Thursday, July 30, 2009

Getting Rid of Lice!

Catherine's comment: "I look like a lunch lady - just with a better figure!"
This is what we have to do each night - according to Dr. Beth Bowen - to hopefully keep the lice away!  We bought a rather large bottle of olive oil and lathered their hair!

First Night In Florence

Our first night in Florence and we met up with our good friends Susan and Alex McAlister and their 3 children - Worth, Gordon, and Anna...what a great evening!  We met them at their hotel (Lungarno Hotel) and had a drink in their bar overlooking the Arno (beautiful sight) and then had a YUMMY dinner at a great restaurant - Trattoria Mama Gina - that our friend Paul Fletcher recommended.  It was GREAT!  Good food, good wine, good company!  The kids had a great time as well as the adults!
More history tomorrow!  Florence is beautiful so far!

Ancient Rome and the LONGEST day EVER!

OK – this day was QUITE LONG so I am going to give you a breakdown of each part of the day. By the way – we are on the train to Florence – can’t wait for NEW SCENERY!
Wednesday morning 9am…met Armando in our lobby for a tour of Ancient Rome. What an incredible experience! We started our tour of the Colosseum and spent about an hour and half there getting all the scoop. Here are the Fun Facts we learn about the Colossom:
Clark – Much of the marble that was used in the construction was pillaged for other religious buildings commissioned by the Popes. It was FREE to get in for all the people. Crowd participation was encouraged – interactive to determine death. No evidence that Christians were martyred there. There is a great ongoing exhibit dedicated to the emperor who commissioned the colosseum.
Anne – That Jewish slaves built the colosseum. The amazing structure of the building – they put much detail in the brick pattern and then cover the walls with plaster. The entire structure is completely amazing. 1/3 of the building was left standing for the religious processions that took place along the road.
Catherine – The gladiators were prisoners. The amazing awning that they constructed. There were these pilings that went around the entire colosseum and they were ropes tied to them and you would pull on the ropes and this awning would cover the colosseum.
Taylor – The Gladiator got its name from the sword. The statue of the part of a horse that stands in the entrance was found last year when they were excavating a road nearby.
Blakely – They are still finding artifacts around there. They ruined architecture to build St. Peter’s.
Ford – The Gladiators were mostly slaves and prisoners and the people would determine whether or not to let them live. There were trap doors that the animals could come up through. There was an entrance for the chariots and opposite was the door they took the dead people out of.
It was truly amazing to get all that information – never knew!
From there we had about another 1 and half of touring the ancient ruins of Rome – I am sure I got some of that in my History classes – but that was not my strong subject in high school! It was good to have Armando there giving us a ton of INFORMATION – so glad we decided to do the tour.
1 PM: Armando gave us directions to go to the beach for the afternoon so we were all heading back to the hotel to grab our suits and go when all of a sudden – on the streets of Rome – Catherine tells me she saw something in Fords hair. FREAKED out about LICE – we rushed home to check everyone and found out that he did not have any signs of it BUT Taylor DID!!! Now, I have NEVER had to deal with this at home and always thought that I would freak out if it ever came near us – but I will say – I was very calm – went straight to the pharmacy to get the comb and shampoo – spent about an hour getting EVERY strand (so I thought) of hair combed out – loaded up all our laundry – the clothes that we were all in contact with – stripped ALL the linens/towels (luckily we were in a hotel and I did not have to wash all of that!!) and the six of us strolled our bags down to the local laundry mat – spent 21 Euros and cleaned our clothes…I thought I had to stay there with my clothes, so I sent Clark, Catherine, Taylor and Ford on to the beach while Blakely and I stayed back. When the lady came out and told me she would dry and fold my clothes, Blakely and I decided we would take and adventure and go and meet them at the beach. Now this meant that we would have to take 2 trains (did not realize that these trains had NO A/C and it was in the HEAT of the day!) We got ourselves a ticket and boarded the first train (Metro) UGH – hot and CROWDED! We got off and boarded the second train – we did get a seat on this one BUT it was still HOT and we were not even sure where we were going or IF we would even find Clark and the kids. I was praying for many ANGELS to surround us! We arrived 45 minutes later and started walking towards the beach. Let me just say that it was NOT Ponte Vedra nor DeBordieu nor Kiawah!!! We walked through some entrance and to a ‘HUT’ where a man (who spoke little English) asked me if he could help me – we told him we were looking for my husband and three kids – ‘AH, man in white shirt? He at the FREE beach right next door!’ Where Blakely and I were standing – there were a few people there – lounging in their chairs…to the right with some construction type fencing – was the FREE beach SLAMMED with people!!!! It reminded me of the book ‘Where’s Waldo’ – ugh and as we worked our way to the FREE beach we saw Catherine and Ford in the water. YEAH – we found them!!! Catherine comes immediately out of the water (wide eyed) exclaiming ‘MOM – some people do not have tops on!!!’ I told Ford to look at his toes and explained to them that we were in Europe and that is just the way it is! We were there for oh about 20 minutes when we decided that we had had enough and time to go home!
On the train again – HOT and SWEATY – I don’t think I sweat this much when I exercise! I guess this is what Hot Yoga is like – never tried that but think I experienced that on the train yesterday!
Home to shower – check hair – go have dinner. We finally sat down to dinner at 10:30 pm…Hard Rock CafĂ© in Rome – long day – long night – but everyone stayed HAPPY! Blakely was the happiest because she got a drink with tons of ICE – she didn’t even have to ask for it! We all got a pitcher of water (with ice) without having to pay for it!!!

