Thursday, September 6, 2012

To blog or not to blog?

I just got on Blogger to create a new blog for my new missionary and I was shocked about how much time has passed since I have been on here. My life has been a true whirlwind and there hasn't been a moment to document. The good news is that I have been taking photos almost every day to help remember the last two+ years. Blogger has changed so much that I am even considering jumping on once in a while and updating our family blog as well. It is so much faster and easier, which makes posting much less time consuming and frustrating.

Until I get to that point, here is an update on our lives: We are now living in DC and working for Senator Mike Lee. We live in Northern Virginia and there aren't a lot of signs of our old life. We miss our family and friends we left behind in Utah, but we now really look forward to our visits. We have really loved living on the East Coast and have really taken advantage of all it has to offer.

Andrew is in the MTC awaiting his departure for Indonesia as he serves a 2 year mission for the LDS church.

Janessa is now a Senior in High School! 

Harrison is in his last year of Middle School and just started 8th grade this week. 

Nathan has turned out to be a real ham, a charmer and a comedian. 
He is in 5th grade and keeps us all laughing and well entertained. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 12: Sorrento & Pompeii...

We were very sad to check out of our great hotel. Before doing so that morning, we had some time to sit out on the balconies and admire the beautiful view.

This is the view from our room when we woke up this morning. I am taking the picture while sitting on the bed. Gorgeous!

Nathan was a bit worried that Mt. Vesuvius might blow again!

We loved seeing the lemon & orange orchards below our hotel.

The kids, trying to spot the ships sailing the sea.

How about this for the most stunning view from your hotel parking spot? (Please ignore Andrew who was sitting in the back without a seat-belt. It saved $1,000. I feel bad, but I am cheap. We all lived without seatbelts, right?)

We decided to go back into the downtown area of Sorrento to see if the shops were open (a lot of them were closed when we arrived late the night before).

I love walking by fruit stands and seeing these yummy lemons. There is just something about lemons that I love.

Janessa got to meet Jasmine. She is the owner of the jewelry box store where I purchased her wooden jewelry box when I visited last time. Jasmine is a wonderful, sweet lady that owns the shop. Every box is hand-made upstairs. They use tiny strips of colored wood to make designs on the boxes. Everything is hand-laid to make the design (although they look like they are painted). It is an art that Sorrento is known for.

Jasmine sells to all of the missionaries and has for years. Her favorite thing is when the missionaries come to purchase a jewelry box from her for their "future wives." They might not even have someone at home, but when they do find that right girl, they want to have a special gift for her. She says she always loves it when they come back to visit, to introduce their wives to her. This is just what we did with Janessa, we wanted her to see the shop where her box was made and see for herself how sweet Jasmine is.

Nathan was enamored by these tiny little trucks we saw all over Italy. He thought that maybe he was big enough to drive one!

We drove to Pompeii after our shopping trip in Sorrento. While driving along the roads, we were able to see so much beauty around us. Including these orange trees that line the streets of the city (even in January!).

Pompeii was fabulous. It is truly one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life. I am in awe of everything in Pompeii. I will just post these pictures without explanation. If you want to see more pictures of Pompeii, look at my post from 2008. I am trying to pretend I'm not sad about "misplacing" some of our Pompeii pictures. I have faith that they will show up on a card sometime and if they do, I will post them.

Day 11: Sorrento & Amalfi Coast...

Early Monday morning we woke up and headed South. The weather was beautiful and we were excited for another adventure in Italy. We got to Sorrento at lunch time and checked into our hotel. A few years ago, my brother-in-law Bruce (who travels more than anyone I know) taught me about tripadvisor. I swear by this website. All kinds of travelers go on this site and evaluate hotels all over the world. You are able to enter the city you are visiting and it will tell you the rankings of all the hotels in that city, no matter the price of the hotel. There are reviews with descriptions, pictures and everything. The trick is to pick the highest rated hotel that has the cheapest price. The Il Nido Hotel Sorrento ranked #2 and was one of the cheapest hotels by far. That's the one I chose and it was a true winner! We absolutely loved everything about it!

One of the things we read on tripadvisor was that the hotel was a family business and that the restaurant had the most incredible food that was all hand-made by the mama in the family. Everyone said that you HAVE to eat there. We were worried about the timing of our dinner both nights, so we asked if they were open for lunch. It was a very slow time of the year and they were not usually open during lunch, but the brothers talked it over and decided they could "whip something up for us."

