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New Adventure in Roma

Note: If you are looking for out new contact info in Rome, please go to the
Family Blog section of the website.

28-Sept-10 :: Our first day in Rome was a scorcher, but we managed to get the kids up and out of the hotel before 10am on Monday, in spite of still being stuck in Eastern time. We met the real estate agent and finally got to see our apartment for the first time. It was rather stuffy, since the windows had all been closed up, and of course there was no furniture, so it didn't really make an impression. Except, that is, for the views — we can look out of our kitchen or dining room window and see ruins in the foreground and the back of Piazza Venezia in the background, so it is pretty spectacular!

After getting the keys, we started working on a long list of shopping. On Tuesday Daniel picked up a small rental car, and our top priority was a washing machine and dryer, since we tend to create nearly a full load of washing per day as a family! Also, it's typical in Italy to move into a flat with no light fixtures (just wires poking out of the walls and ceilings!), so another top priority was getting some torches, as a temporary measure, and some lamps. Because of the heat, we decided to spend a few more nights in the hotel — we ended up checking out on Friday instead of Tuesday. By that stage we'd found the Porta di Roma, which is a huge shopping center in the north of the city, where you can buy everything, and managed to have a washing machine and dryer, as well as some air conditioning units, delivered. We even got a couple of TVs! That made the flat feel more like home.

Most of the week just involved daily drives up to Porta di Roma to get sheets and towels, among other things, and evenings eating out at various restaurants with the kids. By the end of the week we had accumulated quite a few things, which just left our suitcases to transport from the hotel. Once the suitcases arrived, then we needed to find space to unpack everything. Even though the apartment had been well-cleaned before we arrived, some of the closets were covered in 10-year-old protective paper, which we decided to remove. That was a big project, since the glue did not want to come off easily after the sticky paper was removed. But eventually we had nice shelves where the kids could put their clothes!

The next project was school. By this stage Daniel had mastered driving in Rome (not an easy task!) and had purchased a GPS, so getting Felix, Miranda and Francesca to their school was a breeze. They began with a half day for new students only, so Daniel and I hung around in Francesca's class and got to know some of the other parents. What interesting people! Miranda and Felix both had a great time, but Francesca was completely over the moon to be involved in her own class! The next day was Ben's turn — Daniel and I walked him to school, which takes about 20 minutes and involves crossing several busy roads. He has already mastered walking safely on his own and sometimes even catches the public bus.

Finding school supplies for everyone was less challenging than I'd anticipated, and all the kids are well-equipped with binders, pencil cases and notebooks. Now the after school activities have started, so we've been shopping for a bit of equipment for them. Felix and Miranda are both playing tennis and soccer once a week, while Ben can play soccer up to 3 times a week. Miranda is also participating in drama once a week, which I think is right up her alley! Francesca has joined after-school cooking, as well as a art class. All the kids have been fairly diligent with regard to homework, and seem to be making the adjustment back to having due dates again. Daniel and I have attended 3 coffee mornings, 4 curriculum meetings, a welcome lunch, and 2 welcome cocktail parties — all through the schools! Who has time for a social life?

We have now completed our first month in our new home, and nearly all the furniture that we ordered in advance has arrived. There are hardly and wired left poking out of the walls (though we do still need a couple of lights!) and there are screens in all the windows to protect us from the dreaded mosquitoes! We are expecting new kitchen appliances to be delivered this week. Over the weekend we got out of the city, driving 2 hours north up the coast to Argentario. We found a fantastic hotel with golf, tennis and soccer, plus a playground and really delicious food. Also the nearby towns are lovely, so we will definitely be returning there!

More news and photos to come!



Buongiorno!

24-May-10 :: Just back from Rome on a home hunting exercise and we have success! Beginning August 23rd our new home we be at Monte Savello, 30 which is very close to all the sites so we are planning on plenty of visitors. Truthfully you are never that far from a historic ruin which in our case is the Teatro di Marcello as we are in the Palazzo the Orsini family built above the ruins (that's us circled in the picture). Now for the fun part of how to buy furniture for delivery in August when apparently everyone goes away on holiday.