We are almost in Florence – hoping for a new adventure!
Update on Taylor – we cut out (we hope) all the nits in her hair…last night we lathered olive oil all over – wrapped up in plastic and put her to bed. This morning, we packed up and I took her down the block to the Chinese Barber to get her hair cut!! That was another experience – but will not bore you with the details – you can ONLY imagine! We ALL have NEW brushes, NEW ponytail holders. We are PRAYING that we have that behind us! Would love your prayers as well that it will NOT spread!
I am proud of my kids – they have really been troopers in all our travels! You should see them rolling their bags all over the streets of Rome!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Good Morning!
Ok this is Blakely because my mom is washing Taylors hair with LICE soap! I nor anyone in my family has ever had lice... until now. I hope I don't get it because if I do I'm going to die! This has been one of my greatest fears I almost brought the package of RID we keep at our house just in case! Like that was on my list of things to bring BUT first it never got put in and I already had so much stuff. I really hope I don't get lice! I don't know how we figured this all out but all I remember is at the end of our tour I hear, "Ford I think you have lice."-Catherine. Then we got home and found out Taylor had it too! Oh my gosh! So much for our beach trip! Going on to what the Neilson's did today, other than pick out lice. We met Armando and went to the Colosseum after that we went to the Forum! We learned a lot! Ok well my mom will probably blog tonight but our WIFI is really weird because sometimes we can get on a free network then 30 minutes they lock it. When they lock it we have to get a code and get on another network and pay like 10 euros, if you wanted to know! We have stripped every sheet, taken down all the towels, and all are clothes are on there way to the wash!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Perfect Ending to a Great Day

What a great few hours we spent on our Rood Top Restaurant and Bar - Watched an incredible sunset overlooking a beautiful city - drank a glass of wine - played some games of Crazy Eight - just enjoyed the cool breeze of the night! Oh yeah - we broke down and had ANOTHER Margarita Pizza! These photos do not do any justice to the sunset but it was beautiful!!!

