We're the Guelfis... That's pronounced Well-Fee! So, Guelcome to our blog! Get ready to laugh and smile with us as we share some fun stories from our blessed life!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Panama Trip- Part 1

In May, one of our family dreams became a reality.... we went to Panama! For those of you who might not know, Panama is a tiny, beautiful country located at the southernmost tip of Central America....

(I know Geography's not the most exciting subject in the world, but I was appalled by how many people had NO CLUE where Panama is located. Before we left, I mentioned to several people (read: everyone I came into contact with) that I was getting ready for a big Panama vacation with my family. One man replied, "Panama....that's over by the Philippines, right?" Another said, "Have a great time in Florida!" And yet another commented, "I know! That's where the Suez Canal is located!"

Not cool, people, not cool. Let's think outside the box a little, shall we?)

My handsome husband is from Panama, and ever since I met him, I've wanted to visit his country and see where he was raised. Due to work and finances and the Baby Boom of '09-'10, we've never been able to go. But this year, we were determined NOTHING would stop us. (I almost ordered us t-shirts that said "Panama or Bust." True story.) Since Fernando's dad's birthday is on May 13th, and Fernando's birthday is on May 15th, we decided May 12th through the 27th would be a brilliant time to go. Fernando's nieces were also planning to visit us through May 12th, so we would be returning to Panama with them.

We had everything planned out, but as the day approached for our departure, I started feeling just a teeny, tad bit PANICKED about getting to Panama. Google and I became good buddies as I searched for tips and tricks for travelling in an airplane with toddlers. (Apparently checking children in with the luggage is frowned upon by most airlines.... ha!) We heard from friends that Nabis (tablets for kids) were wonderful tools that would keep even the most hyper of children entertained for hours, so of course we had to have two of those. (eBay!) Terrified that the kids' ears would pop, I bought enough Bubblicious gum to keep every passenger on our flight smacking all the way to Panama. By the time our departure date arrived, I had collected candy, coloring books, stickers, crayons, small toys, and -though it pains me to admit this to the world- PACIFIERS! That's right, folks, I stocked up on two packs of my boys' favorite pacis. Enzo had pretty much stopped asking for his paci, but I wanted to be prepared for anything. If my kids were gonna be screaming banshees on the plane, I needed to have a plan of action. If a paci wouldn't calm 'em down, nothing would.

Fernando's nieces, Karla and Stephy, arrived on May 8th. Fernando was working, so the boys and I went to the airport to pick them up. I figured it would be a stellar opportunity to point out the airplanes and prepare the boys for our journey. When we pulled up in front of the pick-up area, Enzo started freaking out. "Where are we going, Mom? What is this place? I don't want to get on the plane. I don't want to get on the plane. I. DON'T. WANT. TO. GET. ON. THE. PLANE!" I patiently answered each question and assured him that the airport is a super cool place! And we were going to have so much fun on the plane! And Papa was waiting for him in Panama! He wasn't too convinced and was still white-knuckling his car seat by the time Stephy and Karla got in the car. Luckily, seeing the girls made him forget his fears, and he turned on his full-blown Enzo charm. I, however, knew that I had less than five days to get Enzo on board with the Panama trip. Emotionally AND physically.

We really enjoyed our time together with Stephy and Karla. Enzo and Gabriel HAD to introduce their cousins to one of their favorite places- Marbles Kids Museum. I'm not sure if the girls were quite as impressed....

The boys fell in love with their cousins....

And I LOVED taking them to all the hot spots in Goldsboro (i.e.: Walmart & Chick-Fil-A & my favorite pedicure place).

Their time with us flew by, and before we knew it, D-Day (Departure Day) had arrived.

Our flight was scheduled to leave at noon on Mother's Day, so at least we didn't have to wake up two toddlers before the crack of dawn. Fernando crammed everything into our SUV, then we squeezed ourselves in between the suitcases, and we were off! I am fully aware that we looked like the Clampetts all the way to RDU airport. The ride to Raleigh was uneventful, probably because we barely had room to breathe. Or maybe God in His infinite wisdom and mercy was just giving me a few moments of peace and quiet before the debacle that was to come.

