I (Kristin) sit down to write this post and am unsure how it will even come together. I don’t know where to begin, the words to use, how to give the story the justice it deserves… so I will just keep typing and see what happens.
About 8 weeks ago, Paul and I went in for our ultrasound to find out the gender of the baby. If you’re tuning in for the first time, we’re expecting our third child. Our two boys came with us of course, but they had to sit in the waiting room and play some games while we were back in the exam room. The ultrasound seemed to take forever. I’ve forgotten a lot because it’s been five years since our second was born, but I don’t remember this exam taking so long. About half way through, the sweet ultrasound technician announced it looked like we’d be a house full of boys! I had a sneaking suspicion I’d have three boys. 🙂
But she kept examining. And measuring. And then about an hour later, she said she would bring the doctor in so we could talk. Oblivious to the fact that anything could be wrong, I offered to Paul to head on out and take the boys to the pond outside while I waited and talked with the doctor. Unwise.
I’m going to type this part fast because this is when it gets tough…
The doctor walked in and shared that the baby had a cyst in his brain. The cyst could be a marker for a genetic defect or it could go away and not cause any damage to the brain at all. This type of cyst could possibly indicate Trisomy 18 and she recommended having a genetic blood test done. I sat in the room by myself and admit that after the words “cyst in his brain” and “genetic defect” the room started spinning. How does one compute this kind of news?
I thanked her, I think, and she left the room. The technician who had done our ultrasound remained in the room and I asked her to stay while I called Paul and asked him to come back. When he returned, she repeated all of the information to him and what would happen next. I don’t remember much other than I felt like in that moment, life stopped.
Later that night, about 9 or 10pm, we get a text from Paul’s dad that all of the Privette children, along with his mom and dad, connected over FaceTime around the country and prayed together for over 40 minutes. They each took screen captures of themselves and the series of images starting coming through over Paul’s phone. We wept in gratitude.
Over the course of the next few weeks it was very quiet around our house. We had to tell the boys gently what was going on and they, in their precious little voices, started to pray every night for “their little brother to be strong and healthy forever”.
I can’t even begin to share what it is like praying, or begging for the life of a child. Hearing that he could either be perfectly fine or that he could have a genetic defect was hard to comprehend. We prayed for peace and trust and healing and wisdom and strength. What we’ve learned is that we needed to have peace and trust even if the outcome wasn’t a good one. Trusting and feeling peace shouldn’t only happen when things go our way. That is a terribly painful realization.
A couple weeks ago the baby’s blood test came back and results showed “low risk”. Then yesterday morning we went back in for another ultrasound. The cyst is gone. Baby boy Privette is now developing perfectly normal.
I now have a glimpse of what it was like for Paul’s mom and family to lose their baby girl. And how my mom and dad felt when she miscarried at 22 weeks. Yet I have only a small glimpse. I still can’t imagine what it would be like to lose a child. I felt like my life was ending and yet I still had hope. Many do not. To the women and families who don’t get good news, my heart goes out to you. My perspective will forever be changed.
So I end this message with praise and gratitude for the answered prayers for this precious baby boy. Paul and I feel like we can breathe again and be excited about what’s to come. For the few of you we shared this with and who have been praying for us, we cannot thank you enough. God heard every prayer and we are so grateful.
Here he is… no name yet (or at least we’re not telling 🙂 )
Today’s post is just a short update about what’s happening in our personal lives that we’re really excited about. Paul and I (Kristin) decided to homeschool our boys this year. You may be like, “Wait? What?!” Sound impossible when Paul and I also work full time? Well, it would be impossible if it wasn’t for Nana, Paul’s mother… and Pop too for agreeing to this crazy adventure!
For the last three years, our oldest, Win, attended Cornerstone Academy, a school where he went to three days a week then we homeschooled the other two. We decided to do this because we work most Saturdays and it’s hard to imagine only having one full day a week with our boys. For those of you who don’t already know this about Paul, he and his 6 siblings were homeschooled all the way from Kindergarten to 12th grade. Because homeschooling was already a big part of our family, Cornerstone was an amazing fit and we loved every minute of it.
