Wednesday, May 30, 2012

he's a lumberjack, and he's ok.

so Mark's memorial day weekend was probably not just all fun and games like i might have led you to believe yesterday. he had some pretty hard work thrown in there too.

on Sunday night, while i was on my way home from the beach, we had a little mini-storm at our house. the winds picked up, the rain poured down, the thunder and lightning came out to play, and part of one of the trees that line our driveway fell over.

into the neighbor's driveway.

narrowly missing their cars. (whew!)

but even though thankfully nothing was damaged, since the trees are technically on our property (at least we're pretty sure) we had to do something about the fact that our neighbors cars were blocked into their driveway.

so on Monday morning, Mark and his borrowed chain saw took on the tree. i helped at one point to get the blade unstuck from one of the thicker branches, but mostly i stayed far far away from that terrifying chain saw. (read: i went shopping and out to lunch with a friend) (ps never ever use a chain saw when you're home alone. they are dangerous. and terrifying)

after about 4 hours, Mark had the tree out of the neighbors driveway, and mostly cut up and stacked with our firewood out by the shed. some of the leafier branches are still in need of attention, but they seem perfectly happy to wait. so now it just kind of looks like the tree fell into our driveway.

these trees are apparently Bartlett pear trees, which are kind of known for their tendency to rot and fall over once they grow to be full sized, which is exactly what happened in this case. we're thinking that it might be a good idea to get the other ones checked out by some sort of tree expert, just in case. there is little to no chance of a car or house being hit by any of the other ones, (since they are all further down the driveway from the one that fell) but its probably not the best idea to have a bunch of trees lining our driveway that are rotting from the inside out.

so, anyone else out there doing some memorial day landscaping? was yours planned, or rather unexpected? if you're feeling left out of the fun, you can always come over and help us get the rest of the tree out of our driveway! just bring your own saw, and we'll pay you in s'mores!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

meal plan tuesday: may 29.

this week's meals are all subject to change with little to no notice, because it is wedding week here in MD. Mark's one and only sister is marrying her high-school middle-school sweetheart this weekend, which means that this week has the potential to be a bit crazy, especially since both Mark and I are part of the wedding party.

part of my wedding party duties involved the burdensome task of spending the majority of this past weekend at the beach with the bride-to-be and the other bridesmaids. we did important things like work on our tans, eat and drink some fabulously unhealthy things, and try to convince the bride-to-be that she really needed to get her picture taken with the guy who brought an inflatable swan to the ocean.

she refused, so i took this stealth shot instead.

Mark's wedding party responsibilities this weekend had him go-karting in full racecar gear, eating crabs for dinner, and having a celebratory cigar with the groom and groomsmen. let me tell you guys, being a bridesmaid or a groomsman is really rough stuff sometimes.

but this week is when the fun starts. we're basically on-call every evening and need to be ready at a moments notice to help with anything from favors to flowers and programs to escort cards. but since its always best to at least start with a plan even if you might end up changing it, heres what we've got:

Monday: lunch with friends, memorial day picnic with family.
Tuesday: pasta in jar sauce, a veggie.
Wednesday: citrus herb chicken with rice and a veggie.
Thursday: most likely dinner out after softball for Mark,
     dinner out before my nail appointment for me.
Friday: rehearsal brunch.
Saturday: wedding deliciousness!
Sunday: can't think this far ahead.

Friday, May 25, 2012

foxy boxy.

this week's project-that-should-have-taken-a-day-but-ended-up-taking-way-longer: a recipe box.

it all started way back when with my sister-in-law's bridal shower. we had all the guests fill out a recipe card to give to the bride-to-be, but we had no way to corral them so that she would actually be able to use them in her new kitchen. a scrapbook seemed like a hassle (both to make and to use as a recipe book) and all the recipe boxes i found in stores were ugly, unfinished, and/or too big for the recipe cards we had.

