USA 2009 – Payson, Halloween

How absolutely lovely the Walas are, I can’t describe. They’re such great hosts and  we enjoyed every minute of being with them.
To get ready for halloween was so much fun. All the kids trying on their costumes and putting on their wigs and crazy make-up. The Walas had very elaborate costumes, especially L who went as an ostrich jockey including the inflatable and thus often farting ostrich. We on the other hand tried to make do with the costumes Target still had to offer 10 minutes before closing time. But
How absolutely lovely the Walas are, I can’t describe. They’re such great hosts and  we enjoyed every minute of being with them. They all are such a joy to hang out with and Keagan is so very in love their son who played with him so patiently.

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To get ready for halloween was so much fun. All the kids trying on their costumes and putting on their wigs and crazy make-up.

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The Walas had very elaborate costumes, especially their daughter who was dressed up as an ostrich jockey including the inflatable and thus often farting ostrich.

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We on the other hand tried to make do with the costumes Target still had to offer 10 minutes before closing time.

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Trick or Treating definitely is Keagan’s all time favorite past time. He didn’t just run from house to house, he flew. Eventhough it was hours past his bedtime and the jet lag still troubled him.
Keagan was completely amazed that he got candy over and over again. Just once he was dissapointed, when instead of candy, he “just got money”. And the coin of course wasn’t allowed in his candy basket. The Wala’s kids and their friends were really sweet with Keagan and always let him ring the doorbells and say “trick or treat”. It got very cold and our costumes were not made to withstand the destert cold so we didn’t stay too long.
Keagan loved trick or treating so much, he asked every evening, if now was again Halloween.

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When Keagan’s basket was full of candy and I was happy about the Butterfinger-ratio, the three of us strolled home through the darkness. Almost home, Tobi tripped over a dead skunk which was so impressive to Keagan, that he would still tell everybody about it 4 days later.
After bringing cold and tired Keagan to bed, we enjoyed the adult Halloween party the Wala’s had organized. We had a very fun time with their guests and Mat would be proud of our partying.

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We were especially impressed by Devin’s performance as gay-vampire-bartender.

USA 2009 – Payson, MTB-Tour

After breakfast Devin and I went for a bike tour. The scenery was really great and the single tracks we went downhill were so much fun. But when we had to go uphill again to get home I really had problems to keep my pace.  The elevation of aprox. 1800m above sea level is just quite a difference from what I’m used to.
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USA 2009 – Payson

In the morning Tobi and I had our first fight of the holidays, which (as you sure all suspected) was entirely Tobi’s fault.
Then we traveled to Payson, where our good friends the Walas life. The drive there was very scenic and quintessentially American. Keagan dubbed this part of Arizona “Cactus land” and we could but agree.
When we arrived at Walas’ place, we were just kind of sunk into their hospitality, switching off our brains and just enjoying their amazing hospitality. Keagan claimed the kids bedrooms and all their toys within the first 10 minutes and was absolutely flabbergasted that L has a bunk bed that looks like a castle. He couldn’t climb it by himself though and every 10 mites someone had to run upstairs to either help him up or down. Before I completely lost patience with this, Devin started up the movie “Cars” in his mindboggingly cool movie room and Keagan was absorbed for the next hour or so.
Devin then bbq-ed some  lovely salmon which we devoured with Laurel’s creamy pea risotto.
After dinner we went still out to see R playing in the marching band during halftime of a high school football game.  The marching band was cool, the game on the other hand we simply didn’t get. Who’s winning and why? I tried to concentrate but at some point the crowd cheered and I almost got a heart attack.
Before we froze our collective butts off, we went home and we all went to bed early because the next day we had to be well rested for Trick or Treating.
In the morning Tobi and I had our first fight of the holidays, which (as you sure all suspected) was entirely Tobi’s fault.
Then we traveled to Payson, where our good friends the Walas live. The drive there was very scenic and to us the quintessential Americana. Keagan dubbed this part of Arizona “Cactus land” and we could but agree.
When we arrived at Walas’ place, we were just kind of sunk into their hospitality, switching off our brains and just enjoying their amazing generosity.
Keagan claimed the kids’ bedrooms and all their toys within the first 10 minutes and was absolutely flabbergasted that their daughter has a bunk bed that looks like a castle. He couldn’t climb it by himself though and every 10 mites someone had to run upstairs to either help him up or down. Before I completely lost patience with this, Devin started up the movie “Cars” in his mindboggingly cool movie room and Keagan was absorbed for the next hour or so. On a sidenote: I so need one of these movie rooms at home, since ours feels now all of a sudden very inadequate.
Devin then bbq-ed some  lovely salmon which we devoured with Laurel’s creamy pea risotto.
After dinner we went out to see their son playing in the marching band during halftime of a high school football game.
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The marching band was cool, the game on the other hand we simply didn’t get. Who’s winning and why? Why are they stopping it every 30 seconds? I tried to concentrate but at some point the crowd cheered and I almost got a heart attack.
Before we froze our collective butts off, we went home and we all went to bed early because the next day we had to be well rested for Trick or Treating and the Halloween party.