We went up to check into our rooms and this is what we found! The most amazing view in the world. Honestly, it was stunning. We had two rooms and they both had balconies looking over the ocean, the city of Sorrento, lemon and orange orchards and the best (what Nathan had been looking forward to seeing for months) was the view of Mt. Vesuvius, although the clouds were covering it briefly.

After getting settled, we went down to the restaurant to eat. The kids were starving and we were so excited. The views from the tables were even better than from our rooms.

We were the only ones in the restaurant. To say they catered to our every need would be an understatement. It was unbelievable how we were treated. We let the children order anything they wanted. Warning: The images you will see may be disturbing. Honestly, any diet you currently are on will be out the window after seeing them. All I can think of after posting them is pasta. I am now starving. (Jill... don't complain that I didn't warn you this time.)

First were the antipasti plates. Our family LOVES seafood and the sort. Harrison loves it, but is allergic, which is just so sad for him.

We ordered a couple of plates of antipasti, including calamari, shrimp, bruchetta, and lots of meats, cheeses and breads.

Andrew was in heaven, there are no words to describe the joy he felt.

Rick orders gnocchi at every Italian restaurant we go to. He had it on his mission in Argentina and it is his favorite food. This was amazing and was made fresh in the kitchen after we ordered it, lathered in home-made sauce and baked in the oven.

This was my ravioli. Wow. Amazing. I want to eat it right now. Darn pictures.

Harrison ordered "Whole Fish" off the menu. We had said they could have anything they wanted, so we didn't question the choice.

When it arrived, he said, "Oh my gosh, it's a WHOLE fish! I didn't know it was going to be a WHOLE fish!" We laughed and laughed. It was pretty self-explanatory on the English menu!

Nathan started on his spaghetti with Bolognese sauce before I could even take a photo! And, I didn't even catch what Janessa & Andrew ordered, because by the time I took the other photos, I no more will-power and I was devouring my ravioli.

After lunch we headed up the hill and started on our way to the famous Amalfi Coast. We stopped a couple of places along the way and Nathan kept jumping in the front seat of the car. Yeah, good luck with that, I thought. There was no way I was giving up that front seat on a super curvy, windy, sometimes off the edge of the cliff road. I get so carsick!

The view was beautiful, despite a few clouds. The colors weren't nearly as pretty as they were in the summer, but it had its own kind of beauty & a feeling of serenity.

Rick scaring Nathan, as usual.

As we were driving along the coast (which was completely empty compared to the traffic jams I witnessed in July), we saw this. An elaborate village scene along the road, nestled in the cliffs. It totally caught us off guard.

We pulled to the side of the very dangerous road (even more dangerous than most roads in Italy) to get a better look. It was so cool! An entire city, all lit up.

They had a nativity (precipe) in a cave above the city. It really took our breath away.

It got dark so fast, which we weren't really prepared for. We didn't get as many pictures as I had hoped before the sun went down. We stopped in the town of Amalfi. I hadn't stopped there on our trip before (literally, it is so crowded in the summertime that it probably isn't even possible). I'm so glad we stopped and walked into the town.

Their cathedral is tucked in right in the middle of narrow streets.

While walking down the little narrow streets, we came upon a group of singers/dancers who were parading down the street. They were so animated as they sang, played their instruments and pulled others in to dance.

It was so crazy, when cars would come, everyone would just squeeze along the buildings and shops to let them by. Then as soon as they drove off, the party started up again. I was so glad we happened upon this. I still have no idea what it was (being a village with out many tourists during the holiday season, not many spoke English), but we loved it.

We stopped in a few little shops, including this one where we purchased some pasta & spices.

The shop had these lemons in a basket in front of their door. This southern part of Italy is known for their amazing lemons. Look at how big they are, as big as Nathan's head! And they tasted so great!

We found some yummy local granitas like Karen & I fell in love with on my last visit.

The Amalfi Coast was very different for me this time. Much less colorful and busy as the last time I visited. I liked the holiday touches and it was nice to see a little more of the local side.

As we drove back to Sorrento, we saw so many lit up decorations for the holidays. I thought they were all so classy, no Santa Claus or snowmen to be found anywhere! There were stars and nativities everywhere. It was beautiful!

We got back to Sorrento in time to walk around that town and have some dinner at a yummy pizza place. Again, we walked through some of the less "touristy" parts of the town.

The streets were empty, so quiet and peaceful.

At one point we walked past some type of archways that had the most beautiful frescoes. I think it's fun to find treasures like this in the middle of these streets.

Sorrento was one of my favorite cities that we visited on my last trip, and I love it even more after this winter trip.