Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bonjour Paris

Awe Paris!!!  This is one city that I have wanted to visit since I was a little girl.  We have been watching airfare for a bit and I thought it wasn't going to happen, but then we found a deal for the perfect dates that we couldn't pass up.  Was I ever delighted!  And Paris did not disappoint.  Doug and I have already decided we will be back minus the kiddos in a few years.  This trip we were also able to coordinate going to the LDS Temple open house as well.  The Temple itself is absolutely stunning.  The stained glass was beautiful!  I told Doug after spending this time in Europe, I am really digging all the stained glass and would love to add some to our house in the future, but we will see!  I loved the grounds as well.  There is a huge statue of Christ in the middle of the courtyard that is just so welcoming.  The downfall to our trip was that Matthew was sick.  He had been a little difficult from the beginning of our trip, but I didn't think much of it at first.  He wouldn't let us put him down during the temple tour and started complaining of his ear.  He didn't feel hot to me but seemed to be in pain.  Luckily one of the sisters located an ER to take him to.  It was just a few minutes away.  When we got there they took his temperature and it was at 104 degrees.  At that moment I felt like a complete failure as a mom.  I didn't even realize he had a temperature.  The doctor looked into his ear and told me it was blocked and then gave me both ear drops and antibiotics.  It was the next day that he broke out into the same rash that David had the week before, just a little worse.  So it wasn't just an ear infection but scarlet
fever as well.  Luckily we had him on antibiotics and it started to ease his symptoms pretty quickly.  But the poor little guy was still not himself for pretty much the whole trip.  He was a trooper though.  It just meant lots of baby carrying for Doug and I. We even tried to fit both of them in the stroller at one point but to our dismay it didn't work at all.  The next day we visited the Versailles Palace.  This place was no joke, it was huge and beautiful.  It really opened my eyes to the lavish lifestyle that they lived.  We ended up renting a golf cart to tour the gardens.  We had the cart for two hours and still did not see everything the garden had to offer.  That is how massive it was!  It is amazing how my ideals have changed since I was a little girl.  Standing there looking at the garden from the house, it dawned on me, that that is what I use to dream of.  I use to dream of owning a huge house and having a beautiful manicured garden just like those of Versailles.  And as beautiful as they are, the grown up in me realizes my dreams have completely shifted to a more practical, kid friendly sort of dream, which I am completely happy with.  I mean who would want to clean a palace that big!  After Versailles we took the train and headed into the city.  Our first
stop was the Eiffel Tower.  We all (minus sleeping Matthew) were able to get pictures in front of it, and we also enjoyed some crepes.  We walked around for a bit, and that evening we took a boat tour on the river.  I loved seeing all the lights and beautiful bridges along the way.  We got home late that evening and had only one day left to explore.  Saturday was a pretty exhausting day for us.  Matthew still lacked energy and between him and Caleb we were holding kiddos a lot.  Hiking up and down the tram stations and up the hills took lots of energy, and so we ended up not seeing all we had planned but all in all we got a good taste of the city.  We were able to visit Notre Dame, The Arc De Triomphe, Sacre Coeur, Pantheon, and the Luxembourg Gardens.  We ended the night at a nice french restaurant.  All the food we had in Paris was amazing.  The one thing that surprised me about Paris was how friendly the people were.  I actually imagined quite the opposite.  But we had people offering to help us left and right.  Matthew had a meltdown in one of the train stations as I was trying to help get the stroller up the steps.  He just sat down and wouldn't budge. A kind woman picked him up and carried him up the stairs for me.  It was amazing to see the kindness of others. We really had a great trip and I have learned that you just have to take your time while traveling with kids and just roll with the punches.

