Monday, September 6, 2010

A trip back in time

Group photo in front of St. Basil's
Group photo in front of St. Basil's

This summer, I took on a little project, something I've been meaning to do for a long time.  We have a lot of old photos that pre-date the digital age, and I'd love to get them all scanned to keep them preserved. I decided to start with a collection that is particularly meaningful to me - the photos from the trip I took nearly twenty years ago.  In 1991, I had the amazing opportunity to tour the Soviet Union as a "student ambassador" with the People to People organization. Our group was comprised of students from the Twin Cities and from Atlanta, GA, and we spent three weeks visiting cities in Russia and Ukraine.  The goal of the organization was to promote peace by teaching students like us about cultures around the world by showing them to us firsthand.

For me, it was an eye-opening experience, as like most teenagers, my world seemed to revolve around my school and my life.  This trip exposed me to a culture that was very different and a history that goes much farther back than what we have here, and yet, it also gave me the chance to see how some things are truly universal.  I also had the great opportunity to earn college credit by keeping a journal and putting together a slide show that showed what I learned along the way.

The photos I took, along with photos that some of the other travelers gave me, have been posted in the USSR - 1991 photo album.  Thanks to the wonders of Google and Wikipedia, I was able to fill in a lot of the gaps I had in the captions on the originals, as well as learned the significance behind some of the things I saw, so simply doing this exercise was a learning experience for me plus brought back a lot of great memories.  Enjoy the trip!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

When you wish upon a star...

When last I wrote, it was winter, still cold and snowy, and Cole had just celebrated his 15th birthday.  Now, it's already almost the end of June, and Cole is beginning to drive, having just acquired his permit this week (yikes!).  It's so cliche, but wow, time flies!
During that time span, the usual comings-and-goings have occurred, but there have been two things of note.  First is a big change for Zach and Alex - rather than having a nanny, they now attend the preschool/daycare at my office.  Some mornings are a little tough and they definitely miss seeing Debbie all the time, but they are really having a great time with their new friends and teachers at the "school at Mommy's work."  They do a lot of fun things there - they even had a petting zoo there this week and learned to make ice cream from Ben and Jerry's a couple weeks ago (I was a little jealous).  And best of all, I've even gotten to have lunch with them a couple times - it's really nice having them so close!
A family portrait with Minnie and Mickey
A family portrait with Minnie and Mickey

The other big event for us was a special trip with Grandma Pat and Papa Bob: Zach and Alex's first visit to Disney World. We had a great time - the boys are already talking about our next trip to see Mickey. :) They particularly enjoyed the character meals, where your favorite characters walk up to your table for pictures and autographs.  My favorite moments of the entire trip were when Alex got to meet his beloved Eeyore and Zach, his dear Pooh Bear - it's that magic, seen through the eyes of two little boys, that Disney is all about.  We of course took a ton of pictures to capture all the fun, and you can find them in the Disney World - May 2010 photo album.

Alex and Zach practice ball control by kicking around the cones while Daddy watches
Alex and Zach practice ball
control by kicking around the
cones while Daddy watches
In other news, the Preschool Sports season has started again for the 3- and 4-year-olds. The kids played soccer (or some chaotic version of it) for the first two weeks. They've got team pictures next week and then move on to teeball in July. Zach and Alex are the Green team again, although they'd be quick to tell you it's the Dark Green team, not the Lime Green like last year.  And best of all, they have "Coach Daddy" on their team, as Joe is one of the team coaches; Joe is loving the opportunity to be involved in their sports!  Pictures from the season so far are in the May - June 2010 photo album.

