Oh, Italy

Oh, Italy. What to say to you? Where to start? Where to end? Where to even begin?


A week ago we landed on your soil, with the sun beating down and high expectations –you see. When traveling in a group of eight, there are bound to be at least a few expectations, regardless of how hard we tried NOT to have expectations.


You see, the thing is when you tell someone you are going to Italy –they gasp, and spray you down with their own expectations: vineyards, grapes, pottery, cork, wine, cheese and more.  Something they saw in a movie, read in a book, or saw online.  As if they have been there before -in the hot sun.


Regardless of how hard you try NOT to hold any of them up, there are expectations, no matter how small or how great…and those expectations are bound to be broken. Because this is Italy. Real Italy. Not Italy as seen in a movie, or perfect Italy, or even dreamed about, thought up of, and pondered over Italy. This is Italy. While it is true, a lot of our problems stemmed from #firstworldproblemsinathirdworldcountry, a lot of our problems also arose because of these expectations. Yes, the very ones we said we wouldn’t have.

The streets...with people and lemons as far as the eye can see!

Today we walked down your cobble stone alley ways, dodged little cars that sounded like lawn mowers, and selected some regular coffee off of the overstocked, too small grocery shelf. We came home, and sat around the table, on the balcony, over-looking the Italy that has become real to us this past week –and somehow decided to talk only about the good things that happened this week.


It took a few minutes to get things rolling, but once we started –there was seemingly no way to stop…and so we didn’t. We talked. We laughed. We remembered. We told stories. We drank in the smells around us –the good mixed with the bad. And soaked up the last that real Italy had to offer. Expectations or not, it has been a pretty good trip. Especially if you are able to throw out the bad, and look back on the good.


So just what is there to say, oh Italy. As we prepare to leave you –again.


The lemons –everywhere. Perhaps. Is a rather obvious place to start. Lemon trees, lemon liquor, lemon cookies, candy, cakes and of course -soda. Lemon towels, shirts, pots and pans. Lemons. As far as the eye can see. The smell of lemon lingers as you cross the crowded alley ways. Bouncing from one shop to another. Lemons. Mingled of course, with the smell of fresh baked breads and pastries.


The ocean –a short walk from our apartment. Even shorter if you use the alley ways which are buzzing with busses too big to even be there. The ocean –which is a mixture of both amazing Mediterranean –sparkling blue and green, and harsh dark waves that slam you into the beach. Both of which made our trips to the beach memorable and fun at the same time. If not a bit dangerous.


Of course, this isn’t to say that the entire time in Italy has been outstanding –because when you are traveling as a group of eight –each with expectations, there are bound to be a moments of frustration. Especially when combined with the “Decaf coffee.”


But as we prepare to leave, I wish to leave the hard moments and crushed expectations behind, and only leave with the wonderful memories that were made: On the streets, in the ocean, down the alley ways, and on the balcony. Small snippets of the days spent here. Memories that one day –will only be remembered as “That time we were in Italy.” Because when it comes down to it –life is simply too short to remember the grudges, and stiff hot air that made tempers flare.


Yes, Italy –you might have been a challenge for us to overcome, but I have a feeling that in a few days, months or even a year –you will become a favorite.

Italy – Day 1

A lot has happened in the past few months, including the fact that we packed up and headed across ‘the pond’ to see…Amanda and crew! We were in England for a week, then yesterday we packed up again and headed to…Italy for a week vacation as a family.

Try not to be confused by the small details –the bottom line is that we are in Italy –that is all that really matters!

Yesterday we spent the day at the beach. Turns out the only beach within walking distance is a paying beach –but that’s ok. We had planned to go, packed everything (and everyone) up and walked down…we went around the gate and found ourselves a perfect spot to sit –and then went off to search for chairs. Which is when we realized we had to pay to be ON the beach as well as for chairs and umbrellas. Oh well…

We had a great time swimming and playing in the sand.

And we are off…

DSC_04112(dad’s picture)

The beach!  The beach!  We see the beach!




A bunch of us swam from the beach to the orange buoys out there -it didn’t seem that far from the beach, but once we got higher we realized just how far it was!  I was impressed with us!

DSC_0414Someone was busy (extremely busy) building and ‘working’ in the sand.


…and of course the cutest niece, ever!



DSC_0427This one went undercover as a pig today.

