Friday, May 28, 2010

A Little Holiday

I wasn’t prepared to be as sad as I was at the sending off of the students on their journey home. This trip was an interesting one….exhausting (emotionally more than physically) in many ways, but it was fun nonetheless. I will say that there were a few who caused me so much stress that it was a pleasure putting them on the plane.


Did I just say that?


But for the most….well, it was fun. Fun seeing a country/way of life that I love so much thru your first time eyes.

Anyhoo….British Airways was as lovely as ever (and I don’t mean that in a lovely way, either) and we basically got them on the plane (after being at the airport 3 hours early) about 8 minutes before they closed the gate.

For reals.

And then I had to say goodbye to my friend Ambra as she headed back to Rome. And I cried. But now I have a friend to come back and visit...

But what all of that meant was that M and I didn’t pick up our car and head out onto the open, crazy, Italian road until almost 2 hours after we were supposed to.

We were supposed to pick up our car and head to Padua, where we had made a museum reservation months in advance. Oh well. Missed that.


Ambra suggested Plan B and said we MUST go to Ravenna…2 hours south of Venice. And because she is an Italian and because I like her, we listened.

But first, driving in Italy with a GPS sure makes it easy. Well....easier.


Gotta love that.

On the way, we stopped and ate a piedina…basically, it’s a flatbread made with ground chickpea’s, grilled and stuffed with whatever you want. My fave is this white melty cheese that I can neither pronounce NOR spell, plus arugula…M’s is tonno (tuna in olive oil) with fresh tomatoes. There are little spots all along the sea road and we just picked one to stop at…the only downside was the bathroom, which was a hole in the ground. Yep. Welcome to Europe.

Ravenna is probably my new love in Italy. Mosaics so incredible they took my breathe away and quite literally brought tears to that guy that I like so much’s eyes. We found paradise and I cannot wait to come back.

We skipped over Florence and drove to Lucca, our ‘home base’ away from home. Lucca is special to us and I am loving spending time at watching all the families hang at the playgrounds that we played at with our boys years ago.

I miss my boys.


Back to Lucca. We ate two of the scariest meals ever. EVER. We also had the best ever picnics here…prosciutto de parma, parmesan reggiano, toscano salame, fresh bread and olives. Yum.

Yesterday we took a road trip and drove 2 ½ hours to Montalcino…the home of Brunello wine. We stood in a room with a bazillion bottles of bazillion priced wine and tasted one glorious sample after another. We bought one of those bazillion dollar bottles to put away for our 25th anniversary next year…and I (shamelessly) tried the ‘my husband is a school teacher but we LOVE your wine so much and would buy more if we could afford it’ avenue and it was still a no go. No discounts for poor people. I guess in their minds, if I can afford to get my butt to Montalcino, then I don’t need a break on the price of wine.

And I see their point.

Though that doesn’t mean I have to like it.


I love market days in Italy...though I am pretty sure I wouldn't be buying these.


Zucchini flowers everywhere...I cannot wait to cook when I get home. All these fresh veggies have me inspired.

(plus, I am tired of eating out!)
The chicken man...I'm tellin ya. That chicken man makes the best chickens EVER...and under all those chickens are potatoes, which are getting dripped on with all those chicken drippings.

It's OK.

You can cry.

I know you want to.

It's THAT good!
I was tempted to try and carry a whole leg of proscuitto on the plane home...only euro 46 for one of these babies!

I tried to talk that guy that I like so much into it, but he couldn't be persuaded...somethin' about flies in the kitchen.

Too bad.
Tomorrow...Venizia and then HOME to my boys!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Winding Down

It's hard to believe that this trip is coming to an end...for the students, anyways.

In the morning we will get them all comfy on their flight for home and then that guy that I like so much and I rest. And relax.

In the's that awesome leaning tower.

And here's that awesome leaning tower with a bunch of students hanging over the edge. Pretty sure everyone in Pisa heard them call my name.

Our last stop of this trip....Venice.

Probably one of my favorite places in the world.


Oh, and also the home to one of my very favorite restaurants. It's a hole in the wall that's been there forever and a day and when you walk in, it's a gravelly courtyard with little tables and music and vines and candles and happiness and harmony.


And paradise is the home of brasaola...served simply with some rucola (arugula) parmigiana (self explanatory) and limone (lemon). A little drizzle of olive oil and all is well in the world.