USA 2009 – Phoenix, day two

The next day Keagan and Tobi went to a fun park, where Keagan took his first rollercoaster ride.

I the evening we went to “Durant’s“, where we had already been ten years ago when traveling with my mom and brother. On this last trip, Nick had eaten a whole Porterhouse steak all on his own and thus got engraved on Durant’s wall of fame. This time around the dinner was a bit less spectacular because Keagan was incredibly tired and in such a rotten mood, that not even our iPhones could lift. So we hurried a bit through our really delicious meal to get Keagan his dessert (a huge bowl of pistachio ice cream).

USA 2009 – Phoenix – The suite life

We’ve left New York behind and flew to Phoenix. This time we flew with US Airways, which charge now per baggage item about 25 bucks. So not funny.
And while I never liked any airplane food, I at least always appreciated the distraction of the whole process of being served and figuring out what exactly the “food” was supposed to be. But US Airways doesn’t search any food on the almost 7 hour long flight and I for sure didn’t want to pay extra for the styrofoam they called sandwich. So the flight was horribly uneventful and dull but somehow -brave travelers that we are- we made it through.
We then immediately went to our hotel, where we had rented a pool side suite and event for a swim. Unfortunately there was a bit of a cold snap (only about 22°C – some commiseration here, please) so we mostly stayed in the heated part of the pool.

We’ve left New York behind and flew to Phoenix. This time we flew with US Airways, which charge now per baggage item about 25 bucks. So not funny.

And while I never liked any airplane food, I at least always appreciated the distraction of the whole process of being served and figuring out what exactly the “food” was supposed to be. But US Airways doesn’t serve any food on the almost 7 hour long flight and I for sure didn’t want to pay extra for the styrofoam they called sandwich. So the flight was horribly uneventful and dull but somehow -brave travelers that we are- we made it through.

We then immediately went to our hotel, where we had rented a pool side suite and we went for a swim. Unfortunately there was a bit of a cold snap (only about 22°C – some commiseration here, please) so we mostly stayed in the heated part of the pool.

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In the evening we had a very charming and delicious and above all quiet dinner at “Roy’s“, since Keagan had fallen asleep upon our arrival there.

USA 2009 – Day four – grown-ups

Keagan spent the day with Vesna and Lili while Tobi and I went shopping undisturbed. All shops you could wish for are in walking distance of Vesna’s apartment. When our bags got too heavy we would simply drop them off at home. Our suitcases getting considerably fuller by the minute.
Lunch we had at a Japanese-Brazilian-Peruvian fusion restaurant called Sushi Samba. Absolutely delicious! Very pretty waitresses, if Tobi’s leering is any judge of that. But me being a really mature person tipped them graciously anyway.
Then we went to Dean & Deluca, and I’m telling you, it’s every foodies heaven. Fois gras mousse costs 28$ per pound and truffles mousse 32$ per pound. We of course had to buy a chunk of each, as an appetizer this evening to devour with some fresh brioche.

Keagan spent the day with Vesna and Lili while Tobi and I went shopping undisturbed. All shops you could wish for are in walking distance of Vesna’s apartment. When our bags got too heavy we would simply drop them off at home. Our suitcases getting considerably fuller by the minute.

Lunch we had at a Japanese-Brazilian-Peruvian fusion restaurant called Sushi Samba. Absolutely delicious! Very pretty waitresses, if Tobi’s leering is any judge of that. But me being a really mature person tipped them graciously anyway.

Then we went to Dean & Deluca, and I’m telling you, it’s every foodies heaven. Fois gras mousse costs 28$ per pound and truffles mousse 32$ per pound. We of course had to buy a chunk of each, as an appetizer this evening to devour with some fresh brioche.

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USA 2009 – Day three

Mat – if you’re reading this, skip that entry here, because it’s about one of the best days of my life but does, to your evident disappointment, not entail sex, drugs nor rock n’ roll. Please just remember that this blog is now and then read by my bosses at work  and thus highly edited to give me a squeaky clean image.

So after this caveat:

We went to Bronx Zoo. We had a blast. Keagan and Lili were on their very best  and charming behavior throughout the whole day. If parenting was like this all the time, I would opt for octuplets the next time around.

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Not as tall as a tiger yet, but the roaring worthy of sabertooths

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Being bird parents. At this point in the game they already had three eggs together and were discussing names.

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Deeply impressed by the tiger

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Just for you, Ephi

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Riding the commode dragon

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Lili said she was hungry, I showed her the grapes and the tangerines we had brought along and she replied: “But I’m not hungry for that”. So we had severely unhealthy lunch at the zoo restaurant. Mmmh, this looks good (at least to the 4 years and under audience)

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but first some nose picking

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“Keagan, stop picking your nose and try to look cute for the photo!”

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Two scary Walrusses

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Boo at the ZooAll the great animal enclosures but the kids wanted to stay here and cuddle.

