November 07, 2015

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow...

It's a part of military life...having to pick up and start all over. God is so faithful; He has provided amazing friends and communities for us to be part of wherever we move. But it doesn't make saying goodbye any easier. We are reminded that this world is not our home anyway. Thank the Lord we have all eternity to be with our dear brothers and sisters in Christ!

Our last week in Naples was a whirlwind, from our day trip to Capri to the last PWOC meeting, during which the ladies shared testimonies of how they had grown spiritually during the year of Bible study and fellowship, from last-minute meet-ups at the park to one final getaway to downtown Napoli for a double date. Friday morning came all too quickly, when we were saying our final goodbyes and making our last drive to Capodichino to join others waiting to board the military rotator. We thank God for the precious friendships He allowed us to develop during our time in Italy.

Charis and Katie B

PWOC Board retreat in Formia

Emily and Braidyn K will always be Charis's special friends!

Awesome group of homeschool kids at the fine arts recital the day before we left the country. These kids are all amazing...then are their parents!! 

As I was uploading this photo, Zaden informed me that "Caleb is my best friend." These three little boys were nearly inseparable! We are so thankful for the K family and their friendship!

Hope K with Kenna and Kira S

Charis and I love Titti, our dear friend and Italian tutor!

Christian and Connor F with our boys

Gerrit R with our boys

Even though Isaac and Zach are younger than Arden and Tobin, our boys considered them among their best buds!

Jasmine and Faith with Charis. The B family = very special to us!

Princess and Michaela with Kenna

My dear friend Tirzah

Tirzah's boy Sam was one of our boys' best friends also

Tuba and Hannah J, a special young couple, will always be like family to us!

Family Photos in Capua

My friend Mackenzie helped us squeeze in a family photo shoot at one of our favorite places in Italy, the Capua amphitheater. It's the second largest amphitheater and the one where Sparticus trained. Two days before we were to fly across the ocean we scraped together some matching clothes and captured some lovely moments! The experience was made all the more memorable as we corralled a squirmy and uncooperative Seanin, who was happiest when running wild all over the place. That came to a sudden stop when he tripped and scraped his forehead. SIGH! So our latter pictures of him include a battle wound, which is, I suppose, somewhat appropriate...

November 01, 2015

Red Sails...Er, Motorboat to Capri!

Good heavens. It's November and I'm still in May trying to chronicle our family adventures! Obviously something needs to give. I vote laundry.

So, when I last left you, dear blog, we had just spent a wonderful couple of days in Florence for Mother's Day. Our fearless babysitters, Anna and Alaina, had survived with our 4 youngest children, and they were agreeable to another day of sitting for us. We left the younger 3 boys with them and took Charis, Tobin, Arden, and Kenna along with our friends Shauna and her daughter Jasmine to the town of Sorrento, where we rented a boat and scooted across the sea to the beautiful Isle of Capri. Our destination: the famous Blue Grotto!

I realize now, as I look back over my blog posts, that 2014 was a sadly sparse year for blogging. I apparently did not get to record any of our adventures with Ted's brother Joel and his wife Sarah, who came with their two boys Anders and Cade along with Ted's mom in June. It was almost at the end of that visit that we 5 adults were merrily making our way to Sorrento to do this Blue Grotto adventure, a fun no-kids day. We had hired Charis and her friend Emily to keep the kids safe and occupied for about 8-9 hours! Unfortunately, our plans took a turn when the transmission blew on our Suburban. We spent about 3 hours waiting at a gas station right in Sorrento for our insurance to help coordinate a tow truck to come. 

I will spare you the details of my emotions as I rode with an older Italian couple in their non-air-conditioned truck going about half the speed limit all the way from Sorrento back to the Navy Support Site with our Suburban on the trailer while the others continued on to Capri and the Blue Grotto. There was really nothing else to be done--I would be living in Italy another year, and our guests had to leave soon! The situation definitely put a damper on things, but at least they were able to experience some of Italy's beautiful wonders. I was heartbroken to miss the fun, but Ted promised that we would return WITH the kids sometime before we moved.

As with Florence, this adventure had been put off until it was nearly too late! But arrangements were made, so off we went!

