Tuesday, August 31, 2010

just practicing

See the difference? I think this is much better...


Yes, I have a little extra time on my hands at the moment, and I am enjoying this blogging thing, but it comes with some frustrations. For instance, the quality of the photos is completely lost when I upload them onto the blog. When I use Flickr, the photo looks good, but I can only use one at a time (as far as I can tell, anyway). Also, the size of the photos are too small when they are uploaded, so I figured out how to edit the Html to make them larger, but then the quality is sacrificed even more. So, on to something new. Photobucket. This photo is from Photobucket. What do you think?
Whew, I never thought I would write a paragraph that sounded so techie. Just goes to show that you never know where life will take you...

my boys

These boys tell me they love me everyday, and that makes me very, very happy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

making friends

When Tony was in high school, he got in trouble when our friend accidentally left his list of things the boys needed for their camping trip on Tony's mom's dining table. When Tony's mom found the list, it said something along the lines of, "Fire, beer, and sharp things."

Except for the sharp things, this is a list that can bring people from all over the world together to bond and share stories. I can't think of many better ways to make friends than pitching some tents in the mountains and circling around a fire to eat, drink, and be merry.

And even though I absolutely loved the hiking, swimming, paddle boating, and cooking we did this past weekend, my favorite parts of the trip were the friends we made.

One night, we even introduced the Italians camping next to us to s'mores and Bud Light while enjoying the flames from their gigantic fire. Unfortunately, they have the evidence on their cameras, because I was too caught up in the fun to remember to use mine...

I especially want to mention Tara

and Angela

who befriended Graham (only kid on the trip). They played cars with him and taught him the appropriate way to kick a soccer ball. Thanks ya'll Graham is still talking about you this morning, and wondering when he can play with you again.

And, well, okay, I should probably mention Mike, too, since he was the one who instigated the fun with the neighboring campers and showed them how to drink wine from a Bud Light can.

...but I guess we'll talk to him later. He's probably still sleeping...

Friday, August 27, 2010

gone camping

Going Camping this weekend! See you on Monday!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

not yet

Disappointment. That was what the meeting with the job-hunt-helper lady brought me today. She again confirmed the fact that it is just not possible for me to counsel people here in Naples. Ugh. It was so frustrating to walk by the officers of the counselors and read about the services they offer and know that I am capable of doing the same work they are doing, but be unable to do it due to the lack of open positions and my lack of a license. If you are wondering why I do not have a license, yet, it is because it takes close to 2 years to complete enough "direct service hours" post-graduation. I worked for one year, then moved to another country, which didn't allow me enough time to complete these hours. I've passed the tests and completed the education, so it is so frustrating to still be in a position where I cannot do the work I want to do. I suppose it is just not my time, yet, to further my career. Not yet. It will come, though. I know it will. For now, perhaps it is time for me to just let go, sit back, and enjoy what life has in store for me and my family.
Recent quote I read and enjoyed:
"Pick the day. Enjoy it - to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come... The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present - and I don't want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future."
-Audrey Hepburn- hahaha! Love it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

reality is striking

P1030675, originally uploaded by akblaine.

When I'm explaining to my son what a well is and how it works while standing amidst temples built for goddesses, I have to pinch myself a thousand times and ask myself, "Is this real?"
So many of my dreams are coming true by being allowed this opportunity to live in Italy, but even here in my dream-come-true, reality is managing to strike. Each day, the reality that I will not be able to pursue my counseling career becomes sharper and sharper. Yesterday, I received an email from a friendly woman in the Fleet and Family Support office telling me that there are no counseling positions available, and even if there were, I couldn't get one, because I am not fully licensed, yet. I knew what I was getting myself into when we decided to move to Italy, but I was not willing to accept it as fact that I would not be able to work in the field of my dreams. I knew that I might have to put it on hold and either be a stay-at-home mom, which is not my strong suit, or do some other job just to pass the time. I held out hope, though, lots of hope, that I would be able to counsel in some capacity. In fact, I'm still holding onto hope. I am going to meet with aforementioned friendly woman tomorrow morning to see what other jobs are available and how I go about getting them. I figure it can't hurt to get some positive vibes sent this way, which is where you come in. Please focus a little positive energy this way so that no matter what my reality turns out to be during our time here, I can embrace it and do the best I can with it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

spontaneous trim

I use polls and friends and opinions to help me make a long a painful decision, and then I spontaneously sprout the courage on a Sunday afternoon to turn into the beauty shop and ask them to trim my 3 year old's never-been-cut hair. The people at the beauty shop don't give me much time to change my mind. They look at Tony and I and say, "Just a trim. You do not want to cut it too short. He looks good with long hair." Okay, decision made. So, Graham climbs on Tony's lap and the beautician begins to brush.

