My husband, Eddie, our kids Emily and Thomas, and my parents went to Italy for the month of September 2005. We stayed in an apartment close to the beach near Cassino while we were there. The kids and Eddie had never been to Italy, and they really enjoyed it. We got to see a little of Rome, and also took a trip to Naples to see Herculaneum--the other town that got buried by Mt Vesuvius. We had a pastry shop around the corner from our apartment, and it also had a coffee bar--espressos can be addicting! The beach was just a 3 block walk, and we went as often as we could. The mid-day siesta was a bit hard to get used to, because almost all the stores closed for about 3 hours, reopening around 4pm. Luckily, we had a laptop and some DVD's to keep the kids occupied while we rested. :) We hope to go back again in a couple of years.
My latest vacation, in early June, was just with my mother--a week-long cruise from Philly to Bermuda! We had a great time--it was so relaxing not to have anyone to worry about buy myself. Like being back in college! We stopped in three ports in Bermuda--St Georges, Hamilton and King's Wharf. Our ship, the Norwegian Crown, got stuck on a coral reef trying to go through the narrow passage to Hamilton, early in the morning! They couldn't get it pulled off the reef until high tide, around 6pm. Luckily there was minimal damage to the hull--paint scratched and a couple dents. But the reef likely has a lot of permanent damage to it. Aside from that, the trip was just wonderful, and the seas were calm, so we lucked out.
I worked for Sperry Marine for a few years after college, but then when I had my daughter, Emily, in November 1996, I quit work to stay home full-time. I had Thomas in October 1999, and have been quite busy keeping up with both of them! We decided to try homeschooling the children so we could have more freedom for vacations, to keep the family close, to allow them to have all the time in the world to grow up in their own way, and explore life. Emily is a 4th grader, and Thomas is in 1st grade. They love being homeschooled because they can see their friends anytime and they aren't stuck sitting in a classroom all day. Right now Emily is taking Russian lessons, and both kids are learning Italian from my mother, along with some of their friends. Thomas took a woodworking summer camp for a week in July, and Emily attended the SPCA summer camp.
I dedicate some of my free time to my statewide homeschool organization, The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers. I am in my fourth year as a director of the board, and serve as treasurer. We had a conference in Richmond in August 2006. You can see what we do at our website.
I also started a local homeschool network, the Albemarle County Homeschoolers Network (AlbemarleHomeschoolers), back in 2003. We have over 320 members and there's always something fun happening! I can't imagine what our homeschooling would be like without all the friends we've made through this group.
An extension of my homeschooling is serving as the leader for a 4-H group (Albemarle Cloverbuds) for the past 5 years. We originally had just 2 homeschoolers and about 15 kids from public and private schools. After the first year, though, the numbers reversed themselves, and now we are comprised solely of homeschoolers! Our group's kids range in age from 5 to 12 yrs old. This year we're planning on participating in the county fair.
When I was in high school [in NY], my brother and I studied taekwondo at Chung Ma's Black Belt Academy, but when we moved to Virginia, we didn't find a new school. Finally, 3 years ago I found a school in Charlottesville that teaches taekwondo and hapkido, and I just love it. Emily started soon after I did, and Thomas started 2 years ago. Eddie started with Thomas, but had to stop after a year because of some wrist and back pain he was having. When we left NY, I had just received my 1st degree black belt. When I started at my new school, 7 Tigers Taekwondo and Hapkido, my instructor had me retain my old rank. Then 2 years ago, I tested for and received my 2nd degree black belt in taekwondo. I attend classes 3-4 times a week, and help teach some of the classes. I also started training with weapons. At this point, I've studied knife, sword, escrima sticks, and now the bo staff. Both Emily and Thomas are studying sword, and Emily also studies knife. Emily is a brown belt and Thomas is a high-green belt.