Monday, December 29, 2008

Now we are here, in Xanadu

That song is stuck in my head! We got to my sister's house in Carbondale last night, had a great dinner, and watched the movie Xanadu after the kids were in bed. If you don't know what movie I'm talking about, you missed a great 80's movie - complete with feathered hair, legwarmers and roller skating! It stars Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly of all people. The scary part is I haven't seen it in over 20 years yet I knew the chorus of every song. Such memories. :)

On our way up to Laurie's we stopped to visit some old friends that now live in Fairplay. Their son Aiden is just a couple of months older than Brandon and they had a great time playing Legos together while we talked. It has been fun to visit with old friends - I'm bummed we didn't have enough time to visit my friends in Denver!

We are enjoying the sunny but cold weather here in Colorado. Today Patrick and I are getting caught up on our Italian homework and I checked on my work email. We have decided to postpone the preview trip to Italy until the work permit is approved. If we go now, we can't sign a lease on an apartment so it really doesn't make sense to go look at apartments for a week. We'd probably find something we love and then it would be gone by the the time the work permit is approved.

So, we are still in limbo. Now we are starting to talk about all of the things that we will do if we don't go to Italy... kind of like a consolation prize. We already wanted to re-do our family room... plan a trip to Europe instead... etc. Something to look forward to if there is disappointing news and our work permit is cancelled.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas & Italy Update

Merry Christmas to all! We are having a great time here in Colorado. We had a safe and pretty clear road trip out here, we drove south through California and then over on I-80. 500 miles longer but very little snow, so it worked out well. Now we are enjoying the sunny (but cold) weather in Colorado.

Tasha is getting used to her new home, getting along well with Rizzo (her 5 year old golden retriever "cousin") and getting lots of love from her new family. She's even going up and down the stairs, which she has some trouble with at her advanced age.

A quick update on the work permit... delays continue. There are still complications with the approval by the Italian immigration authorities in Milan. There is some additional paperwork they would like to see, but with the shutdown at work and the holiday closures in Italy, nothing will happen until January. Even then, it may take a while to get the paperwork together. We aren't sure that we will be able to go on our house-hunting trip in early January because of the delays, so things are really up in the air at the moment.

It's a weird situation to be in this limbo. It feels like a real possibility that the Italian government might say No, which I hadn't really believed could happen before. The people helping with our immigration approval in Italy are working really hard to not let that happen, but we don't really know at this point. What a bummer that would be. But, until we have an answer one way or another, we keep waiting...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas is Over

OK, just in terms of Christmas decorations. We took them all down today and packed them away because we are leaving tomorrow for Colorado and our cat Stevie likes to chew on them, play with them and generally cannot be trusted alone for any length of time with them. We were worried we would come back to:
a) A house full of cat puke because Stevie likes to chew on the artificial tree and then will get sick.
b) A Christmas tree on it's side because Stevie decided to play with the tree
c) Random ornaments everywhere because Stevie figured out how to knock them off and chase them around.

Really, he is a good cat. Christmas is just such a hard time for a cat... so many things to play with...
(Pic of Stevie today, hanging out under the Christmas tree.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

More Snow in Oregon!

We've been having all of this unusually snowy weather - three snow days for Brandon this week! It hasn't been a lot of snow but we don't have snow plows here and it keeps warming up during the day, melting and then freezing into ice. Combine that with a bunch of people who don't know how to drive in snow and ice, and well, you have some hazardous conditions.

Anyway, this morning was GORGEOUS. I used my new little "always with me" camera and went for a little walk at work to take some pictures. The snow was amazing, the morning light was amazing. You can see the results in this album.

Today was the traditional half day at work before the holiday. I am now on TWO WEEKS of vacation from work. Woohoo! This is a much needed break. No news on the work permit front, hopefully I'll hear something soon!

Here's another fun picture of a snowy Brandon this morning. Also check out the "ElfYourself" greeting Patrick created. We laugh every time we watch it!

