Hey Guys! So, I’ve started high school recently. It’s so crazy! I’ve been swamped with school, friends, and sports, and I’m still trying to get my bearings. And due to this, my little blog has been left in the shadows. So I’ve decided it is time for a resurrection!  I tried to navigate through WordPress and give my blog a fresh face and name to keep it exciting, but I got really frustrated with the system. Therefore, I have decided to switch over to Blogger. Its easier to post on and I like how it works. I’ll hopefully be posting more frequently on that blog, sharing random musings, recipes, photos etc. So check it out sometime! Its still in the creation process, but it is up and running right now. I just wanted to let you know about the switch thats coming. Also, I need some feedback on a name for my blog. Some options are:

Sully Says..

Maddie’s Musings

La vie est belle ( life is good in French)

Freckle faced Girl

Thoughts? Comments? Concerns?

Thanks guys!

Also, the new site URL is http://www.maddiesullivan.blogspot.com

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Well folks, sorry if I left you hanging with my last post. You might have been wondering if I did indeed make it to Paris and London, or that maybe my plane had crashed in the Italian wilderness, or I had disappeared off the face of the earth. Well, I am safe, and I was so incredibly busy touring Europe I didn’t have time to blog. So sorry about that. 

Paris was incredible. The City of Lights sure did deliver. Every day started with baguettes, followed by numerous museums, shopping, cafes, Nutella crepes, and endless walking. It was beautiful and exactly how I imagined it to be. The food is fancy and delicious. The vanilla ice cream is to die for. The Eiffel Tower is beautiful. Pictures are on Facebook. 

London. It sure does rain a lot in that city. Rainy, windy, cold, brrrrr. But it was still so much fun. I loved the little pubs we ate at, the friendly people, the exciting city life, the museums, Westminster Abbey, and the tea! I’m now making scones. The Brits are wonderful, wonderful people. Love me some tea and fish and chips. We even met a waitress from the Czech Republic at a pub who might come stay with us someday! Pictures are also on Facebook. 

Well, sad to say, but Europe 2012 is over. What an incredible time it has been. I’ve grown in my faith, grown closer to my sister, met new friends, tasted new foods, saw new things, walked in the footsteps of history, and just had an incredible time overall. Thank you all for your kind letters, encouragement and prayers. You all mean so much to me and I hope I can talk to all of you soon! So thats it for now. Europe was great, but boy is it great to be home. You don’t realize how much you take for granted your family, your bed, your friends, and the little comforts of home until they aren’t there anymore. It is good to back. So Ciao for now friends! I’ll still occasionally be posting on here, but much less frequently. So this is the end. The last chapter of the Europe 2012 story. A story that has had its ups and downs, its highs and lows, its blessings and its lessons. Thank you God for all you have given me. You are so good. 

The End. 

 

 

Can you believe its already been a month?! 31 days I have spent here across the pond, and what an adventure it has been. And its not even over yet! Tonight is my last night in the place I have called home the past few weeks, in Italy, land of pasta, of amazingly good coffee, of ruins, history and friendly people. This month has gone by so so fast, and I always have hated goodbyes. I used to hate goodbyes so much that I would cry whenever we left a hotel. I was a sap, I know. So therefore, I feel it is fitting and proper I say my goodbyes. Sniff sniff. I may need to whip out the Kleenex as I write this. 

So…

Goodbye red couch. Thanks for giving me good sleep the past few weeks. I feel we have had a really good relationship. 

Goodbye little old men that stare at me whenever I walk by. You always were so cute. 

Goodbye Lino’s Cafe. Thanks for the coffee, the food, and the kilogram I probably gained from eating your food. Thank you for having such nice staff. You guys rock. 

Goodbye gnocchi. Thanks for always making me feel stuffed. 

Goodbye new friends. I love you all and its been a blessing getting to be with all of you while I’ve been here. 

Goodbye landlord’s dog. Thanks for always terrifying me on my way out in the morning. I really appreciate it. 