fast forward a few weeks, i found the perfect box on eBay. it was the right size, had a classic look about it, and $9 later it was in my house. but it needed some love. this thing was kind of ugly, and it stank like a chain-smoking grandma. so on the same weekend that i made-over my kitchen stool, this guy got some love too in the form of sanding and staining and sitting out in the sun to hopefully quench the stench.  

in all its original stinky glory.

after i stained it, it sat in the basement to get good and dry before a final clear coat or two. and then it sat there for a good long time while i did other things like dishes and laundry and i went to Europe and i hosted a Mother's Day barbecue and i completely forgot about the recipe box in the basement that i was supposed to be re-finishing.

i rediscovered the half-finished box a week or so ago, and figured i needed to get on that already. instead of just throwing on some clear polyeurethane and calling it good, i decided to paint the inside to make it just a little more happy, and to hopefully ensure that the grandma-smoke-stank would not make a reappearance. and also to prove to the hubs that yes i really was actually going to eventually going to do something with those random paint samples i picked up on clearance at the Depot for like 50 cents a piece. i picked a color. i pulled my hair back so it wouldnt be in the way. and i went to work.

and then i still managed to paint the end of my ponytail a lovely shade of celery sticks. because i am just that talented. and prone to waving my hands about in the air at random like a crazy person, whether or not i happen to be holding a paintbrush.

**related sidenote**
the next day i went to see about getting a haircut, and i seriously contemplated telling her to just 'take off all the green' and see what i ended up with. i ended up not getting a haircut at all, so my plan was foiled. **end sidenote**

so what i'm trying to say here is that the box turned out really well, if i do say so myself. it was the first time i have ever chosen to stain something, since i am normally inclined to paint all the things, and i'm a little bit proud of myself. so check it out! BAM! from icky-nasty-stinky to tall-short-dark-and-handsome!

and the inside? crisp and clean as a celery stick!

i'm finally going to be able to gift this really belated bridal shower gift to my sister-in-law at her bachelorette party this weekend. probably one of the lamest bachelorette presents in recent history, but i dont even care because this thing is awesome. and also because we'll be at the beach. aaalllll weekend! that's right. be jealous. and have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend of your own because YAY for long weekends!

(and also YAY for all the service men and women who have given their lives over the years so that we can enjoy our freedoms and beaches and long weekends!)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

next on the list.

- read through my Bible.

i downloaded the YouVersion app to my iPad the day after my birthday. i downloaded the ESV Bible yesterday so that i can read it without an internet connection. i signed up for a reading plan this morning. the Eat this Book: One Year Bible with Daily Psalm Reading Plan, to be exact.

i fully expect it to take me more than a year to make it through. its not that i'm excpecting to fail, just that i'm learning to have more reasonable expectations for myself. and that's ok. no pressure on this list, remember? these aren't things i have to do, just things i would like to do.

and i would really like to do this. because there is a lot of good stuff in this Book that i have never read before. pages i have never turned. and even on the pages that i have read multiple times, there are still new truths to be learned and new depths to discover and new thoughts to ponder.

i like this plan. i'm excited to be a part of it.

if you want to be a part of this plan with me, you can find it here

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

fashion police.

Acceptable Uses for Leggings:
1. worn under a dress.
2. worn under a skirt.
3. worn under shorts to go running.
4. worn under jeans on cold days.
5. worn instead of shaving your legs that day. (i wont judge)

Unacceptable Uses for Leggings:
1. pants.

i thought we all had this figured way back in the day when BettyJo was mocked for her generous use of spandex in her wardrobe. leggings as pants are not a good idea. they were not designed to function as an outer layer of clothing.

i may not judge you for being too lazy to shave your legs. but i will judge you if you abuse your leggings by showing up to work wearing what is basically an undergarment. i will judge you so hard.

TL;DR Version: leggings are not pants.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

honey, i flooded the basement.

