Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Book List

Another year of reading is over. I wasn't keeping track of the books we had read this year, and I figured the list wouldn't be long due to our international move. Surprisingly, we read more than I thought! Plus, we have a new reader this year in the Sanders house. Very exciting!

Gabriel and I have been working on learning to read and he loves it. Most of what he reads are short stories or sentences from his reading lessons, but those aren't on this list. To make the list it had to be a complete book, and he had to read the entire thing.

So far each year I post our book list we get emails from family and friends with recommended books or book lists they have read or want to read. This is the part I look forward to when posting our list. I guess I have become quite the book worm. So keep those emails coming! Happy reading, everyone!

The Bible
The Meaning of Marriage
Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith

Ender's Game
The Lions of Lucerne
The Gods of Guilt

The Bible
The Meaning of Marriage
Just Do Something
Give Them Grace
Teach Them Diligently
Slow and Steady Get Me Ready {Referenced}
Cure Tooth Decay
God's Big Picture

Mary Poppins
Left Behind
Tribulation Force
What Alice Forgot

Meet the Sight Words Level 1 (Books 1-12)
Meet the Sight Words Level 2 (Books 1-12)
BOB Books Set 1 (Books 1-12)
BOB Books Set 2 (Books 1-12)
BOB Books Set 3 (Books 1-8)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 Christmas Ornament

One of my favorite holiday traditions is adding a new ornament to the tree that represents something from that year. This year, I have been searching all over for a Italian Christmas ornament. But surprisingly I haven't found any ornament that were made in Italy. I was also looking for ornaments at different touristy places we've visited, but wasn't really happy with what I found. My ornaments usually have to match my red and gold theme. So I decided to try to make an ornament from a wine cork. The wine was from Italy, and I'm making it while living in Italy. So that seems pretty Italian to me! Here's what I came up with.

I am not completely happy with it, so I also went back to and purchased an ornament representing Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper painting, which is located just one block from our apartment. I guess I'll have two ornaments for this year.

Here are the ornaments from the past few years.
2013 - The birth of Hope Lynn Sanders
2012 - M&M from Las Vegas's M&M World
2011 - The birth of Gabriel John Sanders
2010 - Royal crown from London
2009 - Aloha Hawaiian honeymoon

Monday, December 22, 2014

American Thanksgiving in Italy

It took quite a bit of prep work to get ready for an American Thanksgiving while living in Italy. My mom brought a few ingredients from the States to make it all work. I was surprised how difficult it was to find a whole turkey here! Fortunately, an American friend tipped me off and I was able to order from a butcher that wasn't too far away.

We invited our Italian friends to join us who live in the nearby town of Brescia. It was so much fun to share our American traditions with them! Unfortunately, we forgot to take a group picture so most of my shots are of the food.

The festivities started with Gabriel (3) and Enrique (5) sliding backward on their backs. I have no clue why. Boys...

Like typical Americans, the boys went outside to play football while the girls stayed in to finish the cooking. But being in Italy, we decided European football was appropriate. Gabriel is slowly getting better at it, but he came back inside with an injury to the nose. You can see in the picture he's quite proud of it.

Then came the food. Enrique said his favorite dish was the candied yams. Louis and Melissa say they enjoyed everything, but especially the waldorf salad and stuffing.

Oh and the picture perfect bird. It was worth the hunt to find one!

After the meal we served pumpkin pie and apple pie with American coffee. Yum!

Gigi in Milan

After our trip to Rome, we spent the rest of Gigi's visit in Milan.

Gigi taught Gabriel to play "Dots" and "Tic-Tac-Toe".

After bath time, Hope always asks to be a Papoose. During Gigi's visit, she made sure Gigi saw her when she was dressed as a Papoose, and even after Gigi left, she has asked to send pictures when she's dressed as a Papoose.

We love our reading time.

 Here I am at the market buying some fresh Orata fish for dinner. Orata has become a favorite of ours after being introduced by our Italian friends, Melissa and Louis. It's caught locally, in the Mediterranean, and is very easy to clean and cook.

And cleaning the fish.

My kids are just the cutest!

Do we look alike?

We visited Milan's Duomo, which was absolutely beautiful! Completely different from many of the other churches we have seen in Italy. This one is very Gothic, and surprisingly dark inside. But again, absolutely beautiful.

Me and the kids with Milan's Arco della Pace in the background.

Rome in November

My mom (aka Gigi to the kids) came to visit in November. We took 5 days and went to Rome. It's such an amazing place! I loved all the rich history that spans a time frame of what seems like forever. Here are some highlights.

One of my favorite sites was actually not the most popular. It's the Mamertine Prison. Some say (although it's not certain) that this is the prison the apostle Paul was sent to. Whether or not this is the actual prison, I found it fascinating to see what a prison in that time was like. The prisoners were lowered through a hole in the ground. Gabriel is looking through the hole in this picture. In recent years, a stairway was put in for tourists to walk to the level below, but that was not there originally. Prisoners left the prison cell in two ways. One way is by placing a ladder into the hole and having a soldier assist the prisoner in climbing out. The second way is to dispose of a prisoner's dead body via the sewer.

Once we went down the stairs, we saw how small the prison cell was. This particular cell had a plaque set up for Paul.

We visited a few museums, all of which were filled with statues and busts. After a while they became less amusing, because there were just so many.

Hope enjoyed sticking her finger in the horses mouth on this old stone coffin.

We visited all the popular sights. The Spanish steps.

The Pantheon.

Our kids playing on the floor of the Pantheon.

A stop for gelato.

The Vatican was so amazing that my pictures won't do it justice. First off, it was massive. The museums were endless and I was struck by the intricacy of the artwork on the walls and ceilings.

Another kid on the floor. It's how we roll.

We enjoyed dinner at a restaurant that specialized in wines. This huge book is their wine book! One of the bottles listed was €6000!

We decided the kids needed another gelato stop.

The Colosseum was also amazing. It was amazing to learn about the "games" and battles here. Did you know that a politician would try to put on the best show by gathering prisoners, wild animals and props for a battle at the Colosseum in order to gain popularity and more votes?

Animals and gladiators would rise up from trap doors in the floor and make their entrance into the battle.

I loved watching this daddy-daughter time while hanging out at the Colosseum. They were singing "Do-Re-Mi".

Three generations here.

 Walking through the Roman Forum, where the business and market center was.

Such a handsome boy.

 And enjoying some tasty soup with baby octopus!

I really loved Rome. We didn't see everything even though our five days were packed with activity. It was a great trip!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Greece in October

In October we took some time off and traveled to Greece. What a beautiful place! We first went to Athens and were amazed by the history and architecture there. Then, we flew to the island of Crete and stayed at a beach resort. In Crete we did nothing but play on the beach or in the pool or read a book in the sun. Having some down time was welcomed by the whole family, and to this day Gabriel still thanks God for the beach in his prayers.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Acropolis and Parthenon

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

View from our room in Crete

She is always sucking on her fingers

He never stopped making sand castles

Gabriel showing Hope how to add water to the sand