Monday, October 25, 2010

Candy for the Soul

My soul is feeling all light and joyful after witnessing Peep Daughter's youth orchestra concert last night, especially since I was finally able to sport my latest OPI acquisition called Lincoln Park After Dark. Even though photo/videotaping was banned from the concert, at least I could admire my sweet manicure whilst jamming the night away.

Bravo to an amazing concert!

Far right - OPI 'Lincoln Park After Dark'

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Last Full Day in New Mexico

Our last full day visiting family in New Mexico landed on Friday, October 15th, 2010 - and we made it an adventurous day to say the least. Starting off on a casual note, I woke up @7:00 a.m. and cleaned up for the day, then popped into the Peeps room to find them both being all leisurely, complete with Nintendo DS gaming, reading and writing "stories" on the laptop computer. Then to get Peep Son and Peep Daughter powered up, I fed each of them a MONGO SIZED banana muffins & juice while I swigged a double shot of espresso. Heavenly!

And we were off and running:
  • Drove through Jemez Mountains, entered Pueblo and savored some delectable fry bread from local vendor's home beside the highway. The Peeps and I made a few off-handed remarks about how Jillian Michaels threw away this particular food item on a Losing it with Jillian TV episode. Good thing we only ate ONE piece of bread and divided it up between all 5 of us - that stuff is a big 'no no', apparently.
  • Toured Jemez State Monument where we walked through the trail and photographed ruins. Granny and I took it slow while Grandpa and the Peeps climbed all over the place.

    Peeps & Grandpa Explore Jemez State Monument

  • Drove to Soda Dam where we found more walking trails and took even more pics. A guy and his son were fishing down by the water oblivious to the Peeps as they climbed all over the place once again, a theme they had going on throughout our adventures.

    Peeps & Grandpa climbing around Soda Dam

  • Took off toward Los Alamos where we gratefully found a Subway to satisfy our appetites for lunch before our next trek through the nearby museum.
  • Toured Bradbury Science Museum where we learned more about the history of nuclear weapons, a seemingly favorite topic amongst the Peeps.

    Hands-on Activities at Bradbury Museum

  • Shopped at the bookstore and found some interesting nuclear-related souvenirs to take home. I bought hubs a shot glass baring the picture of a big mushroom cloud on its side and a t-shirt for Peep Daughter that said "Get a Half Life" with a chart of a radioactive particle's half life. Convenient, I know.
  • Drove to Santa Fe and shopped our hearts out at the Fashion Outlets, or at least it was the best we could do in the span of 30 minutes since everyone was ready to head back home for the afternoon. And wouldn't you know I found a Nike outlet store? Yep, and bought a few t-shirts and a pair of workout pants. Go me!
  • Headed back to my folks house where we started packing up our stuff for the early flight home in the morning, then heated up our Olive Garden leftovers for dinner. (It was amazing, even the second time around.) Grandpa started up a movie for the kids while I resumed washing clothes and packing, the perfect way to round off our day.

    Family Movie Time

  • Finally it was grand finale time where we roasted marshmallows over the backyard fire pit and made s'mores while Hubs joined us virtually by way of Google video chat, which was AWESOME by the way. How great to have all of us together even though it was with the help of a webcam.

    Roasting Marshmallows over Fire Pit
Packing... packing... packing... zzzzzz...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day #2 Visit to NM

Today we were on a mission to find some activities everyone would enjoy, especially the Peep Son who really didn't care for site-seeing and shopping the day before. And guess what? We achieved like nobody's business! So here's what happened:
  • Awakened before the grandparents and ate big huge banana muffins with juice.
  • Broke in the new Wii game controllers by playing several rounds of Wii video games.
  • Ate lunch consisting of favorite kid foods such as EZ mac, ramen, raspberries and Nestle chocolates.
  • Headed out to gemstone store for jewelry paraphernalia (Grandma making custom gemstone goodies for secret anniversary stuff) while PS & Grandpa snuck out back to Burger King for refreshments.
  • Went to National Museum of Nuclear Science & History for a few hours of education and insight on nuclear history.
  • Drove over to Sonic for a lil snack of slushies, pop, tater tots & chicken nuggets before making our way to Sandia Mountain tram.
  • Toured Sandia Mountain peak on a tram with the help of a National Park guide, taking video & photos throughout the trip.
  • Enjoyed dinner at Olive Garden, one of Mom & Granny's personal favorite Italian restaurants of all time.
  • Found our way back to the homestead to play Wii games, family-style while Mom worked off a few calories on the treadmill.
  • Homemade apple pie & frozen yogurt dessert, reading, bedtime.
National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Tomorrow: More tourist-style (educational) FUN.

