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!

Happy New Year and Sincerest Thanks, 2016!

Happy New Year, everyone!  2015 was a pretty spectacular year for Tony and I, and one I didn’t think we could top.  Well, 2016 proved me wrong.  It was full of amazing adventures, wonderful family and friends, success at work, and the greatest blessing of all – the creation of our first baby.

To welcome in the New Year, I am taking a look back on our magical 2016.  There are so many to thank for this incredible year.  I thank God and my husband.  I also thank my supportive and loving family and friends.  And of course, I thank my wonderful place of employment which brought us to Switzerland in the first place.

January

January kicked off with another visit to Dubai and India.  I try to visit colleagues in India once a year, and given the distance from Zurich, I usually spend 2 weeks traveling throughout this incredible country.  This trip was really special because my dear friends Pratiti, Sonale and Deepali showed me the true, local hot spots of both Mumbai and Chennai.  It was also my first time wearing a sari!

My first sari

Kingfisher at Leopold’s Cafe

February

Even though February is the shortest month, there were a lot of wonderful things I got to experience.  February took us to Nepal for the very first time.  What made this trip special was that Tony was able to tag along, and we were able to visit a local school.  I head up the Corporate Social Responsibility program at work, and we partner with an organization called Room to Read.  I was able to see their work in action and I was floored at what a strong impact they had made at just one school.  We watched first graders learn to read and write in Nepalese and you could see their little minds capturing and storing the information.

Kathmandu

1st Grade Class

Another great thing about February, which happened while we were in Nepal, was the birth of my nephew Adrian!  We were so thrilled to welcome the first baby to the Scarpaci family, and I was back in Chicago only a couple weeks later to visit him in person.  I never knew I could fall in love with someone I had just met.

My handsome nephew

The final amazing thing about February was a promotion at work.  I made sure to take myself to Prada to celebrate.  🙂

March

In March, I went to Doha for work and Copenhagen for the Easter holiday with friends.  Both trips revolved around food which was absolutely fine with me!  Arabic food is some of my favorite in the world so I indulged in Doha, and Copenhagen is known for its high volume of Michelin star restaurants.  However, those few restaurants emptied out our pockets for the rest of the month.   Whoopsie.  😳

Copenhagen

April

April took me back to Dubai for a 2 week work trip, and upon returning, my brother arrived in Zurich.  Getting back to my love of Arabic food, I went all out in Dubai, but I was ready to get out of the heat by the end of the two weeks.  Being in Zurich mid-Spring was super refreshing, and it was nice to spend some quality time with my brother.  I love it when he visits.

Brother and I

May

May slowed down travel wise, allowing Tony and I to enjoy the beautiful weather that was descending upon Zurich.  We tried bowling in Switzerland for the first time which was incredibly fun and felt very American.  We also found out the most amazing news of all – I was pregnant!

June

In June, Tony and I went to Budapest for a long weekend, and I visited London for work.  Budapest was my first trip knowing I was pregnant, and I found myself constantly Googling what I could and could not eat.  Who knew if this Swiss/American baby could handle Hungarian food?  Everything ended up being fine and it was a good first lesson in not stressing during pregnancy.

Budapest

London was much more enjoyable than normal because my friend Sara met me there for the first half of the trip.  We hit up the great sales and trendy restaurants and enjoyed a couple days sans husbands (no offence to Tony).

London

July

During the month of July, I traveled to Spain for the first time.  I was in Mallorca for work for a few days, and it felt like Heaven.  The sun, water, and food (again, me with the food) were all so calm and relaxed.  The people were constantly happy, and the breeze was always available to cool you off.  I didn’t realize a place like this existed!

The end of the month was a treat too because I went back to Chicago to spend time with my family.  There were some very special events that occurred in July with family and friends.  My nephew had grown so much from February and I was very thankful to be able to attend his Christening.

I also attended a very special wedding.  My dear friend Francesca got married at the top of the city, with my dad as my super cool date.

My besties and I wrapped up my trip with our annual birthday dinner.  We’ve held onto this tradition for 17 years!  WOW!

August

August is always special to me because it is my birthday month AND my wedding month.  But this time, it was also the month of our most epic vacation ever.  We did an 11 day cruise in the Baltic Sea and saw so many wonderful new countries and cities.  It started in Copenhagen and took us through Germany, Estonia, Russia, Norway, and Sweden.  It was unlike anything we’d ever done before, and even with all of the cities we saw, sometimes my favorite part was just sitting on our balcony and watching the waves below me.

