Wednesday, September 29, 2010

strange day

Não jogue lixo no mar, originally uploaded by El Onofre.

Have you ever been on a retreat? Or even a vacation? And when you returned, did you realize that the rest of the world continued to turn and function while you were lost in some other world, but not the same world as everyone else? And did it take you awhile to get your head on straight and remember what day it is?

After months of being on permanent vacation and having no real appointments or deadlines, I finally managed to put some clothes on and arrange to go to my dental appointment that I scheduled about a month ago. We had to make sure Tony had a ride to work this morning so I could have the car, and I had to be sure to leave our bungalow on time to fight the traffic and get there 30 minutes early.

I knew the day was not off to a good start when I awoke to the sound of fireworks (remind me to tell you about Naples and fireworks) about an hour later than I intended on waking. Luckily I managed to make it to the appointment in the nick of time only to find that today is indeed the 29th and not the 30th, which is when my appointment is scheduled for.

The rest of my errands went about as well as the dental appointment, so I headed to Subway (weird) for a sandwich, since I was on the base and they have Subway there, and ended up getting some Doritos (yes, you heard me right) and a, a, a, a, a, well, a, a, a Diet Coke--or, Coca Cola Light, which is what they call it here--? (What?)

Right then and there I decided to cancel my dental appointment that is scheduled for tomorrow (not today) and return to our bungalow and never leave my permanent vacation ever again.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

drum roll please


We signed our final contract for our house yesterday!


Our scheduled move in day is set for


Monday, October 4th!!


Monday, September 27, 2010

a fun idea

Pear, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad, originally uploaded by Rayka..

Last night, we crashed/joined a cooking club event. Some people put it together over here and it has been carried on for years. Someone hosts and chooses the food theme and then everyone brings something delicious to share. Last night, the theme was cheese, so I made a pear, arugula, and cheese salad. Some other dishes included a quiche, cheese fondue, and, of course, cheese cake!


I thought it was a great idea and something you might like to start in your neck of the woods. It's a neat way to get creative and meet people.

Oh, and the above photo is NOT the salad I made. We're still waiting for a new camera battery charger to show up...

Until then, I'll just have to keep using other people's photos.

Ciao, ciao!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

one step closer

Yesterday, we had to move out of our hotel/apartment on the base and move into this bungalow, which is located closer to our future home here in Italy. See, the Navy allows you up to 60 days to find and move into a home when you move here to the Naples area. That should be plenty of time. Unless, you find your home in August when the housing office (which is run by civilians, not the Navy) takes holiday in August and has no appointments available. Then, since they had no appointments in August, they get a little backed up in September, so it takes even longer to get things started. That is what happened to us, and we ended up exceeding the 60 day limit allowed and payed for by the Navy. Fortunately, we were able to apply for a 10 day extension and got it. Those 10 days ended yesterday, though, which means we had to enter into a "short-term lease," so we decided to stay at this nice place payed for by the housing office.

Sorry, I know that was painfully boring for some of you to read, but I also know that some of you might be curious as to why it is taking so long for us to move into our house. The good news is that we get to sign our final contract on Monday, and if all goes well, we will be moving into our house by next weekend or at least next Monday!

In the mean time, we get to feel one step closer to actually living in Italy. This place is run by a nice, big Italian family and it has many great features like a gym, restaurant, disco, coffee bar, and swimming pools. Best of all, though, is that it is in our new neighborhood, so we can check things out around here.

I would take my own pictures, but it seems we left our camera battery charger in Rome, so I am without a camera at the moment. These pictures are from the hotel's website.

If you don't hear from me in a day or two, you can come find me in this natural thermal pool sipping on something delicious.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

just yesterday

It seems like just yesterday Graham was enjoying his first gelato at an art fair in Norman, Oklahoma.

Now, he is a gelato eating gladiator champ.

Go get yourself a treat!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

on this rock

I am a Catholic.

I think.

I used to be confident in being Catholic, but my confidence wavers when I am faced with what many people associate with this religion. After graduating college, stepping into the "real world," and having my happy, Jesuit bubble burst, I quickly realized that, like the rest of the nation, American Catholics are somewhat divided. On one side, you have the more conservative Catholics who focus more on the rules, fight hard to stop abortion, and are completely against homosexual marriages. On the other side, you have the liberals who skirt around the rules, have mass outdoors, fight hard to stop poverty, and pray for acceptance, tolerance, and dignity for all human beings. What I found when stepping into the "real world" was that when I told people I was Catholic, they automatically assumed I was a conservative one and were surprised to hear that the liberal ones even existed.

