Monday, February 28, 2011

something in the water

Almost every American woman I've met here in Italy is currently pregnant or just had an infant. The Navy Hospital is pretty much a Labor and Delivery hospital. I'm not kidding when I say there's something in the water over here. A friend who was determined not to get pregnant during her time here said she would just avoid the water and only drink wine. She got pregnant a couple of months before she left...

Naturally, lots of pregnant people means lots of baby showers. A couple of weeks ago, I attended a shower for four expecting mamas.Yep. Four!

This past weekend, we had the honor of hosting a shower for a couple whose baby is due any day now. 

We fired up the pizza oven, indulged in some cake balls (which, again portray my lack of skills in the craft department), played bacci ball, and had an all around good time.

Stephen and Jennifer were our "sponsors" when we moved here. That means, they contacted us months before we arrived and told us what to expect. They were very thorough, and we've appreciated all they've done for us.

This is their first baby, and they are pretty nervous, but I have no doubt they'll be great parents.

 Good luck, you two.

And for those of you wondering whether I am pregnant. No. I am not.

Not yet.

I better watch what I'm drinking.

sick bug

Graham ended up catching the sick bug I had a couple of weeks ago. He keeps asking how a bug got in his tummy and how we can get it out. Poor guy.

Please send some positive vibes this way so that he can get back to his old self.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

photography practice

The main reason I want to learn how to photograph is to catch glimpses of people in candid moments. I think a good photographer can capture the beauty of a person without that person even knowing.

I went to a birthday party for a two-year-old last weekend. I practiced taking candid shots. I was lucky to have such beautiful subjects.

Here are the results.

Oh, and this two-year-old just happens to have a new baby brother.  I promise his mom wasn't posing for this shot. Just laughing at something. Gorgeous.

I know. You just want to hold him.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

more on acculturation

Not many young boys in Italy are seen without a soccer ball nearby. Of course, Graham has to have his soccer clothes on when he plays. Did you know they call the game, "calcio" (pronounced "cal-choh) over here? Not football, like you might think. Or, at least that's what I thought.

 Pizza is always cooked with the heat from a wood fire. All the restaurants have pizza ovens,

and, as you can see, we are pretty excited to have one in our yard.  

We also drove into the city last weekend and didn't have heart attacks or strokes. We didn't get lost or take any wrong turns. We actually thought, "Huh, that wasn't so hard." We didn't even feel a bit of tension as we sat in traffic for an hour. Looks like we're getting used to things around here. 

I still can't get accustomed to seeing this every evening, though.

I'm not sure I ever will.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Acculturation: noun, the process of adopting the cultural traits or social patterns of another group.

This is what I am currently drinking.

It is what we like to call "fizzy water." Rarely do you see an Italian with a bottle of "still water." I used to think the fizziness was weird and kind of gross, but now I find it enjoyable and soothing on the tummy.

I've got more to say on this topic of acculturation, but you'll have to excuse me, because right now I am gulping fizzy water and being swallowed by this book.

 I'll be back when I'm finished with it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

take a break


Now that we've established that I spend most of my time being a bit out of my element in the domesticity department, I don't mind telling you that on Saturday, I took a break. While Tony and Graham were digging outside, I traded in my sweatpants for some jeans and declared that I was going to the Bacoli market and then to the nearby cafe to read.

And that is what I did.

And it was delightful.

On Sunday, I decided not to abandon my family. Instead, I took my boys with me on a drive through the Almafi Coast and got serenaded over a long lunch at our favorite restaurant overlooking the town of Positano.

Sometimes it seems unreal, but this is my life. I am just trying to embrace and enjoy all aspects of it right now.

I don't know about all you other mamas, but I cannot survive without a few breaks now and then. And by now and then, I mean at least once or twice a week. You should try it.

I'd highly recommend it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

casalinga disperata

Yesterday, I got the Valentine, stay-at-home-mom spirit. I went for a nice jog with the stroller, I climbed on a ladder to clean all our ceilings, I folded all the laundry, and straightened up the rest of the house. Then, Graham helped me make heart-shaped chocolate chip cookies with red frosting and a Valentine card for Tony. Finally, I made a nice dinner of salmon, spinach, sweet potatoes, and red wine, and managed to take a shower at some point.

Dare I call myself a domestic goddess?

Well, maybe. Except that despite my best efforts, our ceilings are still dirty, there's still laundry hanging, the house is never, ever clean, I realized that what I thought was Italian butter I put in the cookies was decidedly not butter, so the cookies tasted weird and they didn't look like hearts, the delicious white-chocolate frosting looked like disgusting goop after I put the food coloring in it, the Valentine card was a disaster of grand proportions, the salmon was dry, I gagged on the spinach, the red wine tasted like fish, and my shower was cold, so I didn't get very clean. Gross.

See, these would be the cookies of a domestic goddess:

And these were mine:

Nope, I don't think I'm ready for the term, "domestic goddess." I think I'll stick with "casalinga disperata."

Translation: "desperate housewife."

Monday, February 14, 2011

i love you.

Ti amo.

Friday, February 11, 2011

pirates, parrots, and pilots

I've heard many a parent talk about how their kids cry and wail when put into a car safety seat. I've always felt extremely lucky that's never been the case with Graham. He's always enjoyed car rides, and for the most part, he remained quiet and content in his seat.

That is, until recently. Now that we live in the land of difficult driving where I have to focus every second in order to avoid getting run off the road by a Smart Car or a motorino, Graham has decided to stop being quiet in his car seat. He's still content. But he's anything but quiet.

