Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Vincent Van Gogh

"If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere." 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Time for breakfast

His preferred spot for waffle eating. I love this kid.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Putting the fa-la-la-la-la in Christmas

These kids are so excited about Christmas being here. No worries, you still have time, technically it's not here for a couple more weeks (18 days to be exact) but to them, every day after we've put the tree up, strung the lights, decorated the house, it's Christmas to them. From our darling Elf Bert making his big arrival to the activity advent calendar being hung, these little elves in the making know how to celebrate this holiday.

Christmas books galore - so thankful they love books. My 10-year-old still loves sitting in the living room, turning on the lights and reading one after another. Younger siblings follow in her lead wonderfully.

And this guy. My little man. Aside from his 1st Christmas in which he was only 7 days old and not really in the Christmas spirit unless you count me nursing him by the light of the Christmas tree. But this guy has just gotten more excited about Christmas and the last few years I've said this is going to be great for him. But then the next Christmas comes and it's even better. He helped me decorate the first day while the girls were still at school and everything coming out of the Christmas bins was so fun for him and he has to inspect it, see if it made noise, see how it sparkled. I loved every second of decorating with him.

He's a fan of the Christmas books too and I'm already planning on taking him with me next week to get a new Christmas book for our collection. One of our favorites is Strega Nona (we spell it Nonna, sorry Tomie dePaola) along with many many others. Always helps to throw in the Italian Christmas books. 

My girls have their Christmas Party coming up soon for piano and they have been practicing their Christmas selections. EVERY.DAY. I'm kidding, I love it. I love Christmas music from December 1st through the day on the 25th. I'll hold onto it through New Year's if I'm asked but I'm generally ready for the music to stop at that point. There is only so much someone can take of Bing Crosby and Mariah Carey Christmas carols.

I do love the lights at Christmas time. I love taking the kids for a ride to see the decorated homes, one of my favorite activities on our advent calendar. I love that we have a great neighborhood of festive people and a simple ride down our street with Christmas music blaring in the car, can bring great big smiles to their faces. 

I love the lights in the house and how I catch my kids marveling at them. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Say Chess!

My girl loves chess and she jumped at the chance to play this past weekend while in Maryland. My dad still has this wooden chess set I got him a lifetime ago when I lived in DC.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Bidding November farewell

I love Fall. I'm going to miss Fall. Soon enough it will be officially Winter. We're already into the Christmas hoopla. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas. Always have even before kids. But now with kids it's amazing. They make it amazing. They get so excited about every.little.thing. Just like it should be. 

My boy and I had fun this morning taking Christmas decorations out and placing them around the house. The girls can't wait to decorate but I had to hold them off until December. So we're a day early, so what. Then we were off to run errands. And then the playground. He was grilling me all morning because last night I promised him the playground today. He was so good all morning and we got to the playground and he just let loose. Ran this way and that, over this and over that. Honestly, I wish I had an ounce of his energy. 

Planting little seeds in his head...UMCP was a great school, great times. 

So, I'm going to be completely honest here and thank goodness no one took a photo of me trying this piece out at the playground. I think of myself as pretty in shape, but this was hard. And he whisked across it numerous times. Lucky being so young and agile. 

Only a few more weeks that I can say I have a 3 year old. 

I asked him to point to the 4 and it was the funniest display of I don't know what. We laughed like hyenas. And when I stood up I hit my head on the beam above us. The playground is for only those 12 and younger. I should learn to follow the rules. 

I am so lucky. I get to spend time with this guy. Still pretty often enough although he began preschool. I'm going to miss our mornings. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thanksgiving...came and went

I really do enjoy Thanksgiving. I love the build up with the changing colors of the leaves, the fall decor and of course, the Thanksgiving meal. I feel though as if it just flies right by us. One minute we're stuffing our faces with Halloween candy or donating it to where ever to just get it out of the house and the next we're carving a turkey. Well, someone's carving a turkey and in my case it's my dad. I have yet to carve a turkey. 

Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving Special was something I enjoyed watching as a kid with my brother and thankfully it's something my kids do as well. Or else would it be weird if I were just watching it all by myself, eating popcorn and jelly beans. I don't even like popcorn or jelly beans. 

I have loved the kids' Thanksgiving shows at school and this year marks Mario's turn to shine. And shine he did. He spotted me in the crowd right away and I got an "I love you" in sign language - it's a thing we do and it melts me every time he calls my name and I turn around to him signing "I love you" to me. This kid. I love him. 

We are in Maryland for Thanksgiving and these kids together are the funniest. Gianna will be right there with them next year when she's not 5 months old and running around like crazy with the rest of them. I love the long table, the constant filling of plates and glasses and naturally, the leftovers. Well, for like a day and then I'm done.

Mom wanted a nice family picture. Thanks Mason. Bored with us already? I still love this picture. Reminds of all the times my parents wanted a nice picture of our family when we were younger and Scott ALWAYS made faces. Apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.

