Friday, December 14, 2007


We want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. We've had quite an exciting 2007! After 2 fabulous years in Ramstein, Germany, Blake received a promotion within the Terex Corporation. With that promotion came a move to Italy in August to an area 45 minutes north of Venice working for Terex Comedil in the cranes division. We are still trying to get settled in but we are loving the experiences we are having. Just a rundown on what we’ve been up to this year...
Caleb (6 1/2) is attending an Italian Elementary school and progressing fast in the Italian language. He had a great year playing soccer in Germany and taking swimming lessons. He’s also excelling in piano and making his family laugh!
Sydney (9) is in 3rd grade on the U.S. Air Force Base nearby and having a great year. She starred in her class play last month. This year she also was quite the dancer in ballet and jazz and was on a German swim team. Her coach was amazed at her “beautiful” strokes! She also gets herself up at 5:55am every morning to practice piano before she leaves for school! She's a great alarm clock for the rest of us!
Cameron (10) is in 4th grade on the air base as well. He’s had quite a busy year as well with the German swim team (he’s a super fast swimmer), cub scouts and piano. He also made the all A honor roll and was elected to the student council at school! He also is doing well in piano! He just started playing on an Italian basketball team and loving it!...hmm, I wonder whose genes he has!
Carrie has had a busy year being a mom, chauffeur, travel guide, working in stake young womens, teaching piano, getting settled in a foreign country, etc. She's set a goal to run a 1/2 marathon - stay tuned...
Blake keeps busy with work, family, church and basketball. He's been doing some traveling with work this year to the states, Romania, France and will soon be traveling to Dubai. He's found another basketball group to play with on Saturday mornings here in Italy.

We are especially grateful at this time of year for the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and the joy that that brings into our lives. We hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas season!
The Smiths, Blake ~ Carrie ~ Cameron ~ Sydney ~ Caleb

p.s. The pictures above are from our various travels this year on this side of the world.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

With Blake working in Europe he, of course, doesn't get the American holidays off like Thanksgiving. This year we were planning on celebrating it on Saturday. However, some friends at church called us a couple of days before and invited us over - yeah! This is just a picture of the kids before eating. I love sharing the cooking with others! I only had to make rolls, 1 pie, broccoli salad and bring drinks. Of course, Blake wasn't able to make it, but we brought him home a couple of plates of food! The kids had a ball!

Sydney the "Professional Tour Guide" Star

Sydney was the star of her classroom play. She acted the part of "Tourguide Miss Hanna". She had 17 lines to be exact - and very long ones. She "taught" the "tourists" all about Sacagawea and how she came to be on the $1 coin. She did an amazing job and everyone was amazed how she could remember all her lines (especially me!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Blake's Latest Injury

As usual, Blake went and played Basketball on Saturday morning. He called me on his way home to ask if we had any superglue. Apparently, he'd been playing and bumped heads with some guy pretty hard while doing one of his cool moves. He ended up getting a pretty deep cut. There were a couple doctors playing too. One of the doctors (a pediatrician) took Blake to his office to try and sew it up, but couldn't find keys to the cabinets to get out the supplies needed...oh well....luckily we found one bottle left of superglue at home that wasn't completely dried up! Woo Hoo! That saved us another trip to the doctor! If you were wondering, he's healing fine. The wound has only broken open once, but after some butterfly bandages were attached, he's as good as new!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Horseback Riding in the Mountains!

Sydney, Cameron and Caleb have found a new passion - horsback riding!!! The General Manager/President of Comedil (where Blake works) owns stables, 3 arenas, etc. She races horses - jumping over the fences (I have no idea what you call that). She lives in the mountains close to where we live. She invited the kids to come up and gave them riding lessons. They seem to be naturals and are absolutely loving it! Sydney, especially has become passionate about it!

Cameron's excitement

Cameron's had a little excitement these past few weeks. On October 29, he turned the big "10"!!! I can't believe it's been 10 years since he was born. We had a family party that night and then a week later he had a birthday party at the bowling alley on base. Also, I got a note from his teacher inviting me to an awards ceremony where he received an award for all A's the first quarter. He made runner up for the "Citizenship Award". He was also elected by his class to be the Student Council representative. He's having a great year!

Caleb begins Grade 1 in the Italian School

Caleb has finally started Italian school. The Italian kids go to school M, W, F from 8:10 until 4:10 and T, Th and Saturday from 8:10-12:30. Yes, I said Saturday. Apparently on M, W, F they have an hour morning break and a full 2 hours for lunch and recess. I told Blake that somebody needs to come in and teach the Italians a little about cutting out a few breaks a day. We told them we didn't want Caleb to go on Saturday and they thought we were nuts. A guy at Blake's work told us, "Hey, this is Italy, if you don't want to go to school on Saturday - don't go!" When in Italy, do as the Italians, right? We found out they do do a program M-F from 8-4 everyday. So he's in that. It's been a little rough for him. Everyone tells us that it will be a rough few months until he can speak and understand a lot of it. The teachers kept kissing him (the italian way). There was a boy that kept kissing him on the cheek too. Caleb got so mad about that. The 1st picture is of Caleb right before school with his black smock on. He has to wear that to school everyday to "protect" his clothes. On Thursdays he's required to wear a sweatsuit for gym class. The second picture is our typical routine every morning when I drop him off. This too shall pass - right?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

