Thursday, July 26, 2007

Andrew's Bad Night

We were enjoying a little American Inventor on television last night. All was going well until we saw this guy.

His name is Gregg Chavez and he has made it to the top three and could very easily win $1,000,000 next week. "Why is this so bad?", you might ask. Well, because he might win $1,000,000 for an idea that Andrew had 2 years ago.

Some of you are familiar with Andrew's million dollar ideas. He has many of them. But, this is actually the 2nd one that has been "taken". Gregg Chavez's idea is the "Guardian Angel". It is an angel that goes on the top of your Christmas tree and puts out a fire if your tree catches on fire. Andrew seriously had this idea about 2 Christmases ago. We all thought is was a great idea, but we didn't really know how to go about patenting the idea and then producing it. Apperently Chavez didn't either because we learned last night that he came to the show with only a drawing of his idea. He hadn't even tested it out.

So, Andrew is a little bummed that his idea really was a million dollar idea and that he isn't going to get a million dollars for it. Bitter!

His other idea was to start putting gas stations in fast food drive throughs. It was going to be called, "Gas on the go". Who wouldn't want to have their car filled up while they are waiting for their Big Mac, fries and a Coke? Well, shortly after having this idea, he read about it happening in Asia.

Maybe one day he will get his million dollars.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fish Tank

Well, you might remember this tank from a previous post. I know this tank as the empty tank that has been sitting in our house (whether in the dining room floor or upstairs) for the past 2 years. Well, Andrew finally finished the filter system and we were able to start getting some stuff to put in it. It isn't very full yet because we are seeing if it all stays alive. We got a few things from our friends, the Cartwrights, who were getting rid of one of their tanks. And we bought a few plants and fish ourselves.

So far, there has only been one casualty. One of the Neons below didn't make it. But, there are 4 left. And we will probably get a bunch more because they are schooling fish and it is fun to watch them all hang out together. These guys are extra cool too because they have glowing orange stripes down their sides and when they look at you head on, their eyes are bright orange as well. A little freaky. But they are only about an inch long. So, not too scary.

We still don't have any doors on the tank stand. But, we are working on it and hopefully we will have some by the time the baby comes. This is going to be a planted tank which means it is going to be full of plants. We are going to try to get some other cool fish to watch as well. For a tank that is so obnoxiously big, I think I am actually starting to like it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

You know you are in Italy if...

1. ...everything is little.

The cars are little. There are tons of Smart cars everywhere. Many people just ride scooters.
The showers are little. If I was 9 months pregnant during this trip, I would not have fit in the showers. This one was maybe 4 square feet big.
But, even though their bathrooms are little, they still had room for a bidet in every hotel bathroom. They loved their bidets.

The other thing that was little in Italy was the clothing. Girls wore very little clothing (which seems to be the growing trend in fashion in America as well.) and the boys wore capri pants. In every church that you go into you had to have your knees and your shoulders covered. So, they passed out paper shawls and wraps to many girls.

2. ...the Asian people carry umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun. This wasn't a bad idea actually. It was very hot in Italy. Can you guess where this tour group was from?

3. ...there is an extravigant Catholic church or basillica on every street.

4. ...there is fresh water flowing in the streets. The ancient aquaducts, which we mainly saw in Rome, have the most refreshing water. And it is the only free water in Italy. You have to buy bottled water in every restaurant if you want water to drink. Which is weird since they have all this flowing water everywhere. We found this fresh water all over Italy.

5. ...there is no personal space. I was reading the Noll's NYC blog the other day about the guy drawing a personal space bubble around himself. Well, good luck trying to do this in Italy. The restaurant tables are about 6 inches apart from each other. And the metro is amazing during rush hour. We got split up from Andrew's parents on our way to the Vatican because we thought there was no more room to get on. But, we were wrong. What looked like space for maybe 1 small person, they can cram in about 15 more people. It was amazing. Even the way they build their houses leaves little room for privacy.

