The Messina Family

The Messina Family
Barcelona 2010

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Last Weekend of Basketball!!!!!

Today was our last weekend at IBA basketball....(cue the "Memories" soundtrack....). Both boys played last year (on different teams) and this year Tim played. They practice on Friday nights and play on Saturday mornings from late October/early November until mid to late March. Next year, the boys will have outgrown the league and Lily will still be too young. Hallelujah! (oops, can I say that during Lent?) I have my weekends least for a little while.
Tim played for the Spurs....he was kind of their token "big guy"...and in the three game tournament they played this today, he did very well. They won two and tied the other. The team had players from Norway, America, Canada, Iran, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Germany and the crazy is that???? Better yet...How cool is that? :o) They had a great season and ended on a high note. Time to gear up for track & field and rugby now! (perhaps with a sprinkling of baseball here and there)


Rich has a German friend at work that is really into skiking....a form of cross-country skiing. There are alot of folks around here that have something very similar to this that they cross-country ski on during the summer months. Actually, as of this last week, I haven't been on the road once without seeing at least one person on them. Rich's friend had something a little different. The wheels are a little bigger and can be inflated or deflated depending on the surface, terrain, speed, what have you. To brake, you just lean backwards and your weight will put press a metal triangle onto the back wheel, hopefully stopping you not too suddenly. These are a bit more versatile and you wear your own shoes in these "skikes" versus have a boot connected to the wheels. Anyhow, this is Rich giving it a go one evening after work.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lily Dancing to Mambo #5

Tim was playing with Lily in his room yesterday and filmed this of Lily dancing....sorry it is sideways...but you get the idea....She is moves pretty well considering she is wearing her snowboots under her jeans!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lily Goes Girly

Did I ever mention that my darly husband decided on a whim to paint Lily's fingernails with whiteout last week? That she was so concerned that it wasn't glossy that she kept running her fingers under water.... Then to compound the problem, she went to see her Daddy at work....who then colored the bright white fingernails with pink highlighter. Then his coworker used a sharpie pen to draw black stars on top of the pink highlighted, whiteout painted fingernails. She was in heaven. I was shooting daggers with my eyes (which I happen to have an uncanny talent for). Lily has since noticed anyone with painted nails. Enter Ms. Randee and her daughters, Madison and Sydney....who took pity on pour Lily at the basketball game yesterday and showed up at church this morning with four bottles of beautiful colors of nail polish. She's now all set...and quite pleased with her new appearance! Thanks Ms. Randee and girls! :o)

A quick picture...

Lily, Cyndi and Kona...sharing some love....Lily has chocolate on her face from lunch....I made Ebelskivers with chocolate in the middle (like pancake balls) Yum!

What's Up With Us.....

The "Old Guys" getting their last minute coaching tips from Nick....a this why they lost? Nick coaches the peewee league so figured these older guys would be about the same.... :o)

Rich is trying to run around these young whippersnappers....The NATO guys decided that the best chance of them winning was to substitute often!

The end....

For the JV1 team's last game, the opposing team didn't they mixed with JV2 and scrimmaged each other. It was a pretty good game. Joe and Tim played on the same team (thank goodness) and actually played well together.

We actually caught Joe giving Tim a high five during the game...Rich and I almost fainted....they used to be quite close but over the last two years have not really gotten along with each other or had the same group of friends like before. Could this "I hate my brother phase be ending?????"

Tim with Josh (U.K.) and Alex (Norway). Josh is the big guy in the middle on the team...over 6 ft tall...Tim's catching up!

The JV2 from Turkey, the U.S., Canada, Norway, the U.K., Poland, amongst others. Pretty cool!