Buona Pasqua

I was really excited to be able to experience Easter in the heart of Catholicism.  One thing we found (or didn't find) were that plastic eggs don't exist here.  They do not celebrate with Easter baskets here at all.  So it took a little creativity to put together the boy's baskets.  One thing they do have is chocolate, lots of chocolate.   Including these HUGE chocolate eggs.  They were so big, and usually filled with some sort of small toy.  To say the boys loved them is an understatement.  They also don't color eggs here.  So we did our
best to color our brown eggs with food coloring.  I had both gel dye and regular dye and I found that the gel dye worked the best.  The eggs were very natural looking and I actually prefer them to the neon colors.  Friday evening the Relief Society had an activity making traditional Easter Cookies.  So the boys dropped me off for the activity and we met up again afterward.  The cookie itself reminded me of a really thick sugar cookie.  I forgot to take a picture but I included one I found online. They use the shape of a dove and add an egg in the middle that represents life.  It turned out really good.  After the activity we decided to head to downtown Taranto.  There was a procession march that evening for Holy Week.  It was quite
interesting.  There were men that carried figures such as the crucified Christ and the Virgin Mary.  They were barefoot and it was quite a reverent occasion.  There were also penitent masked men that walked among the figures.  They honestly reminded me of the KKK, with their white hoods and robes.  It sort of freaked me out a bit, but luckily the boys didn't really notice them.  There were so many people out and about it was fun to be there.  We ate street food and of course ended the night with gelato. We hadn't done much in the downtown part of Taranto before this march, and it really is quite a nice city.  We have been there a few times since.  On Easter we had both sets of missionaries over for dinner.  I cooked both a beef and pork roast.  It is times like these that I miss my slow cooker.  With it being a holiday the missionaries didn't have appointments that night, and so we were able to enjoy the whole evening with them.  David especially loves it when they come over.  He has already requested that they come for his birthday dinner as well.  The Monday after Easter is a national holiday here.  With everyone having the day off, the ward had planned a BBQ for the day.  There were lots of games and the boys really enjoyed themselves.  It was really just a laid back kind of day, which are the ones I love the most.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Life in Italy

I've decided I need to be better at journaling our family life, and what better way to do that than blogging.  So here I am again, hoping to capture our family adventures in a little more detail than what social media allows.

As most of you know Doug is currently on assignment in Grottaglie, Italy and we are lucky enough to be able to join him on this adventure.  We have been here for three months now and we have experienced so much already, that I feel like we have been here much longer.  We have been to Rome twice now, Pompeii, Croatia, Slovenia, and we have explored most of the cities down here in the Puglia region.  Matera was one of the first citites that Doug took us to.  It is about an hour and a half away from us and is just beautiful.  It is set in the hills and is known for it's ancient cave dwellings.  The landscape actually reminds me a ton of the Chico, Paradise area in Northern CA  From what we were told it is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world.  We have seen many old cities here but this one doesn't even compare.  They have filmed numerous movies here such as Passion of the Christ and the new Ben Hur movie.  We also were just in Gallipoli last week, which sits on the Ionian Sea.  The water is so blue and clear.  We took a walk on the beach and of course all three boys ended up playing in the water.  It was a good 72+ degrees out and what I have come to learn is that Italians are cold blooded creatures.  In Washington anything over 70 in my book is shorts and flip flop weather, but here we get strange looks going out in that attire. Most people are still wearing their winter jackets, boots and scarves.  So our shorts and flip flop wearing just screams "foreigners".

We enrolled David in a Catholic School in Grottaglie.  He really needed a social outlet, and this has helped him a ton.  The school week is Monday through Saturday 8:30 to 12:30.  Luckily, they are super flexible and he does not attend on Saturdays.  His Italian is coming along.  We have challenged him to learn a new word everyday, and he is doing well with that.  There is also a parent volunteer that speaks English that has been a huge help to him.  I also have enjoyed having more one on one time with Matthew and Caleb.  At first Matthew was having a really hard time with David being gone.  Back in Maple Valley David did school in the afternoons. A lot of the time Matthew either napped, or we were running errands.  So they weren't really apart much during playtime.  But the alone time has been good for Matthew as well.  He is maturing and growing in so many ways.