PS - I changed the comment settings so that it is hopefully easier to leave comments. Let me know if this helps!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Pupster

I didn't have anything new to write about today, so I was looking for a Christmas-y picture to post and ran across this one I took of our dog, Tasha, last year at Christmas. She's been the best dog! We got her at six weeks old in October 1996, so she's 12 years old now. She is the dog that everyone loves - so sweet and calm, wonderful with kids. We are taking her to Colorado to live with Patrick's sister while we are in Italy. We are so happy that she has a place to live with people who want her, and another golden to keep her "young" and active. We will miss her a ton though! The house is going to feel empty without her here to greet us or snuggle up with us.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Work Permit Woes

So, we didn't get rejected for the work permit but... we didn't get it either. There are some complications that the folks in Italy helping with the application are trying to work through. The fact that we are employees of one company but will be working on another company's site is apparently a problem. There was some additional documentation that our company had to provide and then they have another appointment on Friday. If I've learned anything after Tuesday, it's don't plan on a date for this stuff!

I liken it to when I was pregnant with Brandon... I didn't realize until my due date passed how much I was looking forward to that date. And it was such a letdown when it came and went with nothing. But everything came out all right (no pun intended) then and it will now, just have to wait. And learn Italian.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Anxiously awaiting word...

Today is supposed to be work permit day. I expected to get up, check my work email and know that I have my work permit or not. But no! Not yet. I have to wait, so you all have to wait too. :)

Yesterday was a fun mail day! I got my box of books for the Italian lessons I'm taking, quite the stack of books. So I could do my homework. Yes, I have homework!! Tonight I have my second online lesson. 90 minutes of learning to speak Italian. Can you be "out of shape" for school? I think I might be.

I also got a box with my new camera - a tiny little Canon Elph. This doesn't replace my amazing, wonderful Canon SLR camera for photos, but it does let me have a camera with me wherever I go. Brandon and I had a good time playing around, taking pictures of us together.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lovin' Live Music

Last night Patrick and I went to the KINK FM Holiday concert in Portland with Patrick's friend Andy. It was great! There were four acts:
Matt Nathanson - my current fav (pictured, thanks to Andy). Love his music and he is fabulous live! What a great entertainer. We just saw him live in Eugene in November, where he played for two hours. I would have loved him as the headliner.

Amos Lee - Kind of a funky folk singer. I loved the music but didn't like his voice at first, it grew on me through his set. Great beat.

Augustana - a young band that sang acoustically for this concert, because the stage was being set up behind them for the headliner band. There were some sound problems with their mic and the audience kind of left them, but I left the concert wanting to hear more and downloaded their 2 CDs off of iTunes today. They are a great "find."

The Pretenders - Yes, the one with Chrissie Hein. They are still around - go figure! She's been rockin' for 30 years now and still put on a good show. Her voice is great! The lead guitarist (definitely not the original one, probably not even 30 years old) was fantastic. They were fun but didn't play too much of their old stuff, and I don't know their new stuff.

It was a great time! I'm lovin' live music these days. It is fun to go to these smaller concerts (we were standing second row) and "get to know" the musicians in a different way. I also love finding a new band like this... now I have some new music to enjoy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Something Fun

Brandon got this Lego guy in his Advent calendar this week. I love it! Too bad they don't seem to make women Legos, or I would grab one, give her this camera and then claim it as my own. It's amazing what you can do with Legos!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In a Holiday Mood...

I went in to change my blog design to a more holiday template, and they didn't have one! Eventually I'll need to learn some of this HTML design myself. But in the meantime, I remembered this picture I took last December on a frosty morning and thought that would be a nice one for a holiday mood! Too bad I haven't figured out how to make my own blog banner with the photo, or I'd put this up.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm on Facebook!

OK, I haven't updated my blog because I've been spending my computer time on Facebook. Thanks a bunch Katey! She sucked me into it. Actually it's been fun because I've already been chatting with people I haven't been in touch with for years, as well as throwing snowballs at my brother and cousin. It's easy to spend time on it though!

Today was a really good day for work. Really good. Last Tuesday we found out that we had a potentially HUGE problem on the project I've been working on for six months. Like it could delay the project another six months. We had to wait until today for the final data to come in though, and it was GOOD. So we don't have the big problem we thought we would have and we've passed another hurdle. I am so relieved, the whole team is relieved, the managers are relieved. We have happy people on this project from here to Italy and Singapore. Whew! We're not done yet but this brings us one step closer.