"Just a trim, right? How much," asks the beautician? "Mmmm, about this much," responds Tony. "Okay, you don't want it to be too short. It is too beautiful." "Okay."

"Just this much, right?" "Right." "Okay?" "Okay."

"Mom, my hair is falling on the floor!"

After getting it juuust the right length, the beautician decides to do some magic with mousse. Graham has never before seen this much hair product, let alone have it in his own hair!

Then, just to make sure all the hairs stay in place, he uses some spray. Lots of spray. Tony almost drowns in the spray.

Tada! "Look at my hair, mom!"

We proceed to walk into the grocery store where Graham makes sure to inform everyone he bumped into that he "just got his hair trimmed."

***Hahahaha! I can't stop giggling when I look at how much mousse and spray is in my little boy's hair. It reminds me of my cousin, Geno. Haha. Love ya Geno!
We're not completely sure we love the new do. What do you think?****

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I've been corrected

by "west," I mean "eastish" mostly just south.

Paestum Ruins

Paestum Ruins, originally uploaded by akblaine.

Yesterday, we drove west and then south into the town of Paestum, formerly Poseidonia, home of some of the most breathtaking ancient Greek ruins in the world. First, we went to the beach, (of course) and had a picnic and built sand castles and bathed in the sun. Then, we walked through the museum and looked at things we've all seen in text-books our whole lives, and then walked around the ruins. It turns out that a field of ruins is a perfect playground for a kid (and a dad!) Graham (and Tony) had a blast climbing on the rocks and running on the little trails.
We discovered how to use the timer on our camera and got this shot with the Temple of Hera in the background. Rumor has it that couples sneak in at night and attempt to get pregnant, because Hera is the goddess of fertility. Some say she is also the goddess of childbirth.
I have more pictures and things to share. I am currently trying to figure out how to make this blog look a bit better. I'm new at this, so it might take me awhile...

Friday, August 20, 2010

bellissimo angelo

bellissimo angelo, originally uploaded by akblaine.

I appreciate people helping us decide on what to do with Graham's hair, because we just can't get up the nerve to cut it. Everywhere we go, Italian people swarm around him and say, "Bellissimo Angelo!!!" Translate: "Beautiful Angel." Then, they go on about his curls and hold his hair in their hands and kiss his cheeks. I also love to hold his hair in my hands and kiss his cheeks, but I do not like to comb his hair twice a day everyday. My dear friend, Lauren, pointed out to me on Skype yesterday, "Katherine, you only ever comb your own hair like once a month! Graham's hair is so high maintenance! You hate high maintenance!"
These two sides of the scale make it hard for Tony and I to decide what to do. I know, I know, hair grows back. It's not the end of the world. I know. I KNOW! Sometimes I just feel like Graham's hair symbolizes the character of Graham, and I don't want to ruin it. Am I making this to big a deal?
The majority of votes so far say to give him a little trim. I think that's what we'll do, since that was my vote, too.
Thanks, everyone, for voting. And keep the votes coming, because Lord knows that even though we've made a decision, we have to do some procrastinating now, so we're not going to be hopping over to a barber anytime very soon.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

we made it!

hiking with Mom, originally uploaded by akblaine.

After a long, steep climb and lots of grunting and veery little complaining for a 3 year old, Graham exclaimed, "We made it," as we hit the summit of our little mother/son hike yesterday. Bring on Mt. Vesuvius!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I ate a steak, and I liked it

Prior to our Tuscan journey, Tony was doing some research and said in a very excited way, "Hey Katherine! Do you want to eat here?" My former vegetarian self and current meat disliking self looked into the eyes of my adorably excited husband, decided not to squash his enthusiasm, swallowed hard and said with as much gumption as possible, "Sure, honey, that looks great!" As we drove, I couldn't contain my nervousness about going to a meat factory for lunch. I kept thinking, surely they would keep the meat in the back where others can't see it, and surely surely surely, I could find something else on the menu to eat. I would be fine. I could handle this.
We walked in the tiny restaurant, and this is all I could see.

Horror music went through my head as I considered a way to escape. I headed straight to the toilet to gather my thoughts and heard a very loud stomping sound from above. I ascended the stairs to find the owner/chef/butcher chop, chop, chopping away at the meat! "Just go sit at your table and look out the window," I told myself.