(this is my 500th post. it is about my domestic ineptitude. this seems fitting.)

the Scene:
our house. Sunday afternoon. wife is preparing to spend an hour or so working on her tan while husband mows the grass. to justify this exercise in slothfulness, wife throws a load of towels in the washing machine so that she can keep up the appearance of being semi-productive while really doing nothing.

a little later, wife needs a drink to refresh her and combat the sweat she has worked up from her strenuous time of watching husband push the mower all around the yard. while in the kitchen, she listens for the washer to see if it is time to switch the load to the dryer. instead of either silence or normal washing sounds, wife hears what sounds suspicously like freely flowing water in the basement. wife goes to investigate.

the Rising Action:
first, wet feet. uh oh.
second, rapidly spreading water that seems to originate under the washer.

third, quickly think: do i need to turn off the water to the whole house? good thing Chris labeled the valve last week.
finally, notice that utility sink is filled to overflowing. crap.

the Climax:
wife plunges entire arm into sink. removes rag that was blocking drain.

wife frantically grabs all the towels that are not in the washing machine and throws them semi- strategically on the floor. wife panics, runs outside to flag down happily oblivious grass mowing husband.

the Falling Action:
husband surveys the mess. seems relieved that just the laundry area is wet, and the entire basement is not under water as he expected based on wife's hysterics. dismisses need for shop-vac in favor of toweling up as much as possible, opening the basement door for better airflow, and running the dehumidifier on high.

husband helps wife carry sopping towels out to deck to dry. husband resumes mowing. wife resumes tanning.

the Irony:
wife now has to wash another load of towels.

Monday, May 21, 2012

meal plan monday: may 21.

i am my mother's daughter.

as soon as the weather warms up and sunshine becomes a regular part of my day when i get home from work, i can feel my need to cook large, elaborate meals (or any meals at all, really) just... disappear. suddenly, lunchmeat sandwiches are no longer just for lunches. asking 'have we already gone out for dinner this weekend?' happens on the reg. you want breakfast for dinner? go for it, just as long as you make it yourself! dinners that require multiple steps or dirtying more than one pot or pan? fugghedaboudit.

i know its still technically spring, but it FEELS like summer. case in point: this past weekend, when the hubs and i spent the majority of our days just sitting outside soaking up the sunshine. basically when we weren't outside, we were only inside because the O's were on TV. (or because our laundry room was full of water. more on that later.)

at last Fridays game. i'm guessing the first of many this year.

it was a fantastic, relaxing weekend. which is good, becuase this week is going to be a busy one. most weeks, we have at least one free evening to catch up on everything we didnt accomplish over the weekend, but this week we're busy every. single. night. so feel free to blame another week's worth of lazy meals either on the weather, or on my genes, or my full schedule, but here it is:

Monday: pizza at a church event.
Tuesday: grilled chicken on salad. maybe fries.
Wednesday: fish, rice, and a veggie.
Thursday: whole grain pasta in jar sauce.
Friday - Sunday: Vic's bachelorette weekend in Ocean City!

Friday, May 18, 2012

a little less greenspace.

after we spent so much time removing all sorts of overgrowth and weeds in our flowerbeds a few weeks ago, you might think that we wouldnt have any more green spaces around our house that we would want to get rid of. well, you would be wrong.

but these outdoor green areas i'm talking about aren't your typical flower beds or gardens or grassy knolls though... they were my front porch railings.

this picture should have come with a warning. sorry.

this, my friends, is the product of basically two years' worth of dirt, grime, and general lack of any sort of maintenance over that time. when we bought the house, we spent our time so focused on fixing up the inside, that anything outdoors-ish was pushed to the way back burner.

and it showed. it showed to the point that it was a little bit depressing to come home and be greeted by this ugly mess first thing.

this was after i swept over once with a broom. yeah.

i was tired of the scuzz.  i was tired of our shutters looking grey when i knew they were supposed to be white. i was tired of feeling like a dirty failure when i walked up to the front door. and i was tired of imagining all the sad thoughts that must be running through people's heads whenever they came to our house, whether or not they actually thought any of those things.

just for kicks, how about a side-by-side in-progress comparison shot so you can really see just how bad the porch was looking before last weekend... yeah. gross.

