Friday, November 27, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Hello Friends! Happy Day-After Thanksgiving!!

Well, for all of you who know me well, I am not artistic nor poetic, it's just not my nature. I would rather do math problems or read science journals, but I feel this adventure in Europe is about trying new things.... reason #1 I joined a rugby team!! So, in accordance with trying new things, I sat down with a warm cup of tea and decided to write a poem about the holidays. I can't believe I am actually going to post this on my blog, but here it goes :)

Thanks again for taking the time to read it, and again, I hope you all had a marvelous holiday! Much Love!!!

Winter Wonderland
by: Chrissy Pepino

Pumpkin colored leaves gently fall to the ground,

As hot chocolate overflows mismatched holiday mugs.

Pink wool scarves and warm toasty mittens greet

The whistling wind as it welcomes the approaching storms.

Dawn and dusk are encompassed by total darkness, as daylight becomes scarce

While the sleeping sun wraps itself around a quilt of gray clouds.

Glistening frost sits upon the fences and rooftops

And puddles are as abundant as dripping umbrellas.

Chimney smoke signals the comfort of a home

As vibrant flowers and colorful landscape hibernate until spring.

We welcome the holiday season with much cheer,

Because rosy cheeks and bright smiles ignite happiness to warm the winter.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A little bit o' NovemBURRRRRRR

Hello Amigos! I just got back from Spain on Sunday night and had a wonderful and relaxing weekend! Jess and I stayed at a really nice hostel in the heart of Madrid, near Plaza del Sol. Speaking of sol – it was so sunny there! We had great weather and took full advantage of it! The first day we walked all over the city for 7 hours, stopping at all the botanic gardens, parks and fountains. We also discovered some great little markets and got some cute Spanish purses and earrings. We went to the oldest temple in Europe, of course, took lots of Kite pictures to rep Theta! We went out that night until 6am the next morning, and we were also able to practice our Spanish with some locals! We ate LOTS of delicious food, my favorite being chocolate con churros – where we dipped them in thick chocolate, and after finishing with our dessert, they would pour warm milk into the remaining chocolate to make HOT CHOCOLOATE. Pretty much heaven! On the last day we went to the biggest market in Europe, over 300 stalls big. IT WAS HUGE! All the streets were closed off, and there were thousands of people there! That day I went to EL Prado, the very famous art museum, with their most famous piece from Goya. I had to sprint through the museum because I only had 2 hours, but it was definitely worth it! I am now very excited for Jess to come visit me in Belgium in 2 weeks!

I am also finalizing my Christmas vacation plans: Brussels to Bratislava to Vienna to Prague to Budapest to London to Dublin to Paris. WOOT WOOT!!!!! I am going to miss my family more than they will EVER realize, however, this is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have this much time off to backpack around Europe, so here I go! 7 countries should keep me busy enough so I just wont sit in my hostel and feel sorry for myself that I am away from my family for the holidays… but we’ll see!

The holidays are soon approaching and I am missing my friends more than ever, and thank you to Ashley who sent me a lovely letter in the mail! I finallyyyyyyyyyyy sent Craig and Ash letters back ~ sorry again for it taking me so long!

French class may be a hopeless cause; I really can’t speak it yet. I am starting to understand when people talk to me, but have a mental breakdown when I have to form a sentence in my head.

I am still obsessed with my Mac Computer!

Oh, and if anyone needs a reading recommendation, I just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini. I would definitely recommend it. It is just a small reminder of how much we take for granted, and how blessed we really are.

Well, this is somewhat of a short entry because I am now off to ‘Friday club’, where Hannah, Louise, Anna, Henrikka, and I all meet up for coffee and ice cream, and talk about the life of being au-pairs!

Also: 2 quick questions: I am terrible at blogging, because I don’t know how to post pictures with my blog text, and I don’t know how to follow people’s blogs so I have to stalk them on facebook and then go to their website link, does anyone have any tips for me? I need step-by-step blog instructions :) Thanks!

Much love always, and Happy Thanksgiving (soon)!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Guide to a Happy Life

Hello friends!!

I received this small note card at the Presidential Scholar Luncheon last year, and have kept it in my wallet ever since. I constantly read it, and wanted to share it with others.

A Guide to a Happy Life (Anonymous)

No one will ever get out of this world alive. Resolve therefore, to maintain a core sense of values. Take care of yourself. Good health is everyone's major source of wealth. Without it, happiness is almost impossible. Resolve to be cheerful and helpful. People will repay you in kind. Avoid angry abusive persons. The are generally vengeful. Avoid zealots, they are generally humorless. Resolve to listen more and talk less. No one has ever learned anything from talking. Be careful about giving advice. Wise men don't need it and fools won't heed it. Resolve to be tender with the young and compassionate with the old. Be sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the wrong. Sometime in your life you will have been all of these. Do not equate money with success. There are many successful money makers who are miserable failures as human beings. What counts the most about success is how a person achieves it.

Success (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

To laugh often and much.
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children.
To earn the appreciation of critics and endure the betrayal of false friends.
To appreciate beauty, weather in a healthy child, a garden path, or a redeemed social condition.
To know even one life has breathed easier because you lived.

This is to have succeeded in life.

