Friday, May 27, 2016

Party like it's 1999 to the sound of music in one weekend

Since we have 2 daughters with birthdays in April, we always do a joint party. Since even planning a party in another country is a boatload of work, I wasn't about to change up my ways this year!

We decided to invite many of the girls' friends from church to the party, plus a few neighbors that we have gotten to know since moving here. I didn't realize it when I planned the party, but it was the same weekend as a Monday holiday. So, yeah, a lot of people go out of town in Italy for holiday weekends. Despite this little kink, we still had 28 people show up for the girls! I felt so blessed to have such wonderful, new friends in the girls' lives. Seriously, how awesome is that?!?!

We decided to fire up the smoker grill and smoke some chickens and pork roasts. Oh my gravy, I'm still not sure what to say. Charcoal in Italy isn't the same as in the US. It doesn't light the same and doesn't want to stay lit. I spent an hour just getting the coals hot. I don't mean it took an hour for even temperature...I was out in the back yard, on the ground, feeding this fire for an hour! Once it was going, it was wonderful. It stayed in the ideal range of heat and was smoking those meats up wonderfully! Well, I took off the chickens, put the rest of the chickens on and came in the house. I started to smell a slight burning smell so went out and removed the pork, mopped the chickens and went back to cleaning the house. The next time I checked the smoker, I had a grease fire on my hands! Unfortunately, the last 2 chickens were sacrificed. I had to throw baking soda on them to put out the grease fire. Luckily, we had plenty of meat for the party and didn't need those two chickens. I also made some pasta salad, roast zucchini, garden salad, homemade ranch dressing, chocolate cupcakes and a lemon cake. I'd say it was a success. I didn't have nearly the leftovers I was hoping to have. ;) Just kidding!

The party was so much fun and I can't express how blessed I feel! We had friends from Ireland, Wales, Cameroon, Brazil, Italy, Finland, oh and America there. Side note: I am always amazed at the diversity of our church here in Torino. It makes you more aware of God's love for the nations in a real and tangible way.

Here are a few pics from the festivities. We are just horrible about taking many pictures. We get so wrapped up in being present. Sorry...

 Some of the party goers...(we got the camera out after some left...sorry to our Finnish friends!)

 Happy birthday girls! Carla, we miss you!!!

 J Jr. can always find his way to photobomb. I'm not sure this was intentional.

 Say what? You want the entire cake? Don't think so!

 I love how their friend from church (I will just say N for the blog) made it into so many pictures. She loves the girls and they love her!

Sometimes Mommy gets as excited as the kids! Seriously, folks, anything new is exciting these days.

The next day was church and the day after was Liberation from the Nazis Day here in Italy. We celebrated Italy's liberation by doing a hike with another couple from church. The hike was easy enough for this bag of bones to make it, but the views were spectacular! Breathtaking! Awe-inspiring! No matter what I can say about Italy, I cannot say it is an ugly country.

I just realized I am a month behind on my posts, as I am finally finishing this post. Well, luckily May was pretty boring. You might see that post within the next month or two. ;)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Birthday Fun!

Having both of my daughters' birthdays in April has always been a bit of a challenge. Between having a joint birthday party for them, making their actual birthday special and buying gifts, it has made for some interesting Aprils. This April was no different...and maybe a little more complicated!

KK's birthday is always first. Ha! It will always be before Boo's birthday but confuses the mind since Boo is the older of the two. These days, lots of things confuse my mind so I should be accustomed to the confusion. I was at a loss for what to do to make their actual birthdays "special" while in Italy. I know all the fun places to go in Kentucky. I was clueless in Italy. Luckily, we have museum passes, so I just started searching for cool places to go around the area. I found Castello di Racconigi. This sounded perfect for my princess girl! We headed out early on her birthday morning, navigation tools in hand, and went to the castle. We only got lost a couple of times, which is quite good, honestly. I let the birthday girl sit up front and navigate. She loved it! Well, she loved sitting in the front. Navigating her spazz of a mommy might have been less than desirable.

We arrived in Racconigi and decided that we all needed a warm beverage to start the day. Then, we walked to the castle, which were actually hunting grounds for the royal families. We were put in a tour, which wasn't the least bit helpful for us English-speaking folks. They did give us a folder with some of the information written in English. Still, I think we missed quite a bit. It didn't matter to the birthday girl! She loved it all.

