Getting the Shot

March 30, 2012

My mom and I had our own little escape last week to Cefalu. Cameras in hand we wandered the streets. Turning here and there without any plan or set destination. Doorways, vespas, old men, drying laundry, stone walls, cobbled streets...twisting, turning, bending as we tried to capture bit and pieces of it all. 

I am glad I got this shot of my mom. I have seen her do this same awkward stance many times over the years as she works to get the shot; almost on the verge of tipping over and yet she never does. I wish I had a picture of the stance my dad would take as he would urge us all into position for large family photos. His long legs would spread wide transforming his body into a human tripod. Getting the shot isn't just about pushing the button. Sometimes it's a full body experience. I yearn for those moments when it all clicks.

Family Travel : Always Pack a Camera

March 26, 2012

Paris, November 2011

We only have a few more months left in Europe and in the midst of planning our final adventures, I have been thinking about how traveling with kids has changed as they have gotten older (here's our travel list from when our kids were preschoolers). Overall, it really is so much easier, especially in the gear department. No more lugging of  car seats (although I have to admit to sometimes missing the strollers...they sure are handy for hauling all sorts of things in addition to kids), no more diapers, and no more dental floss (although pipe cleaners continue to come in very handy). We have streamlined our packing so that we are now able to walk onto just about any European plane with two small suitcases and two back packs. We rarely check in bags any more and our carry on needs are really pretty minimal.

Here's our packing list for two school age kids (ages 9 and 6):

- clothing (three mix and match outfits: one for traveling and two in the suitcase)
- one pair of comfortable shoes that they will wear the entire trip
- a few paperback books
- a pack of cards
- gum
- little toys (a bag of mixed lego pieces, beyblades, etc)
- little bag of markers and 2 small sketch books
- the very important bunny
- an ipod loaded up with new audio books
- a small digital camera

The camera really has become an important part of the travel gear and I am not talking about my camera. The kids have their own digital camera. We used to buy disposable cameras for them with every trip, but as they have gotten older we realized that they are responsible enough for their own. They share it, but Noah seems to take most of the pics. It's always so interesting to see what he chooses to document on our trips. From Mona Lisa to aliens and all sorts of details I rarely notice until he stops to photograph them. We haven't tried this yet, but I keep thinking it might be fun to do some sort of photo scavenger hunt on our next trip....give them a list of things to hunt and document over the course of a trip. I'll let you know how that works.

Ragusa Ibla

March 25, 2012

 Adam and I escaped to Ragusa Ibla last weekend while my mom stayed with the kids. A decadent lunch at Il Duomo, meandering twisty little streets, sunset views in the beautiful garden, dinner in a lively little bar while watching soccer with locals, spending the night here, and driving the long way home along the coast. It was a perfect Sicilian weekend.


March 21, 2012

Anticipation, intrigue, longing, and invitation all constructed with glass, fabric, china, silver, and one Japanese Magnolia blossom. There is something so beautiful about a set table.

Il Duomo Restaurant, Ragusa Ibla, Sicily

March View

March 14, 2012

The sun has returned and everything is even greener. My mom arrives tomorrow. Camille has been building traps for Leprechauns. I have been spending way too much time suddenly worrying about our move. Adam is trying his best to keep me calm and remind me that things always work out. Noah has been making us all laugh a lot. He always does, but lately he's even funnier.

Leaks and Leeks

March 11, 2012

The weather has been especially crazy recently. Flash flooding, interspersed with brilliant sunshine, then heaps of hail, followed by balmy-mild mannered days and for the past two nights we were bombarded by fierce winds. This March has been living up to the Italians' description: "Marzo Pazzerello"!

For the first time since living here, we have had leaks. Water pouring in windows, under doors, and drip, drip, dripping by our bed. Towels piled up each night in case a sudden storm blows inland and flashlights freshly filled with batteries. All of this crazy weather leaves me feeling a bit unsettled, which pushes me to seek out the comforts of furry slippers and soup. Soup reigns supreme in the comfort department, doesn't it?

