Wednesday, March 30, 2011

little bud

The thing I do the very most of here in Naples is spend time with Graham. Being away from him for a week made me realize just how much time I spend with him. It's a lot. A whole lot.

With the way time is flying, I figured I better document some things about his personality before he's 6 and I've forgotten what he was like when he was 3.

I say six, because that is the age when his whole world is going to open up, according to him. He will tell people, "I am going to be 4, and then 5, and then 6!" Then he'll tell me, "Mom, maybe when I'm six I can have a motorcycle and a race car. A red one. Or maybe a motorcycle that turns into a race car. Yeah. That is what I want. When I'm six."

His favorite foods are pasta, peanut-butter sandwiches, cheese (all kinds, even super sharp tasting kinds), olives, apples, peas, and chocolate (all kinds, even really bitter tasting kinds). He's been eating us out of house and home, lately. He never used to ask for food between mealtimes, but those days are over. He's asking for food every hour, now. I can't imagine how much food he will consume when he is a teenager.

He is extremely curious about every little thing and asks question upon question upon question until finally I have to throw up my hands and say, "Well, Graham, because that's just the way it is. Please, no more questions about that."

He likes to get his "sillies" out before putting on his pajamas. "Sillies" are when he runs around his bedroom and then Tony or I (usually Tony) catches him with a blanket. Lately, he has been liking one "sinking silly" per night where he sinks to the bottom of his sleeping bag and then gets spun around in circles.

He always has to have two stories before bedtime. I think he's memorized every book on his shelf, but he never gets bored with stories.

He loooves little babies, especially newborns. He even gets a little giddy around them sometimes, but he knows how to be gentle. He loves to pat and rub their heads. It's quite precious.

He is constantly pretending. He pretends to be different animals, and he makes me pretend with him. If he watches a movie, he will pretend to be the characters in the movie til the end of time. For example, from the movie, "Bolt," he says to me, "Mom, you be Penny and I'll be Bolt and I'll be locked in a cage and then you have to come get me out. Okay?" If I do anything slightly out of character, he will say, "No, Mom! You have to be her!" Then, he'll go on directing another scene that I must follow lest I be yelled at. I think he might be a movie director or something when he grows up.

He is a goofball. He's hardly ever serious about anything. He makes everything fun. He is often in his own world and can play really well by himself. 

His face and hair are always messy. He despises wearing coats or jackets, so I make him wear long-sleeved shirts, which he then has to put a tee-shirt over. He also likes to wear shorts, but it is too cold for shorts, so I make him wear pants. So, he puts his shorts over his pants. We got him some pretty nice boots to wear during the colder months, but he refused and would only wear his Converse sneakers. You should see how worn out they are. Someone should tell his mom to get him a new pair...

He's not all that into drawing and coloring. He'll do it for a little while, but then want to start playing. He just likes to play. All the time. I'm working on getting him to learn to write some letters. I've realized that most kids his age know how to write their name, so I've been working on that with him. He really doesn't like it very much, but giving him stickers seems to help him cooperate.

When Tony and I talk about Graham with each other, we refer to him as "Little Bud." We've been doing that since the day he was born.

Hmm, let's see. I feel like I am forgetting something. What could it be? Oh, yes. He is obsessed with Justin Bieber. He loves to watch him dance and then try to do the dance moves himself. He can sing the words to "Baby," but I can never get him to do it on camera. At least once a day, I hear, "Mom, I am just Justin Bieber. Okay? You be his mom."

And that is how I spend my days. Pretending to be Justin Bieber's mom. 

And with that, I bid you goodnight.

Monday, March 28, 2011

my favorite

This is my favorite picture taken while I was in Oklahoma.  I can't be certain that I am the one who took it... Maybe that's why it is my favorite. 

I'm pretty sure I would love this picture even if I didn't know the people in it. It is natural, comfortable, and happy. But let's face it, I really love it because I do know the people in it.

This is Jenna and Drew. I had the pleasure of staying at their house on one of my nights in Sooner Nation. They have made a very cozy home for themselves. A sanctuary where I was able to rest and lay in the sun as they worked in their garden. I was even at ease enough in their home to brave the music studio of Drew the View. First, he had me sing a chorus he wrote, and then he got me to free-style some rap lyrics. I am terrified to sing alone in front of people, and I've never opened up and just free-styled. The fact that I did is a true testament to how warm, inviting, creative, talented, and inspiring this couple is.

