Sunday, January 27, 2013

Girls' Day: Taormina

My sweet friend Bethany surprised Becca Garber and I with a day on the town while we still had the chance for a getaway before our newborns arrive!  She organized the dads to take on kid duty for Saturday AND Sunday and we were whisked away to enjoy meandering the quaint old streets, perusing art galleries, sipping leisurely cups of cappuccino, and best of all...MASSAGES at the Hilton!  It was a lovely treat and I'm so thankful for such thoughtful and loving friends. (not to mention the chance to go into all the little shops and galleries that I would NEVER take my band of sidekicks into!!)

One of my favorite ceramics shops!  I WILL actually buy something there before we leave...more on that later!

The view from our hotel room in Giardini Naxos.  Makes me feel relaxed just looking at the picture!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Elise's First Field Trip: Agriturismo Roccadia

Yesterday I had the pleasure of going along on Elise's first school field trip. They've been learning about communities and life cycles, so we loaded up the buses and headed to a working farm in Carlentini. (in the Province of Siracusa, about 40 minutes from the school) The weather was crisp, but beautiful and the drive along the coast and through miles of farmland was just as nice. As we meandered through the fattoria (farm) we discovered chatty peacocks and guinea fowls, friendly horses, hungry cows, and even some new baby lambs nursing from their mamas. 

After viewing (and feeding and petting) all the animals we headed to the citrus groves where we saw juicy lemons and oranges waiting anxiously to be picked! I think the farmer may have underestimated the 50+ kindergarteners' enthusiasm when he said they could walk through the grove to pick ONE orange. Almost instantaneously, there were kids plucking oranges from trees, climbing on every low lying branch, and sprinting through the cheery yellow clover looking for more treasure to pick. With a few shouts of "BASTA!" (enough!) we were able to collect everyone (and their oranges) so we could continue on our walk back to the farm house to make fresh squeezed juice and eat a pizza lunch. It was a banner day!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

You win some, you lose some.

Those were the first words that came to mind after our attempt to take the kids sledding on Mt. Etna yesterday. I'm not sure exactly what went wrong...maybe the fact that the boys fell asleep on the way up the mountain and Lucas woke up feeling like a monster...maybe it was the fact that in said "moster-like" state I asked Lucas to share a pack of fruit snacks with Caleb (who'd just found them on the floor of the car)...perhaps it was the very very cold wind that was blowing us to and fro... I guess it could have also been the blackened eye and scratched nose that Caleb received from our last sled ride...All I do know is that for one hour of playing in the snow, there was an insane amount of crying involved. We did finally manage to convince Caleb that stopping for hot chocolate on the way home might just make him feel a little better - it was an unusually hard sell, but in the was the cioccolata calda with panna on top that made everything better.
Clear and beautiful (and windy!) on top...though sadly, due to having at least one crying child at all time during our sledding adventure, I didn't actually manage to get any pictures of the kids in the snow.

I wish solving the problems of the world was always this easy.

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's that time again...

'Tis the season for oranges in Sicily! That means lots of cut up fresh fruit, a few new orange-inspired recipes to try and of course, fresh squeezed orange juice!!! We're so spoiled! 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

On Location with SingingDrJosh

My wonderful husband is many things - among them, a very patient and thorough teacher.  He loves taking care of kids (yes, he is the one in our household who takes care of all things "sick" - especially when the stomach virus sweeps through!)  He also loves music and thrives off of innovation - always giving himself unique challenges when the inspiration hits.   I think he used to dream of being a rock musician...and professional athlete (and maybe one day if this Pediatrics thing doesn't work out....well...we're getting too old for that now, aren't we?!)  Anyway, for about the last 2 years he's been combining his passions for teaching, medicine, and music into a new genre he calls "musical medical advice."  (Did I mention he's pretty smart, too!)

I figure it's about time I do my part to help promote Josh's musical medical career so here's a sneak peak from our recent shoot...(read:  NEW SONG COMING SOON!)

Check out his site if you have the chance...and subscribe, too!  Find him at!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The things they say...

Our sweet Caleb has been talking in complete sentences since before he was two.  When anyone comes for a visit he is capable of talking for several days straight - barely pausing to breathe...  He is a little boy with a LOT to say and in an attempt to express ALL the thoughts swirling around in his funny 3 year old brain he often uses or combines big words in the silliest ways...  I suppose today he fancied himself a budding dietician since our morning breakfast discussion went like this:

C:  Mom, did you know that oatmeal has profein in it?  Profein is like fat – it gives you energy but you shouldn’t have too much. 

M:  Well, I’ll have to read the label to see how much protein is in oatmeal.  One thing oatmeal does have that’s good for you is fiber.

C:  Will that make me fibernate? (with a chuckle)

M:  Hmmm, no it won’t make you hibernate – but it will help you go _______!

C:  (Hilarious laughter)

The conversation ended with him warning me about the dangers of drinking too much Ginger Ale and a message about the amount of fat in various kinds of milk…good gracious.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Life shared.

A few photo favorites I collected in December and didn't have the chance to share...

Mandarins growing in our back yard.
Sicily...I love you.
Cactus Christmas Decor in Taormina.