October 2007

Well, just as an update to our crazy life in Italy...We finally found a house and our movers came on October 8th and 9th....The movers (who are from Germany) showed up at around 5:00pm - yes at night ....They unloaded part of the moving van and then asked us if they could sleep at our house that night (we hadn't even slept at our house yet!) We were too in shock to even ask questions and said that they could sleep there. They unloaded their overnight bags and a big recycling bucket of empty beer bottles (which they had been drinking on the way down to Italy since they all reeked of alcohol). When we showed up the next morning (we were still staying at the hotel) they had moved our couches in to sleep on. One slept on the couch, one took cushions off the other couch and slept on those on the floor and then the other two brought their own stuff. After they were done unloading, they all showered at our house and took off - yes, I said showered at our house - we didn't even have shower curtains so there was water and dirt left all over the bathroom! Nothing like "saving the company money"! It was seriously the "college buddies/Elders Quorum" moving us. They literally just put boxes wherever they heck they wanted unless we were standing there at all times looking inside each box to check its contents because they weren't labeled. We were so glad to see them go!!! Surprisingly, there were only a couple of things broken, but nothing major! YAHOO!!! (I still wouldn't recommend them). I don't think I told you how they packed us, but that too was a nightmare. I wanted to cry and throw up all at the same time.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Life on the boat

Hands down, cruises are our favorite way to travel!!! You get to see so many places without packing and unpacking over and over. We love it also because there is nothing but family time - however you want to spend it. We went on the cruise with our friends the Lousbergs and both their sets of parents as well as the Bradleys. The top picture shows Caleb at the Kids Club on pirate night. The second picture shows our family with the Bradleys at the life boat drill. Cameron and Sydney are in the picture below at one of our dinners. The bottom picture shows me singing with a man named JP. He was fun to listen to and plays by ear. We did a few duets over the course of the cruise and helped me relive my performing days :-)

Egypt (continued)

Egypt was absolutely amazing - to say the least!!!! We had an amazing tour guide named Ashraf. He is an Egyptologist and holds 4 degrees....2 bachelors, 1 masters and 1 doctorate. He does lectures at the Cairo University and works on excavating in his spare time. To say that he is passionate about his work is an understatement. As you can see the top picture is at the Sphinx. The next picture down is of Cameron on the donkey.

Another quite interesting part of our trip to Cairo was that it coincided with Ramadan - the holy month. They fast from sun up to sundown - no food or water. As we travelled back to the ship that night after the tour all the mosques were lit up like it was Christmas or New Years. After sundown, they feast! As the sun went down, we mentioned to our driver that he could stop and eat the food that he'd brought from his igloo, which he did.
The next picture is of 2 men praying. They pray 5 times a day where ever they may be. The bottom picture is our guides favorite picture of the pyramids. While in Cairo, we also visitied Saqqara and the Step pyramids. We were also able to visit a store where they make papyrus. We got to watch a fascinating demonstration of how they make it.

Cairo (Alexandria), Egypt

Egypt was by far our most favorite and last stop on the cruise. After traveling these past couple of years through most of Europe as well as northern Africa, we've finally found the common denominator that links the world together - McDonalds (top picture) and Coke (bottom picture). They are in EVERY country we've been in

Anyway, the middle 2 pictures are at the Giza pyramids.

Limassol, Cyprus

Here we are in be honest, it was our least favorite stop of the whole cruise. For us, there wasn't a lot real exciting to see. The top picture is of the kids at an olive press. The next two pictures are of the ocean and then the last is of one of many mosaics we saw while there. Cyprus is an independent country with a high standard of living. Their pound is almost worth as much as the British pound.

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Rhodes, Greece

Here we are in Rhodes, Greece on our 6th stop. We docked right outside of the Old Town. The first picture shows the outside walls. The next picture down shows the boys' favorite part....the street of knights. The third picture down shows us inside the palace of the knights. The last picture is overlooking the ocean. Once again we're in awe of the beauty of the ocean. It was a great day!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey

OK, I am in love with Turkey. I'd heard that Turkey had beautiful beaches, and now I'm a believer. The water was one of the most beautiful colors of blue I've ever seen....ok, now that that's done, our next stop was in Ephesus, Turkey. We took a tour that included seeing the house of Mary in which John the Beloved had taken Mary to live. The top picture is a picture of the baptismal font near Mary's home where they performed baptisms by immersion.
The next pictures are pictures of the ruins of Ephesus where Paul preached.
Our tour guide mentioned to us that a few years ago that they discovered through DNA that the American Indians are descendents of that area.....very interesting.....can we say Book of Mormon?

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Sevastopol, Ukraine

The 4th stop of our adventure on the Black Sea was to Sevastopol, Ukraine. The boys went on their own adventure and saw the submarines of Balaklava. Sydney and I took a tour to the Crimean Riviera. We went to the Palace in Alupka. The 3rd picture down is inside that palace. That piano is a piano that Rachmaninoff (sp?) used to play on. The most fascinating part of this tour for me was at the Livadia Palace. (The bottom picture shows the outside of it). This was the summer home of the Romanovs (sp?). It is even more famous for the Yalta Conference towards the end of WWII where Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill came to sign the peace agreement. The second picture shows the table they sat at to sign it.

I was so fascinated with the beauty of Yalta and the Crimean Riviera. The mountains and the ocean next to each other were one of the highlights of this stop in the Ukraine.

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