Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ridiculous funny moments with our family

Opening presents brings the usual take your time comments from the parents but this year Sissy joined in with those admonishments to her brother. Take your time! Make the moments last!

Reading the gift labels and scritchy scratchy handwriting that was on them brought the laughs after To: Kristen From: Mommy and Salty? Who's Salty... oh, that says "Daddy"! Yeah... fun times!

Not changing traditions has brought many cries from our college girl! Maybe the fact we've just moved to a new home has changed things a bit for the parents. Less energy for Christmas preparations...

Poor Nativity set folks - one visitor to the manger is now footless because Kitty jumped down off the windowsill and this visitor flew onto the floor. They are now a "plegic"! So every time she jumps up there, we holler "no more plegics"! We can't differentiate between para and quadriplegics since they are made of resin and half of the body may break if it hits the floor. Here's hoping for no more tragedies this year.

Butch and Muffin really wanted to join in helping prepare dinner last evening when we were trimming and slicing meat from the full leg of prosciutto. We received 2 of these wonderful things for Christmas and will be able to make our favorite pasta with sugo di prosciutto. Yum! Yes, Kristen, people do say Yum about food!

Watched Julie and Julia again and loved every moment of it. Cooking is a favorite thing with Kristen and me (especially together) and we holler with laughter, sing and dance while doing it. I really miss this when she returns to school!  Yesterday I tested just how high I can sing and my expression must really be something to behold based on their reactions! I passed my usual high note but not without lots of breath support and opening my mouth as wide as possible! Drop that tongue said Kristen - and it worked like magic! By jove I believe she's learned something at college!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Back to the "normal" and Christmas is coming!

Normal. What is normal? Normal is our usual schedule of life but a new home with different needs makes normal abnormal! Adjusting is required. Change is good? Change is stressful. Change is exciting. Life goes on.

School has to be structured but we don't like structure all the time... Such a struggle of inner thoughts and frustrations. Getting down to it is hard but moves along once we start. Homeschooling is interrupted by life. Only my homeschooling friends will relate to these thoughts and frustrations and ideas. Trying to be too much like normal school is not fun and not possible when doing it at home unless you take one room and make that your school room and you closet yourselves in there during specific times. Perhaps that works for some people but we haven't succeeded. Our happiest, most successful strategy is to snuggle in on the couch in the living room. Why not! Good memories will come from learning while sitting side by side on the couch with our doggies close by. I think they're learning a lot too!

The Christmas decorations are sitting patiently waiting in the garage and the corner of the living room will soon be a busy place with a big, beautiful tree. Tonight will be the time for decking the halls and transforming this new house into our home with thoughts of Christmases past and present. Only 12 more days until Kristen arrives!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Catching up on posts - Free books!!!

The doggies are outside barking - will they do this when we move? Will there be enough activity around our house to interest them?

NetGalley and free books I have found through ENT and Inspired Reads via Facebook have kept me occupied and away from sharing our exploits here in Italy. We live a quiet life for the most part. That will soon be changed when we move to the cemetery and there will be opportunities to explore outside and get to know our new home surroundings. Plus, I will have a neighbor who speaks English almost right next door!

Back to the free books though...  It is addictive! The chance to download books for free is hard to refuse. If you've seen our bookshelves in our homes, you'd understand why this is so. There are very few books I've "met" that I don't like!

I'm almost tempted to keep the "real" books packed and just keep my Kindle full. That way, it will be much easier to dust and to pack up again for the next move down the road - whenever and wherever that will take us!

Please take a look at ENT and Inspired Reads, if you dare! I've warned you that it is hard to resist and super addictive. Almost so much so that you'll only be downloading books and never be able to read them all!!!

