Saturday, February 27, 2010
Okay. Phew. Confession time is over! Now I'm going to get all impossibly giddy on you, so let me make apologies up front.
First and foremost, I'm seriously stoked about my brother coming to visit soon. He and his awesome wife and their adorable kiddos will be making the trek across the Atlantic to see England...err, I mean us. ;) Actually, I think they are pretty excited about both. My nephew Ben is about nine months older than Caleb, and they are going to have a blast!
We're going to bit hitting some things we've done before, such as Bath and Dover and Stonehenge, but we'll also be throwing in some new trips such as Hampton Court Palace (oooh, Tudor excitement!), Windsor Castle, and possibly Burghley House (Jane Austen AND Tudor excitement!) I can't wait!
Second, we are about three months out from our Mediterranean Disney Cruise, and I could NOT be more excited! I finally got our plane tickets and hotel sorted, so that's a relief. Now it's a matter of scouring the zillions of Disney shore excursions available and figuring out what our "Must See"s are!
I'm not going to even try to disguise it: I am giddy. I'm so thrilled and the idea of being back in Italy again. The thought of walking around Florence seriously makes my heart beat a bit faster.
I really have been super lucky as far as where I've been able to live. I got to live in Italy as a teenager! For nearly three years, we were stationed at Aviano Air Base (best base EVER!), and for field trips, we went places like Verona (think Romeo and Juliet), Germany, and Florence. To this day, Florence is my favorite city in the world. I'm so eager to go back and see if it's just a magical as I remember it.
Unfortunately, my family never made it to Rome while we lived in Italy, so I'm also especially excited to finally make it there! I can't wait to see the Sistine Chapel and the Coliseum. I can't wait to eat Italian food in Italy. Just thinking about it, my mouth is already watering for REAL tiramisu and gilato! I'm so excited about having spaghetti carbonara in the country where I originally tried it, and maybe even a sgroppino. Even the little things, like a San Pellegrino Lemonata are getting me so excited to relive some of my youth in Italy.
I'm nostalgic and expectant and so excited I just can't stand it! To experience it all as an adult, with deeper appreciation for just how remarkable it is to actually be in Italy, will be so incredible. I only wish there was some way I could coordinate it in such a way that I could run into my old friends from Aviano High School while we are there. That would be the icing on the cake.
Okay. Phew. Seriously. Let me take a breath. I'm getting so excited, it's ridiculous. I just can't believe this will all be happening soon. It takes away a bit of the bitter sting of realizing this is our last year in Europe. Chances are very likely I'll never live on this continent again. But I'm so grateful for the experiences I've had growing up and marrying into the military that make me a little more of a world citizen than I might otherwise have felt.
To give Caleb a chance to have some of these experiences, even though he is so young and will probably not remember any of it, feels like such an amazing gift to give. I know that might seem silly. But I regularly think how cool it is that some of his earliest experiences and impressions have so much historical and cultural significance. Maybe he'll look back on these pictures and think, "I was there?" But the sights and sounds and textures of his earliest impressions will be those of castles and coliseums. In my little head, it just doesn't get any better than that.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
1.) Mumford and Sons are really growing on me. I didn't get it at first, but I'm loving them now! Are the British? I always assume new music I hear is British (well, except for Ke$ha. How could that be anything but American? Gross.) And plenty of times, it turns out I'm wrong. But they just fell British to me. Then again, I operated under the mistaken idea that Kings of Leon were British for ages, too, until an article in Rolling Stone shed light on that topic.
2.) On the way home tonight, the sun was setting. It wasn't terribly bright, but it was in Caleb's eyes for a little bit. He said, "Sun bright, mommy. I need glasses." I don't know why, but it made me laugh. He wouldn't need glasses if he would stop yanking his sun shade off the window!
3.) I'm going to miss BBC Radio 1 when we leave England. I have every intention of getting Sirius satellite radio (which we had pre-England) so I can still get the Chris Moyles Show.
4.) When I was sick last week, I didn't have any Coke or coffee and realized by Saturday that I had gone a week caffeine-free. I'd been considering a brief respite from the black gold, and this seemed as good a time to start as any. I thought since I had worked through my first week without caffeine while sick that the second week (this week) wouldn't be so bad. I was so, so wrong. I spent one day totally anxious and nervous about nothing. I spent the next day totally emotional and ready to cry..again, about nothing. Today I spent totally exhausted, lethargic and cranky. UGH. Giving up caffeine is HARD!
5.) I'm really trying to refocus my diet on fresh, healthy foods and move away from convenience and packaged foods, whenever possible. It sucks, 'cause I like everything to be fast and easy. I really have to think and prepare and plan. If I don't, I still have convenience meal back ups. And I still have bad days. (Today was a good example. Can't have caffeine? FINE! I'll eat chocolate all day! Take that, dumb head!) But overall, I want to be more conscious about my food choices and pick the best that's available.
6.) I'm excited about a few things coming up next week! My coworker's wife is doing a spouse's circuit training social for my husband's squadron. I'm hooking up with the same coworker's spouse for my first ever personal training session and looking forward to get my butt kicked. AND I might get to take a Fly Day next week! My coworkers take Fly Days all the time...they are pilots. But I might get to take a flight next week, and I'm pretty stoked about it!
