S: The Malta Experience: Letters to My Nephews
FC: The Malta Experience: Letters to My Nephews & Adventures with Bruno, Wall-e, and Number 52
1: To my nephews Aiden, Evan, and Carter: Thank you for being a source of inspiration and allowing Bruno, Wall-e, and Number 52 to join me on the most amazing adventure. I hope these stories from Malta and abroad bring you joy and remind you how much you are loved. Love Always, Aunt Kiki
2: August 23, 2009 Dear Aiden, Evan, and Carter, Thank you SO much for allowing me to bring some of your toys to Malta! Bruno the Doggy, Wall-e, and Number 52 race car and I are all having a wonderful time here. Bruno sleeps with me at night, and Wall-e and Number 52 sit close by on my night stand, so that I can feel close to each of you. Today, my friends and I went to the south of Malta to a fishing village called Marsaxlokk to shop at the outdoor market. I took Bruno, Wall-e, and Number 52 along with me. We have a photo to share with you - see the picture attached. While we were at the market we saw lots of fish, squid, eel, and octopus from the ocean, lots of fresh vegetables, and even some puppies and chipmunks for sale! The puppies were very cute and the chipmunks were funny! I hope each of you are doing well and having a great time with Grandma! Aiden ~ you're going to LOVE school... I am very excited for you, and I hope you will send me some pictures from your first day. I can't believe what a grown-up guy you are already. Okay guys, I hope we can video chat real soon! Tell mommy she needs to get the web cam working on her computer so that we can see each other through the computer. Love you guys! Talk to you soon! Love, Aunt Keeks
4: September 2, 2009 Hello my sweet and handsome little nephews! I hope you boys have all been doing well! I talked to Grandma and she said that she had a very nice visit with you. I saw lots of pictures of you at the beach with Mimi and Papa too! You boys sure are lucky to have so many fun things to do all the time. | "There is no 'us' and 'them', it's just one big 'WE."
5: Grandma and mommy told me how much you guys like the CD that Brendan and I made. That makes me really happy. Music is so much fun to create and to listen to, and it makes me feel really good that you boys like my music. So keep playing your guitars! Then we can all make music together - Aiden, Evan, Carter, Me, Grandpa, Uncle Carson and Brendan! So... boys... onto the exciting part of the email... the update on your traveling toys! This time your toys came with me to school! This photo is a picture of me and my friend Vedad outside a building that I pass on my walk to class. I like this building because of the sign that hangs out front. As you can see in the picture, the sign has writing all over it. These are messages from people all over the world. This sign is supposed to remind us to be nice to one another and to remember that anyone can be a friend, even people who might seem different from yourself. I asked Vedad to be in the picture with me because he is from a very different placed called Bosnia. Bosnia is a country very, very far away from America, where you live. Even though Vedad's family and our family are so different, he has become a very good friend of mine here in Malta. So I want you to know that when you go to school, or to the playground, don't be afraid to talk to the kids who might seem different from you... what's important is that you can have fun together and treat each other well. Here is my favorite message from the sign... you can see it written just beyond my head in the photo: "There is no 'us' and 'them', it's just one big 'WE." Maybe you will understand this better when you get older, but for now just remember that you never should be afraid to make a new friend. :) Love you guys very much!!! Love, Aunt Keeks
6: October 5, 2009 Hello Carter, Evan and Aiden! I hope you are all doing really great! Well, Bruno, Wall-e and Number 52 race car went on another adventure with me in Malta! Over the weekend my roommates and I visited ancient ruins and sea caves! Ruins are really, really, really old buildings made from stone that have started to fall apart. It's interesting to visit ruins because they are so old. The ruins we visited are named Hagar Qim and they are the oldest on the planet! (older than both your grandpas!) Sea caves are big holes formed on the sides of mountains where the mountain touches the water, or sea. The sea caves we visited are at a place called The Blue Grotto, and we had to ride in a fishing boat in order to get to them!! It was very exciting and kind of scary too, because the boat was very small and the waves were very big! We explored the caves and saw the most colorful, bright blue water I have ever seen in my life! I was looking at the ceiling of the caves to see if I could spot any bats, but we didn't see any. So the first photo I took for you is of me and my roommate Abby with all three of your toys. We are standing in the Hagar Qim ruins, and you can see the giant stones in the background. The next picture is of just me and your toys. I'm sitting on the hillside near the Hagar Qim ruins. I really liked this hillside because it had a beautiful view of the sea, it was sunny and breezy, and it was completely quiet. It was really nice and it made me think of you guys.