In the mean time we intend to stay in London till mid June then fly back to Vermont and then out west to see some of the wonderful national parks.

Arrivederci for now.







Early 2010: News flash!

Having spent the first few months of 2010 basically waiting for responses from schools, we have finally been able to make a decision — we move to Rome for the Sept. 2010 school year! The kids were offered places in schools in both Rome and San Francisco, which is confirmation of how hard they've worked while being home schooled, and we have accepted the places offered in Rome.

Our next task is to find a place to live there. Since Italian families these days are generally small, we're finding that there aren't many apartments designed for a family of 6, so we many end up with less space than we've had in the past. Fortunately, 2 years living out of hotel rooms has helped us to adjust! We know there will be lots of other adjustments to make once we settle into life in Rome, but we feel up to the challenge.

From now until early May we'll be based in Vermont, making sure the kids get in their visits to the orthodontist. Then we'll return to Europe and base ourselves in London for the months of May and June. From there, hopefully we can make a few visits to Rome to secure housing, maybe learn some Italian, and spend some time exploring London in slightly better weather than what we had in February and March.

We'll be back in Vermont mid-July, so any visitors would be welcome!

Click on any picture below to launch a gallery of pics from Early 2010.



Or check out some more pics at Flickr.



Week 90/99: The Rest of 2009

November 1st, 2009:
Arriving at Burlington Airport was so strange and familiar — everyone was very excited and the weather was pretty nice, not too cold. Driving back to Stowe we all noticed small differences and anticipated the familiar landmarks as we approached them. We stopped at Shaw's supermarket to buy enough food for dinner and breakfast on Monday morning, then headed out to Sterling Valley. Arriving at the house was such a relief! Jim and Martha turned up shortly after we arrived to explain where things had ended up, which was very helpful. Daniel had managed to arrange for mattresses to be delivered the previous day, so we had something to sleep on! Looking at the stuff piled up in the garage we felt slightly overwhelmed. The temptation was just to catch our breath and relax for a bit, but with the volume of work we could see that was just not an option.

We hit the ground running, with furniture to rearrange, boxes to open and deliveries to receive. Sunday we unpacked our order from Macy's which had arrived in about 20 different packages and encompassed mainly items for the kitchen. We also needed to find our dishes from Bermuda, which were among the boxes in the garage, just so we had something on which to eat dinner! On Monday, Daniel drove into Burlington to pick up the essentials, like storage containers and additional kitchen stuff. Since we were basically starting from scratch, there was a lot to get! I spent the day unpacking boxes and encountering clothes and sheets that smelled mildewed (probably sat in a container in Bermuda for months before being shipped), so ended up doing load after load of laundry. Suddenly the fact that we have a washer and dryer upstairs as well as down seemed a very clever thing!

On Monday the kids also started working with Thom, the tutor, who arrived at 9am sharp and started working with Felix first. From then on, Thom came 3 days each week and the kids had homework in between his visits, which was great. Thom was very tolerant of the fact that we had landscape work going on throughout the day, which is not exactly quiet. Plus the regular furniture deliveries and visits from repair people — the house was never what you could call quiet!

Another fun outing was our visit to the dentist! After about 2 years without a teeth cleaning, I was relieved to discover that nobody had any cavities that required filling. The dentist did, however, refer us to the orthodontist and we've had a few appointments there already. I also fit in a spa day up at the new resort, since they were running a special on all treatments during the slow season.

Those 3 weeks passed by very quickly, with so much to do around the house. The weather was gorgeous, unseasonably warm, and the kids spent time outside throwing their boomerangs from Australia. We managed a break to take a bike ride on the recreation trail, and a visit to our favorite pizza place, Pie in the Sky. Daniel and I drove up to the resort to have a look at it before the Christmas crowds hit — the place is beautiful and completely transformed from the last time we saw it. Before we knew it, the time had come to fly off to Chicago and visit the Dusejas!