Thanks for the hospitality, guys.

I will forever remember and appreciate it.

And you'll always be one of my favorite couples. Ever.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

birthdays, weddings, and responsibility

I like birthdays. I think that life is precious and ought to be celebrated, especially Libbey's life. I guess there's not much more to say about that.

It's no surprise to anyone when I say that I looove weddings. I love the events themselves with all the dresses, parties, excitement, tradition, and anticipation,


but what I really love about them is what they symbolize. For me, they are proof that life and love continue to go on amidst all the darkness and death in the world. They bring people from two separate worlds together to form a bond and a new family. There's nothing more beautiful than family.

Excuse me while I digress for a moment. We all love seeing a daddy and a daughter on a wedding day, but I couldn't take my eyes off of this father/son combo.

 Don't they both look so proud? Okay, digression complete.

So, when Amy planned her wedding day near the day of Libbey's birth, it didn't take long for me to get myself a ticket to the good 'ol US of A to celebrate. And celebrate is exactly what I did. I might have mentioned here before that I went on this trip without the company of my boys. Of course, I felt a tinge of mother's guilt, but I was determined not to let it get in my way. So it didn't. Never has there been a time in my life where I had zero responsibilities. All I had to do was make sure I was in the right spot to catch my airplanes. I got to read without being interrupted. I got to go to public restrooms and not worry about my three year old falling in the toilet. I got to stay up as late as I wanted. I got to eat whenever and whatever I wanted. I got to go on jogs without a giant stroller. I got to spend lots of time catching up with friends. I laughed a lot. I cried some, too. And I got a little crazy.

Thanks for inviting me to your parties, Libbey and Amy.

I had a really, really good time. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

where have I been?

I'm still trying to figure that out. I'll let you know when the jet-lag and shock from being alone and free from responsibility for a week wear off.

Hang in there.

I promise to return to blogging as soon as my head stops feeling like it is stuck in a cloud.

Monday, March 14, 2011

it's crazy time

In the wee hours of the morning, I am going to board a plane all by myself headed for Chicago so I can celebrate St. Patrick's Day, as well as the birth of this girl.

Then, assuming that I do not drown in Chicago's green river, I will board another plane all by myself to get to the great state of Oklahoma where I will stand in a hot pink dress next to my BFF Amy as she promises to spend the rest of her life with her beloved, Cody.

It's bound to get crazy.

Did I mention that I am going ALL BY MYSELF?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I like reading blogs because

I like to peek into the lives of others and find that, despite the fact that the world can be a bit, well, shaky at times, people are out there working hard to raise families, cook meals, and experience joy in simplicity. I love reading the blogs where, through stories and photos,  people make ordinary life events like going to the grocery store seem extraordinary. Because, life is just that. Extraordinary.

So, a message to all you bloggers, thank you.

And keep on bloggin'.

And, as the Italians like to say, "godersi la vita."

Enjoy life.

Friday, March 11, 2011

in the navy

Hey Mom, I think it would be cool to be in the Navy when I grow up. Just like Dad.

Okay, Son. But, you will have to brush your teeth and shave and get up very early every single day, and you might have to go weeks or months or years without seeing your beautiful family. You'll probably have to move every couple of years, too.

Oh, and you'll have to cut off all your hair.


Swim away! Swim away!

*Disclaimer* I am obviously very grateful for the Navy and for all who work in it for many, many reasons. Not least of witch is that it provides for me and my family and allows us to live in Italy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


After a bit more research, I discovered that I got the date of the fire incorrect in my previous post. I'm pretty sure the fire happened on March 25, 1911...

Sorry for the mistake.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

festa della donna

Today is a special day in Italy, and that's not only because it is Martedi Grassi (Fat Tuesday), which needs no explanation. It is also "Festa della Donna," or Woman's Day.

This day originated in 1908 when a group of women working in a factory in New York started a strike to protest against the horrible working conditions. Many of these women were from Italy. Apparently, on March 8th, 1908,  the factory owner locked all the women inside the building. Somehow, a fire started, and many women died that day. They died fighting for justice and dignity. To honor these women, March 8th has become International Woman's Day. Here in Italy, yellow flowers called mimosas are given by men to women.  It was fun to see them being sold on all the street corners today.

