Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Babysitting in Montegalda, Italy

While Rebecca and Steve spent 10 days in Tanzania, Hunter and I took care of their two rambunctious little sons: Christian, 4 and Logan, 2. It was a challenging and, I can honestly say, fun time for all! Following are some of the activities we shared together:

Soccer Practice

Reading is fun.

Swimming Lessons


First day of school.


Eating gelato

Bubble Baths


Inventive play

Grandchildren are TRULY one of God's greatest gifts!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

You want what for a snack?

When your grandson asks for a snack wouldn't you expect him to ask for candy, cookies, or hopefully some fruit or baby carrots? What does my 4 year old grandson ask for? finocchio
He's turning into a TRUE Italian. Eating gnocchi last night for dinner and saying scusi (Italian for excuse me) without realizing what he said, proves it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

More Traveling in Italy (Part 2) The Italian Riviera

Labor Day week-end found us (Hunter, Rebecca, Steve, Christian, Logan, & myself) "tucked away" in a cozy bed and breakfast located in the hills of the Italian Riviera. Sound wonderful? Well, it was-to a certain extent. Have you ever driven through an area of the country or world for that matter where tree covered mountains and valleys roll on and on like ocean waves in a mild storm and you see actual houses perched atop or nestled in the upper elevations of those mountains? You ask to whomever is listening, "Do people actually live up there in those houses? And how do they get there?" More than once Hunter and I have had that conversation in our travels. This week-end we found the answer to those two questions. Yes, people live up that high, even offering bed and breakfast accommodations and they get there on ridiculously narrow roads!
It is difficult for me to even try and describe the trek we took via our two cars to our bed and breakfast which we had booked for three nights. The drive to the little city where we would be staying was beautiful as we caught our first glimpse of the ocean and the "cliffs" of the Italian Riviera. Rebecca, in the lead car, had specific printed directions to reach our final destination. As we started our ascent up the mountain Hunter and I, following in a rented car, felt certain she was lost, but we faithfully followed. Actually there were moments I refused to look out my window since the drop was hundreds of feet straight down with no guardrail. Most of the time the road was smaller than a normal one-way street. When we met another car, yes there were other "nuts" living up there, one of us had to back up until the road widened enough to allow passage! It took us about 30 minutes of white knuckled stress to arrive at a "parking lot" of sorts. But we weren't there yet! Now we had exactly 172 stone steps to climb, through a small grape orchard, and on up to our destination. Huffing and puffing we finally reached the "top" and were greeted by the hostess who showed us lovely rooms and had wine and juice for us on the veranda which overlooked the valley.
We all agreed it was charming, after getting our "altitude legs". Then the thought ran through my mind, "We have to take that road every day?" Wow-I guess we have no other choice but we sure want to be back here before dark and pray for good weather!
The week-end was delightfully spent taking boat rides, eating, watching the kids on the beach, reading and relaxing while taking in breathe-taking scenery. All went well until the last day/night. We visited Genoa and then had some difficulty with our directions getting out of the city. Being delayed caused the sun to set over us-OK we are going to have to travel that treacherous road in the dark but at least its not-oh no-it IS storming and torrentially raining. Yikes!!
I kid you not when I say that the trip was one of the worst rides of my life-stressful and dangerous. God definitely guided us all the way, considering Steve (in the lead) said he basically couldn't see the road most of the time and had to have Rebecca keep her window down and continually look out to be sure the tires were on the road! We did safely make it to the parking lot and then walked, carrying toddlers up 172 stone steps in the downpour. An experience I NEVER want to duplicate. The week-end was ONE TO REMEMBER!! Check out the photos, which don't begin to share the trip but give you at least a glimpse of our "fun"!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

More Traveling in Italy (Part 1)

Biking in traffic is a skill Hunter and I have honed to "perfection" after 3 years maneuvering the narrow streets and alleys of Beijing, China from 2000-2003. Now we are encountering some similar situations in Italy-not as many people but semis too big for narrow Italian roads, and semis that seem bent on meeting tight work schedules leaving no time for slowly and safely passing two "silly" bikers on one red and blue tandem!

Recently we chose to bike to Cittadella, a medieval walled city in the province of Padua, northern Italy, founded in the thirteenth century as a military outpost of Padua. Getting there was a test of bike against semis. We won, eventually arriving in the city but were exhausted from the 20 mile "battle". Thankfully we could enjoy touring the little city and feast on our first Italian pizza, complete with thin, crispy crust and yummy toppings-one of which was a fried egg?? The return bike trip took us longer since we took a few incorrect turns, adding 10 extra miles! I guess you'd say we are getting our "seats" in shape for our ride through Tuscany the end of September. Fun, Fun, Fun!