Moving... again

A cool, crisp day in November. I remember last year sitting and taking a picture of the sunshine on the floor in our dining room. Now I'll be leaving this home to move to the new home on the cemetery grounds. Hopefulness fills my soul with the thoughts of setting up my crafts corner in the new large laundry room. Happiness fills my soul at the thought that Kristen will soon be joining us for the Christmas holiday and we will have adventures in the new kitchen together. Motivation is refilled at the thought of homeschooling in the large living room/dining room where our desktop computer will be centrally located to make online work easier. So many thoughts - I'm ready to get down to business with packing and moving! No matter how many moves we make, there is always the thought that this time/this home will be easier, better... something... yeah...

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life by Jesse Goossens

I just finished this wonderful story and was sad that it was over!  Since I am an American living in Europe, I could understand what differences Anna was experiencing with customs and the way things are done in the U.S.  I loved the small town she visited with the friendly people at every new place she visited.  They made her feel at home just as I did by reading the story.  I'd love to live in a small town just like Bakerton!  In such a short time, Anna found a home there and grew to be a part of the big family that a small town is.  I'd recommend this book to anyone who wanted to read a story that made them feel good and to keep an open mind about new things!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reviewing books through netGalley

I just successfully downloaded my first book to my Kindle to start my new "job" as a book reviewer through!  I can't imagine a better way to work than to read!  All I can say right now is the book is by Wanda Brunstetter and her website is  She writes books about the Amish and also Christian fiction.  My first review will be published later as there are rules regarding not publishing them too soon before the release date.  But, that being said, I'm going to have a wonderful time reading in the meantime!

It's time for bed and it is the last evening of Summer for the Italians as they start back to school tomorrow.  As a result, we just had booming fireworks going off in the neighborhood at the assigned time of 11pm (ok it's not an assigned time but it seems to be a common time for them to let loose with many more fireworks than we would do on the 4th of July in our own neighborhoods)!  Now I hear more off in the distance.  It's time for sure to take our doggies upstairs so they can settle down for the night.  As for me, I'll be happily propped up and reading my new book for a while!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A visit back "home" in the Netherlands

Happiness is flying from Rome to Dusseldorf so you can have a mini vacation back North in the Netherlands!  This weekend is the 6th "Requiem" or Memorial Concert at the Netherlands American Cemetery on Sunday afternoon.  They are performing the Missa Solemnis by Beethoven.  We just checked the weather and they are predicting thunderstorms with heavy rain, wind and hail.  After the recent concerts that had stages collapse due to winds and storms, they will be watching this very carefully.

Meanwhile, we've been enjoying staying and John and Liz's Bed and Breakfast! A lovely dinner was had last evening at Steak Leon in Oirsbeek. Mike and I had the mixed grill platter and Liz had the liver and onions and I tasted it and it was better than liver has a right to be!  I loved it!  We came back and Mike had to work on a report and the rest of us listened to music and I had my first dirty vodka martini. It has green olives in it and anything with green olives is good in my book!  Then we drove to Kerkrade and picked up Michael from his visit with A.J.  He had a great time but hated to have to leave.  I felt that way with my visit with Lisa too!  I sure miss my girlfriends up here!

Today we are relaxing a bit (a lot) and enjoying it.  The boys are going to go hit some golf balls which cures whatever ails you.  Liz and I will relax and visit.  Later we'll go to Schinnen (the happiest place on Earth - a family joke) and shop a little.  Then we are going to Wok Paradijs for dinner.

Jeff Dunham's DVDs are a favorite with us throughout this visit.  We marvel at his abilities and have so much fun laughing at his performances.  He's so real.  It's what we all are like in real life anyway...