So that makes it a really good day! You don't get days like this very often, where things go right instead of wrong. I am enjoying this moment for sure.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Oh, what fun...

Today I went shopping. BOOK shopping, and what fun it was. I already posted on the fact that we are taking book donations for the Italian branch of the Sloma Family Library. :) In addition, I decided I would also stock up on a bunch of books in my favorite genre, fantasy fiction. I researched some new authors and series (I love Listmania on and for this), made my list and then headed out to The Book Bin in downtown Corvallis.

Was that ever fun to take a big basket of books up to the checkout! I think it was one of my most fun shopping trips ever. Imagine this stack of 20 or 30 paperback books at the checkout. A box and two bags to take to the car. I don't know why doing this was so much fun, but it I just get giddy thinking of that pile of books. I want to go read but I must control myself. (New mantra - save them for Italy, save them for Italy.)

There are some missing books here and there in the different series, but I've got my list now and I'm going to hit used bookstores wherever I can to fill in the gaps. How handy that we have a trip out of state planned soon. Any suggestions on used bookstores between here and Colorado?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Vote for Me!

Vote for my layout for the Pen Scrappers contest:

Vote 4 me at!


Pretty Please.

Pretty Please with a cherry on top. Tell your friends too!

5 Weeks!!

Wow, things have heated up on the Italy move. December 16 is still the key date for the work permit, but now we have a targeted start of assignment date - February 1. We also have our "preview" or house-hunting trip scheduled from Jan 11-17. Patrick and Brandon's first trip to Italy!

I realized today that means there are only 5 usable weeks left to get ready before that - there are 8 weeks total. With two weeks of Christmas break from work, most of that in Colorado, plus a week of house-hunting in Italy, that brings the time to get ready at home and work to only 5 weeks.

It feels incredibly short when I look at it that way! Today at work I started going through a "what MUST get done" list and scheduling it out. We did the same at home, thankfully Patrick will do a lot of that. It is going to be busy, busy, busy though!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Much Better

OK, by Tuesday I was much better and today even better. It's been a busy week at work though, because we have visitors here from Italy for meetings so it means more time than usual in meetings and lots of eating. That would be good, if I were a starving waif, but not so good for my current size. Oh well. Tomorrow is the last day of the meetings and then things will be back to normal, but with a lot of catch up to do.

Cute Brandon story.... the other night Brandon says "I love math!" He loves doing addition of 3 and 4 digit numbers, with the carrying. He even got out a piece of paper and made up problems to show us how good he was at it. So much fun! He really has been working hard at math, and it is paying off. It warms my heart to hear him say "I love math!" :)

Monday, December 1, 2008


After looking through pictures last night I played around with this one and got inspired to make a scrapbook page. It seems about the only thing that gets me inspired to scrapbook these days is a cute head shot of Brandon. :)

I'm home from work today, the cough I've been dealing with got really bad last night - waking me up a ton. So here I am taking it easy, and hating it. It is so hard for me to take a day off! There is just so much to do at work. I'm tired and need to go lie down and take a nap though. I know I am sick when can sleep until 10am and then am ready to go back to sleep at 1:30pm. That is just not normal. Zzzzzzzz.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


This was what the Oregon Coast looked like this morning. Just Gorgeous! Beautiful, sunny, warm weather. We always luck out at least one day when we go camping at the coast in the winter, and today was the day. Saturday it was overcast and foggy all day, but we had a nice visit to the Aquarium and the Rogue Brewery for my favorite beer cheese soup. Another great camping weekend on the coast. Our trailer is now packed up and winterized, it is likely our last camping weekend before moving to Italy. See more photos at:

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mmmm, mmmm, good.

This picture of Beckett says it all! We had a wonderful day with our friends for Thanksgiving. I am thankful for the great life that we are able to have - family, friends and interesting things to do. We have so much, it is nice to have a day to pause and be thankful for it.

It is hard to believe how big all of the kids are getting. Makenna turned 9 in October and Brandon is 7 and a half. They got to use the good china and glasses for Thanksgiving - big kids now!