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Red River Pigs

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Both kids screamed “foxes” when they saw these animals and didn’t take my correction well.

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Just noticed that Tobi has erased the picture showing me with the groundhogs. Time to question his love for me yet again.

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The petting zoo is really great, you can get really close to some cool animals but you are not allowed to enter the enclosures. When we kept Lili from climbing over the fence to the wallabies, she got quite cross with us, but Keagan easily talked her out of it.

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Here they are red pandas

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The real ones being way more quiet though.

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After running through the zoo for more than 6 hours and quite a journey home ahead of us, they were entitled to an ice cream cone from the ice cream truck.

In the evening Keagan stayed with Vesna and Lili while Tobi and I went out for dinner at Blue Hill. It was fabulous. The food was great, the service impeccable and the guys at the next table, who we eavesdropped on shamelessly, could have stepped out of “The Sopranos”.

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After dinner we strolled home through Manhattan. A very good day indeed.

USA 2009 – Night two

I woke up in the middle of the night not because of the lack of salsa music blaring, but to a distinct scratching noise somewhere, probably in the wall. I just wanted to turn around and just go back to sleep, when quite unbidden my brain popped up the memory of a documentary I’ve seen ages ago about rats in New York, and that for every human living there (12 mio.) there are at least two rats (>24 mio. See, math so isn’t overrated). And at least 10 of them, I assumed, were right now in the wall right beside my ear. The paper thin wall, they could tear down with one movement of their itty bitty tiny paws to EAT US ALL ALIVE!! Then a dripping noise. Probably one of the rats peeing. This wasn’t covered in the documentary, but I thought the film makers just had glossed over certain needs of the rat population. Then a new sound: a loud clang clang. Rats sword fighting? Now even in my sleep deprived state I had to admit that my theory was loosing credibility at a starteling pace. Well, in the end it turned out no rats, but the radiator taking up its job.

When I told the story to our host the next morning, hoping for a “never saw a rat in my live” reassurance, they just told me, that they had had a horrible rat problem last summer, but that the exterminator killed all of them in one afternoon. Brilliant. No rats, but a uncounted number of angry rat ghosts to be wary of.

USA 2009 – Day two

Keagan mercilessly woke us up around 5 o’clock. I know that he had every right to do so, jet lag and all, but after a long flight through which I couldn’t sleep for a second, because I had to accommodate him, a long chat with Vesna in the evening and the music during the night, I could have done with a few hours more sleep and vowed to go to bed extra early the next night (pha,- as if). We tried to make him play quietly and gave him one of our blessed iPhones, but after a while even that lost its lure and Tobi and I had to get up too and we went for a walk through Little Italy. A gazillion of Italian restaurants and out of at least half of them Laura Pausini blared about her stupid “Strani Amori”.Had to think of you, Thomas, while that stupid song engrained it-self once again into my brain.

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After chasing Keagan around a playground for a while, we went to Starbucks, and then home again, where Lili and Vesna were already waiting for us. I adventurously ventured out to get Vesna her coffee (her kitchen being still absolutely unassembled) and Lili her “hot dog bun”. It’s like a hot dog but the bun is actually sweet. They are Lili’s favorite and now of course Keagan can’t do without them neither.
In the after-noon we went to Central Park and enjoyed the fabulous weather, the very, very nice company and the picturesque scenery.

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Keagan and Lili just loved the stone slide and slid down a thousand times. Up they went holding hands, and while separately they both are mostly shy, together they knew they could take on the world and so the boldly jumped the queue time after time. For all of you who doubted that being cute as a button is a big advantage in life, be assured that I have prove that it helps at least when cutting in the line for the slide.

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After watching an adorable puppet performance the kids riding their fathers shoulders started to chant “we want ice cream” over and over again, and we since we grown-ups had had such a perfect day till then, we gave in.

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We went on to find a Chinese restaurant for lunch, where Tobi and I gobbled up a whole Peking Duck and an array of starters, which we officially ordered for Keagan who (still digesting his half of an ice cream sandwich and the hot dog bun) didn’t care for them at all.

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Then Craig had to go back to work (on a Sunday – poor fellow) and the rest of us went to FAO Schwarz a super-big toystore on 5th Avenue. Keagan knew I would buy him something and everything on every aisle was his favorite and he really needed it and would never be happy again in his life wouldn’t he get it RIGHT THEN AND THERE. We stayed ’till the shop closed and Keagan fell asleep on the taxi ride home.

USA 2009 – Night one

The house our friends live in is very old and charming. Its walls though are paper thin and one of their neighbors just loooooooooves salsa. Unfortunately not the condiment, but to our dismay the music, which he enjoyed listening to with what seemed to be 400 of his closest friends, way into the wee hours of the new day. But since everything that happens in New York is definitely cool, we enjoyed the complementary music and knew that we wouldn’t have to feel bad when our little ones scream “we wanna jump” at top volume while bouncing through the apartment like wallabies on speed.