|A collage of 4 photos taken in Italy. From left to right, an archway frames a deciduous tree; a narrow pedestrian roadway; steep steps lead to someone's front door; the twilight sky viewed from a museum's window|
1. I'm thankful for my oldest son, whose (30th!) birthday is today. He is a bright, capable, caring adult, and I am so privileged to be his mom. I can look back on those early years and see how his personality was shining through even then: his sense of humor, as he belly-laughed as an infant, when John tried to hit a golf ball with a stick; the creativity exhibited as he quietly played "dragon" by blowing flour all over the kitchen as a toddler; his love of reading, as he was so engrossed in a book that he failed to notice his entire kindergarten class leaving the school library. Those traits, and many more, have served him well, and I look forward to seeing what the next 30 years bring.
|Photo: My son holds a green stuffed "puzzleman" (so named because it is shaped like a puzzle piece.)|
2. I'm thankful for temples. Last year, the open house and dedication dates for the Rome, Italy temple were announced. John and I realized that we were at a place in our lives where travel to Italy was feasible, and so we decided to combine our much-dreamed-about Italian vacation with a tour of the new temple. It was definitely a highlight of the vacation. No photos were allowed inside, but here is a church-produced video which shows the beautiful interior (as well as the exterior and the visitor's center):
|Photo: An olive tree in the foreground frames the white granite Rome Italy Temple|
3. I'm thankful for Natural Italy As I researched our travel options, even though we normally just book things on our own, I felt more comfortable using a tour group this time. I'm so glad we decided to go with Jill and Michele's company! We were able to see so many different cities, and experienced everything we hoped to, without the stress of making the arrangements ourselves. We had a great balance of group time and free time. Jill booked us in fancier-than-I-would-have-expected hotels, and made sure we ate at the tastiest restaurants.
|Photo: A bigger-than-a-plate artichoke pizza at Sorbillo's restaurant in Naples. (That is a one-person serving size!)|
4. I'm thankful for new friends. At the end of the vacation, people who were strangers just a couple of short weeks ago were talking about when the next trip should be. In fact, as I was composing this post, one of those new friends just called me to chat.
|Photo: John and I stand with two new friends outside the Rome Italy Temple|
5. I'm thankful for the beauty of the earth. I was so happy that part of the itinerary included a boat ride on Lake Como. The lake was lovely, but I was super excited to catch a glimpse of the Alps. Fortunately, though the day was cold, the sky was clear, and right before the boat turned around to take us back to the town of Como, I was able to see the beautiful snow-capped Alps.
|Photo: A beautiful, well-groomed villa on the shore of Lake Como, with snow-capped Alps in the background|
Though I couldn't take a photo of the Sistine Chapel, I was allowed to take photos of The Last Supper. What I didn't realize before seeing the painting, was just how well it fit into its setting. Our guide encouraged us to step back far enough so that we could see how the painting has a 3-D effect. The walls in the painting seem to be the walls in the church. Very cool.
|Photo: Tourists study The Last Supper|
|Photo: The right hand of David shows visible bones and veins, making the marble incredibly life-like|
|Photo: Though Pompeii receives 2.5 million visitors annually, the streets were empty the day we visited|
|Photo: John standing behind a snowman he built in Sienna, Italy|
10. I'm thankful, as always, for John. He's the perfect vacation partner. We climbed bell towers and duomos. We sloshed through flooded Venice. We walked for miles and miles and visited more churches, cathedrals, and basilicas than I can remember. We explored tiny narrow streets and survived being pedestrians in Naples. We marveled at the architecture, art, and history all around us. We tossed coins in the Trevi Fountain because, of course, we hope to return to Italy again someday.
|Photo: John and I take a selfie in front of the Trevi Fountain|
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