Friday, June 27, 2008

Hit the ground running....

Well, we made it back from Italy. We got back and immediately started running again. Kaylee, our 5 year old niece, is staying with us this week. Needless to say, I have had no time to post. So, to catch up on what all has been going on....Going to Italy was an awesome experience and I cannot be more thankful for Karen, my sister-in-law, who so graciously offered us this opportunity. It is truly a remarkable and magical place. For those of you who are curious of the itinerary, here is a run down from day to day. I am starting with Rome, this will have to be a three part post. I will start with Rome, then introduce Florence and Sienna. Lastly, day trips in Tuscany. SO, here is a run down of Rome.
Tuesday 6/10/08 12:20 pm (Houston flight to Atlanta that was to then connect to Rome at 3:45) ( we missed that flight thanks to the lovely weather in Houston that day)
Tuesday night 8pm made the next flight, not as many passengers, got the middle three seats all to ourselves...SCORE. Still slept terrible. 11 hours... man, it was rough. And those of you mission people who have been on like 20 hour flights, give me a break, this was my first international flight.
Wednesday oneish- we arrive in Rome. Get to the hotel. Meet some nice people from San Fransisco on the shuttle (rip off)...not the people, the shuttle.
Wednesday 5 pm -first walking tour of Rome with an Aussi named Jo from Angel Tours Rome. Good tour, lots of info, visited the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Campo di Fiori and Piazza Navona to name a few. Back to the hotel after an interesting study of Rome metro system and city buses, got some cash and went back out to get some dinner. Went close to the hotel to a little trattoria ( small restaurant that serves home cooked meals, often the establishment is in the back of the owners home ). It was really good, the waiter spilled my drink on me and he looked terribly embarrassed. We were so tired and once we were well fed, we headed back for a much needed nights rest. Pantheon Trevi Fountain
Thursday 9 am -after our AMAZING continental breakfast ( with the best coffee I have ever had, yummy pastries, eggs and interestingly enough, Agar agar, an Asian seaweed dish) we
headed to the Colosseum, got hooked up with another tour company and signed up. Side note: As we signed up, we were told we would get a free picture with a guy in Roman Soldier get up. Stephen took my picture first, my glasses fell off and the soldier grabbed them, while apologizing to Stephen, saying he was only helping. When Stephen walked over to take his picture, the guy said, as he moved his sword in, (imagine an Italian accent with this), "do you know? Lorana Bobit?" I shot the picture, it was too hysterical to pass up. This tour was WELL worth the time and money. An unbelievable (probably one of my most memorable) moments, walking out from the metro, turning to the left and seeing something that massive, that was completed in 80 AD right in front of me in the year 2008. Crazy moment. We then had a short break after the tour of the Colosseum to get some water before the Roman Forum tour. AWESOME. Our guide was a local ( as was the Colosseum guide ) but he had a true love of history. He made the tour really great. Later that day, we walked across the city, and had lunch, saw President Bush's motorcade drive by (for the first time) then ended up going to a performance of the Georgetown prep schools choir at one of the churches. It was a nice concert. We then went to dinner and headed back to the hotel. Exterior shot of the Colosseum just outside the metro exit.
Jody's "Roman Soldier" pic
Stephen's "Roman Soldier" pic
Interior of the Colosseum. This is a picture of the underground working halls the gladiators and animals would emerge from using dumb waiter type systems. The Romans were geniuses. The Roman Forum. The guy in the straw hat was our guide, Eugenio.
Stephen and I in the Roman Forum, picture courtesy of a nice older couple from England.