but give me two hours on a gorgeous Saturday morning, a scrub brush, and two buckets, (one for soapy water and one for clean rinse-y water) and now its like i have a brand new porch! 

the slug slime is gone. the black spots on the ground are washed away. the whatever-was-growing-behind-the-old-ugly-wreath is no more. the bricks are red again instead of green. and everything has shed its greyish-browish winter coat in favor of being clean and bright and springy again.

i evicted a LOT of spiders from around our windows, and a few from the corners of the front door. i figure they'll be back eventually, but for now i'm just enjoying the fact that i can tell that my windows and trim are actually supposed to be white, not brown.

its not perfectly clean, and it probably never will be, because lets face it - its the front porch. its outside. and outside is dirty. which means i'll have to clean it again. and again. and again over time. but for right now? for making me happy to see my porch when i come home? its good enough. and ive decided that good enough is pretty much perfect.

not to mention the fact that i also get to cross "clean the front porch" off my list of things that i would like to do in 2012... awesome.

AND THEN i even took it one step further than that: i decided to replace the old dirty white wicker table that has lived beside our front door for forever with something a little more pretty, and on our Lowe's trip over the weekend i convinced the hubs to walk through the outdoor section with me where i picked out these two plastic planters for the front porch.

and have you met Ted? (he's our  mantis friend)

i havent had time to fill them yet, but i have some pinkish-orange impatiens in the proverbial eaves just waiting for a new home in the new pots on my newly-clean front porch. and just you wait until i get around to painting the front door... you wont even recognize the place, it'll look so good!

so, when are you coming to visit? me and my front porch are ready for you!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

sink saga.

anyone want to take a guess at what super-fun welcome-home present was waiting for us when we got back from vacation? i'll give you two hints: it rhymes with "blogged pitchin' blink," and i already mentioned it in Monday's post...

did anyone guess "clogged kitchen sink?" cuz if you did, you're right! points for you!

we first noticed the issue last Monday when we ran the dishwasher, and suddenly our sink was full of skuzzy-looking water that took For-Ev-Er to drain. on Tuesday, Mark dumped some Dran-o down the sink, hoping that would solve our problems. it didnt. so for the rest of the week, we just did our best to ignore it, and work around it, and only use the sink sparingly, if at all.

and when it backed up, it also leaked. awesome.

on Saturday, Mark finally had some time to really work on the sink. he took apart the trap. no clog. he ran 25 feet of snake through the plumbing. no clog.

he even went so far as to snake the line backwards from the vent in the roof. still no clog.

we took a trip to Lowe's on Saturday evening to buy a longer snake. (and to grab some dinner from Chick-Fil-A, because we were so not making any food in our kitchen at this point) but the stupid snake wouldnt go around all the bends it needed to, making it pretty much worthless. so we resigned ourselves to the fact that this job was bigger than the both of us, called and left a message for a plumber, and just went to bed on Saturday night, frustrated and sinkless.

and then, it was Mother's Day. and 17 people had a wonderful picnic lunch at our house. and even though we tried really hard to only use disposable tableware, we still ended up with a decent number of dishes that needed to be washed. but instead of leaving a kitchen counter full of dirty dishes to deal with later (which is really what we felt like doing) we made due with what we had, which was a working bathtub.

we are the epitome of classy.

on Monday morning, the plumber called back and said he could be at our house sometime between 10 and 2, and i decided it was well worth taking a couple hours off work in the middle of the day in the name of our kitchen sink. while i was on my way home, they called to let me know that they would be there in 30-40 minutes. and they were.