We started off living in a 2 bedroom apartment and it worked okay but there really wasn't a lot of room for the boys to run and play.  Luckily a house in the country came open and we were able to move in shortly after getting here.  All the homes here are fully fenced both in the city and in the country.  So the boys are able to roam and play.  When they get too crazy inside I just send them out to do laps up and down the driveway and around the house.  They actually enjoy it!  So it is a win for both of us!  We have 3 bedrooms (the boys all share the master), a sun room, and a decent size living room.  The kitchen is quite small but completely normal for Europe and we make it work.  I do have a dryer which is not very common.  It is not ventilated at all and the water is collected into a reservoir that you have to empty after each use. It does take quite a while for the clothes to dry but even with that I still am so grateful for it.  The house also came with a little dog named Chico (how funny is that), luckily we don't have to feed or take care of him.  The owners found him a few years back and keep him here at the house.  He is a nice little guard dog.  Doug and I are in the "pink room".  It showcases a 2 foot statue of Jesus hanging right above our bed.  That did take a little getting use to.  All the floors here are hard surface.  We have marble throughout the house.  This is one thing that I have come to detest.  Caleb has hit his head more than once.  I actually put a helmet on him for a few days because I was just so scared for him,  but his falling is not as frequent now and he doesn't climb as much as he use to.  I really use to love hard surfaces but they just don't really mix too well with kiddos. 

The Puglia region where we are has a lot of agriculture.  There are lots and lots of orchards, vineyards, and fields.  Doug is sick of hearing this, but it totally reminds me of the San Joaquin Valley in CA at times.  I can now point out an Olive Tree and even tell you if it is healthy or not.  Most of the orchards are all Olive Trees.  I have never seen so many in my life.  It is fun picking out the oldest trees verses the youngest ones.  It seems as though each tree has a story to tell.  But agriculture really is such a part of the culture here.  You can find fruit stands on most corners and the produce is fresh and delicious.  They pretty much only eat things that are in season.  So right now I am enjoying everything that is coming in.  I am told cucumbers should be in soon and I can't wait.  For a while I just thought they didn't eat cucumbers here at all.   

Shopping has been the hardest thing for me here.  In the beginning it took such a long time trying to translate each item.  I seriously dreaded going shopping.  But now I pretty much have it down.  It also took some time figuring out what stores were the best to shop at.  These are things I just took for granted back in the states. They don't do convenience food here and so it really has helped me, or forced me to cook everything from scratch.  I honestly thought I did a pretty good job back in the states but this has helped me be even that much better.  I am missing my slow cooker, dishwasher and Kitchen Aid a ton but we make it all work.  And I have learned that bread really isn't that hard to make without a Kitchen Aid anyway.

I have been really enjoying the food here.  A little too much at times.  But I have a love hate relationship with the Italian way of dining though.  Italians have "riposo" which is their rest time in the afternoon.  Everything closes during this time, and then opens back up in the evenings.  It really is awesome to see how the cities come to life again.  And it is a family affair, which I love.  You can see everyone coming out to experience the evening together.  It really is magical.  The hate part of the relationship is how late Italians eat.  Most restaurants don't open until 8, although you can find a few that open at 7.  So for my family it is really hard to keep the boys awake long enough to enjoy the Italian Cuisine as much as I would like to.  There have been too many times where they have fallen asleep.  Naps would be ideal but I just have to convince them of that.



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Matthew 4 Months

Matthew is now a BIG 4 Months OLD!  He is starting to do so much.  He rolls over onto his stomach, and now prefers to be on his stomach.  He rolled over onto the hard wood the other day and started scooting using his arms.  This happened only once so far and I hope it stays that way for a while.  He just had his first taste of solids (oatmeal cereal) which he didn't seem to enjoy too much.  He laughs and smiles a ton.  Anything within his reach he grabs.  He sucks his thumb every once in a while, which I think is super cute.  He drools like crazy, as you can tell in the photos, just waiting for his teeth to appear!  His naps are becoming short and sweet, so we are working on that.  He loves his brother and loves to be held.  He weighs in at 18 lbs 14 oz. (95th%), He is 27.56" (100%), and his head is 45.5 cm (100%).  So pretty much he is growing like a weed!  He still makes little noises when he eats and sleeps, sounds like a little chipmunk.  I just love his smiles and coo's!