Location | Italy

Under the Tuscan Sun

Europe | 9.24.17

One of my favorite photographers is Arthur Elgort, and about 20 years ago he published an awesome book called Camera Ready: How To Shoot Your Kids that a dear friend gave to me right after Declan was born.  While he gives a lot of great advice in the book, the most important one is “Start now!”  It’s been said a million different ways but the message is always the same: “Babies don’t keep”, “Time moves fast”, etc.  One of the things I loved about this book was how he photographed the everyday moments that really captured his kids’ personalities or a specific moment in time that was typical to his family – sitting around the dinner table, a kid having a meltdown, siblings doing things together.  I imagine that when my kids are old and grown these are the types of pictures I will look back on that will transport me right back to those moments that were so real and so very them, and so very us.  One of the tips Elgort had was that he always kept his camera close by when at home, so that he could grab it whenever the moment struck.  I try to do the same.  It’s a tough balance sometimes – wanting to be there in the moment vs. reaching for a camera to document it.  But truthfully, while I might enjoy the moment a little more in that second without taking a photo (and I do have plenty of those), I find that my memory feels like it’s getting worse, and while I remember bits and pieces, everything starts to blur together with so many little things simply forgotten.   When I take a photo though, it helps me bookmark a moment in time – an experience, an expression, a moment – and when I look at them I can suddenly remember again.  But I try to just take a few and then put the camera down to get back to enjoying and participating more fully in whatever it is we are doing.  Anyway, these are a bunch of random pics I took when we were hanging around the house on our Tuscany trip this summer, with some anecdotes to help me jog my foggy memory when I look back on them one day.  🙂

The light was so beautiful in the evenings in Tuscany.  We were there in mid-June, right around the summer solstice, so the sun didn’t set until right around 9pm.  I remember looking over at Arabella toddling around aand seeing the sun behind her light up her golden curls, turning them into a little halo.  Her cheeks get so rosy when she gets hot, and she had been running around with her brother, making them extra rosy.  🙂

I love these pics of Chris and Arabella – she is generally so happy and this is a classic expression of hers.  She gets SO EXCITED to play games (especially tickle monster!) and her giggle is so infectious.  She also loves snuggles.

This picture above cracks me up.  Declan had a meltdown because he had thrown a baby wipe into the pool, and it sank.  That’s literally the whole story.

But because Declan was sad, Bella wanted to give him hugs to make him feel better.  *Cue heart melting of parents and grandparents*

A little while after dinner each night we would give Bella her nighttime bottle, and she was adamant about wanting to have it on this outdoor couch by the pool.  She would hold the bottle with one hand and, if she was really tired, start twirling her hair with the other one.  It’s funny because Declan has always done the same thing (played with his hair) when he gets really tired.  Genetics are so weird.  🙂

After her bottle, I would walk Bella inside to put on jammies and go to sleep.  She would walk through the courtyard and yell BYE! or NIGHT NIGHT! to everyone by name.  We would let Declan stay up a little later with the grown ups 1) so that he and Bella wouldn’t play and keep each other up all night, and 2) so we could have some special 1-on-1 time with him.  One night we let him stay up so late he got to see the fireflies come out and he thought that was just about the coolest thing ever.  We thought the fireflies were cool too, but watching the absolute wonder on his face was the best part for us by a mile.

Late afternoons by the pool were my favorite.  The light was so beautiful, and everything was so peaceful.

Declan is becoming such a ham – I ask him to smile and he generally just make silly faces now.  Last night we played a game where everyone had to go around and make up the silliest story they could think of.  He made up 2 that had Chris and I laughing so hard.  (Spoiler alert: the plot line always involves a lot of pooping).

He’s looking so big to me these days, but there are still moments when I can see my baby boy in his sweet face still.  ♥

The villa used to be an old mill, and is located right on this lovely stream which it still draws water from (or that’s what feeds the well at least).  I can’t remember the exact numbers but I think the owner said that something like 20,000 gallons of water a day would pass through the mill.  Anyway, point being, that on the side of the guest house was a water spout and hose and there was a drain in the middle of the courtyard that I think just went back out to the creek and the owner said – play with the water as much as you want.  Any game or activity involving water is my kids’ favorite (except for swim class, obvs), so this was great news.  They would spend HOURS filling up this old watering can and then pour it out to see the rivers it made as it found its way through the rocks to the courtyard drain.  The days were hot and the evenings so warm and beautiful, and it was so nice for the adults to be able to sit outside eating or having wine by the pool or around the courtyard while the kids entertained themselves with what we generally refer to as “water transfer activities.”  Also, the kids decided on this trip that they hate clothes.

It was so cute to watch them play together on this trip and then even moreso the rest of the summer now that Bella is a little older and starting to talk more.  They are (generally) so cute with each other and watching them have fun together makes me so happy.

Teamwork.  A+

I love our family travels together more than just about anything.  It is definitely exhausting at times, but I feel like we always bond so much with each other and come away with the best memories.  I can’t wait for our next adventure together.  🙂

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