Sunday, January 20, 2013

Up the Mountain

Well, I knew it would happen--we got behind again.  I have the pictures cued, but getting them here has been another story.

Sledding... We headed up the mountian one afternoon to sled.  From down here it looks as though there's snow everywhere and it will be great.  Unfortunatley, once we got up there we realized that the snow was very much gone.  Except for the snow they're making on the slopes.  We did find a little area that people were sledding on, and the kids had a big time going up and down this for an hour or so.  Even the two big kids had some fun.

It was while we were at the top of the mountain that Ted got a call from the Base food court that Cory had won the "World's Largest Stocking," so after we sledded we took the kids to the food court and surprised Cory with this.

Skating...On another day, we decided that skating might be a surer bet, since it's indoors and doesn't require precipitation.

It was a very busy place, and it's been a LONG time since I've skated (can you believe I never skated on Freedom Rink?).  Is it like riding a bike?  Well, perhaps if I had skated as much as I had ridden a bike as a kid it would have been, but, no, it was hard and scary the first couple of laps. However, I did manage to not fall down!  Cory, on the other hand, seemed to be making it his goal to fall down.

Like I said, the surety that the rink would be available made it seem like a great idea, but the ice was very rough.  It was like we were skating on rumble strips the entire time.

Next time we go up the mountain, there will probably be skiing involved!  That means I won't be going.  ;)

Thursday, January 3, 2013


It seems I've been a blog posting maniac these past few days.  I guess that's what happens when we have a little time off from school.  Don't worry, I'm sure this will all come to a screeching halt again next week...

So, frantoio...perhaps you've already gone to google translate to learn that this means olive mill.  And that's where we went at the beginning of November--the magical time when olives are harvested and turned into the yummiest olive oil.

We went to Bruno Casagrande in nearby Caneva, where their 9,000'ish olive trees produce about 100 liters of Olio dei Dogi (oil of the Doges).

We walked through the grape vineyards (they also make wine--no surprise there, who doesn't?), which were beginning to change colors.  Very lovely.

We continued down the hillside to the olive grove, where workers were busy harvesting olives from trees.

This was a earth-moving experience--literally.  Their equipment shook the tree so hard that we could feel the vibrations under our feet.  A large, upside down umbrella type object collected the olives as they fell, and then they poured them into big carts that transported the olives to the mill where machines extract the oil.

We then got to taste some of the oil that the farm is truly going to be hard to return to the states and not have easy access to these olive oils.

I bought some of the oil from the first press (as in, straight out of the press, not filtered) and it has such a fantastic flavor.  I've read conflicting opinions on the validity of identifying oil as cold pressed (estratto freddo) olive oil, but to the growers here it is a very important aspect of their process and has a direct impact on the quality of their oils.  If nothing else, I now know that all olive oils are not the same, and from now on we will be olive oil snobs--these oils taste nothing like the junk on the shelves at the supermarket.  In our language it's like having a Mr. Pibb instead of a Dr. Pepper.  Who in his right mind would choose to suffer like that?  :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Literally translated, presepio means crib and refers to the nativity scenes that are everywhere here.  We took a couple of afternoon excursions to see some of them, but truthfully we don't have to go far or make specific plans to find them--they're in many of the shop windows in towns.  In fact, when ice skating this past weekend, there was this large presepio set up in the entryway to the rink.

Can you see the bagpiper?

We had heard that the presepi in Poffabro were worth checking out.  Poffabro is just about half an hour from the base up in the mountain a little bit.  We left early afternoon planning to arrive just as riposo was ending but before the sun had completely set.  After twisting and turning up narrow roads, we found a place to park our enormous American minivan and walked to the center of the quaint town.  As we explored the narrow roads, alleyways and walkways we found all kinds of nativity displays.  Let me take you there now.

See the star?  I'll talk more about the star later.

Narrow-way--the windows will all have decorations or nativity displays in them.  It was so fantastic!

yes, perfume bottles.  We saw some figures made from finger nail polish bottles, too.  R loved them.

This was one of the larger displays.

Demijohn nativity!!!!  LOVED IT!  These large glass bottles are what the Italians use to fill and transport wine from the winery to their homes, where they bottle it themselves.

We didn't see a cork presepio, but did see other cork decor

This was another larger display--we do elaborate villages from Hallmark.  The Italians do elaborate villages, too.

One of those stars--they're everywhere here.  I wanted one, but figured I couldn't use it once I didn't have 220V anymore, so it would be a waste.  Maybe we'll make our own!

Again--the star, this time out of metal.  It's made an impression on Lucy--she drew a nativity this past week, and she drew a shooting star above the stable.
If that wasn't fantastic enough, we also got word that a couple of the towns on the coast had sand sculpture presepio displays.  Sign me up!  On New Year's Eve we headed to Jesolo (about an hour's drive away) to check out baby Jesus in sand.  It was an impressive, life-sized walk through Bethlehem.  We entered to see the angels telling the shepherds of the good news.  Then, we made our way through Bethlehem, past markets, Roman soldiers (and somehow a seaside village--must have gotten off the beaten path a bit) until we came to the stable.  It was really incredible.  

Riley counted 3 dogs--wahoo!

The detail, perspective and artistry of it all was just amazing

Lucky us!  We ran into some friends from the base who were here also, and they took a family photo for us!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas Is So Last Year

This is for you, Grandparents--pictures of Christmas celebrations:

Dad's office Christmas party:

thank goodness for a laptop and computer--the kids were BORED and it was after 11 when we finally left!

Christmas Pageant at the chapel.  Cory was a Wiseman, Lucy was a Donkey and Mary was an Angel.  Typecasting?????

Don't miss this video of Mary singing a solo and a grand finale of all the kids and the audience belting out Joy to the World.  I (Kristi) wrangled all the kids for this little event.  It was awesome!

The kids' favorite Christmas tradition--cookies!  Making peppernuts with Mary Beth and all the kids making and decorating sugar cookies for Santa.
my favorite tool for peppernut making--the antique nut chopper

Christmas Eve pajamas--someone was GRUMPY!  Is Santa still watching or is he now too busy delivering presents in Japan?

Reading three versions of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  The traditional story, A Soldier's Night Before Christmas, and (our personal favorite) A Cajun Night Before Christmas (thanks, Marta!)

Santa Comes!!!!!

Waiting to open gifts after breakfast...this nearly killed him!

Gift exchanges--we exchanged in a new way this year, which I think everyone enjoyed.  We didn't pass out gifts to the "to" person, but to the "from" person, and then each individual gave their gifts out one at a time.  I think this resulted in more hugs and thank you's.
Yay!  A camera!

One of Riley's handmade gifts...she did an awesome job for everyone!

Commence playing with Christmas gifts!
Lucy wore the "ballerina outfit" that Santa brought her.

Legos to construct

Friends came for Christmas dinner.  They brought a puzzle for us and we began assembling it with them.

Riley would love for a dog to be a part of our Christmas every year!  This year we were dog-sitting over Christmas, which might just be the next best thing.

The kids all missed being with extended family for Christmas.  We love you all!