***Make sure to read all the way to the bottom of this post for BIG news. No, I'm not pregnant. Seriously people. No babies here.***
This past weekend we traveled to Vicenza, Italy to stay with my college roommate and her husband. They visited us in Switzerland earlier this semester, and we were eager to spend more time with them. We had an amazing time! In addition to late-night card game marathons and a trip to Venice, we got to shop at an American grocery store on the Army base.
When did we turn into "those tourists"? You know, the tourists who go to New York City and eat at Red Lobster; the tourists who go abroad and eat at Hard Rock Cafe. Normally I quietly shake my head in pity at these folks. They miss out on the culture and local cuisine of the places they're visiting, choosing instead to stick to the familiar things they could have back home. Usually we try to eat local, stay away from chain restaurants, and check out the 'holes in the wall'. However, when it's been almost three months since you had American fast food, namely TexMex, and you see a Taco Bell even the most adventurous foodies will get goosebumps.
I'm not sure my face looked this excited when I saw the Eiffel Tower. Go ahead, judge me. I would do the same if you wrote this on your blog.
Only in Italy can you find a wine store where you bring your own container and fill it up for about a Euro, way less than the cost of water.
Vats of wine filled the store.
We were given tiny cups and allowed to sample until we found exactly what we liked.
A very sweet Lindsey saved her Christmas tree decorating until we arrived.
Such a helper
Showing Taylor where she hung his ornaments.
Cole and his very good friend YouTube solved a Rubiks Cube.
Fancy arches in Vicenza
Traveling up to the top of a hill to overlook the city seemed to be quite a trek. Josh came up with this genius way to help Ava scooter upstairs.
A foggy overlook
Rambling through the Italian countryside
Posing on our walk
Turns out we needed some scooter intervention on our way down the hill as well.
Josh's scarf worked perfectly.
Sampling some Italian goodies in the town square.
One thing she sampled, loved, and begged her Daddy until he bought a jar: Goose Liver Pate. Oh my fancy girl.
She also loved the wild game salami.
No, we didn't go to London. There was a red double-decker bus in the streets so we had to pose in front of it.
A perfect frame
Lindsey and Ava whipped up some surprise brownies for us.
We were so happy with our decision to put off our trip to Venice until the next day. So far we have had the best luck with weather. It was about time for the rain to catch up with us.
Lindsey and Taylor just moved into their new home, so they're still figuring out the Italian electrical system. Every time the boys would plug in the big screen to try and watch college football all the power would go out. Lindsey and I ended up washing dishes by headlamp.
On Sunday we headed to Venice! This city far surpassed my expectations.
I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting,
but the canal was blue and gorgeous.
The buildings were stunningly antiquated.
We saw charming gondolas and listened to accordions and Italian serenades.
The city's beautiful buildings seemed to rise, floating up from the sea and fog.
Lindsey (and Uncle Rick) were our fearless tour guides.
Riding the water taxi through the city
Look at that beautiful water! I was expecting stinky canals, but we didn't experience anything like that.
On a small bridge over the canal
Chasing pigeons in Saint Marks Square
In the millennium-old square, trying to decide where to go next.
On the Rialto Bridge
So thankful for my sweet potluck roommate
Three Locketts on the Rialto Brige
Enjoying delicious crispy pizza
Cole had his first calzone.
Later the kids enjoyed some gelato.
Venice is famous for their masks. We found this one for the Bave (rhymes with Dave - it was recently pointed out to me that I often call Ava 'the Bave' or 'Bava', rhymes with Ava, and some people don't know how to pronounce it).
Looking through some art at Saint Mark's Basilica.
This characters in this nativity had the cutest puckered lips and squinted eyes. Ava decided to mimic them. The result was just hilarious.
Josh read about a unique bookstore in Venice and we finally found it.
The bookstore is called Acqua Alta, High Water. All of the books are stored in boats, gondolas, and bathtubs.
I wasn't sure if I was in heaven or needed to call the show Hoarders.
Gotta' love this emergency exit onto the canal.
Tuckered out after a long day of Venetian travel.
Before we trained back to Luzern on Monday Lindsey and I visited an olive oil mill. Our guide showed us how they comb the olive trees by hand.
Most of their olive trees are up in the hills, but a few were planted near the factory so we could see the local varieties.
Vats of unfiltered olive oil
All olive oil brands mark their bottles with the required date of bottling, but Bonamini also puts the harvest date - so you're sure to be buying fresh oil.
Their most award-winning olive oil
The discarded olive leaves
And since we've already established that we are "those tourists" I see no reason why my baby girl can't enjoy a box of bunny pasta from the commissary once we return home.
Since Josh began law school I have enjoyed communicating with potential and incoming students about OU Law. We've had meals with students and their families, written emails back and forth, had them over for dinner, and even hosted a dinner for incoming law families. Recently a job opened up in the admissions and recruiting office and I applied for it. This isn't anything we've really planned on, but it seemed like a good fit. I contacted Wonder Woman (aka JJ) and asked her to look into a couple of preschools for us. One of the only two I'd consider putting Ava in had an opening in January. After lots of international Skyping, applying, and interviews I was offered the job last night! I start on January 3 AND I don't have to wear suits - my one big fear with working in the legal world. The job consists of a lot of travel in the fall to recruit, and I'm super excited about that aspect of it. I know I have a lot to learn about my new career, but I'm ready. Ava is THRILLED to start school. She's already picked out a backpack and is convinced that she will ride a yellow school bus. (Who wants to tell her that's not going to happen just yet? Not it.) Josh has encouraged me through this entire process, and is exactly the support I need as I start this new chapter. Our parents and siblings have stepped up to say they'll help with Ava when I need to travel. Friends far and near have also sent prayers and well-wishes as we've shared the news. Isn't it funny how things pop up that just make total sense for your life? Things you never would have dreamed of, but are of course exactly as they should be. I am so thankful and humbled by this opportunity and what it means for our little family.