Thursday, January 29, 2009

1 year LID

Yes, that's right folks we have finished our first year of waiting for Emily. The year has gone by very quickly which surprised me. I think being on some kind of vacation (Natchez, New Orleans, Cruise, Las Vegas, Italy) for a total of a 5 weeks helps :)

Here's our status from our Adoption Agency: Review Room- Once your dossier has been translated it moves into the Review Room. The individuals that prepare your dossier for the Matching Room review your entire dossier and confirm that it meets all CCAA requirements.

If you haven't looked at the words to the Steven Curtis Chapman Song When Love Takes You In here they are. I listen to the song at least once a day on my iTunes. When Cheryl and Rich returned from China I dubbed it "Hannah's Song" not knowing we would one day be on the same journey. I can now listen to it without crying or getting teary eyed which is an accomplishment.

I know you’ve heard the stories
But they all sound too good to be true
You’ve heard about a place called home
But there doesn’t seem to be one for you
So one more night you cry yourself to sleep
And drift off to a distant dream

Where love takes you in and everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in

And somewhere while you’re sleeping
Someone else is dreaming too
Counting down the days until
They hold you close and say I love you
And like the rain that falls into the sea
In a moment what has been is lost in what will be

When love takes you in everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
And this love will never let you go
There is nothing that could ever cause this love to lose its hold

When love takes you in everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in it takes you in for good
When love takes you in

Friday, January 23, 2009

Here's a link to a video from the Waco Trib about my school's Inauguration Ball on Tuesday. You can also read "Wendy does Waco" blog about being there, it's hilarious!
Our Kindergarten teachers AMAZE me daily. They do an incredible job teaching and making school a fun place to be every day. The ball idea came to one of the teachers last Thursday and by Tuesday at 1:00pm there was food, secret service, ex-presidents, reporters, kids dressed up and history being learned.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Watching history today

Today my kids at school got to watch history being made. My school has cable in all classrooms so they were able to watch and learn. It was great to see kids watching with awe and being excited to see and hear what was happening in Washington D.C. today. Our Kindergarten classes even hosted an Inauguration Ball in the cafeteria. It was great fun.

We spent the 3 day weekend in Lubbock visiting with Steve's family. Steve's dad and brother, Mike, live there and his sister, brother-in-law, and nephew & family were able to come down from Amarillo for a great family weekend. We usually spend part of our Christmas break with them and missed out on that this year. We were very glad to get to visit with everyone even if it was for a short time. We enjoyed hanging at the indoor pool, eating out, and glow-in-the-dark putt-putt.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Other stuff

Now you know about all the city's we visited but what about all the other stuff... food, hotels, and people. First things first, most the people we met we very kind. They helped us with our very limited Italian, we only had a phrase book (thanks Cari). One thing I noticed about Italians is that almost all of them were dressed very nicely wherever they were going. How those ladies walk on cobblestone in high heel shoes I don't know!
We got very lucky with our hotels. I was a little worried about booking them sight unseen but that's how it goes. I think we got pretty good deals although I was willing to pay a little more for having a private bathroom, not matter how small they were :)
Hotel Bellini, Venice

I'm not sure if I want to eat Italian food again soon although we did have some great meals. If you know me you know I stuck to things I knew like pizza. One dish I did try that was yummy was spaghetti cabanara which is made with butter, egg, and bacon - how could it not be good. I've had something like it here but not quite the same. Steve tried some different things and especially enjoyed the soup in Florence.
This made me laugh, m&m products in Italy

One thing we really enjoyed was our train travel. Europe has a great train system! It was nice to have a little time to enjoy the scenery. Our favorite trip was from Milan to Florence where we got to see some beautiful snow. We also saw lots of grape vines as well. As I mentioned before the getting to and from were horrible but we got there and back so that's the important part.

