Tuesday, August 26, 2014

School work in Italy? Absolutely.

For the last three summers in Italy, we've brought along activity books for Sofia and last year was Olivia's first activity book summer. The first year I picked up some books from Target's dollar bin sections, which if you don't browse there on a regular basis, you really should start now. Everything from stocking stuffers to favors for birthday parties. Anyway...The past two summers, Anthony picked the activity books up from a store near his work that for a couple dollars more, had better content especially as the girls get older. Our school also offers activity books for $11/book that while had good content, I wasn't willing to pay that for each girl this summer.

Being away from home for 7 weeks can definitely cause our girls to go into overdrive thinking that they have to be doing something vacation-y every minute of the day. Which is possible, but you'll get burned out pretty fast if you try. To avoid that, we try to incorporate a little bit of quiet, structured time into our days. I didn't force them to do it, not even once. The books were placed in a spot where they could be easily seen and reached by each girl, along with crayons, pencils, erasers and sharpeners. We talked about maybe trying to stick to a Monday-Friday schedule as the days where they could work in their activity books and not even think about them Saturday or Sunday.

Now were there some days during the week that we didn't do them at all? Of course. But you know what, the girls sometimes grabbed for their books on a Saturday or Sunday too. There were a few times where I had to mention them but really for the rest, the girls enjoyed going through them together.

A little bit of structure mixed in with a whole lot of beach, walks at the villa, time with friends and family, visiting other towns and even just hanging around the house playing with toys was a perfect way to spend 7 weeks. 

Love this face - no activity book for you yet!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Another year older...

I celebrated my birthday last week and we really had a fun day. Began with breakfast out with the family, then Starbucks and then followed by a trip to the zoo which was a surprise for the girls. The weather was perfect and I couldn't have asked for a nicer time with my family. Emails, texts, calls and cards all helped to make the day just really sweet. Along with flowers from a friend and a huge chocolate kiss from my father-in-law. I'm sure my little girls will help me gobble that up!

Some of our favorite sites from the day...

We don't normally buy something for the girls each visit to the zoo, but that day was a special day and I let Olivia pick out something each for them and she chose butterfly nets which surprisingly are a huge hit still in the house.

Checking out the tortoises.

Mario was awesome all day. He slept through breakfast, napped on the ride to the zoo and was bright-eyed and smiling all the walk through. Such a little happy guy. Of course, he had plenty to be entertained about. A gorgeous day just shy of school starting up again makes for a busy day at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Olivia loved the turtles!

Someone was very excited for the reptile house this time around. Sofia loved seeing the snakes and the huge crocodile.

Mommy and the kids

My little man and I

The only thing I really asked for on my birthday was...a nap. And I got it! So did Mario...

and Olivia.

I usually bake the cakes for birthdays in the family including myself, but this year I said I wasn't going to bake mine mainly because I didn't have the time and I knew we would be indulging in plenty of other things. But Anthony, with some help from the girls, baked me a rainbow cake. It was delicious! Anthony might be baking the cakes from here on out.

Great day from beginning to end with my family! Feeling blessed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

So this happened...ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Thanks to my dear friend Katie who nominated me for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Challenge completed the night before my 36th birthday, what a way to ring in a new year! I couldn't upload the entire video but decided that a snapshot of the crucial moment sufficed. Especially since Anthony's smile is SO big too! Get out there and donate to a very worthy cause!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fun with Friends

The lovely Staley family came in to visit us this weekend and as always, we had so much fun with them all. Their two kids are amazing and were so great with the girls and Mario. As we came back in the house after seeing them off this afternoon, Sofia says "I wish they could stay longer." To which Olivia replies "That was fun." Signs of a great weekend with great friends, happy kids.

After spending some time around the house and the kids playing outside, we decided to head over to a favorite place of ours, Linvilla Orchards, for a little more outdoor fun. We've been really lucky since we returned from Italy with some pretty spectacular weather so trying to soak up all this good fresh air as long as we can. So, off we went to walk through the Farmer's Market and take in all the fresh produce (and come out of there with bakery items for snacks), play at the playground with the kids and feed the ducks.

Little climbers

Mario took turns snoozing in the Ergo with Daddy to checking out everything around him. We heard no complaints from him the whole time. Such a great baby!

A favorite for the girls at Linvilla, the maze!

Feeding the ducks

After BBQing for dinner we headed over to another favorite spot in Havertown, Koffmeyer's! Best ice cream and now I'm a huge fan of their waffle cones dipped in chocolate and sprinkles. Delish! The kids enjoyed it too!

Breakfast this morning with the kids. How stinking cute are they?! Mario loved getting in with the big kids too.

While visiting, Katie accepted her ALS Ice Bucket challenge which is all over Facebook. The videos are amazing! Katie so generously nominated me to accept the challenge as well. Proud to say that I took it and we shot the video tonight. Stay tuned!

Love that our kids had so much fun together!

Funny face picture! 

Friends for 29 years. CRAZY! First of all, does that make us old?! No, I didn't think so. It just makes us blessed. Love her so much!

We tried to reenact a picture taken when we were 8 at my brother's birthday party.

The famous Chuck E Cheese picture, our 1st communion together and Senior Prom. Just a few of the many memories I have with this truly awesome friend.

Friday, August 15, 2014

good times in maryland

We went to Maryland this past week for a quick trip to visit my family since we hadn't seen my parents since Italy and my brothers since Mother's Day weekend! Yikes! Too long! But we squeezed a lot into a short time. Girls baked with Nonna their favorite cookies, some fun lego time with Zio Antonio and a dinner visit to Scott and Chaela's new home. We took a detour coming home through Delaware to visit another new home just outside Bethany Beach, my parent's new getaway house. The kids are going to love it!

Zio sporting Olivia's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle's mask

Sweet little cugini at Chase and Mason's new home

Happy Homeowners, beautiful, beautiful home. So proud of my brother and his family. Just wished we lived closer to see them more often.

A stop at Bethany Beach for a walk on the boardwalk and of course, ice cream.

Fresh picked strawberries, a definite plus for the drive to or from the beach.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

And so it begins...

Back from Italy and so begins the onslaught of vacation pictures. With well over 2500 pictures to go through, it's going to take some time to edit and post but I'll do my best. It was a great 7 weeks with plenty of memories to write about and share with you all.

I thought I would start off my series of Italy posts by sharing my very first picture that I took. Cozze nere. Yummy! Pretty much sums up Italy in Puglia for my family as we eat them at minimum 4 days a week. A perfect summer meal! This is one of my favorite ways, just straight out of the frying pan with them practically drowning in fresh squeezed lemon juice. Lemons that came from our neighbors garden to be exact. And cozze that were caught that very morning. No frozen and thawed stuff for us Southern Italians!
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