It is, quite simply, a day to celebrate being a woman. Due to commercialization and whatnot, this day has also become a day for women to go out and cut loose. Women who normally do not go out will go have a wild, "girl's night" on Festa della Donna.

I started making a list in my head of all the women I would like to celebrate with today by having a "girl's night." The list just kept growing and growing and growing, and I began to feel overwhelmed with gratitude for all the incredible women in my life.

Obviously, my list included you. So, if you are reading this and you are a woman, go out a do something crazy for me tonight.

I will be thinking of you as I attend a Martedi Grassi costume party with my friend, Rebecca. We're letting Tony come, too, because life is always more fun when Tony and I are together.

Happy Mardi Gras, Martedi Grassi, Fat Tuesday, and Festa della Donna to ya'll!

Monday, March 7, 2011

king cake??

I know you're just dyyying to find out how my attempt at creating a king cake went today. You can stop holding your breath, because I am about to tell you.

It didn't happen. I didn't even attempt it.

Um, well, you see, I sorta got a soar throat, which sorta made me not want to do anything, and making a king cake is quite a lot of work, so I didn't do it.

Instead, we made another Mardi Gras favorite: pancakes. And then we put chocolate chips in them. And then we put frosting on them. And then I discovered how difficult it is to make food look good in photographs, especially when you have no natural light. And then I realized just how talented all those food bloggers are that I love so much. And then I decided not to show you my picture, but to tell you that it looked sort of like this:

And then I poured frosting on my pancakes.

And then ate them.

And then I'll probably eat some more on Fat Tuesday!

king cake

In the spirit of Carnevale and Mardi Gras, today, I am going to attempt making this king cake. Hopefully, it turns out better than my Valentine cookies.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Raise your hand if you've ever spent a week wiping goop out of your toddler's eyes.

(Hand raised).

Raise your hand if your toddler suddenly went from cool, calm, and collected to testy, tired, and tantraum-ey.

(Um, both hands raised).

Guys, can I confide in you for a minute?  It's been a... how should I put this... a tough, trying, and all together difficult week of parenting. It started on Monday when Graham puked once every hour and had goop running out of his eyes and nose. Gross, I know, but I need to be a little graphic so you can feel my pain. Since Monday, he just hasn't been himself. He seems to be developing a habit that is common to many toddlers, but one he has never grasped. I'm talking about fit-throwing. Yep. There have been some doozies this week. Like, make mama's blood boil doozies. It's crazy, because one minute, he is happy-go-lucky, but as soon as something doesn't go as he expected, bam! He's in a state of fury. I'm really hoping it's just a symptom of this virus he's had all week and that it will go away along with the coughing and sneezing and runny nose. In the meantime, any parenting advice would be more than welcome. How do you handle a testy toddler?

Plus, the weather has been awful. Just rainy and windy and gross. March has definitely come in like a lion.

In more ways than one.

Because a couple of days ago, a fellow book club member (Yes, I go to book clubs. Two, actually. Don't judge.) discovered that her two-year-old son has a tumor on his spine. As a parent, this news does many things to my emotions. Obviously, it shines some perspective on my own goopy-eyed situation, but I don't need to go into those details, because, well, this is not about me anymore. Now, I'm asking you to send some prayers or positive feelings or whatever you believe in to this family. I haven't asked for permission to use their name, so just send your prayers to a family of 10 (8 kids! plus the parents) living in Naples, Italy. I know they are really hoping for a miracle right now.

Sorry to end with such sad news. I just can't stop thinking about this family, which inevitable makes me want to write about them..

Thanks for listening. 

Here's hoping March goes out like a lamb.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

the grass is greener?

I will forever be fascinated by the curious human condition of wanting what one can't or doesn't have.

Today, my Italian neighbors came to me with a list of things they would like for me to purchase for them at the commissary. Things they cannot get in Italian grocery stores.

Here is their list:

3 cartons of Oreo ice cream
4 frozen pizzas
1 bottle of syrup
1 box of fruit loops

"Frozen pizza?" I exclaimed! "Mamamia!"

Naples claims to be the birthplace of pizza. There are pizzerias on every corner. Each making the most mouth-watering, authentic pizza in the world. And my neighbors want Digiorno.  With Oreo ice cream rather than the delicious gelato from down the street. Hmmm.

Can someone please tell me which isle the frozen pizza is on?