A Joyous New Year

2018 has started off as a joyous New Year, with our first three days spent in our home town of Chicago.  Our most recent visit was one of the best we’ve ever had.  Matilda has added a whole new level of specialness to our visits home and this Christmas and New Year was no exception.

As part of this Chicago visit, we first hosted Matilda’s baptism.  The rest of the visit was spent catching up with family and friends and celebrating both the Christmas and New Year holiday.  We were in Chicago for three weeks, and I am so thankful to my parents for hosting us.

Aside from the baptism, some of the highlights of the trip included:

Matilda interacting with other children

As Matilda is almost one year now, she is at a very fun age.  She is chatty (though not speaking real words), mobile, and very interactive.  Her personality is really taking shape – both the good and bad parts. 🙂

She interacted with many other kids this trip – my nephew, my cousin’s children, and my best friend’s children.  Her interaction with her cousin, Adrian was the funniest, though.  Adrian has an extremely sweet demeanor.  We were teaching him to share toys, and while Matilda liked the toys, she liked Adrian more.  She kept grabbing his shirt collar to pull him closer to her.  That act frightened him a bit, so he would slowly scoot away.  It was hysterical to watch, and perhaps a preview into their relationship down the line.

Catching Up with Friends

Since we were home for 3 weeks, I got to spend extra time with my best friends.  We weren’t rushed like we have been during past visits. It also allowed for visiting friends I see less frequently, such as my friend Jordan who lives in Washington, DC.

Spending Time with Family

This extra time gave us real quality moments with our families.  Staying with my parents exposed them to the funny nuances and quirks of Matilda’s personality, and gave them a glimpse into our daily interactions with her.

We helped my sister move into a beautiful new home and were able to personally share in her joy and excitement.  And I visited with aunts and uncles more frequently than in the past.

It was so nice, in fact, it felt like we had moved back to Chicago!

The Food!

I can’t forget our beloved Chicago-style food.  Hotdogs and beef sandwiches from Portillos, pizza from Pizano’s and Barnaby’s, Mexican from the local hole in the wall…it was awesome.  The problem, however, is the extreme weight gain that occurs eating food like this.  Oh well, that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for. 🙂

Sadly for us, all 3 of us caught a nasty cold the last week we were in town.  We had to cancel our NYE plans but it ended up meaning a great night in with my parents.  We ordered Wildfire steaks for take out and I still made us all dress up to ring in the New Year.

Cheers to another great visit home – my sincerest thanks to my parents for hosting us and letting us take over their house!

And cheers to a great New Year!

Back to the Wine Boats

The first year Tony and I lived in Zurich, we made sure to explore all the Zurich wine boats had to offer.  The wine boats are an annual tradition in Zurich. Boats are pulled together at the lakefront, and different wine distributors set up shop to sell their products.  This event is essentially  free wine tasting while floating stationary.

Our first time around in 2013, we struggled a bit.  Part of the struggle was the fear of the approach.  We hadn’t learned any German and didn’t know how to “get started” when it came approaching the stands to taste wine.  This year we were much braver.  So brave, in fact, that we brought our baby with us.

wine boats

Baby on a Boat

We received two different reactions from the people on the wine boats:

  1. Aw, she’s so cute!  What type of wine does she like?  Haha, I think I am so funny.
  2. Who the hell brings a baby to a wine tasting event? I hope she doesn’t cry and spill her tears in this 2004 merlot I’m sipping.

Of course we didn’t care.  We were as considerate about it as possible, strapping her to Tony’s chest rather than daring to push a stroller through crowds of people and small spaces.

Besides, the wine distributors themselves loved her.  Because of Matilda, we were able to get to the front of the line at most of the wine stands.  We also had the distributor’s full attention due to Matilda’s interaction with them, which meant more wine for us to taste.

wine boats

wine boats

Boat, bar or both?

We only stayed about an hour because the tiny space and amount of people made it very hot.  Matilda started to get antsy and fussy, and of course, we didn’t want her tears spilling into anyone’s wine glass.

We managed to leave with a few orders or wine, and are looking forward to their arrival.

wine boats

Over it

Some things I will share in regards to the wine boats:

  • I didn’t take my own advice from 2013, which was to RESEARCH in advance.  The guide you are given is alphabatized by distributor, not wine type or wine region.  This made it more difficult to identify which stands we really wanted to dedicate our time to.  I don’t know many people who buy wine based on the distributor, so if you are serious about purchasing wine, know what you want (specifically who distributes it) in advance.
  • I mentioned this in the original blog as well – eat before you go, and go on a week night.  We did follow this advice which was to our advantage.
  • You don’t need your wallet.  They bill you after they send you the wine but watch out – you tend to spend more money when drinking. I will soon be the owner of a case of Barolo I didn’t realize I wanted. 🙄
  • Check your coat.  The event is in late fall when it starts to get very chilly.  Most people hang onto their coats because you are temporarily outside when walking from boat to boat.  However, the boats are very hot given their size and the volume of people, and the coats just take up more space.

Here’s to another successful year on the wine boats, and to starting a new family tradition! 🙂

Back to the Pumpkin Patch

Tony and I finally brought Matilda to our favorite pumpkin patch, Jucker Farm.  We had first visited a few years ago and loved it.  It was now time to introduce Matilda to Jucker Farm and to all that is involved with my favorite holiday, Halloween.

pumpkin patch

pumpkin patch

pumpkin patch

It’s fairly easy to get to Jucker Farm by train, and before we knew it, we had arrived.  It is just like any pumpkin patch in the USA, and in some ways is even better.  Matilda is still a bit too young to understand, but that didn’t stop us from maximizing cute photo ops and enjoying the day.

pumpkin patch

pumpkin patch

Just as I remembered, the pumpkin patch had great pumpkin beer, sausage and decorations.  They crafted many statues out pumpkins, including a large squirrel and deer.  The farm is extremely child friendly as well, with pumpkin carving and a petting zoo.

pumpkin patch

pumpkin patch

We spent our time enjoying the food and drink and taking photos.  I also purchased a few pumpkins to decorate for Halloween.  I’ve spent a lot of time collecting decoration ideas on Pinterest and I am almost ready to showcase all of my pumpkins.

pumpkin patch

What? I can’t hear you!

I can’t wait for next year when Matilda is a little older.  We can start a new Halloween tradition with our little girl.