delicious.
 And gummy sausages that were... um... like this:
 We pulled out your old playhouse and Rafa loves it as much as you do Pia. When you let him in it that is.
 When Papa had another weekend off, we dragged him to Jungle Island to watch Rafa while Lily and I took you to the giant floating water park. It was a lot of fun and I'm only a little embarrassed that an 8 year old had to show me how to jump off the 50ft iceberg. Papa and Rafa held up a shady spot on the beach.
 And then raised the white flag when it was time for naps. I guess you were ready too.
This is what Lily's showing in that picture... slightly photoshopped, but only because we were much too busy for real pictures. 
 We explored Lincoln road one day. Because I'd read there was a Paul there... PAUL!! Our favourite french coffee shop/boulangerie. It wasn't quite the same as I remember, but you both enjoyed the mini croissants and Rafa, you couldn't take your eyes off the waiter with the row of gold teeth. And he couldn't stop talking to you. So there's that.
 It's ok, we made up for it by hitting up The Frieze. An ice cream shop off Lincoln Road I've heard loads about. For good reason it turns out. It also offered a nice air conditioned nap for Rafa. (That's my excuse.)
After all the swimming we'd been doing (you are sometimes in the pool by 8am and always by 10), Pia, you started complaining that your ear was hurting you, so we took you in to see the doc. You have good and bad days at the doctor. Sometimes you're brave the whole go and sometimes you cry at the sight of the patients room. This wasn't one of your best days and because your baby brother does everything you do, he cried his head off right along with you.
 Doctor said you had a little infection, but it wasn't bad and so suggested we wait it out. We did. And that just meant we could wait it out a bit in the sand instead of the waves. That's ok too.

 I love all these guys.
Back at home, we made new use of Pia's old scooter, which Rafa loves and Pia, you allow... barely.
 Then we finally brought Lilers to the ice cream place we'd been going on about all week long. It's called Whip n' Dip and it's amazing. Not just because there's fish while you wait.
 Not just because they have rainbow snowdrops and blue ice cream, but becuase they also have peanut butter cookie ice cream. That's right.
 Rafa, you're too young for ice cream, so I didn't get you one. You didn't like that plan and so decided to take matters into your own hands. You tickled your sister until she relented.
 Then stole her ice cream.
 And refused to let go until she gave it up.
 We all dropped Lilers at the airport together. We already miss her. Obviously.
I love you,


Sunday, 21 June 2015

Here Again, Heat Again

Dear Pia and Rafa,

We arrived into MIA past bedtime, but in the morning, we got right down to business. In the pool by 9am.
And at the playground by noon.
We were all pretty pleased to be hot and sweaty again. I think we all quite like a little hot and sweat in our lives.
As if to make up for lost time, we swam twice a day, for hours on end. Pia, the day you swam from 12pm to 4pm straight, you grew fins. 
Rafa, you're up to your old tricks with a few new ones. You still love food, but now you learned to climb. =new food. 
When I am able to convince you, we go to the beach. For some reason, it's always a hard sell at first, but then you're happy to stay the afternoon. With so many beaches of Miami, and no better place to be in this heat, we've been on a checklist of discovering the shores of this fine ciudad.
Once, it rained in the afternoon. We took that as a bad weather day and made the most of it. We made a sofa bucket in the library and had a cinema experience complete with Cracker Jack. Your first. 
Rafa, you didn't get any Cracker Jack. You don't need any. You're happy with anything food or food related. In fact, you're happy with anything you can shove in your mouth at all. 
The week we got back was filled with swimming, bootcamp, playgrounds and lazy mornings. Everything a summer ought to be. And it was the week of my birthday, which you, miss Pia wia woo, were really excited about. On the morning of my birthday, I was greeted by a beautiful rock star princess.
And some fun at home before I could finally convince you both to go to the beach with me. You didn't want to so it was a late effort, but it felt good all the same. 

After the beach, I wasn't quite sure what to pull together for dinner when Auntie Ali came to the rescue with this: miles and miles of scrummy sushi. My favourite!
Followed by my very own ice cream cake. The one pia has talked about for days-and tasted every bit as good as you thought it would.
I think it's already come true.
There isn't much of anything better than the two of you.

I love you,



Dear Pia and Rafa,

We left Vermont to visit our family in Westport. Auntie Barbie had just moved back to the doll house and we were not going to miss an opportunity to see her and the Pumpkins in one go. It doesn't get much better than that. Rafa this was your first experience in Connecticut and you just went with the flow as you do. 
We were greeted by Cousin Zac and Aunt Barbie and their re-arranging station (otherwise known as the house) and shortly after, Cousin Lily, Gaily and Uncle Pumpkin. Later followed by the neighbours. Same old rules at Aunt Barbie's doll house, same old party: if you're going to have one dinner guest, you might as well have 10. 

