Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013

Happy Halloween!  We had a little decorating party with our friends Benny and Max.  Pumpkins, bats, cats and witches were decorated and sometimes redecorated with a different choice of candy or sprinkle.  Yummmm!
Or sometimes the frosting didn't even make it to the cookie and was directly deposited at the final destination... some may call this cheating... others might call it efficiency.

While we were waiting for another batch of cookies out of the oven, Blake provided us with some entertainment with his latest trick of kicking up his back leg.

A quick picture of Blake with his friend, Betty/Wonder Woman.  Not sure where Blake's boots went to his Woody costume?!  But he sure couldn't take his eyes off Wonder Woman. 
Trick or Treat! with our buddies, Max and Benny.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

When in Rome...

do as the Romans... and we did.  We had three days to take in Rome at our leisure.  Louie and Blake slowed our pace to take in the streets of Rome in addition to a few famous sights. One of our favorite times of the day was from dusk into the evening.  Our boys were rested from their naps and ready to pick up the pace.  We saw many of the monuments at night, enjoyed dinners in the cool autumn air and stopped for gelato whenever it presented itself. 
Louie at a children's wooden toy store dressed as Pinnochio
Trevi Fountain...Blake is always curious to see if Louie smiled for the camera.

Roman Colleseum

The history of the Sistene Chapel was my favorite.  Michelangelo had to be talked into taking the job and only on the condition that he would design it his way.  When he started the figures were smaller and more detailed.  As the project began to drag on, the figures on the ceiling began to get larger with less detail.  I guess we all have deadlines.  But I loved it.  Cody and I traded off with the kids to best concentrate on the amazing art and details of the history.  Saturday morning we visited a local farmers market.  So interesting to shop in their spice bins, gawk at their gorgeous flowers and smell their rich leather.  Sunflowers instantly make me think of this market.
As we were walking down the street, I watch Blake as he rounds this corner at top speed.  Not sure if he's invaded someone's private courtyard or just walked into a government office, I run after him and literally stopped in my tracks at this scene...

Not a soul is in there but Blake running around on the cobblestone paths. When the paths soon became railroad tracks and I knew this would not be a quick stop! 
The Spanish Steps and gelato are the perfect combination...slowed down our steps to enjoy the view.
And this was only the first three days of our family vacation.  We loved Rome and were sad to leave.  I think this will be a favorite repeat destination in the future.
Our vacation continued on a cruise to Sicily, Athens, Ephesus and finally the island of Crete.
Sicily:  We ventured beyond the port to a small village called Terra Mina.  It was a series of switchbacks to this village at the top of a mountain.  I ventured into a little shop which caught my eye with handwoven linens.  I have to say this is not a typical store for me.  Usually, I am caught up in the pottery stores or bookstores collecting children's stories from other countries.  But today, I spent time talking to the owner about her products, life in Sicily and our children.  Early in our conversation, I had mentioned both of of our boys are adopted.  She shared they had two boys and had always wanted a girl.  They were contacted by their priest saying there was a young woman at the convent who was pregnant and her elderly boyfriend wouldn't marry her.  So she came to convent seeking help to place her baby.  The priest contacted the shop owner.  Sadly, she couldn't take this baby girl that she really wanted to join their family.  Since it wasn't through proper government channels, the shop owner was afraid of extortion and eventually loosing the baby to the government.  So they they chose not to take the baby girl at all which made her very sad.  But she ended the story telling me how much she loves her two boys but claims that adopted babies are loved twice as much.  First they are loved because they were wanted.  Second, they are loved when they are placed with a family.  I thought that was a really beautiful way to explain it. 
It was overcast this day.  But this is a view below the town of Terra Mina.  

Athens:  We can't talk about it too much.  It was one of those days we have to focus on the end result and not the details.  Cody HAD to get a family picture in front of the Acropolis.  Simple enough.  We can do this.  However...downpour of rain, no umbrellas, only sandals, carried the kids up huge slippery stone steps with 10,000 other people, temps dropped, got the picture of us drenched, meeting point didn't work, were separated for two hours, took a break for hot chocolate and somehow met back at the cruise ship. 
Athens, Greece:  Acropolis.  I don't know how the camera made us look dry.  Its actually pouring down rain?!
Warming up with hot chocolate!  

 Ephesus:  What an adventure!  At the port, found a local bus to take us to the ruins.  Local bus means a van packed with people sitting and standing and windows opened for ventilation.  Hilarious.  Through some sort of communication, we figured out that the local bus stop was 5 km from the ruins.  Thankfully, there were a few taxis and caught a ride.  The ruins of Ephesus were amazing.  Loved the Rick Steves audio that Cody downloaded from the website.  Blake slept most of time in the stroller as we learned about ancient society's way of life and learning.
This two story building was their library.  At this time in history, this is when they switched from writing on stone and created books out of papyrus.
I don't have a picture of it... but the public bathroom was designed in a circle.  Why?  Because this is where the men would take their time to do their business -- in both meanings of the word. As we exit the ruins, we come across the souvenir shops and were stopped in our tracks nudging each other at the sign below!  
On the local bus heading back to the cruise ship.

Crete:  A gorgeous day at a gorgeous location!  The temperature was a perfect 70 degrees while we walked along the boardwalk and soaked up the sun.  Before getting back on the ship we enjoyed a crepe and shopped the markets. 
Life on the cruise ship is the best kept secret for small children.  We enjoyed breakfast on our balcony and were able to examine other cruise ships as we came into each port.  On this particular day, the cruise ship examinations seem to be more interesting than breakfast.

Louie was old enough to go to the kids club.  They were great!  He enjoyed different activities and themes through the day:  pirates, dinosaurs, art, games, cooking, animals and insects.  Below, Louie in his chef's hat.

At the end of the week, the kids club put on a talent show.  This drew quite a crowd.  Here is Louie doing the "chicken dance" with his age group.  Hysterical!
Here is his "Royal Caribbean Medal" for participating in the talent show.  So proud!
Then of course, Blake had to have one like his big brother, Louie.
Overall, the trip went by too quickly!  We had a great time!!!  I think cruising will be in our future once again.