I think he was trying to hide from the fact that he ripped up the beloved pig.

Yes, this is pig #2.  This one made pig noises.  It scared Yoshi, so she ripped it up enough that it didn’t make the noise anymore.  Then Siren and Chester played a game of tug-o-war…

Today, Chester tried out a new look.  It didn’t impress Yoshi -to say the least.

These Guys…


These two ran away this morning.  They were gone for about two hours.  It was raining.  They are known to sneak off for five or ten minutes -but they are usually next door making friends.  Today they were just gone.  Gone!  We walked and drove up and down the road yelling and calling -and nothing.


This one came home with a bag of salmon.  A bag of salmon that was vacuum sealed and frozen at one point.  A bag of king salmon.


This one came home about twenty minutes later.  With no salmon.  Just a funky smell.


This one was really worried when they were gone.


They had some buddy bonding time after I got over being mad at them for making me yell for them in the rain for two hours.  I don’t have a lot of sympathy for dogs who run away from their nice warm homes with plenty of food and lots of toys.  But since I am only puppy-sitting Siren, I kind of had to find her.


At least they are cute!


Just can’t stay mad at that face!

DSC_0373Or that one!


Or that one for that matter!

The Pink Pig

For the past bit of time, I have been trying to narrow down some issues I have been having with Yoshi.  Aside from her allergies, and being terrified of people / new places / new things, she started to get aggressive with other dogs.  After many hours of research I narrowed her problem down to be something related to ‘resource guarding’ which is fun -because her ‘resources’ that she ‘guards’ can be anything from a leaf on the floor that she saw, to her people.  Fun times around here!

After a bit of work, I narrowed her main triggers down to food and her people.  She gets upset if another dog/cat/animal is eating something that she wants, she doesn’t like to share her bones, steals food, and HATES it when you pay attention to another dog beside her.  I have found it mostly best to limit her ‘triggers’ by feeding her on a schedule (so there isn’t food down for her to constantly guard) as well as limit the amount of treats / bones that hang out when there are other dogs around.

While this hasn’t completely limited her lashing out, it has put an end to a majority of it.  As long as another dog doesn’t get to close to her bed / food / water / people / leaf on the floor etc. then we are ok.

Insert: The Pink Pig.


Last week we had a hot spell.  We were dancing around high 80’s all week -and so I splurged and bought a $5 swimming pool and some plastic dollar toys to help keep the dogs cool (and keep the other dog from running off in seek of water -another story for another time.)  Yoshi spotted the toys and was making herself comfortable with them, even doing her best to share when all of a sudden she started growling and snarling at the other dog.

I took the toys away -problem solved.  I assumed she was just upset because it was a smaller space, and she was trying to take possession of the toys.  The next day I filled the pool, and dropped the toys in.

Looking for pig

Looking for pig

The pink pig disappeared a short time later.

I later found it buried in her bed.

Insert today: Dad was playing with the dogs for a few minutes when all of a sudden Yoshi jumped from her bed, went flying across the room growling and snapping.

No one had any idea what was going on…until I realized: Dad had given the PINK PIG to the other dog.

Once she got the pig back, she was happy as could be.

So now to add to her list of prized possessions: Food, Her People, Bones, and a stupid $1 Pink Pig.

Ah, yes.  Such is our life with Yoshi…and forever and always, the pink pig.

Sitting in Waterfalls

DSCN4198We walked through the water, and UP the middle of the waterfall.

So yesterday a couple friends asked me if I wanted to go hiking up a waterfall. I said yes, because: Hiking, waterfall, friends…it sounded like a win-win to me. When we got there and I realized that they literally meant –UP the waterfall.  Not beside it, but straight up through the waterfall.  With the running water and all.

A few months ago I was writing a list of things I really want to improve in myself / do. I wrote two simple words: Be Spontaneous. Now I, kind already consider myself spontaneous (with traveling to and fro and what not) but I don’t feel like I say “yes” enough. I don’t feel that I do random things, things I know I will enjoy –because of fear. I hold myself back because I am scared of something stupid.


So I went for it.  I pushed whatever fears I had that were trying to flood my mind (cold water, getting wet, falling, drowning, etc.)

I climbed the waterfall with them. Straight up the falls. Slippery rocks, rushing water, sitting in the water fall (both on accident and purpose).

