From the Roscetti sisters to the Nijhawan family!

imageAngie and Erin Roscetti were two of the best friends I made at the U of I. It was interesting at how many embarrassing stories I had forgotten about! Crazy uni days. One of the funnest times was when Mike and I went to see Frank Sinatra with Angie and Erin. We dressed up, felt all grown up and had a little party at their place first. If Angie had said to me then that one day you will drive up to North Western Wisconsin with your wife and 5 kids to see my family and I – well I probably would’ve choked and said she had gone mad! ……… But here we were and how awesome – we were only there for about 30 hours but it had a big effect on the kids. Angie and Vinay’s house is so welcoming and comfortable and most importantly their kids Adam and Luke were so so friendly to ours – despite the huge age difference. Brilliant role models.
By Baba MiliKing

imageWe went to Eau Claire – and stayed with my baba’s friend Angie and Vinay from his college days. They had two boys -Adam who is 17 yrs old and Luke who is 15 yrs old. There was also an exchange student from Brazil who was staying with them – his name was Raphael.
imageWhen the boys went to soccer training Angie took us to ‘Summer snow’ which uIs a van where you can get snow cones. It’s mashed up ice with any flavour you want and ice cream at the bottom. It was very very nice – I had blueberry and raspberry. Yummy!
We also went to a big park and went to Adam’s band performance at the library, but unfortunately we just missed it. He plays the saxophone in a jazz band. He’s very good and the saxophone sounds so loud.
imageWhen we got back to their home we had some dinner – yummy burgers, home made chips and some corn. Adam, Luke and Raphael played some musical instruments for us. Raphael could just follow any tune with instruments he hasn’t played before. Very talented. The boys were really fun to play with – we played a board game (I forgot the name) but it was fun. Raphael and I were on a team together and we won by a lot. We had to get a track right across the board and we made a few lines before the others got across the board.
In the morning I slept in quite a bit. All the other kids were watching TV but we stopped it so we could play instruments.

imageThese boys know how to play so many instruments – very good of them to let us try.
The neighbours had a pool and they let us play in it – it was very cold but it was very fun because Toby and Emilio were squirting us and we had to duck behind all the boogie boards but I had protection because I can stay underwater a long time.
We had pizza and pesto pasta for lunch – with fresh pesto from the garden which was delicious and yummy. After lunch Toby and I played kick to kick with the soccer ball and then Luke, Adam and Raphael went to soccer practise, so we left then to go back to Devon’s cottage in the woods. By Yasmina

imageI loved making a Band with Luke and Adam and Raphael – I was very good at the trumpet. Those boys were cool because they were fun playing soccer with. They let me have the ball because they didn’t know if I can play soccer or not but I can play soccer – they just made it fun for us. By Moochie

imagePal the dog was so fun. It was fun giving him treats and playing. We even made a little pool for Pal. The boys were so fun
I loved them – by Zoi.



imageI really really liked Angie and Vinay and their boys Luke and Adam and Raphael – they were so fun and friendly. they had so many toys and instruments to play with. Luke played the trumpet, Adam played the saxophone and I got to have a go at the trumpet and the saxophone. I thought they did an amazing performance. I really really liked playing those instruments. It was hard to make a noise on the saxophone because I had to get used to it. I had such a lovely time there. Angie is the sister of Erin who we visited in Kansas City and they both bought us a snow cone! I thought that the one here in Eau Claire was the best but not by much. I had blueberry and raspberry. imageIt was so good. I asked for ice cream at the bottom. When I got to the ice cream I mixed it and made a smoothie with the juices from the snow cone. When we were eating the snow comes we walked over where Luke was playing soccer and next to the ground there wer people playing American football. We went into the neighbours pool and played. I got to hold their bird and they also had two mice, a guinea pig and a Dog who’s name is Oreo.
imageAdam is in a jazz band and he got to even play in New York City. Isn’t that amazing. I hope that they all come and visit us in Australia.
Love from Kikibelle