Chris the plumber was really nice. he brought his own doormat to wipe his feet on before he came in the house, and he laid down carpets to protect the kitchen floor where he would be working.

he was very professional and answered all my questions. he showed me where all the important water shut-off valves are in the basement, and made sure we got some septic-friendly drain cleaner (because apparently Dran-o isnt good for our system) he even laughed and said it was ok when i explained my picture-taking by saying "its not every day the plumber comes to your house."

and! no plumbers crack!

he installed a cleanout under the sink that is easy to access, so that if it ever backs up again we wont have to take the whole thing apart to run the snake through, and we'll be able to run water while we're snaking so we can know for sure when we break up the clog. he also replaced a bunch of the trap pipes that were showing signs of leaking, so we shouldnt have to worry about leaks either.

he even wiped down the bottom of the cabinet when he was done.

this was the first thing that we've really had go wrong with the house since we bought it almost two years ago. in the grand scheme of things, even though it was super annoying and frustrating, it was a relatively small thing to deal with, and it has made us much more appreciative of the luxury it is to have a working kitchen sink, along with all the other things in our house that keep working the way they're supposed to, day after day.

(hear that, oven and fridge and washer and dryer and dishwasher and water heater and well pump? keep up the good work! we love ya!)

**do i even need to say this? Mike's Plumbing and Heating knows nothing about my blog, and i did not get any perks or discounts for mentioning them here. but i was happy with their work. so if you are in the MD area and need any plumbing done in the future and you give them a call and tell them i told you about them, then i get a referral bonus. but they do that for all their customers, so its not like special treatment.** 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

hard-working hubs.

so... the hubs started a new job last week.

not in addition to his old job, but in place of his old job.

no, he really wasn't really looking to leave his old job. he liked it there just fine.

no, he did not get fired from his old job. he was approached by an old coworker about a new opportunity to do pretty much the same thing in a different place. he considered it, and prayed about it, and decided that he felt that God was leading him in this direction. he actually left his old job on very good terms. so much so that they let part of his two-weeks-notice be a European vacation.

no, it does not seem to make a lot of sense when you look at the facts. his commute has gone from 20 minutes on a bad day to 60 minutes on a good day. (90 if he hits the beltway during rush hour, and i dont even want to try and factor in accidents and bad weather) the difference in pay will probably just cover the increased amount of gas he will use for the longer commute. a longer commute means that he has to wake up and leave much earlier in the morning, and he will most likely no longer be able to do the grocery shopping for me on his way home from work.

he crashed yesterday after his commute home in the rain took 2 hours.

and yet, he is super excited about his new job, and totally ok- if not completely happy- with all of these things.

yes, this is big news for Mark, and will bring with it some changes and adjustments for our little family. we spent a good portion of last week attempting to work out what some of those changes and adjustments might be. this entailed a lot of early mornings, some delicate bathroom-time-management, a few feelings of separation anxiety, and perhaps one instance of me stumbling outside, half-asleep and sans pants.

so, why wait a week to say anything about all this?

well, because i didnt want to jinx anything by telling people too soon. because i still had to tell y'all everything about our vacation. and because talking on the internet about work if you dont actually work on the internet is a tricky thing. i try not to do it. but when i do, (and i know i do because i currently have 14 posts labeled 'work') i put a lot of thought into what can be shared and what should just stay in my head. because even though none of my bosses know about this blog let alone read it, the last thing that i would want is for anything that i have written here (or anywhere else for that matter) to jeapordize our jobs or reputations or those of anyone close to us.

TL;DR version: Mark got a new job. he likes it.

and i like it because he likes it. sure, i kind of miss having him around in the mornings to push me out of bed on the days when i would rather sleep in, but i am so excited for him and so proud of him for taking on this new opportunity with a calculated mix of both careful consideration and reckless abandon. (time will tell if it turns out to also be wreckless...)

i love you hubs. thanks for letting me talk about you on the internets.

