Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Weekend Update

It was about time for a date night. Derrick has actually been pretty stressed at work lately as he's taken over a platoon of guys and he is just swamped with paperwork and people coming and going off the team. He just left for London yesterday and is meeting with some big whigs for a few days. SO we were all about relaxing together this weekend with the family and to the Khaki Ball!

For those not in the military, the Khaki Ball is the night when all of the guys who moved up in rank to a Chief get to celebrate. The current chiefs and their spouses go as well. It is the end to a 6? week process of training, extremely late nights and even earlier mornings,etc. We went through that when Derrick was promoted and it was definitely a night to celebrate! Being a chief is a pretty big deal as they now wear the khaki uniform that officers/upper enlisted wear, hence it's title, Khaki Ball.
It isn't really a "ball" as we think of Cinderella. It's in a nice Italian hall, though very small, and includes a 3 course dinner. They give a few speeches and play a slide show of photos of the guys and then by about 11pm everyone heads out to dance outside on the patio to a DJ. We left after dinner because it was already 11 and I had to sing in church the next morning! It was really nice to sit and laugh with my husband over dinner, which we don't do often enough.
Here are a few pics shot right before we left from my babysitter in front of my kitchen window. Pay no attention to my horrible hair cut and color at the present time. It's a growing frustration of mine to get my hair cut by someone who does not speak english! I think I am seriously going to have Derrick cut it from now on. He does a better job. (seriously!)

Other than that we hung out and got some house stuff done, let the kids "rike bikes" around the neighborhood. As you can see Val uses her feet because she is still too short for a tricycle supposedly built for a 2 year old. I should get dinner going. ciao for now!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Day 13: Venice Stroll

Sorry this is so long in coming.. but there are a LOT of photos. Believe it or not, I already narrowed it down considerably but I just am so in love with Venice I couldn't leave any more out!

Day 13: We slept in a bit and went to breakfast at the hotel. (By the way, our room was 140 euro including breakfast). Breakfast was so-so. It had the basic cold meats/cheese, yogart, cereal, toast, eggs, and sausage. They brought a pitcher of espresso and another of hot, foamy milk. This I loved!!

It was an absolutely gorgeous day, in the 70's and sunny. We walked along the water and watched the painters and artists for awhile.

Then we wandered into San Marco square and let the girls chase pigeons for what seemed like half the day. I am sure it was their favorite part of Venice! I was in heaven just walking around, snapping photos.

We shopped for masks for the girls (see more below on masks), grabbed a piece of pizza (2 euro and very tasty at the walk up stands) and went back to our hotel for a long afternoon nap. We had been using the stroller all morning and after carrying it over bridges all morning we were done!! I recommend using a backpack for your kids if you have one. We've been through several backpacks and carriers if you need a recommendation! I am currently in love with a sturdy framed hiking backpack or if you want a soft one that folds up, I recommend the Ergo. Val can still use the Ergo when necessary! (as seen below napping on Daddy's back)

We went to dinner near our hotel on the water. I had lasagna and Derrick had a very good penne pesto. We loved being able to split a bottle of wine and walk only a block back to our hotel (don't worry, we weren't even tipsy. I wouldn't do that with the kiddos!) It was very relaxing and the girls could run around freely without worry.

Rialto Bridge

Carnivale is the huge festival in February in Venice. Everyone wears masks and there are huge floats and so forth, much like Mardi Gras but better and seemingly classier. Therefore there are mask shops everywhere and it's one of the most well known souvenirs to bring back from Venice. We bought the girls each a mask from this little shop. It was really neat to watch her brush the gold leaf? on the masks. (The masks for the girls will be hung up high in their rooms for when they're older as a special keep sake) You can get a mask in Venice anywhere from 10 euro to 100 euro!
I wanted to get some night shots of San Marco so we walked back over there. It is the most romantic place to go with a loved one. We will definitely come back for a future anniversary, without children! The little (and extremely expensive so don't go there unless you are prepared to spend atleast 15 euro for a drink) cafe's on the square have orchestra's that play almost continuously. The girls loved to dance and dance. We did this more than once. It was a very good day had by all!
P.S. for Mom- This is the cuckoo clock we bought in Germany. The top dancers go around the circle to music (the clock alternates 3 songs. this feature can be turned off) and the wood chopper chops with the cuckoo bird that comes out of the green door. It's in our dining room along with a painting we bought on day 14 in Venice, photos of us on the beach in Sicily, and 2 big wooden masks from Africa. ha. what a 'theme' !

Day 12: Drive to Venice

storm clouds and CORN! ha. (we don't have corn on the cob down here..) road leading into Venice

Day 12 of our Trip back in August.. for anyone just catching up.. I kept a journal while on travel and will print these to some day show the girls. So bare with me as it can be lengthy!

We packed out and D drove my parents to the Garmisch (Germany) train station to say goodbye. It was sad but we will soon see them all the time! We were admittedly sad to leave the cool weather, bright green landscape and return to a Sicilian summer. Sicily is gorgeous and full of flowers in the spring; however, with no rain and 100 degree temps it is pretty dead, hot, and brown until Halloween! It was raining, 49 degrees, and cloudy this morning. We left how we came in! We were so lucky to have awesome weather this week.