But this year we had a little change of heart. Nana had offered to help me homeschool full time. She would do the three days just like we had done with Cornerstone and I could keep my same schedule with Footstone. It did mean I had to start participating in the planning and curriculum, but Nana thankfully is a big part of this too. After many months of thinking, talking and praying we decided to go for it.
Yesterday was our first official day of school! Win is now starting 3rd grade (it looks like his sign says, “bro” I know!) and Brasher is starting kindergarten. Now our travels and adventures and baseball and all the other fun things we like to do as a family can be scheduled with flexibility and ease. The wonderful part of Alachua County is the resources and multitudes of homeschool families and support. I’m excited and nervous, but thrilled that my mother-in-law would be willing to do this with us.
What does this mean for Footstone? Nothing really other than I’m still out of the office Mondays and Thursdays, but you’re used to talking with Paul or the girls these days already. I’m still checking emails and texts every day of the week and will continue to do that. I just thought I’d share what’s going on behind the scenes around here! And to say that we are so incredibly grateful for our friends and family who make all that we do possible. Footstone couldn’t be what it is, nor would our boys be who they are, without the love and support of our family!
For all my friends on Facebook, and to family and friends who are calling and texting, thank you for the birthday wishes! Today I (Kristin) turn 36 (ssshhhhh!) and will be spending the day with my family, the best gift I could ask for. Paul has been pleaded with not to buy a single gift, maybe just a card, since we’ve recently bought a house and just returned from our summer travels, meaning all money is spent! I think I may like to eat dinner at Dragonfly tonight, but don’t worry, I get cooked sushi. I say that because most of you know, if you’re follow us on Facebook, that I’m expecting baby number 3. We don’t know yet if it’s a girl or boy, but as soon as do, we’ll share. It’s going to be an exciting year!
Today’s post is just a short reflection of what I’m grateful for, which is way more fun to think about than the big birthday that’s “looming” in a few years! I’d rather focus on what age has given me and this incredible stage of my life.
• I am so grateful for my two young boys who challenge me every day to be the best version of myself.
• I am so grateful for my husband who still amazes me at what a loving and selfless human being he is even when no one is looking.
• I am so grateful for my family who inspires me, loves me and blesses me in so many ways.
• I am grateful for my friends who bring me such joy and make my life more full and fun.
• I am grateful for Footstone and the relationships, friendships and moments we’ve had the honor to have because of it.
• I am grateful to God for loving, saving and blessing me far beyond what I deserve.
Here’s to my 36th year which I am genuinely looking forward to. With the baby coming and exciting things on the horizon with Footstone, I’m excited for all that’s ahead.
Thank you for reading and for all the birthday wishes. Again, to my three boys… I love and cherish you and am so grateful I get to spend my life with you!
As a few already know, we have arrived back home safe and sound and are enjoying seeing familiar faces again. Our Scotland wedding and our sessions in Italy were better than we could’ve dreamed, and we can’t say how grateful we are for the blessings of these experiences. However, as many know, international travel with children doesn’t always feel like a blessing. Today we’re going to share some of the funny, unfortunate and slightly embarrassing things we’ve #learnedthehardway through our travels. Hopefully this will be entertaining and perhaps even helpful for your future travel adventures!
Order kids meals when booking an international flight
When making an international 8 to 10 hour flight, it is preferable to be able to feed your children a solid meal before hopefully they fall asleep for a few hours. Somehow, this year we didn’t check the appropriate box when booking our flights for two kids meals. Needless to say, grilled pork sausage with bramley apple sauce, buttered spring onion mash, carrots, peas and gravy was not exactly what our boys were expecting to see sitting on their tray tables. So neither of our boys ate dinner that night, instead snacked on the potato chips and cookies I had packed from home. Thank the Lord for movies. At least they were distracted from their rumbling bellies.
