Saturday, May 30, 2015

Italy Day Three—Rome

The noises of Rome kept me up again last night. Eric and Mom got up early and went to St. Peter's Basilica this morning, but I slept in and stayed with the girls. We got on the train to go to church since it was Sunday. They had little earpieces for each of us to wear and a missionary in the back translated the sacrament meeting for us. It actually was a nice, big ward.

After church, we headed over to the Colosseum. We were all hot and starving. We stopped in at a little restaurant called "Taverno Dei Contrari." It was nice to get out of the sun and take our time eating. I ordered the gnocchi in a meat sauce; it was really good. In fact, I loved having that whole little restaurant to ourselves.

We spent the rest of our day at the Roman Forum, the old ancient city of Rome.

I'm not sure why, but I started feeling a little sick (perhaps it was the heat) so I stayed back with Portia and we rested under a tree while Eric, Mom and Bianca kept on. Here was Portia playing in the flowers and coloring while I rested.

Eric, Mom and Bianca met up with a woman, a historian, who told them all about the old city so when we met up finally, it was pretty late. So late that the colesseum was closed and we couldn't go inside. That's fine because we still got a couple pictures in front of it.

Tonight, when I couldn't sleep because of all the noise, Eric and I slipped out and walked to the Vatican late. It was really cool to see it in the dark in a much quieter way than it is during the day with the crowds and all the people and lines.

Doors of the Day:

Friday, May 29, 2015

Italy Day Two—Rome

Today we slept in a bit, then ate frutta (strawberries, raspberries and cherries from the grocery right below us) and pastries from the nearby bakery.

We rode the underground to the Trevi fountain (it happened to be under construction, which was disappointing). There was no water in it so it didn't seem as wonderful as it could have been. Well, still it was pretty magnificent. And just walking the streets of Rome feels awesome. So many old buildings around us. But a few too many people for my preference. I wish I could just have the city to myself, then I wouldn't mind big cities quite so much.

Then we walked several blocks and sat on the (very crowded) Spanish steps. It was hot—in the 90s—so the girls didn't LOVE sitting there too long.

We stopped at a small pizza place for lunch. Finally, I had a sausage pizza. Here we are waiting for our pizzas. They had this cute back room that was just big enough for the five of us. We also did a teeny bit of shopping in Rome. I got a cute layered sweater dress.

After lunch, we headed over to the Vatican (near where we're staying). We went through the Vatican museum and then into the Sistine Chapel (where we couldn't take pictures). Still, beautiful ceilings were throughout the whole thing. (Our necks were hurting after a while!)

We found the bust of Tiberius, Emporer of Rome, who is a direct descendent of mine of my father's side. We had to seek him out so it was sooooo cool to find him in there.

We stopped for gelato on our walk back to our flat. I had the most amazing pistachio (with chocolate, of course). This is actually Bianca's gelato; I love how there's a crack in the cone (seems old, which is kind of a metaphor for all the old, ancient stuff we're seeing in Rome).

We went back to the apartment and took a nap—and Bianca practiced (she's getting ready for summer string program in Indiana), we got back on the underground and went for hot chocolate. Supposedly, it's the "best hot cocoa in Rome" at Cafe Pompi. It was super dark and really, really good. We also had biscotti (cookies) to go with it. It was a fun, late-night adventure!

Doors of the Day:

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Italy Revisited (Day One—Civita)

We boarded an airplane to Chicago. I swore I wouldn't take a trip this year—especially during peony-blooming season (and the girls are missing their last two days of school). But here we are, going to Rome. My friend at work was planning a trip and found some cheap tickets to Rome. So I just did it; I bought four tickets for $700 each.

We went to Italy two years ago, but we spent our time on the coast near France, near the Cinque Terre. We loved it! This time, we're flying in to Rome, and I know it's going to be a much different experience. Mom came with us again. We're meeting up in Chicago and will be on the same airplane. She loves traveling, and we love having her come with us.

We decided to do this trip, carry-on only. So each of us have a backpack and that's it. It was easier than I thought!

When we arrived in Rome, we didn't get a ton of sleep on the plane (as usual). We couldn't check in to our apartment yet, so we were stuck in the same clothes we'd been wearing yesterday (yep, we're a little rumpled). We rented a car (the only time we planned on having a car this trip) right from the airport and drove to Civita.