This is the luggage we lugged all around Italy.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Venice is the one city in Italy I have visited before. Granted Kerri and I were probably there less than 24 hrs. but it stuck with me. When Steve and I walked out of the train station and saw the Grand Canal I felt so happy. Venice is a special city. You feel different here, like life goes at a slower place. Maybe it's the fact that you don't here engines reeving or honking horns, it's just different.
We spent 3 nights in Venice in our nicest hotel yet. We celebrated New Year's Eve in St. Marks square with snow coming down, what a great night. We saw plenty of masks and glass to purchase. We loved walking down the narrow streets and getting lost on our way to our hotel. I took tons of pictures from our many boat rides and one gondola ride. It was a great ending to an amazing trip!
St. Mark's Basilica - The Basilica was built around 1100 and is a an anchor to Piazza San Marco. It is said to have the remains of St. Mark within it.
Courtyard, Doge's Palace - Home of the elected official of Venice back in the day of Venetian rule. We took the "Secret Itineraries" tour and got to see the jail and rooms of the "terrible ten". Our tour guide was great and gave us lots of detail about the palace.
Bridge of Sighs - built in 1600 to connect Doge's Palace and Doge's prison. This was the last view the prisoner's got to see before their imprisonment.
St. Mark's Campanile - Bell tower in Piazza San Marco. It was built originally in 1514 but that one fell down in 1902 and was rebuilt. You can ride and elevator to the top for some great views of Venice.
View of Venice - From the bell tower.

Rialto Bridge - The most famous bridge to span the Grand Canal. It was completed in 1591 and has lots of shops to roam through.
View from the Grand Canal - This is one of many small canals that run from the canal. It is so interesting to look down and see more bridges.

Our Gondolier - This is a silly picture but it made me laugh because he is thinking we are crazy :)

Murano Glass Factory - We spent one morning in Murano watching some famous Murano glass being made. It was neat to see. We didn't bring too much home because I was scared of it breaking in transit.

New Year's Eve - We enjoyed spending our New Year's Eve in Piazza San Marco. The evening's theme was Love. There were lots of people celebrating the New Year with champagne and fireworks.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Milan seems to us the NYC of Italy. There were lots of tall buildings which we didn't see too much of in Florence or Rome. The train station was crazy busy with people coming from and going to places all over Europe. Although there were probably lots of things to see we spent less than 24 hrs. in the city.
After our time in Milan Steve and I decided we could compete in Amazing Race. We had an hour and a half to find and get to our hotel, get to a metro station, figure out the metro system, get to our stop, and find the Last Supper church (which is a pretty small church). Not only did we accomplish this but we did it in an hour! We were proud of ourselves and very happy since I had already purchased the tickets and they were non-refundable. It was a fun night!
da Vinci's Last Supper - Obviously this is not an actual picture of the Last Supper taken from my camera. Once again, no pictures in the church. I decided to give you just a little taste.

Santa Maria delle Grazie - This is the church the houses the Last Supper where da Vinci painted his masterpiece. It was once a monastery. There were so many interesting things to learn about the actually painting including the fact that the monks who lived here once painted over it in hopes of preservation. The painting is just a shadow of what it once was but it was still fascinating to see in person. Just an FYI if you are planning on visiting there, reservations are required and only a certain number are available each day.

Inside Milan Cathedral - An amazing Gothic masterpiece. It is actually the largest Gothic cathedral and the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world.

Outside of Milan Cathedral - Wow! What an amazing thing to see. It seems to be the center of Milan and everything radiates from this piazza and church. It took over 500 yrs. to complete the entire church with many different people in charge including Napoleon.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


There is something about the skyline of Florence. Maybe it's that I have seen so many pictures of it, I'm not sure but I knew we HAD to go. Florence has a great small town feel even though the more I walked around the more I realized how large it actually it. We spent 2 nights in the city and in 2 different hotels (thanks to a heating problem at one).
One thing we saw that I don't have pictures of is Michelangelo's David. It is Awesome!!! I couldn't imagine how big it actually was. The whole gallery seems to be built around it. You can't take pictures so I don't have any from there. We also spent some time at the Uffizi Gallery which houses a lot of Renaissance Paintings, again no pictures allowed so I took lots of outside ones.

