Saturday, July 23, 2005
Monday, June 27, 2005
Monday, June 13, 2005
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Kerrie told the person at the parks place that our daughter was a little person and wouldn't be able to stand in the 4ft section.
So the lady called someone else for approval and said: "She's a little too old, but is it ok? I think she is a dwarf."
I don't think that's what Kerrie meant by "little person."
Either way, she can take the class now.
In the evening of Day 2, we visited the central train station in Rome to by our tickets to travel to Florence by train. The train left in the morning around 9:45.
It turns out that there are actually a lot of trains there that go to Florence. Some are fast (1.5 hours) and some are slow (3.5 hours). Luckily, we bought a ticket for one of the fast/direct trains, which is a little more expensive.
Unluckily, we actually got on one of the slow trains. Our train was not on the "board", and then one appeared with a time a few minutes before the time on our tickets. They didn't seem to give you much time between when your train first appeared on the board and to get to your train (and this is a large, large station). So we rushed to the right platform as soon as we saw that, thinking that maybe our train was a little early or something because surely they couldn't have two trains just a few minutes apart.
Well we got on and apparently we were wrong -- this was the slow train. When the guy finally came around to collect tickets he laughed at us a little bit, but it was no big deal. We actually realized before it got going that it was the wrong train, and as we decided to get off -- the doors closed.
Once we got to Florence, it was a much nicer place than Rome overall -- much cleaner and prettier. It was a short walk from the train station there to our hotel, which was nicer than the one in Rome. (And although all of the hotels said they had air conditioning, none actually did).
I think we first visited the art gallery -- Galleria dell'Accademia -- where the statue of David satnds. (No pictures allowed). We were surprised at how tall the statue actually was, and how lifelike and detailed it was. There were lots of art-student-looking types sitting around it trying to sketch it on paper.
Then we went walking, and we first visited the Duomo and the Baptistry. The
Baptistry is a small building outside the main cathedral with an amazing mosaic ceiling and detailed bronze doors.
The Duomo has a very ornate facade and large dome that we walked to the top of on the next day, I think.
At one point it started raining, and we stood on the steps of the Duomo to protect ourselves from the rain, which is when I took these pictures.
After that, we walked to a square where they have another statue of David and down to the river in front of the Ponte Vecchio, over the Arno river -- the only bridge in Florence not destroyed by the Nazis when they left in 1944.
I think this was also the day we discovered the joy of Italian Gelato (ice cream) and from that day on had to get it at least once a day.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Sunday, June 05, 2005
We took it back to Toys R Us and they said they hadn't seen one like that before. Of course, the one we got was the last one they had. Luckily, we were able to get them to give us the floor model and without charging us for the assembly of it. So in the end it turned out ok, but it was a waste of time.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Elizabeth opened her birthday presents yesterday. We especially had a
lot of fun with the "magic box". Basically it's a box with a mirror in
it that allows you to "hide" things in the box and then make them
It even came with a book describing the various tricks you could play.
Like make the rabbit disappear. Or make the ball disappear. Come to
think of it, all the tricks had to do with something disappearing and
Actually it was fun, and I think Elizabeth enjoys being an entertainer.
However, the funniest part was when I was demonstrating the "tricks",
Maddie already had them figured out. She would say: "It's not gone --
open the door on the top!" So despite the coolness of the magic box,
it's magic tricks don't fool a 2 year old. (Maybe I just wasn't doing
I guess I have to assemble her new bicycle this weekend.. I'm sure it
came in about 10,000 separate parts.
Tomorrow afternoon we've got a birthday with her entire Kindergarten
class (all 30) at "Pump it Up", a place with a bunch of slides and
inflatable stuff for kids to play on. Actually it's a "co-birthday"
party, because another kid in her class shares her birthday -- so at
least we have help.
Monday, May 30, 2005
I forgot that towards the end of Day 1, we went to the church of Santa Susanna, which is the "American" church in Rome. The reason was to pick up our tickets for the Wednesday papal audience. We had signed up for the tickets through their web site ahead of time. When we got there, it turns out they really didn't seem to have a list with our names on it from the web site. However, it appeared they were just giving the tickets away to anyone who came by, so we picked two up and left.
We took the subway to get near the Vatican, and then walked into the main plaza area. There were lots of people heading in that direction. Along the way we stopped and bought a few roasaries to get blessed in the papal audience. (Unfortunately, the one I got has an odd number of beads and I don't understnad why).
Finally, to get in to the St. Peter's square, you had to go through some metal detectors that looked like 1970s technology.
We did get to see the pope -- from afar. First he came out in his little PopeMobile(TM) and drove through the crowd. Had we understood this ahead of time, we could have sat much closer to where we could have seen him close up. Then he went up front, and we listed to the general audience. There was a pslam and reflection in Italian, then he greeted people from various countries in many different languages. He really did sound like he was not doing so well by then, but it was still special to get to see the pope.
After this, we headed over to the Vatican Museums, the highlight of which was seeing the Sistene Chapel. The museums were huge, of course, but I was surprised overall at how much of it was sculptures. The Sistene Chapel was amazing -- it was so colorful -- almost like a cartoon. We weren't allowed to take pictures in there (although there were a lot of people sneaking shots), but I think it would have been hard to get the feel for it through pictures anyway. The only thing I was dissapointed about was that it was very crowded in there, and there were a lot of people not being all that repectful. (Although there were museum staff going around telling people to be quiet).
