Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Moving to Antwerp

It's time to move again! Our short one-year stay in Italy has been wonderful, but we are also looking forward to living in Antwerp. We are planning to move the last week of July, and we will be moving into our new home on August 3.

I don't know too much about Antwerp yet, but here's what I do know. They are known for diamonds, chocolate, waffles and beer, they still have a King and Queen (I told Hope it was kind of like Elsa and Anna from Disney's Frozen), and our house will have a big backyard for the kids! Have I gotten anyone excited for a visit? I hope to see many of you while we are in Antwerp!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Father's Day 2015

This Father's Day I let Gabriel help decide what to do. He said he wanted to take Daddy to some of the shops near the Duomo and buy him a "boy gift". So off we went!

Gabriel ended up picking out some Superman underwear for the gift, and now asks Richard to wear it on days he's wearing his own superman underwear.

I also gave the kids a little survey to see what they thought about their Daddy.

Happy Father's Day to a wonderful Daddy!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sicily in June

The first week of June we had an amazing 8 day trip to Sicily. The main theme of the trip was beach and relaxation, and it was wonderful! We spent the first half of the vacation in Giardini Naxos, near Taormina, and the second half near Syracusa.

In Giardini Naxos, the Hilton hotel upgraded us to a sea view room. From our balcony we could see the hotel's private beach.

The beach wasn't sandy, but instead it had tiny smooth pebbles. The boys were still able to run and play frisbee, while Hope dug in the pebbles near me.

Richard and the kids enjoyed throwing pebbles into the water.

This is the view from breakfast overlooking the pool and the sea.

In Taormina, there was a cute street that had plenty of shops and restaurants. I grabbed another Christmas ornament as a souvenir, matching my red/gold theme of course. I loved the popular Sicilian colors and designs, which included lemons and greenery in yellow, red and green.

Located at the top of the hill is an old amphitheater called Teatro Antico di Taormina (Ancient Theater of Taormina) which is still in use. From the top of the theater steps you have a great view of the sea and Mount Etna, which is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Due to the frequency of its activity the soil around it is very rich, making it a great place for vineyards and orchards.

Part of our lunch in Taormina included this rainbow of mouth watering bruschette. This plate was just too pretty not to take a picture.

Our sea side view from dinner one night. We had the best table, which was right by the sand, and we watched an orange moon rise up once it got dark.

We had plenty of fun pool time!

In Siracusa we stayed at a resort, so most of our days were spent at the beach or the pool, but we took one day to go into the historic part of town called Isola di Ortigia. This is really like its own little island, and there is a castle at the very tip. Here we are at the Duomo di Siracusa.

Just a nice view of the green/blue water.

Back at the resort, the kids played pinball for the very first time.

The beach here was sandy so we had fun digging holes and putting kids in them.

And our little dirt baby enjoyed rolling around in the dirt.

The food at the resort was amazing. Fresh fish, octopus (Gabriel's favorite) and mussels. The mussels were so tasty I ended up getting three servings! Hey, don't judge me.

Overall an amazing trip. I highly recommend Sicily. I'm sure there are many more places to visit in Sicily that are just as nice as where we were. We had great food and plenty of sun and relaxation. A successful vacation indeed!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Gender Reveal for Baby Sanders

We love gender reveal parties, and so we decided to throw one last minute the day after we arrived back from a trip. I went to my Dr appointment prior to our trip and found out the gender, but no one else knew. The following weekend, I made a cake and had friends over for the big reveal. About half the people thought it would be a boy and the other half thought it would be a girl. Richard claims to have known the gender all along. To his credit, he told me what he thought it would be, and he was right. In fact, he's never been wrong! Not sure how he knows, but he just does.

Before the party I asked the kids if they knew what was going on and what gender they thought the baby was.

And here is the big reveal!


Venice in May

I keep meaning to get better about posting updates to our blog. I know many family and friends still receive the updates and I want to use this as a way to keep in touch. So... here's my attempt at getting going again!

In May we visited Venice, but not all together as a family. Richard went with his sister and brother-in-law, Sarah and David. The kids and I went a few days later with my mom. Our visitors had a one-day overlap in Milan, which was fun.

This is Piazza San Marco. Located in this square are Doge's Palace, Basilica di San Marco, the bell tower, plus museums, shops and restaurants. It's quite large, and we enjoyed just taking in the sites from here.

This is a view of Venice from the water, where you can see the tower and Doge's palace to the right of the tower.

Doge's Palace is no longer a functioning palace. It used to be the Palace of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former republic of Venice. The palace has art and decor covering every wall and even the ceilings. This is a staircase with beautiful domed ceiling.

This is the Chamber of the Great Council, which is ornately decorated, and very large. Richard took a picture in the same spot as the kids and I, just a few days apart. So it's like we were there together, right?

Attached to the palace are the prison cells (weird, huh?), and there is a bridge that leads prisoners to their cell. Peaking through this bridge, pictured here, is the last view of the outside world the prisoners would have before being taken to their dark cell.

My mom and the kids and I went to Murano, which is a series of islands famous for making glass. In 1291, the glassmakers in Venice were forced to move to Murano. The thought was that if there were a fire to break out during the process of making glass, the factories would be isolated on a separate island than the residents of Venice. We picked up a couple souvenirs here, and I just had to get a glass ornament for my Christmas tree! Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture prior to packing it up.

A shot of me next to one of the many bridges.

And mom on another bridge.

Just a typical view of Venice from the water.

We couldn't go to Venice and not take a ride on a gondola. And we enjoyed every minute of it! We went through tight alleys where I was sure only one boat at a time could fit. We went past famous buildings, all of which I can't remember now. I think one was the residence of a famous composer at one time.... who knows.

Here is a view from the sidewalk of the  gondolas making their way through.

My only picture of Sarah and David in Venice. Hi guys!

And here, Richard, Sarah and David are proudly displaying their tasty gelato. When in Italy, eat lots of gelato!

Cinque Terre in May

May was a great time to visit Cinque Terre. This is a series of five towns located on the coast south of Genoa. The landscape is hilly, so the towns are built into the side of the hills. It's really beautiful to see. The weather was not too hot and there weren't as many people as in the peak season. We did have a bit of rain, but it didn't ruin our trip. Here are some highlights from the trip.