Friday, January 9, 2015

Christmas in Italy

Maria and I just returned to Kyiv after a wonderful 3 weeks at our home in Italy.  Paolo, Gio, Enzo and Pepperoni will begin driving tomorrow.  I am just now sitting down to look through our photographs.  My eyes are drooping after a 3AM wakeup today to catch our plane, so excuse the short intro.  Here are some glimpses of our holiday....

Maria continues her love of foraging in the fridge.  
I quickly learned to move all eggs and wine bottles up to the top shelves. 

This is our top floor playroom.  It is a loft so easy to look down on the living room and dining room below.
Gio and Maria loved to hang out up here after dinner.  
I did not even keep track of how many times we visited our local gelato shop.
 It was a high number. 
Maria's post-nap bed head.  

Santa came!!! Sorry- this is my only photo of Christmas morning.  I have trouble now documenting our activities as the moment Maria sees my iPhone she wants it for herself.....
Christmas lunch at Nonna Luisa's.  Maria spent an entire hour ejecting and inserting a VHS tape.
This is a skill she may never get to practice again in her lifetime!

Gio bonding with his beloved cousin Pippo.

One of MANY MANY fabulous Italian meals.  This one was a a castle near our home.
Enzo sat under the table and was very well fed!
Salmon with spaghetti was a huge hit with both Gio and Maria.  
We did enjoy one snowstorm.  Maria spent every day on her swing. 
Yogurt is always a favorite.  Using a spoon is not always a top priority.

Feeding the pig (and, yes, she covered herself in post-its).

Gio and Maria received these terrific surfboard cars in the mail from Zio Tucker and Zia Molly.  
Tucker is planning to teach them both to surf one day.  Lucky kids!
One morning we drove to a nearby ski resort to go sledding.
There was a small lift that would bring us up to the top of a hill.
Lazy sledding- Gio's favorite kind. 

Gio spent a lot of time this vacation snuggling with Pepperoni.
They are really the best of friends.
Sometimes it really is more fun to eat gelato straight from the container....
...with a fork. 
Happy New Year to all!  xoxo.  Clara

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


We spent last weekend in Paris to celebrate my birthday (Dec 4) and Gio's (dec 6).  We rented a fantastic apartment looking over St Sulpice. It was the perfect place for us.  Each child had a bedroom filled with toys just for their age so each spent hours happily occupied. The location was perfect for us- a 10 minute walk from Luxembourg Gardens where Gio spent every afternoon while Maria napped.

St Sulpice and a fantastic fountain just outside our apartment door.
Our first morning was spent walking to the Eiffel Tower.
Gio's biggest wish for his 6th birthday was to get to the top!
Almost there....

We did it!  The view was fabulous.  
Mission Accomplished.  Our only problem was that Gio wanted
to return over and over again all weekend.
 We did go back once (on a boat) to see it all lit up at night.  
Boat ride.  
First afternoon at the amazing playground at Luxembourg.  

                                           A video of Gio on the fun swings at the playground.
                                                       Gio did this for hours every day!

Gio's birthday morning.  Favorite present? The BFG  movie by Roald Dahl!
A visit to Place de la Concorde.
Gio was fascinated by the fact that many people had their heads chopped off here.
Whatever gets kids interested in history, right?
Notice the self head chopping going on....
A nude sculpture outside of the Louvre.
Whatever works to get them interested in art....
Maria loved the playground at the Louvre.  
The ferris wheel at Place de la Concorde was a big hit with all of us.  
The trip home was long.  Fortunately both children where exhausted from all of our adventures and slept through the 3 hour flight.  Gio slept on the floor of the plane.  I tried not to think about how dirty it was down there.  Flight #150 for Gio (and #30 for Maria)!
We returned how to find this origami tree and truffles made by our wonderful petsitter.  

Unrelated to Paris, but I think these videos are fun:
First, Maria practicing her walking skills....

And here is Gio using that same walker.  
In this one we are visiting his bisnonna (great grandmother) who also used a walker!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Confessions of a Lazy Blogger.....

Yep, it has been a really really long time since I last posted.  I will try to be better, but no promises.  Since I last wrote we have visited the USA and watched winter roll into Kyiv.  I have to bundle Maria in a full snowsuit for even the quickest walk outside (I live in fear of a babushka's scolding) and it is full dark by 4pm.  Yuck.

