Holiday Greetings for 2016 !

Holiday Greetings for 2016!
Although I like traditions such as old fashioned letter writing, paper calendars etc, we just can’t seem to get around to sending out Christmas cards on time, so the annual newsletter is the next best alternative ! It’s been quite a busy year and it seems like the year just flew by! So, here are the highlights….
In January, the girls were busy with Tyee ski club, skiing twice a week, and now out skiing us with off piste crazy double black diamond chutes – WHAT?!? Mark & I need ski lessons again! We spent quite a few weekend in Whistler with our friends Alan, Kit & their daughter and one of Amelie’s best buds, Mikayla. One weekend in Whistler Mark’s mom, sister and the girls cousin Chartlotte joined us as well! Had a great family time – enjoying the gorgeous spring weather. Spring break we tried the Sun Peaks Nancy Green U12 and under ski race. It was amazing! A cute little tiny European village feel. We had a great hotel room with a balcony overlooking the ski runs. We also met Amelie’s other besty up there, Leah, her sister Isla, and parents Deanna and Dale. The girls also had lots of fun with the whole Tyee gang up there. The biggest suprise was when the race awards happened and we were at the back of the crowd expecting to politely cheer on others, when all of a sudden, they called for Amelie Basco – a Top 10 winner in U8! Shocking. Then shortly thereafter, Annika’s name was called in U10 – also a Top 10 winner! Both got helmets signed by the famous Olympian, Nancy Greene. What a treat!
We also spent a fantastic Easter in Whistler with my parents where we had an amazing Easter experience at the Fairmont, including Easter egg hunt, brunch, and photos with the Easter bunny and Fairy. So fun for everyone!
In the Spring, the girls continued with their other activities. Amelie played field hockey with her friend Leah, and was surprisingly very good at it!. She also continued playing tennis and swimming. Annika continued playing soccer and karate. Both girls continued with piano and were luck to get to see them perform in a beautiful year end concert on the baby grand at the piano teacher’s home in the summer. At school, Annika took up choir and sang joyfully giving it her all.
In May, the Basco family along with Babi and Deda (grandparents on my side) all embarked on a great big European tour! We started with just under two weeks in Prague. We stayed with my cousin Tomik and his son Filip, whom the girls adore. My parents stayed with my aunt Eva. We toured downtown Prague – so beautful. Took the girls on Charles bridge, and to Prague castle. We ate lots of great Czech food – the girls love Schnitzel! We did several day trips to see Teplice where my dad grew up, Cesky Krumlov, a historic Unesco old walking town, and to Bohemian Switzerland for a full day hike and river boat ride. I had never been before. We hiked approx 17km that day. The girls loved it. The National Park is filled with various sandstone arches and structures – a sight to see!
After Prague, we went to Copenhagen for 3 days. We walked around, saw some castles and did a canal boat ride, but I think the highlight for the girls was the historic amusement park, Tivoli. It was especially beautifully lit at night. Annika did all the scary daredevil rides of course. We had a lot of fun. Then it was onto our Princess Cruise ship for our Scandinavian cruise. We went to Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Estonia and the piece de la resistance, St. Petersburg, Russia. We were very fortunate to have had great sunny warm weather the entire cruise except in St Petersburg, where despite my attempts at layering all of the clothes we could, it was frigid! Tourists were in down parkas! Oh well, we made the best of it and saw some pretty amazing site, Winter palace, Hermitage, canal boat tour, Church of Saviour on the Blood and so much more!
Days on the cruise were fun too – either spent by the pool, in the kids club, checking out the shows, dancing and best of all, Annika sang in front of a live audience a few nights. She sang My Heart Will Go On – how brave!
In the summer, we did a couple of camping trips. The first was to Miracle Beach on Vancouver Island with Mikayla and family as well as Annika’s friend, Sofie and her mom Nathalie and dad Charles. Really wide, beautiful beach with lots of sea life – tons of sand dollars everywhere. They had great activities for the kids. Amelie and her friend Mikayla performed a song from Sound of Music, and Annika and Sofie performed All the Pretty Little Horses, and did a little karate show. Lots of bike riding too.
Our next camping trip took us to Hornby Island with Meredith, Dean and their girls Riley, and Lola. We got a beautiful camp spot right up front overlooking the water. Amazing sunsets. The beach on Hornby was like a Carribbean island – white sand, turquoise clear water. After dinner, we would walk down the hill to the pier under our camping area, and have a sunset swim – jumping right into the deep water – incredible!