2. Read up on Street Signs – They may be in another language!
If you like the idea of being self-sufficient and want the experience of driving in a foreign country, you may want to consider doing some homework and reading up on the meanings of street signs. Seems rather obvious right? Well… the first time we went to Italy, got our rental car, made it about a quarter mile down the road, we then shrieked upon our first arrival at a toll plaza! We had no idea what lane to enter, what any of the words meant, I’m not even sure we had euros yet… eeeeekkkkk!!!!
Now we giggle a little bit every time we pull up to a toll plaza because it’s relatively simple once you know that cassa means cash and carte means card. Knowing enter & exit signs, road closed signs, & pedestrian only signs is quite helpful. We got a ticket in Florence once because we drove down a pedestrian only road. There are cameras everywhere, and they’re happy to put a friendly ticket in the mail that you receive upon arriving home.
3. Hotel keys give you Power
This is something we seem to forget every year. For most of our trip we stay in houses we’ve found on AirB&B or VRBO, but at some point throughout our travels we’ll stay one or two nights in a hotel. When we arrived in Milan our first year in Italy, we couldn’t figure out why none of the lights were working in our hotel room. We walked around flipping every switch on and off. We then checked all the lamps. The air was on so we knew we had power. The receptionist at the front spoke ok English, but we were a bit afraid to call down and talk to her over the phone! I think it was Paul who finally noticed this small black box by the door. It has a small slit in it but nothing else. Paul slid the key in the slit and voila!! All the lights came on! You see, Italians are very energy efficient so when you leave your room, all the power turns off behind you. Hopefully this will help save you that scary few helpless minutes upon entering your first Italian hotel!
4. Strollers in Venice
I’m going to give you a visual most of you will recognize… you know when you end up at Disney on a rainy day? Parents are in ponchos they just paid $20 for yet are still drenched, kids are in strollers pulling the cover down in front of them, or those super unlucky kids in the umbrella strollers that are soaked and have the most pitiful looks on their faces??? Yep… you all know what tragic moment I’m talking about. We experienced this moment, but worse, one year in Venice. Our youngest was 3 and so a stroller was definitely needed for traveling. But upon arrival in Venice, the sky opened up and a torrential downpour ensued. That year we packed way too much so I was rolling two bags, our 6 year old was rolling a bag, and Paul had a rolling back PLUS a stroller with Brasher in it! In VENICE! There are 420 small bridges in Venice… and no ramps. Venice floods very quickly too so within just a few short moments, the water seemed to have already risen to our ankles. So we trudged through the narrow unfamiliar streets, drug our bags through the rising water, and Paul somehow managed to lift the stroller over the bridges with one hand and rolled a large suitcase with the other. TRAGIC.
Now, the rain you can’t avoid. But too many rolling bags and not being prepared with how difficult a stroller can be, you can. If you must bring a stroller, we suggest you bring an umbrella-style, light weight one that can fold up easily and you can manage lifting it with a child in it over the bridges. If you can bring a baby backpack where the child could ride, this is ideal, at least on the main island.
5. Dropping of rental cars
In the States, if you have a really early flight and need to return a rental car, there’s always a drop box, right? Drop the keys in, get your trash out, and you’re on your way. Not always the case in Europe, as we found out. On this year’s trip, we arrived at the Venice Mestre train station at 6:45am to make sure we had enough time to return the car and catch our 7:30 train. Never did it cross our minds we wouldn’t be able to just drop the car off. The rental office opened at 8am, which meant we were stuck. Paul was able to change our tickets to a later train (for a hefty fee, of course), and we drove around until we found a public park where the boys could run and play. However, being as we left the castle at 5am, I (Kristin) decided to lay down in the back seat of the van and plug in my headphones with my white noise app. Blame it on the pregnancy (did you see that announcement on Facebook?!) or just travel exhaustion, but I couldn’t force myself to get out of the van and join in the play.
Thankfully the boys had a good time!