Florence Skyline - Love it! I read in our Frommer's guide about taking a bus up to a hill above the city to get this shot. Loved that tip!

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore - It's hard to get a picture of the whole church since it is so big. I loved the outside of this church. The pink and green marble was simply amazing.

Giotto’s bell tower - Attached to the Basilica this tower is so ornate and has so much detail.

Bronze Doors of St. John's Baptistry - The gates were called "Gates of Paradise" by Michelangelo, completed in 1336 and showing scenes from the life of John the Baptist. These are actually a copy and the real doors are in the museum of the Basilica.

Inside the dome, The Last Judgement - Something that always amazes me is how they were able to do so many amazing paintings in such difficult places.

Florence is part of Tuscany and it is such a beautiful city. The hills that surround the city and peppered with houses. We stumbled upon the street market and enjoyed a little snow flurry. Our time was spent enjoying a city of art and romance.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Several people have asked, "what was your favorite place?" I think my answer is ROME. There is just so, so, so much to see and experience. I figured that more than half of our pictures are from Rome. We spent 2 1/2 days in the city (we were supposed to be there 1 more day but we got stuck in Chicago, that's a whole other post) and walked around as much as we could. Here's a tour via our pics...
The Spanish Steps
Longest and widest staircase in Europe, linking the church and a piazza.

Trevi Fountain
Huge fountain that you can hear before you can see it. We threw our coins in hopes to return to Rome.

The Pantheon
Built in 126 AD and it basically the same as it was back then. This is all we got to see of it since it was closed every time we went by, bummer.

Basilica of St. Peter in Chains
It is most famous for housing Michelangelo's Moses and also houses the chains from Peter's 1st imprisonment in Rome.

Roman Colosseum
Built between 70-82 and once covered in marble (taken by the Pope's to build St. Peter's Basilica). It was amazing to see it in person. I can only imagine how grand it once was.

Roman Forum
Once the center of Rome in the 7th century BC, wow! I ended up with over 100 pictures from here. We had a tour guide who did a great job of helping us imagine what it would have been like back when Julius Caesar ruled.

St. Peter's Basilica and Square
We spent a lot of time here. The Basilica is AMAZING. It is huge and has so many great works of art and is the center of the Catholic church. The Vatican museum was also amazing. We got to visit and admire the Sistine Chapel.

This is one of the statue's inside St. Peter's. One thing that was so beautiful was the marble inside the church. It is so cool the way it looks like real material.

Papal Swiss Guards
They are "in charge" of keeping the Pope safe since 1506.

TV in the hotel on Christmas Eve

This is as close as we got to midnight mass on Christmas Eve. We watched some of it on our little tv.

Christmas Day Papal Blessing, St. Peter's

We got to visit St. Peter's square on Christmas day. The Pope gives a Christmas blessing from the balcony at the basilica. We didn't understand much (he did do a bit in English) but it was fun to be there for all the pomp and circumstance.

1st Nativity Scene, Presepe

We did a Christmas Eve tour of the Presepe throughout Rome. This is thought to be the first one. We saw large and small, simple and ornate. Italians are serious about their Presepe and collect special pieces over many years.

Rome Baptist Church, Christmas Eve

Yes, we found a Baptist Church in Rome. It was interesting to be in another country celebrating at a English speaking church. They were very welcoming and we went outside into the Piazza to sing carols by candlelight.


Something you have to eat while in Italy. Steve and I had plenty of sweet treats.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

We're back

Well, after traveling for 24 hrs. we made it back home. Our time in Italy was INCREDIBLE!!! We had so much fun and I have 1400+ pictures to show for it (I know 1400 is a lot, I got a little crazy breaking in our 4 GB card). I'm uploading my pictures now and will be sharing some with you very soon, don't worry I won't share ALL of them :)