Tuesday, June 28, 2011

i am what i am

I am the type of person who brings a mini-fridge (because I still have a mini-fridge from college) into the kitchen for a birthday party and proceeds to leave it there for weeks before putting it back downstairs in storage, where it belongs. I'm the type of person who has been using our extra dining-room chairs as nightstands in our bedroom because I despise the very idea of even shopping for nightstands.

I remember when Tony and I first moved into our house in Oklahoma. We set a jar up on a cabinet because we couldn't think of a good place for it. We said, "We'll just set this here for now and move it later, because we don't like the way it looks up here." It was still there when we moved out of the house three years later.

I am the type of person who wears the same pair of jean shorts and black flip-flops every day of the summer.

I have said it once and I'll say it again. I am not a fahionista. Nor do I have any interior design skills.

So, what you are about to see might seem like a small change to you, but please remember who you are dealing with: a girl who still wears tee-shirts from high school and constantly thinks to herself when presented with buying new things, "Do I reeally neeeed this? Probably not. I can live without it."

With that in mind, I give you the before:

The now:

The before:

The now:


It is much more comfortable in the upstairs area of our home, now.

Downstairs no longer has a couch and is pretty much a bunch of open space.

Maybe I'll do something about that next year.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Yesterday, we took a little drive back in time to a town called Melizzano.

It was my first real encounter with the sport of jousting, and I am just really grateful that the rules have changed. Now, the jousters try to get their pole through the ring, rather than try to injure an opponent. I found myself really engaged in the activity and cheering almost as much as I did at Gonzaga basketball games. Almost.

If there's ever a Sunday you have an opportunity to participate in a medieval festival in a small, Italian hill town, I'd highly recommend it.

Oh, and definitely stay for dinner, even it means you won't get home until after midnight, because it will surely be worth it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

another one

Well, folks.

We managed to pull off yet another exciting and memorable birthday party for Little Bud.

Like I stated in the invitation, I have to have parties for him in order to stop denying the fact that he is growing up.

A party makes it official.

Especially a party with slip-'n-slides, sprinklers, and water squirters.

Sometimes, Graham asks, "Mom, how many birthdays am I going to have?"

My response?

"I hope you have at least one-hundred, Little Bud."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

lessons from the golden girls

As a youngster in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming, I used to entertain myself by watching "The Golden Girls." Until recently, all I knew about Sicily was that the "Ma" character in that show was from there and she was quite proud of it. All I could do was dream of the place she spoke of and hope to one day visit it.

I also spent a great deal of time pondering the notion that you could get pregnant by drinking out of the same cup as a man because "Ma" joked about it in one of the episodes...

"The Golden Girls" may not have given me accurate knowledge about human reproduction, but it turns out that it did teach me a thing or two about Sicily.

Mainly, it taught me that Sicily is a dreamland. 

If I were born and raised there, I would most certainly be proud. I would talk about its mountains, its ocean, its clean and quiet streets, its rich history, and the fact that it is the home of the "weeping Mary" plaque.

I would reminisce about the children playing soccer and riding skateboards while their parents and grandparents sipped Prosecco (Italian Champagne) out of red plastic cups outside the Duomo to celebrate the Feast of Saint Antonio.

Much of Sicily, I will have to remember in my mind, because I left my camera at a cafe for a few days. If you're ever going to leave your camera somewhere, I would recommend the Cafe Dock on the island of Ortygia just off the mainland of Siricusa. There's a really nice man there who will put it behind the counter for you until you have time to go get it.

Tony, I mean 007,  had to work on this trip. His schedule was never certain, so Graham and I spent a great deal of time walking the streets of Augusta Bay and swimming at the local swimming hole so as not to wander too far off in case Tony got off of work.

During this time, I imagined what it would be like to live there. I pictured myself and Tony as a chefs at a pastry shop making the best canoli in the world while our son learned to swim in the Med. He would happily bounce into our shop after swimming all morning with a cone of gelato in his hand. We would have lunch together and then he would go home to our small apartment and hang our laundry out and study piano until we got home from work. Then, he would go outside to play soccer or skateboard with his friends while Tony and I prepared fresh tomatoes and pasta for dinner. We would all sit on our patio enjoying the ocean breeze and long conversations about nothing and everything.

To end the day, we would all take a stroll down our quiet street then climb in our cozy beds and drift to sleep with the sounds of the ocean...

That would be quite the life, huh? But, I must say that right now, mine is nothing to shake a stick at.

I'm really glad I married a cool Navy guy who gets to work in places like Sicily.