A Day at the Vatican

We started our day out right this morning - ate a great breakfast at the rooftop restaurant of our hotel - so quaint and nice! Then we met Armando - our tour guide for the Vatican around 10 am. I said that I would not get back on the Metro - but we did! We felt a little more in control of our surroundings following a true Italian! We arrived around 10:30 and had an amazing tour of the Vatican, The Sistine Chapel, St. Peters and the grounds of the Vatican - Armando was GREAT in telling us (in 3 short hours) all that he knew about the art, sculpture, architecture, the burial of Peter - WOW - what a wealth of information. In a few minutes the kids are going to be given a 'test' on all that they learned this morning :) It was massive but so glad that we had Armando walking us through. OK here are the few things that everyone learned today: Ford - the 'tapestries' and specifically the one with King Herod killing all the baby boys. Catherine - That the Church was named after Peter - that he was the first 'Pope". Taylor - That Peter was buried 7 meters below the center of the Church. Blakely - was most impressed with the ancient architecture. Clark - when Michalangelo first started painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel - (on his back) - he did not realize that he painted the people in the first portion too small - he realized this when they took the scaffold away - the next portion he painted fewer people and made them larger. Anne - I loved everything that had to do with the ART - and the SCULPTURE! WOW - amazing! It was a great tour!
We then had lunch - I think everyone is getting tired of pizza - we tried to have Mexican last night - but everyone was complaining about the small portions and that you had to pay 5 euros for a small plate of chips! We like Cantina where they give you way too many chips before dinner! I liked the spot - it was charming!

After lunch today, we walked home and stopped at a local grocery store (it is NOT the Teeter!!!) but we got some good eats for the night and hopefully a good bottle of wine! We are going to hang out and get ready for a full day tomorrow with Armando taking us to the Colosseum - The Pantheon - The Forum. Then we are done with Rome and traveling to Florence! I think THREE days max in Rome with kids - oops my mistake - but we are still having fun!

Side note for Mrs. Boline - there is NO ice in Italy!! None! And if you ask them for some - they will bring you two cubes in a small glass! NOT GOOD :)

We miss you all!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day Three In Rome

We had another great day on the streets of Rome. It is - however - VERY HOT!!! As we walk the streets from sight to sight - we are just dripping wet! Tank tops - and airy skirts - glad we packed those! I am so surprised that I have not seen anyone lounge in the ice cold fountains...they look so refreshing!

Blakely has been dying to ride the Metro system - so we conquered that this morning - very dirty and hopefully our last trip on the Metro. We started out this morning touring around the Circo Massimo - hot and a lot of dirt - and worked our way towards the water. We were refreshed by some juicy slices of fresh watermelon (Beth - not sure what farm it came from - but it was good!) We walked along the water to the Isola Tiberina - pretty cool little island that had a hospital on it - and right next to the famous neighborhood Trastevere (never made it over there). We walked away from the water to the Piazza Navona where we wandered around and finally sat down for lunch (it was around 2:30 pm and we were starving!) After lunch we made our way back to the Vittorio Emanuele and climbed to the top! What a sight! By this time, everyone was hot, sweaty, tired, thirsty, and ready to head home...the kids have done a great job of going with the flow - I think the heat got me the most today! UGH! WATER - I need to be around water! Rome is great (It might be even better in October when it is not so HOT!) - I do think that it is a lot better if you have a guide (especially with children) to get you to all the major sights. We have lined up a tour guide this Wednesday for 3 hours and hope to pack some good history in! Tomorrow - Tuesday - we plan to take the train down to Pompeii and and have a full day there!

OK - that is all for now! We miss our family and friends and send love and blessings to all!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Rome Day Two
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Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: A Day in Milan
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Thank Goodness For Fountains in Rome!!

WOW - it is HOT is ROME - Thank goodness for all the many fountains around the city!  Fountains that people splash COLD water on themselves and then fill up their empty water bottles to drink - UGH - that is what I would have thought a week ago - but a friend said that after spending 4 euros for each bottle of water and walking miles and miles through the HOT city - you finally do as the ROMANS do and drink the water! 

