Monday, June 12, 2017

That's all folks!


And quite just like that, seems as if this school year flew right by us in the blink of an eye. Feels like we were just gearing up for the school year, getting involved in activities, preparing for the Winter holidays and here we are mid-June, activities completed and school is out for the summer! No one could be happier than I! Or these two girls who came off a great school year, lots of learning and fun in their activities for the year and ready to begin another summer in Italy.

We had piano and ballet recitals this past weekend which among other scheduled events like birthday and graduation parties, made for a very busy few days. But it was all fun so I shouldn't complain. I unfortunately didn't bring my camera to the piano recital but did get a video of each girl playing their pieces and I while I had heard them MANY times at home practicing, it was even better hearing them play in front of everyone and do a fabulous job.


Ballet continues to be a favorite of mine and for my girls also. Weekly practices for each girl and one recital at the end of the year and we're done. They loved their instructors, their fellow ballerinas and their costumes for the recital. Each always says they are nervous to perform at the recital but they do and I am so proud of them.


Olivia played basketball for the first time this past year and loved it! Was a great team player, listened to her coaches and had some assists as well as a basket or two. Sofia did the school track team for the first time after participating in a Girls on the Run type program last year. She was hesitant in the beginning but went to nearly every practice and was selected as the 4th grader to compete in the mile in the last track meet. I was so proud of how much she got over her fear of not knowing if she could do it and she did!


Our summer vacation officially begins tomorrow. No more school or activities for 2 glorious months!


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Painless Packing


The past couple of weeks are some of my favorite and most challenging. The last days of school, activities coming to an end and gearing up for our annual summer trip to Italy. It is quite honestly one exciting event after another and then we leave for most of the summer.

But first we have to get through it all.

While I am no longer in school, I feel as if I'm right there by my girls' sides as they prepare for their end of year exams, projects and field trips. Their activities coming to a close usually means end of season parties, gifts to purchase and places to be. Rehearsals and recitals for both piano and ballet, end of school year birthday parties for friends and card making and gift shopping for fantastic staff and teachers at our school.

All the while I'm planning for our 7 week displacement in Italy. Oh, displacement you ask? Why yes. While it does take place during summer vacation and we tend to have an enormous amount of fun, I'm not on a resort, no one is waiting on me and groceries still need to be purchased and kids to scoot around as we venture around the southern half of my most favorite place, Italy.

I'm a lists person and prepping for our trip is definitely list-worthy. First are the lists of what I need to take, then the lists of what I need to purchase for the trip and finally, my favorite part of getting all said items on both lists and creating a dumping ground until it's time to pack. I've made my lists, purchased my purchases and dumped our stuff. Now I need to pack. In one suitcase and a couple of carry-on. Although to be perfectly honest, I think I'm upgrading to 2 suitcases this year and only 1 carry-on. I think that will allow me to not be so stressed about fitting what I need for myself and 3 children for 7 weeks. My husband arrives later in our trip and thankfully he packs for himself in a cozy little carry-on. More on how to travel for 2.5 weeks in a carry-on for another blog post!

There is a method behind this madness insomuch as it keeps me sane. Lists allow me to write out what I need, reference my list to add anything I've missed or delete something that isn't necessary. We have a washing machine at our disposal while in Italy and hang out all our clothes so I try to keep everyone at the 6-7 item max for clothing - tees, bottoms, tanks (for the girls) and extra tees and bottoms for the toddler. Bathing suits, hoodies for the plane and undergarments. Shoes to include flip flops for the beach, sandals for the evening, sneakers for the plane and cooler nights and a breathable sneaker for the kids for comfortable walking and park time. We have stores and a weekly market in our town but I always go with the mindset that I'd rather have it already and not need to go out to buy it. We do buy the occasional dress for the girls, play clothes for my little man and I'll tend to buy a pair of shoes (or two) on the trip as well.

As I begin the actually packing part, I go through and leave out anything that was too much. Maybe I just grabbed too many of one thing or not enough of the other. I sit out usually 1-2 afternoons or evenings to be by myself (ok, maybe a glass of prosecco joins me) and I get to work. 50 lbs is the max weight limit for the suitcase and I've always gotten it within a pound or two which makes me happy.