Goodbye endless churches, museums and priceless works of art. Your beauty awed me. 

Goodbye pizza, spaghetti and tiramisu. See you when I get back in the states. 

Goodbye gelato and cappuccino. Thanks for changing my life and for showing me what ice cream is supposed to taste like. 

Goodbye Frank. Goodbye Pam. Thank you for being such wonderful hosts. I had a blast with both of you and you are both such an example to me and I love you dearly! Thank you for encouraging me in my walk with God and showing me how important it is to share my faith. See you soon! 

Goodbye nutella. This is only temporarily. I’m really excited for our reunion back home. 

Goodbye brioche. I’ll be visiting your cousin Croissant tomorrow. 

Goodbye little cafes, pasticcerias, and markets. Your charm is well, charming, and an important part of life here. You made me happy every day. 

Goodbye Texans. You left last week, but I still miss you. Thanks for accepting Bailey and I into your team family. We love you guys a lot. 

Goodbye English Clubs. I love all you students and its been awesome getting to know you better!

** pause to mop up the flood that has descended on the floor from my personal water works**

Goodbye relaxed schedule. Thanks for showing me how important it is to slow life down and savor every moment.
 
Goodbye Mediterranean weather, little cars, and balmy blue skies. I wish I could ship you to Florida. 

Goodbye Italy. Thanks for an amazing first trip through Europe. I love your language, your food, your people, your culture. This has been so much fun for me to travel here. So Ciao for now Italia,  I’ll be back before you know it! Theres so much more I want to say, but its 11:00, I need to pack, and I need sleep. So that will have to be all for tonight. The Italian chapter in this adventure is finished, but tomorrow begins Europe Part 2: Excursions in Paris and London! Escargot here I come. Yum. 

Italy and Italian culture has taught me many things. I’ve learned a lot a grown in so many ways, so instead of writing paragraphs upon paragraphs on what we’ve been up to, what statue of a dead painter we saw, and how much coffee and gelato I’m inhaling, I’ve decided to make a list of everything that has affected me. So therefore,

List of Valuable, Mindless Tidbits of Information concerning my experience in Italy so far…

1. I like Asparagus. I like the taste. I like the texture. It makes me happy. I’ve really been missing out these past 14 years of my life.

2. You can NEVER have too much gelato. Its just not possible.

3. Sharing the Gospel is exciting, and not as scary as I thought. I love inquiring about people’s beliefs, and this trip has really provided me a great opportunity to present what I believe.

4. Don’t wear shorts. Its some sort of culture thing here, because it is severely frowned upon by the locals if you dare to show your thighs or kneecaps. If you do take this risk, be prepared for chants of ” Down with the heathen! Stone the skank!” or cabbages and tomatoes aimed at your posterior. Not really. I guess my imagination can get a little out of hand at times.

5. Balsamic Vinegar is my new best friend. Love that stuff.

6. If invited to a Italian family’s house for lunch, be prepared to transform into Violet Beauregarde, the girl in Willy Wonka who becomes a incredibly large blueberry. I don’t think I ever eaten that much food in one setting. Gnocchi, stuffed veal, salad, fruit and crepes. Oomph.

7. Italian weddings are adorable.

8. I love sleeping on couches.

9. Italians like Ultimate Frisbee. It felt like Teenpact all over again.

10. There is nothing better on a breezy, Sunday morning then to walk around a quiet town and eat brioches while sipping cappuccinos with friends.

11. Frutti di Bosco Jam is delicious and is good for spreading on anything and everything.

12. Doing laundry is fun.

13. Its really cool to see people worshipping God in all different languages.

Well, photos will be on Facebook soon! The team left this morning, jetting back to the U.S. I’m really going to miss all of them, and I’m grateful for all the wonderful friendships I made! We are watching Smallville, which requires my full and undivided attention. Its about some creepy girl who sabotages the town because she can change into different people at will. Creepy and cool at the same time. Please continue to pray that we can be a good witness for the gospel and that we can touch the lives of these students. Miss you all!

