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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

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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

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What a great city! – Kansas City

imageWe couldn’t possibly be so close to wonderful Erin Roscetti and not embrace the opportunity to catch up with her Wonderful family. The USA is such a big massive place and the distances are pretty huge – we were in St. Louis and Kansas City is a 4 hour straight drive but it was brilliantimage. As soon as we drove out from St Louis the road and scenery really opened up and you felt like it was the real Wild West. Every few hundred metres was a billboard – it really kept us amused. So much variety – everything from Jim Beam whiskey, to the closest Adult superstore, to anti abortion, to anti evolution, the closest all you can eat Chinese buffet, western boots etc. It was very interesting.
Anyway – Kansas City really surprised me – it is in my top 5 (or6) of US cities (after NYC, Chicago, Boston, New Orleans and San Francisco). It’s sister city is Seville in Spain so it had quite a Spanish architectural feel, almost as many fountains as Rome, a beautiful river and an amazing museum that is totally free. Oh and parking is all free as well – you’ve got to love that!

 

In our younger days!

In our younger days!

Anyway – Erin and I’ve been close friends since the early days of Uni and have caught up in three different continents. She lived in Italy for ages which is where she met her cool husband Kaveh. It was such a treat to hang out with her eating great food, drinking Italian wine and reminiscing with old photos (though I wish some of the old stories didn’t come out in front of the kids – now they think I was really naughty!).
The kids were well amused and looked after by Zoe and her friend Lanie – they have been so inspired by gymnastics ever since…….and I bet the dogs needed a huge rest the day after we left……..
By Baba MiliKing

imageKansas city was a nice place. We stayed with baba’s friends Erin and Kaveh and their daughter Zoe. Zoe is a gymnast and showed us some very very cool tricks. She won first place in a lot of stuff. Zoe’s friend Lanie came over and they both took us out for a snow come. I had blueberry and Raspberry which was delcious. We took the dogs with us – They are Izzy and Kernel Longbody. I walked Izzy the most cause the boys were hogging Kernel. We also went to a park with Zoe and the dogs – but we were kicked out by a summer camp who had to use the park. We went to another park.
The next morning we went to the plaza and I had tacos for lunch – I love them they were delicious. By Kikibelle

imageIzzy the dog was so cute and she was pullish when we had the leashes on and walked them. She could do tricks and Zoe also knows how to do lots of cool tricks. She’s very flexible and can do cart wheels with no hands and other awesome tricks. Kernel Longbody is the other dog had lots of tricks too. I loved to give them treats. I loved staying with them cause they were so nice and friendly and let us lead the dogs and I loved them sleeping at he same house cause they have dogs. I guess that’s it. Love from Zoi

imageZoe is a amazing gymnast. She makes me want to know how to do gymnastics but at the same time I’m kind of aware you need to start gymnastics sometimes at a young age if you what to be state champion like her – I don’t want to be state champion I just want to do gymnastics for fun. Erin was so nice and cooked really amazing pasta because she’s lived in Italy for a long time. She also made some yummy fruit salad with fancy ice cream. Lanie is Zoe’s friend who was over for a sleep over. They both admired and were inspired. by our accents which we think are plain and we think their accents are so interesting. They thought our accents are very cute. Sometimes we had to repeat ourselves cause we speak too fast and couldn’t understand us. By Tobes

imageI’ve been practising heaps more gymnastics since meeting Zoe in Kansas City. I’m getting better at floor routines. It’s fun meeting all of baba’s friends from university times.
By Yasi

Moochie in KC

Moochie in KC

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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

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Our new plans – by Tobes

imageI was the first one to write a blog about all of our plans before we left on this trip. However the plans have changed. Our original plan was to go back to Australia via South America and stay there for a year or so. Now the plans have changed and I reckon it’s a really really good new plan. Travel plans always change – sometimes they can be bad changes and sometimes good changes but this is one of the really good ones.

Here it is:

From the 11th of June we have only got 9 more days left in our home in Crete – Agios Nikolaos – on Friday the 20th of June we will fly from Heraklion to Paris. We spend three days in Paris with baba’s pen friend from when he was a kid. In Paris I’m looking forward to seeing the Eiffel Tower and some of the city though I haven’t really heard much apart from the Eiffel Tower. I’m looking forward to having French fries, French fries, croissants and chocolate croissants and soft white cheese, and then more soft white cheese – which I really love. Then we will catch a train direct from Paris to London which goes through a tunnel under the sea.
In London we will see our uncle Chich George and Vuina Sally. In London I want to see the Queen’s palace and my aunty said she might take me to Wimbledon. I also want to see Big Ben and the London eye but we probably won’t go on it because it’s so expensive and there’s lots of other free things to do. I wonder if we’ll get to have a meal with the Queen or play with Prince George – he he he!
We also plan to go to Legoland with our friends and their mum Penny who my dad went to uni with. We are also going to see my mum’s friends that she met in India and their oldest daughter Kiran is my mum’s god-daughter.
After we spend another day saying goodbye to Chich and Sally in London, we are taking a train to Belgium and then going to camp with our cool friends from home in the King valley. They are from Holland and we have known them for about 4 years. Their names are Werner, Corina, and the kids are Finn and Luna. We met them at Dook’s annual paddock party when we were all wishing we had brought a ball and their boy Finn came over with a ball and we started playing and made friends instantly and we’ve been friends ever since. Werner was even Kalika and Emilio’s soccer coach once.

This is a map we made baba for Fathers' Day and has been on our wall - the red lines are land travel and the blue lines are air travel

This is a map we made baba for Fathers’ Day and has been on our wall – the red lines are land travel and the blue lines are air travel

They will be going home to Holland in early July so we are going to spend 5 days or so camping with them somewhere in Holland.
Our next destination is Toronto but we are flying out of Brussels on a brand new airline that we haven’t been on called Iceland Air. In Toronto mummy is going to do a course. It’s a course about how to deal with children and help their souls grow in a healthy way. She’ll probably use it with us I think but also with her community work.
The course is about a week first up and baba and us kids will probably go camping in Canada somewhere and also start homeschooling. From the time we leave Crete we are only getting 3 weeks summer holidays from doing work when all our friends here in Greece get 3 months – but we have to keep up and be ready for school in Australia.
When we meet up in a weeks time with mummy we will go to the magical land of America and hopefully drive from Niagara falls to Chicago via the very famous city of New York. I’ve always wanted to see New York because of all the monuments and my baba has been there a few times and he comes home with the most amazing stories. It’s his favourite place in the world.
My dad did one year of his university years overseas in Chicago so he’s got lots of good friends there – especially a guy called Kirk who we met in Australia. I think we are going to stay with him. After about a month mummy is going to go back for another nine days of the course in Toronto which I mentioned before. I think we will stay in America with baba (because it costs a lot to move 5 kids across borders) and possibly do a road trip to see some friends in other states. We also might visit some famous national parks in the heat.
There’s a possibility of going to Peru to see some friends there and help build some houses for poorer people. We might also visit our sponsor child in Bolivia – her name is Luz.

I have been to 27 countries in my life up till now

I have been to 27 countries in my life up till now

We’ve just found out some of the most exciting news on this trip so far – that our aunty Jenny Gigga is going to come to America for our last month in October and have a little road trip with us from our friends’ house in Houston to Los Angeles and then we get to fly home together on the same plane – I don’t know who is going to be luckiest enough to sit next to her. I hope it is me but sometimes because we’re oldest we need to sit by ourselves on another row. So that’s the plan of the end of out trip overseas – looking forward to getting back to see my friends and cousins and play pool & table tennis at my grandparents house in Somers.

By Tobes