6. Not all adapters are created equal
Not all power is equal. When you travel to a new place, it’s always good to research what their power voltage is. Otherwise, your appliances could end up like my curling iron on our first trip – fried. Rick Steves has some excellent info on adapters and voltages, and here’s a link so you can read up on it!
7. Public verses Private Beaches
When we first saw the Ligurian sea a few years back, we were so excited! We grabbed bread, prosciutto and fruit from a market and headed to the beach. We took our shoes off, the boys were splashing in the water, and we started eating our sandwiches. It was so beautiful. Then we were chased off by a burly lifeguard yelling at us “No public beach!!” We quickly learned that most beaches in Italy are private. All that means is that you go into the main entrance of the beach club, pay for however many beach chairs you would like, and then you have access to food and lifeguards and sometimes even swimming pools. There are public beaches that don’t cost anything, but you have to look for them. They are usually small stretches of sand, and are usually pretty full of people not wanting to pay for the beach!
8. Washing your Clothes… by hand?
There is this tricky balance of trying to pack light when traveling abroad while knowing you may not have access to a washing machine for quite some time. Luckily, if you stay in an AirB&B or a VRBO, you should have a washing machine. What you definitely won’t have is a dryer. However, over the past couple of years we ended up needing to wash clothes before we made it to an actual machine. One year I bought a bar of detergent soap thinking it would travel better than liquid. Bad idea. I also didn’t have anywhere to hang the clothes after. This past year we (Sally!) brought powdered detergent that dissolved in water which worked MUCH better and also a sink stopper, which was Rick Steves handy piece of advise. Bringing roll of clothes line and some clothes pins is a must too. You may not believe me, but taking the time to wash clothes is SO much better than lugging around an additional suitcase. If you don’t believe me, I guarentee you’ll remember this post as you drag an enormous suitcase up the concrete stairs at a busy train station!
9. Ordering sea food
Something you may not know about Italian cuisine is that Italy is known for it’s seafood. Makes sense because it’s an island, but it’s not something I expected our first year here. When you’re on the coast, I highly recommend braving to order seafood, but what you should know is that you’re likely going to get the whole animal. Ordering fish? Be prepared to see a whole fish. Ordering prawns, yep, still a prawn not a small little round bite that doesn’t resemble the animal. This may not bother some people, but I (Kristin) am one of those that likes to pretend it’s not an animal. You can ask the server to break it down for you if you don’t mind the snickering. Or if you see the world “fillet” that likely means the fish has been deconstructed. When I do order sea food and it comes out very much in tact, I gently slide my plate across to Paul and he breaks it down for me. It’s not that I don’t know how, I just can’t bring myself to do it.
10. Parking Garages 101
(this one is written by Paul) A few notes on parking garages. First, take your parking ticket with you. Most of the time you will have to pay at an automated machine when you are returning to your car, not when you exit. Second, if you’re driving anything larger than a Fiat 500, just know you may not make it back out of the garage. The garages are small. Really small. Quick story – we were in our passenger van (which dwarfs most of the vehicles over there) and pulled up to a parking garage. It had a sign that said 2 meters max height, so I knew I was ok. It even had the height bar that hung down, and I went under that no problem. The problem happened once we got into the belly of the garage. There was a water pipe that ran along the ceiling that made it just low enough that we couldn’t fit. About 2 inches too tall. Understand I had just gone up several levels of super tight circular tunnels to get here. There was no reversing out of this pickle. Fortunately the exit tunnel was on our side of the water pipe, and with some James Bond type maneuvering (picture James Bond driving a minivan really slow in a parking garage) I was able to get to the exit tunnel. With inches to spare on either side, we descended towards the exit. With literal light at the end of the tunnel, the exit gate only 50 feet away, I heard something go thump. Thanks to the 2 meter max height sign, we were now wedged in the tunnel. The top of the van was hitting the top of the tunnel, and this was the only way out. Long story short, I had the boys climb to the back of the van, and with Kristin and 2 large Swedish men on the back bumper, we slid that puppy out to daylight.
