Firenze Food

I’m not ashamed to say that our first stop on the way to the Supermercato when we arrived in Florence was the gelato shop. Mike and Thomas shared pitaschio and I shared…well, Emmaline had mint chocolate. The older Littles were at the flat reviving from jet lag. Thomas asked if his pitastchio was “mashed up broccoli”.

In the Supermercato there are plastic gloves and produce bags near the scales in the fruit/veg section that you use to pick and bag your produce. When you place your produce on the scale and put in the associated number listed with each produce product, a printed price tag populates (major sentence points for alliteration). This has become a favorite activity for Ella Sophia. In an open-air market, there are not gloves because you are not permitted to touch the produce. The produce merchant does all the handling.

The Mercato Centrale is a couple of minutes away from our flat and has become a favorite place. The closest thing I can compare it with in the states is in L.A, Grove Farmers Market on W 3rd. Think uber fresh food stands combined with small booths that serve food. This outdoor market’s structure is cast-iron dating back to the late 1800’s. It caters to local restaurants and residents. On the ground level there are dozens and dozens of stalls selling produce, meats, fresh pasta/risotto, cheeses, truffles, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, wine and chocolates. On the second level there are food booths catering to foodies.

It is a delight to go to the food booths in the evening (open everyday 10am until midnight) and eat your fresh porcini mushroom ravioli with cream sauce surrounded by an orchestra of international languages. This is a destination for locals and tourists alike. On our Friday date, Mike and I shared our bistro table with a French couple. We also shared a penchant for the Utah Jazz and the opinion that it hasn’t been the same since Stockton and Malone (saying that, I must say that the Jazz Bear antics have greatly improved). Our new French friends convinced us that we cannot miss Nice.


Come on. How’s a girl supposed to do her hair with one arm?

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat worry and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”  Maya Angelou


Kinder Eggs are like gold at our house so when we landed in London, the kids beelined to the local shop and stocked up. Sankt Niklaus (German Santa) has been putting them in our children’s shoes annually on December 5th since our oldest can remember. When the U.S. banned their import five or so years ago, (because of the small, choking hazard pieces) Sankt Niklaus helpers had to get creative and turn to Mexico and Canada which still imported them. 

IMG_0387IMG_0391We flew Norwegian from LAX to Gatwick nonstop and loved our experience. Great price, clean and sleek new fleet of planes, good service (you have to pay for food and drink but still a competitive price overall) and great in-seat programming—music as well as children movies. I was delighted to find that they featured my newest favorite music find, Swedish band First Aid Kit and various classical music options that lulled me to sleep (okay, the hydrocodone for my ripped AC helped a bit too).

I’ve been so moved by the kindness of people around us. The immigration officer at Gatwick moved us up to the front of the line and invited Emmaline and I to sit in a gated off area while we waited. Another airport employee retrieved another trolley for our luggage after he saw our towering, puzzled stack of suitcases—it truly was Mike’s masterpiece!

Another example of kindness was yesterday when an Italian woman offered her seat to Emmaline when there were no seats left and her short little legs were tired. I tried to refuse but she adamantly insisted. Another Italian women chased down a bus on our behalf when I asked for directions for a bus route.

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure—self-determined, self-motivated, then risky—forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black and white.”  Mark Jenkins


What is wrong with this picture? Isn’t the pregnant women’s belly the wrong direction? Come on, get it right! It’s hard enough to be pregnant. Or maybe mother is reaching back for the child? Or maybe she has ‘all the right junk in all the right places’ but should that deserve priority seating?

The Dunford House of Plagues
















The following information is shared not to complain but in an attempt to quantify and record the unprecedented plagues that affected the Dunford house beginning December 21, 2014 through the latter part of January 2015. After the flu passed and the lice hit, we had to laugh or we might have cried. So grateful to bid those four weeks and our lice friends good bye and good riddance.

Lice: 4 out of 6 heads infested (names withheld for obvious reasons)

Influenza: 2 of 6 persons

Flu: 4 of 6 persons

Sinus Infection: 3 of 6 persons

Flu strikes again: 2 of 6 persons

Inner Ear Infection: 1 of 6 persons

Acromioclavicular Sprain (ligaments connecting collar bone to shoulder torn) while attempting a ski jump at Alta. 4-6 weeks in a sling with months of PT hoping to avoid surgery: 1 of 6 persons

Hoping you are not familiar with the lice and nit comb featured in the above picture which is now all too familiar in the Dunford house. A special thank you to Annette and Douglas Dunford who did not throw us out of their home where we were staying when the aforementioned plagues occurred.

