Thursday, November 30, 2017

Gratitude for Family Visits

As we conclude the Thanksgiving month of November and reflect on God's grace, gifts and goodness extended to us throughout this past year, it is only fitting that I play catch up here on the blog to record some very special memories from 2017. 

Always sacrificing to fly business class so they can bring us extra luggage
filled with gifts and items we need. Thank you!
One huge and special highlight that we are so thankful for (and somehow had no time to write about) was a visit from Munga and Gramma in August. It had been four years since they last came to Italy and it was the first time that they stayed in our house in Caselle. It was fun to show them around our town even though it was mid-August and most shops were closed. But at least there was always one gelato store guaranteed to be open, and Munga made sure they did not lose business with so many locals away on vacation. 

It was hot, but mostly tolerable if my memory serves me correctly. Ok, maybe it was a little uncomfortable coming from "the land of AC". Their first four days involved jet lag recovery, kid sitting while Jonathan and I got away for the day on our anniversary, lunch with friends, house repair projects and most of all just loving on their grandkids. Then they left for five days to visit a good friend in Turkey before coming back to us for a week. 

Sunday lunch with friends
Closed. Closed. Everything is Closed.
The Venaria Palace was even closed, which is a big tourist attraction.

Creating their own fun

With it being August and the mass exodus from the landlocked region of Piedmont to the sea, we too left to enjoy some place more lively. Of course, that meant leaving the country and heading north to Geneva, Switzerland. People are always shocked to realize that from where we live we can get to France and Switzerland in a little over an hour. We crossed over the Alps, rather through the Mont Blanc tunnel pass into France then on to Switzerland and had a fabulous day.

We packed a picnic lunch and enjoyed eating it in the Parc des Bastions while admiring the Reformation Wall. 

A fitting location at the Reformation Wall for Jonathan to receive an email
from the South African Theological Seminary with his acceptance into
the PhD program.
World's Longest Bench (as seen on The Amazing Race)

We toured the Reformation sites associated with John Calvin and others throughout the city. [See this blog post for more Reformation details from our first visit in 2015]. 

Where John Calvin's house once stood.
We climbed up to the top of the St. Pierre Cathedral for a fantastic view of the city. 

St. Pierre Cathedral where Calvin preached.

View from the church bell tower
Taking a rest in the middle room between the two towers

A stop at Starbucks to grab something refreshing to drink along Lake Geneva before heading home made for a enjoyable conclusion to our day before heading back home.

I always love driving through the Mont Blanc pass and seeing the glacier that is it's name sake. Studying geography, as I do with Luca, is so much more fun when you have vivid images you can put in your mind.

At the Italian-French border
During their final few days with us, Munga and Gramma were able to meet more of our friends, spend the morning at our favorite coffee shop that Jonathan frequents almost daily, cool off on a shopping trip to IKEA and of course more gelato and pizza. Our studies and ministries were suspended for the month of August so it was nice to have that down time while they were here before we hit the rush of the start to school. It is always great to have visitors, but even more special when it is family. We treasure these moments together and are so thankful they were able to make the trip to visit us this year. We love you Munga and Gramma!!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Goodbye Sweet Mac

It is with great sadness that we said goodbye to our precious little pet guinea pig, Mac, on Wednesday. He has been a part of our family for the past six and half years, and when that length of time is over half of the lifespan of our youngest child, it is hard to imagine our home without his presence. Since February when he had his first bought with pneumonia, he has been struggling on and off with his health. But he was our fighter and always seemed to pull through and overcome volatile moments. However, when respiratory problems came again over the past couple of weeks the treatment for pneumonia was not successful. He died in my arms as I whispered words of love and affection to him. Truly, there was no guinea pig more loved than him!

MacGyver "Mac" Kleis
April 28, 2011 - November 22, 2017
On the Eve of Thanksgiving as the sun was setting we buried little Mutty in our garden. With hearts full of gratitude for his life we also have been carrying sorrow in our hearts the past few days. Laughter and tears, they don't seem like they should go together, but they do. And both have been healing to us as we reflect on all the fun and joy Mac brought to us. He will be greatly missed!

He was our "hello" on the other side of our "goodbyes". When sadness gripped our hearts in saying goodbye to family in the US, he was the comfort that awaited us upon our return. He was my morning welcome, greeting me with a chatter as I poured myself a cup of coffee. He was our cuddle buddy to study, to craft, to keep warm and provide companionship. He was our garbage disposal for veggie scraps and would always know when I was cutting an apple. I am already noticing the increase in our organic waste bucket without him around. He dined with us at meals always on his carpet by the door and chewed so fast that it never lost fascination with us.

The nicknames he was given over the years have been tallied and they number 31. "Mut-mut" and "piggie" make their way into more phrases and random responses than should be considered normal. Emma and Jonathan even have their own piggie-language and the inside speech is quite absurd, but it has been our comic relief always guaranteed to bring a smile. (And mild annoyance to the boys, but even they have been pulled in to the crazy lingo use).

We will always love Mac and he will forever hold a special place in our hearts as our first family pet. He was beyond cute so it is only fitting that we share loads of pictures. Here are some of our favorites out of the thousands that we must have in our photo stream. Rest in peace, Mac.

Gotcha Day: April 28, 2011
It's amazing he didn't get squeezed to death on his first day home

Emma begged and begged for a pet and we are so glad she persisted!

Oh my, the kids have grown and changed in 6.5 years!

Happy 1st Birthday! 
Thankful to have lived in two homes with a yard. He loved fresh grass and dandelions!
Mamma: groomer, feeder, and nurse provider for for this little guy
Mac loved basil! He could down a whole plant in one sitting.
In fact, his final niblets of food were four basil leaves.

When he was held he had to be on your left shoulder. If you put him
on your right he would squirm over to the other side every time.
The most intelligent pig ever! 

Crafting with Emma

Mac was free to roam the house, hopping in and out of his cage
 mostly to scurry across the kitchen for food.
He had a sweet tooth for apples

Playing under the towel
Seriously, check out those lips

Zoe, the only cousin to meet Mac
Mac's First Christmas - 2011
Mac's Last Christmas - 2016