Thursday, July 28, 2011

another trip to the alps

They're sending 007 up to Landstuhl, Germany to have some crazy laser operation done to his eyes. He has to take me along with him, because he won't be allowed to drive himself for several days after the surgery.

Sooo, you know what this means!?!?!?

Road trip!

We're going to stop off near Verona and catch another Ben Harper concert on the night of our 6th wedding anniversary, then head to Switzerland to play in the mountains and sleep in the straw. After that, we'll spend some time exploring Germany and then head to the Netherlands to visit the cousin of 007's mom (not pictured in the map, because we actually haven't mapped it out that far, yet).

We'll be gone for a total of two weeks. I hope to be able to keep you updated, but don't fear if you don't hear from me. I'll probably be shooting the breeze with Ben Harper, or frolicking in a meadow on the top of a mountain somewhere in the Alps, or eating potatoes and sausages at a pub in Germany, or trying some delicious fondue in Switzerland, where Gruyere cheese originated, or sleeping with a horse in a barn, or swimming in a freezing lake....

Oh, and I'll probably also be taking care of my dear husband as his eyes heal.

I can't wait to bring you all along via the blog!

As long as you keep reading it, I'll keep writing it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

on a sadder note

It's not all fun and games over here at the Blaine house. Sometimes, we have to say goodbye to really good friends.

These are Graham's good buds, and I happen to love hanging out with their mom. She always serves me tea or coffee along with some sort of biscuit or cookie. She was even kind enough to babysit Graham while I went to the Ben Harper concert. I'm not sure what I am going to do without her.

This week is the last week we will see them. Graham cried when I told him. He didn't understand why we won't be able to just drive to their house anymore. It was not a fun conversation, but, sadly, I know it will not be the last.

This is life in the military. Just when you get cozy and start feeling like you've made good friends, it's time for one of you to leave.

It's the part I don't like. Waaaaahh. It makes me cry.

In an effort to not be a total Negative Nancy, I'll sign off by saying that I am just really glad we got the time we did have with them. They made the transition to Naples much easier than it otherwise would have been.

Thanks for everything, guys.

We're really going to miss you.

Friday, July 22, 2011

learning to swim

I keep noticing myself hoping that Graham does not turn out to be as inadequate as I am at many things.

Take swimming, for example. Let's just say that I have no clue how to dive and I still have to plug my nose when I jump in the water, because I never learned the art of breathing out when going under water.

Floating on my back? Forget about it. Not gonna happen.

Clearly, he doesn't have far to go to surpass my swimming abilities.

And, okay, I'll admit it. Graham was just a babe the summer Michael Phelps won a ton of gold medals and always looked adoringly at his mom up the the stands cheering him on. It just so happened that we owned a home with a swimming pool at the time. Obviously, this means I dreamed that my son would someday be an Olympic swimmer someday and he would thank me for getting him started in the water at such a young age (event though I have no clue how to teach him to swim).

Thanks to the help from his teacher (read: not me),  he's really getting the hang of it.

And he's enjoying every minute of it.

Who knows? Maybe my Olympic dreams for my kid will come true after all.

What? A mother can dream, can't she?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

rock in roma

I used to believe that it was all the pot smoke floating in the air that contributed to the high I've felt after attending Ben Harper concerts (I've seen him five times, now), but after last night, I no longer think that theory is true. Now, I can say with good amount of certainty that it is purely the music that leaves me feeling high.

When Ben Harper stepped away from the mic and onto the front of the stage where it was pouring down rain, and he silenced the audience and sang the lyrics (remember, without a mic, and we could all still hear him), "What is hard is much too true, and what is true is much too hard, so tell me where could I go but to the Lord," I knew that I was being taken away by his presence and his talent. Not by the marijuana vapors in the air.

Not to mention that prior to this performance, I got to hear Robert Plant sing, "Ramble On," among other great classics, as well as some of his new stuff.

I'm still deciding whether or not the whole thing was just a big, wonderful dream.

I figure there is only one way to confirm whether it was a dream or reality: I'm going to see them both again in a few days in Verona.

Because, after all, I've just gotta aaaaaa


and now's the time, the time is now


I'm goin' 'round the world, I gotta find my girl


I've been this way ten years to the day


gotta find the queen of all my dreams...

Monday, July 18, 2011

adventures with mama graham part 7

Since 007 had to leave for a work trip to an undisclosed location in Africa on Friday, Graham and I were left to entertain ourselves for the weekend.

So, naturally, we got on a boat (after driving to the port and unsuccessfully finding a parking spot and driving back to the train station to take a train to the port) and went to Procida.

Procida is a tiny island nestled in between the two bigger ones, Capri and Ischia. Since it is so tiny and less popular than the big ones, all the reviews I read promised that it would not be too crowded.

I guess I should have read the reviews a bit more carefully, because it was crowded. With locals, that is, rather than with tourists. Just like the reviews promised.

Yes. All Italian men wear speedos.

We ponied up to a tiny spot in the sand and had ourselves a grand 'ol time playing in the sand and waves.