It was a gorgeous day, and being a Monday during the school year, it was not very crowded anywhere we went. The kids loved being in the boat and bouncing over the waves. We were so glad we had left the younger boys behind--it was rough going, and I'm sure they would have bounced right off the boat! Shauna and I were laughing so hard at the shrieks and yells from the kids. 

We went straight to the Blue Grotto and waited just a bit to be able to get into the rowboats. We had to split into two groups. Inside was truly amazing. I loved hearing the rowers singing in Italian at the top of their lungs, with the harmonies bouncing around the rocks. The blue of the water was so brilliant! Impossible for us to capture with our cameras, but definitely a memory I'll carry for a long, long time. (Postcards help with that!) Below is a pic of the boats swarming the entrance...Shauna and the girls are the ones right in front of the boat with the awning--that's where they pay to go in.

If you really want to see what the inside of the Blue Grotto looks like--short of going there yourself--just Google it, because our photos aren't worth squat! It really is gorgeous.

After this, though, we were more than ready for lunch! We made our way around the island to a restaurant where we could "park" our boat for free and enjoyed a delicious (though heavily over-priced) lunch with a beautiful view.

We decided to walk up to the town center to get gelato. There was much complaining, lol, but the reward at the end was worth the uphill hiking!

I adore Capri...we spent Thanksgiving there our first year in Italy, and the weather was so beautiful and the island so quiet. We hiked all over the place and made so many good memories. It seemed fitting and yet surreal for this to be our last Italian adventure before heading back to the States later that same week.

Excuse the was very bumpy in the boat! This is the view as we pulled away from the restaurant where we had lunch and also the starting point for our hike up to the town center.

Love this view! Goodbye, beautiful Capri!

October 07, 2015

Florence for Mother's Day

One place Ted and I really wanted to visit before leaving Italy was Florence (or Firenze, as it's called there). We had spent one day there in 2013 but left feeling there would be plenty of time for a return visit to do justice to the many sites in this beautiful city. Bwahahaha!! Two years later we had to scramble and make an effort to get there, but it was worth it!

I wish I could say we went as a family, with our children soaking up all the culture and being excited to see museums bringing to life the pages and pictures from art and history studies. But. Only one of our offspring was interested, even eager, to go to Florence! So we agreed that Charis would accompany Ted and me on an overnight trip!

Tobin and Arden (who I had really hoped would choose to accompany us) stayed with a friend. When they insisted they really didn't want to go, we decided we would take them at their word and not risk bringing along potential whiners and feet-draggers, lol. Our friends Anna and Alaina Z agreed to stay with our younger kiddos in our temporary living facilities and earn some extra spending money. (And I think they truly earned it, lol.) It was SO nice to leave early in the morning to catch the train and NOT be lugging little ones, strollers, diapers, pull-ups, extra snacks, and so on! FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEDOM!!!!!!

Ahem. Here are Charis and I on the fast train as it's pulling out of downtown Naples. You can tell it's early because we're both wearing our glasses, lol.

We arrived mid-morning and found our hotel fairly easily, dumping off our bags so we could be free to begin sightseeing. First stop: the Academia to see The David!! And other great sculptures and some early instruments...very cool for us.

Then a yummy lunch...followed by the baptistery, the palace, crossing the Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) to another palace, capped off by an amazing dinner and a well-earned good night of sleep, and Day 1 = done!


Ponte Vecchio

We will miss mozzarella di buffalo!!


Day 2! Another full day trying to squeeze in as much as possible before we needed to catch the train back to Naples. We started with the bell tower at the Duomo before the crowds got too crazy. As we made our way there, we discovered it was a marathon day...good thing we started early! How fun would it be to run the streets of Florence?! At 7 months pregnant, I wasn't too eager to try it out! Hard to believe I had run a marathon 7 months prior...I huffed and puffed my way to the half-way point (approximately) of the tower, then rested while Ted and Charis climbed the rest of the 402 stairs to the top!

Then off to the museums...first the Uffizi...

...the Bargello...

Dante's house...

San Marco...

...and finally, the basilica of Santa Maria.

And then a dash to the train station (after some more gelato and shopping), and we were able to crash on the ride back to Naples! We packed in a LOT in those two days and made some wonderful memories. What a way to spend Mother's Day! I'm so grateful for the time and experiences I got to share with Ted and Charis.