Monday, July 25, 2011

Catching Up

Hello! Today, I wanted to list some tasks I have completed that were on my summer (year long? ;)) to-do list:
*Cleaned out all the laundry room cupboards. They had become a catch all during the school year.
*Worked on my garden so far this summer. My goal was to plant foods we regularly ate to cut costs and provide my family with pesticide-free foods. I have done that. We have had leaf lettuce like crazy-to the chagrin of my youngest daughter. ;) She eats it, but lets me know she's not in the mood for it "again". We have had zucchini, green beans, peas and best of all-BASIL/pesto! :) YUM! My daughter used this recipe:,1946,FOOD_9936_26396_RECIPE-PRINT-FULL-PAGE-FORMATTER,00.html and I couldn't stop eating it! :)
*I have been running almost daily, except for our Italy trip since my running shoes were in my lost baggage. I have taken off a couple little pounds. :)
*I have been reading more. Today I start a book that we are reading as a church life group called "Radical" by David Platt. Supposed to really make us take stock in our faith lives.
*I have been talking to colleges about beginning my masters degree, although I'm not sure where my future will lead me.
*I have tried new craft projects-expanded my idea of "creating". I made my second "creation" in 4 days. :) Thank you, Pinterest. :) I've encouraged more creativity in my girls too, who have been writing and creating more, too! :)
I think that's all for now. :) Below are pics of my two latest craft attempts! :) I recently posted, but will post again. I got the original ideas here and here. Let it be known that they can sell their wonderful crayon art because it is beautiful! Mine... well, it's "art". What's that saying about beauty in the eye of the beholder? ;)

Have a fabulous week! :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I, my friends, have discovered a new time-waster, I mean learning tool. ;)
It is "Pinterest is a place to catalog the things you love, Pin anything that catches your eye" is what they say about themselves. Previously, here, I mentioned I'd like to "create" or craft more. So, I saw this art piece on Pinterest, pinned it, thought it over and the girls and I created our own version:
It is not nearly as neat or beautiful as this artist's, but it was my first try and my daughters enjoyed creating them.

This week's art piece is this "painted wall art for non-artists"

And maybe a doily lamp! :)

I'm also planning my sister in law's wedding shower and have found lovely ideas like these (she is having mason jars as part of her reception)
I'm going ot make invitations to the shower like these
a possible food idea with marshmallows the colors of the wedding
and flowers on the tables like this with flowers the color of her wedding

But, you type something in, you look at the images/articles, you "pin" them and wow, the time flies! :)

I hope you are well and your happy time is passing slowly, while your sad moments are fleeting.
Hope your week starts off wonderfully!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


On our trip to Italy I took four books:
Rick Steve's Italy 2010
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
Mile Markers...Why Women Run by Kristin Armstrong
In The Company of Others (Father Tim series #2) by Jan Karon

I read the Jan Karon book completely and a few pages in each of the others. I thought I would read more, on the trains and planes, but I was stressing out about delayed flights, where everyone was sitting... will this re-started plane make it to its destination? I did some sudoku and fill in puzzles as we took off and landed and read very little. I also listened to the Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, which we had bought on cd to listen to, and I downloaded to my ipod. My spare time in cities was spent trying to locate our baggage for the first few cities, and then taking pictures, which I dearly love. I read a lot more in Rome at our apartment in our nap/downtime. I finished the Jan Karon book.

I headed back to the library today with the girls, my reading appetite whetted, again. :) I picked up one teen/youth fiction chapter book: The Visconti House by Elisbeth Edgar about a girl who lives in Australia in an old house once owned by an Italian man. It's good so far.

I picked up one other from the juvenile fiction section: The steps Across the Water by Adam Gopnik The cover and cover blurb sound different, in an interesting way.
I have a nonfiction book I wanted to read before we left but got caught up in packing (fruitless effort? ;)) and am anxious to read it. It is On the Road with Francis of Assisi, since I read some about him before our trip and as we wandered, following his steps.
I grabbed a book in the "just returned new adult book" section, mostly because it made me think of my husband and his puns and goofy jokes: The Pun Also Rises by John Pollack
I had enjoyed some Stuff You Missed In History Class podcasts about the Medici family and then we heard a vast amount about them while in Italy. So, I picked up one nonfiction book about them.
The nonfiction book is Murder of a Medici Princess One more fiction book, linked to Italy, is Signora Da Vinci

Will I finish them? Even start them? It remains to be seen. Although, I haven't been called about any more pending classroom teaching jobs... I got down to the last two candidates in two Christian School jobs, but my downfall was that the other candidate "had experience" of their own classroom and I did not. Frustrating. I'm thinking of becoming a librarian. :) Hope you are well, Dear Reader.

