Friday, January 18, 2013

2012 In Review

I know I'm a couple weeks late for this type of post, but tradition says I still needed to do one!  Looking back, I'm amazed at what a great year it's been.  We've settled into our role as parents a bit better.  We've watched Andy change from a baby to a toddler.  We had a lot of great visits with family.  We spent a good chunk of the year in Amsterdam.  I'd say it's been a great year!

My baby was still a baby! I'm realizing he has grown up way too much.  Here is proof: 

We had a great visit from my mom and Abby!  Sadly, we were having too much fun to take any pictures.  The big event of the month: Andy got the dreaded helmet to fix his misshapen head.  Ugh, I don't miss that thing at all.  

Cam's family came for a weekend!  We had a blast visiting San Antonio and eating loads of delicious food.  

Andy and I took a super fun trip to Utah for Rachel's graduation!  It was so fun to see everyone.

We took our friendcation to Galveston!  Wow, it was so much fun.  Andy experienced his first time at the beach and loved every second of it.  

Andy graduated from helmet wearing and celebrated his first birthday!  We were lucky enough to have my family (Mom, Dad, Sara, & Abby) come visit and be there for his first birthday party.

Weaning was completed in just enough time for Cam and I to take cruise, thanks to Kathy who flew in and took care of Andy while we were gone.  We ported at Cozumel and Progresso and loved every second of it.  

We were also lucky enough to have my sister Christine come visit us for a week.  We loved showing her around Austin! 

We celebrated both of our 27th birthdays plus our 3 year anniversary!  We also took a trip to Utah to spend time with both sides of the family.  We had a blast!

We finished off the month by putting all our stuff in storage and moving to Amsterdam! 
It's strange to look back at this picture and think it was ever warm enough here to wear a t-shirt.
We spent the month getting adjusted to Amsterdam life and enjoying living in such a beautiful place.  We also took trips to Brugge and to the north of England to visit my mission.  
From Castle Hill in Huddersfield in England
We continued to explore around Amsterdam and traveled a bunch, too.  We went to Berlin, Paris (just the two of us!), Bratislava (for Cam's work), and Vienna.  
Rainy Berlin
Vienna's Schonbrunn Palace
We spent the month of November exploring the Netherlands.  We visited Haarlem,Utrecht, and spent a night in beautiful Maastricht. 
I think this was our busiest month!  We started off with a weekend in London--just the two of us.

A couple weeks later, Cameron went back to London with his brother Brendan.  He's agreed to do a blog post about it, but I'm still waiting.

My sister Rachel came and visited for a week.  We had so much fun!

Cameron's family came to spend almost two weeks with us!  We went to Cologne for a day to see the Christmas Markets with Cam's family and Rachel.  

We had a wonderful Christmas in Amsterdam with Cam's family and then headed on our Italy adventure, where we stopped in Florence, Cinque Terre, and Venice.
Manarola in Cinque Terre
I think we had a pretty great year!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Italy: Venice

Our last stop in Italy was in Venice.  None of us had been before, so we didn't know quite what to expect.  Wow: it's gorgeous.  I see why it's a "must" for everyone to come at some point in their lives.  Unfortunately, it's incredibly touristy.  Both Cameron and I commented on how incredible it would have been to visit 100 years ago, when it was likely untouched by the tourist industry.  Lucky for us, the apartment we rented was completely out of the tourist area, so we felt like we got a really authentic experience and got to see the real beauty of Venice.  Our apartment even had a little balcony over a canal!  Before we came, we were a little worried it was too far away from all the main areas--it was about a 20 minute walk from San Marco Square.  But honestly, it's the one city I would want to stay far away from all that anyway.  The beauty of Venice is in just getting lost on random streets.  There aren't many main tourist stops anyway.  We spent most our time walking, walking, and more walking.  It was interesting to see how different the canals are from the Amsterdam canals.  It is definitely the least stroller-friendly city I've ever visited.  Poor Cameron and Brendan carried Andy over a bridge every five minutes.  We got gelato twice a day.  We ate a gross dinner one night and then an amazing dinner the next night for Brendan's birthday.  Brendan, Cameron, and I went out one night to explore the city.  The next night, Cam and I went out on our own while the others kindly kept an eye on sleeping Andy.  We all spent a couple hours one day doing a walking tour we'd found online.  It was beautiful.  One morning, Cameron, Andy, and I wandered around our part of the island (the north east).  Cameron, Andy, and I went inside St. Mark's Basilica, which was very ornate and...Venetian.  I think the highlight of Venice for me was when Cameron, Andy, and I took a water taxi from San Marcos Square back to where we stayed.  We lucked out and had incredible seats.  The weather was great, and the view was breathtaking.  

Here are lots of pictures, again in no particular order:  

That thing gets pretty heavy!  Many thanks to Cam and Brendan for the hours they spent lifting it in Venice.
Andy did remarkably well on our dreaded 6 hour train rides from  Cinque Terre to Venice.  He spent a large majority of the time running between cars, entertaining everyone.

The Grand Canal
On our water taxi ride.
On the way to our apartment.  I told you we stayed in the perfect area! 
The famous Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal, as seen from our water taxi.

These next five are from the morning walk just the three of us went out on:

We never forked out the money for a gondola ride. 
The Lee Men 

St. Mark's Basilica
I really like this picture of Greg.
Despite the look on my face, I loved this fancy fish dinner.  Happy Birthday Brendan! 

Love him.