Keep posted for more fun in the Netherlands...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Campania - Our view as we drove home from Naples

The beautiful countryside we have to our right as we drive back up towards Nettuno. Not all of the views are this beautiful but this definitely improves the mood as we make our way home. The interesting pine trees that are so different from the ones up North and the mountains with the setting sun upon them. Beautiful!
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Weekend bliss/home leave reflections

Life, quiet, watching food network on AFN, things to do but nothing too urgent, enjoying being home. Loving cross stitching again after a long break from anything crafty. Decided that the happiness Mike gets from golf is equal to the happiness I feel while stitching or doing anything crafty. Settling back into our home life vs. the frenetic activity of home leave. It's always great to visit the States and experience/eat everything we don't have at our fingertips in Europe. We love seeing family and friends and miss them when we return to Italy (or where ever it is that we are living at the time). This was our 5th home leave and we get smarter each time in planning for and living through, even to the returning with not too much stuff bought that it doesn't fit in the luggage we already brought.  Bittersweet when leaving Kristen behind in Pennsylvania. It was really hard this time and I guess it's going to continue to be difficult every time we part. Our family is like many other career military/federal families that our family is very close knit since we are all that we have consistently to depend upon. Extended family members are in one place all their lives and we are the moving pieces that live a new adventure each place we are posted. Looking forward to Skyping soon with Kristen. More posts to come complete with pictures from our trip! Stay tuned....

Friday, June 3, 2011

Julie and Julia reprise

Watching Julie and Julia again with Kristen over lunch.  That is why I even thought of blogging but I failed the first time and moderately succeeded this time.  At least I posted more than once!

So this morning, Kristen asks me "how do you say 'thank you' in French" because it was gone from her head...  Like the title of my blog implies, many many words flew through my brain but did "merci" come to mind?  Oh no!  

Loving the first scene of Julia (Meryl Streep) trying to flip her eggs!  "You can always put it together - if you're alone in the kitchen, who's to know!"  So true!  Thank goodness!

So today, we'll go to the store to get some fresh veggies and fruit and other necessary items.  On my list to make:  strawberry shortcake, lemon cookies (to surprise Mike when he gets home from Paris) and who knows what for dinner!

The start to the weekend is fantastic starting out with this movie.  Bon appetit!

P.S.  Loving watching chick flicks with Kristen while she's home!  It's the best!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

When they don't understand what you're saying...

We went to the airport on May 10th to pick up Kristen and got there early so we could have breakfast.  I wanted a cappuccino BUT Mike said caffe... I said cappuccino and then the receipt said both and I took both and drank them, because you can't ever have too much caffeine first thing in the morning!  I REALLY wanted to be awake when Kristen walked through the doors from Customs!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Awesome Tomato Soup recipe!!!

Hallie's Tomato Soup

1 - 32oz can diced tomatoes (or 16oz crushed and 16oz diced)
1 - 9oz can chicken broth (or pour from a box)
2T sugar
1 sm. chopped onion
2T butter
2 cup cream
pinch of baking soda

Melt butter and add onions and sugar and saute until soft and translucent.  Then add the rest of the ingredients (except for the cream) and simmer until it is evenly heated.  Then stir in the cream and let it warm thoroughly through.  Serve!

(Kristen and I adapted Hallie Mykrantz's recipe through making it many times and sometimes doing it without the recipe so we've forgotten the baking soda and maybe used more tomatoes or less broth and it comes out just fine.  It's a very cook friendly recipe and very forgiving!)

Monday, March 21, 2011


Good morning Monday!  It's been a quiet morning so far.  I started the day with a shower and, even though our bathroom isn't my idea of wonderful, it did feel great!  I came downstairs and fed my "zoo" (Chris will laugh!) complete with giving Muffin her medicine and protecting Kitty's uneaten food from the marauding dogs...  A big cup of hot mint tea for me with a chocolate chip roll is my breakfast.  I forgot to mention that I came down to find Michael asleep on the couch.  He has had first Butch, then Muffin, then Muffin and Butch snuggling in with him.  I think he's lucky!  I'm getting a chance to blog, upload recent pictures and watch some morning TV (Hoda and Kathie Lee & The View... maybe).  Then we're on to getting in gear for our school day.  Two lessons again each day which will bring us to another set of tests.  I'm not sure how much I can do in the car on Wednesday since we have another trip to Naples for doctor visits and shopping (at the big American Commissary - yay!).  It's hard for me to decide just what to buy that is really needed and better to buy there with dollars vs. shopping in town here with euros.  The exchange rate makes it more expensive but some things are just better when bought locally and fresh.