Update: Finished The Visconti House on 7/21/2011 Good read. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I've often stated how much I like to write and receive letters. Yesterday I began the challenging task of a letter I did not enjoy. I was writing a letter to American Airlines after our unpleasant experience flying to and from Italy. Yes, all 8 bags were lost, but it was more than that. We came across three planes that didn't work properly-thankfully we arrived home in one piece! :) We encountered rude people, when the situations we were put in weren't our fault. Our flight to Italy was supposed to take 12-14 hours and it took over 24. Our flight home was supposed to take 12-14 hours and it took over 48... Among other issues. So, I began the letter, requesting compensation, etc. Not fun, but necessary.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer To-Do List

At the beginning of the summer we made a list of things we wanted to do over the summer. We have accomplished some, like number 8 ;) and others hopefully will be finished in the next month before the girls start school. They start earlier this year, starting 11th and 7th grades a month from yesterday.

1. Visits to the two local pools
2. Library visits/reading program (check)
3. Local metro park that is special to our family (check)
4. Zoo (check)
5. eat outside at Sonic {this is a restaurant that has drive-up, like the old A&W restaurants}
6. Kids cooking/cooking as a family (we've done this once, I'm hoping much more before school...)
7. Get ice cream from the ice cream truck {this one might not be accomplished. We used to have a truck that stopped almost every summer night, but it hasn't been by at all this summer... maybe gelatto at every stop in Italy made up for it? ;))
8. Italy Trip!! (check :)) Next we need to make sure it's all documented and scrapbooked before it's forgotten!
9. New local taco restaurant, as well as two other dinner spots {all three are within walking distance and we have walked to 2/3}
10. Camps for girls {our youngest has done basketball and our oldest is going to her cross country camp early August}
11. Write letters to family and friends
12. cookout for my husband's company {on the calendar for this weekend}
13. Family basketball/knockout tournament {a game where you try to score before the person in front of you in line, it's fun! :)}
14. Church lifegroup cookout at our house (check, the weekend before we left)
15. Jeni's ice cream trip {Jeni's is ice cream made with local ingredients-very yummy, still need to make the trip...}
16. Sleepovers {each girl has a friend/two over, family-just us four in the basement, and the girls have their local cousins over}
17. Art museum {Although the girls said they just had two weeks of "art" experience... that may have to wait until right before school starts ;)}
18. Topiary Park {There is a local park full of unique topiaries, and we've never been there}
19. Youngest daughter wanted to: practice basketball, soccer, sew and write, begin stories. She has completed all.
20. Camping in our camper {We still need to pick some dates... our calender is getting more full as I type this list! :)}
21. Relax, sleep in, stay up late (check)
22. Eat outside (check)
23. Movie nights (we saw X-Men First Class right after school was out and we hope to see Harry Potter tonight)
24. My goals: ride my bike more-I have, run-I have/ran 6 on Saturday/am training for the half-marathon, read-I have including finishing the latest Jan Karon book while on our trip, work more with camera-of course I did that on our trip, and garden-I have gardened and we are getting lettuce, green beans, zucchini, and strawberries, too! So, all of these are (check)
25. Sit on our new front porch and listen to the rain (check)
26. Local Farmer's Market
27. Bike to Farmer's Market and Library
28. Create a place to capture gratitude, and get back to doing it regularly
29. Enjoy homemade ice cream {hmmm, my list is going to make me fat! ;)}
30. Watch less T.V., unplug from electronics (check-it helped that tv for the last two weeks has been in Italian ;))
31. Walk around our local uptown, maybe attend their monthly evening activities, it's a nice town, but we haven't been up to it much lately.
32. Hike (6 local metroparks and dams)
33. Water balloon fight
34. Sprinkler fun
35. Bubbles {I have always loved bubbles :)}
36. Look at the stars, search for constellations
37. Family game night(s) {My youngest daughter and I love to play games, but my husband and older daughter have to be in the mood ;)}
38. Have a tea party/picnic day
39. Girls movie evening with my sis in law (check, we went to see Midnight in Paris, got our nails done and had dinner out-was a very fun evening!)
40. Go on walks: with or without dogs, after dark, evening or in the rain

Looks like less than half have been "checked off" my list. Lots to do in the month ahead! :) What has been on your list for this summer?