Enjoy watching as we realize it’s about to get tough. The noise you hear is our antenna hitting the roof.
We hope this was a fun and helpful post for future international travelers. We are big Rick Steves fans and anytime we travel abroad, we buy his corresponding book. Our clients have asked how we’ve learned how to navigate Italian cities the way we do… well, it’s mostly thanks to Rick. And of course… many trials and lots of errors!
It’s hard to put into words how special this place is to us. During tough days, stressful moments, those times you just wish you could get away and breathe, and you envision this blue expanse of sky and water… this is the place you’re wishing for whether you know it or not. Our family spent a week here last summer, and as soon as we drove the windy cliff road away, all four of us started counting down the days until our return.
Last year Paul shared an instagram post quoting John Steinbeck, “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”
After our last Destination Portrait Session with Lem and Dana, from the Ceconi Castle in the Northwest part of the Italy, we trained down to Naples where then we hired a driver with the Positano Car Service to take us to Positano. Friends of ours Emily and Trey, a former bride and groom of Footstone’s, went to the Amalfi Coast a couple years ago and shared some very valuable advise about making your way from Naples to one of the coastal towns. There is a regional train you can take from the Naples train station and you can save a little money. But all that you read about pick pockets on tight trains and keeping your eyes and hands on your luggage at all times… this is one of those trains. Emily and Trey said it took them a day or so to recover from the anger and stress of this transition, and they advised it was worth every penny to hire a private car. I think it cost us about 130 euro for the trip in. Well worth it I think for a clean, cold, and private drive with no stress!
Paul took this first portrait from our balcony. We stayed in the same house as we did last year because we hit the jackpot with location and the view. When deciding on a place to stay in Positano, you really can’t go wrong with the view it’s the walk to the beach that can make or break an apartment. As you may know, Positano is a pedestrian friendly area meaning everyone is walking. There is one road that runs through the middle of the town where there are a couple of parking garages and drop stations for luggage. Your driver or a bus brings you here, and you can hire a porter for 10 euros a bag to carry your luggage to your apartment. Worth every penny! Our apartment was at the bottom of the cliff which is great for proximity to the beach, but it was 8 to 10 flights of stairs down from the road. Poor Brasher was begging to be held by the 5th or 6th flight!
Day and night are spectacular in Positano. If you look in the landscape above, see the boat that is closest in the foreground? Now look up slightly to the right and see the stone house, then a little white then the yellow house? The yellow and white was where we stayed. When we arrived we saw a familiar face right away. Jenny, a retired teacher from Georgia, spends her summers here helping the homeowners with the tenants. She helps you get settled in the apartment and shows you key places on a map of Positano. Jenny stops by each day and waters the flowers in all the balconies and prunes the basil plants. We’ve adored getting to know her, and for an American, it’s a lovely sound hearing her voice as soon as you arrive.
The first couple of nights of our stay the moon was full and the view was spectacular. We only ate out one night the entire week because dinner with this view can’t be beat.
Paul really enjoyed sitting on the balcony with our boys’ binoculars and creeping on people in their big yachts. He’d find the name of the boat and then google how much it was. The boats, ships and yachts you see dock here are just unbelievable. Paul found this yacht below online, and it’s a mere 1.2 million euros for a week’s day… gasp. It comes with a crew of 24 and sleeps 12. My mind is blown.
For being quite picky with our Italian food, when we’re home our number one favorite Italian restaurant is Antonio’s in Micanopy. The owner and chef, Antonio is a first generation Italian and the food is divine. When we go, Antonio always comes out and says hello, and we talk about our travels. Last year before we left, he suggested taking a ferry to Capri then walking up from there to a small town called Atrani. There is a little restaurant there he loves and said it was worth the trip. So we did, and it WAS worth the trip. But the walk from Capri to Atrani was on one of those windy cliff roads with no shoulders and with our little ones in tow, it was a bit scary. So this year, Paul did some research and found out that we could rent a private boat from Positano and ride down to Atrani. There is a guy there who you can pay 10 euros to row you in and he’ll dock the boat. This was probably my favorite day of the entire trip. We road all along the Amalfi coast all by ourselves and soaked up the sun, the beauty and the magic of this magnificent coastline.
