Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Paris, Part 1

Right after Luke's extravaganza was over, James and I skipped town for a much-anticipated trip to PARIS!  James had been there for work last year, and knew he had to take me sometime, without kids, so I could experience it, too.  Nonna and Jeri were kind enough to watch the rugrats for us so we could go on this birthday/anniversary trip. 

All I can say is: WOW!  Paris was amazing. Everywhere you looked, there were beautiful buildings, statues, parks, monuments, wide avenues, tree-lined streets and more.  It was truly spectacular.  Here are a few photos from our first 2 days there.

 Notre Dame

 James and Chiara (with Tour Eiffel in background)

 It doesn't disappoint; it's really a cool tower!

 James couldn't leave Paris without touching the Eiffel Tower

 Really pretty park called Jardin de Tuileries.  There were movable green metal chairs that you could put anywhere you like: near the fountain, under a shade-tree, next to a statue you like, wherever!  I love this concept and wish all public parks had it!

 Overlooking thegarden

 Some very manicured trees in the Jardin de Tuileries

 Art is everywhere in Paris: even at the Subway Stations! 

Paris is full of sculptures and statues, some to war heroes, and some romantic ones like this one called "Le Baiser" (The Kiss) by Rodin

Luca's end-of-year extravaganza

Luke's preschool put on their end-of-year recital, and, luckily, this year they divided it up by age-group. There was actually seating for us, and all the other parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins/neighbors/family friends/coworkers that were invited.  Sheesh!

We were worried that he would stand stock-still like he did for his Christmas pageant, but we were pleasantly surprised to see him participating and even smiling during his class' songs!  Good job, Luca!

 Little Sailor Boy

Celebrating a job well done after the concert

Lucca! Lucca! Lucca!

After Pisa, we stayed the night in Lucca, one of our favorite towns in Italy. Surrounded by a medieval wall that you can walk all the way around (4 km long), it's a really fun place to stoll and relax.  Inside the wall is the old town, which is very quaint and has nice piazzas.

 In Piazza Anfiteatro, Lucca

 Can you spot Norah, Bree, and Chiara's mom walking on the wall?

 Lunchtime in Lucca

Kids overlooking a canal in Lucca's old city

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pisa! Pisa! Pisa!

We took a trip down to Tuscany to visit Pisa and Lucca.  The first day, we saw Pisa, which, as I said last year, is a great and surprising town. We went with Chiara's Zio Marco (no pics to prove he was there!) and Zia Raffaella, Nonna, Jeri, Bree, and Chiara and the kids. James was out of town for work. Raffaella, Bree and I climbed the tower. Norah was VERY upset that she couldn't go (only age 8 and up allowed) and made me promise to bring her back when she is of age! 
 There it is!

 It sure is leany!

 Zia Raffaella and Bree at the top of the tower. The horizon is straight, but the fence looks leany because of the angle of the tower!

 Chiara and Bree at the top

 View of Pisa from up above

 Nonna and Zia Raffaella near the Cathedral and Baptistry

 Inside the cathedral...Susy is trying to smile for the camera!

 Inside the baptistry, which was separate from the church since unbaptized people couldn't enter the cathedral.

 Susy Q being independent after lunch

 Luke finding a "seat" to rest on.

Norah and Bree resting in a doorway

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Milano in May

We had lots of visitors in May; Chiara's mom, Jeri, and Breeana came from Michigan. James' brother Peter, his wife Liz, and their daughter Jessalyn came from Reno!  We all took a day trip to Milano to see the Duomo and walk around.  Some of us even went up on the roof of the Duomo, which was very neat!

 Norah and Bree on the roof of the Duomo

 Norah on the roof

 Peter and Jessalyn in Parco della Vittoria, Milan. What a happy baby she is!

Peter, Liz, and Jess in front of the Arco della Pace

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Francesca and Jarrod visit

Right after Easter, Francesca (Chiara's sister) and Jarrod came to visit for a whirlwind 6-day visit!  They didn't sit still the whole time they were here. They went to Venice alone and had a great time. Then we all took the train to the Cinque Terre for an overnight stay. We really lucked out on the weather...it was beautiful and much warmer than we thought it would be. Then, they went to Como and Belaggio for a day with Chiara's Uncle Marco, and then they went to Milan for a day with our cousin Alice. They must have been exhausted after their "vacation!"  Here are some photos from the 5 Terre:

 Nuts...I can't remember which town this is....maybe Riomaggiore

 We took a boat between the towns. Norah had much more fun this time around.

 Surprise!  Jarrod proposed to Francesca while we were there! It took me until lunch to figure it out, even though she kept flashing her hand in front of me all day!

 Luke gave his seal of approval on the ring.

Above Vernazza with the kids

Easter 2014

Wow, it's been a long time since we put up any photos!!! A LOT has happened around here, so I should try to get caught up!

Here are the kids on Easter morning after they found all the Easter Eggs the Easter Bunny had hidden around the house. Getting them all to look in the same direction at the same time was impossible.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Leonardo da Vinci weekend

We took a trip to the river Adda in late March to see a boat that was designed in the early 1500's by Leonardo da Vinci.  The boat moved across the river on a cable that was stretched above the water. Based on the way the driver aimed the boat, the current of the river pulled the boat straight across, the water of the river acts as the wind would on a sailboat. It was pretty neat to ride the boat, and it only cost .50 Euros to ride!  Score!

 The lovely river Adda

Da Vinci's boat

 A closeup of the boat

 Riding the boat

The next day, we took a trip to Milano to find the statue of da Vinci's horse.  There are 2 copies of this statue:  one in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the Meijer Gardens. The other was gifted to the town of Milano.  We found the horse in a park outside the horse-racing track. At first, it looked smaller than its twin in Michigan, but as we got closer, we saw that it was equally large and imposing.  Designed by da Vinci to scare the enemies of Milano away, this statue was never actually completed during his lifetime...and had to wait until 1999.

 Teeny tiny people...big angry horse!

We let the kids up on the pedestal so they could go under its hoof like they do in Michigan. The horse here is not as shiny as the one in Michigan. It probably does not get the same level of attention that the Michigan horse gets!

We finished off our cultural weekend with a trip to St. Ambrosio Basilica, which is the most important church for Milanese people because St. Ambrosio is the patron saint of Milano.  Many kings were coronated here, and St. Ambrosio himself is buried here in a clear casket below the altar.  The kids were fascinated by that!

Not much to look at on the outside, and kind of dark on the inside. This church has lots of history, but not a lot of glamour!  An artist was working on this painting out back. I thought it was pretty cool.

 What's all the fuss about, anyway?

It was hard to resist running around the courtyard outside the church!  I caught them in a rare moment of stillness!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Curly Sue

Susannah's hair has been growing like crazy lately...here are some pics of one of her first ponytails!  I love the curls and I hope they are here to stay.
 Front view of Susy Q

Here's the pony tail!