Thursday, February 28, 2013

A week in the life... all started on the car ride back home from Agrigento...the first signs that yet another seasonal cold was upon us.  Caleb was quite unhappy and had a fever, plus he had a cough that was nagging and seemed to be getting worse...

Fast Forward to Day 6 of said "seasonal cold" and here is our week in review. 

We've had:

*  6 gloopy gloppy eyes filled with conjunctivitis (pink eye)
*  5 continual days of fevers
*  4 nights with 5 - 10 shout outs for Mom and Dad
*  3 days since I took a shower (yuck!)
*  2 sick parents and a mom with no voice and shortness of breath
*  1 little girl with a double ear infection

+ a LOT of coughing, whining, and movies!!!

Thankfully, for a family with young children we are usually quite healthy...and this week has been a giant exception to that general rule.  Please pray that we all get healthy soon!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One Last Time: Scala dei Turkei

I don't know what is it about this place, but it just makes me happy.  It's simple and beautiful and there's something so captivating about walking along a serene stretch of sand, watching the kids roll up their pants, slip off their shoes and gleefully explore the tide pools...not to mention the majestic view of a towering white stone cliff jutting out into the clear blue Mediterranean Sea...sigh...
Well, first things first...we were quite surprised when we rounded the corner near our usual parking spot and found that the road had been washed away (what you can't see from the picture is the 50 foot drop off down to the sea that's just on the other side of that "guard" rail - yikes!)...oh, and now on to the pretty stuff!

Late afternoon, just before the sun sets is my favorite time to walk along the beach - the long shadows, sparkling ripples in the sea, and sun-kissed landscape are almost magical.
Being brrrrrave and enjoying the tide pools.

My rock band.
Elise and Caleb have recently decided that when they grow up they want to be explorers (they ask us over and over again to tell them about explorers that lived a long time ago)...I think they're off to a pretty good start!

Farewell for now, I hope we meet again someday...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fiori di Mandorla

Giro Sicilia...

We decided to mix business and pleasure this weekend since we needed to drive across the island to renew Elise' passport and we wanted to enjoy some favorite spots along the southern coast while the almond blossoms were still in bloom...and so began our "Giro Sicilia" (around Sicily) road trip...

Once we finished our task at the Consulate in Palermo we took the loooong way through the middle of the island (since we were traveling from the northern coast to the southern coast) - Josh very graciously offered to let us drive the longer route so that we could pass through the midieval town of Caccamo to see it's castle.
Panelle - a local specialty (usually street food) made from finely ground chick peas, the start to a lovely dinner at Ristorante Kokalos - overlooking the ruins of Agrigento.
...and a tasty end to the meal, Semifreddo di Mandorla - a semi-frozen (mousse-like) almond dessert
My friend Bethany and I share an affinity for any kind of accommodations that will serve us breakfast - there's something so refreshing and relaxing about waking up and walking down to a beautiful spread that I don't have to prepare!  Sigh...
Fresh almonds from the orchards at our B&B - they were a huge highlight for the kids at breakfast...though I preferred the fresh squeezed orange juice and hot from the oven croissants!
More views from around our B&B - the one week old donkey colt was sooooo cute.
On to the ruins at Eraclea Minoa.  We would have stayed longer, but the wind was so strong that Lucas could hardly stand up (it was a bit overwhelming for the rest of us as well.)
We did enjoy a quick look at the ruins and a lovely walk along the coast before we retreated to the car for an "indoor" picnic.
One of these things is not like the of Elise and Josh's favorite things to do is explore abandoned buildings (and they are plentiful in Sicily) - while the boys slept and I relaxed in the van, they tromped around a run down hotel along our route.
Another site we wanted to check out was the Torre Salsa Nature Reserve (World Wildlife Fed.) along the Mediterranean Coast - it was a gorgeous drive and hopefully we'll get to return to enjoy some hiking (when we don't have two sleeping boys in the car!)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Picture Me, Mom!

