Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Where have I been?

Well, first of all, last Saturday was my 30th birthday! I was treated to a manicure and pedicure by my husband, but that wasn't actually the celebration. It was a way to get me out of the house. While I was gone, about 10 of my girlfriends came over and decorated and prepared food (and helped him with the kids). I came home to a surprise party of about 40 friends! It was so much fun and such a great surprise.

Now that we've been home for about 6 weeks, I've been getting back into a schedule and I'm including a lot more educational activities for Love Bug. She is finally making more connections between English and French, and as a result, both languages have taken huge leaps. She didn't really know any colors or numbers like other kids her age, but now she is finally getting them, and in both languages.

We're also doing more activities outside the house, going on playdates, going to the park. We've gotten more involved in church and I might even join the choir after a few years away- yeah! On top of that, I've gotten involved in Chemo Angels and I'm also doing community service here in Italy.

So, where does this leave blogging? Sadly at the bottom of a very long list. More and more I'm realizing how much fun I have when time with my family is uninterrupted. It's similar to how I don't use a cell phone much. I set aside an hour each morning to send emails before my kids get up and I also make a few phone calls each Sunday- to my brother, aunts, cousins, or close friends. (I also call my Mom every other day.) This is my time to keep in touch, and otherwise, I try to just keep life simple.

Just this week, Love Bug and I were making Valentine's to send to family and friends. We used old gift bags that were a little wrinkled or old, since so many have flowers or hearts- perfect for a Valentine. We cut them out and started decorating with paint, markers, stickers, ribbon. Then, I thought I should share this on my blog (I've been in a funk lately and needed something to post about). I started to take pictures and choreograph our crafting. But it wasn't working. I was taking time away from Love Bug and her activities to do this. (And I would probably take more time away from her to post about it and get it just right.)

I've often thought about posting the funny things that happen to me in Italy or writing about the neat places we travel. But by the time I tell my Mom, laugh about it at dinner with a few friends, and fall into bed, the blog gets neglected again. I keep a travel journal and make photo books, and those are important to me, to keep a hard copy of what we've done in our family.

So, what I'm trying to say, is that I think blogging must go off my schedule. I've mentioned taking some time off before, but now I think it may be more permanent. But I love you guys, my little group of faithful readers, so I know it will be hard to stay away. We'll see how this works with my life and I'll try to stop by once a month until I decide how permanent this is for sure.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Our Christmas...

Welcome to a little tour of our apartment at Christmas... it's about 3 weeks late, but I'm still proud of my decorating. I got it all arranged about two days after we got home, even with two jet-lagged children. This is a view of our foyer and I put up garlands in different doorways all over the house, but I made sure to put one in every doorway of the foyer to make it more festive. You can see far in the background ornaments dangling from the curtain rod. I usually hang ornaments from my chandeliers, but the one in the living room is too low, so I hung them on the curtain rod instead.

Our tree in the living room... it turned out really pretty this year after I found new ribbon to go with the cranberry garland.

This is a view of the dining room from the living room. I have my red ornaments hanging from the chandelier and my dishes are red with silver snowflakes on them. I even have matching snowflake napkin rings and silver chargers. I'll have to do a close up of the table next year.

These are our stockings... we need to find a better place for them. Any suggestions?

A high school friend's parents always used to put bows on top of all the pictures in their house. So I decided to copy the idea a few years ago and bought 60 bows. I used almost all of them, since we have a lot on our walls, but the effect seems worth it to me!

I put our advent calendar on top of the piano, along with some of my nutcrackers. I have over 70 in my collection and you can see them in different photos- along all the windowsills, on top of the crystal cabinet, and other furniture.

We've bought a White House ornament every year and I love them. I wish you could see it better, but the light and close ups are a difficult combination.

This is "La Belfana"... the witch who brings children gifts here in Italy. I think they must have gotten Halloween and Christmas confused here. She's not too scary in the ornament we bought, but some are just ghoulish. We went to a Christmas market and saw some that shake and cackle, and even a few with sparkling red eyes.

My husband buys me (and now Love Bug since her arrival) a snowflake or star crystal ornament every year. I love all of them, but this one from Waterford is special given the company's struggling financial situation. I hope they can improve and don't have to close. I'd hate to think this is my last ornament from there.