After that we headed over to tour St. Peter's Basilica. We spent a lot of time wandering around it -- seeing the Pieta, the statue of St. Peter (that has his foot worn down from everyone rubbing it -- it's encouraged), the central main altar, and the on-display preserved body of Pope John XXIII. There are about 30 altars within the basilica, and it appeared that Mass was being said somewhere in it at all times.
A few of the side chapels were being restored, and we thought it was funny there was a sign in front of one of them in Italian that (roughly) said: "The Chapel of the Presentation of the Virgin. The dome is being restored with the support of... the Lottery"
After leaving the basilica, we got some pictures of the Swiss Guard (who looked like jesters with spears) and visited the Vatican bookstore.
We then walked down to Castel San Angelo, which really wasn't all that interesting.
see all pictures for Day 2
I think tomorrow she's going to take her to look at bicycles... we have to figure out what the right size is because her current one is too small.
Elizabeth and Maddie spent most of the day playing outside in the back yard whiel I worked... that new swing set has provided hours of entertainment for Elizabeth not requiring our assistance -- which is good.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Day 1 (see all pictures)
After landing at Rome's Fuimicino airport in the morning, we took a train into Rome to the central train station. Our hotel was a short walk from there. This is not an expecially nice part of the city, and our hotel was very basic -- for only 12o euros a night! This was our room --
After settling in our room, the first place we headed was towards St. John Lateran Bascilica. This church, not St. Peter's, is actually the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome and considered the Mother Church of all churches in the world.
Here you can see the "baldacchino" over the central altar in the basicilica. This church is a Patriarchal Bascilica, which among other things means that it's main altar can only be used by the Pope himself.
Near St. John's is a small site called the "Scala Sancta" or Holy Stairs. Underneath the marble stairs are wooden stairs that tradition holds were the stairs leading up to the Praetoreum of Pilate in Jerusalum and used by Christ during his Passion. Apparently during Lent people will walk up these stairs on their knees in penance.
After getting our first Italian pizza, we headed on foot down some streets towards the Coliseum. We were a little in awe of our first glimpse of it looking down one of the narrow roads between the basilica and the Coliseum.
Once we got there, we got a lot of pictures of the Coliseum and the nearby Roman Forum. We took a guided tour around the Coliseum and Forum which was entertaining and a little nicer than just walking around looking at ruins on our own. For example, one thing they point out to you in the Forum is the tomb of Julius Ceasar.
I think the last place we ended up visting that day was the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (Mary of the Angels).
see all pictures for Day 1
Later in the afternoon, I thought it would be fun to look at some areas where they are building new homes. I don't think we actually want to move anywhere soon, but sometimes I think it would be nice to have a new home instead of this old one, that we have put a lot of work into. The downside is that most of these new homes have very small lots; however, that might not be so bad compared to having all these trees to clean up after like we have now. Also, almost anywhere that they are building new homes is further away from work than we are now. I also sometimes wonder if we would be better off buying the most expensive house we could afford -- because they appreciate so fast here.
After stopping by Target for some necessities, we had dinner at the Mongolian Grill and came home. Maddie was concerned in the car that if the new baby was a boy, that she didn't want to be a big brother. We had to reassure her that no matter what, she would be a sister.
Elizabeth wanted to watch "Elf" once we got home, so it's playing now.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Thursday, May 26, 2005
So today, I decided to take her to park after we dropped Elizabeth off at school. We went with another mom friend of ours and her three year old little boy. Maddie and the boy played great together for the first hour or so and then the boy had to go to the bathroom. The park bathrooms were locked (because they don't unlock them or turn on water in the water fountains until June 1st). So the mom told the little boy he would have to wait. He said "I want to pee in the bushes". So the mom decided that was the best thing to do since he was newly potty trained and she didn't want a mess in the car and he was willing to go in the bushes. Madeline was fascinated by the idea that one could go pee outside of the confines of a diaper or a bathroom stall. So Madeline has a fit saying over and over that she wanted to pee in the bushes too. I explained to her that she was wearing a pull-up and could go in it or we could go home and she could go in the baby potty but she could not pee in the bushes because she was a girl. She was mad but seemed to get over it and I didn't think too much more about it.
So then we leave the park because it is time to get Elizabeth from school and when I load her in the car she says "if the baby is a boy, he can pee in the bushes." "If the baby is a girl, she has to pee in a baby potty." Ahh, the disadvantages of being a girl.
So instead today we had a work party at a local park, where we had a barbecue. We also played ultimate frisbee where you basically have two teams and try to get the frisbee to the other end to score. The only meaninful rules are that you can't run with the frisbee, and if the team that is trying to throw it doesn't complete the pass, the other team gets it. I got tired out pretty fast playing this, but it was fun.
Another tradition of our team (and MS in general) is that we like to throw people into water. The park is on a lake, so we were able to carry a few people (somewhat against their will) and throw them off a dock into the lake. They get the opportunity to remove their cell phones and other electronic gadgets before being thrown in.
Tomorrow is still another "moving day" so I'm probably going to do some work from home and catch up on a bunch of stuff that I never have time to get done at work because there are too many distractions.
I have to figure out what project to take on over the Memorial Day weekend... there are so many things around the house left undone... The decks need painted; I want to put new trim, lights & doors in the hallway (and scrape the ceiling); there's a little bit of work left on the girl's updated "fort"; we could use a fence; or I suppose I could sit around and do nothing....