6. ...pepperoni really means bell peppers. We didn't find this out until half way through the trip. We couldn't find pepperoni pizza anywhere. Then we discovered that salami picante is our pepperoni. So, don't make the mistake of ordering a pepperoni pizza because you will get a veggie pizza.
7. don't really have to pay for public transportation. We began noticing this in Rome when we bought train tickets and then nobody checked them. We could have just walked on the train. You have to pay for the metro and the taxis. But, buses and trains were never checked.

8. ...there are naked statues and paintings everywhere. I am not sure why they didn't put clothes on their statues or paintings. But, we did find out that someone complained about all the naked people in Michelangelo's Sistine chapel. So, he had to go back and paint clothes on them. The man that complained was painted in hell and he had a snake biting him to cover his private area because he made Michelangeo mad. Just a bit a fun trivia for ya.

9. ...there are Ethiopians selling Prada bags out of white sheets. There were tons of venders everywhere. But, these people apparently did not have permits to sell their products. It was kind of like watching a game of cat and mouse. As the police would drive by, they would pick up their white sheets and run away and then set up their stuff in a new location. Then the police would find them there and they would run to a new location. They did this all over every city that we went to.

10. ...There are beautiful flowers in every window sill. Even in housing that looked low-income, they had flowers. It made the cities very beautiful.

11. ...there is a gelateria on every street. Maybe 2. They love their Gelato (ice cream) and so did we. And apparently it is healthier than regular ice cream because they use milk instead of cream. (I learned this on the Today Show this past week.) So, I think it is ok that we ate it every night.

12. ...people pretend to be statues. People tried to get money doing all kinds of things. One way was to stand still like a statue. We saw one kid just burst into tears and run away when he saw the statue start to move a little. It was kind of funny.

13. ...there are musical groups everywhere. Another way for people to make money. One night in Florence we heard 3 different accordian players playing "Somewhere over the Rainbow." They weren't shy about asking for money either. After their song, they would just stand there with their hand open waiting for money. Like we had asked them to play us a song! In Ferrarra, there was a little girl that played all of 4 notes on a plastic recorder thingy and then stopped for us to give her money. Some of the better groups were out playing just to promote their CDs. They were fun to listen to. In Venice, there were even boats filled with musicians that just played while they went down the Grand Canal. That was fun.

Monday, July 16, 2007


It is really hard to narrow down 1000 pictures. But, I chose a few to show you what we saw on our wonderful trip.

We started the trip in Rome. This was a really neat city filled with so much church history. I wish we could have taken field trips to Rome while we were in high school. I think I would have enjoyed history so much more.

This is the colosseum where the emperors would pay for all the citizens of Rome to come and watch the gladiators and animals fight. This was mainly propaganda to make the citizens like them. It was so elaborate. It is interesting to think of such ancient civilizations living so extravigantly. Before it was finished being built they even flooded it to have naval games in the arena. Pretty cool huh? It is also sad to think of all the Christians that were made to fight in these games. But, many of the gladiators chose to fight just for fame. They were like modern day football players. It is all ruined because the church took all the marble and bronze to build the Vatican after it wasn't being used anymore.

Here is the Trevi Fountain. Rome is full of fountains. Everywhere you go there is another square with an elaborate fountain in it. There is fresh water everywhere in the city to fill up your water bottles. The Romans built the aquaducts to bring the water into the city and it is still flowing to this day. It was really cold and good water.

The Vatican- We went on a tour through the Vatican museums and ended in St. Peter's Basilica and Square. It is interesting that Peter didn't even want to be crucified the same way as Jesus was and now they have built a gigantic (our Statue of Liberty would fit inside of the dome) basilica in his name. hhmmm???? It was beautiful. But, it makes you realize the corruption of the church.

After we finished in Rome, we rented a car and headed north. On our way to our next destination we stopped in Pisa for some lunch and to see the famous leaning tower. Andrew wanted to climb it,but you had to get tickets in advance. Plus it looked pretty precarious. I am not sure how it is standing after all this time. The tower is pretty much all there is to see in Pisa. So, we headed on.

