Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The day after Christmas....

 we went to Venice! It involved a 15 minute bus ride to the train station, an hour long train ride and boom we were there! We had an awesome Christmas and I promise I will get pictures up soon! I took all those pics on my DSLR and I can't find the cable to transfer the photos. So when we went to Venice, I made sure to take my point and shoot, immediate uploads for those who are missing seeing the kids' faces.


less than a month ago I was in south Texas driving through Starbucks...now I'm drinking tiny little cappuccinos in Venice?! Man life is strange!

Move over hot apple cider, this is hot spiced wine! AMAZING!!!
 The boys loved Venice. All the ''rivers'' that they got to ride in a bus, then a train, then a boat...the whole day was pretty awesome to them too. 

 Sissy finally woke up by lunctime at a Pizzeria. It was good, but had nothing on the local place we like to eat at...we may be biased already! Although sissy did eat an entire slice by herself!
 I'll be honest, I can't even remember what the significance of this statue is, but with the clouds lined up like this, I couldn't not take a photo. 

Peanut and Pooks especially loved all the pigeons. Watching them, chasing them, it didn't matter. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The journey to Italy....

We left Texas bright and early Monday morning (try leaving for an airport at 4am with 4 kids, I dare you!). It was 1 dog in a soft sided carrier, 2 adults, 4 kids, 4 carry-on bags + a laptop bag + 2 diaper bags (one full of diapers and pullups, wipes and bibs, one full of things to entertain Sissy as well as my wallet, ipad and kindle), 4 carseats (which we checked) and NINE pieces of luggage. Needless to say, navigating the airports 5 days before Christmas was a challenge but luckily all of that allowed us to skip the extremely slow and long security lines...suddenly we were ushered off to the side and though it took us forever to get everything in bins and on the belt, we were through the line in less than five minutes.

We ate breakfast at McDonalds, sipped on my last Starbucks drink for a long while (caramel brulee latte, hope it still exists when we return!) and pre-boarded after a small wait due to arriving early. We loaded the plane and it was off without a hitch. The kids LOVED it and settled in quickly. Sissy nursed during take-off and fell asleep. She ended up napping for a little over half of a hour, then woke and played on my lap, then B's before falling back asleep. Peanut watched some shows on my iPad and was asleep within the first hour and a half and slept up until the pilot announced decent into New York. Bubba fell asleep at some point (not sure when, he was sitting by B) and Pookie only slept for maybe half an hour. He had little dark circles under his eyes when we arrived at JFK!

JFK wasn't even stressful, boring and long but it went okay. We arrived in one terminal, had to take a shuttle to the international terminal which in itself isn't a problem. But the pet relief area was in the terminal we landed in. However to get to it, you had to leave the airport and reenter, of course going through security. That was not going to happen as the lines were RIDICULOUSLY long. So Rascal had to hold it until after our shuttle ride to the new terminal. Then B took just him out (no kids, no bags) and re-entered through the international security (which was much shorter so early in the day). Then we waited. From noon until our flight left at 6pm. This was the most challenging part of the trip. After eating lunch there wasn't much to do but walk the dinky terminal. I would have loved to hit up a Starbucks, see the shops, etc but I wasn't going to go through security again so we stayed. Played games, drew pictures, ate and ate some more. Finally it was time to pre-board. The kids were doing well, Pooks was exhausted. Once we boarded, he fell asleep before we even took off! He remained asleep until breakfast was served (7 hours later). The other kids also fell asleep quickly. At some point after the dinner service (tortellini in a creamy sauce, side salad, roll, cheese chunk, and blonde brownie)  I slept as well though not very good. I couldn't get comfortable at all, the people diagonal from me were awake and talking loudly, in Italian. I was surprised (though I'm not sure why, lol) our flight was fully packed and the majority were Italian nationals not touristy Americans like I had expected. Everyone was nice and it was good flight. Minimal turbulence and we ended up landing a full hour ahead of schedule. Surprisingly even only getting maybe 4 hours of interrupted sleep, I still felt semi rested.

