Sunday, January 22, 2017

Rainy Day in Venice

Next on our itinerary was VENICE!!!! 

Venice has been on my shortlist of dream places I want to visit for a long time,  and I was a tad disappointed that,  despite my best efforts to fit it in,  it never did end up making sense to squeeze into our itinerary in May, especially since the rest of my family was more keen on seeing Rome.   I reluctantly gave up on trying to add it in only with the promise that Glen would try to get me there someday.  

Little did I know that I  would have the opportunity a mere  six months later.  

I was so excited when Kristina and I were making plans for this trip and I realized that Venice could actually happen.    We ended up with barely 24-hours there, but it was 24-hours of a dream come true for me!    

   

To maximize our time there, we went on a gondola ride around town...





I could gush and gush about how much I loved it, but I think I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.







Basilica de San Marco (Saint Mark's)








It was rainy, beautiful,  and I LOVED it!   

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Friday, January 20, 2017

In the Last 24-Hours....

In the last 24-hours:   

Ellie and I gave a presentation at a local Cub Scout troop.  Ellie taught them about her seizures and talked about how we should treat everyone with kindness and respect.   We talked about the differences that people might have and how we are all children of God.   We also talked about ways we could look out for others, be their friends, and help when people need.    Ellie was well-spoken, confident, and did a great job teaching those little guys an important message.   :) 

Ever since we passed the 5th year anniversary of Spencer's diagnosis with AML (on January 10th), I've been wanting to give blood again.  In my younger years, I gave blood on a regular basis, but I struggle to keep my iron levels where they should be now that I'm older.   Emma decided she wanted to give blood for the first time too, so we decided to take advantage of it being inauguration day (and thus a day off of school here in the DC area) and finally donate this morning.  


I gave mine easy peasy, then walked over to the recovery section to rest for a few minutes.   There I found a very pale woman on the verge of passing out.  There were no employees in the recovery area, so I held on to her and called for someone to come help.  Employees came rushing to aid her and sent me to run get cold water bottles (twice), juice, paper towels, and a straw.   Yes, I just gave blood myself and they sent me running five separate times to retrieve items for them.   Luckily I felt 100% fine and was happy to help where I could, but I did laugh that they were so quick to rely on someone who'd just barely donated blood themselves.    They got the woman to lie down and she was fine before I left.   Unfortunately Emma's iron levels were .1 too low and she was unable to donate today,  so she'll have to try again another time.     

After that excitement, we went out for breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien.  

It was delicious and a good way to ensure I got a little more time to rest and get some good fuel in me before embarking on the rest of the day.   

I was quite enamored with my breakfast.   :) 

After that, I walked to the car and was greeted by a woman with a car parked near mine in need of a jump.  I got my jumper cables, jumped her car, and went on my way satisfied and grateful for the opportunities I've had to serve my community four separate times in the last 24-hours. 

Now we are home absorbing the fact that Donald Trump is now our president.   
God Bless America. 




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Friday, January 13, 2017

Welcoming in 2017

Anyone who knows us in person will likely not be surprised to find out that Glen and I have very sedate social lives.  I could do a whole blogpost on some of the reasons why, mostly having to do with the strong introverted tendencies of my spouse, but we'll save that for another day.   Suffice it to say, that New Year's this year was no exception to New Years of past and was quite sedate.  

Spence went to hang out with friends.   Emma and Adam went off to the New Year's dance at church and Glen also went to chaperone.   

Emma and Adam  had a great time there hanging out with friends and dancing the night away! 

But that left only Ellie, me, and Ellie's friend Caroline as the keepers of the home front.  I was teaching the lesson in YW the next day, so I kept to myself most of the night to keep preparing, and the girls watched a cheesy movie, ate snacks, and I joined them for the ball drop.    I couldn't figure out how to open the sparkling cider without a bottle opener, which was missing, or find the "poppers", so we just cheered.   Then went to bed.   Yay for 2017! 


The next day we went to church, then had our traditional "Dinner in Bethlehem".    It tasted delicious and I thought it looked so lovely on my brand new dishes.  

Here is all of us gathered to eat it.  

Adam made the baklava all by himself.  

