Family pictures in Myaka State Park

2019 was another big travel year for us. We spent a month in Italy supported only by four backpacks. It's best to show you the story in pictures.

Backpack Italy 4 weeks 4 bags
Gelato.... every single day in Italy

Trevi Fountain
It started out a little cool in Rome so you'll see days with jackets. Our goal was to eat pizza and gelato every day of our trip -- we almost did it.

Strike a pose
Rome... somewhere...
Farm House
The farm house in the Tuscany region was possibly the most peaceful place on the planet. It was perfectly located to have day trips to some hot spots... all self guided.
Pizza in Pisa. Only an hour from our farmhouse.
Cinque Terre on the Med

LOTS of hiking
San Gimignano


Then we headed north to Lake Como...

Lake Como

And then to Paris
The Palace at Versailles

Oh man...

Never enough

...and finally to London.
London Bridge

It was a perfect trip. We spent 24 hours a day together for a month, living out of 4 small backpacks. 

Back home in the states, the kids continue to progress in TKD. Rule of the house is that they will stick with it until they get a black belt... so it's the only extra-curricular activity we have. 

Perfecting our bike riding

Lot's of love. 

This is one of the canned goofy shots.... totally staged but you can see personalities coming out.

On balance, it was a great year. The twins are both growing together but also learning who they are as individuals. Zander is the brain power, but Zella is no slouch. Both are A students excelling at math and reading. Zella is a born leader and exercises that in every aspect of her life. Zander continues to grow his Minecraft brain while Zella is very creative. 

The kids ecosystem consists of the Tae Kwon Do family, intersecting with the church family, intersecting with the school family.  Julija is blessed to be one of the school moms so she stays tight with their whole world and the kids love their world.  Julija keeps them reading books every day, makes sure the homework is done and feeds them a ton of vegetables :)

The family is strong. We love you who love our kids. 



Six years ago, Julija and I had no clue what we were doing.  Now here we are and… yeah… we still have no idea.  Every block of time, every stage of development in a kid’s life has equal challenges for their parents.  We’ve found that even though the twins popped out at the same time, their developmental cycles are not always aligned.

This past year was simply amazing.  The kids got a couple more countries under their belt with our last vacation during the school year.  We took a beautiful two-week cruise from Miami to Barcelona with a few stops in the Azores, Portugal and Spain. They are great travelers.  We spend the following two weeks trekking across Spain, fast train to Paris and after a few days there (and 15-20 miles hiked) we made it to our second home in Latvia to see Gramma and Grampa Puida, and the lovely Gramma Guna.. There was a day in Paris we hiked over 10 miles and never once was there a complaint.  AMAZING four weeks with grown up twins.

With a September 20 birthday, they are the oldest in their respective kindergarten classes. Zella is so social, and the natural born leader of her class.  Zander was immediately appalled by the inclusion of baby Legos – Duplo blocks.  OMG Mom, I’ve already built the Death Star.  They both love their structured environment at school, have many friends they call “best”, and are growing beyond belief physically, socially, emotionally and together.

Tae Kwon Do is also the number one activity outside of school.  They have traversed many belts and are part of the leadership program which affords them sparring and weapon privileges.  They both started being a little timid about hitting and getting hit, but have grown into it. I tell them it’s the one place you get to hit your brother/sister.  

Rounding out our time is church at Hope City.  You bring all of these places together and we live in a heavenly designed ecosystem. Friends are cross-pollinated between TKD, school, church and parties.  Moms too. It’s a wonderful life for us all.

Developmentally, they are both reading very well so early into kindergarten. Their math is strong, along with their computer skills although they prefer the iPad interface to any computer.  It’s funny to see the reach for the screen instead of mouse and keyboard. No, no hunny, you need to click the mouse…. Arghhhhh.

All is great in this blessed world we live in.