What really made the day a success, though, was that Graham found himself another stick for his collection. Yes, that's right. He is a collector of sticks. He'll find one and play with it for awhile, and then ask his dad or I to carry it for him. This time, I made him carry his own stick. He didn't mind. He used it as a walking stick, which came in handy when we had to do some walking from the train to the car.

Graham always like to sit on the inside of ferry boats, because he loves the tables. I prefer to be outside with the view, but sometimes I let him have what he wants.

 There is a pile of sticks in Graham's room. It's kind of interesting to think about where each of the sticks might have come from. There might even be one from Lisbon or Istanbul.  This, however, is what usually happens to them.

I find them scattered throughout the house in the most obscure places.

I guess it's just all part of the experience of being "Mama Graham."

And I wouldn't trade this experience for the world.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

one year and one day

One year and one day ago, we first set foot in the land of Italia. To celebrate this milestone, here are some of my favorite Italian images I've captured and shared on this blog over the year.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, because order is just not something I do, here is a recap of our life in Italy thus far.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

scenes from a fun (and very late) evening

Graham is still sleeping, because he was up later than he's ever been in his life last night. Leave it to a good, Italian family to get me to keep my kid up late. Not even my own family has been successful in convincing me to do this. I've always been strict about his bedtime. Right, Mom?

We got invited to our landlord's daughter's graduation party last night. She graduated with a "law degree."

The party started at 9pm, so we were there right on time. We definitely should have known better, because nobody else showed up until 10pm.

I considered getting a babysitter, but decided our landlords would probably kick us out of our house if we didn't take Graham to their party. They love Graham. They shower him with kisses.


Just as we were getting ready to leave at midnight, la Madre, Theresa, said, "No, no! Aspetta per la torta!" Which means, "No. Wait for the cake."

So we waited. And then we had to wait for every single person in attendance to "faccio uno foto" with the graduate. Including us. The tired Americans.


And, suddenly, we were leaving at one in the morning...

I hope Graham remembers this night forever, because Italians know the true meaning of celebration and how to enjoy it to the fullest.

A lesson all kids should learn and hold onto for as long as possible.

Monday, July 11, 2011

our 4th of July (a week late in telling)

It all began on an uneventful Monday morn in the tent of the Blaines on the Eastern coast of Italy after a night of makings s'mores and staying up way too late.

"Mom!" proclaimed the young boy.

"Yes dear?"

"I am all wet. I think I got really sweaty in the night."

"Uh-oh. Hmmm, let's see. Yep, you're wet alright. Wow. That is a lot of sweat. Hmmm, let me smell it. Oh. Dear. That smells like pee."

"I didn't pee! I didn't pee!"

"Okay, okay, well, it sure does stink, and I don't know how in the world we are going to clean it."

Suddenly, the always logical, good-looking, young father piped up and said, "We'll just have to take down camp and sleep somewhere else tonight. Like at an agritourismo or something. It will be fine. Let's go to the beach first, though."

"Great idea, Honey!"

"Yay! The beach! What's an agritourismo?" asked the boy.

"It's like a hotel on a farm," explained the father.

"Oh boy!"

So, the Blaines ventured off to the beach to enjoy a lovely morning of jogging and swimming until it was time for them to break down their stinky tent, load up, and head into the coastal town of Vieste.

While there, they wandered aimlessly and enjoyed the charming streets and beautiful views, but eventually grew tired and hungry and decided to set out to the mountains toward their next destination.


On account of the windy roads making the young mother nauseous and the fact that the boy had to pee several times, the family stopped far more times than anticipated.

After getting run off from one agritourismo for asking to stay just one night, rather than at least a week, the Blaines became discouraged when signs for more agritourismos suddenly stopped appearing on their route.

While deciding that maybe they would just have to stay in the next town, there appeared a sign for "Monte Sacro Agritourismo."


Bells were ringing, birds were chirping, and there was a sweet breeze in the air. The Blaines had solved their problem. Until, they read that the agritourismo was another six kilometers up a very steep and windy road. They became scared that perhaps this place would not rent them a room for just one night and didn't want to make the drive up for nothing. Not knowing whether to turn and make the accent, or keep going into the next town, the young parents did what they always tend to do when they cannot make up their minds. They asked their son, "What should we do?"

"Let's just... go up there," he decided.

And so they did. They went up there. They encountered herds of goats on the road. The young mother became more nauseous and hungry at the same time. All they could do was hope that the place would be open.


And they were. Open. And willing to give the Blaines a very comfortable room and an exceptional meal for the evening.

It was like staying at an Italian grandparent's home. It was like Heaven.

The next morning, the Blaines enjoyed a tour of the farm from one of the young farmhands.

They had to prematurely end the tour so that the farmhand did not destroy anything in his attempt to show off.

That is where the story ends, I guess. Seems kind of abrupt. Let's try a more soothing ending.

Here we go:

And so, my friends, that is how the Blaines came to spend their 4th of July in the middle-of-nowhere, Italy.

Of course, naturally, they lived happily ever after and dreamed of one day having an agritourismo of their own.

The end.