Lucas is either a budding photo journalist or just really excited about being so "grown up" these days.  Nearly every event and activity that we do together is followed by him jumping around and enthusiastically saying "Picture me, Mom!!"  So...of are a few of our recent photo ops...
Making his own fruit pizza after we hosted Becca's baby shower this weekend.
Pattern blocks and choo-choo trains, yay!
Showing off our giant supply of oranges after Santa and Vinny stopped by with a special delivery from their friend in Francofonte.
Monday Morning Bakery!  Today's recipe:  Zucchini Muffins.  Today's uniform:  Aprons and Underwear!
Choo-choo number puzzle...with a little help from Elise and Caleb (though he insisted that only HE be in the picture)
Elise came home from school the other day and taught the boys a cup stacking game she'd learned in P.E. class...Lucas was impressed and inspired!

P.S.  In other "growing up" news - Lucas woke up this morning very clearly enunciating C-A-L-E-B instead of Cayba and E-L-I-S-E instead of Eees...happy/sad moment for all of us!

Sunday, February 10, 2013


We took to the streets of Aci Reale this weekend to experience Carnevale for ourselves!  Elise had learned about the festival in her Host Nation class at school and was VERY excited to join in the fun.  I have been wanting to go since we arrived in Sicily, but to be quite honest...the traffic, crowds, and confusion were an insurmountable obstacle in the past.  I'm glad we mustered up the courage to get ourselves layered up and out the door on an unusually frosty Saturday because it sure was fun! 

The first recorded Carnevale celebration occurred in 1268.  For centuries, revelers in Italy have donned masks and costumes and joined in parades in the days preceding Lent.   Aci Reale is the site of Sicily's most famous carnival celebration.  (though Venice probably takes the prize for Italy as a whole!)  If we knew more about Italian news and culture we probably would have understood more about the political and social statements that were being made by the massive and elaborate floats in the parade...oh well...we enjoyed the colors, music, dancing, costumes, food, and flashing lights just the same! (I think...)
Festival Food - yum!
In the main piazza each of the floats had the chance to "perform."  Elise and Caleb stared with their mouths wide open, loving every minute...while Lucas smiled but clung desperately to us while saying "Musc (music) very loud. Me really scary."

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


 Lucas is the first of our children to be choo-choo crazy. He plays with our Duplo train set for hours on his own, requests his choo-choo undies everyday, and carries around all the train books we own like his life depends on them. Since we've been enjoying such beautiful weather lately we decided to take advantage of a gorgeous Saturday afternoon and hike along some abandoned tracks through the farmland near our house. I had noticed an old abandoned station a few months ago while driving to visit a friend and assumed that the tracks were unused, so we set off to see what we could find. We had so much fun, we returned on Monday with an even grander plan to park a car 2 miles down the tracks and hike from one car to the next...(Thanks to my friend Bethany for being such a great sport about that wild adventure!) 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Anyday. Everyday. Life.

There's something about our recent string of warm winter days - the views of a snow-capped Mt. Etna cutting into the blue sky, the ripe oranges that add a burst of bright polka dots through the orchards that line our country roads and the cheery yellow clover that seem like a carpet of sunshine - these things make even the normal days of potty training, nose wiping, and child rearing feel just a bit lighter!
Ms. Melendez invited the boys to have lunch with Elise and her class at school.  They were soooo excited!
The reflection of Etna on the playground at school.  Wow!
Caleb asked me to take this picture so they could remember the playground when we move. 
Ahhhh...they're getting so big!
Enjoying a cup of tea on the porch with my sweet girl.  She loves her brothers, but she also loves when they're asleep after school so we can have some "big girl" time together.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Il Cioccolato Cafe - Bravissimo!

Is it possible that I'm writing back to back posts about ladies only adventures I've had the pleasure of enjoying guess it is! (THANK YOU, JOSH!) On Friday night my friend Emily organized a group of friends for a pre-Valentine's day sampling of delectable sweets at Il Cioccolato Cafe in Catania. I think I need to let the pictures speak for themselves!
My and chocolate mousse.
Tasty little finger foods served with the vino...didn't go quite as well with my decaf cappuccino, but that's okay!
Does it look like I need to go back?  Next time I'll bring Josh!