Sunday, July 17, 2011


After two weeks, we have returned home. Italy was beautiful! Here is a recap... The above photo is our daily breakfast while at a bed and breakfast in Florence, about mid way through our trip.
We started our journey as a family of eight. My husband and myself, our two daughters, my mother-in-law and father-in-law, my sister-in-law and her fiancee. We took flights from the US to Venice... we had some flight issues, including missing a connecting flight due to "heat sensor issues" in the plan from Chicago, causing a layover in Helsinki, and an hour and a half on the tarmac. After said flight issues (more than I listed here), we arrived in Venice, but without all 8 of our checked bags... they were "lost". So, bagless, we headed to Venice for two nights. The hotel was in a less busy area of the town and was very nice. We took a tour that had us walking around, hearing the history in the morning, a break for us to find lunch and then heading back for a boat tour in the evening.
Next, we headed on to Vernazza, one of the Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre means 5 towns, and Vernazza was the one we stayed in. One day we went to the Northern most town and hiked back to Vernazza. The hike was 3K and took us about 2 1/2 hours-it was on the side of the cliff, sometimes with no railing, just a drop off. It was scary, invigorating and a joy for the eyes. Beautiful sights, wonderful food and wine and swims in the ocean. We still didn't receive our bags, so we bought swimsuits, sunscreen and a few necessities.
The next day we all traversed on to Florence, another beautiful, historically significant town. Florence was more busy than the first two towns, quite a change. On our second day there we took a tour which bussed us first to Sienna, then on to an organic farm that showed us around their family farm, served us a delightful lunch and wines all made there except cheese. Delicious! After lunch, we boarded the bus and headed to San Gimignano, the city of towers, and after that we went to Pisa. Yes, we took the silly photos holding up the leaning towers. ;) We returned to our hotel to find that our bags had still not arrived.
We called and told the airport to send our bags home, when they had been found. We were going on to Assisi, my parent-in-laws were heading on to Rome and my sis-in-law and her beau were heading to the Amalfi Coast. Too much trouble to try to get the right bags to the right people in three spots.
We four went to Assisi and followed in St Francis and St Clare's footsteps. Amazing, simply beautiful, the religious sentiment and the town, too. Not nearly as touristy as Florence and peaceful. It was warm, but it had a wonderful breeze. It was nice for us to share that time just us four.
The next morning the four of us got on a train and headed to Rome, where we were all meeting back up for the remaining last three days. Amazing ruins everywhere you looked! At this point I was nearly on information overload, seeing the statue of David in Florence, as well as many other historical artworks, then Sistine Chapel and Vatican City in Rome, the Coliseum, so much to take in, so much to learn or relearn... a once in a lifetime family trip, for sure!
Then, we had more flight issues, and learned from a neighbor that only 6/8 bags had arrived at home. A missed connection (our flight from Rome to Madrid was held up to wait for a late family-thirty minutes late, which put us eleventh in line to take off...) you guessed it, missing our flight from Madrid to JFK. We had gone through security and all eight of us ran through the airport to make it with a minute to spare, so we thought...The plane was still at the gate in Madrid but they told us, even though we had one minute to gate closing time, we couldn't get on. :( The airline wouldn't check for another flight, just told us we were scheduled for the same time... the next day. A total of thirteen people missed that flight... The airline put us up in a nearby hotel, with three free meals. We didn't go venture out, knowing we'd have to spend more money, when we could have free meals at our hotel. It had internet and a nice pool, which made it bearable. :) The weather was beautiful that evening!
The next day we hopped onto our flight and then sat in JFK for our four hour layover... then our plane from JFK to our home airport wouldn't start, so we sat on the tarmac some more and they came and jumpstarted our plane... always makes the passenger feel safe. ;) But, we made it around 11 pm, exhausted and ready to sleep in our own beds. :) Another bag came while we were in Madrid, but my husband's was still missing when arrived home. It came on Friday, twelve hours after we had been home. No luggage for two weeks... We had packed too much, probably, and were very thankful not to have to lug them uphill to some hard-to-reach hotels, but it was frustrating, also.
I have uploaded the (about) 1500 pictures from my camera, as well as our girls' cameras. I need to weed them out, still, get rid of duplicates, etc, but that will come later this week. I have been catching up on emails and reading blogs, as well as doing the small bit of laundry we had to do. Another bonus of losing luggage? ;)
Thank you for making it all the way through this post! :) I will be posting more, and more regularly, now that hte preparation for international travel and the actual trip are over. :) Hugs to you, dear reader! :)