Otherwise, I might be sitting in the middle of nowhere, watching Golden Girls re-runs while wondering where babies really come from and dreaming of traveling the world.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Before I tell you about Sicily or the birthday party we just had for Graham, I want to take a minute and acknowledge and thank all the special fathers in my life.

If it weren't for these guys, we wouldn't be here, so we wouldn't have gotten to see Sicily and Graham would not have a birthday...

First up, naturally, is my dad.


Lately, I refer to him more as "Grandpa Bill" than "Dad." He is an adoring grandfather who loves to get on the floor and play with his grand kids. My mom used to say that one of the reasons she married him was because he was so good with young kids. He truly has a gift. I remember spending hours coloring, hiking, and fishing with him. He always took the time to play with me, but he also taught me how to be respectful and always say, "Yes, Sir." 

He also gave me my good taste in music (if I knew how to make one of those cute smiley face things, I would insert one here).

Next, is my father-in-law.

We call him "Grandpa Tom." We can always count on him to treat us to a meal at a diner and a trip to the farm when we visit Spokane. Some of Tony's fondest memories are of being on the farm with his dad. He taught Tony how to work and be strong and not complain. 

He loves to give things to his one and only grandson, and he likes to spend as much time with him as his work schedule will allow when we go to Spokane. In the meantime, when we're not in Spokane, he sends awesome packages in the mail that always make Graham go crazy with excitement.

This is his dad, Gramps.

We call him Gramps. He's over 80 years old and still laughing all the time and loving life. He fought in World War II, raised nine kids, doctored lots of animals, and took care of Granny, whom he was devoted to for around 60 years, as she passed away. This devotion inspires Tony and I to stick with this marriage gig until our dying days.

Oh, and if you go visit Gramps, which you should, because he has a very soothing presence about him, give him a "mulie bite" from Graham.

Okay, now on to my dad's dad.


Grandpa Howell. I can say with a good amount of certainty that he never laid eyes on a digital camera, which explains the quality of the photos. My time with him was cut short because he passed away when I was in junior high. I remember him being a guitar-picken', story-tellin', fisherman. He taught me how to mix a delicious concoction of butter and honey and put it on one of Grandma Howell's piping hot biscuits. Mmmm. Pure bliss.

I miss you, Grandpa Howell. Rest in peace.
We also miss Grandpa Jack, who passed a little over a year ago.

Graham is his first great-grandson, and he loved holding him and patting him when he was tiny. Grandpa Jack's chuckle will forever be imprinted on my memory, and Tony can't look at the geraniums on our front porch without thinking of him. He passed on his work-ethic, ingenuity, love for plants, and quiet sense of humor to Tony, which happen to be some of the things I love most about Tony. I hope that some of those qualities will trickle down to Graham, too. 

A Father's Day doesn't pass without me thinking of this next guy.  

Grandpa Kelly. He likes to remind us every year that the idea behind Father's Day originated in Spokane.

He's also been there for me during some of the most difficult times in my life. He took care of me when my parents separated, got me out of bed to jog with him in the mornings, got me a car, and fixed it every time it needed it. Without his encouragement, hope, and expectations for me, I'm not sure I ever would have graduated college. Thanks for helping me stay motivated and not let my lazy bone get the best of me, Grandpa. And don't worry, I haven't given up on the idea of getting a Ph.D someday. Emphasis on someday.

Next is Uncle Hank. 

He's obviously not a father to me, but I mention him today, because he chose to adopt our cousin's kid and has turned out to be an incredible father to her. I've never seen a girl love her father more than his daughter does. It makes my heart swell and makes me very proud to have him as my brother.

I'd also like to acknowledge Father Adams today. 

He was our spiritual guide through high school and through our wedding ceremony. He is such a gentle soul and so easy to talk to. He helped shape our faith and make us into the couple we are today. I know he's helped a lot of youngsters in this world and I hope they all remember him on Father's Day.

Last, but obviously not least, I want to say happy Father's Day to my beloved husband.


I might be a teensy bit biased, but I really do believe he is the best father in the world.

For lots of reasons.

Not least of which is because he always takes the time to dig in the sand with his son.

Have a good day, everyone.

And don't forget to go kiss your father figures today.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

graham's birth

One of my first assignments in my master's program was to basically write my life story. It just so happened that right at the beginning of my master's program, I gave birth to Graham, so I had to add a section about his birth to my story. 

That was four years ago. 

This is what I wrote.

Her face was blurry, but her voice was clear. "Pretend you are about to go under water. "Take a deep breath, and then push!" 

I hadn't taken a single pain-relieving drug, not even a Tylenol, but I felt what I would imagine to be doped up. I was in a clear state of panic, about to hyperventilate from breathing so quickly and so deeply. I took the nurse's advice and breathed in a deep gulp of air and gave it my all when the next contraction arrived.  It was amazing how much better that worked than breathing in and out very quickly. I wanted to thank the nurse for her advice, but the words just wouldn't come to me. 