The name means "5 Towns". We stayed in Monterosso which is behind us in the picture below. We drove over several mountains to get here. But, it was worth it. It was a gorgeous town along the Meditteranean Sea. We took a train to the other 4 cities as well. They are really cute towns full of colorful homes climbing up the sides of mountains. We also found the convent that cappuchino got its name from. I think it was named after the monks robes because they had a cream color on the top of their hats.

After our time along the coast we headed in towards Tuscany. This is the view from Andrew's parents' hotel room. It was just beautiful.

San Gimignano was an old medieval town that was pretty much ruined because of the plague. So, hopefully there weren't any strains of the plague still hanging around. Someone in Italy described it as a Mini Medieval Manhattan because it has many high towers. And of course Andrew wanted to climb a tower. I am not sure why he wanted to climb every tower that he saw. It really wasn't tempting to me.

We drove on to Florence where we saw the Uffizi Museum full of ancient and famous artwork.

We stayed near the Old Bridge which is full of jewelry shops.
And of course there is Michelangelo's "The David". This is a replica of the statue. We saw the real statue as well. It is in a museum where you can't take pictures. But, of course everybody still takes them while the guards yell, "no foto, no foto!"

Even though McDonald's is everywhere in Italy, we had it for the first time in Florence. You know that a little American food was needed if even Andrew's mom can get this excited about McDonald's.

On our way to Venice we stopped in Ferrarra for lunch. There wasn't much in this town except a castle with a moat and a church. So, here is a picture of our rental car that took us all over Italy.

Our last destination. Venice is truly a unique city. It was beautiful. There really are no cars anywhere. In fact, we almost got ran over at the airport because we got used not having to pay attention to any cars. We saw fire boats, mail boats, police boats, DHL boats, trash boats, any kind of boat you could think of.

We went to the famous St. Mark's Square where all the pigeons are. I didn't really care for the pigeons. They were kind of grose. But, this little boy seemed to enjoy them.
We also went to Murano which is the major glassblowing island near Venice. So, Andrew got to see the big factories there and some really cool glass pieces.

We never really rode in a gondola. They were really expensive and they looked really hot out in the sun. But, we found a boat that looked like a gondola but it was called a Treghetta and it only cost 50 cents. They would take you across the Grand Canal if there wasn't a bridge too nearby. So, I guess in a way we got our gondola ride in.

This is in the back of our water taxi on the way to the airport. We got stuck in a little traffic jam on the way. A big lumber boat was taking up a whole canal along with a trash boat and other boats. It was like being back in DC. :) We also saw the Alps on the way to the airport. They were covered in snow. It was really beautiful.
We had a great time in Italy. I think everyone should go. There is so much to see and learn that just can't be put in a short blog. So, thank you Paul and Marg for such a wonderful trip!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It's a ...!

We had our 19 week sonogram today. Andrew's mom and my mom came along. It was so much fun. We saw every part of our baby. The head, feet, spine, bladder, heart, hands, etc. Our baby moved around so much that we have to go back for another sonogram because she couldn't take all the pictures of the heart that she wanted. But, she reassured us that everything was fine. She just couldn't get the right angle. But, the baby did hold still long enough for us to find out that it's a Girl! In the picture above, she has her hand up next to her face.

Andrew said he counted 4 fingers at one point. So, that's a good sign :)

She crossed her cute little feet.

It's hard to tell how big she really is when watching the monitor. So, I asked the sonographer how long her foot was. It is about 3 cm long. It is so amazing that just a few months ago her whole body was about 3 cm long. She is growing very well.
And so is my belly. This is in the middle of Rome at about 18 weeks. Sorry, I haven't really taken any belly pictures. I haven't felt her moving yet. But, we know she is because she wouldn't hold still during the sonogram. I'm sure it won't be long now.
We will post some Italy pictures soon. Andrew took over 1000 pictures. So, it might take a while to figure out what to post. :)