I often found myself saying, "Yes, I am a Catholic, but not one of those (insert any number of steryotypes here) Catholics."

So I started to wonder, "Just what kind of Catholic am I?"

Then, I quit going to church regularly, because I couldn't find one that rubbed me the right way. I also got busy being a mom and church times often coincided with nap times. As Graham got older, I started going more often, but found that I was more focused on keeping him quiet and occupied than on prayer and reflection. When I did find time for reflection, I started questioning man-made religion in general and wondered if I wanted to be a part of it.

I'm still wondering. I still go to mass from time to time. I still call myself a Catholic. But I'm still wondering.

When we stepped into St. Peter's Basilica, I expected to feel moved, because this is where it all began for the Catholics.

Instead, I was hot, tired, achy, and annoyed with Graham running all over the place like a wild man.

I felt awed and wowed by the magnificence of it all, but it was difficult for me to feel anything spiritual.

Until I looked back at some of the pictures and realized that I was moved several times while we were there.

I was moved by Michelangelo's famous Pieta. This is depicting the moment when Mary is holding Jesus after he dies on the cross. Whether Jesus is divine will be debated amongst scientists, philosophers, and religions until the end of time. However, I believe the historical facts are pretty clear that Jesus was a human. His mom was Mary. She probably sang to him and tucked him in at night. She had to watch him die on a cross. As a mother, that would be very, very, very hard.

I felt a trickle of joy while watching Tony be an incredible father and teach Graham the importance of listening and having respect.

I was happy to see that amongst all the statues and gold and glory, the artists and designers chose to include a simple dove and olive branch to represent hope and peace.

I felt calm when I noticed a nun using this sacred place to pray while hundreds of tourists shuffled around her.

It made me incredibly grateful to have a few moments to myself while Tony took Graham on a long journey to the restroom. I was able to listen to the priests chant the vespers before mass. I fell asleep in my chair.

I noticed a sense of community among the tourists as we all tried to be reverent and respectful of one another, whereas, in contrast to other tourist hot-spots, we try to trample one another to get a photo.

Lastly, I felt refreshed. Simply, refreshed.

Perhaps due to the magnificence of St. Peter's and its depictions of Christ and God, we sometimes expect the heavens to open and angels to gather and the big, booming voice of God to tell us that we are having a spiritual experience. Even if we know this isn't really how God works, we (okay, I) still sometimes expect to be swept away by emotion and feel brand new after encountering God. It is sort of like this with counseling. People come to you hoping to have a magical moment when all of their troubles and anxieties evaporate into thin air and they feel fresh and new. (Think Oprah and the "ah-ha" moment). In reality, though, spiritual and magical moments usually happen occasionally and quietly, and if we're not careful-or if we don't have a camera- we'll miss them.

And that, I hope, is something most Catholics can agree on.

And, since we've been discussing Catholicism, I have a confession to make. I am really scared to write about religion, because I worry a lot about being labeled. I don't like to be pinned into a corner.

Nobody puts baby in a corner.

Thanks again for listening. I hope you'll still come back for more.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

give peace a chance

Today is the International Day of Peace.

Just wanted to say, "peace."

traumatized by tacamo

Did I mention that today Tony is going to the city of Dakar, which is the capitol of Senegal, which is on the continent of Africa?

No? Well, that's probably because I've been in denial. I get a little verklempt when I think of him leaving on a trip for work. I imagine him calling me on Friday when he is scheduled to return saying, "The plane is broken, so we're going to be here a few more days." Then, after those few days have passed, him calling again saying, "We have to take charge and move out to do a weather divert. I don't know where we're going or when we'll get home." Then, after a large thunder storm and a tornado, followed by some ice and snow which have closed down all the roads leaving me stuck in my house cold and dark and alone trying to keep Graham entertained and content and warm, him calling while relaxing on a tropical island saying, "You don't have electricity? Sorry. Um, well, it looks like I'm going to have to jump on another trip to cover for someone, so I won't be home for another month or so."

For those who don't know, TACAMO is the name of the Naval community in Oklahoma where Tony worked and their schedule was often a bit, well, a bit, um, well, um, unpredictable. So, I was a little traumatized from that experience and now that he's left for a work trip with his new job here in Italy, I'm experiencing some flashbacks.

You'll have to excuse me for a minute while I go fan myself and have a drink.