Trust me on this.

As for this guy....well, he's ready for a vacation. Once his peeps are on the plane home, he'll relax even more. We're staying an extra few days on our sure exactly where yet because we keep changing our minds!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Catching Up

Italy is a place that holds my heart.

And I am happy.


We tore up Rome…covering a weeks worth of sights in a mere two days. It’s always an adventure trying to figure out what kind of group we will be travelling with…some are easy and adapt to any situation, some are needy and not so sure about experiencing anything new and some are (I am sad to say) whiners and complainers.

And yep, we’ve experienced Europe with all three.

(getting scared as to what I’m going to say next???)

Winner, winner, chicken dinner….we’ve got a group of fun ones.

Rome had them a bit worried. It’s big. It’s loud. It’s old. It’s Italian.

It’s also a place that I love.


The weather was iffy the first few days and in fact, as soon as we left the Colosseum on the first day the heavens opened up and we got RAINED on. As in soaked. It was cold, we’d just flown over 15 hours and we were wet.

I wasn’t even supposed to be with the group on that day…I had made arrangements to take a train to Sora, a few hours outside of Rome, to spend a day in my Grandmother’s birthplace. I’ve been there before but since then had some actual details of her life that I wanted to immerse myself in, so I was ready to go.

But I didn’t. I needed to be with the students and it turned out to be a blessing. Rain and all. Seeing Rome through a bunch of eyes that were soaking it all in…well, it was priceless.

Sora will still be there.


After Rome we headed north to Assissi. I love that whole St Francis and his cathedral. Yowza. The weather held out until the moment we stepped out of the church and once again, the rain came. And students laughed and took it all in stride. Awesome.

We’ve spent days in San Gmingnano and Siena and Florence and Cinque Terra. I ate a fish that had a head on it and had the best meal of my life…a simple mixed bruschetta that tilted my whole world upside down. I cannot wait to cook…

Tomorrow is Lucca and then that awesome tower that leans.

And have I even begun to talk about how awesome iChat is??? Loving that my boys are just a click away!

(and Matthew? Outside my window, there are a bunch of Italians celebrating a win...reminds of Parma a few years ago, except this time I am staying INSIDE. LOL.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

La Dolce Vita

It’s been 4 years since my feet have touched Italian soil.

Four long years.

After travelling for hours upon hours, involving an international flight with a wicked shimmy and more than one approach (lovely....NOT!) into Heathrow, plus another shorter flight on to Rome, I thought we’d be exhausted.

But sleep can happen in America. Time in Rome is short.

We checked our group into the hotel…a hotel far nicer than any we have stayed at (gotta love the location, too….quite literally across from the ancient walls in the historic center and right near a club that at 4am is still going strong outside my window!), showered and had a typical hotel dinner.

The best part? It was that guy that I like so much’s birthday and we were in Rome. Go figure.


After dinner and after some wine and after feeling like time was short, we loaded up our friends Alba and Rafael, grabbed a taxi and had a birthday party, complete with tartufo and some rain drops (sigh) at Pizza Navona.

Hello? Rome AND tartufo (and a cafe full of people singing to you?) on your birthday?? Can it get any better?

In a few hours we’re heading out to conquer Rome for the day. My goals involve ‘un etto’ of pizza and a gelato for a snack, plus lots and lots of people watching.

Big goals, huh?


( I wrote that last night and I am too tired to write more today (mainly because my limoncello is kicking in....) but here's a sneak peak at today.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bon Voyage

That guy that I like so much has this crazy kind of job that allows him to travel to all sorts of fun places.

And if I play my cards right, he takes me along.


In a little over 12 hours, we will be leaving our little house on our little street and heading to the big airport where we'll board a big airplane which will do that big thing I don't understand and fly in the sky.

Over an ocean.

Just me, that guy that I like so much and a whole bunch of college students conquering the boot.

As in THIS boot:
And while I am really excited, I am going to miss my boys terribly, terribly, TERRIBLY much. (And tonight as my 11 year old was clinging to me and asking me not to go...well, that didn't help so much either.)


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sophie niece Sophie.

She's got a lot of talent in her little body.

Runs in the family.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Holding On

I am feeling overwhelmed at the moment.

OK, more than just this moment. The whole week, actually...and it is only Tuesday.