Small Updates on my life:

I just got back from a weekend in Berlin with Dani, and it was wonderful! I took a bus ride there, arrived Saturday morning, and walked all over the city! It was beautiful and full of positive energy! We went to the Eastside Gallery where the remains of the Berlin Wall is still standing, covered in unique paintings and murals of the victory of peace between the East and the West. We then grabbed coffee and people-watched all afternoon. We went to some small "markets" to look at artwork and jewelery, and walked near the TV tower to see the "iconic" symbol of advanced technology. Dani and I also visited Checkpoint Charlie and walked around the rest of the city. That night, we went to a nice birthday dinner for Dani (YAY being 23!!) and retired early! The next morning we went back into the city and walked around, visiting and walking around more museums and historical landmarks. We then grabbed more coffee and walked around the beautiful parks of Berlin!!!!! We got some candy and hot "glow-wine" - mulled red wine - to keep us warm, and parted our separate ways. It was a short but sweet weekend!

Next stop: Madrid!

ALSO: I just found out Amy Buchmann is coming for New Years!! YEAHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Jessica is coming the 4th of December, Amy the 28th of December, and JP the 13th of January! I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO EXCITED!!!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

All my love ~ Chrissy

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Breath of Fresh Air!

HELLO NOVEMBER!!!! Well, I guess the statement “time flies when you’re having fun” must be true! I cant believe it is approaching the holiday season already! I have been living in Belgium for 10 weeks and am thoroughly enjoying myself. I have finally found a great network of friends here, and planning trips around Europe is so exciting!

For updates in my life (I try to do bullet points to make it an easier read…)

Brugge – I went to Brugge by myself for just a night to experience the “Venice of the North” and it was absolutely perfect. I got an 8 Euro train ticket (round-trip) and just went up there spontaneously. I didn’t know where I was going to stay, or what I was going to do. I found a great little hostel for cheap, and grabbed dinner and walked all over the city admiring the pretty canals and the autumn leaves. The next morning I woke up early and ordered pancakes by the kilo ( for those of you who are not good with the metric system – which apparently I am not good at either, that is equal to 14 pancakes – it was QUITE a surprise when they arrived at my table), and then biked to the beach. I did some shopping at H&M and then came home. Joy’s 8th Birthday Party was the following day so I was the designated “photographer” for the day. It was absolutely priceless!

Amsterdam – I went to Amsterdam with Hannah and Louise (2 other au-pair girls that are SUPER) for Halloween weekend. We stayed 2 nights and had just a BLAST! We took the bus up, it was a 4 hour ride, stayed at a really nice hostel, and enjoyed the scenery. We took a 4 hour walking tour around Amsterdam looking at all the historic landmarks and learning about the background of the city. We got great hot chocolate at a cute cafĂ©, and then went back to our hostel to get ready for the “Ultimate Party” pub crawl. It was 5 clubs, 8 hours, and 400 people. SO MUCH FUN!!!! The next day we went on a Canal Cruise and then got the bus back home!

Berlin – I am going to Berlin for Dani’s 23rd birthday, and also to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall! I am really excited to see Dani again since we had such a great time at Oktoberfest in Munich, and am looking forward to seeing another part of Germany!

Madrid – In 2 weeks I am going to visit Jessica in Madrid, one of my amazing sorority sisters that is studying abroad there! I have never been to Spain, but am really looking forward to meeting up with her and experiencing new culture, food, and people!

Autumn – The leaves here are all vibrant yellows, oranges, and red. A few weeks ago when the children had “holiday” we went out to the garden and raked up a lot of leaves and jumped in them! Europe in the fall is just breathtaking (but cold)!

Week off of School – When the children had a week break, I helped them carve pumpkins and pick out Halloween costumes. Overall, it was a really nice week! The kids are super funny and they make me feel young again. It is SO refreshing to just be surrounded with children. The best part: you can be 100% yourself, and they don’t judge at all.

Harry potter – I am only reading 15 pages a day so it will last longer….

Volleyball tourney – Tonight my volleyball tournament begins: single elimination, 2 games a night. I am really excited about this! I love my team and it is so fun to be a part of an adult league! And not to brag or anything (haha, well kind-of) but we are still undefeated! WOOT WOOT!

Mail – My mom has sent me 2 packages and my sister has sent me 2 as well, and I just love getting mail!! Craig sent me a 4 page letter which made my day, and overall, it just makes me REALLY excited when the mailman comes to the door! SO… THANK YOU!

Photography – One (of the many) benefits of living here is the opportunity to take photos of such wonderful places. Traveling around has provided some great photos, and being with 3 ADORABLE children makes taking photos so rewarding! I love it here ; )

Rain boots – I finally gave in and bought rain boots.

Thanksgiving and Christmas – For the first time in my life, I will not be home for the 2 greatest holidays of the year. This makes me sad, but it also makes me really happy to look back on all the great years we have had as a family. Being away from home is a good way to remember to be thankful for all the good times!

Nikkies wedding – Nikkie P just got my bridesmaid dress for me! I am really excited for her and her big day, I will be flying back to the states on June 5th to make it in time for her WEDDING! awwwwwwwww

Skype – thank God for Skype. For those of you who I have not skyped with yet, lets set up a time. SERIOUSLY! Skypename: chrissyjopepino

Thailand – I think moving to Belgium was 100% the right decision. First of all, I remember Dani telling me that whatever you choose to do with the year after you graduate, it will set the tone for the rest of your life. I am finding that to be very true! I have gained a lot of confidence by being here, by moving to a new country, learning to get adjusted to the differences, and making new friends. I am strongly considering doing a year-long program in Thailand to teach English. I had a phone interview with the program, and am now working out logistics. I really do want to teach (as previously shown with applying to TFA) and think this may be a good option.

Anyhow, thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and please (as always) provide me with updates on your life! My email is And just a small reminder, you are all welcome to visit AT ANY TIME!

All my love ~ Chrissy