But leeks are not something I would immediately associate with comfort. In fact, I have a hazy childhood memory of eating leeks for the first time. My parents' friend was dating a French woman who had gotten her hands on a crate of leeks and had eagerly invited us all over for a French meal of leeks. I remember the house being dark except for a few candles here and there and everyone oohing and ahhing over the strange green vegetables. Sounds a bit kooky and I could totally have the details wrong, but I do remember that I was not a fan of the leeks. They were gritty and too onion-y to me.

And I don't really think I ever had leeks again until recently when I felt the need to give them another try. It started with a favorite soup recipe. The original recipe always called for leeks but I never added them. And then one day I did and I suddenly loved them. Which led to the discovery of this easy leek and potato soup recipe. Truly a wonderful and comforting soup that I will make again and again. And if nothing else, aren't leeks some of the prettiest vegetables? That pop of green fits right in with this time of year when Spring is so tantalizingly close and yet still not fully here.

This Week: From Where I Stand

March 9, 2012

Monday: New hula hoops in the front yard with my favorite girl

 Tuesday: Dirty dishes. Every darn day.

Tuesday: Beyblade boys. They gather every afternoon after homework.

Wednesday: Walking out of yoga class, I stepped on this prophetic message: "Clean Out". We got our official orders this week...lots of cleaning out to be done before another big move: Italy to DC in July.

Thursday: The ditches are quickly filling up with wildflowers. I always keep a shovel and a pair of clippers handy for pretty patches of color.

Thursday: James Taylor concert. I always wanted to see him live, just never thought it would happen in Catania, Sicily. It was great fun.

Friday: I try. I really do try to get my feet on this yoga mat every morning

Friday: One girl home from school with a cough. One mama with her camera.  A rainy day and several rounds of a pizza fractions game. Sometimes it is nice to spend the afternoon in bed.

Ever since the start of the new year, I have been taking part in Clicky.  Fifty two weeks of photography with a different challenge/focus each week (please feel free to join in the Clicky fun, too). This week's theme of "From Where I Stand" was inspired by this and this and this. It's been an interesting way to document the week. What's the view like from where you are standing these days? 

The Merits of Trash

March 6, 2012

I  didn't realize what a large impact Sicily's garbage situation had on my children until our trip to Jacksonville Beach last summer. On our first morning on the beach, the kids found one plastic water bottle. That bottle led to quite a bit of bewilderment and frustration because they were unable to find any other bottles or left over containers. Camille turned to me and quickly announced, "This beach isn't any good". Yes, that's right. My children have come to depend upon a certain level of debris to consider it a worthy beach.

We used to lug big bags full of buckets, shovels, and sand toys with us on beach trips, but since moving to Sicily that's no longer necessary. A big part of the winter/early spring beach experience is focused on collecting, assembling, re-imagining, and building new worlds with beach discoveries. The water is too cold to be tempting, but perhaps even more importantly the storms drag in dramatic amounts of stuff. A part of me grapples with this whole "trashy" situation (never imagined I would find myself telling my kids not to pick up hyperdermic needles on a beach). Beautiful beaches cluttered with mounds of trash is a sad very thing, but watching my kids at play shifts the perspective a bit. To them it is endless hours of possibilities and unlimited treasures to be discovered. 

Our closest beach continues to be a favorite destination, especially with the recent discovery of an old boat. It is such a fabulous old hull of a boat that we seriously contemplated trying to move it to a friend's yard for further pirate play. 

But kids aren't the only ones inspired by discarded objects. Some very creative artists including my mom, Grandma Prisbey, Shawn Major, Rammellzee also see the merits of turning trash into treasures. And what about this exhibit at the San Diego Children's Museum, that would have been a fun one to see, but for now we will just keep enjoying our Sicilian beaches with all of the various treasures they have to offer.


March 5, 2012

Lots of singing and dancing happening around here recently! Adam and Noah took part in a our community theatre production of Oliver! and they were fabulous. Noah was an orphan and Adam had multiple roles as a Dr. Grimwig, a pub patron, and a dancing policeman. I helped out back stage with kid wrangling and making sure everyone had microphones in each scene. Lots of hard work, but lots of fun for all of us, too. We are so lucky to be part of such a talented and enthusiastic base community. 

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