7: The last picture is of Bruno, Wall-e and Number 52. They are sitting on a wall at the top of a big cliff. In the background, you can see the sea and the little harbor from where we launched the fishing boat that took us to the Blue Grotto caves. So, your toys had a VERY exciting and adventurous day! I hope that one day, when you guys are older, that you can come on adventures just like this with me. :) So keep learning about difference places around the world, and one day we will go visit. If you want to see more photographs of the ruins and pictures of the caves and the boat ride, just ask Mommy - I sent her all the photographs. Okay guys, it's my bedtime. Be good, listen to your mom, and keep doing well at school. I think about you every day, and I can't wait to come home and give you tons of hugs and kisses!! LOVE, Aunt Keeks
9: December 8, 2009 Hello my little boys! How are you?! I'm sorry it's been so long since my last email to you. Even though I haven't been able to write to you very often, I still think about you every day. I have been very busy lately doing lots of school work, so I haven't had much time to take your toys on any new adventures. But I do spend lots of time with them at home. Recently I bought a new guitar - just like the ones you guys have. And sometimes I like to take the guitar up onto the roof and play up there. The roof on my house here in Malta is a lot different than your roof at home. For one thing, I live in an apartment building, so the roof is very big, and it's also flat! I have a nice view of the sea from up there. The roof is also where I hang my laundry after I wash it in the washing machine. I don't have a dryer like mommy's, so the only way to dry my clothes is to hang them up on the clothes line. On Sunday, after hanging my laundry, Wall-e, Bruno the doggy, Number 52 and I sat on the roof together and played guitar and enjoyed the sunshine. I have attached three pictures for you to look at. I hope you like them! I have to get back to studying and homework now. I love you guys! I hope to talk to you soon. Love, Aunt Keeks
10: February 14, 2010 Hello my little muffin nuggets! I hope you boys are all doing well. :) I am sorry it's been so long since I've sent you a letter and told you about the adventures that your toys and I have been having together. Two months ago for Christmas, Brendan and I went to Italy. Italy is a country in Europe, near to Malta where I live. Actually, grandpa and grandma's parents and grandparents came to America from Italy. (Grandpa can tell you more about that next time you talk to him.) Brendan had to fly in an airplane for 8 hours to get to Italy from Philadelphia! While we were in Italy we saw many different places, and your toys came along too! The first picture you will see is of me, Bruno, Wall-e and Number 52 near a famous bridge in Florence, Italy. The bridge is named Ponte Vecchio, which just means 'old bridge' in Italian. The bridge crosses over a big river. It's called the Arno River. The second picture is me and your toys leaning on a very old fountain in the ruins of Pompeii. Can you see the face carved into the front of the fountain? A very, very long time ago the city of Pompeii was buried under rocks and ash after a nearby volcano erupted. The volcano's name is Mount Vesuvius. The third and fourth pictures are of your toys in Rome. One picture is of Bruno, Wall-e and Number 52 on top of a wall overlooking the Roman Colosseum. The Colosseum was used a long time ago as a place where people would gather and watch Roman athletes fight big animals like lions and tigers! Amazing, huh?
11: The other picture is of me and your toys at the Roman Forum. The Forum was a place where the people of Rome would get together and talk about things like who should be the leader of Italy. The last picture is one I took for grandpa. Your toys are not it in, but I wanted to send it to you because it's a picture of grandpa's favorite statue. This statue is carved from stone, and its name is "The Ecstasy of St. Theresa." It is in a small church in Rome near to the hotel where I stayed. When grandpa and grandma were in Rome in 1993, they really wanted to see this. But when they finally went, the church was closed! So, I made sure to visit the church and take this picture for them. Anyway muffins... that's all for now! I hope you enjoyed seeing these pictures and learning a little bit about Italy. If you have questions, you can ask me, but probably you should ask grandpa - he knows EVERYTHING about Italy because he really likes it and reads lots of books about it. I love you guys! I can't wait to see you soon. :) Be good to each other. LOVE LOVE LOVE Aunt Keeks
12: Ponte Vecchio Florence, Italy
13: Pompeii, Italy | Roman Forum
14: The Collosseum Rome, Italy
15: The Collosseum is a popular symbol of Rome. It was able to hold 50,000 people for sporting events. The statue, The Ecstasy of St. Theresa, was created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It is in the Cornaro Chapel in Rome, Italy.
