October 30, 2013

Rome Adventure, Part 1

Though Ted had planned to take the first full week of Mom and Dad's visit off work, he ended up not being able to because of some major responsibilities that he had to attend to that kept him hopping all week, right up until Friday afternoon of the holiday weekend (Columbus Day).  Knowing that he was going to have to work on the first day of our planned trip to Rome, we decided to make the most of the little time we WOULD have in Rome that evening and bought tickets for seeing the Vatican Museums at night--I had learned that they were open from 7-11pm on Fridays through October, and since we figured we wouldn't be rolling in until after 7:00, we figured that would be about right!

Our friends Brian and Joy L and their kids Ian and Ellie had flown from Germany to Rome on Wednesday of that week, and we were due to meet up with them at the museums.  Getting all of us out of the house was a tad bit stressful, although part of that stress was packing up Zaden and Lucan and getting them to a friend's house for the weekend so we wouldn't have to deal with two- and four-year-olds while doing the tourist thing!  We were able to leave around the time we had hoped, which allowed us to check into the bungalows we had rented and then make our way downtown at a reasonable time.  We didn't have time for dinner so threw together sandwiches from the food supplies I had brought with us.  We managed to find the parking garage we had located online that put us near the Vatican, but unfortunately we didn't know the most direct route to get to the museum and spent a lot of time wandering around on foot.

By the time we entered the museum, the guards were about to close things up, so we made it just in time!  Seanin chose that time to demand a feeding, so the first part of my museum experience was spent hiking around while nursing him under my nursing shawl, hustling up the ramp and corridors to start seeing things after the kids all hit the bathrooms!  Joy had texted me that they were already in the Sistine Chapel, so we knew we'd meet up with them eventually.  They had sections blocked off so there was only one route to take; I guess with limited time it helps with the flow of traffic.  But it WAS a bit annoying that we constantly seemed to be chased from one room to the other, with the guards locking things up immediately behind us.  Art and cultural appreciation on the run!

So, all things considered, the first part of the tour was decent in a flying-through-the-rooms sort of way.  Hopefully we can return sometime to browse properly...although, I think the pace suited Tobin and Arden just fine, LOL.

Finally the main event: the Sistine Chapel!  It was everything I could have hoped and imagined it to be.  Of course we weren't allowed to take pictures, which is probably just as well...it allowed more time to focus on actually being there and trying to take it all in.  We probably were able to spend close to 45 minutes there before the guards began shooing us all away.  I do wish I had had time to read about the various scenes beforehand, but I did listen to the Rick Steves guide (partly while in the chapel and partly after the fact), and we bought a 1000-piece puzzle so we are beginning to study it in great detail, LOL!  (It will take quite awhile to finish, methinks!)

By this time we had joined up with the L family, so we all left together.  Brian and Ted made the hike to get the Suburban, and we drove Italian style (i.e. all 13 of us) in the Suburban back to the bungalows, where we crashed and had a pretty decent night of sleep--Seanin slept 6 hours straight!

October 26, 2013

Fun with Grandma & Grandpa

The first week Mom and Dad were here it rained every day.  So no sightseeing for us then, but it worked out just fine because Ted ended up having to work a pretty crazy, stressful schedule instead of taking leave as he had planned.  (We DID take them to the NATO Oktoberfest, and that was fun!) Mom and Dad had plenty of time to deal with jet lag, and the kids managed to get through a few days' worth of school activities before we ended up taking the next week or two completely off.  The little boys and Kenna were in heaven with extra grown-ups around who had plenty of time to read stories or play games--hooray for entertainment and cuddles!

They wore Lucan out!  He fell asleep like this on the couch for a much-needed nap one day!

Grandma was always up for a game of Bananagrams, even if she had to play one-handed!

October 21, 2013

Grandma & Grandpa in Italy!

Once again I'm behind in blogging, but this time I have a reason that's different from the usual "I've been busy with 7 kids" excuse: my parents arrived on October 3 for a three-week visit!  We weren't sure we would get my dad on an airplane to come visit us during our tour here in Naples, and the joke now is that it takes us having a new grandbaby to make that happen!

December 29, 2012, was Mom and Dad's 40th anniversary.  Mom's twin sister, Iola, cooked up a scheme to send notes out to friends and family ahead of time to collect cards and donations toward a trip to Italy for their anniversary gift. Between that and the news of our pregnancy earlier this year, Mom and Dad agreed to begin planning an international trip--a big deal for them both, as neither had been overseas for decades!  (Dad served in Berlin with the army in the late 60s, and Mom served as a missionary nurse in UAE for a year.)

So, a neat story/testimony about all of this...my dad has not flown on an airplane since 1971.  No matter where we have been stationed, he has always driven to see us.  While he enjoys road trips and prefers to see the countryside, part of the reason for his not hopping on a plane has been a longtime anxiety of flying.  Knowing this, my wonderful husband began praying early on during the trip preparations that God would give Dad peace about the journey.  (Meanwhile, I'm almost ashamed to admit, I recommended that Dad ask his doctor for some medication if he thought it would help.)

Fast forward to October 3, 2013, when a joyous reunion took place in our driveway.  (Ted took our small car to pick up Mom and Dad from the airport so he wouldn't have to maneuver the Suburban in the parking garage.)  The kids had made signs for the gate and were eagerly dancing around the driveway, waiting to see Grandma and Grandpa, having said goodbye to them about 15 months before.  Once the welcoming flurry had died down a bit, Dad pulled me aside and showed me a little bottle of medication prescribed by his doctor.  The doc had given him 8 pills, and Dad dumped out the contents onto his hand to show me...8 pills.  He hadn't taken any of them!  He said once he got into his seat on the airplane, he asked himself, Do I trust God, or not??  And he chose right then to completely trust God with the journey.  What a great testimony!  I'm so thankful I have a husband who faithfully prayed over his father-in-law--both the kids AND the wife now have a concrete example of God's faithfulness in answering prayers!