I ended up ordering some delicious cheese and gnocci and pasta and was thoroughly enjoying my meal when the owner/chef/butcher approached and whispered in my ear, "Would you like a small filet' for the little guy?" Before I could answer, Tony exclaimed, "Sure! Why not?" I was expecting him to bring a small piece of proscuitto or salami, but this is what he brought.

My drunk-on-wine brain heard Dr. Sues saying, "You do not like it? So you say. Try it. Try it and you may, I say!" Without thinking twice, I grabbed a fork, stuck it in a bite of meat, put it in my mouth and heard the sound of trumpets. A miracle! I took another bite. And another. Graham asked for a bite, and I begrudgingly allowed it, but just one bite. The rest was mine. I liked it. I reeaaally liked it!
So, thank you Osteria Acquacheta, for helping me overcome my fear of meat and showing me that trying new things is going to be enriching as we continue our trek through Europe.

Monday, August 16, 2010

our first Tuscan experience: a recap


We set out on a quiet Friday morning to make our late lunch reservation with this guy, whom I have a lot to say about later. For now, let's just say the guy can cook!

We ate pears and cheese, gnocci, pici with 4 cheese sauce, bruscheta, saltimbocca, steak, molten chocolate cake, and wine, wine, wine. We were stuffed beyond any point of stuffedness I'd ever felt before.

We made our way to our hotel for the evening and were greeted at this door by Victoria who was more than happy to see us. She rambled on in Italian and we rambled on in English and had a great, smiling conversation that nobody understood.

We were unable to move for awhile due to the amount of food in our stomachs, so we rested here for awhile and then went wandering through the town where we stumbled upon many places to taste wine. One place even had some entertainment for Graham. So, while we were doing this,

Graham was doing this.

Afterward, Graham pointed out some stairs leading to a rooftop where we could watch the sunset. We continued walking and window-shopping and danced to the music from the Festival of St. Francis that was taking place in the center of town. This joyous evening was followed by a delightful breakfast with Victoria and her husband, Roberto. Roberto exclaimed again and again how beautiful our son is and then gave us directions to Siena, where he was from and had many, many recommendations for places to eat.

Before we got to Siena, though, we stopped at St. Atimo's Abbey to pray with the Benedictines.

Feeling blessed and inspired, we headed to Siena!

More to come...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

going on a trip.

