Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Maggie turned 15 today, officially, although Ian couldn't stand it anymore and told her what her present was on Monday. By the time I got home from work at 11:30 a.m., they had already opened it up and had friends over playing Rock Band. It hasn't been quiet in the house since! As you can see at the bottom of the picture, her friends have come over and been bringing wigs and costumes to rock out in.
Here it is, 10:30 at night, and we still have a basement of teenagers.
But let me talk about Maggie. Except for the sibling rivalry between the girls, Maggie is full of life and laughter. She is a joy to have as part of our family. Even her friends commented this afternoon that they love it when she's around because she laughs at everything (and her best friend, Anna, said that being in our house had the same effect on her as she laughs whenever she comes over). Her dad and I love that we tell her a joke and about 15-20 minutes later, we hear her laugh and say, "I get it!". She is so loving and tender with Griffin and a good listener to Ian. She sets an awesome example of modesty for Ellie and all her friends. When it was 107 in Italy and we were sweating, I said to her, "Maggie, you don't have to wear 2 tank tops under your shirt. It's okay." She responded, "Mom, modest is hottest, and if that means literally, then that's okay." I couldn't believe it. She tries so hard to do the right thing and is always aware of the influence she has with others by the choices she makes and the example she sets. We love you very much, Maggie, and are grateful to have you as part of our family.
P.S. I'm locking you in the house for your 16th birthday!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Living in Utah gives us the distinct advantage of adding a holiday to the work schedule. Thursday the 24th was Pioneer Day. Our local ward celebrates every year at the house of one of our neighbors with an enormous breakfast. They provide all the pancakes you can eat, and everyone else brings something to contribute. This family has a tree house, trampoline, zip line, swingset, basketball court, and lots of room for tables and chairs to be set up. It's one of my kids' favorites of the year, so we were there bright and early. John, unfortunately, is never able to attend since his line of work doesn't allow for the 24th off. We ate until we could eat no more, then headed home to rest it off until lunch when I had a promise to keep for Griffin. During his brief hospital stay, he begged and pleaded to go anywhere else, but mostly to Carl's Jr. (Not for the food--for the playland.) I told him that if he could just hang in there, I would take him on Pioneer Day. So still full from breakfast, Griffin, Maggie, my friend Cherise and her mother Joyce, and I headed off to the playland. I let him play for about 20 minutes while the rest of us "ate" and then we took off for home where I dropped he and Mags off so Cherise, Joyce and I could make a dent in the missionary shopping for Cherise's son who was leaving the next week to India for two years.
Monday, July 21, 2008
I can't believe I have to use this graphic again. John and I took some time to go out Friday night to get new light fixtures for the living room when we received a phone call from Ellie. Griffin was going down the hill on his scooter and had fallen off. He was scraped up a bit, but Maggie had been able to help him using all her girls camp training. The problem was he hit his head and Ellie was sure he had a concussion. We figured she was overreacting, but told her we would be right home. (Fortunately, Lowe's is less than a mile away.) He didn't even pull the car in all the way joking that one of us would be on our way to the hospital.
When John checked out Griffin's head, he looked at me and said, "Um, we need to get him to the hospital. Feel this." I assured him that I didn't need to feel anything but would take him. He said, "No, you have to feel this." Even as I was touched the edge of the goose egg, I could tell it was bad. So we were off to the hospital with another head injury, different child.
Griffin was really worried about what was going to happen. As we encountered each person, he would pitifully ask, "Do you have a needle?" to which everyone could answer, "No, I don't." That was followed by, "Are you going to use leeches on me?" Now, where this came from, I can't tell you, but he was convinced that leeches were somehow involved in his treatment. He also would ask if he was going to die. They were able to reassure him that this was probably the one place they could help prevent that, so he didn't need to worry. The evaluated him and took him in a wheelchair (the highlight of his stay) for a CT scan where they confirmed a fractured skull. As they debated whether or not to keep him overnight for observation, they realized his anxiety levels were so high that he would probably recover better from home. So I got the night shift and was on duty to wake him every two hours to see if he could answer simple questions. The only one that worried me was the 4 a.m. awaking because he couldn't tell me much and the answers were coming out as gibberish. It took about 15 minutes of trying to rouse him to a sufficient level of consciousness, but once we got there, it was clear that he was okay, just really tired from all the activities and injury. I, on the other hand, didn't sleep at all that night (yes, I was really fresh and firing on all cylinders for Maggie's BYU interview).
He stayed home from church yesterday where we re-enacted Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty (granted, on a smaller scale). He still has a headache, which we certainly expect, and a diminished appetite and activity level, but seems to be mending well. I only hope he'll get back on his scooter again--this time with the helmet he's supposed to wear when riding it.
I guess we've achieved our hat trick of head injuries with the kids. Only Ian left. Maybe I'll make him walk around with a helmet 24/7.
