The Messina Family

The Messina Family
Barcelona 2010

Friday, February 15, 2008


Today is my birthday. It has been a quiet, uneventful day. Thirty-seven years have passed and I can't believe how fortunate I have been to have such a wonderful family and see so many wonderful things in the world. There are people in the U.S. that have never left their state. In two weeks I will be able to say I have been to Asia, North America, Europe and Africa in the 9 months. Four continents....not too shabbby. We leave for our cruise on Sunday and I can't wait to see all the wonderful places we have in store for us!
I don't know if I will be posting from the trip or not. However, I do want to give the very biggest and best birthday wishes to my Grandma, Jean Neitzke, who will be 85 on Sunday. This woman lives out in the country and has lived alone since my grandfather died over 25 years ago. She lives in rural Michigan, which has had its share of cold weather and snow and ice this winter. To top that all off, she has been battling breast cancer for the last year: having a mastectomy, going through chemo and now nearly halfway done with her radiation therapy. I hope she has a fabulous birthday and that her friends and family make it very special for her! As for me, I am going to pick her up something special on the cruise. Which brings me to another dad! My dad will be 61 on February 28th...Happy Birthday Dad! You will be getting something from Italy, Turkey, Greece or Egypt as well! I hope that you have a great day and don't have to snow blow that day!
Talk to you all in a few weeks.....hopefully with a glow of sunshine on my cheeks!

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone across the world! Valentine's Day is not celebrated here...there are very few holidays that are celebrated here. I did want to share a few pictures from a walk at Mosvatnet (a lake) near here. There are swans everywhere around this region. I see them daily. These walked right up to us and they were just enormous. We also passed two small trees that had hundreds of old pacifiers tied to them. I am going to have to do some asking around about that...I don't know if they are a "save the children" kind of statement by a political group or if that is where the kiddos go to leave their pacies for the pacie fairy when they have outgrown them. It was interesting.

Aberdeen results

Joe had a blast at Aberdeen. I will try and get some pictures from other folks of them playing if I can. However, the boys came in 3rd! Granted, there was only 6 teams, but they didn't think they would win any of their games...especially when they met the 6' 5" giant of a center on the London team. They did great, had a fantastic time with their host families, and came back in great spirits with medals around their necks! Way to go ISS Vikings! I included a picture of the basketball tournament t-shirt...which I loved the design!

Xin Nian Kuai Le

Xin Nian Kaui Le! Happpy Chinese New Year! I had saved this post for so long that when Chinese New Year started on February 7th, I forgot to publish it! Better late than never....the Lantern festival, the end of the 15 days of celebrating Chinese New Year is right around the corner!
This year is the year of the rat. If you were born on these years, you are a rat 1912 - 1924 - 1936 - 1948 - 1960 - 1972 - 1984 - 1996 - 2008) The Chinese word for rat is shu. If you are a rat, you are imaginative, charming, and truly generous to the person you love. However, you have a tendency to be quick-tempered and overly critical. You are also inclined to be somewhat of an opportunist. Born under this sign, you should be happy in sales or as a writer, critic, or publicist. Some Rats: Charlotte Bronte, Truman Capote, Catherine I, Mata Hari, Wolfgang Mozart, William Shakespeare, George Washington, Richard Nixon, Hugh Grant, Al Gore, Lady Bird Johnson, George H.W. Bush, Marlon Brando, Jimmy Carter, Pat Nixon, Howard Dean, Claude Monet and Antonio Banderas.
I am trying each year at Chinese New Year to take a picture of Lily dressed up in her Chinese finest and with the animal of the year. Luckily, my Timmy is a rat and so we had a cloisonnet rat from the factory in Beijing.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Aberdeen bound!

Joe left Thursday afternoon from school to get on an airplane with 12 other teammates to go to Aberdeen, Scotland for a basketball tournament. The tournament consists of 6 international schools: International School of Stavanger (Norway), International School of Aberdeen (Scotland), Grampian (Scotland), London (England), Egham (England) and a team from Turkey. Joe and his team plays three teams on Friday and then two on Saturday. There are families from the International School of Aberdeen that are housing all the basketball players from all these schools. Most families have at least two boys staying at their house. What a gracious gift!
The ISS basketball coach, Ms. Vaught, said "no tie, no fly" so here is what Joe looked like as he left for school on Thursday morning. The slanted ceiling makes him look 9 feet tall. No worries...he's still about 5'8". (at least for this week)
I was supposed to go with him but I have been very sick for the last 6 days. I am finally starting to feel human again, but missed my opportunity to go to the tournament. Maybe next year!
The team gets back around 1400 on Sunday. Go Vikings!

Mardi Gras

Our English-speaking community within our parish got together after church last weekend and had king cake (Joe found the baby Jesus) and made Mardi Gras masks. The kids were thrown beads and candy and a native from New Orleans spoke about the symbolism and tradition of Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday. When you run into Americans in this area of Norway, they are either with NATO or with an oil company. Most are with oil. So many of these folks are native Texans and many have lived at one point or another in Southeast Lousiana, where there are also lots of offshore oil rigs, like here.
The picture of Lily in her room is what happens when Daddy puts Lily to bed. He sits down to "rest his eyes" in the chair while Lily is supposed to read a book to herself. She had been through about 12 books when I came upon this scene. Rich had been sleeping for nearly an hour. Lily had been as quiet as a mouse!

Playin' Basketball.....we love that basketball....

The basketball season has pretty much taken over our lives. The boys are both in two with IBA and the other with the school JV team. There are so many kids interested in basketball here that there are several teams in the IBA club league and then there is also about 3-4 teams worth of boys on the JV teams. Joe and Tim have yet to play on the same time. This has created a tactitical nightmare for me and our schedule. My calendar is color coded and every day is different every week. This all started in early November and will be winding down by mid March. Worst of all, the lighting in any of the gyms is so horrible that I just can't get good pictures of the boys, especially while they are playing. I was able to get a picture of Tim (finally) while he was warming up last Saturday. I also got a few cute shots of Lily (who loves basketball too). We were at the ISS gym for 4 basketball games between the two boys last weekend. It was a very long day. The boys both love the sport though and I think Lily is already considering a career in the WNBA. :o) Those are Joe's basketball shoes she is in, by the way...

Friday, February 1, 2008

Cute pictures of the kids

I was trying to get some good shots of the three kids prior to Joe shaving only half of his head (the rest will come off tonight). This is what I got...

Fashion Disaster Day at School

I think the title speaks for itself...I can't believe I let them walk out of the house like this! (yes, Joe shaved half his head and put a #7 in red food coloring on the shaved side (his preferred basketball number) and yes, Tim has boxers on his head.