Friday, December 30, 2011

A Year in Review

Another Year Over....

Well it has been a busy month, and I have had so much going on, that though I have had lots to write about, I have had no time to do it.  I will start by recapping the year and in the next few weeks will chronicle some of the last month.

January 1st, 2011 - While having a lazy morning in bed, we came up with an idea, that we should sell our house and move to Italy.  Mark could finally spend sometime working on his own artwork, something he had been hoping to do for years.  We had a beautiful walk on the beach with friends, one of whom had a place for rent in Italy.
New Years day over, we were swept back into the day to day of life.  Children and I doing lessons, Mark to work and soon January was over.

February brought snow, and a snow day for friends, which meant a snow day for us.  I kept busy knitting, the children kept busy with lessons, and Mark kept busy with work.

March brought the end to the soccer season.  Mark headed off to visit his parents and I took the children for a fun filled visit to Vancouver.  We went to the aquarium, the science centre, Granville Island, and in general just ate our way around our favourite places in Vancouver, while having a long overdue visit with good friends.

April, Mark celebrated his birthday.  I started getting geared up for the market season, as well as family birthday season and the girls began practicing the May Pole dance for the May Day celebration.

May was busy as usual with parties, celebrations and the beginning of the markets, as well as visitors from abroad. We rounded out the month with two birthday parties on one weekend.  Finn rode in the Timbits Challenge and the girls celebrated a combined birthday with a big Bollywood party.

June, a good friend offered to take all my children so Mark and I could go out for dinner.  I told her it was a bad idea, Mark and I generally cook up crazy plans when given the time.  That night over burgers at Pink Bicycle, we hatched a plan, sell the house, leave the job, head to Italy.  Live the dream we had been dreaming for many years.
The house went on the market 3 days later.

July came and brought warm summer days, the house sat in the slow market.  We busied ourselves, keeping the place clean, going to the beach, visiting with friends, playing in the sprinkler and pool, Mark working and me potting to get ready to pack up my studio.

August the warm weather continued, the house continued to sit in the slow market, we took the opportunity to frequent our favourite spots with friends. And the dream began to fade, and change, was there another way, how could we make this happen.  Just then, in came an offer.  We sold the house and began packing.  The possession was quick and we were excited to get on our way.

September was a blur of packing and teary farewells, as we headed out on the road to Vancouver and Calgary to visit friends and family.

October we shipped our boxes and boarded a plan off to Rome.  We arrived to warm autumn sun, and beautiful views beyond our imagination.  The first few days were a bit rough as we adjusted to time and cultural changes.  The busy two months behind, the emotions of the journey had time to set in, a few tears were shed.  I felt timid and challenged by the language barrier.

November we began greater exploration of our surroundings, the girls got involved in activities.  We rode on the Maestro della Chianna, we went to Siena, Florence and Arezzo.  We picked olives and discovered our love of Olio Nuovo.  Mark busied himself with work, art work!  We worked on our Italian, got more familiar with the grocery stores and in general the day to life of living in a small Tuscan town.

December brought the promise of good friends visiting.  The excitement in our house was electric.  Crafting began.  We made a count down to christmas, we hand made ornaments for the tree, popcorn was strung, and Secret Santa gifts were planned and executed.  We met new local friends, and old friends arrived.  We spent a few days in Florence, a city that has captured my heart, exploring galleries, and palaces and learning about the life of the Medicis.  We bought scarves, ate gelato, drank coffee, and gazed at the beautiful lights and Christmas displays.  We said a sad arrivederci to our North American visitors and then welcomed a wee black lab puppy to join our journey.

Christmas was beautiful, we spent Christmas Eve with friends in Florence, and on Christmas day we introduced our Sicilian neighbours to pancakes and the meal we call 'Brunch'.  Late in the afternoon, we drove to Canadian friends, where with 21 people, originally from Canada and the USA, we celebrated Christmas Dinner in fine Italian form, plenty of wine, food and laughter.

Next week I begin the new year with a part time job working in an English preschool.  The children will continue to busy themselves with lessons, Mark will continue to busy himself with art work,  and we all look forward to the adventures that lay ahead with this coming year.

From our family to yours, we wish a very happy end to 2011 and a joyful beginning to 2012, we hope your year is full of Love, Happiness and Adventure.

Tanti Auguri!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Count Down to Christmas

Each year I make an Advent Calendar for my children, they call it a Countdown to Christmas. The one pictured above is the calendar for this year. They all helped to make it this year. The sports paper in Italy is printed on pink newsprint, so it make a very lovely paper to use, plus the children had fun paper macheing people on to each ornament.

Here are some pics of previous calendars.



One year I filled little take away boxes. Some years I can't remember what I did, but I know I did it, my children would never let me forget. Each day holds a piece of chocolate or some other little treat. And it is not about the treat, they like the counting down and they like the tradition. Each year in November, I am reminded that I need to make my countdown, and some years when I see the inexpensive ones in the shops, or even the expensive ones, I am tempted to buy them, but I just can't bring myself to do it. And really, making 25 or 100 little containers can sometimes be tiresome, it is a tradition they are not willing to part with, and I don't I am either.