We walked from the surrounding city, all the way up the bridge to get to the old (OLD) city—that sits on a mountain peek surround by nothing by sky and birds.

It's hot in Italy! And we needed to stop for water. But we made it. Civita is a small, stone village filled with feral "gatti" (cats) that my kids couldn't stop trying to get their hands on. Bianca was thinking about making a "Cats of Italy" calendar. Here's a glimpse of some of the gatti Civita:

We stopped for lunch at an outdoor cafe in Civita. There weren't a ton of options and I thought the food was just okay—nothing remarkable. We walked back down after a couple hours of exploring and then drove back to Rome. We checked in to our flat in Rome, near the Vatican. It's a small apartment on the 2nd floor, with a kind of scary bathroom. But most Italian bathrooms scare me. There's even a piano in the main room so the girls can even practice! (There's a really busy street below us so Bianca opens the window when she's practicing either piano or viola and feels like a performance.) Portia's practicing her cello on her arm again. 

Tonight, Eric left after we checked in to return the rental car and then was going to take the train back here. It took him a full 3 hours to get back. We started to worry and then couldn't even get out of the apartment to go to the grocery we could see from the window. I'm pretty sure Eric locked us in from the outside. Good thing we had brought snacks along. We were super tired so slept well, but there's a ton of noise--cars honking, drunk people singing, polizia sirens and the trash pickup. Have I mentioned I don't love big cities? Still, sleeping felt good.

Doors of the Day:
The honeysuckle was SO potent!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

I'm definitely not mother of the year

I've felt a lot of guilt working out of the home and I've been working there for over a year and a half now. Eric's still working on getting one of his business ventures up and running before I'll feel comfortable stepping away, but until then, I'm pretty much in the office Monday through Friday, 8-5 (although I do work from home on Wednesdays so that Portia can be in orchestra while Eric has a weekly afternoon meeting).

Somewhere amidst all this working, I spaced the 2nd grade program that Portia had been talking about for weeks. In fact, she had a speaking part she'd memorized. We didn't get a reminder or email and remembered about an hour after the whole thing was over. Portia was so upset and she cried for a good half hour.

I asked her to do her memorized part so that I could record it. When she recited her part, I nearly cried.

I'm not sure how long I'll be working full-time, but it's a good thing Portia has memorized these great ways to deal with her feelings of sadness. She'll probably need it in the future.

Although a couple weeks later when I received a phone call from Portia's teacher about the award she was about to receive, I made sure I was there. Here she is getting her award:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Portia got baptized

In our church, children can decide at the age of eight if they want to be baptized. Portia had been looking forward to it for a while. There was a lot of build-up to it (dress buying, professional photos, food planning, party planning—sort of like a mini wedding).

My mom (who's made a vow to be at every one of her grandchildren's baptism) and Susannah (who flew out unexpectedly at the last minute-yay!) came several days before and were awesome emotional support, as I don't handle stressful gatherings all that well. We did some fun stuff together even before the baptism, like see the Utah Symphony and shopping. Susannah even went to Time Out for Women at BYU. We ate at Bruges (a Belgian waffle and frites restaurant) twice during the weekend.

The day of the baptism was absolutely beautiful.  As Portia said, "It was a perfect day." And it really was. We had our own program, including a duet of Portia on cello and Bianca on viola playing "A Child's Prayer" and Portia's cello teacher Richard Hoyt came to play a cello duet of "We'll Bring the World Its Truth." My mom and Susannah both gave talks, and it really was a very spiritual, beautiful program. Eric baptized Portia and everything went as planned.And I felt so loved, as many of my friends and neighbors showed up for the baptism. Although I didn't really get many good pictures from the baptism day. Sadly.

We had our luncheon afterward. We had croissant sandwiches, veggies and fruit, and cupcakes. Some of Portia's little friends came, and several of Bianca's friends came to be with her as well.

I was crazy, busy trying to make sure everything was set up and I tried to thank everyone for coming. But it really was an amazing day. I hope Portia remembers it.

Portia's baptism present was leather-bound scriptures with her name inscribed on the cover. Here she is the next morning before church, starting to read her scriptures. She's such a sweetheart!