Turtles and Tiaras

February 25, 2012

 Who says turtle time shouldn't include taffeta dresses, feather boas, and tiaras?

Camille, Sloane, Charlie, and Slowpoke
February 2012

Orange You Happy?

February 22, 2012

It's blood orange season here in Sicily and we are up to our eyeballs in oranges (sorry, couldn't resist the corny humor). And speaking of eyes and silly things, have you noticed the little photo trend that's been popping up in family photos lately? It started with Adam in Paris and it seems to be growing in popularity. It makes us all giggle. What's making you happy on these winter days?

A Fisherman's Hands

February 21, 2012

A sunny winter day in a small fishing village. A fisherman sitting in an open doorway attaching hooks to lines. Hundreds of them.

Aci Trezza, Sicily

February List

February 20, 2012

For Imagining: The Fantastic Flying Books
For Exploring: Two Teens and a Lego Man
For Family Viewing (and reading): The Gruffalo
For Grown-up Viewing: Winnebago Man and Catfish
For Folding: wildly creative
For Dishwashing: Culture Gabfest
For Considering: The Burning House
For Illustrating: Quentin Blake 
For Making: Tapestry Table 

St. Agata Festa: 2012

February 18, 2012

So before we were sucked into the vomit vortex,there was the spectacular St. Agata Festival. Just as with past years, there was the drama, the devotion, and the fire. 

Packed into a pulsating crowd, necks aching upward, fiery and flamboyant sparks of light piercing the night sky, daring us to believe that the next set of fireworks can't possibly be as breathtaking, but it is. It is all so intensely mesmerizing and magical.

Striking night time silhouettes, cobbled streets gritty with sand and wax, candles dripping, men running, boys sweating, feverish prayers whispered, chanted, and shouted. 

On the first night (Feb.3rd) a group of friends and I were able to share the festival experience with our lovely and lively visiting author. The highlight of that first night really was the impressive fireworks show with the beautiful live music. I then headed back on the final night (Feb.5th) with Noah and our friends who were visiting from Bulgaria. It was fun to see the festival through our kids' eyes (they were much more impressed by the endless candy choices than they were by all of those burning candles!) 

I love all of the Sicilian festivals, but I have to admit that St. Agata is truly my favorite and if you ever have the chance to visit Sicily in early February, you must, must, must make the pilgrimage to Catania for St. Agata.

Viva St. Agata!

Valentine's Day

February 14, 2012

This morning marked the end to a ten day visit from some of our closest friends. I wish I could say we spent the whole time sharing our favorite parts of Sicily with them. That was the original plan. But you know what they say about plans, right? The reality is that the ten of us were crammed into very close quarters and actively engaged in a losing battle against a vicious stomach bug. If that's not the true test of a strong friendship, I don't know what is....ten days, six children (ages 4-10), four adults, three bedrooms, shared bathrooms, too many loads of laundry to count and much, too much vomit. But not only did we all survive, we are all still good friends and in some ways closer than we ever imagined possible. This Valentine's Day has us all appreciating the return of good health, strong friendships, and home-made valentines.  Hope you and your loved ones are also having a happy (and vomit-free) Valentine's Day!

A Boy and A Photo

February 7, 2012

"Sometimes I dream about that place. It's not real is it?"

This past weekend I walked into the guest room and discovered Noah lying on the newly made bed gazing up at the black and white photo of Oak Alley Plantation. It's a photo that was taken before the grand house was gussied up, freed from vines, and placed in commercials and movies. 

I assured Noah it was a real place, but his question took me surprise. That photo has so many stories attached to it that I treasure, yet until Noah posed his question I realized I had never sat down and shared them with him. That photo was taken by my grandfather in 1963, but was actually printed by my father in my grandfather's dark room many years after my grandfather's death. That photo was then given to my husband as a present for his graduation from medical school in 2000. That photo was then packed up and taken to Bremerton, Washington where it hung in our bedroom over a chest of drawers that eventually became Noah's changing table in 2003. 

Noah loved that spot. The black and white image entranced him and he would stare at it long after he was changed. It thrilled my dad to see how much Noah loved that image. It thrilled me, too...nearly nine years ago when Noah was an infant and this past weekend when I found my monkey boy once again drawn into the scene. My wild and silly, beyblade-loving boy will be turning nine later this week. I never knew he had dreams about that place, about that photo, but that makes me smile, too.

The Year of the Dragon

February 3, 2012

It's the Year of the Dragon so of course we assembled our own full size dragon to inhabit our living room. It started with an extremely long piece of brown paper that one of our neighbors received in a shipping box. I guess we are developing a little reputation on the street for re-purposing items since they gave it to us instead of throwing it away. It sat in the laundry room for several days. A big, crinkly, snakey pile of paper that seemed to be taunting me to do something with it. And then we had pizza one night which meant we suddenly had this perfect large circle of cardboard and somehow inspiration struck. The kids and I spent most of a weekend digging through our recycling bin, firing up the glue gun, and sticking on the duct tape to create our very own dragon. 

And in case you didn't know this: dragons are not easy to photograph. I have not been able to successfully capture it flying across the ceiling of our living room. The image you see above is the tail end and his cute little hind legs which Camille ingeniously thought to add at the very last minute thanks to inspiration from Grace Lin's dragon in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Which is a wonderful dragon tale.

We have a certain fondness for the Year of Dragon. We got married during the year of dragon. Anyone out there remember the large inflatable dragon slide/jumpy house that was at our wedding party twelve years ago? That was fun.  Here's to hoping this year will also be filled with happiness, love, and lots of jumping fun.

Happy Year of the Dragon!

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