Tuesday, April 30, 2013

La Dolce Vita: April

April's day to day adventures...well, at least the ones we captured in photos...
Kite Day for kindergarten!
Mt. Etna's 12th eruption of 2013.
I totally impressed myself with the idea to make our Italian Easter cake into french toast (because it's quite dry and not very sweet)...no one else agreed that it was a great idea, I think I'll blame it on the raisins...oh well!
The Imagination Movers came to Sigonella.  We'd never watched their show on t.v., but we sure did have fun at the show!

Josh is so good at making up games with the kids...this one...a "real life" version of Angry Birds!
Nearing the end of orange season - I love when I place these on the table and one of the kids exclaims "Wow Mom, they're super bloody!"
Game time!  It's fun finding games that all 3 kids can play together.
Cooking class with Sina.  On the Menu: Caponata
...and a typical Sicilian rice dish for summer.
Capturing a favorite photo op before all the snow melts on Etna.
We found Lucas sleeping in his brand new rain boots on the day we bought them.
Fun with friends!
At the ropes course in Monti Rossi to celebrate Stevie's 4th birthday!
Elise was a super star on the ropes!
"On Location" filming Josh's music video for "When the Seasons Change."

Il fuoco dell'Etna

Our little old neighborhood volcano has been quite busy since the start of 2013 - already erupting 13 times since January.  Sadly, we've been traveling or have somehow missed several of the recent eruptions, but on Saturday night we were in the right place at the right time and got to enjoy several hours of the live lava and fireworks show.  Seems like most of the eruptions we've viewed in the past have been well after the kids' bedtime, so this was also only the second time they've ever seen Etna erupt.  (They were treated to a 9pm bedtime for the special occasion!)
This was our actual view from the back porch!

Up close and personal...with the help of our telephoto lens and tripod!  Most of the lava flow was away from us - toward the north.  Maybe next time we'll pile everyone in the car and go on a lava chase.
P.S.  In case you're worried about us, we were told that (in addition to many other factors), Etna needs to erupt for approximately 6 days straight to put our area in any danger.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Parco Monte Serra: Casa delle Farfalle

My friend Bethany and I have recently created a "day-trips with kiddos" bucket list of some pre-baby and pre-moving adventures that we'd like to share in the coming months.  With a free Friday at our disposal we loaded up our mini-vans (which also had room for the Garber trio) and had the chance to check one thing off the list (though quite possibly we'll be back a time or two before the end of the summer!)  We drove about 30 minutes to the north to Parco Monte Serra - which is home to a lovely "House of Butterflies" exhibit.  With our picnics packed and our pre-school crowd of 7 (including Elise who had off from school today) we began our adventure.  We started off with some playground fun before making our way to the Casa delle Farfalle.  Here's what we found inside:

They had the butterflies grouped by the ways they defend themselves against predators.  The kids were fascinated with the poisonous varieties and by the species with unique camouflaging (in particular the "cobra moth" and another butterfly with markings that mimicked the eyes of an owl)
So excited to have a butterfly land on her shoulder!
Sweet, sweet friends!  Our best attempt at getting them to smile and look at the same time...well, sort of!
Looking for trouble...and wanting to catch some fish!
I think we all gasped when we walked through the curtains into the butterfly house.  It was warm and fragrant and delightfully cheery with all the beautiful varieties of butterflies fluttering around us. 
We learned a lot, too...Here's the life cycle of the silk moth - live!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


It's officially granite season and I think I may have been the most excited one in the bunch when we all piled out of the car this morning for our first icy and delicious treat at Cafe Culosi Gisella!  The ladies in the front of the shop even called back to the owner to have him come out and greet us as the kids all started jumping around and shouting for joy when they saw the freezer filled with our favorite flavors!

Lucas' prayer tonight at bedtime: "Thank you God granite.  Me love it.  Me like it chocolate, strawberry, and lemon.  Thank you God granite."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Barcelona: Day 3

Our last full day in Barcelona - more sun, more to see and do, and more fun with friends big and small!  Our first stop of the day was Antoni Gaudi's famed Sagrada Familia.  I think "unbelievable" is just about the only word that can accurately describe it.  If you've lived or traveled in Europe long enough, you've meandered through your fair share of beautiful and breathtaking cathedrals...but this one is like nothing you've ever seen before.  (NOTE:  "beautiful" would not, in my opinion, be an appropriate word to describe the Sagrada Familia, but many other adjectives - wild, massive, extravagant, unique, epic, etc...- would be just fine.)  As you can imagine, it's quite difficult to capture in pictures or in words...but here we go...
So, here's the scoop.  Construction on this basilica began in 1882 and it is not yet completed.  The goal is to have it completed by the year 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.  The project progresses solely with the help of private donations.
There are three grand facades which depict stories of the nativity, the passion, and the glory of God.

The church is designed in the shape of the Latin Cross.  Here you can see images of the four gospels on each of the central pillars.  
Next up:  The cable car to Montjuic - on our way up we passed over many of the venues from the 1992 Olympics and at the top we were rewarded with fantastic views of the coastline and city.

No reason to fear, these guys have everything under control.
...or not!
It was our last night and everyone was worn out so we opted for fast food - Spanish style.  Dinner at 100 Montaditos.

Please add Barcelona onto your next European itinerary!  You won't be disappointed.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Barcelona: Day 2

Time for the Hop-on, Hop-off Bus...admittedly touristy (how could it not be!) - but a great way to see a huge city like Barcelona, especially with our mini-crew of sightseers who are not particularly fond on walking long distances.  (Who am I kidding, I was almost in tears after day one's strolling about!)
Our first destination was Park Guell - designed in the early 1900's by Barcelona's famed Antoni Gaudi - if offers spectacular views overlooking the city and coastline.

I'm embarrassed to say that I knew very little about Gaudi before we arrived in Barcelona, but it's impossible to make your way around the city without seeing hundreds of examples of his neo-Gothic architecture from the early to mid-1900's.

Driving by the famous 'Barca' stadium on the bus...wish we could have grabbed 100,000 of our closest friends to watch a game!
Too much fun!
Tapas for dinner - yum! 
Tapas have a funny way of making you feel full even though you're not sure if you really ate enough food...we figured it was best to stop in for 'churros and chocolate' on our way back to the apartment.  
It was a tough crowd, but we convinced them in the end. 
Window shopping on our stroll home.
Loved watching this group of friends join in the Sardana - a famous dance from the Catalan Region.