I'll give you a topic: New Jersey. Discuss.

Monday, September 20, 2010

spoke too soon

Remember recently when I told you this long and boring story about a stroller? I praised it and told you how grateful I am to have it because it is small and fits into the trunk of the car, on buses, in trains, and provides entertainment for Graham in airports?

Well, that was before Tony came home on Friday afternoon and said, "Do you want to go to Rome tomorrow?"

That was before it lost two wheels while we tried to enjoy the music on the Spanish steps.

That was before we continued to use it with its broken wheels to navigate through the cobblestone in this ancient city and it made me ponder how in the world mothers transferred their three-year-olds two thousand years ago.

That was before we watched the colosseum burn, which has nothing to do with the story, but was a pretty neat experience.

That was before we had to park it next to these Cadillacs at St. Peter's Basilica (more on our experience there later this week).

That was before Tony and I complained of strangely sore backs thinking it was due to the fact that we haven't had our bed in 567 nights, but then realized that it was from hunching over to push the stroller over stones, curbs, potholes, and stairs.

But, you know what? The broken wheels provided even more entertainment for Graham, and the stroller got us through the city of Rome just fine. And, when we were crowded on the bus at the end of our tired day, I said to Tony, "Imagine if we had one of those Cadillacs. It would never fit on here and then we would be forced to wait for another bus and that one might be full, too, so then what would we do?"

"We could make it fit." He replied.

Have a good Monday, people.

Friday, September 17, 2010

passing time

Tony has been going to work everyday, and he usually has to take the car, which leaves Graham and I a little stuck on the base since there isn't any good public transportation from here. Fortunately, the base has many great things to offer. We've been passing our time going to the plethora of parks, the swimming pool when it was still open, open gym time, gymnastics, story time at the library, the video store, the commissary, and the little cafe.

I've been trying to sit back and enjoy the slow pace of life, because it is bound to pick up once we move off the base, find a preschool for Graham, I start (maybe) working, and we have buses and trains available so we can go exploring.

P.S. On a completely different note, we're going to Rome tomorrow!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

a short story long

Packing for our journey to Italy was a curious event. We had to separate things into four piles: storage (stuff to put away until we leave Naples), household goods (all the stuff to be sent to Naples), unaccompanied express shipment (stuff that we might need right away in Naples before settling into our house), and travel bags (stuff to take on the airplane with us and survive with for at least a month or two because we would be spending a month in Spokane prior to moving to Italy). This required a lot of forethought, organization, and decision-making. My three favorite things! Not.

One of our decisions was which stroller to take on the airplane and to Spokane. I really wanted to have my beloved BOB jogging stroller, but it was simply too big to fit in the trunk with all our other travel bags. Okay, so that made the decision easy. We had to take the little umbrella stroller that takes up zero space but is pretty annoying to push. I put BOB in the unaccompanied pile and said goodbye to it knowing that it would meet me in Italy.

Right away, I was so happy to have the umbrella stroller because not only was it a light form of transportation for Graham, it also provided him with a lot of entertainment in the airports. He loves to push it around in circles (see photo above) or just push it and then chase after it. On the day we left Spokane, we ended up waiting in the airport for hours before taking off, and he played with it the entire time while his parents stressed out about how the flight delay was going to mess up their whole trip to Naples, which had already been delayed two weeks on account of a little mishap at the visas office, thus causing his mom to miss her flight to London to see Lauren which she had been looking forward to her entire life. I digress. Point: the umbrella stroller was a godsend.

Finally, after many grueling hours on or in airplanes, hotels, buses, and trains, we arrived in Rome. While waiting for our stroller to arise from the depths of the piles of unchecked baggage, we chatted with another young family. They had a baby and a toddler and they were also waiting for their stroller. It never arrived. They fought with the people in charge and discovered their stroller had been checked to their final destination. Seeing the tears well up in the mothers eyes as she tried to formulate a plan for getting through Rome's airport with all their bags and her two children, I decided to give them our godsend. Pay it forward, right?

I was feeling good about helping out another family until my arms died from carrying Graham through one of the largest and hottest airports in the world. I wonder if I would have made the same decision had I known about the large crowds and long lines awaiting me in Rome... Maybe, because I knew that BOB would be showing up in Naples in a few short days, but I guess we'll never really know for sure.