This 4 weeks in Milan have gone by so quickly! I still have around 2 weeks left, but the time seems to just slip away! One day blends into another, and another and another until suddenly, two weeks have disappeared! Here are some photos of what I’ve been up to lately:

English Clubs…

Bellagio: Lake Como

Drinking plenty  of these…

Eating lots of this..

Hanging with some crazy Italians..

Spending time here…

Eating gelato and good food here…

So thats my life lately. We’ve formed some really good relationships with the students, and have been able to see one of them come to Christ! We have had really good turnouts at English Clubs and the students keep coming back! Its been encouraging to get to know these sweet students more and get to share with them about the Gospel. I’m so blessed to be able to come here. So thankful. Please pray that Bailey and I will have strength and will be rested, that we will be effective, and that we can be a shining light to these students. Thanks for your prayers and we miss you all!

What a crazy couple of days it has been! So sorry I haven’t been updating as regularly on here. We leave at 9 in the morning and don’t get back until 11 at night, so I’m usually too exhausted or don’t have the time to write. But this morning, I had an extra hour, so therefore, you get this update!

We picked up the team from Texas on Monday, ate pizza together and got to know each other. They are a wonderful group of young people, and so fun to work with. English Clubs started yesterday. We had an awesome turnout of around 30 kids, which was really encouraging and an answer to prayers. We played games, taught them idioms, and had fun together. The students had a great time and so did we. The students are split up into three groups, beginner, intermediate and advanced. I help the intermediate group  along with some other Texas team members. We went out to dinner tuesday night, which was fun, seeing that we got to interact more personally with a couple of students and get to know them better. I had pizza. It was good.

Yesterday, we gathered at the hotel for morning worship and prayer, and then went to the campus for lunch. It was pretty good. I finished off my meal with nutella flavored gelato. It was heavenly! Nutella was introduced to me on this trip and I just can’t get enough of it! We went out to dinner with some students, where we got to chat and laugh together. Its funny to hear the students speak English, because they pronounce our words so differently. For example, Twitter is pronounced Tweetar and vegetables are pronounced va-jet-ables. We are going on a scavenger hunt today around the campus in lieu of our regular English Club. I’m excited to hang out with the students and form better relationships with them! Oh, guess what?!

I HAVENT HAD A CAPPUCCINO IN 2 DAYS!!! ISN”T THAT AWFUL?!!!

Well, thats it. Ciao!

Sundays are a day of rest. And they are also a perfect opportunity to bake. Pam had a few baking projects to complete before the English Clubs,  so that’s how we have spent our afternoon, making an eclair cake, cocoa butter cookies, triple espresso brownies and oatmeal cookies. Sugar overload much?

We went to church this morning, a small gathering of 6 people, where we studied prayer. After a nice lunch, Bailey and I walked around the town, had gelato and enjoyed the cool weather, a nice change after the high 80’s we’ve had recently. We had a chance to talk together, and I’m so grateful for a sister like her. We returned home, and have spent the whole afternoon in the kitchen, mixing, beating, combining, washing, and most importantly eating!

 So that’s our day. Have a great rest of your weekend!

I’m very original with my post titles. As you can probably tell. Today is Saturday, henceforth the post is titled ” Saturday”. Creativity just seems to flow out of me, doesn’t it?

After a week of tourists, cars, noise, gelato, walking and tourist attractions, and two cities, we have reached our resting place. We said goodbye to Roma and Firenze and are now in Milano with our dear friends the Apisas. Sightseeing may be interesting and fun, but it is so nice to be able to sit around the house and do nothing. You can sleep, you can read, you can just relax. No museums to be at, no endless miles to walk, no searching for WiFi, no eating out every night, no weaving through hundreds of people. Being here makes me thankful for home and for the things I take for granted. We will be here in Milano for around a month, helping the Apisas run Enlgish Clubs for Italian students. So far we have passed out fliers, met the students, had one English Club and toured our last church ( Thank Heavens!) We are getting settled into our new location, an apartment with a lovely, airy kitchen, family room, and a few bedrooms. It’s in a lovely little neighborhood, and right around the corner from a  pastry shop, ( which sells cappuccinos!!!!). Yesterday, we had our first English Club, with about 6 students. I’m so excited to form relationships with these sweet people, show them love, and interact with them.