Getting excited about going here,

to Siena, "the heart of Tuscany," for the weekend to witness this,

Siena's Palio and Horse Race Festival. Pray we make it back with all our limbs and our sanity intact.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Warning, this is long...
Tony likes to shop. I do not. He likes to look at every possible option and examine it inside and out before deciding to purchase it. I, on the other hand, only buy things if I don't think they are too expensive, which is rare.
Although we approach shopping differently, we do have something in common when it comes to buying things. We don't want to waste our money.
This is all good to know before I plunge into our decision-making process regarding finding a place to live in Naples. Something else that needs saying is how the military housing situation works over here. Basically, they make living on the support-site mandatory. Unless they determine that they don't have room for you on the site, so they give you a letter to live where you wish. Sometimes how they determine whether or not they have room is a bit unclear. Then, you get a living stipend depending upon your rank. Normally, you are allotted a certain amount and you can do with it what you please. For example, say you are given $1000 a month to cover rent, but you find a place for $500, so you get to pocket the other $500. Sweet deal, huh? Tony and I thought we'd just find us a cheap little apartment and save the rest of the money for traveling. However, here in Naples, it doesn't work like that. Instead, they simply cover your rent up to a certain amount. So, you are allowed $1000, but if you find a place for $500, then you only get $500. Still with me? Okay, this is important, because remember how I said I only buy things when I deem them to be inexpensive? Well, that gets thrown out the window here, because why live in a place for $500 when you could live in a more comfortable $1000 place? Right? So now how am I supposed to decide?
That brings us to the options. So many wonderful options for Tony to revel in. So, here's how our house-hunting experience went down. First place we saw was a cozy, secure, large, brand new everything apartment in a "parco" with many other NATO and military workers and no Italian neighbors. Our jaws were to the floor as we discovered the type of place we could afford to live in, but we were disappointed that it felt like America rather than Italy. On to the second place, which was also in a "parco" with Italian neighbors as well as some NATO and military people, and it was HUGE. Four bathrooms, a basement, and a garage. Loved it and pretty much thought it was perfect, except for the small kitchen, the steep stairs, the weird-shaped living room, and the location being a bit further from Tony's job. Okay, so we keep looking and go to a place on a hill with an incredible view, the house was not impressive compared to the first two, and there was a very steep driveway and a railing that Graham could easily fall off and tumble into the depths of some scratchy bushes never to be seen again. We press on and visit an apartment in the city that would be perfect if we did not have a kid, but we do, so we keep looking. But we wait a few days and mull over the places we'd seen and why they would be great and why they wouldn't be so great, etc. On our next tour, we start at a GIGANTIC house that is all brand new and gorgeous in the middle of some fields with a view and a happy American family (from Texas, boo) next door. We love it, but we realize we would never be able to furnish it and we don't want to live next to someone from Texas because we don't want to have to hurt them during football season. The next place is another huge house with a shared swimming pool and access to the rooftop. Okay, so this one we love and think is the one until we go to the next one which our realtor insists we see. It is up a bit of a bumpy road, but it is incredible. It is the one pictured previously on the blog. It seems to be a more manageable size and it has a nice, open kitchen space, which seems to be rare here. It also has a nice, big yard with plenty of room to garden. We love it. Tony especially loves it. We think we've made our decision, but then we start re-thinking everything again and wonder if the road will be too difficult and if it is in a safe enough area. So after a couple of days of thinking about it, we take a drive and explore the area around it and decide that we still like it. So, Tony goes to the housing office to put a "hold" on it, but then he starts looking on their data page at all the other houses they have to offer and he gets curious. He finds some addresses, and we go out in search of them on our own. We discover that we like the area where two of them are, so we schedule yet another house-hunting tour. The first one was a little disappointing, but at least it got us closer to our decision. Then, we went to the second one and fell in love. It had a lot of beautiful yard and a little pool and a sauna and the landlords were willing to leave a lot of the furniture. But, it was quite small. Not small enough to make us stop considering it, though. So, we bantered and discussed and thought and analyzed every angel of each of the places we'd seen and came up stuck. We went to bed.
This morning, Tony looked at me and said, "Which one is your favorite? 3 seconds to answer!" My mind stumbled and fumbled and the only thing that came out of my mouth was, "Um, I took more than 3 seconds already. I don't know. It's your turn. Which one is your favorite?" And he said, "The one with the nice view." (Which is the one previously pictured on the blog). So I said, "Okay, let's do it." And he said, "Okay, I'm going to the housing office right now to put a contract hold on it." So that is what he did! We did it!
Now, we wait. We wait until September because everyone in Italy is on vacation, so nothing can get done until September. And we celebrate. We celebrate because we're always looking for a reason to celebrate and making a decision is certainly reason enough for us!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

we made a decision!

We purchased a water filter/pitcher!!!
Where to live?? We still need time to think.

dream home

dream home., originally uploaded by akblaine.

Tony and I can be indecisive. Okay, so we have a hard time deciding anything. We spent about 20 minutes in the store yesterday trying to decide whether to get a water filter or which one to get. We ended up walking out of the store with no water filter and saying that we need to think about it.
We are going on another house-hunting tour today, and we absolutely need to decide where we are going to live. They won't keep paying for us to stay in this hotel on the base. So, please wish us luck, because unless we stumble upon something like this, a perfect dream home for Tony and Katherine (which I found while hiking in the Southern Downs near Brighton, England whilst visiting Lauren), then we will be suffering headaches tonight trying to decide where to live!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sunday in Napoli

Unfortunately, I'm not a good photographer, so many of the pictures from Sunday are blurry and weird due to my experimentation with the camera.
Here are some, though, that highlight the city of Napoli.

This is where people live

I imagine many of the people here go to the malls and giant supermarkets that sit on the outskirts of the city, but I also like to believe that some of them shop at their local fruit, fish, wine, and cheese markets.

Part of my ideal picture of Italy includes Catholicism. So far, Naples has not failed my ideal. We spent some time in the Duomo, which was magnificent, but these little tributes in between different apartment buildings were equally powerful in exemplifying the passion for Catholicism I like to think people have here.

We will likely spend many Sunday mornings roaming the streets of this city. Next time, though, I'm pretty sure we will take a bus or a train, because we proved that driving and parking are doable, but not the least bit enjoyable.

more pictures from our perfect Saturday

The gardens at the palazzo were like nothing I'd ever seen before. From the palace, you could see a waterfall a mile away in the distance. Walking a mile in the sun with Graham is no small feat, so we were excited to be greeted by a misty breeze and some ice cream at the top.

And here is the view from Caserta Vecchia... pictures really don't do it justice...