The autostrada is easy and smooth to fllow, just as interestates in the states. While you're on it, it is actually easy to forget you are in Europe. As soon as we crossed out of Austria into Italy we saw the crazy driving, disgusting rest stops, people parking anywhere they want to and not following any rules! Ahh to be 'home'.

Luckily it is still pretty cool up here. We'd heard Venice would be awful and stinky but it's very mild in comparison to Sicily. The autostrada dead ends into the cruise ports and parking lots so it was very easy to navigate. 20 euro a day puts your car in a nice covered parking garage. We felt safe leaving our car there. You can hop a water taxi right there for 6.50 euro/single ride. I believe under 5 yrs rides free. No one ever checks your tickets that we've seen but apparently it's a hefty fine if someone happens to check that day so you should get the ticket. (A good judge of character is someone who does the right thing when no one is looking, right?) :)

We rode down the grand canal and got off at San Marco's Piazza. Unfortunately it was pouring rain and going over bridges with luggage and a stroller while holding umbrellas really stunk. The girls were crying and I stupidly wore flip flops with worn down traction on the soles so I was sliding all over the cobblestone streets and clinging to the buildings. It was absolutely ridiculous.

We found our hotel fairly quickly. We stayed at the Hotel Bisanzio- Best Western about a block from San Marco and right near the water at the mouth of the Grand Canal. It's a decent sized room with a double bed and 2 portacribs for the kids. There were exposed beams in the ceiling and atleast, a/c!

After baths, we went to eat at a restaurant recommended by the man at the front desk of our hotel. It was a few blocks from San Marco square. I wish I could remember the name of it. I think we spent 45 euro for a caraf of house wine, water, pasta for me, pizza for D. It's pricier than things in Sicily, but we knew that going in. I had expected it to be a bit worse actually!

We pretty much went back to our hotel and to bed after that since it was raining and we were tired. I'll have more a lot pics to share on day 13 & 14. It was hard to take anything decent with pouring rain off and on!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Remember the troops

April sent this to me last night (thank you!) as an email forward and I read it to Derrick. It made both of us cry, knowing all too well too many of these situations ring so true. I thought I'd share to remind us all to be eternally greatful for all that we have.


You stay up for 16 hours
He stays up for days on end

You take a warm shower to help you wake up
He goes days or weeks without running water

You complain of a 'headache', and call in sick.
He gets shot at as others are hit, and keeps moving forward

You put on your anti war/don't support the troops shirt, and go meet up with your friends.
He still fights for your right to wear that shirt.

You make sure you're cell phone is in your pocket.
He clutches the cross hanging on his chain next to his dog tags.

You talk trash about your 'buddies' that aren't with you.
He knows he may not see some of his buddies again.

You walk down the beach, staring at all the pretty girls.
He patrols the streets, searching for insurgents and terrorists.

You complain about how hot it is.
He wears his heavy gear, not daring to take off his helmet to wipe his brow.

You go out to lunch, and complain because the restaurant got your order wrong.
He doesn't get to eat today.

Your maid makes your bed and washes your clothes.
He wears the same things for weeks, but makes sure his weapons are clean.

You go to the mall and get your hair redone.
He doesn't have time to brush his teeth today.

You're angry because your class ran 5 minutes over.
He's told he will be held over an extra 2 months.

You call your girlfriend and set a date for tonight.
He waits for the mail to see if there is a letter from home.

You hug and kiss your girlfriend, like you do everyday.
He holds his letter close and smells his love's perfume.

You roll your eyes as a baby cries.
He gets a letter with pictures of his new child, and wonders if they'll ever meet.

You criticize your government, and say that war never solves anything.
He sees the innocent tortured and killed by their own people and remembers why he is fighting.

You hear the jokes about the war, and make fun of men like him.
He hears the gunfire, bombs and screams of the wounded.

You see only what the media wants you to see.
He sees the broken bodies lying around him.

You are asked to go to the store by your parents. You don't.
He does exactly what he is told even if it puts his life in danger.

You stay at home and watch TV.
He takes whatever time he is given to call, write home, sleep, and eat

You crawl into your soft bed, with down pillows, and get comfortable.
He tries to sleep but gets woken by mortars and helicopters all night long...

Remember the troops.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Be Still.

How are you all doing? Our weekend was pretty relaxing. Our very good friends, the Waller's had their baby boy Westin this weekend and we had little Kylan at our house! They wore each other out and got lots of outside/park time in! Valerie felt a little left out one evening as Eleanor was choosing Kylan over Val so Derrick made her an ice cream cone while the little ones were upstairs getting ready for bed. This is the disaster that came with it!
We have been trying to rest on our non school-pwoc-ballet-praise team practice days. Today has been one of them. We had no power for 4 hours this morning and at first I was so irritated. However it forced us to leave our computers, tv, phone calls, and to-do lists behind to sit in our pj's and read together. We played outside for a long time, had fun making snowmen pictures with cotton balls, and read snowmen books. We all need those relaxing days where no one can contact us, we sit still and really enjoy each other. They're upstairs napping now so I'm about to get some reading done myself with a cup of coffee. Have a good one!