The worst part of the flight, hands down was the arrival process once we were in Venice. The kids were still tired and didn't want to carry push their carry-on or wear their little backpacks so B and I had to do that in addition to all the other carryons and the dog. I was wearing Sissy, he was wearing Peanut, then we were strapped down with everything else. We had to ride this escalator down from our gate and it was a challege. The pilots and crew were with us and offered to help which sounds amazing but then somehow we ended up at the bottom of the escaltor readjusting all of our stuff and realized we were missing Peanut's carry-on. No time to worry about that at the moment, we had to show our passports and proceed to get our other luggage which was freakishly fast coming down to baggage claim. B was trying to quickly grab all of our luggage, I was trying to keep the kids back, get the dog to stop barking, keep an eye on our carry-ons and try to calm Peanut down who was upset about his lost bag. B needed a cart to carry luggage and they only accepted Euro, which we didn't have. So B continued to grab carseat and shove them off to the side when suddenly the empty carousel we were standing by, suddenly started moving and we had to move all of it again. While he used a machine to get Euro change while watching the kids, I walked around to find the US military liaison. No luck. Apparently the liaison is outside of security. I returned to B, helped him load up all nine bags on three carts, and (with people staring) pushed everything out into the main part of the airport. B looked around for his sponsor but didn't see her. Not a huge surprise since our flight was over an hour early! We finally spotted a sign that was a ''Welcome" sign for our installation with an arrow to the liaison booth. We drag everyone and everything over to discover that the booth is empty.

At this point we were tired, thirsty, in a place where we couldn't speak to dang near anyone and the kids who had been wonderful were starting to lose it. They were sick of sitting, sick of being patient and sick of airports. B went and bought a bottle of Limone! Gatorade, it was 3 euros for one 1/2L bottle...apparently Gatorade is a hot commodity over here! Then B let Rascal out to go potty, then look for his sponsor again. I wrangled up the kids, the luggage and parked it near a bench. Boy were we a sight, lol. I ransacked all our our bags coming up with a bag of animal crackers. It bought me some time but not much. As I'm standing there completely frazzled, the liaison approached me. Apparently we screamed ''desperate Americans!". He called B's sponsor (who was on her way) and then allowed me to call my parents and let them know we made it safely. While the liaison and B were talking, I went over to the the ''lost luggage" station to see if they had Peanut's lost carry-on....they did! With his carry-on in hand, I went back to the booth to find that our sponsor had shown up too!  The guys quickly loaded up the luggage, installed the car seats and we were on our way to our new home!

Part 2, our arrival to post and our first outing, will be written shortly!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hotel living

It's rough, but some of us don't seem to notice...

Sorry for the lack of posting, things are getting pretty hectic. One hotel room, 3 beds, 4 kids, 11 pieces of luggage...it's crowded and doesn't leave a lot of time for blogging!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, December 9, 2011

Here comes Santa Claus...

Well, statistically three out of four isn't bad...
Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

14 month milestone

Sissy you are now 14 months old and I cannot believe how much your personality has exploded in the last month. You're walking, running and now climbing! You love to get down from the sofa and the bed all by yourself. You like to find your brothers' step-stool, a wipe box, anything that you can carry...take it to the middle of the living room and then proceed to stand on it. Of course, you only really do this if you have an audience.

At 14 months old....

