Wednesday, November 30, 2011

artsy in Paris

In the land of a zillion and seven artistic masterpieces, I got inspired to be a little more artsy with my camera.

These are my attempts at art.


Don't worry. I won't quit my day job.

Wait. I don't have a day job.


So, I guess I'll just keep practicing.

Monday, November 28, 2011

thoroughly jostled

 I hope everyone had a gratitude-filled Thanksgiving. I, for one, am grateful that we're taking a little break from our travels, so I finally have some time to sit down and blog about Paris.

Let's begin with the Eiffel Tower. I was unexpectedly super impressed with the thing. I knew that Paris had so many spectacular things to see and discover, so the Eiffel Tower was really not on the top of my list of things-I-must-do-while-in-Paris. As it turned out, we could see the thing from our apartment and it was well within jogging distance, so I ended up spending quite a bit of time marveling at it. As it were, I ended up falling in love with it.


I fell so in love with the stunning structure that it quickly became a must-do, and I insisted we make it to the top with my grandparents. I mean, how could they leave Paris without going to the top of the Eiffel Tower? That would be preposterous! 

And so we went. And we had our giant jogging stroller with us, assuming they would have a place to check it. They handed us a nice little tag to put on it at the ticket counter, which we figured was meant for taking to the check-your-stroller-here-spot. We filed through the lines and waited and waited and asked one of the attendants where we should put the stroller. He just pointed to the elevator. Hmm. That's when we took a closer look at the little tag and realized it said, "If you leave your stroller anywhere, it will be confiscated and destroyed." So, there we were, smashed into tiny lines with a giant stroller. It was like trying to navigate a Hummer through an ant maze. Rather uncomfortable, to say the least.

The discomfort grew as we approached the top. It got colder. The lanes got smaller. Our patience grew thinner. At one point, Tony physically grabbed a man and gently guided him to where he needed to stand in order to be out of the Hummer's way. Even Grandpa, who weeks earlier declared that he never likes to push people in line, was shoving people left and right. It was not our best moment. 

We were, as Tony so perfectly described it, "thoroughly jostled" as we made our decent from the top where we couldn't see very much due to the evening foggy mist that suddenly decided to join us. As we waited in line on the bottom tier, the tower began to light up. Once again, we found ourselves gazing in awe at the wondrous spectacle while laughing hysterically at the whole situation. 


 All relationships involve a few growing pains, I suppose.

Which means that, yes, I am still in love with this tangled, iron mess.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

little rascal


This was our Little Bud last year. The picture was taken in Florence at Piazza Michelangelo. This was when he still had a little bit of baby left in his face. He was calm, carefree, sweet and snuggley. A perfect Little Bud.

And here he is a year later on the same bed of grass. 

Not quite as calm as he once was.

Still carefree, though.


A lot more silly than sweet. 
And I'm not sure I'd like to snuggle up to that dirty face.

The process has been gradual, but it recently hit me from out of nowhere like a ton of bricks that my baby is now a kid.  A full blown rascal of a kid.

Today, I am officially dubbing him "Little Rascal."

I can't stop time from marching on, so I might as well accept it and enjoy this next faze in his life. Right?

Monday, November 21, 2011

six weeks

Have you ever been on a retreat?

Throughout my days of attending Catholic high school and college, I went on many spiritual retreats organized by the schools. I would greet each one with anticipation, then ride the roller-coaster of emotions that inevitably came along with searching my soul for a few days, and then form new and deep relationships with fellow retreaters. Time would disappear, and I would forget about the rest of the world for awhile. I often left these retreats with feelings of hope and happiness, but greeting the "real world" always involved some struggles. After a weekend or week-long retreat, I would feel happy and inspired, but also tired, scattered, distracted, and unsure what to do with myself.

Six weeks with my grandparents has left me feeling as though I just went on a loooong retreat. I don't know where the time went. I forgot about the rest of the world and devoted all of my time and energy to them. I got to hear stories about their past that I'd never heard before, and I got to be reminded of the ones I already knew. I enjoyed discussions with Grandpa about "all natural" food and free-trade coffee. I got to see their eyes light up as they constantly discovered and learned new things while we journeyed through Italy and then Paris. I bore witness to them as they left their routines, stepped out of their comfort zones,  and explored new tastes (like grapa!).

I watched as they dealt with all the quirks that come with traveling, like small hotels, weird bathrooms, getting lost (oops!), strange electrical outlets, and different cultural approaches to things like customer service. The most fun thing for me to see over the six weeks was how they tested their limits and walked more than they ever thought possible (over cobblestones, through ancient ruins, around countless churches, and through the mazes of metro stations).