Monday, May 14, 2012

meal plan monday: may 14.

i'm not sure which kitchen-related news should accompany this week's meal plan post, because we had a little bit of everything going on in there this weekend: electrical work, cleaning, cooking for the inlaws, and most fun of all: dealing with our clogged sink.


i'm pretty sure that the whole sink ordeal deserves a post all its own, if only because the thought of a nasty clog and a backed up sink doesnt do much to stir up visions of tasty things that i would like to eat this week. so instead, let's just take a quick look back at what was most recently left on our kitchen-to-do list:

- swap out all the electrical outlets, switches, and the random phone jack.
- fresh coat of paint on the cabinets and drawers.
- re-hang the light fixture.
- decide on something to do with the fake wall next to the fridge.
- move all our kitchen stuff out of the nook and back into the kitchen.

and after this weekend about an hours work on Sunday morning, (seriously, WHY did we put this off so long?) the list is looking more like this:

- swap out all of the rest of the electrical outlets, switches, and the random phone jack.
     (we only had time to replace the most obviously ugly ones before family
         descended en mass)
- fresh coat of paint on the cabinets and drawers. (we decided against this)
- scrub/wipe down all the cabinets and drawers.
- re-hang the light fixture. (about 20 mins before people started showing up)
- decide on something to do with the fake wall next to the fridge. (nothing!)
- move all our kitchen stuff out of the nook and back into the kitchen.

its kind of amazing the things you can accomplish under a self-imposed deadline. especially when you make it just a little bit crazy, you know, like inviting ALL OF THE IN-LAWS over for a Mothers Day picnic lunch. and just like that, after a month and a half of nothing, BAM the kitchen is DONE!!
(ish)!! (as long as you dont get hung up on maybe replacing a few more outlets and a light switch, and possibly cleaning the cabinets and drawers. and really since that last one was only added because the thought of repainting all the cabinets was too much to bear, even that is kind of optional.)
our kitchen is looking and working like a fully functional kitchen again, instead of a construction zone, and i like it.

(insert picture-that-i-didnt-take-because-i-was-too-busy-running-around-like-a-chicken-with-my-head-cut-off-trying-to-get-everything-else-ready here)

however, i'm still not pushing it to its limits this week with the meals i have planned. partly because i went grocery shopping with half of a list over the weekend and i have no desire to be anywhere near the grocery store again this soon, but mostly because there was that whole sink debacle that happened right in the middle of all our other craziness that still needs just a little bit more attention before the kitchen is going to be ready for any hard-core cooking.

Monday: grilled chicken salad, made with leftover chicken.
Tuesday: leftovers. again.
Wednesday: crock pot roast with potatoes and veggies.
Thursday: frozen raviolis with jar sauce.
Friday: fish and rice and a veggie.
Saturday: broccoli mac and cheese.
Sunday: eat whatevers left of the leftovers.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

ATWABA: three days in Rome.

...crossing oceans, covering ground... come on along we're going around the world and back again...

"woke up early to catch the train to Rome... on our way to Ostia, an ancient Roman port, which is now not more than ruins."

"it is where we have to go as a substitute for Pompeii because our group was too small for that tour option."

"the tour of Ostia was pretty neat... its crazy to think that entire towns could exist and be entirely forgotten over time."

in the water cistern 

thousands of years old brick 

 "Monday morning was an early start for a full day. we started out at the Colosseum, which is just wild to see in person, and to see how very big it was."

"...our guide, Louisa, walked us through the Roman Forum, which used to be the very center of Rome."

"...we caught a bus towards Vatican city for lunch."

"we passed the Swiss guards and crossed St. Peters square. the line to get in was really long, and filled with angry people who did not have reservations (like we did) and had been waiting in line since early that morning, or even the day before. At one point our group got stopped by an angry old man in a blue and white striped shirt who would NOT let us past him on the sidewalk. Words were exchanged, one kid got punched in the stomach, and we ended up having to jump the fence and walk the rest of the way on the street."

"the museums themselves were kind of cool, as far as museums go."

"my favorite part by FAR was the Sistene Chapel. It (like everything else) was full of people, (who were taking pictures even though all the signs and people said NOT to) but i could have sat in there staring at the ceiling for hours."

"from there we moved into St. Peters Basilica, which is the largest Catholic church in the world... you lose all sense of size and proportion in there."

"they also have a body of an old Pope which apparently didnt decay after he died, so they put him in a glass coffin, with a brass mask on his face to hide the fact that his skin was blackened. ick."

"on our way to dinner we stopped at the Spanish Steps. young people in Rome like to hang out there."