  • you now weigh 19lbs 5oz! You gained an entire pound in just one month! Which really does prove that you're an active toddler who when hit with a double ear infection, just didn't feel like eating. I am so thankful that you are growing and thriving after your little scare of losing weight. 
  • love to dance. You shake your shoulders, wiggle your hips and grin to any music. 
  • are starting to stack blocks. I don't remember your brothers doing this until they were older but you stack three high and then laugh as you kick them down. 
  • are drinking whole milk, through a straw cup between meals. You still nurse when you wake up, before nap(s), before dinner and before bed, but if we're out and busy you'll easily skip a feeding and never notice. 
  • are mimicking not just actions but words. In one night you repeated ''daddy, papa, love you (wuvv ewe), and said "utsdat?"... baby speak for ''what's that?"
  • wear 12-18 jeans/pants/dresses, 12 month onesies and can fit into size 4 shoes if you have socks on
  • still wear a size 4 diaper
  • love to give kisses. you'll walk around the house saying ''muah. muah. muah." until someone leans down and lets you kiss them. 
  • are starting to use your spoon and fork. we can now give you your food  on a plate and you don't throw it!
  • as soon as you see a camera or phone pointed in your general direction you start saying ''CHEESE"
Sissy you are really just a lot of fun right now. Sure you have your toddler moments (every day this week you have refused/kicked/screamed and thrown yourself every time I try to put you in a shopping cart) but you are just such a happy baby!

Geesh, with the lack of posting around here you'd think I was moving half way across the globe

Oh wait, we are!

When you have four kids (heck, any number of kids really) life is busy. Factor in school, the holidays and an international move...things are beyond busy. They are down right hectic. We have all our paperwork done and ready for Italy. They came and packed our unaccompanied baggage (household stuff that will get there shortly after us, before our big shipment of all our stuff arrives), we sent the van off back in November (it's in route, somewhere in the Atlantic now) and our movers come MONDAY. This week is all about de-cluttering, trashing what is trash, donating what we don't need and grouping like items so the movers don't pack one shoe in one box because it was in the bedroom and the other in a different box because it was in the hall. It sounds simple enough but grouping everything, going through every junk drawer, the linen closets, tossing out 1/2 full bottles of old lotion/shampoo, using up the rest of the freezer food and snacks (last night we had grilled chicken {used up the marinade}, roasted potatoes {used up the potatoes left in the 5lb bag}, glazed sweet potatoes {in freezer} and corn {in pantry}. Random and starch heavy but it worked.

We had a garage sale last Saturday. It was EXHAUSTING. I opened the garage at 6:30am, thirty full minutes before our start time of 7am that was on every sign, and as I was waiting for the door to open 3 cars were waiting. It was busy and rainy and dreary but we sold almost everything (whats left fit in 2 totes) and we made almost $500! That was just our family, two neighbors also each made $100. It was an awesome success! Definitely worth the years it took me to get the courage to have the dang sale.

So garage sale done. Donations are in the van, waiting to be delivered. More suitcases have been purchased (we now have 4 carry ons, 5 full size suitcases, 1 oversize duffel, a dog carrier, a diaper bag) and are waiting to be packed. I've finished my Christmas shopping for the kids, Nanaw, Papa, Nanaw Phew Phew have all shipped their gifts here (which will go in a suitcase), Papa Barry sent money (bless him, we'll need it while living in the hotel & in the airports) and all that's left is to opening it all from it's childproof packaging, add the necessary batteries, toss in a few rolls of wrapping paper and lock that bag up so the kids can't open it in the hotel. The boys haven't decided what to ask Santa for yet, hopefully they narrow that down before the flight!

This weekend we will start moving some of the luggage and such to the hotel, the movers come Monday, Bubba has school that week but B is off to stay at the house with the movers. By next Friday, we'll have done our walk through and be counting down the hours til Italy!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our Elf...

is back. Tex showed up the Monday before Thanksgiving. While I didn't snap a pic that day, he brought with him the kids Christmas pajamas and Christmas books. This year he is much more mischievous this year. Last year he hung out on shelves, on top of the kitchen counters, a picture frame or two. This year, he is getting into everything and the kids LOVE it. As soon as they wake up they are off to find the elf.
Does it really help remind them to act nice and not naughty? Eh...depends on the kid and the day. But overall it helps make it feel like Christmas, which considering we aren't pulling out all our decorations, is nice. They enjoy the story and loved the 30 minute movie that aired last night. I like that it really brings out the imagination...wondering when Tex flies, where he'll be tomorrow, if he'll bring a letter...so much fun!
Updated:12-10-11 adding more photos...
Edited to add even more pics:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want

So tell me what you want, what you really really want,
I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really 
really really wanna zigazig ha"