Family Visit in New Mexico: Day #1

Yesterday, the Peep Kids & I arrived in New Mexico to visit my folks, Granny & Grandpa. Our flights were mostly uneventful, that is if you don't count the @45 minute delay with our connecting flight in Denver, Colorado. Otherwise, all went as planned: awakened at 4:00 a.m., cleaned up & dressed, finished packing, downed 2 shots of expresso with a few Cheerios and headed to the airport to catch our 6:45 a.m. flight to Albuquerque, New Mexico. No complaints whatsoever, just excitement to fly the friendly skies and see family. Cool beans.

So we arrived feeling all excited and here's a log of events as they happened soon after our plane landed:
  • Shopped for t-shirts in airport gift shop, originally planned to buy heavily discounted Balloon Fiesta shirts, but they only had kid sizes in stock so we bought a couple other lightly discounted ones instead.
  • Picked up luggage in baggage claim & drove to local lunch spot in ABQ 'The Sandwich Shop' - I had Albuquerque Turkey 1/2 swch w/pickle spear & chips, Peep Daughter ham/egg/cheese croissant sandwich & potatoes (hash browns), Peep Son french toast & sausage
  • Drove route toward Santa Fe, stopped in Madrid to see movie set diner for "Wild Hogs" (now a store) & miscellaneous shops
  • PS bored so headed back toward homestead in Rio Rancho, photos in backyard, dinner (Lean Cuisine, Ramen for kids, snacks & drinks)
  • Grandpa, PD, PS & I went to Albertson's to buy a few food items, also to give Valentine (their newest dog) some breathing room (feeling skittish about having guests in the house, shaking & barking)
  • Kids enjoyed @20 minutes in the hot tub, getting late and cold so we ditched the idea of having s'mores outside by the firepit.
  • Showers, snacks, reading, computer time and we crashed for the night.
  • Slept well, but only AFTER the grandfather clock stopped chiming every half hour, probably @11:00 p.m.
"Maggie's Diner" in Madrid, New Mexico

Next up: Finding some excitement for everyone.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

November 15th, 2003: Homeward Bound

Here goes the final journal entry from my European visit. (Comments from today italicized below original journal text.)

Sat 11/15:
  • Woke 5:30 a.m., drive to Milan airport
  • Sat at small "restaurante" (?) and had "Cafe Americano" - Mom had blueberry muffin, Allen (3 Euro!) fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Went through metal detector, visa check, customs
  • Flight from Milan - GREAT to hear "Good Morning" from pilot after so long!
    Like music to my ears.
  • Sat next to girl who seemed Italian on way to Tennessee (quiet due to headache) - good - no loud person sitting all that distance :)
  • Arrived in Atlanta airport @3:20 p.m. Eastern time (seemed like 9:20 p.m. Italy time)
  • Major line in customs & security @1 hr 45 min wait
  • Called home
  • Flight layover 5 hrs - bought 'Chicken Soup' book & ate Burger King for the first time in sooo long.
  • Watched football & learned that K-State beat NU - Oh No! I was happy to see football again??
And there you have it. I have no follow up journal entries from when I arrived home, but I do have a list of observations from my European visit:
  • Italians - No lids! (Some in Venice)
  • Germans - Doutchland - they seem to have it right - lids! (But no wash clothes)
  • Flusher on WALL.
    These are my bathroom observations, of course.
  • Rome train station - beggar throwing & yelling at passengers
    Scary experience.
  • "Tourist trap" - pay @.60 Euro to use bathroom in tourist attractions
    Hold it for the train, if at all possible.
  • Italian kids/teenagers riding Metro/train to school, no parents along
    Can't even imagine doing that in the USA.
  • Dinner starts @7:30 p.m., restaurants open at @7 p.m. -> midnight
    Eating is a major event for Italians.
  • Skinny cows - not allowed out of barn in farms (Mom to start Cow Rights organization)
    Good reason NOT to order steak while in Italy.
  • Germans speak more English to tourists than Italians ("Healthier" because they eat more? better?)
  • Poor country - employment poor, living
  • In Rome - motor scooters everywhere like bees buzzing around, men/women both riding them