Mandarini e' Lampone

Gift baskets we made for the clinic staff at the hospital.
Wild irises from our New Years Day hike.
"Christmas" or "Italian" themed pasta! Yum - either way!
Connoli Siciliani - fresh from town.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The things they say...

It's no secret and it's nothing earth shattering, but kids really do say the cutest, most awkward, and most hilarious things in their quest to communicate with the grown up world around them.  I am absolutely fascinated by the journey of language development and for years I have tucked away scraps of paper with scrawled down quotes or passed along funny little quips in phones conversations with family members - all the while promising myself that I would NEVER forget these sweet, funny, and sometimes embarrassing moments.  Well, very few of those sayings (and I'm sure there are thousands by now!) have become part of our family's lore and for the most part I'm sad to admit that they're a fading memory as there are often to-do lists or new stories that take their place in my mind.  

Since the whole reason I enjoy blogging is to give our family a place for memories (knowing full well that I'm not crafty or organized enough to do anything else...and I have a terrible memory) I figured maybe I'd try to be a bit more proactive in creating a space for "the things they say" here - it's kind of an experiment, so we'll see how it goes.
 Elise is nearing five and a half, so it's not very often that she says things in a way that surprises us.   That being said, our first conversation of the day was worthy of note.  She came down the hallway - still trying to convince herself to shake off the sleepy cobwebs of the night.  None of us had really noticed the storm brewing outside, though it was unusually dark (even for 6:30 a.m.) The boys and I were settling into breakfast and instead of joining us, she made her way to the couch to cuddle up with a blanket for just one more cozy minute.  It was then that she exclaimed "Mom, I just saw the sky turn off and then on and then off again!"  She hadn't noticed that it was a streak of lightening that had made it seem like the sky was in fact off and then on and then off again.  Caleb of course chimed in and said he had turned the switch and made the sky's light turn on...and then we all turned our chairs toward the big picture windows in the dining room so we could watch God's morning light show and eat our oatmeal.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Milestones in Mothering

I know my kids grow and change a lot without me even noticing; it just happens.  Sometimes, though, there are very distinct milestones and moments that cause me to pause and reflect on where we've been and where we're going...  Some of them bring giant smiles and cheers and others bring a bittersweet tear to my eye.  First smiles, first tooth, first steps, first words...first day of school...there are too many to count (and certainly too many to keep track of in this scattered maternal mind of mine!)

Today I had one of those silly bittersweet moments, which I 'd been expecting (and kind of wishing for...I thought.)  

For as long as I can remember every time we asked Lucas anything that required a "yes" or "no" response he would answer us with an enthusiastic, whole body wiggling "uh-huh."  It bothered me a little because I didn't think it was the most polite response and I often couldn't differentiate between the yes or no so I'd have to routinely ask for confirmation of his answer.  Inevitably, today when everything I asked him was answered with a very clear, very distinct "YES" or "NO" I felt my heart dip just a little.  Where was my funny little high pitched "uh-huuuuuuuh?"  Is it really gone for good?

I know he's not packing his bags for college just yet, but even tiny milestones for our littlest ones can make it seem that way don't grow up too fast my sweet and crazy little bundle of boy!

Please excuse the runny nose and dirty face!  We were trying to capture a picture of Lucas in this vintage (albeit waaaay too small) Phillies shirt that he's recently decided is the ONLY thing he wants to wear.  **Note:  Of course the entourage had to come along and sadly he thinks its a soccer ball shirt.  (It will soon be on its way to Utah for my nephew who's due at the end of the month!)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The new year.

Each change of the calendar year brings with it a variety of expected and unexpected changes.  Some of these are joyful...and others are...well, not so joyful.  For us, 2013 seems to have more than its fair share of changes already on the horizon.  Here are a few that I've found myself mulling over a lot recently:

*  The welcoming of our 4th child
*  An international move with said newborn and our 3 "big guys"
*  A transition to civilian life
*  A new (temporary) home and community to belong to
*  A return to student life as Josh plans to finish his Masters at Duke Divinity School beginning this August

Hmmm...seems like a lot to get my head around these days - although I don't find myself feeling overly stressed about these changes most of the time.  I guess because for the most part I like to ignore them and pretend the majority of them aren't happening.  (with the exception of welcoming our new baby girl in May, of course)  Between the U.S. Navy and the obvious work of the Holy Spirit in my life, I suppose I've learned a little about what I can and can't control and what I should and shouldn't fret about - that helps a bit too!  So...2013...ready or we go!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Calcio Catania!

Sam managed to come for a visit smack in the middle of two home games for Catania's soccer team, so we didn't have the chance to actually watch them play. was fun to track down the stadium and the men at the gates were kind enough to let us inside for a little exploration!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Off to Cefalu with Sam and the Gang.

My sweet friend Bethany and I joined forces to take our guests and our troop of 5 little ones on a day trip to Cefalu.  It's one of my favorite cities in Sicily, so I'm always excited to share it with visitors who come our way!  The kids were great and we made it to everything on our "to do" list.  (even jumping in waves in January!)

Elise packed her own bathing suit and beach towel!  She didn't go under, but she was still more brave than I.

Sam couldn't resist a dip in the Tyrrenian Sea.  Brrrrr.

Playing on the ruins after the big climb up La Rocca.

...another view that I never tire of...