Thursday, 26 November 2015

Just call you famous

Dear Roo (as you insist on being called) and Rafa,

Earlier this month, Sanny came out to visit us in Miami and take you to the very cool International Book Fair in Miami. They have loads of tents set up with all different kinds of activities for kids to learn science, art, music, dance and of course storytelling. You get a bookmark ready to fill with badges earned at each of the tents and upon completion, your choice of any book on the table. Roo, you chose Pete the Cat, a book you've longed for for months. You chose Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for Boo.

Despite the insane school groups, I loved it and, I think, so did you. And now, you're famous for it. 

I love you,


Saturday, 7 November 2015


Dear Roo and Rafa,

Your Sanny got you a membership to the children's museum here in Miami for your birthday. It's a pretty awesome gift and we've been out several times already to explore. At the enterance, there has been a giant haunted house that Pia, you have insisted on going through despite that it's terrifying. You are very brave and seem to completely understand it's all pretend. I think we can thank your teacher, who got you guys to turn your preschool classroom into a haunted house, for that. You both did great all the way through until a monster popped out of a bin at the end of the walk and mummy screamed. Then we all panicked for a second. But just a second.

You told your teacher at school that you would be called Roo from now on. You sign all your work "R-O-O", as is demonstrated in the drawing you made for the interactive wall display here:

Rafa, you enjoyed the food exhibits most (at no surprise to anyone that's ever met you).
And you didn't complain when your big sister stuck you in the dog house.
Pia, your favourite part by far is the coral reef slide. It's dark and fast and long and twisty turned, which makes it surprising that you love it as much as you do... But you are a spontaneous kind of girl who doesn't necessarily follow any normal patterns and I love that about you. 
There is so much more to explore and learn in the museum. I can't wait to do that with both of you.

 I love you,



Dear Pia and Rafa,

It's been one crazy busy wonderful month. Here are a few things I'd like us to remember: 

Most importantly, we met the Groteluscheuns in Sanibel for a few days on the beach. It was our first time all together (sans Papa) and it was clear this needs to happen more often.

Back at home we did our usual schedule of ballet classes, school drop offs, school meetings, Baby Bootcamp, and exploring the parts of Miami we still haven't had time to see.

We also explored new ways to eat our afternoon snack.

And Rafa, you discovered that noodles fit on your fingers. It was SO exciting for you. You also started talking non-stop. In amongst the ramblings, you've learned one very important exclamation: raise your arms above your head and shout: FOOD!

After school pick up drags out to the better part of an hour. There is so much to explore in the courtyard and if we finally make our way out of there, there's the tree... 
Rafa helped Mama and Papa power wash the backyard getting ready for the season.
We used our Groupon to explore the zoo for the first time. Rafa, you loved seeing all the animals. Pia, you loved the playground equipment. It's a huge zoo with animals from all over the globe. Lots of fun water play and so many different activities, we couldn't possibly reach them all. So we did it twice by taking Papa back with us a few days later.

Some days it rained. A lot. So we stayed inside and did what you do inside.


Kinetic Sand
We made the library into a 'jumping station' after fixing up Rafa's room and moving the single bed out.  (Rafa, you've made it quite clear you will not be moved for visitors to stay in your room.)

We played shopkins, shopkins and more shopkins.

Somewhere in there, we took you to see Disney on Ice with your friend Olivia. You loved it. Obviously.

And last but definitely not least, our local playground was completely refreshed. As usual, the stairs were the most exciting part. 

Stairs are pretty exciting at home too, where they're ending up to be a never-ending project to re-do.

I love you,


Pumpkin Patch CG

Dear Pia and Rafa,

 This year, despite the heat, we weren't going to miss out on Autumn fun. We read books about what the leaves near Brynner do and visited a Pumpkin Patch. Twice. 

The first round was the Coconut Grove Pumpkin Patch festival. One ticket gets you all the rides and fun you can handle.  Some of it was hard to handle. 

We picked a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch and then Rafa slept soundly in front of the giant fan in the decorating tent while you worked your magic. 

A few days later, there was a pumpkin patch at school. You got to go and play  in the bails of hay and get a few wagon rides from whomever was willing to drag you around. Rafa, you got to join the fun all day long as photographer mama's helper. 

 You tasted all the pumpkins and tried out all the tools.

And eventually told us it was time to hit the hay. 

Pia, we didn't stick around for your time at the pumpkin fest because I wanted you to enjoy it with your friends rather than cling on my leg. (You are both clingers.) But our friends sent this: 

Looks like a real party. Ha!