Ahem. Now that I have that out of my system (and stuck in your head, ha!) I have been thinking that this year I have seen more stuff out there that I would want for Christmas than ever before {well since become an adult/mom}. Ironic since I will be spending this Christmas is Italy! It's like ''geez lady, isn't that enough?" and it is. I am ecstatic actually. But my point is, it seems like every year there isn't that one thing that I just have to have. I mean, sure I come up with something when prompted or asked but usually it's a last minute ''oooh that'd be nice!" like a Starbucks gift card or something practical like a new knife block, a bedding set, etc. But this year, I have an entire list of stuff that is just for Shannon, not mom-ish or house-wifey but just stuff I would want. Now granted, I know beyond a doubt I won't get most if any of it and that's perfectly fine. It's just funny the way life works out. 

This is the first year since B and I got married that we have made a ''no gifts for each other'' rule. With moving it's just too much. Too much logistics, takes too much time and planning and too much to fit in our luggage. Our gift to each other is this move. It is taking advantage of getting to live in Europe. It's taking day trips to Venice and weekend mini-vacays to Switzerland or Germany. And that is more than enough, more than I could have ever imagined. I mean, I've never even been to LA or NYC and they are in the continental United States. 

But besides all of that, in no particular order, here is my list for Santa. If all else, use as a gift giving guide :)

1. Jo Totes camera bag:
Seriously how cute yet functional is this camera bag? So much better than the gray and black Wal-Mart one that you know, looks like a camera bag, that I bought four years ago for maybe $15. This is adorable. And while trekking all over Italy, adorable and functional are necessities. Well, to me they are. Or should be.

And speaking of cute yet functional....number 2 on my fantasy list:
Grey UGG Classic Cardy Boots- I know, I know...you're thinking really Shannon? Uggs?? But if you haven't seen these in person, you should. They are gorgeous. So soft and warm, perfect for pulling up over some skinny jeans and while not AT ALL practical in South Texas (despite the gobs of people wearing them) they are completely practical for Italy. It's gets cold there. In fact, we'll be just south of the Dolomites (thats a mountain range folks). You can see them from the hotel on post. If that isn't boot weather/location, I don't know what is! *and they are much cheaper than that several places online...which is even better*.

On to number three...I don't know that I ever blogged about my Keurig but I love it. I'm using the word love. I've drank espresso Starbucks drinks for awhile. But I didn't start drinking coffee at home until after Peanut was born and then it was only when desperate. B likes his strong, dark, extra bold. I like mine not so tar-like, with cream and sugar. Maybe a bit of vanilla syrup. I drink it to wake up, sure but I like to enjoy it as well. So  we got a Keurig back in the spring and it's perfect. He gets his cup of tar, I get my French Vanilla fix. Seriously amazing. But the thing I lack is a way to store all those k-cups. We have several different boxes open so it'd be nice to have a way of storing and showing those off that is better than this system:
Yeah, that's an old utensil organizer propped up on the boxes of kcups, sorted by flavor, inside my cabinet. So...hence why I got down right giddy when I found this:
It's PERFECT right!? It holds 18 k-cups, is adorable and practical (are we noticing a theme here) and only $25. That's cheaper than the Keurig stuff you can buy in the stores. I want it. 

And last but not least, if you are any sort of crafter or blog follower of any craft blog, I know a Silhouette is secretly on your Christmas list. These things are ah-mazing. Cute and practical? Not so much. But fun and could make cute and practical things? Yes. 
The Silhouette is a digital cutting machine that connects to your computer and cuts designs and fonts with a small blade. There are tons of possibilities creating with the Silhouette - home decorating, decor, DIY projects, paper crafts, iron-on's and more. No more using an Exacto knife for freeze paper stencils...this bad boy will cut it right out. You can even make tattoos and vinyl decals for your walls or car. Totally amazing!

So that's my list. Nothing to extravagant. Everything is somewhat practical even if not truly necessary. Any the y are gifts that I can't share or use or spend on the kids...that's an improvement for me!