Cheers to another successful packing adventure!


Friday, June 2, 2017

Ciao and Arrivederci


I love Mario's imagination. Truthfully I have to say that I feel as if all three kids have wonderful imaginations and come up with some pretty great stuff. Some I remember to jot down, record or photograph and others unfortunately come and go.

Mario tagged along with me to my dentist appt this morning and brought with him his blue little car for zooming through the office. But once it was my turn to go back, he ditched the car in my purse and asked the dentist for a balloon. He had remembered the last time when he came and was being good, she rewarded him with a latex glove balloon and he was completely excited about the prospects of getting a new one.  And he was good and so he got another one. She sat with him, drew a face on the balloon and they named him together. She overheard us counting in Italian and so she asked him what name they should give and that it had to be an Italian name. I'm not sure where it came from but "Nunzio" was henceforth Mario's new balloon pal. 

We had errands to run afterwards and Mario told him all about the errands. We were setting up for lunch and Mario chatted on to Nunzio about lunch plans. We ate outside in the sunny weather and Nunzio heard all about it. Later as I was cleaning up from lunch, Mario comes in the kitchen to throw out a deflated Nunzio. I'm not going to lie, I was a little sad for Mario since he had a great couple of hours with him but he said "that's ok mommy, he's a balloon." My son is obviously smarter than I am.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Italian comfort food

Some popular American comfort food dishes include meatloaf and potatoes, macaroni and cheese and a nice hearty soup. Comfort food for my family includes those as well as breakfast foods and of course, Italian dishes. The simplest Italian dish that makes every kid happy in my family, simple spaghetti with burro (butter). And for the girls it also includes freshly grated parmigiano cheese but my little man likes it plain.

This was a favorite simple dish for me as well growing up and I love that I've passed this appreciation onto my kids. Not only is it super easy for me to make for them, but I'm guaranteed they all eat it. Win-Win.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

flower power


For those that tune in regularly to my family blog, you may have noticed a repetition to my blog themes. It used to mostly be just my kids, then my kids and Italy and as of the past few months, nature. Of course my regular muses are not let off the hook and with our upcoming trip to Italy happening pretty soon, I'm sure there will be a lot of more recent Italy pictures showing back up here again. But the nature angle has me hooked and one that I am diving right into happily. 

Several reasons for my current obsession: 

1. The ease at which I can locate and "style" my object. I quite literally almost always have fresh flowers in the house from a recent trip to the market. Plenty of interesting containers help to change up the photo as well as changing the type of flower I purchase for the home. 
2. Right outside my door is a world (no lie) of seasonal flora waiting to be admired by me. Or just a short walk or drive and I'm in an nature lover's environment of trees, plants and flowers as closeby are several parks and even a handful of parks.
3. Unless there is heavy wind, they don't move. While I love documenting anything and everything about my kids, they move. A lot. They have become so used to the camera that I am lucky to catch them plenty and they know the simplest way for me to stop taking a picture is just to stand still a moment and let me get the image I want. But they are still kids. They are busy, you know things to do, places to be. 
4. I want to start practicing more with macro photography and what more interesting subject than a plant or flower?!? All the various colors, textures and angles could make for some really cool photos. 
and finally....
5. I'm sort of just in awe of Mother Nature. Have always appreciated the beauty of everything she has given us and while I do not have a green thumb in the slightest, I love the sense of comfort, relaxation, and bliss it brings to me. 

Stay tuned for more nature photography!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

my girls

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) 
e. e. cummings

Monday, May 15, 2017

8 is great!


Before going to bed last night, Olivia says that she cannot believe she'll be 8 tomorrow, that the year since she turned 7 went so fast. And it really did. They really do go by so quickly. It seems that in a blink we went from Friday, May 15, 2009 to Monday, May 15, 2017 and my Olivia is 8 years old.


And I couldn't ask for a better 8 year old little girl. I'm not sure if luck has anything to do with it really either. This girl rocks! She's the sweetest kid, always ready to lend a hand whether it be with her baby brother or helping with a chore. These days she wants to be a scientist/artist/chef and I love calling her my little engineer because if there is something that needs figuring out or some problem needs to be solved, she is right there to assist however she can.


