Sunday, November 15, 2009

I know, I know, it’s been forever

We pretty much took the summer off. We did exactly what I thought we would do: lie around. The girls *did* do some activities. They did day camp for a few weeks, but it was pretty lame. O'Bryen did cheerleading and loved it. Gavriella played with her two best friends, and said goodbye to one when she moved back to the States. We didn’t go to the pool as often as we thought we would. Chris left the watch on July 1 and has been in charge of his own shop since. He’s been doing a lot of traveling–US, Germany, England–all multiple times. The girls are back in school and Siobhan has started preschool at an American preschool out in town. So Malcolm gets some alone Mommytime, which he likes. I started taking Italian lessons and it is going very, very slow.

We’re currently on vacation after being in Italy for a year. We’re in England for 12 days, staying at air force bases and driving through the countryside. It’s been an absolutely wonderful time. There is no garbage all over the place! They follow the traffic laws! The people stand in line instead of crowding the registers! Amazing! So far we’ve seen Cardiff, Wales, where they film Torchwood and Doctor Who, Cheddar, home to the Cheddar Man and cheddar cheese (and yes we have some), Stonehenge, and the Roald Dahl Museum. Tomorrow we’re making the Great Schlep to Hadrian’s wall and then the rest of the week will be in London.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Work Has Been Busy

Just a quick note to say I just got out of an exercise that lasted a few weeks. Now maybe I can get back to enjoying the company of my family.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Food allergies

When I was younger, I thought the idea of people being allergic to food was crazy. How can you be allergic to food?! But I guess karma bit me in the ass because all 4 kids of mine have food allergies. Malcolm is too young to test, but it’s clear he’s allergic to dairy because he has begun breaking out in hives. It used to be just red marks on the face wherever the allergen touched his skin. But now it’s hives. So no more mashed potatoes. And pasta has to have oil, not butter, on them. Two is the age where allergy testing can be done, but that’s 10 more months away. But mostly, the base here is not equipped to do testing. So when he’s eligible, we will either have to a) go to an Italian allergist and have the testing performed, b) go to Germany to one of the US Army bases there to be tested, or c) go to Portsmouth in VA to be tested. So we’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to come up with substitutions that will work for him AND the whole family. Malcolm can’t have dairy and Siobhan can’t have eggs, so it looks like vegan and whole food cooking is the way to go. The kids don’t like meat very much and I try not to eat it often, even though I do eat meat. Chris is a carnivore to the bone. So the kids will probably eat mostly if not totally veg, Malcolm will be mostly vegan, I will be *mostly* veg but probably not totally, and Chris is and will remain a carnivore to the bone. But the whole point of this post is, I’m searching for a good vegan cookbook for families (a vegan cookbook and a vegan cookbook geared to families are two very different things) with ingredients found at any grocery store (not specialty stores) and are easy to make. I’ve found several online, but can’t spend $50 on various cookbooks when what I *would* do is get them at the library first. But since our library has about 10 books, they’re not going to have any. So, does anyone know of any good vegan cookbooks that fit the above mentioned criteria.

I was so excited. I made a pasta dish last night that happened to be vegan. SO I gave some to Malcolm today and he had his nice vegan lunch of very simple ingredients…and then spit half of it out. I’ll try again later, because I have tons of this stuff and someone has to eat it!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stormy weather

It’s been a very rainy few days lately. The other day we had a storm that produced hail and trampled some of my flowers I have in pots. Then last night it poured and drowned half of them. THEN! two of my flower pots broke, one to smithereens. So that has made me pretty annoyed. My strawberries and tomatoes are doing fine though, thanks to them being on a table against a wall and away from the rain.

Speaking of tomatoes, I have never grown them before. So I bought some seeds and planted about half of them in one big pot, because surely not all of them will grow. Wellllll, they did, and I have about 30 plants growing in a pot built for one. So I put a notice up saying free tomatoes so people will take them off my hands. It’s either that or off to the compost with them.