Today we are getting ready to go camping for the weekend. We haven't been out in our travel trailer for a few months and this may be the last time before we move. It is supposed to be a nice weekend at the coast. Thanksgiving one day, and still a whole weekend for camping ahead of us - aren't we lucky!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

From us to all of you, we hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family! We miss being with you on this day. We will be spending it with the Noels, with lots of traditional yumminess all day long! I want to enjoy this day because for the next two years we won't have the "usual" celebration, and I'll miss it.

I also wanted to post Brandon's school picture for this year. I'll get copies out to family soon.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Completed Cruise!

OK, I feel like I've officially completed the cruise, because tonight I finished and ordered our vacation book through My goal was to complete it and get it here before we go to Colorado for Christmas. I used the blurb BookSmart templates for the book inside, but did work some digi-scrapping magic to create the cover. Imagine this as wrapped around the outside of the book:
What I love about scrapbooking is that you get to enjoy the moment as it happens, then you get to relive the moment when you scrapbook it, and then you get to share the moment and relive it again every time to you share the scrapbook. That's a lot of enjoyment out of one memory!

An Italy update: Today we went up to Portland to get yet another document legalized by the consulate. This time he had to witness my signature on a form we needed for Patrick and Brandon's visa applications. That is now sent off, along with a signed letter stating that I will leave the country after my assignment is over. We apparently are not allowed to fall in love with the country and stay!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

December 16

December 16 is the day... our Immigration rep in Italy will meet with the local government on our work permit. Keep your fingers crossed for us! Everything hinges on the work permit. Once we have that we are pretty much home free as I understand it... we can apply for the work visa, go on our house-hunting trip, put the deposit down on Brandon's school.

That is not very far away! Between Thanksgiving and getting ready for our Colorado trip for the holidays, it will come quickly.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Photos from Italy

I'm back after two weeks working in Italy! It was a great trip, even though I worked pretty much the whole time, sprained my ankle and backed the rental car into a pole (ok, it was a LOW pole, I couldn't see it). I spent Saturday at Lake Como (1 hour from Milan) and Sunday in Bergamo (30 minutes from Milan).

I visited two different schools for Brandon and just loved the International School located in Monza. It's a nice small school, and was a warm, friendly, happy place. That means we'll be living somewhere around Monza, which is a bit northeast of Milan.

You can view some of my photos from Lake Como at this link:

And from Bergamo with this link:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Castaway Cay

We woke up already docked in Castaway Cay, Bahamas (Disney’s private island) and got ready for a day at the beach! We were off the ship right after breakfast to a short walk to the family beach. We had some great views of the Flying Dutchman, the ship in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Wow, was it crowded at the beach! We went all the way down to the end to a quieter part where we could get an umbrella.

It was definitely a “Disney” place – it was themed, clean, and beautiful. If only Disney could make the other port stops as clean! The beach was very nice, with fine white sand, lots of umbrellas and chairs, floats to rent. We rented a float because Brandon enjoyed it so much in Aruba. Lunch was at “Cookie’s BBQ.”

We spent the day in the water, floating around with Brandon kicking us on the water taxi. Playing in the sand, I made a Mickey head shape and Brandon made a lake by digging in the sand. He made the shape of a Mickey head too, very cute. Brandon played in the sand and I sat in one of the short “water” chairs and looked at shells, discovering that there were tiny hermit crabs in some of the shells. At that point, Brandon’s lake became a “crab aquarium” with playground, wave pool and rain shelter. Some folks we had met on the cruise found us and we sat in the water and talked while Brandon played with their kids.

Too long apparently, because I noticed at line of sunburn on my legs late in the day, as it was time to go back. Yikes. Very bad sunburn! Last day of the cruise, lots of days in the sun, and we get a sunburn. A little reminder of our sunny beaches as we headed back home the next day...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Here it is, almost two months after the cruise, and I haven't even finished the port stops yet! I don't know if anyone is still reading, but this is helping me to get journaling down for the trip book I'm making. I hope to finish the book before the holidays, so I keep plugging away...