The calm before the storm........

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bruschetta!! (Guelfi Style)

We love bruschetta at our house! It is super easy to make, and if you throw some grilled chicken or shrimp with it, you've got a delicious, healthy meal. My husband requested bruschetta for our Fourth of July festivities (he's part Italian- LOL), and since I found some BEAUTIFUL Roma tomatoes at the grocery store, it was the perfect time to make it!


-8-10 Roma tomatoes (washed)
-1/2 red onion
-fresh basil leaves
-minced garlic
-olive oil
-salt and pepper
-fresh loaf of bread (I like to use French bread from the bakery)

*****(Sorry I forgot to put the bread in the pic! Fail! I also didn't take step-by-step pics... Never claimed to be a food blogger! Just wanted to share a favorite family recipe.)*****

How to make it:

Start with the tomatoes. I usually remove the seeds/watery part of each tomato, and then dice the rest. (You don't want it to be too watery.) Toss diced tomatoes into a large bowl. Dice the onion into itty-bitty pieces. I normally only use about 1/3 to 1/2 of the onion when I make it, but you could add more if you want a stronger onion flavor. Add diced onion to the tomatoes in the bowl. Roll up the basil leaves and chop into tiny pieces (a little basil goes a LONG way. I normally use 5-6 leaves, but again, you could add more). Add basil to the tomatoes and onion. Next, add a spoonful of minced garlic, and stir everything together. (You could also use fresh garlic of course, but AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR DAT!) After the veggies are mixed well, add olive oil. I would estimate about 1/4 cup, but you may need more or less depending how you like it. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste. After the tomato mixture is done, I usually cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge while I toast the bread. Slice the bread into thin slices (about 1/4 inch) and toast on a cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes at 375. You can toast longer if you like a crunchier bread. Serve toasted bread on a platter with the bruschetta on the side.

And that, my friends, is how we spent Fourth of July at our Panamanian/Italian/American household!Not very traditional fare for Independence Day, but it was delizioso!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Teenage Burglars!

I always thought we lived in a safe neighborhood. I have never felt afraid to take a walk, even at night, or to let my boys play outside. Although we wave at our neighbors and are happy to lend a helping hand, most of us in Heron Creek keep to ourselves. The most excitement I've witnessed in the past six years we've lived here involved a couple of thrill-seekers on crotch rockets who blazed through the neighborhood during my kids' naptime (good thing I didn't know how to handle a handgun when that happened... totally kidding!). Or my neighbors who apparently spend two months' salary on fireworks whenever the 4th of July rolls around (thank God the Saulston fire department is only a stone's throw away). For the most part, things are quiet and calm here, and we like it that way.
A couple months ago, we learned the hard way that we had become too trusting. It was a typical Thursday morning- Fernando kissed me goodbye and walked out the door for work, only to return less than a minute later. "Someone got in our cars last night," he said. He was ticked (by ticked, I mean that his face was red as a chili pepper and The Vein in his temple was throbbing double-time), and I, for lack of a better term, FREAKED OUT. Of course my mind started playing out the absolute worst scenario of what had happened during the night while we were peacefully sleeping. Before my husband had even assessed what was missing from our cars, I was convinced that every East Coast member of the Bloods and the Crips had targeted us, and that they would be back later (with machetes and machine guns, of course) to get the rest of the goods in our house.

"We have to call the police" I said, with complete confidence that a quick call to 911 would dispatch a CSI crew who would dust the cars for fingerprints and have the burglars behind bars by sundown.

Fernando scoffed at my suggestion. "What are the police going to do? We left the cars unlocked."

I was shocked. How was it possible that we'd both left our cars unlocked? Fernando is always so careful to lock everything up before we go to bed. I was thankful that our cars hadn't been damaged, but still felt shaken and angry that strangers had intruded on our property and taken our stuff.