We had the weekly club at Lino’s a little cafe that has a wide range of food, from gelato, to coffee, to sandwiches to pizza.Only problem was that it was hot yesterday, and Lino’s has no air-conditioning. Pack 11 people into a corner, and its a sweat bath. But a very rewarding sweat bath to say the least!

We watched Salt last night, an Angelina Jolie thriller, which was really good, and we had pancakes this morning. I didn’t realize how much I missed pancakes. It was a lovely treat for all of us!

Nothing on the schedule today, maybe walking down to the market, or reading outside. I’m so grateful for these quiet days of rest, and I’m excited to see what God has for the upcoming weeks!

Who knew Mondays could be anything more then the worst day of the week? What a wonderful Monday this has been. Probably the best Monday ever.

The forecast for today was cloudy and rainy, but we were blessed with warm weather and beautiful blue skies, which was a nice change after yesterday. Thank you Lord! Today has been very busy, but we Sullivans seem to like it that way. Always walking, always doing something, until finally crashing at night just to repeat it the next day. Tiring, but rewarding.

We woke up this morning way to early for my liking, but when in Florence, one has no time to sleep in. After breakfast, we were off in hopes of getting into a 5 hour cooking class we had discovered the previous night. Sadly, the class was full and our hopes were momentarily dashed until the lovely receptionist told us that for the same price, we could take a bike tour, starting at that time, and then take a shorter cooking class in the evening. It was really cool to see how God worked to enable us to not just do the cooking class this morning, but a bike tour and a cooking class, which turned out to be a blast.

Our enthusiastic guide Mario led us around the city in old fashioned bikes with baskets, dodging motorinas, taxis and tourists, all while learning about the architecture of the Renaissance Period and the history of Florence! We even had gelato, a bonus to the already great day. ( Photos are on Facebook! My connection won’t allow me to upload anything:( )

I ran into a few people, gave one lady a heart attack, and almost got hit by a few vehicles. But other then that, it was so fun and an awesome way to learn about the city.

Gnocchi and cappuccinos for lunch in the local side of town across the Arno River. Delightful as usual!

And now… introducing….

Cattle Pen Experience # 2: Climbing the Duomo

A few of my experiences on this trip have really made me reflect on the situation of cattle and how it must feel to be a cow. I pity those bovines. Always shoved, pushed and squished. Climbing the Duomo was a similar experience. Cramped stairways, lots of tourists, 432 steps= chlosterphobia galore! We climbed the Duomo dome today, a fun experience to say the least. The Duomo dome has an outside shell with a staircase behind it, followed by a 2nd inside shell. The stairs are old and numerous, and with the many tour groups, climbing to the top required much stopping, sidestepping and wiggling to pass the large number of people trying to climb up to the top. Some people sounded like they were suffocating, gasping for air, their bodies very much abused by the long, steep climb. But it was worth it. At the very top of the dome, the 4th largest in the world, we were greeted with a panoramic view of Florence, the orange tiled houses stretching onwards towards the mountains, which were dotted with little villas. It was so beautiful. The architecture is incredible and enormous, all the credit to Brunelleschi, the designer of the dome. Did you know it took the Florentines 60 years to come up with a design for the dome? After narrowly escaping chlosterphobia, we emerged from the Duomo, unharmed but much more appreciative of personal space and thankful to be back on solid ground. Those heights sure do make you want to lose your lunch. Thankfully, my legs stopped shaking after a while.