She's pensive, takes her time making her mind up as if she's really weighing the pros and cons from what to wear to what to eat to what shape the cloud looks like to her. She loves asking the most random questions and I have a list going that I try to keep as up to date as possible because I can't get enough of her questions like "I wonder what an ant's foot looks like?"

She is my sweetheart, always ready with a hug, a snuggle or grabbing my hand still to walk alongside me connected at the fingertips. She's playful, this girl loves being outdoors running, jumping, hiding, seeking - you name it, if there is fun to be had she wants to join in or start a game up.
There is no other like her and I am so proud of the little lady she is turning into. Her giggle makes my heart smile, her smile lights up my life and personality is all her own and unique in every way. My sweet girl turns 8 today and I'm so very happy to wish her the happiest of days and all the sunshine and moonbeams this world can offer her.


Friday, May 12, 2017

growing


"only grow thoughts in your head that you wouldn't mind in a vase" 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rain Rain Come and Play


To say we've had a pretty wet Spring so far is a bit of an understatement, it's rained almost each week for awhile it seems. While this is great and all for Mother Nature, it makes getting out and about with a toddler a little tricky. Or just wet actually.


On a particularly gloomy day we headed out to run errands because those can't always be stopped from happening. Bundled my little man up in his fireman gear, which he loves so much and worth every cent, and my little firefighter and I braved the cold and wet weather.


Coming home and after emptying the car, he asked to play in the puddles. It's nearly impossible for me to say no to him sometimes. But after being a great errand-runner with me all morning and braving the gross weather we've had, I let him jump around for awhile.

His little squeals and giggles made up for the soggy clothes.


Monday, May 8, 2017

lashes for days


My beautiful little man enjoying being the first taste-tester of my homemade chocolate chip cookies. Me enjoying taking his picture and totally being envious of those lashes! 

Friday, May 5, 2017

let them play



Both Sofia and Olivia have been playing the piano since they were 5. We have such an appreciation for music in the house that I knew when they were of age, I would want to encourage an instrument. I have loved hearing them tinkering away with simple little tunes to recently moving onto more complex pieces. Complex for me but they both really make it seem so simple.

Last year was their first "recital" and what an immense feeling of accomplishment I felt for my girls. Sounds weird that I felt it, but it was beyond being proud of them. They kept up with going to their weekly lessons and practiced at home and thankfully rarely needing to be prodded about it too.

Regardless of whether I'm in the kitchen cooking, in the living room reading or playing on the floor with Mario, once I start hearing them play the piano it makes me smile. I smile at the thought of their little fingers gliding over the keys, their little sounds of frustration when they miss a note and then their excited voices when they successfully completed a piece without error and shout for us "Did you hear it?"

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

light


I am appropriately obsessed with these flowers. Ranunculus. Trying saying that five times fast. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

a perfect spot


At 3 years old, Mario is pretty good at going and playing on his own. While he does enjoy the company of others and having someone playing near or with him, I love finding him in a little spot talking to his toys, coming up with adventures for them and just having a good time. I try to sneak up on him to capture these moments because I really think they're so special.


That little sly smile. He's spotted me already snapping his picture but goes on entertaining himself. Love my little man.


Monday, April 24, 2017

sweet spring


And it seems that while Winter never wanted to end, teasing us with warm days late in the season and then immediately followed by snow or blustery winds, Spring has sprung. Sometimes it feels as if it happens overnight when you know it does not. Like most things, it takes time.

We seem to go from one day of bare, brown lonely looking branches, shriveled bushes and downcast plants to tiny little buds emerging, varying shades of green seeping its way into the light and finally, finally everything is in bloom. Colors firework there way into our paths. The grass takes on the green lush hue of Spring, bees are beginning to buzz again while butterflies flit about.

Gardeners are out in full force, birds are looking for spaces to occupy their nests and soon thereafter, their eggs. Ladybugs are spied and butterflies chased. Tis the season, the sweet season of Spring!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ice Cream Truck Smiles!