November 19th, 2009:
Arrived in Chicago and went straight to Nina's house. Unfortunately, Ben and I were hit badly with our cat allergies and had to spend the night at a hotel, in spite of taking Claritin. The kids had a great time playing with their cousin — we all went out for lunch in Park Ridge on Friday, and spent lots of time at the playground. Nina and Gregg invited some friends over on Friday evening, and the guys headed out to give Gregg an impromptu "stag" night. Saturday morning, Nina's friend Christina had arranged a wedding/baby shower for her, so we headed off to the country club for lunch — very civilized, and Nina's friends are so lovely!

That afternoon we drove up to Whitewater to stay with the grandparents. The drive was very nice, but I forget how early it gets dark out! Sunday we drove over to Waukesha to visit Linda and Rick and see their house in Merrill Crest — it's a very nice house, but kind of a weird feeling to be so close to where I grew up. Debbie and Joe made the effort to join us for the afternoon, watching the Packers beat the 49ers and eating the delicious pork roast that Linda cooked. The boys were perched in the TV room with the men, while the girls enjoyed the heaven of Stephanie's room, which is pink, pink, pink and has a doll house plus lots of Barbie stuff. After a really nice afternoon and evening catching up with friends, it was back to Carole and Pete's place for the night. The next day Miranda was invited back to Linda's for a sleepover, so we took Dad with us to drop her off and we all went to see 2012, while Francesca stayed home with Grandma.

The days in Whitewater passed quickly, with the kids accomplishing a bit of school work as well. Then it was back down to Chicago on Wed. to see Gunnar before he went off to have Thanksgiving with his dad. Thursday we watched the football games and later met Gregg's parents. Friday morning, Nina and I went off to get our hair done, while Daniel and Gregg made a late Thanksgiving dinner, which was enjoyed by Mom and Dad, as well as Gregg's parents and brother's family. That night all the kids had a sleepover with Gunnar, while Daniel and I went off to the hotel. Saturday was the day of the wedding, so we left the boys to help Nina arrange furniture, and Miranda to play with Gunnar, and we took Francesca into the city with us. It was pretty crowded, so by the time we found parking and looked at an art gallery, we had just enough time to pick up a dress shirt and tie for Felix, then have a quick coffee at Starbucks, before it was time to return!

The wedding ceremony was lovely, with Nina and Gregg's family room decorated with flowers and all the family members in attendance. We had a couple of champagne toasts afterwards, then headed off to a local Italian restaurant for dinner. After way too much food, we returned to Nina's place. Then Nina and Gregg headed off to a peaceful night at the Four Seasons, while Daniel and I held down the fort in Park Ridge with the kids. After a relaxing Sunday, we flew back to Vermont!

November 30th, 2009:
This time we had just over a week at the house. The kids had a few more school sessions with Thom and a visit to the orthodontist. Felix chose his snowboard and watched the Stowe web-site in anticipation of a weather forecast that would call for snow (the temperatures were still unseasonably warm, enabling the landscape work to continue!). Both boys had entrance exams for school that week, Ben in Burlington, and Felix in Boston. I drove Felix down to Boston on Friday and we stayed overnight at the Taj Hotel in town, in order to be nearby for the test, while Daniel stayed home with the rest of the kids.

Before we knew it, we were packing up again for another 2 week trip. First stop was New York for 2 nights. We saw the tree at Rockefeller Center and did a bit of shopping, then saw the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. Thursday we were off to Bermuda!

December 10th, 2009:
From New York, we caught the Jet Blue flight down to Bermuda and arrived at Tuckers Point around 3pm. The 3-bedroom villa was absolutely amazing — beautiful, spacious and a good value! We borrowed a car from the Ribaroffs, who were still off the island, and met the Lohans for dinner that evening at a restaurant which was new to us, called Indigo. Friday I took the kids to Somersfield to have lunch with their friends, which was rather strange. The school looks the same, but there were a lot of unfamiliar people around and I felt like such an outsider. After lunch we headed over to the Crofts new house, which is absolutely beautiful. That evening, Daniel and the kids hung out at the Lohans' while I went with Jacquie to host one of the wine and cheese evenings at her studio.