Fast forward a few hours. We arrived in Naples to the military base and the first thing I noticed were all the moms and their stylish strollers. I'm talkin' high-quality, shiny, beautiful strollers that just glided over all the curbs and bumps as the moms laughed and sipped their cappuccinos. The base is very small and everything is within walking distance, so everyone walks, which is easy when your kid is nicely contained in a chair on wheels. I couldn't wait for BOB to arrive, because I knew we'd have to stay on the base until we found a house.

Fast forward a few days. Our express shipment arrived! BOB was not with it.

I can't believe that with all my organization and forethought, BOB would have been placed in the household goods pile! How did such a thing happen? I guess we'll never know that, either. All I knew was that I was going to need a stroller to survive on this base. Lucky for me, they have a thrift store here and at that thrift store happened to be a $3 umbrella stroller (pictured above) with my name on it. Since I found it, I think we've put approximately 956,028 kilometers (they don't have "miles" in Europe) on it, because we have been on the base approximately 37 more days than we originally anticipated. Another stroller/godsend.

I may not be as stylish and cool as all the other moms-wait-never mind-I can't finish that sentence, because I've never been as stylish and cool as the other moms.

What I'm trying to say is that when we finally get to have our household goods delivered to our house (don't hold your breath), I will be happy to see BOB, and I will probably take it jogging, but it won't replace the umbrella stroller. That's how much I love the umbrella stroller. Maybe I should give it a name. Or not.

Boring story, I know. I'm not even sure why I just wrote it.

Forgive me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

what to do?

We have been in Naples for two full months, now, and it has been wonderful. But, we are having a problem. We have not been able to settle in, yet. We found out today that our house did not pass the safety inspection, so the landlords need to do some more work to it before we can move in. Great. Another delay. Bummer.

That's not what I want to talk about today, though.

Yesterday, we went on a little adventure and drove into the heart of the city of Naples, which has been described as "nuts," "a different reality," "chaotic," "man-eat-man," and "pure crazy!" (I'll have to tell you about driving here another time, because that's not what I want to talk about today, either). We ventured there so that I could go to a job interview at a small, private language school. It turns out that they would like for me to teach English there. They'll even let me set my own hours and work as much or as little as I want. Sounds great, huh? Here's the rub: I would have to get to work everyday without dying and I still have no idea what sort of school/childcare is available near our house because we haven't been living there. Many things would have to fall into place for me to be able to take this job, such as: finding a good place to care for and teach Graham, a good public transportation system, and, and, and, well, I guess that's about it.

Daniella, the gorgeous Italian woman who founded the school, called me today and asked if I'd like to work for her.

I told her yes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

something I enjoy

For the past several months, I've been living in limbo with no house to take care of and no job to attend to, so that has left me with some much-appreciated spare time. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, watching movies, long walks, and most recently, blogging.

One of the things I absolutely love to read is The Sun Magazine. Tony's dad got us a subscription as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago, and I daresay it is one of the best gifts I've ever received. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving. We've since renewed our subscription and passed it along as gifts to people we love.

What is The Sun Magazine, you ask? It is is literary magazine with interviews, essays, short stories, poems, photographs, and quotations. My favorite section is "Reader's Write," where readers who are not necessarily authors submit their stories about a common topic. For example, this month's topic is "beauty."

The stories sometimes make me cry, sometimes make me laugh, and always make me think. As it's mantra states, the magazine is "Personal. Political. Provocative. Ad-free."

Just thought I'd share something I enjoy. Maybe you'll like it, too!

Monday, September 13, 2010

vesuvius, vesuvio

In North America, it is called "Vesuvius." In Italia, it is called "Vesuvio." Tomato, tomahto... When I here "Vesuvio," though, I can't help but say it in the way they say Rufio in the Peter Pan movie with Robin Williams. You know, when all the lost boys yell, "Ru-fi-ooooo!" That's how I say "Vesuvio." Say it with me, "Ve-su-vi-ooooooo!"

Still with me? No, okay, never mind.

The point is that we climbed a volcano yesterday. An active volcano! A volcano! A volcano that I've been looking at since we got here because it ascends above the city of Naples. You can see where our house is going to be (if, I mean when, we finally get to move into it) in this photo. Did I mention this was taken from the top of a volcano?!

Fortunately, the volcano had some vapors coming out of it, because after watching a "Little Einstein" movie about volcanoes, Graham was certain there was going to be smoke and firetrucks and lava at the top.

He worked very hard to make it to the top and was very pleased to see the "smoke" when he got there.

If nothing else, we can say for certain that Graham is going to be a rock-climber when he grows up. It's like an addiction. He can't resist climbing when he sees a rock.