Yesterday, for example, went a little something like this:

Out of the blue I hear, "Mom, can pirates talk?"

"Yes, Graham."

"Why can they talk, Mom?"

I try to think of an answer, and in the meantime, he persists. "Talk Mom? Why can they talk? Talk? Talk? Pirates? Mom? Talk? TAAAALK?"

Eventually, I snap out of it and say, "Because they are people."


"They are people."


"Graham, I am only going to answer your questions once, so please pay attention."


No response. Trying my best to stick to my word and not answer again, which is really hard when someone keeps saying, "Huh?" A natural instinct would be to answer again and again. I fought my natural instincts.

"Oh, they are bird people?"

"Bird people? What do you mean?"

Big truck swerves into my tiny lane. 

"They are birds that can talk, so they are bird people."

Motorino just misses my side-view mirror.

"Oh, you mean parrots."

I am driving too fast, passing a giant truck, and trying not to miss my exit.

"No, Mom. Pirates. They growl and take things from airplanes. Airplanes, Mom. Airplanes. They growl, Mom. Growl. Airplanes. Aiirplaanes. Airplanes."

Just barely make the exit, and now must focus on where to turn next.

Then, I say. "Okay, Graham. Pirrrates are people who steal things from boats and ships. We've talked about this. Pillllots are people who drive airplanes. Parrots are birds who can sometimes learn to talk."

"No, mom. Pirrates growl and take things from airplanes. Airplanes. Airrr   planes."

"No, Graham. Boats."

"No. Airplanes."

I come to my senses and realize I am arguing about pirates with a 3-year-old when I need to make sure we do not get into an accident on the road.

I roll down the window, because I am sweating and feel my anxiety rising, and Graham's voice is drowned by the sounds of passing vehicles.

He is still talking about pirates and growling and airplanes, but I pretend not to hear anything and I shout to him: "I need the window down because I am hot, and it is really hard for me to answer your questions because I must focus on driving."

Finally, I don't hear a sound from him, so I put up the window.

"Mom. What is that big truck carrying, Mom? That big truck? What's in it, Mom? That big truck? Truck? Big truck?"

I call for backup.

Nobody answers.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

in sickness and in health

Warning: I am about to brag.

I think I experienced food poisoning or something like it yesterday. I can't remember a time I've ever felt so sick. I simply couldn't move, except to run to the toilet. It was awful.

That's not what I am going to brag about, though.

I'm going to brag about my husband. He. Is. Amazing. He didn't have to go into work until noon yesterday, so he was able to take care of Graham and keep him entertained. All the while checking on me and bringing me things to drink, even though I refused to drink them. Then, he did the very best thing he could have possibly done for me. He arranged for Graham to go to the neighbor's/friend's/baby-sitter's house and he left me alone. I love to be left alone, especially in my misery. And, I love that Tony knows this about me and he is sensitive to my needs. I couldn't ask for a better life partner.

Thanks for everything, Tony.

Another warning: this probably isn't the last time I will be bragging about my life partner.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

what i love about sundays

Being lazy.

When we're not out globetrotting on the weekends, we like to sit around the house and take it easy on Sundays. Life seems to have slowed down quite a bit for us over here. I don't have homework due on Monday. Tony isn't coming and going and coming and going and going and going and going all the time.

It's nice to have time to sit back and take a break.

Hopefully, someday, you will be able to join us on our patio for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Friday, February 4, 2011

scenes from my jog

First, I must apologize to all my amici in Oklahoma. I am so very sorry for putting up pictures of a warm, sunny day in February. I know you are covered in snow and would love nothing more than to be able to push your stroller down a dry, non-icy road. I'm sorry. I know how you feel. I've been there. I'm sorry.

Okay, now we can move forward. I hope.

I thought it would be fun to show you some scenes from my usual jog.

Here's what it looks like when I step out of my gate. Can't wait 'til these vines are filled with grapes! Notice how narrow the roads are? Yep. Only room for one car, which means it's not fun when you encounter another car and have to back up into one of few pull-off spots and let said car squeeze past you.

This is at the top of a rather steep hill that I must climb back up on my way home. For all you mamas out there, if you want a good workout, put your kid in a stroller and push him up a hill. Mamamia!

Now, let me introduce you to Lago d'Averno (Lake Averno). Apparently, Dante refers to this place as the entrance to Hell in his book, Inferno. I guess the sulfur was so bad here in his day that birds didn't even fly over this lake. Fortunately for me, it is now just a dead crater with a trail around it so I can jog. I don't think I can express how grateful I am to have this so close to my house. There aren't many sidewalks 'round these parts, so having a trail with no cars is, well, almost unheard of.

And, of course, there are some Roman ruins. They say this was some sort of military tunnel or something like that.

Aaand, no place around here would be complete without its bar/cafe/pizzeria.

Thank you, Lago d'Averno, for being there for me and for not actually being an entrance to Hell. At least, I don't think you are. Are you? I mean, you seem quite pleasant to me. Hmm.

Sorry, I'll stop talking to a lake, now.

I hope you enjoyed the scenes from my jog. And I hope they bring a little light into your day like they did to mine.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

zumba and barbies

I've been dipping my hand in a lot of new things over the past six months. A new culture, a language, food, traveling, being stay-at-home-mom, and trying to figure out how to take pictures. Photography is not as easy as I thought it would be. Any tips would be more than welcome.

Today, I accidentally added to this list of new things by accidentally stumbling into a Zumba class and accidentally falling in love with it.

Oh, and Graham played with Barbies.

I suppose it was only a matter of time...