And this is the weekend I always take our Christmas card photos. My parents live near gorgeous farm land and random red wooden sheds, so it's perfect for me. My kids favorite part is when I let them get away with making funny faces. Oh, I bribe alright too...chocolate for everyone when we're done! But I let them do the funny face because it's their favorite.

My sweet kids.

This guy has it made.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

My little Mario Luca

Some days he wants to be a fireman when he gets bigger. Then he'll ask when he can get bigger.

He pouts when it's time to clean up. Why do I have to do this ALL the time? he'll ask me. Then once he's finished cleaning, he'll run to tell me he did and that he's getting bigger.

He likes to ask for 10 hugs. He likes to give hugs. And nose kisses.

He smiles so much. I love his smile. It's contagious and you can't but help smiling back. I bet you're smiling right now that I wrote that...am I right?

He pretends he doesn't know how to put on his own socks and shoes but I think it's because he likes when I do it, I tickle his feet. He still has those sweet little feet and the sound of them running through the house is a sound I want to remember for a very long time.

He is getting so big, but at the same time still my baby. He sits on my lap when watching a show with me, he leans his head on my shoulder when we're reading together and he likes to reach over and place his hand on my arm when we're seated next to one another at the table.

He still holds my hand, runs out to me at school pick up and hugs my leg when I'm washing dishes at the sink. My little man.

Friday, October 27, 2017

A perfect Fall morning with my boy

On a perfectly crisp, Fall morning, my little man and I headed out to a favorite spot of mine for some time with Mother Nature. A little walk, some pictures and naturally a snack. I couldn't have asked for better picture-taking weather and hearing the leaves crunch beneath my little man's feet was the icing on the cake. 

This is a spot I take families for annual photos and so I wanted to head back with Mario because the lighting was just so spot-on, I couldn't contain my excitement. My boy heard we were going to the woods and what does he grab from the house? His saw. Smartest kid. 

The leaves created some beautiful bokeh in some of my pictures and I was through the roof happy. I'm bringing a family back to this same spot in a couple weeks and just hope for similar lighting and effects.

Doesn't take much to keep this guy smiling. A walk through the trees, crunching the leaves, finding sticks and a snack on a cool bench. One lucky little guy. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Highland Orchards

Mario and I met friends at Highland Orchards yesterday morning for some perfect Fall fun. Park, feeding the goats, playing with rocks and of course, the delicious goodies in the store. 

An apple a day...thankful my kids love apples as much as I do so I don't have to force-feed them healthy food. Also, thankful for how close we live to orchards to get the apples straight from the farm.

These two are too cute together. Born 3 weeks apart and with moms that are dear, dear friends, they have to love spending time together! I love their silliness.

Fall ties with summer as my favorite time of year. I love everything about it and love sharing in my love of the season with my kids. Taking them to the orchards, picking pumpkins, fresh apples, baking and enjoying the cool autumn air outdoors. Truly a perfect time of year to be outdoors enjoying Mother Nature. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A day among the vineyards

Visiting local vineyards gives someone the opportunity to basically taste the land. Sounds odd to word it that way but that is essentially what you're doing. You're sipping in the air and the dirt through the wines. The hard work of the vineyard staff, the lengthy amount of time and the process from which a seed turns into a glass of wine is so impressive. Hopefully you're touring a vineyard with a knowledgeable staff member and you hear a little about all that goes into the method. It's so impressive and kept me in awe.

A particular cantina we visited had such an effect on me. Claudio Quarta near Lizzano, Puglia. From the turn into the vineyards to walking through the stone walls and seeing the natural beauty all around, I was utterly amazed. Jaw-dropping kind of amazed at the sheer beauty of the place. Our tour guide was very well informed, spoke of the process, the wines and the land with such heart. The wines were also very delicious, always helps out with a wine tasting too.

But what I loved the most. Almost more than the wines, the herbs. When you entered through the stone entrance, you passed first through a massive and aromatic herb garden. You could smell the basil, the rosemary and the lavender from still steps away and it swept me up. I could have spent such more time just in that impressive herb garden alone. Taking pictures of course, but just running my hands through the various herb selections and taking in each and every beautiful perfume.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Matera for the day

Not too far from Mesagne, in the Southern region of Basilicata, is the town of Matera. An extremely old and beautiful town, but wait, aren't they all in Italy?! Matera is made famous for many things but probably most known for the Sassi. The hilltop "home structures" carved right into the rock and stone that served as dwellings for the townspeople when they were forced to flee the main city, many, many years ago.

We took a day trip with my in-laws while they were in Puglia this past summer and while it was one of the hottest days of the summer, it was worth every drip-drop of sweat beading off our heads. Nothing a hat, occasional shade and water breaks every five minutes can't cure.

Oh and the views. The views help a lot too when walking around in the blazing sun.

One beautiful church after another...

views of the town from every angle to take your breath away...

and the food. Helps that the Southern Italian cuisine is spectacular and exactly what you need at any time of day. We ate a very lovely meal on our day trip to Matera, smiles all around.

My kids had never been before and I loved being able to show them another part of Italy. Not too far away, a pleasant drive from Mesagne and well worth the roadtrip. Especially when you get faces like these...

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