The visit kind of passed by that way — kids having sleepovers with their friends and visiting Somersfield at lunch time; Daniel and I driving them around and trying to see as many friends as possible. We had dinner one evening at Rustico with the Lorimer-Turners, and brunch at Fourways with the Ribaroffs. The Crofts hosted a party on the Friday evening to say farewell to the Coulmans, who had plans to return to the UK early in 2010. The flat at Tuckers Point was a great place to stay, especially when the kids started coming down with colds one after another. Ironic, considering how healthy we have been while travelling! I managed to pick up their medical records from Dr. Perinchief's office, which had moved to a new location since we left the island. I also arranged for Somersfield to send the kids' previous school records to various places where we are applying, so that was one big task accomplished. Daniel and I had dinner together on our anniversary — steaks at Barracuda.

Before we knew it, the visit came to an end and we were back on a plane bound for JFK.

December 23rd, 2009:
Tuesday evening we arrived back in Burlington, and reached the house around 8pm. Both sets of grandparents had already arrived that day, so we were treated to Alan's version of "rice and bits" for dinner. We were expecting to return to many boxes piled up in the garage, and we weren't disappointed! That night we went to bed early in order to face the next day with renewed energy. Before taking Miranda to the dentist and finishing up some shopping, I managed to unpack most of the new dishes and some vases. That day we also decorated the tree and I arranged dozens of flowers which were delivered to the house! Daniel, Alan and my dad managed to install all the new blinds on the windows upstairs and in the office, which was a huge achievement, and Nina, Gregg and Gunnar arrived that afternoon. Gill offered to cook meat pie for dinner for everyone that night, which was enjoyed by everyone, and Rebecca finally arrived safely after midnight.

The next day was Christmas Eve! I was perfectly happy to stay in the house all that day, and the next, and the next ... There was still a lot to do, but things started to get more relaxing and we worked on a Christmas puzzle and fit in a game of scrabble. Christmas morning I found myself standing in front of the tree with all the gifts underneath, already feeling sad that the festivities were nearly at an end (even though technically, we hadn't even begun!) — how pathetic is that??!! But it was a lovely day — happy children opening gifts for much of the morning, then playing with them for the remainder of the day; happy grown-ups drinking champagne and eating bacon sandwiches; all culminating with a delicious Christmas dinner including turkey and all the trimmings.

Sunday we said "good-bye" to Rebecca, and by Monday all the grandparents were off as well. The snow started late Sunday, so the roads were a bit treacherous on Monday but Gill and Alan managed to make it safely back to Boston before dark, and Pete and Carole had no trouble getting to Burlington for their flight. That left Nina, Gregg and Gunnar as our last remaining guests, which was quite fun. The kids all enjoyed having a couple of extra days to play together, and we had a couple of nice meals. Gregg was determined to have a day of snowboarding, and they had promised Gunnar a lesson, so we all headed off to the mountain on Tuesday morning. We normally avoid the mountain during the holidays, so it was quite an experience. The traffic was amazing — it took almost an hour just to get there! After the snow on Sunday and Monday, the temperature had dropped dramatically and the expected high of the day was just 8 degrees, with a chilly wind blowing the light snow around. Gunnar bravely faced his snowboarding lesson, while the rest of us watched him and ducked inside to warm up every few minutes! Gregg snowboarded most of the day, and Felix was pretty excited to stay out with him when the rest of us returned to the house after lunch.

Once we said "good-bye" to the last of our guests and finished some house cleaning, it was New Year's Eve! Ben was the only member of the family who stayed up until midnight — he was on his own watching the coverage from New Year's Eve around the world, while the rest of us went to bed!

Click on any picture below to launch a gallery of pics from Christmas in Stowe.



Or check out some more pics at Flickr.




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