Friday 9 am - Grabbed the metro headed for Vatican City. We enjoyed our Roman Forum tour guide so much, that when he began advertising for the tour of Vatican City the next morning, we said we were in. Found out once we arrived, we would have another guide, who was not so great, but we were OK with it. He was late. So apparently if you are late in Rome, you have to buy people drinks. So the guide company walked us down to a breakfast shop and we all got a free drink. It was nice. Afterwards we got to see St. Peters. CRAZY awesome church. Amazingly huge and makes you feel very small and comparison to its massive beauty. The pictures do NOT do it justice. We saw Michelangelo's Pieta. After that, we had a short break for lunch. We sat with a couple from Melbourne Australia that were really nice people. It was a nice lunch. We then went through the Vatican Museum, which according to our guide, if you spent 60 seconds on each artifact or piece of art in the collection, it would take seven years to see it all. NUTS! After all that we went through all the hallways to see the Sistine Chapel. I was sad to see it in such conditions, but understood the reasons. There were guards, shushing you constantly, because it is a holy place that requires reverence. There was very little light and the windows were not allowed to hold the daylight they could ( they were shrouded on the exterior of the building, so you could see the stained glass, but not its brilliance) This was all of course to protect the images from any damage or fading. There were hundreds of people in this little chapel with no furniture, only one row of seats along the walls. It just seemed to suck away the majesty of this amazing work of art for me. Anyway, enough of that. I got to go upstairs and see the paintings by Raphael, that I REALLY wanted to see. My favorite of all time, "The Freeing of St. Peter" and also the well known "School of Athens". Headed back to our hotel, changed and then went back over to take night pictures at the Colosseum. Had dinner, the best I had so far, Stephen and I shared a salad and four cheese pizza. Then went back to the hotel to pack.
St. Peter's Bascillica.
"The Freeing of St. Peter" by Raphael.
The interior of St. Peter's. The sun was coming through the upper windows and it was so angelic and holy. It really set a feel of reverence and beauty. I was so happy that the sunrays were captured on film.Last night in Rome in front of the Colosseum at night.
Stephen's awesome pic of the Colosseum at night.

Saturday 10 am - headed over to the train station ( not a far walk from our hotel ) to catch the train to Florence. We sat with a very nice couple from Pennsylvania. Stephen slept as I furiously looked through books to figure out what I wanted to see in Florence. I would love to go back to Rome later in life. Rome, for me, really was extremely magical. I kept visualizing how it all must have looked when Paul was there and how things have changed....and how things haven't. It is strange to be in a place that has history that can be taken back to those who lived in biblical times. I guess living in such a young country, I have nothing in which to compare. I truly enjoyed it and if you are one who loves history and wouldn't mind seeing some of it come to life for you, seriously, go to Rome. It was an awesome experience for us. See pics, and please forgive the long post, I just don't know how to condense such a great experience.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Play Dough and Printing...

Things have been a little hectic in our household the last few weeks. School was coming to a close, Anna was home with Dad during the day and home with me at night, we have been getting prepared for our Italy trip along with preparing to leave Anna for 10 days straight. It takes a lot of preparation to send your kid to two different locations with all the necessary things for day to day living. Thanks to Granny, Grandpa, T-ma and J-paw for agreeing to keep Anna! Along with all the business in my family, my good friend Libby had her third child, Jack, who was a little early and has been in the NICU for about a week, so we have been preparing meals and visiting her in the hospital. All in all, we have been a little busy, with very little time to those of you who have been waiting...if there are any of you who have, ( I hate to be presumptuous) apologies.

The last few days have slowed down a little, and I have been trying to get a concept of having a two ( almost ) year old at home for the summer. Needless to say, I have decided we need some things to do. : ) A few days ago, I found some print pads that I bought when she was a baby to makes prints of her hands and feet. I was very excited and thought...craft time! She had a great time, but this was a bad idea. This ink is not the kind that washes off. After scrubbing relentlessly in the bathtub, she still had pink hands. See pictures for proof.
I needed some other things that were not quite so messy or permanent. So yesterday, I mentioned play dough to Anna, and she freaked out. She was super excited! Apparently they play with play dough at school. SO, I was going to go buy it, and thought, NO, I am going to try something new and make it. We looked online and got a recipe and ran to the grocery store to get some cream of tarter and finger paint ( that is for another project and post ) and came home to tackle making play dough. So, I guess because my experience with home made play dough is the stuff you get at VBS that is not the cooked kind ( probably because hot stoves and Pre-K don't mix ). You know, the grainy and dried and cracked kind. So, when I followed this SUPER easy recipe where you cook it on the stove and it smelled, looked and felt exactly like the kind you buy, I WAS ECSTATIC! I felt like super mom. It was a nice moment. : ) Anyway, here is a video of Anna playing with the play dough. It is a little long, but there are moments you must notice. One: the new phrase, All Gone...which sounds like dalldonn. LOVE IT! Second, resiting the colors. Her little voice is too cute. Third, watching her actually create something. There is a small moment towards the middle of the video that she takes two pieces of red play dough and puts them on top of another piece of larger red play dough and it looks like some kind of animal. She then makes it hop across the table. I loved getting her imagination on film. My apologies for the dark look of it didn't look that dark when we were filming it.

We will be walking the streets of Rome one week from now. We will definitely share stories and pics when we return. Have a great week!