Ahhh, Aruba. Back in the Caribbean again. So far, this was our favorite port stop. We haven’t been to the Caribbean since we went to Barbados in 1993 shortly after we were married! It was an early rising day for our excursion, we needed to meet at 8:15am. This excursion was the “Sea & See,” only our second official excursion on the cruise. We started out with the Seaworld Explorer – a submersible boat where we sat under water and went out to a shipwreck. The wreck was of the Antilla, a German merchant trader, that was sunk by her crew in 1942 when Germany attacked Holland and Aruba (a Dutch colony) then wanted to seize the boat. It is almost entirely on the sea floor, and close enough to the surface that it has become a reef with lots of coral and fishes. We all really enjoyed the trip! It looks like a popular place for snorkelers and scuba divers, as we came up we saw the first load of snorkelers around (we were glad we were the first boat of the day).

From there, we drove around the island to several different sights. The California lighthouse on the Northern tip of the island, named for the shipwrecked California ship of the northern coast. Unfortunately, we couldn’t climb up it. Then on to the Casibari rock formations in the center of the island and the Natural Bridge on the east coast. It was interesting to see the island. Aruba is very arid, it only gets 15-18 inches per year, so there is much cactus, few trees (only divi divi trees and the palms along the hotels), and lots of lizards. We enjoyed seeing the scenery and the houses, very colorful. Only 140,000 people live on the island, and it is 19 miles long and 6.6 miles at it’s widest – so tiny!! From our last stop, the Natural Bridge (which actually collapsed in 2005), we drove back to the ship.

A quick stop on the ship to drop off my good camera, grab some towels, have a quick lunch, then off to the beach. We caught a taxi to Palm Beach, the same beach we had boarded the SeaWorld Explorer at, because it had nice cabanas and food/drink if we wanted it. We played at the beach for several hours. Brandon got braver and went it deeper, because there were essentially no waves (just the wakes from boats that came in occasionally). He finally rode the “sea turtle” (Daddy) with bribery and went out deeper. We stayed in the water or laid on a sunbed once in a while. Later a lady gave us a floating mat (they were leaving for the day) and we enjoyed floating around. Brandon was a water taxi and kicked me around a lot, and then he laid on it and I kicked him out deeper.

About 5pm we got out of the water and walked along the beach to get dried off before catching a taxi back to the ship. Brandon was falling asleep on the short drive back. Something about being in the sun and water all day does make you tired! It was an enjoyable day in a new port stop. Aruba is definitely worth a look for a future visit.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Calling all book lovers...

I love to read! I usually have a book in progress, often fantasy, but I love all kinds of fiction. I frequent our fabulous library and rarely buy books because I read them so fast.

I was trying to figure out what I was going to do while in Italy. An e-book reader? Kind of expensive and logistical issues with purchasing and downloading in Europe. Purchase from an American bookstore? There are several in Milan, but purchasing English books, in Euros no less, is another expensive option. Purchase a bunch to take with me? Maybe, just have to decide what, and that is hard!

Right now, I am starting a collection of books to box up and take with us, so that we have a variety of books on hand. SO... for all of you book lovers and readers out there... if you have books that you don't mind parting with, we will take them with us! (Please no books that you would like back, that will be too hard to keep track of.) All genres are welcome, we won't be picky, Patrick will enjoy them too!

I've already started a collection from my Mom and Lillian, we brought back a bag from Arizona. If you have any to ship let us know and I can pay for postage or we'll figure out how to get them if there are any visits coming up.

Help keep the Sloma family reading! Donate a book to the collection TODAY!

(This is an approved advertisement from the "Sloma Italy Reading Materials" Committee.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Beautiful Season

Every day this week, I've driven by this beautiful tree on the way home, and wished I had my camera! Today I came home early from work to meet Brandon after school, then he and I we went downtown so that I could take some tree pictures. I love this tree with the sunlight behind it! We've had a very colorful fall, since we haven't had much rain. As soon as the rain starts, all of these pretty leaves will be on the ground. But until then, it's a beautiful season...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Things are moving again...