Luke, Adam and Raphael – they are all strong, fit and have good attitudes and are very nice. They are the cousins of Zoe who we visited in Kansas City. They played lots with us, hardly ever said no to things we asked them to do with us, and were just very welcoming and polite. imageWe thought that they were very polite but they thought that we were very polite as well. We played a lot of darts,soccer, and Xbox soccer. We also played lots of instruments with them. They were amazing musicians – each one had a instrument that they could play amazingly.

imageLuke’s instrument was trumpet, Adam’s was saxophone and Raphael was amazing at guitar and he played a Coldplay song for us. The funny thing about Raphael is that he’s left handed but they only have right handed guitars in Brazil so he has learnt to play guitar upside down. Which is pretty clever.

imageThe boys were all very good soccer players. I was impressed with everything about them. One of the most things I was impressed with is Raphael who only knew to speak a little bit of English when he came two weeks ago – his English is as if he’s been here for a year. He’s made a few funny mistakes like when we got there for breakfast he asked for orange milk instead of orange juice. I don’t blame him cause it kind of is like orange milk. Vinay is nice although I didn’t get to see him as much cause we were busy playing with the kids. Angie is a great cook and really nice and friendly. I wish I could stay there for a whole week or more but we had to go Back to the cottage we are staying in.
Adam is a great soccer player and I only just found out that he is the captain of his soccer team and he’s a senior in high school which means 12th grade. He has his own license and car. Here in America you can get your own license at 16 years old. Luke is also a great soccer player – he’s a great trumpet player and is really friendly. I found all the boys really inspiring. I find Angie a really inspiring cook also – her food was awesome and Vinay made delicious burgers.
By Tobes


Hanging out with the Hogans – what fun!

imageWhen I was at the U of I, Kathleen was one of my neighbours and a great friend who worked at the study abroad office. She decided to take three crazy Aussies home for the Easter holidays. I was blown away when I first walked in to Mike and my room – it was so welcoming. On the beds were towels so perfectly folded and a lovely small soap and yummy chocolate. It made a big impression on me and I’ve done that for most of our visitors staying with us ever since. It was also very interesting cause her dad Jim didn’t know what we would drink so he bought us ‘Fosters’ which we had never had before – it was such a fun weekend. Sister Audrey and brothers Jim and John were always so welcoming – We didn’t need any excuses to go back and visit – it was always so much fun. I didn’t actually study with Kathleen’s good friend Sarah but she would come down to uni to lots of our parties and she stayed with us in Melbourne for a while so already knew Sandy. Such fun to hang out again. It was brilliant for the kids to meet the family and put faces to some of the stories I’ve told them. It was great for Sandy to meet Kathleen’s mum Ann and see where i got the hospitality inspiration from!

Kathleen and Audrey are my baba’s friends from university. Actually baba went to university with Kathleen and Audrey is her big sister. We also met up a lot with their other friend Sarah.

First thing we did with them was go to Audrey’s house and we found Audrey who just got home from work. She let us grab some bicycles from her brother’s nearby home a ride down to the beach where there was a park and places to ride. I haven’t been on a bike for ages so it was lots of fun. imageWe ate amazing cooked grilled chicken with salad and fruit. It was very very yummy. They were so generous that they even gave us ice cream with a bowl of sprinkles each to dip it in. Kathleen said that ‘everything tastes better and life is better with sprinkles’. Their mum and dad Jim and Ann also came for dinner to meet us. When my dad was at university here, Kathleen took him and his friends Mike (from Perth) and Steph (from Sydney) home for Easter to meet her family. They’ve been friends ever since. We had such a good time the first night that we saw them again. imageWe even met Kathleen, Audrey and Sarah downtown after work one day and they took us to an amazing place for dinner – I can’t remember what it was called but it was kind of like a grocery stall or a mall. You could just choose whatever you we liked and they just weighed it. Kathleen bought us dinner which was so nice of her. We had a dinner that’s kind of like a Buffet breakfast but dinner things instead- we could choose things and put them on a plate and they just weighed it when you pay. By the time we were eating dinner it got extremely cold and we had only summer clothes. Only Yasi had a long sleeve. So we got hot chocolates to warm us up. They were quite extraordinary. They were a normal amazing hot chocolate, then they put whipped cream on top and usually they put sprinkles on but they didn’t have any left so they put chocolate sauce on top. I drank all of mine and Kalika didn’t like hers so I drank hers as well but she had taken her lid off so it was getting colder – but it was still so good. I talked a lot with these girls. I even learnt a few things about NBA such as since Miami Heat were flogged in this year’s final their best player Labron James (who’s considered by most people to be better than Michael Jordan) has moved back to his hometown basketball team. When he originally moved to Miami the people in his hometown were so mad they were tearing up pictures of him. His contract had ended and he just wanted to go back home to play. Also I think he wanted to help his home team out.
Those girls were really fun to hang out with.
By Tobes