7.) Saw the doc today for follow up for my head cold issues last week. Ear infection is clearing up, which is good, but my right ear has had fluid in it since about November. My Eustachian tube just doesn't seem to want to work full time right now. Discussing the possibility of tubes. Really?! At 30? Ah, well. If it would make the ringing in my ears go away, I'd seriously consider it. Trying Prednisone to help reduce the inflammation of the Eustachian tube. Follow up in a month to try and see if we've made progress.
8.) Back to Radio 1 for a moment. They announced the location of their Radio 1's Big Weekend festival this year (Bangor, North Wales, in case you were interested.) It's taking place the week of our cruise. I have to admit, I'm a bit disappointed that there's no chance I could go to the festival. I never have before, but it's always been one of those things I'd like to attend. It'd be difficult and unlikely with work and a family. But there was always some vague possibility. So when they announced the location and dates today and I realized they conflicted with previously-made travel plans, I was a bit bummed that this is my last year here and I'll never attend a Big Weekend. Ultimately, I have nothing to complain about. I'm going on a Disney Mediterranean cruise. I win. But I still felt a bit, "Aw, nuts" about it.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Since it was well after lunch time, we could now explore the cathedral in town, so we did so, taking a few illegal pictures along the way. (Hey, I didn't use a flash!) The cathedral in Ghent was MUCH colder than the cathedral in Ieper had been!
This was taken in the catacombs downstairs. For some reason, I felt like I was in Romeo and Juliet. I guess it felt a bit like my field trip to Verona in 9th grade.
More from the catacombs.
Here's just a shot of Ghent as we walked from the cathedral to the castle.
Next we explored the castle in Ghent. It was fine. My only complaint was the hand-held audio tour thingamajiggy. Instead of being tour-like ("This is the great hall, where the kings would hold feasts and ceremonies...") It was a dramatization following fictional characters around from room to room. Irritating. I gave up after the third room and just lugged the heavy thing around. Luckily, it was free with the cost of the admission. I'd have been even more irritated otherwise.
Here's my boys in the castle.
And here's our travel buddy, Tim in the castle.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Me and my boys in Ieper!
Inside the "In Flanders Fields" WWII museum.
More from the museum. In this area, there was an overhead speaker that had a peom about the horrors of war being read. As the part about "Gas, Gas! Quick, boys!" was read, this tall column filled with eery green smoke. It was very haunting.
Me and Caleb in Ieper.
Outside a cathedral in Ieper.
Inside the cathedral.
Tommy trying to stay warm and eating a waffle topped with bananas, chocolate and whipped cream.
This is Menin Gate. It's very impressive in real life for this small Belgian town. It's a British WWII war memorial. To this day, the Last Post is sounded every night at 8 pm. This was one of the major reasons we went to Ieper, and we spent hours trying to stay warm in hopes of making it to 8 pm.
Alas, after a late night with the Awards Ceremony the night before and having gotten up at 5 to make our ferry, we just didn't have stamina. Nor was there anywhere warm enough to wait that long. In the end, we were all in bed by 8 pm instead of watching the Last Post in Ieper.
Tomorrow (hopefully), I'll catch you up on Ghent and Lille and that'll wrap up our Belgium trip.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Saturday, February 06, 2010
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Monday, February 01, 2010
In that vein of thought, No Candy January is over! Bring on No Fried Foods February!
I did pretty well for No Candy January. I only had candy the two times I've already mentioned - once when my coworker brought in Belgian chocolates...you know, ones he actually picked up in Belgium. And even then, I only had one! And the second was when I helped construct a Reese's peanut-butter chocolate trifle at a Pampered Chef party. It's just no fair asking me to help make it and not to have a little bit!
But over all, I'd say two bits of candy in a whole month of candy abstinence equals success--especially since I maintain the candy dish in our office at work! So go me! *virtual pat on the back*
Since I've been trying to eat healthier this year, I haven't had a ton of fried foods, but I do sneak some of Caleb's french fries from time to time. And I did have some magnificent duck rolls at Dragon House, the Chinese food restaurant near base. Oh man, they were worth it.
But in the idea of short-term abstinence, I thought I'd give No Fried Foods February a chance. When I was doing Weight Watchers, a substitute leader taught us about the dangers of BLTs. A lot of times what really inhibits my weight loss goals isn't my overall diet, it's the BLT's...the Bites, Licks and Tastes I take of the food I'm preparing or whatever is on Caleb's plate. Those little BLT's add up over the week and can make a big difference!
French fries are a particular weakness of mine, and although this past month I haven't ordered any, I sure haven't refrained from taking a few of Caleb's (or my husband's, when he's not looking!) And while I'm still proud of myself for only having a few versus the whole order (hey, Club Sandwich of Love, here!), I know it would make a difference over all to cut out fried foods all together. Again...not forever, but for a bit. I'd really like to know...can I go an entire month without french fries? Is it really possible?!
Okay, I promise this won't become a diet blog. But sometimes that's what's on my mind. That's the problem with having a blog with no gimmick...you get whatever's floating about up there!