Sunday, September 19, 2010

Elizabeth Turns Three

Elizabeth at 4 1/2 months old
Our baby is not a baby anymore.  She's out of diapers, without a pacifier, sleeping in a big bed, and talking up a storm. Elizabeth turned three on September 11 and we celebrated her birthday with friends the next day.  She chose an age-appropriate them of Mickey Mouse and for the party we played games, blew bubbles and ate cake and ice cream. 

That same weekend we heard of a "mini preschool" and Monday morning I took Elizabeth for her first day.  She told me, "I won't cry, Mommy" and true to her word she let me bring her in and drop her off so that I could return to homeschooling Abigail and Matthew.  She attends two mornings a week and so far loves it.  We hope it gives her a boost in learning Ukrainian.
First day of preschool

A birthday card Elizabeth received contained a poem that perfectly describes her.

What is a Little Girl
She is a bundle of sweetness,
brightness and fun
The beauty of springtime,
the warmth of the sun
She's innocence covered with mud,
sand, and soot
She's Motherhood dragging
a doll by the foot...
She's a composite picture of 
giggles and tears
Of tantrums, excitement,
amusement and fears
A bundle of mischief
and often a tease
A creature of moods
not easy to please...
Who'll capture your heart
with her pixie-like grin
Or chatter and beg till your
patience wears thin
But obedient, naughty,
mischievous or coy
She's her Mom's little Darling and
her Dad's Pride and Joy.

We love you, Elizabeth!  Happy Birthday!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Holland Vacation

Ahh...the breathtaking beauty of Holland!  We had a fantastic vacation spending one week at CenterParcs (Het Meerdal) and then three days at George's relative's who we decided is a first cousin once removed.

We took 3 days driving the 1,000 miles (1,600 km) to get there (spending a night in Budapest and in Nuremberg, Germany) but on the way back we drove 17 hours to Budapest without stopping for longer than 45 minutes.  The drive was more or less uneventful (if you don't count our GPS getting wiped out) and the kids were superb.  We enjoyed a week swimming, riding bikes (although our goal of having Abigail and Matthew riding without training wheels was obviously not one of their goals), playing on numerous playgrounds, bowling, mini-golfing, etc., etc.  Elizabeth, unfortunately, had a couple injuries.  The first night she got her finger pinched in the hinged side of a door and two days later she scraped her foot on the swimming pool floor coming off a water slide.   Although the pinched finger didn't leave any lingering discomfort, the scrape was a real nuisance by not healing and needing antibiotics.  (I'll spare you the gory pictures.)
We got a kick out of being in America.
playgrounds were everywhere in the park
The kids spent an afternoon as a knight and princess and another afternoon as painters.
We rented bikes and rode all over the park on the smooth paths.
 The three days and four nights spent at Jules' and Dicky's were purely refreshing.  We visited an open-air museum and enjoyed an afternoon with more members of George's family.  George's father immigrated from Holland with his parents and 9 siblings when he was 15 years old.  Other than occasional correspondence and our first visit 1 1/2 years ago with the family still in Holland, we don't know these family members very well.  We really appreciated the time we could spend with them and their generous hospitality.  And our list of enjoyments of Holland wouldn't be complete without mentioning Hagel Slag, Stroop Waffles, peanut butter, old cheese, dry wine, and Dr. Pepper. 
A "summer cottage" in the village of Renswoude where our relatives live. (They live in the village not the cottage.  Bummer!)

Bike ride - notice the half bike Matthew is on.
The Dutchman and his family.
Abigail loved this hat of Dicky's and loved taking pictures.
A visit to Holland wouldn't be complete without seeing windmills.

Spending nearly 2 weeks outside of Ukraine was good and bad.  We needed the change of scenery and culture, rest, and time together as a family.   We reveled in the familiarity of Dutch culture, the order, the cleanliness, and the respect for others (especially children).  On the other hand, our time away made it a bit hard to want to return to Ukraine.  (The kids were even crying.)  Now that we are home, however, and busy getting back into the swing of "normal" life, we are happy to be here...but look forward to another vacation in Holland again some day.