Day 93: Yin and Yang


Ancient and New.

Joy and Sorrow.

Yin and Yang.


My mind is swirling today with happiness and sadness.

Happy to be in Rome with my family and experiencing this journey together.

Sad for our family friends who lost loved ones tragically this week and whose lives will forever be affected. My heart aches for you. Sending prayers of light and peace.



Day 92: Best Part of the Day

This morning I left Jeff back at the hotel with Christian and Juliana, as all three of them were still not feeling well. I had downloaded a TripAdvisor city guide for Rome on my phone and picked a destination to go see that wasn’t mentioned in the Rick Steve’s guide to Rome. I took my parents and Charlie out for a stroll and had such a great time wandering around Rome, and discovering new areas together.

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel to collect the rest of the family, as we scheduled a private tour of the colosseum, Palatine hill and the Roman Forum. The tour was absolutely amazing! Thanks to Michelle and Greg for sharing their contact with us. If you’re ever in Italy, look up Bruno! He’s worth every penny… So smart and passionate and knowledgable and great with the kids! He kept us interested and entertained for 3 hours! Thank goodness everyone survived (with a few potty breaks and complaints, but hey… We’re in ROME!!)

Afterwards, we went to dinner across the river at Roma Sparita in Trastavere. We had read about it and were able to decipher the place from an Anthony Bourdain episode. Bruno also mentioned it as one of his top restaurants. They are known for a simple pasta dish made from Sheeps milk and pepper, served in a Parmesan crisp bowl, called Cassio & pepe.

It was delicious! Pino was a friendly server. The “only” way to get a table was to have a reservation or to be Italian!! When tourists showed up, they were sent away. When the pretty Italian girl showed up, they found a way to seat her party in 30 minutes!!

Jeff asked me what the best part of my day was, and actually my favorite part was people watching, and especially watching my own kids and family. For some reason I like to watch their reactions to what we see, eat, and do!

Charlie has been especially cute and fun and funny this trip and I really enjoyed watching his excitement and making friends with the tour guide and racing after his brother. I liked hearing what he thought of Italy. I liked watching all three kids sit on the subway together. I liked watching my mom walk 20 feet in front of us because she’s fast like that! And my dad was usually 20 feet behind someplace. And I was in the middle, making sure everyone stayed connected. I liked watching Jeff take pictures with our new Lytro camera and Juliana being a trooper even though she was sick. I also loved listening to Christian answer so many trivia questions correctly on our tour. He just amazed me!

So yes, I enjoyed the Ancient Ruins, but I really just enjoyed sharing the experience with everyone.



Day 91: In Sickness and In Rome


3 out of our 7 family members were sick today, which made traveling and exploring a bit exhausting and slightly disappointing. We still managed to see quite a bit, but with several interruptions and complaints and a few tears. My favorite part of the morning was just wandering through the alley ways and into shops and looking up at all the architecture and colors and textures.

We were standing right outside the Pantheon when several didn’t even want to go inside. I insisted that we go anyway, which made me feel like a bad mom, but if I didn’t make them at least see it, that would have been even worse. Turning back took 90 minutes too, so no choices seemed like good choices today. Everyone was at least well enough to leave the hotel room in the morning, but by 1:30, the sick ones were done.

The rest of us wandered back to see Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps by day. We also meandered and strolled through town until we arrived at the Piazza de Popolo. People watching from the steps was enjoyable and relaxing. Maybe it was that the endless chatter and complaints weren’t ringing in my ears anymore that made me so happy!

Splitting up was the best option for today. Although one of the highlights of the evening, was when we were all together again in our hotel rooms. I went into my parents’ room and watched Charlie and Oma laughing and playing cards together on the bed. All the way to Rome to play together, with Oma’s new Rome cards and Charlie calling out what he saw on the cards. Priceless.

Hopefully tomorrow all will be well enough to enjoy the magnificent Colosseum.







Day 90: Rome

It’s been 90 days since we became Expats, and gained this new title. Along with being expats, comes the expectation that we will travel every chance we get… because everybody’s doing it (and because we want to, too)!! And in Holland there is a lot more time off for vacation than in the States, so we’re going Dutch again.

Our first big vacation is to Italy. I have always wanted to see Italy, because my grandma was born in Sicily and I’m half Italian. My dad has never been either, so I wanted to share this with him too. So we are all here for a big, family, European vacation. That’s the good news. Want to hear the bad news?? There has been a stomach virus going around, that lasts for 2-4 days. First Char had it, then Christian had it and last night Juliana got it right in time for our trip. We were debating whether to go or not, but we didn’t buy travelers insurance and we were all filled with anticipation and excitement that we didn’t want to stay home. So we came anyway, and Juliana has been sick all day!! Stuck in the hotel room, waiting to get better. We have taken turns watching her and staying with her but it sure has changed our journey.

The lesson for me (because I’m always trying to learn something new) is that we don’t get to write our own story the way we want it to be. We might have a script and can have expectations and dreams but really, life is out of our control. And when the script changes, can we adapt? I feel like life is constantly about adaptations – some easier than others… Right, girls?

And as for our family story, being sick in Rome really is a high class problem, or let’s be real – it’s not a problem at all,
just an inconvenience and change in plans. I’ll just be thankful for the journey today and for my Mama and Jeff who watched Juliana in shifts, so we all got to see a piece of history and culture. And for Juliana, who has been resting and trying to feel better! I hope the night is good for her, and the rest of us, and that she feels better in the morning.