At one point while my head may or may not have been spinning around (think the exorcist), that guy that I like so much stole me away for a quick getaway to remind me why this will all be worth it in just a few short days.

Due espresso doppio's, per favore.

Did it work?

A little. And right now, I will take a little.


I'd also like to say that eating spoonfuls of cookie dough while watching The Biggest Loser might seem sick and wrong to some, but just trust's not. It's blissful.

I'm not the only one, am I?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Years ago when I was a younger than I am now momma of three younger than they are now boys, I was different.

Different than now.

Different in the fact that on every Sunday, I would rise early and start the 'presentation'. The presentation of our little family at church. My husband back then (and yes, I still have the same husband) was a full time church worker and every Sunday, rain, snow or shine, we were all put together. Color coordinated. Matchy, matchy.

Fact is, it was important to me. I wanted us to look the part. Not that it mattered to anyone, but it was a really big deal to me.

And then one day, those little buggers (or boogers) of mine developed little minds of their own and balked at the idea of matching. And I realized that it just didn't matter.


So now on Sunday mornings, I get myself ready. The boys get themselves ready. They do have simple guidelines...shower. Comb your hair. Collared shirt.

They make me laugh. But in the end, it doesn't matter what's goin' on with their clothes because I'm seeing what's happening to their hearts.

And I am thankful.

Even if they do look a little unkempt.


Today is Mother's Day.

I am so in love with these three guys God has trusted me to raise and I am lovin' each and every day with them.

And to the one who tried to cover up the basketball sized hole in his bedroom wall (with duct tape, nonetheless), I am on to you.

I still love you, but you're in trouble.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Day At Disney

The youngest of my shrubs, Brian, performed yesterday at Disneyland.

I dropped him off at the bus and drove myself to the happiest place on earth which, I might add, was FULL of screaming children yesterday. Not just one or two, but it seemed as if every bambino there was sad.

It would be so easy to say 'MY children never cried and screamed in public' but that would be a slight exaggeration. So I won't say it.

I will say that only one of my three was a screamer....and that was only as an infant. But infancy lasts for quite a while when you have a high needs baby.

One of my babies wasn't a screamer at all. In fact he was really quiet. However, he was what we like to call 'a bolter'. That child would just up and bolt. His little legs could run so fast....and he was quiet about it. He'd just stand and run.

And then we had the easy one. Actually, he may or may not have been easy...but once he was a few hours old, I strapped him on and didn't put him down til he was, like, 28. (which means I still haven't put him down.) His one thing? He didn't (and I am NOT exaggerating) sleep thru the night until he was 10 years old.

He probably still doesn't, but now I do so it is all OK.


How'd I get off on that tangent?

Oh yeah...I video'd Brian's performance, but all you hear are crying babies.

Which is better than wailing cats any day.

(gotta put a positive spin on it.)

But the youngest in our family is growing up.


I got to the park a little early and rode Pirates and the Haunted Mansion, grabbed a raspberry white chocolate chip cookie (which I later read had 500 calories. In 1 cookie. Which was eaten by 1 person. Me. Arghh.) and listened to the concert.

I have since learned that 500 calorie cookies eaten at Disneyland while your child is performing don't count.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Another Year Older

Yesterday was my birthday and while I would rather not tell my age, I will say that the first and last digits of my age are now the same and won't be again until I am 55.


It was actually a hard week leading up to this birthday. My friend Josephine died at the ripe old age of 97. I will miss her. Lots. But I know her heart because she spoke of it often and she is in a much better place now...but I am still sad. In a peaceful way.

And then my birthday joyously came, giving me yet more time on this planet to give my own children something to talk about with their therapists when they become adults.

I take great pride in that.


So back to my birthday. Church followed by a hot dog.

Pink's! Completely, totally caloric/fat free when eaten on your birthday. It's the rule you know.
Brian posed...and got stuck.

We laughed, took pictures and wiggled his head out.

(add it it to the list, son)

After pulling weeds in my garden, Alex peeled potatoes.

And yes, he's getting big.
A little bubbly.
The prodigal son...who brought his mama tulips.

Big sigh.
My little house has flowers AND boys everywhere...can't imagine anything better.

Those guys that I like so much cooked me dinner and 'cleaned' the kitchen and sang to me and pampered me.

I'm thinking I'll need another birthday later this week.

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