It is really, really killing me that we don’t have a yard to plant, but I’m starting to learn the joys of container gardening. I plan on planting a lot more vegetables next year. When I was a little older than Siobhan, my mom planted a garden in the backyard that yielded nothing. Frustrated, she gave me some seeds (because clearly they were duds) and told me to go outside and play one day. So I went to the backyard and happily threw seeds left and right, having such a great time. I even remember spilling some on the stone steps. Much to my mother’s annoyance, the seeds grew and we had asparagus, onions, and I think peas growing all.over.the yard. For years! I’m trying to get the kids involved as much as I can. They get to pick and eat the strawberries when they ripen. But we have very little of those. What veggies are good to grow in the summer?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Houston, we have walking

That’s right. Mr. Malcolm is (kindof) walking. He had been taking a step, then two, then three. Then today I watched him walk for nearly a full minute. Let’s see a count of hands for how unfair this is that Little Boy is growing up so fast! Yeah, that’s what I thought. I would like it noted that Malcolm is 13 months old, and his sister decided that 16 months was the proper age for walking.

I just stepped (slightly, not full on squishing mind you) on a slug for the second time this evening. And by this evening, I mean past 20 minutes. Buggers are quite slimy.

One of the joys of Italy is having a balcony. We have 2, and frankly I think every good apartment has 2, a larger one and a smaller one. Houses have several. I’m sitting on my front balcony enjoying a glass of wine and chips and salsa (because when one thinks of wine, one thinks of chips and salsa) and enjoying the cool evening. The temp inside with the AC is the same as outside right now, so I think I’ll turn the AC off.

The kids have finished school, finally this past Thursday. The will be going to camp this week here with the base recreation. O'Bryen also starts cheerleading camp this week. I think she’ll like it, but we’ll see.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful… beautiful boy

School days

This is *finally* the girls’ last week of school. They have never been in school for so long. Last summer we felt cheated out of a summer break since we spent the ENTIRE summer working on the house. And I mean the ENTIRE SUMMER. It sucked. But we vowed that next summer would absolutely be fun and dare say it will be! I bought a bunch of arts and crafts for the girls to do. We also have a pool pass and can go any time we want. Hopefully we’ll make it up to Florence and Rome this summer too. I just checked on hotels for Rome for this weekend, and they are very expensive. So I think I need to ask around first.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Oy, took long enough to get the pictures off the camera (technical difficulties). Gavriella and my trip to Rome was lovely. I loved being with my girl and having a special day. I would’ve LOVED to have spent more time at the museum, but we were on a strict run-through-the-museum schedule. I did see a few things I studied in college, To see them with my own eyes was utterly amazing. Now all I have to do is go downtown to see all the Greek art and go to Paris to see the Winged Victory of Samothrace and I will be a happy happy girl.

My gorgeous Gavriella waiting patiently for 2 hours to get into the museum.

St. Peter’s spires

St. Peter’s square. The people gathering were there for a mass celebrating the beatification of some saints. This was taken about 2 hours before mass started.

I studied this in college. I don’t remember the name, but I know it was originally made in bronze by the Greeks. The Romans copied it in marble, and then melted down the bronze.

This is Laocoon and His Sons. Again, I studied it in college. It was always one of my favorites, even though it is rather violent.

This is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It’s blurry because we couldn’t use a flash. And it’s crooked because we weren’t supposed to take pictures period, so I had to be stealth…along with the 200 other people who were flagrantly taking pictures.

As we were leaving I spotted these 2 cars.