imageKathleen were Audrey were so fun because they gave us lots of treats and were fun to talk to. They can make a good conversation even with kids. Same with Sarah. Yasi

imageI loved playing with Audrey – she was fun. She even had a dog called Roxy. Zoi


University of Illinois and Chicago musings

imageThe University of Illinois changed me life in so many ways. Not only leaving home at 19 years of age but moving to another country was pretty big for my ‘quiet’ Greek family in Melbourne. I didn’t realise just how big the world was out there and I just made some of the best friends. We all studied (a little), travelled, partied and grew together. imageKirk was one of the first people I met at the University of Illinois through the study abroad office. A group of them took the ‘new Aussies’ out the first night we arrived and the rest is history. His family were kind of my adopted family in America and I spent much time at there house over Thanksgiving and other holidays.image Kirk’s parents, Vicky and Ron have now become my kids adoptive grandparents – it’s pretty cool.
It’s always a treat to come back to Chicago and see my amazing friends.
We didn’t really follow the tourist trail while in Chicago but we got to hang out in some amazing places with great friends.

Here are some of the kids’ thoughts:

imageKirk was awesome – he has an awesome boat that can sleep 6 people happily. We hanged out with him a lot and we also played with his girlfriend Tina and her son Wyatt.
In Chicago we stayed at Kirk’s parent’s place. They had so many stuffed toys that we loved to sleep with them. Even Toby and Yasi did. Kirk’s parents who are Ron and Vicky, told us lots of stories and Kirk’s mother showed us lots about rocks and she also gave us some. It was so nice of her to give us lots of rocks. She was a very very nice person. imageRon named us some new names so that it was easy to remember our names. I was Matilda, Yasi was Agnes, Zoi was Chip, Toby was Isaac and Emlio named himself Vicky Branch. We named Ron – Bob – even mummy calls him Bob now. Vicky was called Vicky. One night Bob took us to an awesome ice cream shop called ‘Hole in the wall’ cause it is a hole in the wall. I had vanilla soft serve with chocolate coating on top – they dipped it in chocolate. It was really really awesome.
By Kiki

imageKirk is our friend and he is fun to play with and he has a boat and he took us on it. I played with Wyatt on the boat and it was a pretty big one – there was a downstairs and it was really cool cause you could sleep in it and there was a couch and you could even watch TV – there was table, a kitchen, an oven and a fridge. It was the smallest boat that could fit so much stuff in it. I liked playing with Wyatt – he’s his kid. By Mooch

imageBob and Vicky were so nice and they had lots of teddies and stuffed toys and a television and they were so nice and let us watch movies and told us lots of stories. imageI sat next to Bob while we watched a movie and he cuddled me. He was so nice to us. Vicky taught us about rocks and they had a very big house. They let us mess up a bit but we packed it up. I liked their place. The upstairs was pretty cool but we played in the basement a lot of the time. I did some homeschooling at their house and I finished my Maths book because I’m very good at maths and doing plusing. I liked it when Vicky gave us some rocks – it was so good. By Zoi

This is Chicago style pizza - so yum

This is Chicago style pizza – so yum

We stayed with my dad’s best friend Kirk’s parents when we were in Chicago, which was about 2 weeks. It was fun staying there and we learnt a lot about American history and rocks cause Kirk’s mum Vicky is very into that stuff. Ron who is Kirk’s dad is very funny and made up names for us. He would also makes us laugh. He was a Jokey man. They were very kind, and talkative.
By Yasi