…and you know what? It was amazing. It was more than amazing. It was awesome.

DSCN4191The view from the top

As I sat down in the waterfall (because it’s some sort of unspoken rule that after you climb up a waterfall –you have to sit in it) I laughed and said to myself “Sitting in a waterfall wasn’t ever on my ‘to do list’ but it sure is on my ‘done’ list.” It’s not something I would have even considered a possibility (hiking up a waterfall? Seriously?) but I did it. It was awesome. I would do it again tomorrow if I could.

DSCN4190Climbed that! 

I only ran into issues when I realized that my legs were a few inches shorter than theirs and couldn’t make the same steps they could -meaning I had to improvise quite a lot.  By the time it was over I was soaked from the waist down -but it was totally worth it!

This whole spontaneous thing is turning out to be one of the best things ever.

DSCN4204View from the bottom

Here is to sitting in more waterfalls.

Some Randomness

See that little yellow dot?  They are flowers.  In the middle of a gravel lot.  Nothing else.  Just four small yellow flowers -a type that I have never seen before.

See that little yellow dot? They are flowers. In the middle of a gravel lot. Nothing else. Just four small yellow flowers -a type that I have never seen before.

I put myself on a coffee detox last week. I love coffee, but my heart was doing some weird beating and I thought it might be contributed to my caffeine intake. The detox itself wasn’t horrible –I only had a slight headache and was tired, but I do miss coffee. So badly.


I’m dreaming about Italy. And warm, sandy beaches. I’m also dreaming about meeting up with some of my favorite people and traveling more of the world.


I really want to dye my hair purple. Well, not purple –more of a plum. And not dye it –highlight it. Like I did with red. I really loved the red. I might do it again. Maybe after plum. Or together! I asked Amanda to talk me out of the idea –she told me to do it. Because she is curious how it will look. Now I kind of really want to.


I am kind of in love with shoes lately. For whatever reason. I have never been a big shoe fan –well, other than the fact that I like shoes since it huts to walk on gravel without them! But lately I am kind of all into shoes. Especially canvas shoes, and converse shoes. *drools*


Yoshi was outside today when she spotted me. She was in a playful mood so I called her name excitedly. She got too excited and smacked her head on a car, then tripped and fell over. I felt bad, but couldn’t stop laughing. Especially because it only seemed to make her MORE excited.


I really wish there were a website that had all the answers to stupid, yet important (on a lesser level) questions. Things such as “Can you blend a jalapeno in a blender without cooking it?” and “Are there good beaches in Meta Italy?” for instance. Maybe an answer key to my mind would be my best bet.

…and they are off!

So about two weeks ago I bought a few cheap planters and some seeds.

I don’t have a green thumb. In fact, it is more of a brown thumb. The only seeds that I have had a part in growing were some seeds I planted with my sister –we planted them, left the containers upstairs for a few weeks –forgot about them, and they bloomed. Those flowers lasted for a long, long time. They came back year after year. We even froze them, threw them, replanted them and those plants never died.

Everything else? Has been unsuccessful in growing. I have killed many plants, yet my favorite plant still is the fake plant. Regardless. I bought some planters, put in some rocks, some soil –and finally, some seeds. We had a stretch of really sunny weather –which I thought was just perfect. I watered them. Doted on them. Watched them. Looked at them. Every day I went outside hoping to see some green sprouts –and nothing.

After a week and ½ I decided I had killed the seeds.

See?  No seeds.

See? No sprouts.

We had some rain, some more sun, and some more rain. I ignored the seeds.

Until today…

I decided to brush the top of the soil to see if maybe it was too hard. And when I did…out popped a green sprout. Then another. Then another. And another.

Sprouts!  Baby sprouts!

Sprouts! Baby sprouts!

By the time I went inside I had discovered four sprouts in each pot.

…and then I decided to water them, and hope that I don’t over water them and have enough patience for them to grow fully. Because seeds! Sprouts! Flowers!



Sun, Run and Fun!


This is almost unheard of around these parts.  Six days of clear weather.  70’s -in May.  Normally we wait until the middle of June / July to get our sunny weather, but I’m not complaining.  The past week has been sun, sun and more sun!