This week it's starting to feel like we might actually get to Italy someday! I received word at work that the upper management approval for the transfer has been granted, so that is good news. We figured it would be approved but you never know sometimes!

Patrick is going up Friday to pick up the document translations and to meet with the consulate to get them legalized. So by Monday we should have our documents off for the work visa application and that will be officially in progress. At this point, we are planning for January at the earliest for the move.

I will be traveling to Italy for two weeks in November, leaving Nov 8 and returning Nov 21. It's mostly work but I do plan to visit some schools for Brandon and see what they are like, and I hope to explore some more neighborhoods. It should be interesting!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to my friends Rainie, Cassandra and Barbara today! And happy birthday to me yesterday!

We're in Arizona for the weekend, visiting my Mom. We had a fun day yesterday visiting lots of relatives. First we stopped by my Great Aunt Edna's house for a little visit, she lives in a neighborhood near my Mom. Aunt Edna is 89 years old and living on her own! Pretty amazing lady.

From there we drove down to Tucson for lunch at my Mom's cousin Ellen's house. My Great Aunt Mernie (Edna's sister), Uncle Dan (Mom's brother) and Aunt Cynthia, Ellen's son Andrew and husband Richard were all there. And of course, us and Mom. I haven't seen Andrew since our wedding, which was 15 years ago, and had never met Richard. We had a nice lunch! Ellen has lots of kid-friendly foods, Brandon chowed down. Ellen's a first grade teacher so she must have known what would be popular. There was even a birthday cake and some singing for my birthday!

We had a very nice visit, and stayed longer than planned. It was great to see Aunt Mernie, but she was very self-conscious of her nose. She had just had some cancer removed the day before. She is doing fabulous at 86!

On our way back north out of Tucson, we first had to stop for me to take some pictures in the beautiful sunset light. The light was almost gone when we finally found a Saguaro cactus for the foreground in front of the Catalina mountains. Thanks to Mom for driving on the shoulder of the road trying to find me a cactus for the photograph!

We stopped quickly in Oro Valley to see Uncle Dan and Aunt Cyn's house, and then were hustled out by Mom because we were late for dinner. Lillian (Mom's roommate) had cooked us a wonderful dinner and Aunt Edna came over. We chatted for a while before calling it a day. Brandon had an exciting dinner, he lost another tooth! This one on the bottom. I'll have to get a picture of that sometime today.

There was a lot of visiting, and Brandon did really well. We stopped at Target in Tucson to get him some Legos, because he just needed some kid stuff with all of the adults around.

A fun birthday overall. It was nice to be on a little break from work and to be in some warm weather again. Sandals and cropped pants - woohoo!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


The Columbians welcomed us to their country in fine style, with a long music and dance presentation on the dock that we watched from Deck 4 before we were allowed off the ship. It was a little after 9:30 before we were able to get off of the ship. We walked out to gifts of pinwheels for the kids, fruit, and candy. Quite the welcome to the port!

Since we didn’t have an excursion we walked to the terminal, a short little walk with a great view of the Disney Magic. At the terminal – more gifts! They gave us each a maraca as a souvenir and then we walked through the shop on the way out of the port. Then came the big question – what to do – a white shirted tour guide? Or a taxi driver? From my research, I knew we were supposed to go all the way out of the port entrance, but we couldn’t tell where we were and ended up with a taxi just to go to the old town. Fernando was his name, and he kept correcting my pronunciation of anything Spanish.

On the way he talked us into 3 hours for $50. That seemed fine, compared to the prices we saw posted at the port, so we thought it would be handy to have a taxi available. We first stopped at Fort San Philippe. We wanted to go in but they would not take our US Dollars – the lady didn’t speak any English and told the guys translating for us that she didn’t have change. We didn’t want to get any Columbian Pesos – since we were only here for a day! So we just walked up the ramp to the entrance and back to look around.

From there we wanted to go to the old city. I wanted to start at the Clock Tower, but our taxi driver first took us to Las Bovedas – the old dungeons – converted into shops. Of course he took us to one shop and insisted that we go in. We should have left him right there! It became obvious over the course of the next couple of hours that he was trying to get us into certain shops and was going to get some sort of kickback, even from the street vendors he seemed to invite up to us. We said “No Gracias” in this town a thousand times!!