"Good," the nurse exclaimed. "Do that again with the next contraction." 

I didn't want any more contractions!

I dreaded the next contraction as I reveled in the relaxation during the in-between-contractions period. These short minutes of relaxation felt incredible. Although I felt dopey, I also felt more focused and dedicated than I ever had in my life. I looked up at my Tony, who was with my midwife, Pauline, waiting to help catch the baby. He glanced at me adoringly and simply mouthed the words, "I love you." I could see the tears he was shedding for me, and I knew he was engaged in this labor almost as much as I was. 

The pain began to shoot up my back once again. It felt like a personality shift as I found myself screaming in agony. I could sort of hear Pauline saying, "There's the head. It's almost here." I was suddenly reminded of the time I had chosen to run a marathon and I was at mile 20. Everyone shouted, "You're almost there!" But I knew I still had 6.2 grueling miles ahead of me. I really hoped this wasn't like mile 20, with 6 more to go. I hoped it was true, that I was really almost there. 

As these thoughts raced through my head, I heard myself screaming, "Don't tease me!" I looked at Tony again to get his opinion on the matter, and he confirmed what Pauline was saying. It was close. 

The baby was right there, ready to enter this crazy world. 

The contraction ended, and I fell into blissful relaxation. Sleep was all I wanted to do, but just as I was drifting away, the pain started again. This was going to be the last contraction. I just new it. I buckled down and pushed with all my might. I heard Pauline telling Tony to get ready, because it was almost out. The pain grew stronger and stronger as I pushed even harder. Every muscle in my body was engaged in pushing. I couldn't believe my own strength. I was doing it! I was giving birth! 

Suddenly, everything stopped hurting. I didn't want to push anymore. 


The biggest relief I had ever felt. 

The baby had entered the world. I looked up to see his umbilical cord and his little penis. I was the very fist person in this world to know he was a boy. The nurses laid him on my belly and he gazed up at me with his deep, pure blue eyes. 

There it was. 

Right there in my arms, Light, Love, God, Life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

quick update

I've got a few precious moments with the internet over here in Sicily, so I thought I'd let you know that all is well. James Bond is working and Graham and I are relaxing.

You'll also be happy to know that even though I left my camera on a chair at a cafe, you will still get to see pictures of this lovely place, because it was still there when we went back to retrieve it today!

There are still good people in the world!

So, check back in a couple of days for some stories and pictures.


Friday, June 10, 2011

chiuso il martedi

Translation: "Closed on Tuesdays."

Flexibility is the word I'd choose to describe our time with our pal, Cooper (Coop for short).

When it's only the Ramblin' Fam going on trips and seeing sights, I don't notice just how often we change our minds or decide things at the last minute and just sort of fly by the seat of our pants most of the time. One minute, we say we're spending the weekend close to home due to Tony's job, and the next minute we're parking our car to go hike through the towns of Cinque Terre.

Then, all of a sudden we're looking at the leaning tower of Pisa. 


I also don't notice how we tend to just go with the flow and don't let things like rain storms stop us from riding bikes through Tuscan town, Lucca.

Or, how sometimes, we're exhausted and sweaty and hungry after hiking to the top of a steep town to find a particular restaurant only to be told, "You missed your reservation. You do not have time to eat here."

Nor do we allow closed museums and churches to ruin our Tuesday in Napoli. Instead, we just followed a tour guide into the abyss underneath the city. When asked to describe this polo-and-khaki- lacking tour guide to someone who has never been to Naples, Cooper said, "He looks the way I would look if I just rolled out of bed and were showing someone my apartment. Not an official guide to the underground of Naples."

Luckily for us, Cooper is as flexible as they come and fit right in with the Ramblin' Fam. He never complained and always seemed to be enjoying himself, even after we drove up to a restaurant with perfect views of the area only to be met with a sign that said, "chiuso il martedi."


What I'm most grateful for, though, was the way he took to Graham. Coop is a young bachelor with little experience around 3 year olds asking him questions and demanding his attention, but he just rolled with it. By the end of his trip, he and Graham were best buds.

If we were the type of people who planned and called ahead to make sure things are open, rushed to make reservations, checked the weather forecast, or made sure to change the really old battery in our car so that it doesn't break down in the parking garage at Herculanaem and we don't have to send our friend off on the train to find the museum he wanted to see and then find his way back to our house while we wait for a mechanic, well, then, we probably wouldn't have as much fun.

I like the way we travel, and I think Cooper did, too.

At least, I hope he did...