Easter Fuzzies

Lizzy couldn’t help herself. On the evening before Easter we found ourselves at the farm store looking into containers that held tiny yellow balls of fluffy chicks. We knew the kids would love them. At the close of our traditional Saturday egg hunt, we quietly brought out a plastic tub holding the chicks. Ella’s face tells the rest of the story. They all held the chicks with careful awe and adoration. So soft. So fluffy. We loved watching them pop around on the ground and eat out of our hands. We are delighted to welcome them into our family and watch them grow. After four to five months fresh eggs will reward our nurturing.Easter 2014 037 Easter 2014 036 Easter 2014 035 Easter 2014 034 Easter 2014 033 Easter 2014 032


_MG_0885_MG_0892_MG_0918Our cottage was a short walk from the lobster fishing pier. On our first morning, Mike walked down to investigate the fishing activities. He was delighted to find the lobster fishermen unloading their morning catch onto the floating dock. The dock was about 15 feet below the level of the pier at low tide. Mike stood on the pier and looked down to watch their work. The fishermen bantered back and forth about their day on the water as they carefully lifted squirming lobsters from their boat to the baskets on the wooden dock. One older fisherman feigned straining grunts as he lifted a load off his boat. They joked about how “heavy” their baskets were when in fact, the fishing had not been so great that day.

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We brought the children down later to purchase our own lobsters for cooking. The man in charge on the pier explained that the lobsters we would buy are the “soft shells”. These are lobsters that have recently shed their old shells are were growing into new, larger shells. He explained that there is not as much meat, but what’s there is sweeter. He told us the soft shells are the locals’ favorite. Mike felt intimidated by the thought of preparing the lobster on his own. He’d never done it before. We got directions from the lobster man at the pier and it didn’t sound too difficult.



The cooking was easy, but figuring out how to pull the meat out of the shell was both unknown territory and slightly tough on the stomach. If you don’t break things in the right place, you find parts of the lobster not meant to be consumed and preferably not viewed either. We’re usually separated from the initial preparation of the animals we eat. We found that the romantic notion of buying lobsters right from the fishermen and cooking it at home was better left as a notion. We discovered we would rather sit in a restaurant and have our lobster served in neat little portions and leave the cooking and pulling apart to the cooks. Still, the whole process was educational and part of what we hoped to experience during our stay in Maine.

Acadia National Park

Watching Thomas run the majority of the last mile of our three mile walk around Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park was a highlight of our visit. Miracles and modern day medicine are responsible for his little body performing beyond our comprehension. I almost forget our early and arduous medical journey but have kept all of his medical records and notes in case I ever need a reminder to be grateful.
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Downeast Cottage


IMG_2116IMG_2123IMG_2138 IMG_2191IMG_2132 IMG_2150We stayed in Downeast (South Addison) and loved this quiet lobster village. Kayaking and exploring shores and islands was magical. We saw a plethora of wildlife and fireflies were especially magical. I had to pinch myself when the neighbor of our rented ocean cottage asked if we wanted to hold his baby lambs!

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Ella Sophia turns 8

Ella Sophia turns eight and is baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As she prepared for baptism, we reflected upon her many gifts from our Heavenly Father. One of her gifts is a great love and empathy for people. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma speaks to a group of people wanting to be baptized and gives very clear directions what is expected of a follower of Jesus Christ:  be ” willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light…willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort (Mosiah 18:8-9).” As early as she could communicate, Ella Sophia has displayed these virtues.

Another one of her gifts is her ability to assimilate her environment and aptly apply it to her thoughts and feelings. We moved from Newbury Park, CA after living very near our Jaggi cousins. It was a story-book experience. Our children saw their cousins almost daily at school, church or extra-cirricular activities. Needless to say, it was difficult to leave. After saying good bye to her California cousins, Ella Sophia burst through the front door and collapsed into my arms sobbing. After a couple of minutes she stopped. Enlightened, she remarked: “Now I know how Oma felt when Opa died.”

Ella Sophia, this great sensitivity that Heavenly Father has blessed you with will only increase with the companionship of the Holy Ghost that you received after you were baptized. I know that the next time you read the beautiful counsel of Alma, your natural desire to comfort and lift those around you will only be enlarged.

_MG_0595 (1)_MG_0730_MG_0697_MG_0632June 2013

SLC Temple

Stewart turns 12

IMG_2385Stewart turned twelve and received the Aaronic Priesthood. This enables him to serve others in the church every Sunday. He passes the sacrament to the congregation with other priesthood holders. Taking the sacrament and recommitting our will with the Lord’s will is the most important part of our church experience each Sunday. It is beautiful to see Stewart grow and find satisfaction in serving people. As he continues to serve others throughout the week, he will bless the lives of many and find continued happiness.

On the day Stewart was ordained, he chose to wear the former tie of his Sunday School teacher who had passed away a few months earlier. It was a moving tribute to witness.

Turning twelve also means Stewart is able to go into the temple and do baptisms for those that didn’t have an opportunity to get baptized while they lived on earth. His favorite temple is the SLC temple so we set up an appointment and invited his Utah cousins, aunts and uncles to join us. While waiting to begin, we heard the voices of the Prophet and 12 apostles walking down a neighboring hallway on their way to their weekly Thursday meeting. We also were greeted by the Temple President and Matron, President and Sister Alldredge who were former neighbors of Lizzy.

Afterwards we celebrated with Belgian waffles at Brugges. We highly recommend the Torpedo waffle stuffed with dark Belgian chocolate.

Stewart is wise and deeply spiritual. He has the ability to relate with and entertain children years younger than he is while also engaging in deep, meaningful conversation with adults on a variety of topics. We sometimes forget that he just turned 12 and not 22. We love you Stewart and love your companionship!

SLC Temple

SLC Temple