 The front


 The back of the castle....those little dots in the archway are my kids

 Just your ordinary painted biggie.

 Dining room

 A picture of the little princes...don't ask me their names. I was struggling just to figure out when he said to look at the ceiling or the bed or whatever. It was probably a Carlo or Vittorio or some other such name.

 I think this was one of the prince's apartments.

 A bust of Regina Margherita - the queen that the pizza was named after! 

 One of the Oriental Rooms in the castle. What is that black thing?

 The beautiful birthday girl - she has my heart

 I want this kitchen! The only is bigger than my entire house in KY. :(

 The man with the lanyard was our tour guide. He did not speak English until we were leaving. HAHAHA

After finishing the tour, we headed out back to the park. I assume this was the hunting grounds. They were beautiful! Since we have the museum pass, they were also free. I'd like to go back one day and just explore the park. We were hungry so only walked a small portion.

After this, we headed toward food! KK wanted pizza on her birthday. I mean, come on, we are in Italy! What else would a 10-year-old want? Well, this mommy did a horrible job. All the pizzerias were closed until dinner. We ended up at a little diner/cafeteria. Basically, you point at the food you want and they warm it up for you. She loved it, so I loved it. It always cracks me up when we end up in these hole in the wall places, that I couldn't find again if my life depended on it, and the kids say something like, "The next time we come..." LOL. I hope they remember where it was, cause I sure don't!

 Some nests on a church - stork nests

 The church with the storks and nests

 Birthday girl! I can't believe she is 10. :(

Girl and her baby brother...they love each other!

We headed home right after lunch. We had some shopping to do, so I didn't want to get home too late. KK wanted tacos for dinner, so we did that. We also bought a cake at Ipercoop for her dessert. It was delicious! She got to open her gifts from us and loved that, too. What princess doesn't love getting princess dolls and a note that her mommy will take her on a shopping trip for some clothes?

 Look at that cake! She picked it out.

 Goofy girl! - Not many get to see this side of her. She is reserved and shy around others.

I think she likes them!

The next week, we got to celebrate our Boo turning 11. Yikes! Where has the time gone?!?! Anywho, I was desperate to find something fun and closeby. My friend, Tanja, was looking for ideas and asking friends. I was doing web searches. The best we could come up with was a trip to the Ferrero plant where they make Nutella. Sounds great for a girl that loves Nutella! It wasn't close, but it was ok. My kids are good travelers. So we headed out, that sunny day. We arrived at Nutella around 10:30, which was pretty good timing, if I do say so myself. We strutted ourselves right into the office to be turned away! What?!?! No tours for us. What was I going to do with 4 kids and no other plans for the day? We did a search for a pizzeria (oh boy, that was an adventure...passing it, not finding parking, trying another place to find out they don't serve pizza until dinner, etc.) and ended up at another small diner/cafe. This one had focaccia style pizza. Luckily, I had some cash on hand. This is not always the case, but I was fortunate this day. We were even able to get some "treats" after we had our pizza. Unfortunately, I have no pictures from the day. I took a few, but cannot find them now.

After lunch, we attempted to find a museum or something so the entire day was not a bust. Well, that was another bust. We ended up leaving Alba in the wrong direction, doing a loop 2 times before getting another navigation tool going, and just going many miles/kilometers out of our way to get home. Luckily, Boo is an easy child and just went along for the ride. I was a frazzled mess, but she was happy. That is all that matters! Once again, we headed to the store (Carrefour this time) and bought a cake and some other fun foods. The birthday girl wanted pork chops, mac 'n cheese and tomatoes for dinner. Asparagus was in season so I bought some of that, too. I was later informed, by the birthday girl, that she doesn't like asparagus. Oh well! I love it! Boo got a few Lego sets for her birthday and loved them! She said she wanted horses or Legos or stuffed animals. Getting 2 out of 3 isn't bad.

 She looks pretty happy! No, that wine bottle wasn't for her.

 Oh this girl! I'm pretty smitten.

 The boy is everywhere!

horses and Legos...well pegasuses (or is it pegasi?!?!)

Well, I'm tired of typing and thinking for now. Will post more about their joint birthday party, hiking, etc. I just realized I never posted out Easter pics. Well, here they are. No time like the present, right?!?!

Happy Easter!

Buon fine settimana! Love you and miss you to our Kentucky/Ohio friends and family.