Let’s face it, I took the pic for Sam. But! If you notice the dumpsters in front of them, they do NOT have garbage overflowing out of them. Unlike here:

This is actually a good garbage day. Normally the whole concrete area is covered in garbage and is several feet high. Oh well.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Phineas and Ferb

O'Bryen’s watching this hilarious show called Phineas and Ferb. I think it’s from the Disney channel, but we watch it on the AFN family channel here. It’s 2 brothers who are always having these huge adventures and their older sister is always trying to expose them to their parents, thus, getting them in trouble. But of course she always fails. They have a pet duck-billed platypus who is actually a secret agent who always disappears and saves the world. He has a nemesis Dr. somethingorother. But the best part is it’s chock full of tiny little jokes for the moms and dads who will be watching it with their kids. I secretly get very excited when it comes on.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Well I got my hair cut today, finally! It had been probably close to a year I think. Maybe not that long, but still pretty long. Anyway, it was in Pinetamare, which is about 30 minutes away. The people who own the place are a family (father, mother, son) who lived in Rhode Island for many years before moving back to Italy. So their English is great and they understand you when you say “I don’t want bangs”. They have a lot of American clients, two of which are O'Bryen and Gavriella’s teachers. He put a lot of layers in, which is good, but was dangerously starting to look like a mullet. So I convinced him to cut it shorter in the back and it looks much better. And all for 25euro, which is fantastic.

Since it was out in town, I had to drive my big ol’ van. I’m getting much better with my Italian driving. But having the van does have its complications. Chris has dinged it up a bit at work trying to fit in the ridiculously small parking spaces. And I’ve had to drive on curbs to avoid hitting parked cars. But thankfully we have been expecting this, so it’s not as such a big deal as it would be in the States.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

One chapter ends, another begins

We sold the house. It became official last Tuesday at 11pm our current time. And although I am very very happy to have sold it, I’m a bit sad as well. Now we have nothing physical that ties us to Omaha. Sometimes I think maybe we should’ve just rented it, but then I think of the economy and people losing their jobs. Friends of ours here have their house in Texas rented and the tenants just lost their job. So what if that would’ve happened in our case too? It’s all right. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so I am at peace with our decision. So now we don’t have a house hanging over our heads, it’s time to travel! This summer will probably be spent galavanting around Italy, mainly Rome and Florence. Then we’re hoping (very tentative at this point) to go to England in October.

We’re having trouble getting the pictures of Rome off the camera. Once we do, I’ll put them up.

New kicks

Siobhan and O'Bryen needed sandals for the summer, so I ordered some from Target. But at Target, if you spend $50, you get free shipping, so I had to get some more things too (and it was all actually needed). So they came in and both girls loved their new sandals. Siobhan didn’t want to take them off when going to bed, and only relented when we let them be right on the floor beneath her bed. She then put them on immediately upon waking the next day. But anyway, I ordered her some shorts, that turns out didn’t fit. So they I went to the exchange the other day and got her some that happened to come with a belt. Boy does she love that belt! She tried threading it herself several times. She did look very cute in her new clothes. I bought some new clothes for myself since last year at this time I was postpartum and my clothes are thus too big. 3 pairs of capris and a blouse. Chris bought Gavriella a new pair of sneakers that she can just slide her foot into and not lace. She loves them. So all the girls got new stuff and the boys got bupkis.

The weather has gotten warmer, thankfully. Up until last week, it had been raining and in the 50s and 60s. We’ve been about 10ยบ warmer this week. Having lots of big windows and glass doors helps a lot since we can’t turn on the air conditioning yet. At night I close the shutters nearly all the way, but leave a window open so some cool air comes in. It works fine, but the stench from Veusvius comes in too. Now for those who don’t know, Vesuvius is constantly emitting sulfur fumes due to it being an active volcano. So at night, the stench of sulphur is pretty strong. But once day breaks, it gets burned off, so you don’t smell it anymore (OK, sometimes you do, but that’s when it’s cloudy and overcast, never when it’s sunny). It’s just a weird thing to have to get used to.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thoughts on Rome vs. Naples