The quiet was broken by neighborhood dogs barking.  Both of ours responded and woke up Michael!  I guess it's time to take them out for a run around the yard or two.  Happy week to all!!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Morning Bliss! Cappuccino!

What could be better than Italian coffee with Torani vanilla syrup and frothed milk?  Yum!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Saturday wanderings

On the way to Lido dei Pini (Pines)

A quiet day at the beach

One lone fisherman

Small waves

Larger waves

A man cleaning the beach

A good day for snails (like the ones we had on Valentine's Day)
I told Mike they'd have to visit a lot of railings though for the amount they served just at our table...

A sign outside a shop - which one jumps out at you?  Hot Dog!  Made us laugh!

Driving in downtown Nettuno on the way to the supermarket...

Gino's hair salon (a great place despite the graffiti)

The underground parking at the supermarket was full due to the rain (we parked just outside)

I'm still contemplating what sort of small car would be best...
Our Town & Country van is a bear to drive downtown not to mention parking...

The school across from the cemetery where Michael would go if he attended the local Italian school.
I'm hoping it is a lot better inside than out.  Homeschooling it is!

I'm loving my new camera.  I'm starting to use the manual settings and having fun taking better pictures than ever before.  Plus, the chance to share them on Facebook and this blog is fantastic.  I'm looking forward to better weather so that I can go outside more (other than watching the dogs go to the bathroom... :P) and take pictures of the beautiful world around this part of Italy.  Plus more pictures of Butch, Muffin and Kitty - our willing photo subjects.  Then I'll be experienced enough to take some great photos when we go on home leave!  That time is rapidly approaching - July 8!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Meet Butch!

I haven't made any posts this week because, as you can see, we have a new baby in our family. His name is Butch and he is 3 months old. While at the vet clinic with Kitty, we met this wonderful man and woman who turned out to speak English. Of course they did, they're British! So we got to talking and they told us about the litter of puppies that they had from the dear stray dog they had rescued from the streets. Baloola is a smallish gray curly haired dog who is very friendly and affectionate. So were her puppies! We looked at the pics they had posted on the board and thought all of them were extremely cute. There was a tan one, a brown one with green eyes, a black one, a white one with black mask around his eyes and Butch (it was certain Baloola was a very popular girl indeed!).  Weeks actually went by and we talked about it (me, more than Mike) and, finally, last Friday, I made the call that would eventually bring this dear little guy into our lives and hearts. He is the sweetest puppy and gets along well with Muffin and Kitty which is a very good thing since they are the bosses of our lives (or so it seems sometimes). He loves all of us but can tell that Michael is "his boy" and follows him around and sleeps in his room at night. Puppy love has struck for sure!
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Shot My Rich Aunt

Kristen is the dearly departed up there in this poster for the play that is being staged this weekend.  She's not dead from the start though and will be having a great time playing the role of Vallonia.  I sure wish we could be there to see this.  It certainly is hard to have your favorite actress across an ocean in Pennsylvania!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

All snuggled up

Here's a picture of our dear Kitty! I had to snap this one day when she was all snuggled in on Kristen's Penn State snuggie. What else would one do with a snuggie but snuggle, right! I've said on more than one occasion that I could easily be a cat since she is able to find so many interesting comfortable places to take a nap.
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thoughts while cutting the cheese...

Anyone laughing?  If you're part of our family, you would be!  Anyway, I planned to make a thick slice of ham for dinner in the oven and thought that homemade mac 'n cheese would be the winner side dish.  So, into the fridge I dove to look for those blocks of cheddar cheese we bought last trip to Naples.  Yippee!  I found them - both the sharp (yum) and the mild and brought them to the table for the said cutting.  Then I decided that having some of my nice Pinot Rosa frizzante wine would be a good idea to help me assemble dinner.  It sure helps one's mood in any case!

