Monday, December 31, 2012

Taormina e' Siracusa.

A lovely view from Parco Communale in Taormina.

Essential Pit Stop: Bam Bar, Taormina
Teatro Greco.

Sam and I got a solo day in's was so relaxing and fun!

Lunch @ La Volpe e l'Uva in the main piazza. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Buon Natale!

The kids put on a little Christmas play at our Chapel on Christmas Eve.  What a good looking cast!
Our little wise man.
Mary and Joseph. (aka Elise and Brady)

Our "little bit bigger" wise man.
After the Christmas Eve service we returned home for a tradition that started in my family many years ago.  Each of the kids got to open a Christmas ornament and put it on the tree.  This year they each got an ornament from our trip to Germany.  It's so wonderful to tell the stories of each ornament and it's meaning for each child when we decorate the tree together.  A family favorite it still Elise's Humpty Dumpty ornament from the Christmas when she was two.  It's sentimental value comes from her classic quote "I love mommy.  I love daddy.  I love humpty dumpty!"  

Christmas morning fun. 
Our very own White Christmas!  The temperate at our house was 55 degrees, so we headed up to Mt. Etna to enjoy a touch of winter.

Merry Christmas to All!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Uncle Sam is Here!

My brother Sam arrived today to spend the holidays with us.  He settled right in with his fan club for a two week adventure through Sicily!  (Sorry about the messy room, I think it was clean when he arrived!)

Playing calcio with Davide (our neighbor) in the backyard.

Kid's choice:  Dinner at Donna Fortunata!  Carlo let's them make their own pizza AND put it in the wood-fired oven, too.  (Note: they barely even eat their well-loved creations, but it's always the FIRST thing they want to do when we have family in town!)

The kids did not make this pizza!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Frohliche Weinachten!

After our two day stay in Nuremberg we returned to Munich for MORE snow, MORE markets, and MORE of beautiful Bavaria! 
When in Thai food!  Okay, guess that's not quite right but I'm pretty sure we had Thai meals at least 3 times during our 5 day visit!  It's just not easy to come by in Sicily and it sounded so warm and comforting during our chilly snow-filled ventures. 
Lebkuchen! (a.k.a. Gingerbread)  The kids opted for gummy bears again, so I got this delectable holiday cookie all to myself! 

The wintery view from our hotel in downtown Munich. 
Okay, we didn't just eat Thai food in Germany.  We met the Smiley's at this brewery just off the Marienplatz in Munich.  (Thanks Rick Steeves!)  I had a beef and dumping stew with holiday spices.

Too much!

When we got home, Elise wrote in her journal "I had lunch with my best friend Tatum today!"

More kinder punch! 

Marienplatz by night.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our "Vacation Home" in Nuremberg

We have a funny little family saying that started about the time we arrived here in Sicily. After packing up all our belongings and leaving Virginia, floating through Pennsylvania, Delaware and the surrounding States for a few months our (then) 3 and almost two year olds got bit confused about exactly where "home" was... Then we arrived in Sicily and stayed in hotel for a month before finally settling down in our current home.  (where we quickly prepared to welcome our little Lucas into the world!)  As we tried to make Sicily our home we noticed that every time we left the house for an overnight trip the kids thought we were moving again. In an attempt to calm their fears and comfort them we began referring to the places we were traveling to as our "vacation homes." So now every time we travel, the kids want to hear about about our new vacation home - which always makes us chuckle a bit since we don't in fact own homes all over Europe, we've never even owned a home at all. I guess for now I'll just be glad that they feel "at home" whenever we're together!
The apartment that we recently rented just outside of Nuremberg is worthy of note - maybe because my house in Sicily NEVER feels warm in the winter...maybe because it was almost Christmas and there was magic in the air...maybe because everything around us was sparkly and snowy...or maybe because Rainier and his wife had so lovingly prepared a quaint little half-timber cottage in Bavaria just for us (or at least we felt that way!) - whatever the reason, it was one of the coziest and most inviting places we've ever stayed.

Perhaps I was also a bit sentimental since their use of greens, berries, and other treasures from nature reminded me so much of my Mom and my Grammy...

Simple. Charming. Natural.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

snow, SnOw, sNoW, SnoW, SNOOOOOOW!!

This past weekend we headed north to enjoy lots of fresh snow, quaint Bavarian towns, and festive Christmas markets.  Our first stop was Nuremberg.  From there we also visited Erdlinger and Bamberg.  It was a magical five days in our own little winter wonderland!

We arrived in Munich and drove about two hours north to reach Nuremberg.  We decided to stop by the city center to enjoy the Christkindl Market and get some dinner before heading to our apartment just outside the city. 
Most of the markets are located in the main "platz" or square of the city.  As in Italy, this usually centers around the city's main church or cathedral. 
What to dine on in Nuremberg?...Hot Nuremberg sausage from a market stand, of course. 

Our first experience with cotton candy...honestly, the boys would not even try it.  Didn't think I'd have to work so hard to get them to eat a mountain of sugar!  Well considering there were shops filled with candies, cookies, and other sweets around every corner - I guess I would have chosen something else as well.  They ended up with gummy bears instead. 
Off to Bamberg!   We were looking forward to enjoying SOME snow in Germany, but I honestly did NOT expect for it to snow heavily and almost constantly for the duration of our 5 day visit.  Normally, I would have been absolutely overjoyed (ask Josh!), but the reality of dressing, undressing, and dealing with 3 small children and their snow clothes was a bit daunting!
Everyone has to taste it!
Survival Tip #739 - stop for a hot cocoa and bathroom break approximately once an hour!  We usually just shared one hot cocoa as a family and gave everyone the chance to warm up their fingers and toes.  It was a good and necessary system!

Kinder punch!  Another welcomed cold weather tonic. 
Thank goodness for a hand-me-down coat I had stashed in the closet.  I hadn't thought to try on the boys' coats until the night we were leaving...turns out, Caleb did not fit into his 18-24 month coat (kind of good news since he's almost 4) and Lucas needed an upgrade, too.

"Snow Ice Cream"
The first snowman of the season - and the first one Elise has built all by herself!  Can you find it??
Lovin' it!