Roman Coliseum

So good to be home again.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

November 14th, 2003: Final Stop in Italy

So now I'm back to the Italian homestead where I need to prepare for my trip back to the USA. We still manage to squeeze in more sightseeing, this time closer to where my folks were living. Great seeing their 'digs' and more. Again, original journal is in regular text, my current comments in italics:
(click photos to view)
  • Woke @11 am!
    Finally slept in and wow did I ever need it.
  • ATM - gave Mom 200 Euro for train & hotel/Co-Co pick-up
  • Base (Ghedi)
    My folks needed to stop by their office, so I took time to pose for a pic while there.

    Ghedi Air Base, Italy

  • BX (chocolate - Toberlone)
    More souvenir shopping for friends/family.
  • Padenghe Village (photo of castle/town) - Lake Garda sits beside village

    Comune di Padenghe sul Garda

    Lake Garda

  • Desanzano - shopping in "tourist attraction" shops (chocolate - Italian & china shop)
    And even more souvenir shopping.
  • "Auchan" store like SuperTarget, shopped for chocolate stix, hair ornaments (Village Mazzano)
  • At at the "Linus" pizza altagio gastronoma in "Lonoto" village (capitol town of region)
    Italian pizza is unlike anything I'd ever tasted back in the USA. Tasty!
  • Home - called hubs
  • Packed - sleep @1:00 am
At this point, I'm beyond ready to see family back home. But the entire trip was meraviglioso!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

November 13th, 2003: Last Day in Rome

So this is it, our last day in Rome and we haven't even come close to covering everything yet. Trust me, we do give it a good try. Again, original journal is in regular text. My comments from today are italicized beneath it:
(click photos to view)
  • Woke early to catch taxi to Vatican Museum
  • Breakfast at hotel & checked out
  • USO dropped off luggage, walked to Vatican Museum

    Line to Vatican Museum


    Vatican Museum

  • Spent morning at Vatican City/Museum

    View of Vatican grounds
    from inside museum

    Pointing to where parents live in Italy

  • Purchased souvenirs while viewing museum & Sistine Chapel
  • Also mailed postcards to hubs/kids/family in USA

    Random sign in museum

  • Back to USO & dropped off souvenirs
  • Met Italian Argentiera ("Silver Smith") at USO to receive hub's anniversary gift
  • Walked to lunch near Piazza Del Risorgimento (roasted chicken & bread)
  • Carabinieri in Piazza w/media after suicide bomber in Iraq (Italian Defense department - Base for Federal Italian forces in Iraq - South)

    Carabinieri in Piazza

    Official-looking Italians

  • Walked across street to Piazza Venezia through Piazza Del Campidolglio (Temple of Athena)

    Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

    Piazza Venezia, aka "Wedding Cake"

    Piazza Del Campidolglio (photogenic NOT)

    Posing by statue in Piazza

  • Walked thru Forum Romano (Forum)

    Roman Forum

    Ruins in Forum

    View from below in Ruins

    More Ruins

  • Back to USO -> Eurostar - Mannet (?)
  • Allen made new friend from Spain - exchanged email address/card
  • At Padora, ticket was good for arriving 2 hrs. after our Eurostar arrival (Polizia)
  • Took "Express" home - Polizia in cafe "bar" while waiting (lots of people loitering - Yikes!)
  • At train station - car wasn't towed like Allen thought it might be
  • Home @1:30 - left message on voice mail but had trouble calling back
Tomorrow: Back Home in Italy