For Amelie’s almost 7 (6.5 year birthday), we put on a big Minion bash! Everyone came dressed as a minion and Amelie was a cute little yellow faced Minion too! So fun! Due in part to summer logistics challenges, Annika had a more low key birthday this summer with a couple of smaller dates with her friends. We went to Science World with Sydney & Lucia, swam at the West Van Rec centre and had a sleepover. We had a big day at the PNE with Sofie – saw lots of shows including SuperDogs, the girls wrestled in hamburger and muffin sumo suits and had a sleepover including breakfast crepes the next morning. Annika also did a spa day with Elle and got her nails done, went to the wave pool in North Van, as well as a sleepover. Had lots of fun!
September brought the start of school, and always the anxiousness over which friends are in which class. Annika was a bit disappointed to not get in class with her closest friends, but this gave her the opportunity to make a couple of new friends – really nice girls and she landed one of the best teachers! Amelie landed one of the best teachers too – great luck – and a number of friends from last year.
For Halloween we went out to the Pumpkin patch in Langley on a gorgeous sunny day. We had a lot of fun. We pet the farm animals – goats, cows etc. and got to hold baby bunnies- so cute! Lots of pumpkins everywhere. We took a hayride to the pumpkin patch where we realized that our driver was the infamous pumpkin man on Palmerston & 15th – for those of you long time West Van’rs you will likely recall this was a paramedic who used to carve hundreds of pumpkins for charity and display them in his lawn. We had a really nice Halloween at Sofie’s house – we drove by and trick or treated a few friends in various areas in North Van, then returned to the house for good old fashioned door to door trick or treating.
I was very ambitious this year and decided that since they don’t sell cupcake costumes for 7-8 year olds,  I could make one for Amelie. So the day before Halloween, after arriving back from the pumpkin patch, I started the project. Wow! so after several hours of hand stitching, glue gunning and even duct taping it was coming together, but I was really against the clock… Mark thought I would be up until 1 am, but I managed to wrap up by 10pm. The next day at the school Halloween hallway parade, Amelie wore her costume with pride, and got lots of compliments! phew! Annika was much easier this year – Katniss Everdeen – a little hard to source an 9year old size of this more tween like costume, but eventually found it online – so much easier – who cares how much the rush shipping cost !
In December, I volunteered at the school and did an Hour of Code with each of their classes – hopefully inspired some future tech geeks – especially the girls! Mid-Dec we saw some crazy Arctic blasts and snowfall that shut the city down. We even had way more snow than Toronto! Crazy!
We’ve been up to Whistler two weekends this year already, although we didn’t even ski on our 2nd visit as it was – 18C ! A little cold for our taste, so we made do with hot tubbing, sledding, board games and winter walks instead. It was a really beautiful white winter in the village. Our trips involved a couple of white knuckle, ice covered roads doing ~40-50kmh all the way home, so that was definitely not fun for Mark – but he got us there and back safely!
We also just saw Mary Poppins last week at the Stanley – what a great show!
Last night, it was our official Christmas – as many of you know, we celebrate opening of gifts after Christmas Eve dinner – you should all give this a try – great way to sleep in the next day ! No children demanding to get up and open gifts before breakfast at 7am! We had a fairly uneventful (in a good way) dinner. We had traditional cabbage soup, roast duck, dumplings and purple cabbage -delicious! And for dessert, we had pavlova with cream, St Honore – homemade by my mom – CRAZY! and lots of European home baking. All delicious and I’m looking forward to continued leftovers over the next few days….We were serenaded by our lovely girls who sang Christmas favourites, such as Walkin In a Winter Wonderland, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Away in A Manger. Lots of presents from American girl doll type accessories to Trolls and of course, lots and lots of books for our resident bookworm.

Today, Vivien, Mark’s mom is coming over mid day to hang out and then we’ll have a simple turkey dinner. Tomorrow Mark’s cousins and their kids are up from Washington, so we are going to Seasons in the Park for dinner, followed by a visit to Enchanted light show. Then, we’ll go skiing to Grouse the following day.
The girls have Christmas Tyee Camp on Dec 27, 28, 29 & a fun race day on the 30th, so lots more skiing on the horizon. Hopefully some more visits with friends before we all head back to work. We have booked a family New Year’s event – dinner and dancing with Mikayla’s family and Paula, Brad, Maya and Lucas. WE danced non-stop last year – looking forward to it.  After that, we head off to Whistler Jan 3rd -7th for a ski holiday. Looking forward to some great powder (fingers crossed for new snow), great food, sledding and relaxing hot tubbing.
Signing off for now. Have a wonderful holiday and New Year. All the best to you and your families.
Lots of love, The Bascos