We did have a nice walk around the old city after we pretty much insisted on what we wanted to see, and I enjoyed taking pictures of the architecture. The old city is very beautiful – with the narrow streets, colorful buildings and balconies with all of their flowers. It is hard to get some good pictures since it’s so tight – even with my 24mm lens. Except for the annoyance of our taxi driver wanting us to go a certain way, and all of the street peddlers trying to sell us sunglasses, hats and maracas, and the ladies with fruit on their hats wanting us to take a picture with them, it was a nice visit. Partway through the walk around the city, Patrick gave Brandon the camera to take pictures and he enjoyed being the “photographer” like me. So now the taxi driver was annoyed with having to wait for two of us, but hey, we were paying him.

After walking through the parts of the old city I wanted to see, we went up to La Popa Monastery, on the hill above the city (again, our taxi driver seemed annoyed, probably less shopping up there!). The monastery was supposed to have the best views of the whole area. It was an interesting drive through other parts of the city. There is a definite difference between the rich houses (block size beautiful homes) and the small shanties that we saw on the hill on the drive up to La Popa. The houses were all tiny, with no real windows or doors, corrugated metal roofs, laundry hanging out. There were lots of cabs picking up and dropping people off, it looked like no one had cars.

Up at La Popa, again there were the peddlers with their wares, as soon as we got out of the car. This time there was even someone wanting us to pay for a picture with a sloth, no thank you (although it was interesting to see a sloth in real life!). By this time we were hot and Patrick was hungry and La Popa was a nice respite. Once we were inside, it was quiet and peaceful with a gorgeous view all around the city. The new city, old city, all of the water, the Disney Magic – gorgeous view. We paused for an ice cream in the little refreshment stand, sat in the shade with a breeze and looked out at the city. That was nice.

We walked around the inside of the convent for a little while, enjoyed and photographed the courtyard, and then figured our 3 hours with our “tour guide” were up and went back to the ship. We were hot and hungry by this time, and felt we had seen what we wanted to of the city. We wished that we had gotten a tour guide, but by this time we were done. When we got back to the terminal I paid the taxi driver and he tried to tell us no, it was $50 for the car and $20 for him and we said we only agreed to $50 and got out of the cab. Trying to rip us off! We were probably the most disappointing American tourists ever – we didn’t want to shop, we wouldn’t go where he wanted us to, and we didn’t fall for the extra $20.

Later, Brandon and I watched us sail out of Cartagena as the sun set. We heard the horn from the very front of the ship (that is LOUD) and Brandon the photographer took some pictures of the sunset behind the new city. A pretty exit from a pretty city.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October, October, October

Last night, Brandon sat down at "his" computer (Patrick's old laptop, we just got a new one) and typed out this poem:

October, October, October
Leaves, leaves, leaves
Red, orange, brown
Pumpkins, colder, Halloween
October, October, October

We've never seen him do this before! The poem along with the picture I took yesterday of him without his two front teeth inspired me to create a scrapbook page tonight, the first one I've made in a long while, maybe since April. Fun!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Another Milestone

The second front tooth is finally out! And just in time for picture day too, woohoo! We had tried and tried to get this tooth to come out. It's been wiggly for MONTHS and just wouldn't come out. We tried on the cruise, first to make it a "Panama Canal Tooth" (since his first tooth came out in Grand Teton National Park, we thought that would be appropriate). No such luck. Then a Cartagena, Aruba, Castaway Cay or just a plain cruise tooth. No more luck. Since coming home Brandon has been wiggling and wiggling. We've bribed him a couple of times to let us try to pull it out... with dental floss, our fingers and - get this - needlenose pliers. Nothing.

So how did it finally come out? An Oreo! Munching on a cookie Friday night it finally came out. So it's a "cookie tooth" and he looks awfully cute! His speech immediately changed and Patrick got a kick out of listening to him talk. He said "CBS Sports" this weekend which came out as "Thee-bee-eth Thporth" and gave us a good laugh. He seems to have compensated and the lisp is going away, but we'll be singing "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!" in December for sure.