Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dear Auntie Annie

I received the email below from my niece and I wanted to share it with you (with my sister's permission of course). This year at school has been filled with so many great people, experiences, and places to visit - but I do miss my family & friends back home. I miss the holiday gathers, the weddings, and seeing the new babies still wrinkly. Abby was just a tiny peanut when I left but she'll already be walking by the time I return home. A year may be a short time for me, but for her - it's an entire lifetime! And while email is great and skype is fantastic, it will never replace a hug! So watch out little Abby, I've been saving up hugs for you and when I see you again I'm not letting you go!  ;-)

March 29, 2011

Dear Auntie Annie,

It’s me – your niece Abby!

I’m almost 9 months now and thought I’d dictate a letter to you. I like to Skype with you, but I’m big enough to send you a letter too. Don’t worry, mommy knows how to understand “daa-daa-da, baa-aaaaa-aaah, ahooooo, etc.” and write it below.

I’m so proud of you, with your hard studying and fun adventures in Europe. Going back to school after being in the working world must be a tough adjustment, but it seems like you have done quite well. Do you get report cards? If you do, I bet they look really good and deserving to be placed on the front of the refrigerator!

We look at all your pictures of the places you’ve been so far – touring Belgium, all over Italy, exploring Barcelona and quickie Paris. Mommy says she has seen movies and looked at magazines and books with these places, but you are actually there! It must be so wonderful to be so close to so many interesting places. In less time it takes daddy to drive to Omaha to see my grandma and grandpa Zadina, you can hope on a train and go on a new adventure to a historic European city. Don’t get me wrong, driving past corn fields in Iowa is fun, but I bet the scenery from your train is far more interesting!

You left Minnesota when I was a little baby last August. Thank goodness for technology and Skype! It sometimes feels that you are so close - still at home in South Saint Paul. Because of you, I love to look at the computer and “type”. Mommy says before computers people hand-wrote letters on paper, took them to the post office and they were delivered to you. Good thing we have Skype and email because we have not had much luck with the Belgium post! But even though we see you on the computer and email you, we really miss you. It’s the times when we all get together, like Christmas and Easter, when we miss you the most.

I’ve been keeping busy while you have been gone. Mommy takes me to swimming lessons once a week. So far, all I can do is float with some help, but I guess that is a good thing! I like to splash around and practice in the bathtub at night.

I also go to Early Family Childhood Education classes at school. We learn songs and play with other kids. I like to watch the other kids and talk to them.

I also love to play and watch cousin Felix – he always makes me laugh! He came over to play one Saturday and I let him use my high chair for lunch.

Other times I just play around at home. My new favorite thing is to roll around and hide under the coffee table. No crawling yet, but I’ll work on it for you.

That’s about it for now. It’s getting to be my bedtime soon. I love you very much and look forward to Skyping with you again soon!
Lots of love and kisses,

P.S. Mommy says hello and misses you too.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

~Here comes the sun, do do do do~

Well spring has arrived in Leuven! This Sunday we started “summer time” (aka. daylight savings), the flowers are blooming, people are wearing shorts and sunglasses, and most importantly the SUN is back.

This new season reminds me how long I’ve been here and how quickly time has passed. I arrived at the end of summer and went through all of autumn and winter. Now each season was lovely, but I do think spring might be my favorite. People are again out in the parks and everyone seems to be smiling! And with temps in the mid-teens (Celsius) you’d be smiling too.

In my spring adventures, I have started jogging and I'm exploring the nooks and crannies of Leuven on foot. Have you ever been on a run, seen something in the far horizon and decided to reach it? Or have you seen a sign with an arrow and decided to check it out? Well I have and now I can in Leuven. Unfortunately I don’t take my camera with me on my jogs, but I’ve discovered some pretty great areas in and around Leuven. One of these days I’ll walk my runs and take pics of the quaint residential area in Heverlee, the tiny city park with the little bridge, or the big statue of Mary atop the hill at the Abby. My adventures lead me down some curvy and windy roads and I sometimes get a bit “lost”. But there’s not too much to worry about, there’s always a sign that points me pack to Leuven.

One of my most favorite spring locations is the botanical gardens. It’s actually quite close to my place and it's a perfect place for a cool down walk. This time of year, there are many flowers in bloom with many more just starting to sprout up from the ground. I’m sure this place will be a favorite in the months to come.

If you click on the pic above, I've started a folder dedicated to spring (so far it’s just the gardens) but I’ll be adding to it over the next few weeks. If you’re still stuck in winter (hello to my family & friends in Minnesota and to cousin Lori & Jon in Alaska!) – these are dedicated to you!

See you later!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A day in Pairee is not enough.

Paris is less than 4 hours from Leuven by car and less than 2 hours away by super-fast train. Wow! Back in Minneapolis/St. Paul, I can’t even get to Chicago in that time. So why did it take me over 6 months to get to Paris??? I’m not sure if I remember all my reason why but I don’t have to worry about that anymore. That’s because last Friday - I went to Paris! :)

I was only in the city for the day…actually it was less than 10 hours…but it was lovely. I was able to see some of the sights and I know what I definitely want to do when I go back. The pics may not show it so well, but the weather was nice – it was about 12C (55F) with cloudy skies that would sporadically open up with the warm sun. Ahhhh… Click on the pic below to link to my album.

I know you're thinking it - no, one day in Paris is not enough, but I’ve got that covered. I’m headed back for our 3-day weekend over Easter. On the must do list is…Eiffel Tower at night, the Musee d’Orsay that’s overfilled with Impressionism paintings, and a Bike/Segway/Double-decker bus tour so I can see much much more of the city.

I’ll leave you with my favorite French phrase of the day…I was at the tourist information center and a woman from Jersey was in front of me. Jersey stated to the lady behind the counter, "I heard the Eiffel Tower is less crowded at night.  Is that was true?” The lady replied, in the most perfect French accent, “Madame, there is only one La Tour Eiffel in the world. It is always busy.”

So, I'll leave you with that.  As I'm sure you guessed, the super busy weeks at school are gone and we're now back to normal with our meter just set to busy.  I'll be back to blogging, and keeping you up-to-date on this crazy adventure...only 6 months left.

See you later!