We had a another GREAT day - I think it was a little better because most of us got about 12 hours of good sleep!  We hit the streets of Rome today traveling on foot to all the sights - Trevi Fountain (ugh the masses of people!  But we found a good photo spot!) - Victor Emmanuel - The Spanish Steps - The Pantheon and many  many more!  We walked and walked and walked - for about 12 hours today!  Well, around 5:30 pm we did stop and rented 2 golf carts for an hour and toured some of the side streets and sights we had seen throughout the day - that was FUN!  Except for the Italian lady that blessed me out for being in the taxi lane - whoa - I thought I had a temper!  CRAZY!  We ended up having a great dinner at a restaurant - Aroma Ristorante.  Heading home - everyone was happy!  Until our tour guide (Clark) took us in a 3o minute loop heading in the wrong direction - tired feet - tired chicks - BUT we did find some Gelato and were feeling much better!  Got home about 10:30 pm and are heading to bed!  What a great day!  I am proud of all my precious children who endured much walking today!  There is more to come!

Our First Day in Rome

We arrived yesterday to our hotel in Rome - Mecenate Palace Hotel.  The reservation desk took one look at our family and shook his head - "Rooms too small for your family".  We sat there for a few minutes looking frazzled (a little hot and sweaty after walking ten minutes from the train station pulling all our bags - we are getting good at this!)  Anyway - after telling us that the hotel was pretty much booked (and we did not want any of our children in a room by themselves) he told us that the Hotel had an 'apartment' that was not being used this week and he would put us over there for an upgrade of 60 euros...still not a bad deal since we had used Priceline and gotten such a good price on our hotel rooms.  The apartment is very spacious - a little dated - but great!  Yet another blessing on this trip!   Also included in our deal is a wonderful breakfast served on the rooftop overlooking Rome - couldn't ask for anything better!

We got settled in yesterday and hit the streets to find a place to eat - stumbling across a great local restaurant L'Archetto Cavour.  Had a wonderful lunch there and then set off to the Colosseum where we walked around for about an hour.  It was now approaching 6 pm and everyone was hitting a wall.  We strolled back to our hotel - got a GREAT gelato ice cream right downstairs from our apartment - checked out the roof top scenery and headed in for bed.  Everyone was tucked in around 9 pm and got a GREAT night sleep!   Each in their own bed.  

It's Sunday morning and we just had a great breakfast on the roof top of the hotel...everyone is rested and ready to tour Rome.  Will try to post more photos...Love and blessings to all!

ROME - Saturday

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It’s 4 am and we can’t sleep...

Funny things said:

At dinner the first night “I can’t believe this is the same day – I think this is the longest day ever!”  Ford

at 6 am “Can we go eat dinner?”  Taylor

eating a gelato cone – “This cone tastes like wood”  Ford

on the train heading to Rome – Clark and I discussing more of our trip and the costs – “AWWH Let’s not use all our Euros”  Ford (funnier when it was just said!)

OK I am dying laughing here – we are on the train (heading to Rome) – I am doing a major people watching as we pull into Bologna and new people are getting on the train – Ford looks at me and says “Are you trying to greet people with your EYES?”

 Well, we had a fun filled day in Milan and fell asleep around 10 pm.  Around 3:30 am my bed fellows (Ford and Blakely) started stirring.  After a while we all were wide awake and eating leftover pizza – you will have to see the video!  We tried to go back to sleep and finally decided to get up for good around 5:30 am to start our day to Rome.  On our train now and will update later!   C packs come in handy on this trip!



Friday, July 24, 2009

A GREAT day in Milan

WEll, it is 3:30pm Charlotte time and we are about to go to sleep - for the second time today!  We arrived Milan safe and sound at 6:15 am and boarded a taxi that took us straight to our Hotel.  Arrived at the Hotel around 7:30 am and were hoping and praying that we would be able to get into our room - which, after about 30 minutes at the desk and figuring out passports - we had two rooms ready!  Yet - another blessing on this trip!  We dropped our bags and hit the streets of Milan!  GREAT day - touring - some of us (Catherine and Blakely) took 'cat naps' on the tour bus :)  Exhausted, we came back to our hotel room around noon and took a 5 hour nap!  Ford woke up and thought it was the next day!  He could not understand the JET LAG!  Boy are we all experiencing that!  Taylor this morning (6:30 am) asked 'Can we go have dinner now?'  We got ourselves pulled back together around 6 pm and set out for the evening.  Had a great dinner at  Ristorante Maruzella Pizzeria - Great local pizza/pasta joint!  Going to bed now!  Will update again soon...Blessings and love to all.