The town was kind of nuts with the parade and festival going on, and probably was in the TMI category for the kids. We weren't able to get back until late because the city had closed down the streets for the parade and the bus dropped us off on the outskirts. Fortunately, we found ourselves on a corner by the previous night's restaurant and were able to make our way home. But boy, there were lots of police cars and even police helicopters out! Maggie had been taken care of by Mom and Dad and the Griesemers, so the rest of us went to our usual restaurant for dinner. On Monday, the little ones and John and I decided to go find the leaning tower of Bologna before John went to the Ducati tour with the Griesemer fellows. There are two towers next to each other. After one was completed, the foundation collapsed, so they built another next to it. This tower is the tallest of the middle ages.
A view of the leaning tower from inside the taller tower
I have to say, I wish I came home with more than a shirt, but I guess after recovering from major surgery due to a simple car accident, a motorcycle probably isn't the smartest choice right now. But maybe a scooter . . .
Sunday, July 20, 2008
From the train, we grabbed a bus that would take us the rest of the way. While we were waiting, Maggie had a chance meeting with one of the locals. Of course, she doesn't speak Italian and he didn't speak English. She was a little weirded out until I came and sat down, and even happier when the bus came.
One of the scenes we came upon in our travels was this beautiful field of sunflowers. I've never seen anything like it. It just didn't seem like the flowers that people grow one or two of in their gardens could be so beautiful. When we returned to Bologna that night, I saw one of the street artists painting just such a field. I wish I had found out how much he wanted for that painting, but this picture (taken by Kevan) captures the feeling.
The side view from Pat's bedroom
After we toured and "ooh-ed and aah-ed" the work in progress, we walked down to the park so the kids could have a little R&R.
After swimming, we made our way back to the bus and to the train to take us back to Bologna. Not surprising to anyone was the reaction of Robby and Griffin.
Friday (Day 10) would be an off day for almost everyone as the Griesemer group would be coming back from Venice and some of us would be going to the Ducati factory for a tour.
As we headed to San Marco or St. Mark's Basilica, we walked through the narrowest of streets and up and over the side canals, occasionally finding a gondola (which we understand are really expensive, up to 100 euro ($150) for a ride that could only fit 4.
I think I could have window shopped there all day. Every store front was filled with beautiful masks, clothes, or souvenirs. There were fruits stands throughout as well, and boy were they tempting!
And sometimes, just around the corner, you'd find the strangest thing!
And then, we were there. The mask store! I could hardly believe my eyes when we went in. It was so small, but every inch of wall space was covered with the most beautiful and elaborate masks used for Carnival.
(I made sure to buy a beautiful photo book of the costumes people wear. They are breathtaking!) So we started trying them on.
This is the mask for doctors. It came about during the plague when doctors had to tend to the dead. They were able to fill the "nose" with aromas to cover the horrible stench and it was believed that it would prevent the doctor from catching the disease.
This is one of the masks I bought. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. We also bought a red sequined mask with a handle, a white eye mask for the girls, and John got one like a jester. They're all stunning.
From the store, we headed off to St. Mark's. The Basilica is amazing and I found out after we left that the interior is almost all gold. I knew that we weren't planning on doing any tours--and Griffin was counting on this fact--but I really wish we had seen it. (I have since bought a book so I could have some pictures.)
This square is known for its friendly pigeons. They have no fear and will land on you if you have food. Even with my extreme fear of birds, I thought I'd give it a try. In theory, it was a great idea. In reality, it was this.
They are nuts! They just came at you from everywhere. Some of us were braver than others (namely me!).
On John's arm
After leaving the square--and the pigeons behind us--we headed toward the Bridge of Sighs.
This bridge connects the courthouse with the jail. It was named by Lord Byron and comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of Venice before their imprisonment.
Now it was off to take a water taxi! Pat headed up the negotiation process since there were so many of us (16). We loaded into one that looked just like the boat in the third Indiana Jones movie and made our way back to the Grand Canal.
We had about 45 minutes until our train left, so we took advantage of this little shaded area with a fountain. So we enjoyed gelato and the shade while we got some souvenirs. John took the girls to get t-shirts and I got a small ceramic mask for the Christmas tree and a Venetian flag (red and gold with a Griffin on it) for Grif's room.
Terri and baby Joshua
Terri feeding Gabriel gelato
While I was gone, Griffin made his way into the fountain to cool off. It was what he later called "heaven." As I watched him in the fountain, it made me think of him playing in the fountain in Montreal last year on our trip to the International Fireworks Competition with the Chris Hopkins family.
Montreal, 2007. The same outfit except for the shoes!
We caught our train with no problem and headed for home. Unfortunately, we had a small situation when we got to Bologna. I thought I had left my phone on the train when we got off and asked Ian to run back and get it. As I waited for him, the doors to the train closed and I started pounding on the doors yelling in English that my son was on and needed to get off. Of course, no one understood me. Ian was on the other side of the doors pounding as well. After a few moments of panic and trying to figure out what we would do if it took off with him on the train, the door opened and he got off. (He later told me that after pounding for a bit, he saw a button that would open the doors, so he pushed it.) I realized that I did have my phone (it was tucked in a little bag), but we had left Griffin's hat on the train. He was devastated, but we were all relieved to at least have Ian with us!
We ate at a different restaurant, enjoying a bit of the Euro 2008 tourney. Ian ordered a pizza and was surprised to get the following:
Day 9 would take us to visit Pat's home-building site in Montombraro.