This past Sunday, Gavriella and I went to Rome with the USO to see the Vatican. That I will talk about later, because all my pictures are still on my camera. We had a good time together. After the tour, we were given an hour of free time before we had to get back to Naples, so Gavriella and I ordered some food from a vendor who had a food stand and sat on a wall across the street near some trains. She enjoyed seeing the pigeons (didn’t have a lot of them near our house in Omaha, more downtown birds) and was afraid they would take her food. We then walked to a local market where just about everything was being sold. We got some tchochkes for everyone and I did all my communication in Italian, which was actually quite easy because I just said the same thing. But I was able to understand them when they said something to me too, so that made me feel good. The whole experience brought my confidence up regarding going out in town, which was nice. After the hour, we shlepped back to the bus, and made our way back to Naples. The drive to and from is quite lovely–lots of soft rolling hills and towns perched on the tops of them. You could make out the church because it was in the center of town and thus higher than the rest of the buildings. They looked quite old and I wanted to fly out of the bus and into the towns to check them out. Maybe some other time. It was immediately apparent when we were back in the Naples area–garbage suddenly everywhere, half built buildings, roads in disrepair. Immediately I felt disappointed we had to live here. Rome was so beautiful, even just the small part we drove through (the Coliseum and other ruins are on the other side of the river, so we didn’t see those), and Naples is so, so crappy. It’s amazing how better one feels when not surrounded by rubbish.

I’m currently reading Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano. It’s about the mafia here in Naples and how it permeates everything. They are absolutely to blame as for why the area is the way it is, but we knew that before we came here, or read the book. At least I know I don’t have to go far for a nice reprieve.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A shameless plug, amongst other things

If you are a parent or will recently become a parent, check out my friend’s blog:
In other news, it was GLORIOUS today! I put Malcolm in the mei tai and we went for a walk. Then we came home and opened all the windows and doors to let the breeze in. It’s now after 10pm and we still have some windows open. The great thing about this part of Italy I have discovered is the temperature seems to be pretty constant. There is none of this “70s today, 40s tomorrow” crap you have in the US. It’s been in the 60s for 2 weeks.
We also got to talk to our friends at Friedel today! I love modern technology. We used Skype and talked to some teachers and classmates. It was so, so wonderful. Tomorrow we’ll try it again. The girls lament the fact we are no longer there (at Friedel). I feel sad about all the things they are missing, but such is the life we lead.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Chris and I are finding ourselves spending more time on cleaning than we did in the States. It is because of 2 things: tile flooring and european toilet design. We have lovely ceramic tile flooring throughout our apartment; the Italians are not fond of carpeting. But we are constantly sweeping or mopping because messes are much easier to see. And unfortunately the american cleaning products just don’t cut the mustard. The toilets are lowflow, but the design of the bowl means we are cleaning it constantly, which is not a job either of us enjoy. So what’s the solution? Hire a cleaning lady! She came on Friday and did everything we have wanted to do but have been unable, due to various reasons. And she used Italian cleaning products and boy did they really work. The floor actually shined. She won’t be here this week, but will be back the week after, and then weekly from there on. Seeing how the floor is actually clean and not it-*may*-be-clean like with carpets has convinced us we never need carpet again.

On a completely different note, I’m watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind for the first time. How have I not watched this before?! It’s fabulous!!!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ah spring…

Spring has arrived in Naples. Today was lovely! Lots of sun, even though rain was predicted. Tomorrow is supposed to be even better, woohoo! Chris had today off as well as tomorrow through Thursday. Today we went to Capodichino (which is where Chris works, about 20 minutes away) to pick up our mail. Yes, we have to drive 20 minutes to get the mail. Chris drove us to the top of the parking garage so we could see the view. I couldn’t believe how much we could see! Unfortunately it happened to be cloudy at that very moment, and I only had my phone, but I still got some neat pictures of Mt. Vesuvius. She is covered in clouds, so you don’t get to see her full height.

Here’s a better one. The cars below are on the Tangenziale, which is a toll-highway. You can also see the buildings better, which pretty much covers all you can see, even pretty far up the mountain. By the way, Vesuvius is still listed as an active volcano.

We could even see to the other side of the Bay of Naples. If it hadn’t been cloudy *at that very moment*, I could’ve gotten a lovely shot of it. Even though Naples is pretty filthy, I still feel very fortunate we are having this opportunity living here.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Welcome to our new website. Fran will be adding content soon. We hate to be away from all of you; this might help us stay in touch.