The flight – aside from Oldest NOT sleeping – is uneventful. We pop through customs in a flash and roll out – with all luggage in our hands – to meet our taxi. I’ve traveled for business many a time, but I’ve never been met at the airport by a tiny placard bearing my name. I’ve always thought that was so cool, and indeed it was.

Our taxi driver speaks decent English in a way I will come to know quite well over the next few weeks. You can hear the translator wheels turning as he speaks with his adorable Italian accent. I’ve been learning Italian on the side for months now, but I’m too shy and tired to give it a try.

We are delivered to the hotel and they allow us to check in a bit early and take breakfast in the dining room. I couldn’t ask for better because they have eggs in addition to about a million other tasty things I wouldn’t expect. After a shower I attempt to rouse everyone to head out for the Roman Forum and Colosseum. Houston, we have a problem. Danielle has become the walking dead.

I’m of the school that jet lag is to be met head on. You adopt the time zone rhythms as soon as you arrive substituting your old ones immediately. This is great in theory except for the zombie part. I put Oldest down for a short nap. She whimpers in protest when I wake her, but it’s for her own good, RIGHT?

We head out to see the sights dragging a zombie along for the ride. Here is where the resurrection part arrives. In addition to the stresses of the day before, I’ve been in near constant contact with Marc who has contracted the Martian Death Flu and really shouldn’t travel. Thanks to sheer force of will and a pharmaceutical bill the size of the GNP of a medium sized developed country Marc has resurrected from the dead. His head did not explode when the cabin pressurized and he’s actually looking sort of spry. This is an illusion fueled by the most excellent and plentiful cappuccino taken at breakfast.

Pressing on slowly we sign up for a tour of the Colosseum that is recruited when we arrive looking wilted and clueless. There are several young people who act as scavengers for the main act – a seriously funny Italian man who proceeds to make us laugh for an hour about the goings on at the Colosseum before it became a historic site. The stories are brutal and resemble current day American life in ways that make me uncomfortable to contemplate.

I am – in fact – the only one of the four of us who remembers anything about the tour or the day. The rest of the group insists that they saw nothing and went nowhere because they were sleeping.

The next day – and this is where the dog poop comes in – we head out after breakfast for an 11:00 am tour of the Vatican with Sophie our Irish tour guide. We make our way along narrow streets that seem to be filled with dog poop and itty, bitty little cars. There isn’t much room for people on these streets. There is plenty of dog poop that has had a passing acquaintance with a shoe. This is not the easiest way to begin a day and we are thrilled to arrive at the Vatican in time, without additional show decoration. The tour is very informative. The kids magically (no, it’s really the magic cappuccinos) now on the new time zone are enjoying themselves. We do a little retail therapy for them. Each of them come away with jacket what has that European flair. Neither of them takes the jacket off again except to shower.

They fall head over heels in love with Italy. My master plan is working…..