Our cruise ship

September

By September, I had wrapped up most of my work travel.  My baby bump was starting to show more and more as I was moving into my 3rd trimester.  Tony and I took a weekend trip to Barcelona, our first time in this city.  We really enjoyed the food and as I write this I realize that is probably the theme of my travel this year.  🙂  We were present during Catalan National Day and saw thousands of people out and about, celebrating their nationalism.

October

We took two small trips in October because by now, I was really showing and my mobility was becoming more and more limited.  We spent a weekend in Poland with Tony’s sister and her kids.  We really enjoyed spending quality family time and being back in Krakow.  It has one of the best central plazas or platz in Europe.

Krakow

The end of the month we were in Catania, Sicily, for a last go at summer weather, and it was there we watched the Cubs win the pennant!  They were off to the World Series!

November

The only thing I can really say about November is CUUUUUUUBBBBBBSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!  On the morning of November 3rd, the Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908. Tony and I started watching game 7 at about 3am Zurich time and cried tears of joy when they made the final out against the Cleveland Indians.  The Cubs win cemented the fact that 2016 was officially the best.  Year.  Ever.

At the end of the month, we took our final baby-moon – a train trip to Paris to see my friend Sara again and celebrate an American style Thanksgiving.  Baby bump had to learn just how special this city was to us – the earlier it learns, the better.

Baby bump in Paris

December

And now, moving into December, typing this on the last day of 2016, I sit back and reflect once more on what an amazing and blessed year we’ve had.  We hosted Tony’s sister and her family for Christmas and it was so wonderful to be with our family during the holidays.

Merry Christmas

Within the next 3 weeks, we will meet our first baby which will be the most magical way to kick off 2017.  Like a kid on Christmas Eve, I excitedly await for what 2017 has in store.

Blessing and love to you and yours, and Happy New Year!

Good-bye 2015, Hello 2016!

On this last day of 2015, I have to pause and reflect on what an incredible and blessed year it was for myself and my family and friends.  I can’t remember a better year of my life in recent history, and it really puts the pressure on 2016 to be even more epic.  Some of the really memorable and big events are included here:

New Apartment for Clark

2015 started off a bit rocky for us.  Clark was recovering from a very expensive knee surgery and our current Swiss landlord told us we could not bring him to our Swiss apartment.  We were forced to move.

When we got back to Switzerland, that is the first thing we did – look and look and look for apartments.  We saw about 25 but none were working out.  None were as good as our current place.  And as people came to view our current home, I got more and more upset.  We were going to be leaving a great home to something I didn’t like, all because of a stubborn landlord.

But then it happened – in Wollishofen, across the street from the lake, brand new – a gorgeous, larger, pristine apartment that allowed dogs!  In fact, the owners LOVED dogs!  It was perfect.  We signed the lease that day and moved in a month later.  Clark joined us in May, completing our little family.

The apartment move turned out to be incredible for more reasons as well.  Some of our very best friends in Switzerland are our neighbors in the building and we never would have met them if we weren’t forced to move.  It was proof that it was meant to be.

Two Weddings and a Baby

2015 was the year of two exceptionally important occasions – the weddings of my sister and my best friend.  I was the matron of honor in both and it was wonderful to not only be home twice in 2015 but also to be a part of such momentous celebrations.  The speeches went well too – my sister’s was a comedic hit, with Tony and I tag-teaming off each other to make the crowd laugh.  My best friend’s was sincere and tearful, as I recalled our friendship over the last 23 years.

Sister

BFF

 

And then, news of all news – my sister called me not 2 weeks later to share that she was pregnant.  The first baby in the Scarpaci family!  What an incredible blessing and such a great way to kick off 2016, with the baby due in February.

Traveling Fool

2015 was also a year of new travel destinations.  I finally visited Africa, both Morocco and South Africa, capping off my list of having visited all continents (except Antartica).

There was Qatar and Turkey in the beginning of the year – I got to pet a camel and try to make my own clay bowl (it was a disaster).  I also went to Russia for the first time and took so many photos of St. Basil’s I almost broke my camera.

We visited Greece and had an exceptionally memorable dinner on a private street.  I went back to my families roots in Palermo and Termini Imerese, to see my genealogy research in person.  And of course, fantastic returns to Germany, Dubai and Paris.

2016 will bring a first visit to Nepal and hopefully new Middle Eastern and African destinations as well.

I recognize and am thankful every day for this amazing and blessed life I lead.  I wish all the love and happiness to you and yours in 2016.

Happy New Year!