Tim is #7...he was one of the high scorers for the JV2 team...averaging about 12 pts a game.
Okay, so I don't have any extraordinary pictures to post this time...just a few showing the end of the basketball season for the boys and Rich and the Old Guys (their name, not mine) playing the varsity boys team at ISS. More on that later...I just thought I would type a moment and catch everyone up with what is going on here at the Messina house.
Joe....Joe is doing well, for the most part....he is "dating" someone...who shall remain nameless as I am already treading along a fine line here....She is half Norwegian/half Scottish. He has struggled a bit with school this last quarter, but has been very engaged over the last few weeks and I have been proud of the way he is studying independently as of late (without me nagging him!). He is done with JV boys basketball and is moving onto the spring sports starting on Monday (no rest for the weary!) He has been cherishing his time with his best buds, as most of them are moving away this summer. We meet with the high school counselor on Wednesday firm up his selections for his freshman year this fall. (egads!) He leaves a week from today for his last Lierskole (outdoor school) of middle school. He'll be flown to Oslo and then bussed 2.5 hrs to Trysil, Norway, for a week of alpine and cross-country skiing with the 68 other 8th graders at ISS. He'll be gone 6 days but I know he'll have a fantastic time.
Tim has had the best quarter yet of his middle school career with very solid A's in all of his core classes (the other grades have yet to reveal themselves). He is still finishing up his club basketball schedule and the final tournament will be next weekend. (yay!) Tim is still playing the alto saxophone and he's actually pretty good at it. Next year he has the option of singing in the choir or playing in the band...the jury is still out on what his choice will be. He is also gearing up for the spring sports...of course all of the sports outside of basketball season are just "conditioning" for basketball season. (that's his philosophy) Tim's voice is now deep and rumbly like Joe's....both of them have peach fuzz on their chins and upper lip (Tim moreso than Joe) and of course, they both TOWER over me. Granted, that isn't that hard, but they are both evening up with their dad in size.
Spring sports start this week. Track and field is Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They both plan to participate. Rugby (gulp) is on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tim LOVED rugby last year and I think has convinced Joe to join as well. Then there is this pick up baseball club team on Saturday afternoons..... Yes, spring time is the crazy part of the year for us. Throw in a couple of teenage boys from Barcelona coming for 10 days in May and you have our lives in a nutshell! Sheer craziness! However, we all seem to really enjoy every part of the year...even the hectic helps that last quarter of the school year fly by!
Lily....goodness, where can I start? She is doing very well and growing up so very fast. She was accepted to the Pre-K 4's class that will start in the fall. She'll be going to school everyday (all day if she enjoys it). She will tell anyone who will listen what her plans for the future are. She wants to grow up to be a mommy, a chef, a basketball referee and a TaeKwon-Do teacher. :o) I can see her doing all of that quite easily! She is my little helper during the day and is like a second mommy in a four year-old's body when she's around the boys and their friends. She keeps them right in line...they push in their chairs when they get up from the table and remember to say please and thankyou when she is around. :o) Joe's friends totally dote on Lily...she is in her element when she is with teenage boys. (yikes) She has no use for kids her own age. They are boring to her...give her a few 14 year-old boys and that's a party! :o) She is never far from my side...right now she is setting up a HUGE train track with her wooden trains. (complete with 4 bridges!)
Rich is doing well. He is still running several times a week to prepare for the Berlin Marathon. He is also playing volleyball with the NATO men's team on the weekends and is enjoying that. Work seems to be going fine and we have had the wonderful opportunity to get to know some of the NATO members from other countries. It is definitely one of the greatest perks of this assignment. Last night we had dinner with a couple from France, one from Germany and one from the U.S. The conversation is so much more global in's definitely something we'll miss when we leave here. However, we hope to keep in touch with many of the wonderful international families we have befriended whilst living here. Oh, the basketball game. The varsity boys were bragging that they were undefeated this season and were basically unbeatable. Some of the NATO Americans got fed up with listening to this boasting and challenged the varsity boys to a game. The NATO Americans were made up from Army and Air Force guys....none of which fit the term "young buck". However, they really gave the varsity team something to think about...the "Old Guys" lost the game by only 2 points. The word on the street is they were told to let the varsity team win (so as not to squash their confidence) but make it close to give them a wake up call. That's the NATO guys' story and they are sticking to it! :o)
I am doing great...spending my days trying to remember where and when I need to pick up the boys...doing the never-ending mounds of laundry and working with Lily on daily life lessons. I have finally found someone to take over the youth group at our church, so that is one less thing on my plate at church, which is good. I am still the Religious Education Coordinator, which keeps me very busy. Teaching the kindergarten and 1st grade class is always challenging....I am much better at the older grades. Lily tags along with me to class and she looks forward to Sunday school class every Sunday. :o) (she likes the coloring sheets) I have been really delving into TaeKwon-Do and am thoroughly enjoying this new discipline. Although Kempo will always be number one in my heart, I am finding myself loving TKD. I took a seminar a couple of weekends ago and wished I could do it every weekend. I am a member of an association that is based out of the UK, so all the teachers have British accents. For those of you that know me well, I am somewhat of a linguistic chameleon. If I hear an accent long enough, it starts to rub off. After the seminar, I felt like I was talking like Mary Poppins. :o) I barely recognize the British accent anymore and have picked up quite a few of their sayings that I once found a bit odd. Ah well.
We are starting to firm up some travel plans for the near future. My mom has generously agreed to come and stay with the kids for 10 days during July while Rich and I go on a Baltic Sea cruise ALL BY OURSELVES! We have really only left one other time to go on a little vacation alone and that was 8 years ago. It's about time. Plus, it will let my mom get to know my kids, who she only sees once every 18 months or so, and vice versa. Okay, so I said we'd be alone...not quite. My brother, Craig, and his wife, Mayra, will be going as well! It should be a really fun time. We stop in Sweden (x2), Finland, Estonia, Germany, Poland, and RUSSIA! I am really looking forward to it! Once we get back, I will have enough time to get laundry done and repack for a trip back to the States. If all goes well, we'll fly with my mom back to the U.S., and travel to Indiana to celebrate both of my niece's birthdays and meet my new nephew (who will not be so new by then...almost a year old!) We'll spend some time with my parents and then fly to Boston to meet up with Rich and spend some time with his side of the family. It's still all in the works, but we are trying. We'll get back to Norway on August 7th or 8th and be rested enough for everyone to start school on August 17th. We are due to move away from Norway in May of we are trying to travel as much as possible before we come back. We may not have this opportunity again for a long time. We have been so lucky these last several years to be able to travel all over Asia and Europe. It is something I hope my kids will always carry with them.
Well, I have written a small novel. For those of you that are still reading...I have it all out of my system now...No more long posts for awhile.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Atlantis on the Palms