16: Anyway, I have recently had a few new adventures, and of course, your toys were with me for the fun! The first adventure was in a place called Maremma Park in Italy. You might remember that I visited Italy with your toys during Christmas when I was with Brendan. This time I went to Italy on a field trip with my school. We were studying the forests and beaches inside the park, and we stayed for 8 whole days! It was a lot of fun. :) The first picture you see attached is a photo of me and my good friend Becki. Becki and I live together in Malta and she also goes to school with me. In this picture, we had just walked 13 kilometers through the woods and ended at this really cool beach. The beach was surrounded by rocks and trees and was completely empty except for our group of friends. | April 20, 2010 Hello little tater tots!! This is Aunt Kiki reporting from Malta! I can't believe that it's already April 20th, and my time in Malta is so close to being over! Pretty soon, I will be back in the United States! And then I'll be staying with you in Charlotte and we'll be swimming in the pool and taking Tucker for walks and riding bikes! It's going to be AWESOME!
17: The next picture is of your toys with my hiking sneakers. You might think this picture is pretty silly, but I have had these hiking sneakers for 9 years! That's longer that you guys have been alive! They have been with me on every hike in the woods, they've been all across the United States including Yellowstone National Park and Zion Park, they've been to Peru, Italy, Costa Rica and more... they have been a very important part of many of the cool things that I've done over the last nine years. BUT... the sneakers were getting very worn, and they no longer kept my feet dry from rain, and the bottoms were wearing through... and honestly, they were also a little stinky!! Sooo.. after my week in Maremma was over, I decided that it was time for the shoes to say good-bye. I left them in Italy. It is simply time for a new pair of shoes! But, before I left, I made sure to take this photo. I hope you guys will one day understand the importance of a good pair of shoes that let you see the world.
18: April 20th continued... Okay... FINALLY... this last picture is my favorite. Mommy might have already told you that Uncle Carson and Aunt Kate flew in an airplane ALLLL the way across the ocean to come and visit me in Malta! We had such a nice time and I got to show them all around the island! One of the places we visited was the Blue Grotto. This is also a place your toys have been before. We went to the Blue Grotto to take a boat ride into the caves, but when we got there it was SO windy and the waves were SO big that the boats were not running because it was too dangerous. So instead we walked all around taking pictures. We were thinking of you the whole time and wishing you were there with us! Anyway my little tulips... It's only a matter of weeks now until I get to squeeze you! Be good to each other, be kind to your friends, and keep paying attention in school. Love you guys!!! Enjoy the pictures! | Aiden, Evan, & Carter Konawalik
19: The Blue Grotto Malta
20: May 18, 2010 At school studying for my final exams with Bruno, Wall-e, Number 52, and Vedad.
21: These are my friends from the Biosphere Foundation, and they are amazing! They rebuilt this entire boat in order to sail on a very long trip from Malta to Singapore to study coral reefs. The boat's name is "Mir". It was a dangerous trip, but they arrived safely on September 29, 2010. This photo was taken a few days before they set sail at their "good bye" party. This is the last photo taken of your toys and I in Europe, and it's also the day Wall-e' s wheel popped off and sank to the bottom of the sea! Thankfully, my friend had scuba gear and dove down in the water to find it. Now Wall-e once again has both his wheels! | May 23, 2010
22: Well, that concludes the journey of Bruno, Wall-e, Number 52 and Aunt Kiki. On June 19th, 2010 you guys welcomed me home with a wonderful party at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Bruno, Wall-e, and Number 52 were happy to be back in your hands, but don't let them fool you - we had the most amazing adventures in Europe! In the end, there is nothing better than being together as a family. Thanks for sharing your toys and helping me make some wonderful memories! LOVE, Aunt Kiki
23: June 19, 2010
24: The End! (well, almost)
25: Valletta, Malta
26: On the Bus Sliema, Malta
27: Time for Class Valletta, Malta
28: View from Fontanella Mdina, Malta
29: The Blue Lagoon Comino, Malta