The restaurant Antonio recommended and the one we ate at last year was closed unfortunately. We went on a Tuesday and surprisingly there were several restaurants and little shops closed. It wasn’t during the siesta time so my only thought was maybe Monday and Tuesdays are considered to be some places “weekend”? I haven’t searched around travel websites to see but alas, we found another lovely little spot and it turned out to be one the best meals we had so far. Serendipity.
This area is known for producing mouthwatering lemons. You see lemons painted all over ceramics, limoncello is common to be served after dinner at most restaurants and you’ll find lemon flavored dishes on most menus. For dessert I ordered a lemon tiramisu. That’s right… heaven.
After lunch we strolled around Atrani for just a little while noticing the similarities and differences from it and other Amalfi towns. I would guess Atrani doesn’t see the amount of tourists that Capri and Positano do. Most of the beach goers look like locals and didn’t hear or see as much English being used here. But don’t let that scare you. I think exploring this lovely little town is a must on your to-do list. It’s quiet and quaint with small delectable cafes, gelato stands, and shops with handmade and local wares. Atrani is a nice reprieve from the more bustling towns of the Amalfi Coast.
We walked back to the one small dock and found our friend to row us back out to our boat. I would guess it took us about an hour or so to make it to Atrani, but that was only because we took our time going slowly and stopping regularly to take pictures.
Other than this one excursion, we spent most of our time at our favorite little beach in front of the Pupetto Cafe on the north side of Positano. For those considering traveling to Positano, if you like the idea of a hotel over an AirBnB, Pupetto’s is also a hotel and restaurant. It’s steps away from what I think is the best beach in the area and you’ll have all the conveniences of staying in a hotel.
To find Pupetto’s, you walk north from the main part of town along the water. The sidewalk ends, and you follow the blue boardwalk through a few different cafes all of which look lovely, but I recommend keep walking until the blue boardwalk ends. You walk through the outdoor cafe that sits on the beach and walk up to the receptionist’s stand. She’s a delightful young lady who will open a tab for you and reserve your beach chairs. Then, one of crew members will walk you to your umbrella and chairs and make sure you like the spot. It’s as easy as that. They all speak beautiful English and are warm and welcoming. One of the servers from last year recognized as soon as we sat down. His name is Allesandro. He’s below on the left. There was a second server, Fabio, below on the right, who we didn’t meet last year but we saw him around. Most all of the faces were familiar, and it made me smile that these people must really love their jobs. Most of them are barefoot or maybe in flip-flops. All are wearing Pupetto Cafe t-shirts which I had wish I had bought one of this year. While I’m sure their job is still hard work and often feels like work, they are definitely in paradise.
Our family doesn’t do much soda. I never have it in the house and the boys are only allowed to have it when we’re on vacation. Even then it’s only one serving a day. Brasher refuses to even try soda, which is fine, but Win is obsessed! For all three meals of the day Win asks for a coke. Look at the pure joy in his face above!
Brasher isn’t napping below he’s warming himself on the rocks. The water was a bit cold so after awhile, he’d run up to me and lay on the warm rocks. But he insisted on laying his face directly on them. Each year we collect some of these rocks and we have a glass vase at home we’re slowly filling up. Make sure to buy good water shoes for Amalfi beaches, too. I saw many tourists hobbling and wincing and sighing as they walked barefoot along the hot rocks. Thanks to Rick Steves, we were prepared with the right shoes!
There is so much else I want to share about this special place but I will end here for today. With one last quote… this one is Scripture.
“By his hand the heaven is covered with clouds and rain is stored up for the earth; He makes the grass tall on the mountains.” Psalms 147:8
There were times I was almost brought to tears at the awe-inspiring beauty and power of this place. I thank the Lord my family was able to experience it.
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