I love you,



Dear Pia and Rafa,

This year, Pia's teacher at school made the whole classroom into a haunted house. Step-by-step, you worked together wiht your classmates to darken the room and add all the spooky creatures that define this time of year in America. You came home every day talking about skeletons and bat caves and shadows and glow in the dark closets. Your love of all things spooky (like everything else you love) rubbed off on your brother at home. Together with Papa, the four of us have read "Fright Night Flight", a book we checked out (and then in and then out and then in and then out again) from the library all month long, over 100 times. 

Halloween is exciting. 

Rafa, being small, you got your outfit picked out for you from the consignment shop. Because it was cute and because you're cute. (And for the record, the above reference to Fright Night Flight was 55% your demands despite you not quite understanding the concepts.) Pia, you changed your costume requests daily. It started with a bat. A unicorn. A wildebeest. A ghost. Miles From Tomorrowland. No, Loreta from Tomorrowland.... the list goes on. In the end, we raided the costume shop and consignment store for this: una hermosa mariposa. 

At school there was a parade followed by a party. Mama is working on the yearbook so I got to join. That means Rafu, you got to parade around as Tigger too. Which made everyone happy and want to parade before we even left the house.
By the time the real parade happened, Sanny showed up from Naples. Roo, you were painted and jeweled.

And Rafa, you were HOT, but hanging with your usual crew. 

The next day was Halloween and Pia, you woke up asking to put on your costume. Then hourly you asked, "can we go trick or treating NOW?" We had planned to go to a party in our neighbourhood park and then hit a few homes around here, but that wasn't until 4pm. You were so excited, we decided to hit up the Miracle Mile like last year instead. That one starts at 2.

Rafa, you were Merc this round. Much cooler. You didn't like the idea of holding the bucket, but mostly because you couldnt get your hands OUT of the bucket once you discovered lollis. FOOD!

Pia, you insisted you were having a good time, despite your quite demeanor. After a few shops you declared you were done. This is about the point we turned around. At 100% humidity, we were happy to oblige. 

By the time we got back to the car and buckled you both in, you were sound asleep. You slept the rest of the afternoon away. Which gave Sanny and I enough time to 'check' your Halloween stash and ensure everything tasted ok for you. Just kidding. 

Papa came bounding home early from work in hopes of taking you trick or treating but you were over it by then, so we settled on a few more rounds of "Fright Night Flight" and some pizza. That will do. 

I love you,


Monday, 19 October 2015

Splish Splash its a Mermaid Bash!

Dear Pia,

We have been planning your birthday for months. A four year old, I have learned, very much understands the concept of party and gifts, but doesn't quite yet grasp the idea of time. I, on the other hand, had been planning a big surprise for your birthday and very much knew the number of days I had to keep it secret. It wasn't easy. I was so excited about your surprise, I wanted to talk to you all about it, but I kept my mouth shut and set you to work making the crafts and food that would fill your beach pavillion with PARTY. It turns out you were a pretty good helper.
The night of your birthday you got to sleep in Mama and Papa's bed because, "it's your birthday". An easy sell, but the truth was that you would have some unexpected visitors sleeping in your room (aka the guest room) that night. I was so chuffed with pulling off your surprise I nearly bubbled over when OpaGigi arrived late on the eve of your birthday. You'd been asking to go to Charleston for your birthday, but you wanted a party with your new classmates too. So OpaGigi decided to come to Miami and surprise you: the best of both worlds.

You were a little tired when you were first greeted by your Opa on the stairs the morning of your birthday, but you quickly warmed up and when it all clicked, you were ECSTATIC to have some of your favourite people there for your very special day. I love this photo: pure joy.

As if one big surprise wasn't enough, we all showed up to your classroom with ice cream cake at the end of the school day. Wish nr. 2 granted. It's good to be a birthday girl.
Maybe not quite as good to be the brother of the preschooler bringing home the germs. By the time OpaGigi had arrived, Rafa was full on flu ridden with some of the highest temps I've had on either of you to date. Thank God the miracle working Gigi was there to hold him and sing Silent Night. 

Your birthday fell on a Friday and that Saturday, you celebrated turning another year older at a beach-side mermaid bash. You were surrounded by your family that loves you (though you are lucky to have even more family loving you from afar), and your soon-to-be besties from your new class at Plymouth. You had a blast doing all kinds of fun mermaid things.