You can view our pictures at

"This is the longest day EVER!" - Ford


What a day (and night).  The morning started off a bit hectic.  I had a few loose ends to tie up this morning leaving around nine and entrusting my children to get their bags together and tidy up a bit before we left.  I got home an hour later to find them lounging in front of the TV…NOTHING done! This did not set a sweet tone with me…and to add fuel to my fire…Catherine comes down with her suitcase packed with too many clothes – bulging – not sure it was going to fit in the overhead.  PACK light was my motto all week and I was furious!  We did not have time to repack so we were one our way – scowls and all.  (the scowls finally melted away when all of our bags passed the carry on baggage rule AND all our liquids remained intact)  Our flight from Charlotte to Philadelphia gave us only 50 minutes to connect to our overseas flight to Milan.   NOT GOOD especially when they told us we were going to have about a 45 minute delay in Charlotte.  We arrived Philly and sprinted to gate A19 – a man on the plane told us that it was a far walk and that we should get a people mover to get us there faster – well there was no people mover in sight – just the 5 of us slightly jogging through the airport – yes only 5 because we lost Clark in the midst – he was still looking for a people mover.  We made it to the gate and found out that there was a slight delay – mechanical problems (whatever – my fear of flying is way in the past!)  BUT a huge blessing for us because as soon as Clark showed up – they had fixed the problem and we were boarding!  

The kids were GREAT on the almost 8 hour flight…we had an OK meal, a movie (Duplicity) that we could not follow with all the interruptions– will rent it when we get home,  got some sleep not much – the plane was half full so we all got somewhat of our own 2 – 3 seats…AHHHH….our journey continues…we have an hour before we land!  

Saturday, July 18, 2009

We are on our way...

Several years ago I saw a family of six being interviewed while they were traveling around the world and homeschooling their children for a year.  What an incredible experience and I thought that our family of six could take on this adventure - however - I did not get quite the response from my family that I had hoped for.  After many years of trying to convince that it would be a good thing for our family - they finally were giving in to the idea and that it might not be a bad one.  Especially after pouring over all the blogging content that is out there and all the many other families who have taken this leap of faith and left the material things of this world behind, packed the bare minimum and set off for the journey of a lifetime.  Last May (2008) we finally thought that it could be  possible to plan and execute our dreams.  For the past year, we have planned, hoped, prayed that we were doing the right thing.  My 8 year old son packed his bags one day and told us he was 'running away' because he did not want to have to get all the shots.  He was back in 10 minutes and in the end we did not have to get any shots.  The only way that we could have taken off for a year and taken on this adventure, was to have rented our home fully furnished.  We gave ourselves a date of June 2009 - and if we did not rent we would not to take off.  We prayed for wisdom, discernment and guidance.  I did not want to take one step ahead of God's plans for our lives.  It is so easy to get caught up in what we want in our lives and take our eyes off on the ONE who sees all - who knows all - the Almighty!  His word tells us that if we 'seek first HIS kingdom and righteousness, then all else will fall into place".  I truly believe that he put this desire into my adventurous heart - but it is not the time to take 10 months off.  My art business is booming with business and I am humbled to say that Prince Albert II of Monaco, The Ambassador Giles Noches and the Counselor Lorenzo Ravano were all presented with paintings from the Angel Series last week.   
SO - we are not taking 10 months off - we are going to take 1 month off and travel in Europe with our precious children.  This will be a great opportunity for us all to regroup, knit together as a family and just enjoy part of our Around the World trip.  Each of our children is going to be posting blogs of where they have been and their favorite part of the trip.  I will be taking thousands of photos to come home and PAINT and gear up for the Fall and the shows that will be.  Clark will hopefully just relax and know that we serve a GOD who is in control of ALL things and in the end He is Jehovah Jira - our provider!  
We leave July 23rd and start in Milan, Italy...we return August 20th out of London....Stay tuned!