So rewinding way back to a point where it was okay to be sleeveless outside....
This photo got a lot of attention on Facebook when I posted it.  This is a real wedding photo, complete with the requisite shiny suit, questionable gown (I have yet to see a wedding gown here that I would actually wear myself) and the frilly flower girl.  Wedding parties having photos taken is a very common sighting here, especially in the early days of fall.  
Maria's hair is really getting long, much to Gio's delight at bath time!
On an outing out of the city Paolo picked up this toy at a gas station advertising "organic toys."
I should say so.  
Likely still mad at us for removing his own balls last spring, Enzo had his revenge on the new toy
the very next morning. So now NO pets in our house, stuffed or otherwise, are intact.
Favorite toy of all.  I like to offer it to her right after mealtime.  Helps me out quite a bit!

Paolo left for the USA 10 days before us.
We consoled ourselves with things like sprinkle-covered candy apples.
(This might not have been a wise choice considering what would happened to Gio
about a month after this photo was taken....)
Bedtime reading.  Someone is very excited about his new reading skills.
 And someone else is a very enthusiastic listener!
Maria, Enzo and I spent many beautiful fall days in the park.  
I experimented with new hair styles.

Gio was thrilled to complete his collection of rubber creatures from our grocery store.
Brilliant marketing campaign, Cilpo!  He was insisting I go shopping there every day until we had every one!
And then one morning the 3 of us headed out the door at 3:30AM to fly to USA.
Here we are on our layover in Frankfurt.  Maria's first selfie.  
And her second...
And her third.... I will spare you the other 82 she took before I could get my phone back. 
First morning in DC began at 4AM with some Halloween costume fittings.  Ah, jet lag. 

Look at this amazing sweater my mother knit for Maria.
Do not get distracted by the kid with her finger up her nose!

A year away from the USA meant I was dying to roam the aisles at Safeway.  Look at the funny things I found....
I did actually buy these.  
NOT these.
Someone figured out how to forage during our time in DC.  She was often caught here munching on grapes.  

Gio was reunited with his beloved sand table in Nonno and Nonna's garden. 
The swings in DC are so so much better than what we deal with in Kyiv!

And it is such a treat to be outside and not have anyone yelling at us for not having a hat on Maria!
Another of my mother's knitting masterpieces!
Off to "Boo at the Zoo"... the skeleton family!

Gio's favorite part of "Boo at the Zoo"!  It even came with (graphic) sound effects!
A gift from cousin Katherine- our favorite bedtime read!
What do you mean you cannot recite the entire book??
My mama can...backwards!
After a year away we found many of NW Washington's playgrounds transformed.  Many have (or are now being) completely renovated.  This one at Macomb Street was a particular favorite of the Belli kids. 
Trick-or-treating selfie!  
The day after Halloween we attended the Bat Mitzvah of our very dear friend Annie Leder.
The party that evening was a blast!
Maria spent quite a bit of time on the dance floor.
Gio enjoyed the open bar and free access to a cotton candy machine.
And then suddenly we were back in Kyiv.  Gio drew this to explain how much he already missed Washington.
The artist explained to me that this is the Lincoln Memorial haunted by ghosts.  
Bath time! 
Two weeks after we returned from DC Gio came down with a tooth abcess in the spot
where he damaged his two front teeth three years ago.   He was in a great deal of pain. 
It was a Saturday but we were able to find a pediatric dentist who insisted
 that Gio would need to have surgery that evening.   He was very brave.
This was just before he was given the gas to put him to sleep.
We waited anxiously in the lobby.  Maria kept a careful watch over Gio's Big Tom. 

Maria loves the camera on the iPad!
Post surgery.  We had been told 4 teeth would be extracted but the doctor
ended up removing 6 (3 on top, 3 on the bottom)!
Maria tried her best to wake him up.  
The (now very poor) tooth fairy did visit that night!
Maria has found a new favorite play area,
much to Pepper's dismay (it had been his preferred morning nap spot).
A Happy Thanksgiving to all of our USA friends!
Next post from Paris (where we will go to celebrate Gio's 6th birthday in two weeks!!!)