We decorated pirate chests to take home...
 Ate cupcakes with your most recent favourite colour icing (lavender) and candy (a mini M&M)...
 Your classmates played Jake-in-the-box with your Gigi in the ocean...
 We played coconut bowling (along with dolphin ring toss, shark bait toss, garden tic-tac-toe, wubble mini-golf and on the playground)...
 One of your classmates sent this after the party. I thought it a sweet recap:

I was in my element with the planning and the decor and the silly craft projects for days on end. You were in your element with the... well all of it. Despite loving it, it was a lot of work. I don't know how we would have done it without your Opa, who transported everything and manned the grill for near 50 people and Gigi, who transformed the pavilion into a beautiful under-the-sea grotto and took care of poor Rafa who was feverish and poorly throughout the whole day. (Yes, we dragged him along anyway. He loves you and didn't want to miss it. Despite that excuse, yes, you can add that to your lawyer list with Opa.)

Not to mention your loving Papa who did everything he was told and then some, including stuffing a pile of treasure chests full of toys at the very end...despite their complete disarray.

It was worth every minute of it.

You are always worth it.

I love you (and I'm pretty sure some other people do to).


Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Birthday Splash

Dear Pia,

Yesterday you got sent home from school because you tried to take a nap on your snack. You were tired, you slept a lot. You watched a lot of Miles From Tomorrowland and Paw Patrol. Now you seem fine but I kept you home today at your insistence that you're still not feeling well. I think you just want to help me in getting ready for your birthday party this weekend. I'll take it. 
I love you,


Friday, 25 September 2015

Birds in September

Dear Sophia and Rafa,

I can't believe how quickly time is flying by. Pia, you have been in school for a solid month and you have learned so much. We all have...

We started PreK3 at Plymouth.
 And as it's your church home, you were comfortable in your silly skin straight from the start.
 Rafa stopped napping in his bed. Full stop. This made Mama a little loca sometimes.
 With Pia in school more often, I recruited a new helper in the kitchen.
  ...different sous, same tricks.
We watched our holiday video over and over again. Clearly missing the family.
 We (maybe not so) narrowly escaped our first hurricane, and then it rained. A LOT.
 Pia, you declared you will not be called "Pia" anymore, but will be called "Sophia" as shown on this sign you made while waiting for dinner one night. (I tried to convince you how cool of a name Pia is without success.)
 We explored a new indoor playground with really cool imported Japanese toys. You both went WILD.
 We tried out our new bike trailer and despite the sticky weather, you guys LOVED it. (Rafa, you now climb into the trailer and look at me expectantly every time I open the garage door.) We made pizza. We cuddled with stories.
 We joined the rally day at church... a kick off to Sunday School where (gulp) mama is teaching.
 We made snacks for school.
 We made invitations to the Mermaid Bash one soon-to-be-four-year-old-I-know is VERY excited about.
 We got weird.
 Mama broke the faucet.
 Papa broke the whole pipe... that lead to the indoor flood.
 Pia, you tried out for the Nutcracker and will practice every week until the holidays for your role as a Snowdrop.
 Rafa got the first ear infection of the season. You sometimes smiled through it. Papa got sick too. He did not smile through his 5 am wake up calls for his work week.
 Pia and Mama had a girls day for the first day of Sunday School when both boys were down and out.
 We procrastinated by playing in the car sometimes.
 Rafa, you figured out how to close the gate. (You soon learned the jokes on you, bud!)
 Rafa, you appeased your sister.
 And just because we can, we went to the beach at 5pm after naps sometimes.
 Rafa worked hard.

I mean, really hard.
 Pia, you worked hard too.
 We spotted another leak, this time before the flood.
 You both helped me make our very first batch of Monster Cookies for the bake sale this Sunday.
 On your own accord Pia, you clasped your hands and began to pray right in the middle of mama's mixing. You said something like, "Dear God, I like my tea cold and my cookies big. Amen."
... And then dug in. (I guess the school's practice of praying before you eat has rubbed off on you.)
One evening we sat on the beach that is 10 minutes from our (not so) new home and looked up at the sky. We watched for almost an hour as birds flocked from the chill in the north to the sunshine of the south, and a strange feeling took hold of me. Something like when I used to be rushing through work weeks and suddenly look up and notice the trees reaching their orange and yellow leaves down to the earth and realise I'm wearing a sweater and wonder where the time had gone. Except instead of dreading the snow to come, I sat basking in the warm 6 pm sunshine from the glassy ocean of Biscayne Bay watching the birds and knowing it is the season of visitors to come.
 And it feels good. 

I love you both,