These two have been enjoying it:


The doors to the office have been open, and the dogs have enjoyed wandering in and out.  Yoshi sticks around but Siren and her long legs take off and she disappears in seconds flat.  She usually runs off to find water to play in.

Tonight I was doing some burning and didn’t want the fire to get out of control so had the hose running.  Since it has been dry for so long there aren’t any puddles around.  Miss Siren loves her some puddles.  She spotted to hose and went wild.  I picked it up and this happened…

Wait for it…






I love Yoshi in the background -she really doesn’t understand why Siren likes to stick her head in the water.  Just for the record I wasn’t spraying her, I was holding the hose -she was sticking her head in the water.


She enjoys the weather in different ways.

Such as when I looked out the window to see two blonde flashes go by on the back hill.  Siren (who is skilled in running, climbing and dancing dangerously close to cliff edges) had somehow convinced Yoshi (who is not skilled in these areas) to go with her!  It took her a bit longer to get down but I was happy to see she had went out and was playing.

Regardless…Here is to summer!


{that was my fault – I made her look directly in the sun.  Woopsie!}

Time Travel

I have been thinking a lot about traveling lately. In my spare time, or five minute breaks I google out random destinations, small coastal towns in the middle of nowhere. I search for hotels, hostels, cars and other random tidbits. I have ‘planned’ multiple imaginary trips to said destinations -because let’s face it, traveling is the name of the game. While we don’t have any trips planned for the immediate future, I still like to dream about it.

Then, in a random moment -I realized that it has been five years since our first big trip across the seas.

…and my travel destination changed. I don’t want to go to Turkey, Greece, Italy, or France. I don’t want to see the Bahamas, couldn’t care less about New Zealand (although I wouldn’t say no because hello, travel!) where I would go if I could go anywhere would be back in time. I know it’s impossible. But so are certain destinations. Today, if I could go anywhere, I would go back in time to the first ever trip we took.

The older I get the more fond I grow of that time spent overseas in 2010.

Sure, we could revisit those great locations again, and we plan to some day. We could visit other amazing places (such as New Zealand!), and we plan too. Sure we have been to some AMAZING places -such as Australia, and I am sure that one day in the near future looking back my heart will be captivated with some other trip…but today, for a brief moment in time -I want to go back and relive some of those moments.


Like seeing the Mediterranean for the first time. I have seen it many times since, and while it probably never will get old -there is something about seeing it for the very first time. It is something you can’t ever redo. Like traveling to a foreign land for the very first time and having absolutely no idea what to expect. That fear and excitement mingled with happiness. Sure, I get those feelings just taking off in an airplane, but there is something absolutely thrilling about landing in a foreign land for the very first time. You can’t repeat that.


The memories made, the people we met, the foods we ate, the roads we wandered. The things we saw, the way we saw them, how we perceived them. Everything that was rolled together to make it an amazing trip…

Sure, looking back you only tend to remember the good. The bad memories are even tainted good. The frustrating moments are funny.

There are just some things that cannot be relived. No matter how many more times I travel, no matter how many more amazing places I see, no matter how many new countries I step foot into -I will never be able to relive those moments of the first time. We can revisit these wonderful locations, and stay in the same places, and retrace our steps to the dot. But it wouldn’t be the same. I would be amazing, and wonderful. It would be exciting, thrilling, and probably frustrating at times. Much of it would be the same…except for the fact that it wouldn’t be the first time.


I want to relive those moments. The first time we flew 10 hours to a foreign country. The first time we went through the boarder alone. The first time we heard someone speaking with an accent. The first time we tried new foods. The first time we heard a foreign language being spoken all around us. The first time we navigated a foreign land. The first time.

Yes, today, if I could go anywhere -it would be back in time…to tell my much younger, much less impressed self to lighten up. Enjoy it. Soak it all in. Because one day, a much older you will be very much jealous of you.

If I could go back in time, I think I might just give France a big hug.

“Somehow the tiny containers of lemon flavored yogurt tasted good in France.

The cheese.  The bread.  The fried potatoes.  The microwave pizza.  The apple tart.  The nutty ice cream.  Gummy worms.  Coke bottles.  And little note books.

The tiny shower, the gas smell scare, the bikes, the stormy nights, and wet clothes.  The dryers that wouldn’t work, shoes that almost got stole, horse back riding, fig picking experiences.  The towns that were discovered along the way.  The smells.” -France 2010