Saturday, December 31, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve!

On Christmas Eve we drove to Val Gardena which is in the Italian Dolomites. It took us about two and a half hours to drive. 

It was beautiful. Although it was a little chilly we had a good time. 

Here is a video of Taylor…unfortunately no falling...

Al Diavolo Zum Teuffel

See the sign: No swerving.

See Taylor: Swerving.

The ski mountains here are unique in that they zig zag across several peaks that are linked together. At the bottom of most peaks are small villages.  So you can literally ski from village to village.

My favorite ski buddy.

Some of the chair lifts have these plastic bubbles that come down over you to keep the snow and wind out. Only your legs dangle out.

It was a great day of skiing and a great Christmas Eve. We got home and went out to eat at a little restaurant down town. We planned our big dinner for the next night.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The ROCK Ball

          As most of you know Taylor was in charge of planning the Battalion Ball this year. When he first got tasked with this he thought that he would get out of it as soon as the rest of the battalion returned from training. Well...they came back... and he was still in charge. Although he hated every minute of it, he did a great job. Here is a picture of him in action.The girl on the left is Giorgia and she worked at the hotel and was the translator between the manager and Taylor.

          The ball was at Hotel Pigalle. There were 914 people that bought tickets to the ball. There was a lot of drinking going on that night but luckily no deaths or DWI's.

This is us at our table along with Andrew. He is back in the U.S. getting ready to go to
Captian's Career Course. 

The guest speaker that night was Private Williams who is in 2nd Battalion. I thought this was very cool because usually the guest speaker is some high ranking guy who has been to 10 wars, killed 40 people with his bare hands, commanded the bravest soldiers, seen things no one else has, etc, etc. I think you get the picture. This guy has been in the army for probably around 8 months and he hasn't even deployed. He was awarded Soldier of the Year for the European Theatre. That means he was chosen out of all the soldiers stationed in Europe. In my opinion, the fact that Private Williams was chosen as our speaker that night says a lot about the Battalion Commander and what is important to him. 

We got here at the very end of September and it was a few weeks later that I found out the ball was in about a month and a half. Other ladies were already talking about how they were ordering their dresses with expedited shipping! Of course, all of my formals are back in the U.S. in storage and there are no 50% off Dillard's racks here. So, I ordered this one online, without trying it on, and not really knowing what it was going to look like. It was definitely not as fun as going shopping and trying on different dresses, but what do ya do? I ordered the same dress in 2 different sizes to make sure that at least one fit right. It arrived with plenty of time before the ball and ended up really liking it! 

We had a great time!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Lockett's Visit Italy!!

          Our first visitors came!!! All the way from Switzerland!!! If your remember we went to Switzerland to visit my old college room mate and her family and the end of October. (if you didn't, you can click here) They are returning to the U.S. the end of December but they came and saw us first!!

          Taylor and I are very lucky because although we get to live in a foreign country we still have the conveniences of an American grocery store, American products, food court, the ability to drive, and gas coupons. The Lockett's on the other hand, do not have these conveniences. They live entirely off of the Swiss economy and it is sooo expensive there. They went to a McDonald's in Switzerland and spent something like 60 francs for 4 people!!! Insanity! All this to say, the first order of business when they arrived was…Taco Bell. They were so excited!

I took them to the Commissary (grocery store) and I think Autumn was in heaven! :) Cole grabbed him some Dr. Pepper, Doritos, and cinnamon waffles. I just loved watching them walk through the isles. It was like a child's first time at Toys R Us!! 

We had to take them to Le Rive so they could pick out some wine. 

Normally every year I decorate the Christmas tree while Taylor sits on the couch watching TV. I usually make him video record and then force him to hang a few ornaments which I move to a "better" place right after. But this year, I had two enthusiastic and experienced helpers! 

Cute picture that Autumn took.

So, the little tree cost me 19 euros at the Italian grocery store. And the 220 volt lights cost me $25!! Lights over here are crazy expensive! After unsuccessfully looking at several places for cheaper deals I sucked it up and spent the $25 on a strand of 140 lights. I figure I can sale them when I leave. 

One of the first ornaments that Ava pulled out was a bell that hung on a tree at her parent's wedding. They were wedding favors at Josh and Autumn's wedding back in 2005.

When Taylor got home Ava immediately called Taylor to the tree to show him 
where she put his Nascar ornament. 

While we were decorating the tree, Cole was figuring out the Rubik's cube. 