In addition to all the Disney pics, here are all the other photo albums from the past few months, since I have lapsed on posting them:

March - April 2010 - Karen's birthday, fun in the kitchen, a day at the zoo
Easter 2010 - egg hunt, Easter gifts, egg decorating
Target Field - April 2010 - Joe went to Game #3 at the new park with our friend Phil
Kwo Ue's birthday party - a great day with friends
May - June 2010 - playtime at Chuck E Cheese, Joe's birthday, Father's Day and Preschool Soccer
Twins Game - May 2010 - date night at the game with Phil and Heather

Friday, February 26, 2010

A young adult in our midst

Fifteen candles makes quite a glow
Fifteen candles makes quite a glow

According to Wikipedia, the age of 15 is considered the beginning of adulthood in many cultures, so last week on Feb 17th, Cole officially became a young adult.  Like his little brothers, Cole celebrated his birthday over the course of a whole week  He celebrated with friends with pizza and bowling the weekend before.  Lisa and Gene treated him to a surprise lunch at his favorite restaurant, Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse and a meat lover's paradise; joining them were Joe and me, Grandma Pat and Papa Bob, and Gene's parents.  And we had a little celebration for him at our home that included a meal that was all about bacon and a chocolate birthday cake.  (Hmmm, did you catch the common thread of food in all of this?  Yep, he's a teenager!)  The photo album includes pictures of him trying out his new Xbox 360, getting his proper adulation from his little brothers, and a couple of the treats: a cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped meatloaf (could it get any better??) and of course, his chocolate birthday cake.  A very happy birthday, indeed!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Zach and Alex discover the power of the Fours

In a galaxy far, far away, two young Jedi knights reached a new milestone on this day, celebrating their 4th birthday.  Master Zach and Master Alex honored this momentous occasion by celebrating all week, with a family party on Sunday, a special "sharing" day at school for each Jedi, cupcakes for their class, and on the anniversary of their birth, a day of fun at the Nickelodeon park at the Mall of America and even more presents.  As you may have guessed, Star Wars was a common theme for this birthday, as the boys continue to love all things Star Wars.  Check out all the fun in the 4th Birthday photo album.

Alex and Zach watch as Daddy finishes the beds
Alex and Zach watch as
Daddy finishes the beds

Another big milestone the boys reached this month: bunk beds!  Just one quick year after graduating to toddler beds, Zach and Alex were beginning to outgrow them, so we decided it was time for big boy beds.  The boys are quite proud of their bunk beds with all its drawers and special staircase.  Alex chose the top bunk, while Zach wanted the bottom because that's where Brother from the Berenstain Bears sleeps.  Photos of the new bed are in the Jan - Feb 2010 album.

The boys had their checkup this week as well, and they're doing great - although as skinny as always.  Alex is about 31 lbs (10th percentile) and is 38.5 inches tall (14th percentile), while Zach is about 30 lbs (5th percentile) and is also 38.5 inches tall.  They weren't too happy about their shots this year, but it does save them from getting them all at once next year as they prepare for kindergarten.

While I have been adding lots of pictures, it's been forever since I last posted to the site, so for those who didn't get a chance to see the pics yet, here's a recap...

The Nov - Dec 2009 album was updated with pictures from a performance Cole had at Barnes and Noble where he did a couple solos in a fundraiser for his band, as well as photos from Z&A's visit to Santa and some other odds and ends.
Christmas 2009 was a lot of fun for us this year because the boys were filled with anticipation for Santa's visit.  We left cookies for Santa (he likes oatmeal raisin at our house) and treats for the reindeer, and the boys were in awe when they were gone the next morning and replaced with presents.  Santa didn't disappoint with the gift they asked for the most - a Transformer known as Bumblebee.  Later that day, Grandma Pat and Grandpa Bob came down with Cole, and we had a wonderful Christmas Day.
The week after Christmas, we went down to Chicago for a few days to celebrate the holidays with friends and family.  We visited with the Chmuras (Uncle and Auntie "Chooch"), watched the Vikings-Bears game with the Belousek side of the family, and spent a day with GG.  We also spent a little free time playing at the nearby DuPage Children's Museum; for those who live in the area, we HIGHLY recommend it - it's a great place!