Saturday, April 28, 2012

The next phase...

Today was a difficult day for us.  Mary Poppins told us about 6 weeks ago she would be leaving at the end of April.  She was nice enough to stick around for the busiest part (the kids had no school for four weeks for easter break!).  She is moving on to the next phase of her life, and we were sad to see her go.  We do want the best for her however, so we wish her the best.  This picture is her and the kids this morning just before she left to move to a new city.  We will definitely be keeping in touch with her!

Over the last 6 weeks, I have spent a crazy amount of time trying to find a great au pair to become part of her family.  We managed to find the perfect person!  She was flying to London tomorrow to live with us.  The kids were over the moon with excitement about her coming to stay with us.  We awoke this morning to a message from her father.  She suffered a cerebral hemorrage last night and had surgery over night to drain the blood off her brain.  We are shocked and saddened for her and her family.  At only 24 years old, something this serious makes us all realize how delicate life really is.

An adventure in Viennese gastronomy

I had a work meeting in Vienna last week whereas I had to travel out on Wednesday and work until Friday lunch. Because we had never been to Austria, Scott flew out on Thursday and we stayed through the weekend. It was our first "grown-up" holiday since September and we were excited about going. We felt great going since Mary Poppins was staying with the kids for the weekend.

I'll be honest when I admit that I figured it would be little to no good eating, but lots of hanging out and people watching. Surprisingly, we ended up having some of our best food on this particular trip and in fact ate classic Austrian cuisine the entire time we were there. I can say that safely, now that I know what it means!

Our first night, we ate boiled beef. Now upon presentation of the menu, I looked at Scott as if to say, "Really?!?" He assured me it would be like the roast beef that we cook at home in a crock pot. Reluctantly, I agreed. I'm so happy I agreed!  It was so good and so much better than roast beef! It was served with the broth it was cooked in as a soup, and it got better from there!

On Saturday, we managed to sneak off to the Spanish Riding School. I had heard it was the must see since it is one of only a couple of remaining ancient riding techniques schools. If you look at their website, it looks great and you too would want to attend! The horses were beautiful and the facility was amazing, more like a ballroom of a fancy hotel. That's about where the interest ended. We made it about 45 minutes of the 1.5 hour show and snuck off to eat lunch.

Lunch of course ended up being fantastic as well. We wanted to go to michellin rated Austrian Restaurant Sterireck but it wasn't open. Instead, we went to their sister restaurant that shares the same kitchen but is sat behind the main restaurant. Unbelievably good. It was so good that I even ate asparagus. Anyone who can dress up asparagus enough to eat is on to something! Again, Austrian cuisine over-delivered.

The trip as a whole was a ton of fun. We stayed in a very trendy hotel DO & CO that looked right at the main cathedral in old town center. Interesting room designs is probably a sufficient description of the hotel design. We drank beer at a couple of different places and people watched. With Vienna (or properly Wien) being a major tourist destination, there were lots of people to see! It reminded us both of Amsterdam in terms of architecture (minus the canals) and peacefulness, but it was much more open. I think that it ties with Padova, Italy for favorite cities in my book. Breaking one of our rules of returning to the same place, we may go back. That's how good it was. Next time, maybe, just maybe we'll take the kids.

Honorable mentions:

There was an animal rights group protesting.  There seemed to be more police than protesters.  We spoke with a protester, but we didn't have the heart to tell her that I worked for a company with a product made from pig where the animal had to be euthanized to collect the tissue.  I especially didn't tell her about the many animals that the product had been tested on!

While having a cocktail at a bar in the "Bermuda Triangle" (bar district), we met this nice Austrian man Martin.  As it turns out, he knows more about American geography than we do!  It's interesting and surprising how much people in Europe know about the USA.   From George Bush to the nastiness of the primaries to the debacle of the birth certificate, the details make it into the lives of Europeans.  I wonder how much an American knows about the politics of any given country in Europe...

Video Highlights:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A little more British everyday....

We had a great weekend. We attended our first rugby match. Let me just say: wow!

It was an absolute blast. Keali was glued to it! She loved watching the players tackle and get so rough with each other. Our aggressive kid on the other hand could not have cared less. Instead, he opted to play iPad throughout most of the game. We attended a league game that is a level or two below a professional, i.e. one level below NFL in rugby talk...

The action was literally feet away from us. The power and the hits of these guys without any padding was amazing. It was so fun and we hope to attend the next match in the fields near our house. Loooooving the sports here. (Cricket season starts next weekend. *****snooooooozzzzzzeeeee****)

A quick video of the highlights...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Let the good times roll...

Scott made it back to London after four solid weeks of being in Philly in trial. We were over the moon that he had a great result for the verdict, but even happier to have him return home. Our first order of business (after he slept off his jet lag and month of no sleep) was a vacation!

Scott had booked the holiday long before he left. He chose the location so that if he ended up being stuck in the USA for trial, I could still go with the kids and it would be fun. The other thing that made this particular trip stand apart from our usual was that HE did the booking. Most of our friends know that I tend to be the miserly one of the two of us. Scott on the other hand booked quite a luxurious trip. I still don't know the full cost, but it was swanky and relaxing and fabulous! (Best I not know...)

We flew into Faro, Portugal and drove to a small resort town called Vilamoura. We stayed in an unbelievable apartment at The Lake. The kids absolutely loved it. We had never taken them to a place that had a kids' club, etc. Between the "real" beach, the man made beach pool, the heated outdoor pool (and two other pools we never even made it to), the on-grounds playground and English maze, the kids were in heaven. Being able to sit (man-made) beach side and drink cold beer while the kids play in the sand and water was fantastic for Scott and me.

The kids' club hosted an Easter egg hunt on Sunday morning. The staff went all over the grounds with the children hunting eggs. Again, heaven. On Monday when Caden and Keali learned the kids' club would be closed, they were gutted. I thought we would have to pull teeth to get them to go to the club, but that's all they wanted to do. They had a complete blast. If babies are happy, then momma's happy! If momma's happy, then eveyone's happy! (-:

The kids were so worn out from playing outside all day every day that they fell asleep as soon as they went to bed, and most days slept in until 7:30am or later.

The trip was the first one we have taken as a family where one or both of us were not partly working or extremely stressed out. It was a fantastic five days. I would love to go back. Portugal was beautiful and hasn't yet become so touristy. This was without question one of our best trips to date.

The video highlights: