Saturday, December 22, 2012

You gotta have a fiddle in the band...

There was was a lovely concert at the chapel put on by the Middle and Highschool bands and chorus along with the community chorus.  It was a nice mixture of each section of Holiday songs.  It was nice to see the talented kids come out and show off what they have learned so far.

Ethan plays violin.  He started in fifth grade but he wasn't serious about it.  Now in seventh grade he started back. He's coming along well, though I don't think he really enjoys it like he thought he would.  

My handsome young man.  I cannot believe he's grown so much!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Taormina...A British Holiday Destination

Talk to most people from Britain about Sicily and they will ask, "Did you go to Taormina?"  When I've introduced my grandparents to some of the local Italians that work on base they always state, "Did you take them to Taormina?"

Taormina is the jewel of Sicily.  Taormina is clean.  Not like around here.
This is very common around here.  (photo courtesy of Donald  Curran)
This is Taormina.

Quite a difference.  

We went to Taormina on Sunday.  We left the house around 10 am and arrived there around 10:50 am. There is a toll road and that was easy enough.  The toll was 1.70 euro each way. Someone had recommended a great parking garage right by town.  We found it easily, Porta Catania, and ended up paying 7 euro for 3 hours of parking. (take your ticket and pay on your way back to the car when you are finished).  The garage has free restrooms and you take an elevator to the top floor and you are on the level of the town. The other garage requires you to ride a bus up to the town.  

We walked through the gate of Taormia.  There is a gate on each end of town.   We saw this tiny church on the edge of town and the presepe located inside.  

The tiny church

I think this one is Jesus and Mary Magdalene, but I'm not positive.

A presepe.  The entire town. It was behind glass.

We walked all the way down the main street of town and stopped into a souvenir shop to get a few postcards.  We saw the three big churches and the plaza with a fountain.  

A fountain with a church in the plaza.

Norah pointing out the water in the fountain.

Details above one of the churches
This plaza with this church had benches.  We sat down for a bit and Norah pulled out her princesses to play.  A little Italian girl came up and started talking to Norah and wanting to play with her. Norah wasn't really sure what to do.  The girls mom pulled out a princess from her purse and the two started to play together.  It was a beautiful moment.  They went over the names of the princesses.  It really was a nice cultural exchange. 

While we were sitting there the church bells began to ring.  I'm not sure what it was signaling, but we heard them from two different churches at two separate times.

Church in a plaza with benches  

We walked all the way through town and went to the Greek Theater.  They still use the theater for concerts and film festivals.  

Papaw at the Greek theater

After walking all over the theater we made our way back through town to find a lovely little place to get some gelato.  Gelato is so yummy!

Nana and Norah enjoying some strawberry gelato.

Cody got cookie gelato that came with a cookie spoon! 

After a wonderful day of sight seeing we returned home for some rest and relaxation.  On the way back to the car we spotted a pharmacy with this lovely bad boy machine out side.  Pretty awesome if you are in need of some prophylactics and the pharmacy is closed!  

Super convenient condom machine!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Walking in a Winter Wonderland.

Really it wasn't quite a Winter Wonderland so much as a super fun Santa's Wonderland.  When I hear of Winter Wonderland it includes snow.  There is of course no snow down here, just up on Etna.  It's amazing to me that there can be snow up on that volcano.  Okay, back to the Winter Wonderland.

The base puts together this wonderful thing for the kids. There was Santa.

Norah and Gavin with Santa Claus!

And Frosty!

Even Ben 10~

This guy on stilts was AWESOME!

They had various craft booths for the kids to stop at and make a craft.  Norah and Gavin actually enjoyed doing them.

Though I didn't get any photos, they also had a vendors galore for you to shop at.  Also they had bouncy houses for the kids, but I try to avoid those things, they wear the kids out and end up making for cranky kids.  It was a lot of fun!

Christmas Season!

During the week we don't get around to doing much sightseeing because of all the getting kids to and from school etc.  Friday the 30th of December was the beginning of the Christmas Season around here.  We went and had family portraits done that included all of us!  I'm so pleased to have been able to do that.  Aren't we awesome!?

Curran and Schaal Family
Donald, Ethan, Cody, Sarah, Alice, Norah and Gavin

After our photos we went to the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Piazza on NAS 1.  There was a Christmas song sing-along and they lit up the big tree.  It was great fun!  And it was COLD so it really made it feel like Christmas.

Earlier in the day we were able to get this beautiful photo of Mt. Etna with snow.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Beach

On Saturday after Thanksgiving we took a ride out to the beach.  It was me, Nana, Papaw, Ethan and Norah.  Gavin and Cody stayed home.  It's not fun leaving some of us at home, but we really don't want to rent a big van.  So far it has worked out well.

We took a nice drive down toward Siracusa to the beach.  It was beautiful.

The Ionian Sea

So much space.  In the summer it is packed!

Papaw, Nana, Ethan and Norah

Norah took this photo...not bad for a 3 year old

On our drive back from the beach we did a little exploring driving used the GPS to guide us when we needed it.  This is one of the roads we came up on. 


We enjoyed our drive and spending time together.  

Black Friday...

We put up our Christmas decorations on Black Friday.  We made a quick trip to the Exchange to get a replacement tree. Our other tree was perfectly fine, but it was kind of smallish and looking a little bare.  After I had assembled it, I remembered that we had wanted to replace it.  So Cody and I made a quick trip out to get a new one.  The one we picked up was on sale 25% off.  It's still not all that big, but we like it.

We were able to sell our other tree for $20 to someone that could enjoy it, which made me happy.

We spent the rest of the day at home since Nana and Papaw weren't feeling all that great.  That stinking stomach bug that has been going around keeps making its rounds through us and then back again.