We finally figured out that Fernando's big speaker was missing from his car, and our GPS and $10 cash were missing from my car. It wasn't a huge loss- certainly not enough to merit an insurance claim, but I still decided to call the police, just in case other cars in the neighborhood had also been burglarized.

Fernando went on to work, hoping that the thieves would show up with our stuff at the pawn shop where he works. (Now wouldn't THAT have been a story?) I put in a call to the police department's non-emergency line and reported what had happened. A lady took all of the information and told me that an officer would contact me later.

Days went by, and we never heard anything back. I was certain our stuff was long gone, and that the Bloods and the Crips were using our GPS to pinpoint the location of their next innocent victims. Luckily, my sister who follows the Wayne County Sheriff's Department on Facebook, commented that she'd seen a post on their page about Saulston break-ins. There was a number for people to call if their cars had been burglarized. I quickly called my husband, who had also heard about the post from a co-worker. (Thank goodness for Facebook!)

To make a long story short, Fernando called the number and relayed the same information that I had reported weeks before. He learned that the police had found the thieves (teenagers!!) and had already tracked down some of the stolen items. Although the GPS and cash were not recovered, Fernando did get his speaker back. We also received a letter in the mail requesting our info so that we could further press charges against the little teenage wannabe thugs. The letter also listed the name of one of the perpetrators. (He actually has a weird name, but I'll call him "Jim Bob.") Hmmmm. It took me all of a millisecond to whip out my laptop and search for Jim Bob on Facebook. I wanted to see who had trespassed onto our property; I wanted to see who had stolen not only our personal items, but also our sense of security and trust in our neighborhood.

Because of the weird name, it didn't take long to find Jim Bob. (Again, THANK GOODNESS FOR FACEBOOK!)  In fact, I had several mutual friends with Jim Bob! I had to laugh as I scrolled through pic after pic of a scrawny teenager who looked like he was still stuck in the awful throes of adolescence. (Here's a little helpful hint for any would-be burglars reading this: If you decide to live the life of a true outlaw, it might be a good idea to delete your Facebook account or at least set your Facebook profile to PRIVATE!!) I was even surprised to read several posts by Jim Bob about how he had (in my Christian translation) "messed" up his life by one bad decision. Fernando wanted me to send him a private message and tell him he had 24 hours to return his GPS, or else.... :)

As much anger as I had felt towards the burglars over the previous weeks, I now felt sorry for this young man. He is only fifteen years old, still a kid in many aspects, and yet he has already charted a rough course for the rest of his life. I thought about his mother. I won't lie- it was hard not to judge her and question why she would allow her fifteen-year-old son to be out gallivanting with such a rough crowd in the middle of the night. She should have known exactly where little Jim Bob was and what he was doing, right?

But how would I feel if one of my sons had been caught breaking the law? What would I do? My boys are still toddlers, yet I still feel like an utter parenting failure when they act up in the church nursery. Although it was tempting to pile most of the blame on Jim Bob's mom, who was I to assume she hadn't done the best she could as a parent?

We can put every drop of our blood, sweat, and tears into raising our kids up "right," but eventually they will be free to make their own decisions. Eventually we won't be able to dictate their every move. We can follow every suggestion in the best parenting books, we can punish them when they do wrong, and we can pray for them without ceasing. But there's still no absolute assurance that our kids will turn out to be "good" adults. For me, this is the hardest part about being a parent. When the nurse placed my tiny newborn in my arms for the first time, I had no idea that I was taking on the greatest responsibility in all the world. I wasn't given any clear-cut instructions or promised any guaranteed results that my little innocent baby wouldn't turn out to be a teenage burglar who makes bad decisions...just like scrawny, awkward, struggling-to-fit-in Jim Bob.   

Although I'm still shocked that cars in our neighborhood were burglarized and I wish it wouldn't have happened, I did take away some pretty valuable life lessons. First of all, NEVER LEAVE YOUR CAR UNLOCKED. But more importantly, NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD UNATTENDED. I hope that I will spend the remainder of my boys' formative years with a renewed fervor to put them first.