We got a chance to drive on the famous Jumeira Palm Island. It is amazing. There is still a lot of construction going on, but there is also quite a bit done. The fronds are closed to the public because they are private residences. The trunk has hotels and the crescent does as well. Those are open to travel on. At the top of the crescent is the newly opened Atlantis on the Palm hotel. It is AMAZING. There is a water park with dolphins and seals there as well as an amazing aquarium on the main floor of the hotel. The decor is just phenomenal. Here are a few pictures from our brief visit there...

Dubai - the desert safari

We had the wonderful opportunity to do a touristy thing in Dubai....the whole lot of us went on a desert safari. Our driver, Ameen (I am guessing at the spelling), picked us up at our hotel around 3:30 in the afternoon. He picked us up in a four-wheel drive SUV that seats 8. Rich sat up front, the three kids sat in the very back seat, and I sat in the middle seat with two wonderful people from the UK. Kate is a young doctor and her boyfriends of a few years is originally from Sri Lanka but raised in the UK....Sab...he is a banker. They both have done extensive traveling around the world, so it was really a lot of fun to "swap travel notes" with them. I would guess they were in their late twenties. We drove a good 30 minutes to the outskirts of Dubai and the edge of the desert. There, we were told it was a good time to use the facilities before heading into the desert or perhaps get a cold drink. Meanwhile, Ameen was letting the air out of the tires in order to get better traction on the sand dunes. Then we were groups of three cars for safety. We never rolled over, but it certainly appeared like we were headed in that direction several times. We saw three cars get stuck in the deep sand and our car actually rolled the tire off the rim in the first 20 minutes. Ever tried to jack up a car in deep, soft sand? Pretty impressive! This 4 wheel driving in the desert is called 'Dune Bashing' and it is FUN. Lily was laughing hysterically in the backseat (granted, she couldn't see out the windows to see how terrifying it was for a few of the adults). We stopped to play in the sand and look at two wild camels just walking around in the desert. We also stopped at a camel breeding farm. That was interesting. Unfortunately, they just let us look around. There were no presentations or anything like that. We stopped again to enjoy the sunset in the desert. I have seen sunsets in so many different kinds of locations...and sunsets in the desert was breathtaking. There, Rich challenged Joe to climb a mountain of sand. It was pretty steep. Even Ameen was impressed that he made it to the top. :o)
Once the dune bashing was over (about 1 hour later) we ended up at a small encampment, where we were gathered with about 200 other people who had just been doing the same thing. I got hinna painting done on my foot and ankle (it looks like mud but then flakes off in about an hour...the result is a golden tattoo-like dye on your skin that lasts a week - minimum). This is why it is on my foot. I could show it off in Dubai, where it is commonplace, but no one will see it in Norway - although I suppose the TaeKwon-Do folks will get a peek. :o) You could smoke a shisha pipe if you so desired...dress up in Emirate clothing and have your picture taken (I missed that one!) All five of us rode camels...which was so fun! Some of us, ahem...rode more than once! :o) Then we sat down to a wonderful feast of chicken, lamb and salads. It was so good. I think we had used up a lot of adrenaline in that hour of dune bashing and we were all really hungry. The women and men were served in different areas but we all came together to eat on large cushions on the cool desert sand (as it was dark by then). As we were finishing our meal of local fare, we were entertained by a belly dancer. She called several men and women up to dance with her. Afterwards, we were brought back to our hotels. It was a really wonderful experience and I would highly recommend it if you get the chance!