It has begun. Nearing dinner or bedtime and you hear the tune. The kids hear the tune before you even hear it which is amazing because when I call them from one room over, they say they didn't hear me calling them. But no, the tune goes through the neighborhood and they hear it calling to them. They immediately start doing some odd ice cream dance luring the tune closer to our street. Then you see it. The big white truck, painted ice cream cones on the side and the colorful display of sweet offerings. I couldn't resist tonight. They all endured a 5 mile walk this morning a special cause and they were pretty good sports about it. Especially after they found out it was 5 miles and not a 5k like we initially thought. Good weather, better company and a very worthwhile fundraiser. So, they deserved this ice cream treat.

And honestly, Mario seeing the ice cream truck up close and personal, asking the driver about the music and just so excited about all the options, made it worth it for me too. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Roasted Chickpeas


I've been on a decent health kick for awhile now. Trying to eat more veggies, less sugars and adding more fiber, protein and just all around good vitamins to my day. Now that doesn't mean I still don't indulge from time to time in my ultimate favorite - CHOCOLATE! But I feel with all the extra doses of healthy I'm getting it's ok to splurge from time to time. 

I love chickpeas! Who doesn't? If you like hummus and I would gather most do, you then love chickpeas since that's the big ingredient. I've attempted making my own hummus in the past and not too happy with the result but that's not stopping me from trying out other chickpea recipes. 

Behold - Roasted Chickpeas! Easy, easy, easy! I made this first batch with just a few staple pantry items and I can't wait to try out other ingredients in the near future. I also used dried chickpeas because I had that on hand and just had to add the overnight soaking step to be able to roast them the next afternoon. 

Ingredients: 

Chickpeas - 1 can rinsed, drained and plotted dry with a cloth OR 1/4 bag dried chickpeas soaked overnight, drained and plotted dry
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic salt

Directions: 

Set oven to 450 degrees.  Place chickpeas in a resealable plastic bag, add olive oil and both salts to the bag. Shake well so evenly coated. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (for easy cleanup) and roll out your chickpeas. They don't want to be piled on top of one another but they can be touching. Chickpeas need loving too. Allow to cook for 20 minutes. You'll want to check them every 6-8 minutes to shake them around a bit to get evenly roasted. After the 20 minutes, try one and see if it's to your liking. If you like them crunchier, give them another 5 minutes. 

I placed them in a glass bowl and left them on the counter all morning and just grab a couple here and there. But you can store them in a container if you're going to eat them within the next few days. 

Easy and simple. That's how healthy snacking should be!


Monday, April 17, 2017

My little girls


I know it may seem rare these days to get the girls on the blog, what with them being in school all day, activities in the evening and then busy weekends, but it's happened. Yay. I tend to snap more pictures up on my phone of the girls and it's a bad habit, I know. One I will work on. But here they are in their glory on the morning of Grandparent's Day at their school and dressed in non-uniform clothes. They clean up nice.

Everyone says it, but it's crazy when I take a moment to sit back and really watch them. Watch them read, watch them do their homework, watch them play with their brother. They ask "why are you staring at me?" and then because I don't want to spook them say "I love you when..." complete the sentence with whatever it is I'm observing. It's of course true, I do love them. But if I am completely honest with them and tell them that I love everything about them in that moment, that it's going too fast, soon they'll be out of the house, they won't need me anymore, etc. etc. etc. I fear if I tell them all of that it will end in big, ugly tears.

I just can't believe how fast they are growing. And it's right in front of my eyes. It's not like I live on another planet, we share the same household, I see them ALL the time, but here it is proof that it's going so fast. They were just born yesterday, right?


Monday, April 10, 2017

sweet sentiments


They bring me flowers all the time. Sometimes there are weeds in the bunch but I don't want them to think I don't appreciate it, so I never point that out. Little hands pluck at the little blooms and with smiles on their little faces, bring them to me. Even after they've wilted, I can see their beauty and the happiness they brought to my little loves.

A morning at Linvilla


Spring has finally SPRUNG! Or has it, we'll see. The weather has been moody and so we take what we get, when we get it. And today we got it and we went with it. To Linvilla Orchards, a favorite little outdoor spot not too far from home.

We saw the animals, we bought fresh, local honey and we played at the park. I savor mornings like this out with my little man. Time is passing by all too quickly and these are the little moments I hold onto.







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