"we got targeted by some street vendors who tried to sell us some lame bracelets for 5 euro, and were upset when we told them we didnt have any money."

"after dinner we went to see the Trevi Fountain and make our wishes and throw in our coins. the fountain is massive, and was packed with people, but it was beautiful at night."

"tuesday... was a holiday in Rome, so a lot of things were closed, which is why monday was so full of things to see and do."

"the first place we went was the Pantheon. we weren't able to go inside, but i did get to peek through the crack in the door to see the dome and the oculus, which was bigger than i imagined."

"...Ciaran took us on a walking tour around the area. we saw some Roman Ruins that are being excavated that he calls Catsville because all the stray cats live there. we also walked through the Jewish ghetto and past the Capital building."

"the maritime prison, where Peter and Paul were in jail, was not running tours on a timetable that worked for us, so we didnt go inside."

"we went to a square with an open air market for lunch... we spent some free time wandering around the square and the surrounding streets. it had been warm and sunny all morning, but after lunch it started to rain a bit.."

"...we went to a gelateria to see a demonstration of making homemade gelato, and of course to eat some! i had a scoop of sage w/ raspberry, a scoop of hazelnut, and a scoop of some sort of Italian chocolate kind of like a truffle... and it was SO good."

"...we waited out some rain in a little church that had a statue of a saint that looked just like ObiWan."

"more walking... to see the Mouth of Truth, which will apparently (supposedly) mash your fingers if you tell a lie with your hand in its mouth. really it was just an ancient drain cover."

"we also stopped at the Circus Maximus, or 'big circle' which is where they used to hold chariot races..."

"we spent our evening wandering a large square filled with fountains, performers, and mostly local artists... spraypaint artists, and an acrobatics show... we bought a watercolor painting of the Spanish Steps, because it was Mark's favorite of all the paintings."

"the most strenuous part of the day was the WALK back to the hotel. apparently the busses stopped running early, so we had a 45 minute walk across town. i thought my feet were going to fall off, my heels hurt so badly."

"it was the perfect end to the trip, having an entire day to wander the city, without a schedule to keep, and just enjoy the surprises of the city. it seemed like around every corner was something interesting, or beautiful, or historic, or all of those things. i enjoyed touring the city this way more than the crowded tours we were on for the first 2 days in Rome."

"... i thought we couldnt possibly see more of Rome after spending 3 days there just non-stop sight-seeing. turns out i was wrong. on the bus ride to the airport, we saw a portion of the aqueducts, the old city wall, and the steps that Jesus supposedly walked up to Pilate's place during Holy Week. we just drove past in the bus, so i didnt get pictures of these things..."

"we took off over the Mediterranean Sea, and i took some pictures of the coast as we flew away..."

" made me wish that we could have had a few more days in Rome, which is funny because i didnt necessarily enjoy the first 2 days. i guess Rome is a city that has to grow in you a little, with its ancient ruins mixed in among everything else, its crowded busses, its two whole metro lines, its cobblestone streets, and angry italians."

after the first day in Rome that we spent in Ostia, and the second day we spent practically running from place to place and literally fighting our way through crowds of angry tourists, compounded with my first not-so-great day in Venice, i was starting to be a little unsure how i felt about Italy as a whole. i might have even been secretly wishing that i could just go back to France, where i had grown comfortable, picked up a few more words, and where they had better croissants with breakfast. luckily for Italy, we had that one last day in Rome with not a lot scheduled.

i should have remembered that it just takes me a little while to warm up to new ideas and places. i should have realized that all of the quick-paced traveling and sight-seeing and country-hopping were not doing me any favors when it came to my desire to feel settled and comfortable. but that last, mostly-unstructured, relatively relaxing day in Rome won me over. i was hooked. i couldnt get enough of Rome. i was sad to see it go, as i realized that for as many things as we crammed into our days, there were still many more things we hadnt even come close to having enough time (or energy) to see.

"i would go back, but not without someone who speaks italian..."

no tellin' where we're going next... around the world and back again.