As we approach the great American holiday of Thanksgiving and reflect upon what it is that we are grateful for in life, I get to hold deep gratitude in my heart for the time I spent with my grandparents. They taught me new things and inspired me to never let aging get in the way of allowing me to do the things I love.

And, most especially, they exemplified to me the possibility of loving the same partner through all the ups and downs and continuing that love into the great grand parenting years.

Thanks for visiting, guys. I hope you're adjusting alright to your real world.

I'm busy baking and packing and preparing for our next adventure to a villa in the region of Umbria for a Thanksgiving with friends.

Like I told you while you were here, I don't really have a "real world" for the time being, which makes transitioning out of my retreat a little less shocking.

Friday, November 18, 2011

bump on the blog

24 weeks.

I think.

I've lost all track of time.

We are currently deeply engrossed in the enrichment of our lives through all the art and culture in Paris.

I hope to return on Sunday with much to share.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

funny story

Good news! I've got internet!

And we're happy as clams here in Paris!

Let me tell you a quick story.

Every night, I give Graham lots of kisses as I tuck him in bed. We do butterfly kisses, fish kisses, Italian kisses (one kiss on each cheek), regular kisses, Eskimo kisses, etc...

Tonight, since we're in France, Graham asked, "Mom, how do you do a French kiss?"


image source

Tell me, now. How would you have answered that question??

Paris bound

image source

I promise I'll get around to telling you about our Tuscan adventures. Promise.

Buuut, for now, I am busy studying maps and packing bags, because guess where I'm going today?

Did you guess Paris?

If you did, you are correct.

I hope to find some internet connections over there, but if I can't, then I figure I should say "au revoir," for now.

I'll be thinking of you!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Italian Hospitality is Spelled: The Blaine's, by Grandma Kelly (photos by Grandpa Kelly)

Jaw dropping beauty Everywhere!  If it isn't the rugged Amalfi Coast, the Tuscany golden fields, or just plain sitting on the Blaine's tiled patio or kitchen enjoying a view of the Bay that takes your breath away; life just doesn't get any better. We have been wined and dined, belly's feasting on pizza pie, raw steak, pure chocolate hot cocoa. Like I said, life just doesn't get any better.


Yeah, yeah, I know that getting to know little Graham is an enjoyable wonder that I hadn't expected to be so much fun.  He likes to tease Great Grandpa.  He can lie on the floor playing with his little cars muttering voices of all their antics.  In other words, he's a one man circus!  Graham treasures his mom with a feisty passion. Sitting together on the couch, learning to read, you can see misty eyes in mommy so proud of his accomplishments.  Daddy comes home and the world turns upside down and away the two boys go playing games only they know. Graham crab legging across the floor like a spider, Daddy hoisting him up on this back to play run away horsey. "More, More, More Daddy!"

Sharing with Katherine today the amazing things we have gotten to do.  We have traveled to the famous places, the hometown places, the 'who knows where' places, the scary places


(Halloween you know!). In other words, as far as I'm concerned, we've seen it all!  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know we didn't go to ALL the places, but all I can say, is wow, what a wonderful land Katherine, Tony and Graham get to live in. And, how lucky Italy is for having them live here!


Special thanks to my namesake and grandmother, Katherine Zent Kelly, and to my grandpa who can do anything, Larry Michael Kelly, for contributing in so many ways to the Ramblin' Fam! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

round 2

Here's some more glimpses of what we've been doing with Grandma and Grandpa Kelly. I can't believe they only have one more week with us. This past month has honestly been the fastest month of my life. I have just been soaking up and enjoying every minute.


What they say is true. Time does fly when you are having fun.

in the meantime


 In between all of these exciting trips around Italy, we've been enjoying some downtime here at my house and taking some day trips to some local gems.

Throughout today and tomorrow, I hope to show you some images from what we've been doing here in the Naples area.

Then, I hope to tell you about our trip to Florence and Siena before leaving for Paris on Thursday. Yes, I just said that I am going to Paris. On Thursday!

I'll just let that resonate for awhile.

Cave of the Cumean Sybil, just down the road from our house.

More to come...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

alive and well

I just wanted to let you know that we're currently alive and well in Florence, Italy.

It sure was neat to see the looks on the faces of Grandma and Grandpa when their eyes met the Duomo (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore) for the first time. 

For a minute, I was worried I might have to perform CPR. Their jaws were dropped in awe, and I don't think either of them breathed for at least five minutes.

Understandably, Florence can have that effect on people...