Ava and I making our surprise brownies for James (their Elf on the Shelf).

And our favorite part of course…licking the bowl! I love how she closes her eyes…it reminded me of me when I am tasting a good dessert. Just savoring the flavor.

We are often tripping breakers in our apt…especially if we have the TV plugged in and the washing machine, or the hair dryer and the microwave. So while the boys were trying to figure out what else needed to be unplugged so they could watch football Autumn was washing dishes with the head lamp. Oh the joys of living in an apartment with only 3 kW of electricity.

The next day we walked around Vicenza and of course had to take them up Monte Berico.

It is a pretty tough hill for a 4 year old on a pink scooter so Autumn and Josh used the umbrella to pull her up the hill. Great idea!

Unfortunately it was real foggy that day.

We took this fun little back road on the way down.

You take your eyes off those boys for two seconds and this is what happens…

Thank goodness for umbrellas and scarfs!

They had a market in the main piazza and we were able to sample lots of goodies. 

This is Ava trying sardines. This girl will eat anything! 

Savoring a oh so yummy cookie.

Fried mozzarella!! Which turned out to be rice and mozzarella and prosciutto fried all together in a big ball!! Mmmmmmm.

Ava doing a little photo shoot in front of a store with cool window decorations.
Emily, I can e mail you a close up of the decorations…I'm sure you have all the supplies in your house 
to make these picture frame- ball hanging things! :) 

There has been a big London bus parked out in one of the piazzas down town
 for several weeks now. You can get coffee inside. 

We decided to go to Venice on Sunday instead of Saturday because of the fore casted rain. 

Venice was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. It is my favorite city so far. It is just so unique. 
The awesome part is that it is only an hour and a half away by train and only costs 5 euro!

Ava and I had a fun time counting all of the lions we saw in Venice. 
The lion is symbolic of Saint Mark and they are all over Venice. 

Venice alley

Us on the water subway transportation. 

Rialto Bridge- the original in 1180 used to be a platform supported by boats tied together. 

Ava tries to kick the pigeons everywhere they go. This is her in St. Mark's square.

Josh caught a cool picture of her in action.

I love this one of Autumn…it looks like she is on the set of a movie.

St. Mark's Basilica. 
The original church burned in 976 and today's church was started in 1063. 
This was the most unique church I have ever visited. The outside of the church has columns of all different types of marble, large mosaics, and is decorated inside and out with materials looted from other buildings throughout the empire.  All this combined makes for a church like you have never seen.

People on an expensive gondola ride. They cost 80-100 Euros for a 40 minute ride. 

Scala Contarini del Bovolo was built in 1499 and was the external staircase of a palace. 

Everyone on the Rialto bridge.

This is just a little neighborhood. Wouldn't it be crazy if you had no car and only a boat!

Finally found a great place to have some yummy pizza!!

Ava watching them make the pizzas in the kitchen.

While walking around Venice someone in our group spotted a little art store tucked away off the street. We ventured in and found some amazing pieces of art work and the nicest Italian artist who showed us around his studio and did a charcoal painting just for us. The best video was lost on my little flip camera because the batteries went out, but I got a little bit on my camera. It was the coolest thing ever. It was a magical moment of us 6 standing in a small Venetian art store watching an Italian artist do an amazing charcoal drawing on Venice. We were in awe.

Ava's skinny jeans and pink cowgirl boots.

Of course she had to get a Venetian mask!

There was this funny looking nativity scene off the square and Ava was mimicking their
facial expression. Ever since we saw these unique nativity scene I have seen these little people with the 
O mouths everywhere!! 

Josh had heard of this cool Italian used book store, so our last stop was Acqua Alta.

There were books everywhere!! 

They had bathtubs and gondolas filled with books! I'm not gonna lie…it was a little overwhelming.
Autumn said..."I wasn't sure if I was in heaven or needed to call the show Hoarders."

Some group shots before we headed home.

The next day Autumn and I went to the Bonomini Olive Oil place that I had been to a few months back with some fellow army wives. I caught a video of Autumn taste testing the olive oil. It is a very interesting process. 

              We had such a great time with the Locketts and Cole. It was so much fun showing them around Italy. They are on their way back to the U.S. right now and even though we only saw each other twice I kind of miss them. It was just nice knowing their was a familiar person over on this side of the world! :)

Autumn writes a blog herself and if you are interested you can read her post about their Italy trip here.