You guys were great and were rewarded by tie-dye bagels in the morning. As you should be. 
After a slow morning and a walk through the beautiful local harbour, we kissed our Pumpkin family goodbye and headed East to Madison to see Sanny and Pop Pop at their summer spot on the water. You guys were impressed by the close beach and loved playing with your cousins who were there to play for the day. But you were less impressed by the chilly air. Instant Floridians we've created (myself leading the crew).
By nightfall, Rafa, you were getting sick all over us. At first we thought it was too much food. (You do love food Rafa.) Later, when your forehead was hot and you were unable to sleep without winging, we knew it was more. The house in Connecticut was cold because summer hadn't really arrived yet and the home dates back to pre-central heating. The only way to get warm was to have adequate clothing (oops) or stay under the covers, which you were not allowing. You wanted to be held standing up. By mama or papa only and around the clock without fail. By the second night of this, I was exhausted and chilled and cried uncle... or auntie to be exact. 
And so your Aunt Barbie came to the rescue bright and early the next morning... with Cousin Zac, despite it being a school day. They drove us back to Westport and Uncle Pumpkin secured you a spot in their paediatrician to ensure its nothing serious. Turns out it's just the 5 (FIVE!!!) teeth coming in all at once. You poor bubba.

Back in the warmth, we did our best to keep you entertained, and you seemed on the mend already. Pia riled the troops into making a fort out of Barbie's kitchen and then persuaded everyone inside. At one point, I looked in to find Sanny all by herself. I'm not one to judge.
The 'Baby Monster' wasn't invited, but true to your name, you wouldn't be left out.
Later, the rest of the family showed for one of Barbie's impromptu dinners for 10. We offered to deliver Lilers to her after school appointment while you napped, but had some... er... complications.

Zac wanted to come. Good.
Turns out the apt was in Fairfield 30 mins away despite us having 20 mins to get there. Ok.
Drop Lily on time-ish. Nice.
Drive around looking at houses while we wait. Fun.
Rafa wakes up and it's dinner time. Uh Oh.
Google 7-11. Perfect.
Get out and go inside for cheese stick and banana. Check.
Get back in car. BUGGAR.

The keys were locked inside car with phone and all but my baby and my credit card. And Lily needs a pick up. Shoot.

The good news is that Sanny was at Aunt Barbie's house and that is the one phone number I know. We used the 7-11 phone line and rang for help. I was distraught because really? Only your Mama could find a way to lock a key fob in the car. After a phone call and a worried looking Mama, the 7-11 man set us straight. "Just go to the fire station across the street, they do this all the time"

Right. It was supposed to be minutes because they weren't busy. By the time Lily and her mum showed up, we'd been waiting awhile and were getting over it. Auntie Gaily decided to walk over to check it out. Before she got there, we all saw the fire and Lily came running over with a phone shot of it. We thought we'd never be rescued and then, moments later, three large dudes rolled up in their red truck. Saved.

Pia, you missed the action as you had been back at the doll house with Sanny and Aunt Barbie thoroughly enjoying yourself. You're quite Sanny's girl and are always happy to go along for the ride. After warming through and through in Westport, we headed back up to Madison, ready to brave it again. 

The storms were gone and the sun made a mild appearance turning the weather much nicer. Rafa was feeling a bit better, and we were all ready to enjoy the week ahead with Princess Bam Bam. 

Auntie Ali was working, so we took the three of you to a Children's Museum not too far away. While there, we happened upon the O'Rourke Diner, which obviously needed to be our lunch spot. And once inside the children's museum, you all played. Rafa, you even allowed me to put you down for the first time in days. 
After a long day out, Auntie Ali brought us New Haven pizza and this. And because it was Magnolia's, I introduced you both to the lovely world of the perfect cupcake and banana pudding. You both approved. Obviously.
The last few days in Madison were spent just hanging out together the best way we know how. Princess Bam Bam taught Rafa how to climb the stairs again and again.

And Pia, you were the best big sister ever, as always. 
On the last day, we spent the morning at a strawberry festival... thing. 
It thankfully had you nice and tuckered out for our flight home. 
Even though we are going to miss our New England family an awful lot, we were excited to head back to the sun and warmth and most importantly, Papa.

I love you,