Friday, December 19, 2014

First Week

This week so far has been interesting, to say the least.
Some great things about Brazil:
There is a special line at the grocery store if you are pregnant, have children, or have a disability.
People love kids here! They always smile at us and try to talk to the girls.
It is warm enough that we have gone swimming twice this week.
The food is delish and we have tons of options in walking distance.
People are really friendly and don't seem to mind when I tell them I don't speak Portuguese.

Things that haven't been so super awesome:
The sidewalks are definitely not meant for strollers. Especially my double wide, not so great at maneuvering stroller.
Our specific area is very business oriented and so the kids and I often get some strange looks when we are walking to and from the park. (either that, or they are mesmerized by how cute my girls are ;))
Certain things take FOREVER. So far any time we go out to eat, it takes a good 20 minutes from the time you get the check to get out that door. But depending on how you look at that, it gives you 20 minutes to chat, so it is probably just my antsy American self that is bothered by it.

It is crazy to think that Christmas is just next week seeing as how we have zero cookies baking in the oven, warm sunshine outside, and family far away. But it will be quite an experience and I am really excited for this continued journey. We look at apartments next week (some which are AMAZING!) and hopefully finding one will be our Christmas present to ourselves!

The girls are still their usual sweet selves and are really enjoying the fact that everyone stays up later here--including them!
We did manage to get a picture of them with Santa before we left Michigan--they both did great and were so excited to talk to him. He was really sweet and promised he would bring the girls their presents down to Brazil.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

We have finally made it! After postponing our trip by a day because our visas had not arrived, we finally left on Thursday and made it here Friday morning. 7 checked bags, 2 car seats, 1 stroller, and 4 carry-ons later, we were on our plane. (I felt like I could write a 12 days of Christmas song about all of our stuff).
So funny, I was trying to tell the girls that they would need to sleep on the plane and little Clara asks, "How are they going to get my Elsa bed on the airplane?"

Clara passed out before dinner arrived, and Charlotte watched a few movies before she went to sleep. I had packed a huge bag of activities and snacks that didn't even get touched! We felt so lucky to have such sweet and easy girls.
We are staying in an extended stay hotel until we find a place to live and our shipments arrive. Also staying in the hotel is a Brazilian family that studied at BYU and has two little kids around our kids ages. Charlotte is beyond excited to have a friend.
Tonight we have a Christmas party for our church to go to and hopefully we will meet some more friends!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Italian Adventure!

The stars aligned and somehow everything worked out that we were able to go over to Italy. (Much thanks to Trish and Eric for watching the kids, and much thanks to Chrysler for sending Peter over!)

We started in Turin, after a few bumps along the way (Peter's lost wallet in Paris, my lost luggage) but had a fun night there. We did some shopping and saw the church where they keep the shroud of Turin. The shroud only gets taken out every 6 years or so, and so we saw the replica rather than the real thing.
That next morning we were off to go to Florence. Here is the sweet car we took:

On the way to  Florence we stopped by Pisa to see the tower. We asked a really nice man to take a picture of us and found out with his many tries, unfortunately none actually took :/. So we waited about 10 minutes and asked another family to take one :).
 The church that is behind the tower.
 Just some perspective for how ridiculous leaning this thing is.

Next stop was Florence where we stayed at a cute B&B. We were about 3 minutes walking from the Duomo and the main downtown. This picture doesn't do it justice and doesn't show the huge beautiful dome on top. 

 Here is a view halfway up the bell tower.
The inside of the church that is opposite the main basilica. 
 The view up the 500 steps of the bell tower. Good thing we aren't claustrophobic!
 View from the top of the tower.
 The amazing doors of the baptistry that they have restored. Each scene depicted a different scene from Genesis.
 This is the Basilica of Santa Croce and contains the tombs of Galileo, Michaelangelo, and lots of other important Italian people.
 A peeka boo view of the Duomo.
 We went to the food market early the next morning and saw lots of delicious, disgusting things. Pig hooves, skin, ears, and snouts anyone?
 And the heads are kept on these roosters so you know that you are getting the real deal.
 Inside the dome part of the Duomo. This was about halfway up our climb.
The view from the top of the Dome.
 This is right off of Palazzo Vecchio, which holds a huge reproduction of the statue of David (the real thing was just a few blocks over). It is called the Loggia dei Lanzi and is full of ancient Roman statues.
 This is a view of Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence. It is lined with jewelry stores and is really fun to walk down in the evening.
 The view from outside the Uffizi gallery, probably the most complete museum in Florence. It was huge--two stories of a massive building that wraps around. It has works from  da Vinci, Boticelli, and Raphael, to name a few.
 This is the Palazzo Pitti, a museum that was formerly a palace. There are beautiful gardens behind it, called the Boboli gardens.
Peter up to his usual shenanigans.
 This church/cemetery was close to Piazzale Michaelangelo and provided a beautiful overlook of the city.
 The next day we headed off to Rome and spent the first morning exploring the Vatican Museum. This is the view from one of the windows.

 The tour took us through rooms and rooms of amazing ancient statues and gorgeous paintings. One of the last stops was the Sistine chapel. Out the windows we kept getting glimpses of the actual city, which is surrounded by an enormous brick wall. (The museum is in the wall, but never actually spits you out into the city.)

 St. Peter's square and Basilica.
 The mosaics on the side of the dome of the basilica.
 These people are actually standing straight--this was the dome of St. Peter's and it was kind of a mind trip walking up. The walls got pretty slanty!
 Vatican City from the top of St. Peter's. Every once in a while you would see a nun or a priest walking around on the grounds.
 The inside of St. Peter's.
 Next we walked to the Spanish Steps. It was definitely the happening place of town and I have never seen so many posh shops.
 The Trevi Fountain. Way bigger than I thought it would be and so fantastic.
 That night we got to stay with Peter's Uncle Greg and Aunt Julie, who are serving missions there. They were so sweet and took off the next day to go sight-seeing with us. Greg also introduced us to Fanta Limonada--one of the food highlights of the trip.
 We went to the Colosseum, which was just so massive and amazing in its architecture. The bottom level is where they kept the cages and holding areas for the animals and gladiators.
 They put a reproduction of what the floor was like in the olden days on a small part.
 Right across from the Colosseum was the Roman Forum. So huge and full of temples and palaces and ruins. It was like a Costco of ancient Roman artifacts.

The Capitol building.
 The Pantheon. It was pouring rain by that point, and the center of the dome on the pantheon is an open hole, so it was raining inside. Pretty awesome.
 The Rome, Italy temple. The center is going to also feature a visitor's center with its own Christus, as well as statues of the 12 apostles. Also on the site will be a chapel and a hostel for visitors and workers.
 On the way to Venice, it was raining on our way in a tunnel and when we came out it looked like this:
The vaporetti was the quickest way to get around! It was like a bus for the water.
St. Mark's square. We saw a man have his lunch literally stolen from him by the pigeons and seagulls.

We ate pizza at least once a day. (Gelato too!)
Doge's palace
While we were there the streets majorly flooded in the morning. On a lot of the busier streets they set up a risen sidewalk for everyone to walk on.
A music conservatory where they filmed some of Bond- Casino Royale.

The prison connected to Doge's palace.

All in all, it was a blast and went fairly smoothly. We were so happy to get home to our sweet girls and are so grateful to the Andrews for taking good care of them.