Christmas 2015

Our last Christmas in Thailand.  (Yes, I now see everything through the lens of we’re moving and it’s the last time we’ll do blank in Thailand.)

I did something a little different on Christmas Eve.  I went to CrossFit Circus school – it was a juggling/acro class.  The juggling I’ve got to work on, but how awesome will it be when juggling random (non-pointy and not-on-fire) things becomes my cool party trick.  I’m pretty much a pro at the acro.  I should probably add carnival side show to my linkedin profile.

After circus school, I did some grocery shopping.  It’s really nice to be able to wait until the day before to do the grocery shopping for the Christmas day meal.  Then it was home for family time and staying awake for the candle light service at church.  This gets harder and harder each year.  I might have nodded off a few times during the service.

Christmas morning we were greeted by our house-help (& friends) and their kids, Khao, Jim, Beckham, and Patty.  They sang carols, prayed for us, and gifted us with eggs.

Then it was present time.  All my pictures are of Sam opening presents.  It’s tough being the only kid left. All the attention is on you. Unless , unlike Sam, you’re the kind of kid who likes that.

After presents were open it was time to cook.  Our tradition the past few years has been to order ham and/or turkey (this year just ham) and to pick one side dish each to go along with it.  This year we also ordered stuffing and rolls.  Our side dishes were broccoli rice casserole, macaroni & cheese, brussel sprouts, and banana pudding.

I got a little teary as Sam made the banana pudding.  I can’t remember a holiday with out banana pudding.  My great grandmother used to make it, then my grandmother made it, then I took over and now Sam.  I’m pretty sure that makes it a tradition.

Dinner was delicious.  Turns out I really enjoy cooking when Sam takes on over 50% of the kitchen work.  After dinner we played a game of Axis & Allies.  Michael and I were the Axis and we proved you can’t rewrite history.

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I can see clearly now…

yep, that’s a trash can in the background.

Lately – like the last 6 months, maybe year, maybe more – I’ve noticed my eyes weren’t right. Reading glasses went from handy to have around to must have around – my vision just seemed off.  Things finally got bad enough that an eye exam couldn’t be avoided.  Turns out I’ve got old eyes (that’s a self diagnosis).  Like eyes old enough to need bifocals.  The eye dr guy gave me two options.  He said I could have two different pairs of glasses – one for distance and another close up.  That seemed a little excessive to me.  My other option was progressive lenses (like bifocals, but progressive-er.)  I went with progressive lenses.  I picked them up today.  Turns out there is a learning curve when it comes to progressive lenses.  For the first week I’m only supposed to wear them while I’m sitting down.  The 2nd week I can wear them and walk with them, except when I’m going up or down stairs. (or at least that’s how I’m translating “second week wear them all the time, except when you walk on different steps and after that you will feel better.”)  After week three all should be good.

As a side note I realized that maybe I don’t know myself all that well.  My glasses are purple.  My hair is bordering on purple.  I’ve always said that I don’t really like purple.  Maybe I’m wrong about that.

The David

Our second day in Florence and Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze was the #1 to do of the day and Rick Steves was gonna guide us.   We were off to see Michelangelo’s David.  (Turns out what I’d seen the day before was just a replica.)  It is incredible. 

But really what I took away from touring the Academia Gallery was that things haven’t changed all that much in the last however many centuries.  In the Gipsoteca Bartolini hall there are lots of statues and I noticed a few of them showed women reclining and watching TV.  I bet when the museum is empty they switch over to The Real Housewives of Firenze.

We finished our time in Florence with the Renaissance walking tour, once again Rick Steves was our guide.  The red dog in the window was not covered on his tour.

We had a short train ride back to Rome and then we all headed out for a celebratory birthday dinner for my mom.

The Duomo and the Uffizi

We were up early Tuesday to catch the train to Florence.  We got in, found our hotel, and headed out in search of food and coffee (the search for food and coffee was never very taxing). I knew one of the things to see in Florence was Michelangelo’s David.  I wasn’t sure exactly where they kept him and was a little surprised to find him in the middle of a food court.  I was also slightly alarmed to discover he’d developed a bit of an addiction.

After lunch it was time to find the Duomo.    It was a little hard to miss.  We took some time to tour the Duomo and climb the tower.

After the Duomo it was just a short skip and a jump to the Uffizi museum and another Rick Steves’ tour.  A good deal of the Uffizi was closed for renovation and I found myself a little bit mesmerized by all the painting on the ceilings.  Lots of man hours were dedicated to the painting of the ceilings. I mean lots.

We finished at the Uffizi had a late dinner and then hit the hay.  Pretty sure we were asleep by 9pm – at least those of us in my room.

Donuts, Trastevere, and the Capuchin Crypt

We started Sunday morning at a flea market of sorts where we found a giant donut.  It made an excellent breakfast.

Then we were off to Trastevere and Rick Steves was our guide – again.

We grabbed some pizza.  By this point I’m pretty sure that Paleo is stupid.

Once we had sufficiently carb loaded we headed out on our next adventure.  On our way we passed by an old favorite – the closed Trevi Fountain.  It was so amazing at night that we were glad to see it during the day.

There are ruins everywhere.  You really can’t avoid them.

We found what we were looking for – the Santa Maria della Immacolata Concezione dei Cappuccini church.  It was closed, but we were really there to see the museum and the Capuchin Crypt that are under the church.

It was a little creepy.  No photos allowed so I lifted this from here.

Wandering, the Vatican Museum, and the Sistine Chapel

Sam and I spent the morning of day 4 just wandering the city.  We started with a walk through the local morning market.

Then we were off to grab some breakfast.  I was developing a real appreciation for sandwiches.

After breakfast we decided to take a walk along the Tiber River.

We were due to meet up with everyone else for a tour of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s, so we headed that way.

My spent several hours walking through the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.  I did not enjoy any of this.  The crowds were too big.  I get a little anxious when I’m being herded like cattle and there is no end of it in sight.  I’ve been told that these crowds were nothing, which to me means it could have been worse.  I still managed to take some pictures.

These are from the Vatican Museum

A little too late I learned that you aren’t supposed to take photos in the Sistine Chapel.  I managed to miss the signs that said no photography, I also didn’t hear the security folks saying, “No photos.”  I blame it on how miserable I was at this point.  I didn’t even look at what I was taking photos of, just raised my camera and shot.

I ran into Sam in the Sistine Chapel and we skedaddled.   St Peter’s was next, but I couldn’t follow the crowd any further so we headed outside and appreciated St. Peter’s Basilica from the outside.

We wrapped the night up with a rousing game of Wizards and Jesters and a small sampling of desserts.