But one of the best parts of the day was by far the cooking class, where we made pizza and gelato, all with fresh ingredients. We kneaded the dough, let it rise, grated the parmesan, crushed the tomatoes, chopped the garlic, made little pizzas, and then cooked them in the express oven at the little kitchen. It was a small, intimate group, with friendly people from all over the place, and great fun. The food was delicious, especially the gelato, which only contained cream, milk, sugar and cocoa and we learned some valuable skills we will take home with us. It was so relaxing and a fun way to end a very fun day in Firenze. What a wonderful Monday it has been!

Busy describes our schedule for the past few days. Very busy. From one tourist attraction to another, we never seem to stop. Since we arrived, we have visited the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Forum, Palantine Hill, the Panthon, Castle Sant Angelo, Pompeii, and now Florence, were we arrived today. A few notes on everything we did and saw:

Colosseum, Forum, Palantine Hill

Colosseum: Wow. Huge. Large. Big. Cool. Hot. Like an Oven. Turned on high. You bake like a cake. Over 80 elevator shafts in floor of Colosseum. 1/3 of original size still standing. Great views of Forum from top. Beautiful at night. Lots and I mean lots of tourists.

Forum: Lot of bricks and broken pillars. Beautiful ruins. Get a guide. Awful audio tour. Thank the Lord for Rick Steves, which without we would have wondered around aimlessly, very frustrated. Hot. You bake even more then the Colosseum. Wear sunscreen next time. Bad sunburn received. Ouch.

Palantine Hill: Those emperors had it good. Walked around ruins of 170,000 square foot house. Rick Steves saved us again. Love that man. Beautiful view of Forum. Favorite part of the day.

Things I LOVED about Rome:

The cappuccinos.

The gelato.

The food.

The ruins and sights.

The cappuccinos.

The fellowship with the Siebens, our hospitable hosts. We had such an amazing time with them, and they were so gracious in opening their home to us. What a wonderful example in hospitality. After our Colosseum experience, Mrs. Sieben took us to a lovely picnic in a park, which was delightful and delicious. The Siebens took us out to dinner one night, where we sampled authentic Roman food, showed us around the city, and I even rode on Mr. Sieben’s motorina through the streets of Rome. I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with them!

The weather.

The cappuccinos and the gelato.

The coffee bars.

The flower shops.

The motorinas and piazzas.

Sitting outside the Pantheon listening to music and watching people mill about. So relaxing.

The cappuccinos. ( slightly obsessed.. ok REALLY obsessed)

The people.

Pompeii:

 

After many train rides, we finally reached Pompeii, where Lilo, our guide, met us. What a great day. The city is beautifully preserved, having been first discovered in the 1700’s. We walked among many ruins of houses, amphitheaters, villas, streets, and squares. The people were so advanced. The frescos and mosaics were beautiful, along with the balmy mediterranean weather. Great day, great fun, great place. Highlight of trip. It was intriguing to learn about and so cool to walk where history was made so many centuries ago.

By the way, sorry for the lack of photos in this post. I haven’t had time to add any to Facebook, and our little hotel in Florence has really slow service, making it impossible to upload photos.

Florence: 

We arrived in Florence today, which is so beautiful. It was overcast and cool, raining for a little bit, but not too bad. We walked around the town, which is considerably smaller than Rome. It’s quiet and picturesque, quaint and charming. The streets are lined with colorful shops and the people are friendly. We toured the Pitti Palace, walked along the Ponte Vecchio, ate gelato, and shopped. One of my favorite parts of the day was the art gallery at the Pitti Palace, which displayed some original works of Rafael. He was an incredible painter, very, very talented. We toured the gardens at the Palace, which were quiet and cool, with birds chirping and fountains bubbling. After a long day of traveling, walking and sightseeing, we headed back to our hotel, which unfortunately is in the middle of the druggie section in Florence. Great. But we are safe so far, and hope to remain alive through the night!;) And if you are wondering, no, Bailey has not dropped off the face of  the earth, but has rather just been very lackadaisical in posting. Well, goodnight from Florence, and hopefully I will be posting more photos tomorrow!