Fall Fun

I came back to Rome to find that Fall had arrived.  (Sadly, my traveling companion probably came back from Rome to find winter had arrived.)

Last night’s adventure was my first-ever corn maze experience.  My friend Tess and I had purchased Groupons so we were able to visit for half-price.  We had a lot of fun — it was pretty home-made and country, but I think that’s the point of cornmazes?  There was a playground for kids, a few bonfires, horseshoes, corn hole, a slingshot, and even a hayride.

This was the entrance.  I definitely thought of Mom as we went through — she thinks the whole idea of traipsing through a cornfield is pretty crazy — dusty, dirty– and I’m sure she just shuddered looking at that tunnel.

The funniest moment was when we passed a few people from the youth group that was going through the maze at the same time.  It was dark, so you couldn’t really tell who everyone was.  One guy, who seemed to be the youth group leader, paused and asked us if we were coming from a dead end.  The little eight-year old girl who was with him put her hand on Tess’s arm and said, “Oh, I thought you were random people.  Wait, you are random people!”  It was so hilarious.   We quoted her throughout the night.

Today after Mass we for a picnic at Cheekwood, a local estate (once owned by the Cheeks, inventors of Maxwell House coffee) that is now a garden and art museum.  While they have several different exhibits in the mansion, they also often have exterior art exhibits too — everything from Chihuly sculptures to scarecrows.  One exhibit that has been in the gardens for the last several months is an awesome train set.

I took lots of pictures for my nephews.  The girls went on ahead to find a picnic spot … but I couldn’t tear myself away from the trains.

Yep, Thomas was there.

There was water.

and bridges.

When this train came by, a boy shouted, “It’s real wood, Mom!!  Real wood!”

It was every little boy’s dream.

And it really made me wish my nephews lived closer.


tales of Rome await

Words regarding the trip are still failing me, which is why you haven’t seen any posts here the last few days.  Heck, I’ve begun writing this post three times — and it’s simply a post to promise more posts.

I’ve been back for a few days and am faring pretty well with the jet lag — afternoons have been rough, but I’ve managed to sleep through the night.

I kept a pretty decent journal over the past week, a feeble attempt to just record what we did — emotions, deep thoughts, and ponderings were hard to capture.  But the bare bones are down on paper, so over the next few days I’ll hopefully at least share some of our experiences.

Until then, so you don’t have to keep looking at delicious pineapple pasta, here’s one of the first glimpses we had upon arriving in the Eternal City.  This view reminded me why we had made the journey.

Pasta & crazy people- a typical day in Rome

Part of me wishes I brought my computer here so I could blog. Most of me is glad- it’s nice to be separated from the world for a bit, and I’m so tired at the end of the day I can barely keep up my journal.
Things are been tiring but fantastic- many gifts I can’t wait to share! And what trip includes a crazy Romanian man climbing to the top of the colonnade in St.Peters? That and more awaits for your reading enjoyment when I return.
And lots of pictures of food.



I have a least one post in the blog hopper, a draft I was hoping to publish before signing off for the next few days.  It can wait.

My suitcase is only half full.  On one hand, this makes me happy — it means I was a good packer and a smart outfit-planner, can live simply for the next few days, and can bring back souvenirs.  On the other hand, it makes me very nervous.  I’m not going a few hours away, nor am I going to a place where I can just pick up what I’ve forgotten.

St. Anthony, if I’ve forgotten something… may I dream about it tonight and wake up in time to pack it.  Amen.

Put your hands up

(Concert pictures are really hard to take.  And while I remember envying the capability of a friend at a Carbon Leaf concert who was taking really good pictures with their iPhone when my little Droid was failing… ironically, at this concert last weekend, I couldn’t get a good picture and the guy in front of me with his Droid was getting great ones.  Oh well.)

Last Saturday night I went to a Matt Maher concert with my friend Maria.  If you would have told me just four years ago that I’d be in a non-denominational Christian “church” at a Christian music concert, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.  But I actually like some Christian music now, and I like Matt Maher.

Okay, I really like Matt Maher.  I love his music, I love the fact that he’s “making” it in the Christian music scene even though he’s Catholic, and I love that his music is often Christian without being in-your-face-Christian.

He had two opening acts (a guy I don’t remember and Laura Story, no relation to my brother-in-law) and you could tell that Matt was Catholic and they weren’t.  Maybe I imagined it, but I feel like you could tell.

It was my first Christian music concert, and it was an interesting mix of a praise-and-worship session (I felt like I was back at Franciscan) and a concert.  The opening two acts were more praise-and-worshipy, and Matt was a little more concert-like (more lights, smoke, etc).   He mostly played songs from his new album, The Love In Between, which I definitely recommend.

I’ve actually been listening to it for several months — one of the girls in my Bible study works PR for Provident Music Group (a division of Sony that focuses on Christian Music — Michael W. Smith, The Afters, Reliant K, Casting Crowns, 33miles, The Priests… you get the jist.  The big Christian music names) and she gave me a copy of the CD a long time ago!  Pretty sweet.

My current favorite song on the CD is Woke Up in America– I think he quipped that he wasn’t sure what was stranger — a Canadian writing a patriotic song for the USofA, or a Catholic writing “Your Grace is Enough.”  (I don’t think very many people realize he wrote that and not Chris Tomlin.)

The only sad part of the evening is that he didn’t play “Alive Again“, one of my favorites.  It is based on the writings of St. Augustine.  I love how he can incorporate Catholic themes into his “mainstream Christian music”  (although Protestants think St. Augustine is theirs anyway, right?).

A great example of this is his new song “Every Little Prison” which is essentially the Litany of Humility!  I was really taken aback when I first listened to it.  It’s pretty powerful.  And to hear a packed non-denominational Christian church singing the Litany of Humility was pretty awesome.

This is when I realized videos were probably more worth my time than pictures.  The only downside of the evening was that Maria and I ended up behind an eight-foot-tall man and his seven-foot-tall girlfriend.

Hold It Together, again … a favorite:


This is a really touching song from his new album.  He wrote it for his future wife — one night he came home feeling particularly lonely, after pouring himself out in ministry… he had a little moment with God when he was frustrated and tired of being lonely and thought, “What the heck?  I’m lonely.  I want to get married.  I give you everything — I spend my time working for you, pouring myself out in ministry … is it too much to ask to find my future wife?”   Or something like that.  It was really encouraging to hear that from someone else.   To make a long story short, he sat down and wrote the song he’d want to sing to his wife after 15 years of marriage.  And now he’s married to a wonderful girl (and had a moment before marrying her that echoed part of the song in a really touching way.  And his manager said, “Hey, that’s just like that song you wrote…”)


And the finale was, of course, his most well-known song, “Your Grace is Enough.”  His two opening acts, Laura Story and nice-Christian-boy-I-forget-his-name joined him on stage.  There was much swaying and hands lifted in the air in praise.  (I didn’t not raise my hands.  I may have sung along.  With gusto.  And maybe swayed a bit.  But not as much as eight-foot-man in front of me.)