Can someone please show this to Tony Wilson??

Sorry for being a bit scattered today and for using the word, "volcano" so many times...
Happy Monday!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

date night

P1040378, originally uploaded by akblaine.

I miss a lot of things about Oklahoma. For instance: horn-gates, the Sooners, BFF Amy, Sheeno, Big Ash, Jenna and Drew, Cory, Cody, Ponder, Donzo, Paul, the cohort, Amanda (and her fam), NOSC, our swimming pool, and the Suze. Lately, though, I have reeaally been missing Babysitter Lauren (aka "5 dolla Birt")!

Fortunately, I was able to stumble upon a nice young lady who was willing to babysit Graham last night so that Tony and I could go on a date. We enjoyed a romantic walk on the streets of Naples, some delicious food, and good conversation.

Thanks Babysitter Melanie!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Sphere 7, originally uploaded by c Jim.

Did you know that Michael Jordan was cut from the basketball team in 8th grade? At least that's what I kept hearing when I was cut from the basketball team in 8th grade.

And seventh grade.

Okay, let me start from the beginning.

I was a tall teenager. I was the same height I am now in 7th and 8th grade. It was also around the time the WNBA was just getting started, so I had high high hopes of becoming a basketball star. Then I was cut after try-outs for the 7th grade Star Valley Junior High team. I signed up for an expensive summer basketball camp and walked down to the neighbor's hoop to practice each day. I was determined to be a basketball star. Then I got cut again in 8th grade. I was deflated. I never picked up a basketball again.

Until today when I went to an open gym play time thing with Graham here on the base. We were the only ones there, so I dared to grab a basketball and shoot some hoop. I was making shots left and right and even started doing some lay-ups and jump shots and made some of those, too! Then I remembered that I was cut from the team in 8th grade and put the ball down.

Graham, on the other hand, was having a great time playing with an assortment of balls, jump ropes, and jumping mats. Then he fell and bit his top lip. Hard. Really, really, hard. He was shaking and crying as I rushed to get some paper towels to soak up the blood. He sat in my lap for ten minutes and just sort of moped. He was completely and utterly deflated. I'd never seen him like this, so the wanna be counselor (that's what I call myself these days since I can't seem to find a job here) in me started to worry. What if he never wants to play in the gym again? What if he thinks he is bad at sports? How do I help him process his feelings healthily so that he can move on and not be like me and still be complaining about this in 20 years?

I didn't know whether to tell him to suck it up and get back in the game- which is harsh and against my nature-or to hold him and let him cry and get him a popsicle and tell him he never had to touch a ball again if he didn't want to-which is also against my nature because I struggle with emotional eating and don't want to teach those habits to my kid. I deliberated over these options as he sucked on the paper towel and I chose, as usual, to take the middle path. I asked him if he wanted to kick the soccer ball and then go get lunch. He kicked the ball for a couple of minutes, but he really wanted to leave. So, we left with the agreement that he would try again next time.

Then I went to the minimart and did what any good mother would do. I got myself some chocolate.

Unfortunately, some of us cannot be like Mike.

Thank you for listening.

Until next time...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

my friend

Lauren, originally uploaded by akblaine.

If you know me, chances are you also know Lauren.

She's been my pal since we were neighbors our freshman year at Gonzaga. She is a sister to me.

She is smart.

She is beautiful.

She is reliable.

She is funny.

She is loving.

She has a deep passion and concern for social justice.

She believes that every human has at least the right to basic needs such as food, water, shelter, and health care, so she is devoting her life and career to helping the world achieve this goal.

She started a blog (I kinda sorta think I maybe kinda had a little something to do with inspiring her to do so):

Check it out.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

traveling with graham

My favorite things about traveling with Graham:

He's always willing to help me find my way,

he helps me make new friends everywhere we go,

every place we visit turns into a playground of some sort,

he stops to smell the roses,

and appreciate the music,

I get to see the joy in the faces of people when they first meet him,

I get challenged when looking at art by questions like, "Mommy, why is he nakey," and, "Why is that person dead in that picture," and, "What happened to Jesus's hands," and, "Where is baby Jesus's blanket to wrap around him?"

and he shows me how to enjoy good things up to the very last drop.

I must be honest and say that I thought traveling would be difficult with a three year old, but Graham is proving me wrong. He is as easy-going as ever, and he opens my eyes to things I wouldn't otherwise see.

He's the best travel companion there is.

I'd take him anywhere.