Then on Monday, since it was technically a federal holiday because New Years was on a Sunday, we all went laser tagging.   It was quite fun, especially having Glen there.  He's been working long hours lately and we like spending time with him whenever we can.  

After that, there was a whole lot of this going on....

Happy New Year 2017!!!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Day in Barcelona

November 2-3, 2016

Next stop on our trip was BARCELONA, Spain!!!!

This was my first time visiting Spain, so I was very excited to be there.   We arrived in the evening time and, due to some extreme "hangriness" going on,  immediately needed to find a place to eat.   We lucked into somewhere pretty good and enjoyed satiating our hunger and getting our first taste of real deal Spanish food  

After dinner we went out and walked up and down Las Ramblas, a lively pedestrian walkway through the heart of Barcelona.

After all that good food and a low key day of hanging out on the airplane/taxi, we were still somewhat energetic after dinner, so we explored straight until bedtime...

Kristina was excited to rediscover these lion statues at the Christopher Columbus monument...

She had a picture of herself on one from 20+ years ago, so she was extra excited to try to recreate the pictures.  The boys were quite happy to find their first Mr. Mime (an exclusive Pokemon that can only be found in Europe) there on the streets of Barcelona that night. 

We woke up the next morning raring to go and take advantage of our only full day in Barcelona.    We loved these patterned streets and sidewalks. 

And loved seeing the world famous architecture of Antoni Gaudi up close and personal...


The streets of Barcelona are dotted with his ornate and creative buildings.   


The most famous of Gaudi's works is the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, which is a large Gothic style catholic church that he started building, but only got about a quarter of the way done before he died in 1926. 

And to this day, they're still laboring to make his vision a reality...

It is exceedingly ornate and they don't  expect it to be done for another 10-years!  


After oohing and ahhing over the Sagrada Familia, we kept walking through the heart of Barcelona...


We got some lunch....

And headed up to the Parc Güell....

The Parc Güell was envisioned by entrepreneur, Eusebi Güell, as a sort of municipal garden in the early 1900's, and he hired the aforementioned Antoni Gaudi as the head designer and architect.    

With Gaudi as the architect, it's not surprising that it's a one-of-a-kind place.  It reminded me of a sort of real life gingerbread village...

We loved the interesting angles and attention to details (like that gorgeous tilework on the bench). 

We were also quite enamored with the hillside view overlooking the city.  

We explored for quite a while until I had a little meltdown.  

We'd all done great up to that point of the trip, but now we were a week in and had walked over 10-miles already that day.  Add to that that we were jet-lagged, hungry, and one of my kids started acting somewhat  obnoxiously.  This didn't make for a good combination and if you had been in Park Güell that afternoon,  you may or may not have seen a crazy American woman crying real tears, stomping up the hill, and scolding a certain child in a loud voice for being an ungrateful brat.  

In other words, a few too many Barcelonian tourists got an unpleasant little sideshow that day.   

On the bright side though, that crazy woman stomped so high and so long that they got to the tippy top of the hill above the park.  It's called Carmel Hill and it was a serendipitous and happy diversion from the grumpy escapades from below.  

The exertion from the frustrated and angry march up the hill partially had burned off some of the negative energy already, but to be greeted with such a glorious  view really did soothe my heart the rest of the way. 

I fell so in love with Barcelona from that vantage point...

and made it my goal to come back and explore it more fully (and without children) someday.  

<sigh>

Isn't it lovely?   Don't you want to come back with me someday? 

Now that I was finally calmed down, we didn't want to leave...

I finally consented to a quick picture with K, before heading back down again.  

We'd logged a whole lot of miles that day and decided to hopefully prevent the aggravation of a certain person and take a taxi to our next destination.   Too bad the cab driver had no clue what he was doing and he dropped us off at the Olympic Stadium instead of the castle on the hill that we were trying to get to.     And we, the stupid Americans,  didn't know any better and just paid him and realized that we still had more than a mile left to walk.     

Eventually we got there.  It was closed.   We took a sky tram back down, then walked another mile or two back to our hotel.  

A little gelato helped us keep going.  

We got back to the hotel eventually and  we all slept verrrrrrrryyyyyyy well that night!   

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