Well, I've run to the kitchen, drained the macaroni, realized maybe I could have made a bit more because I'm not used to making small amounts and I was afraid I'd make too much for the smaller casserole... for the smaller oven that can't fit both the ham and the mac n' cheese in my bigger Pyrex bowl.  Ahhh more cheese was the answer.  I piled that on top to take up a bit of space but I'm sure the two M's will figure this out right away!  They'll feel cheated with the mini dish of macaroni... to have our new bigger oven in the new house (yet to be built)...

I decided to make this wonderful dinner in the oven because my days will be numbered when I can stand turning on the oven and staying in the kitchen for longer than a minute or two.  Yes, no air conditioning in mid to Southern Italy is a bad idea in a kitchen.  But that goes along with the lack of that wonderful invention called a dishwasher.  I am now officially sick and tired of washing dishes by hand.  Not that I could wash them by foot or knee or anything else but this came to mind when my friend's friend mentioned putting a measuring cup that measured water into the dishwasher when it really wasn't dirty...  Oh how I miss those days of loading and unloading the dishwasher!  Of course, once I have one again, I'll get quickly tired of loading and unloading it and think seriously of using disposable dishes!

Then, I looked up to see the news and realized that I'm truly thankful for my small oven, for food to cook in the said oven, for those dishes and water and soap and all of the things we don't even take a moment to consider as we use them or look at them during the day.  I sit in a warm home that isn't in the midst of a horrible Winter storm or in the path of a horrifically scary cyclone (Australia).  Back to pondering and thinking and sipping my glass of fizzy wine and keeping in touch with my friends via blogs and Facebook.  I may not have these folks in the same room with me but we can always stay in closer touch than ever before.  Life is good.  Buona sera everyone!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Happiness found on a Monday

This is me sitting in my comfy chair with my trusty laptop and Kitty on her favorite snuggle up spot.  Meanwhile, the Nutcracker M&M dispenser guards me as I blog...  Fun, right?  Michael took this picture of me as I  was sitting there not realizing he had his camera.

Today, I found a wonderful book "The Thousand Gifts" and blog "aholyexperience" by Ann Voskamp.  She's a breath of fresh air and a bit of Spring in this everlasting Winter.  I know... it's only January 31.  But, her voice and message was so well timed for me.  I encourage everyone to check her blog and book.  Dayspring is going to have a book club/discussion vlog starting on Feb. 6.  I'll be there!

I also enjoyed reading Ree Drummond's blog about her trip to New York for a TV interview about her new book that is about to be released.  She is funny and smart and just like every one of us.  But when she writes about life's every day happenings, she makes us laugh instead of grumble.  This is one of my favorite people for sure!

Homeschool today was brief but Michael covered 4 tests he needed to complete so that is definitely a positive point on a Monday afternoon.  I so appreciate all of my friends who are teachers!

Maybe tomorrow I can have a visit with my pictures upstairs in the room yet to be unnamed!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Progress in my Rumpus Room

I'm trying to come up with a good name for my crafts room upstairs.  The "Sanity Sanctuary", "Happy Place", the "Inner Sanctum", "Go Away" (no, that would be a mean name :p).  Maybe my friends can help me with this fun task?  I came up with Rumpus Room since it gave the post a fun title.  Didn't they used to call the kids' play rooms Rumpus Rooms???  A long, long, time ago?

Yesterday, after Michael and I were finished with school, Mike needed my help with tackling the job of sorting the boxes and unpacking some of my craft supplies (as they surfaced from the columns of nicely, but incorrectly, labelled boxes from our move.  We both had fun and got a bit misty (or more) eyed (ok, tears were running down my cheeks at one point!) at the pictures of the kids in the albums that happily came forth from some of the boxes.  Michael standing in the bathroom in just his undies when he was 3 with his electric toothbrush with a big grin on his face, Kristen playing her tap a tune piano in her castle bed with not stitch of clothing on!  Hopefully, she wears clothes now when she's playing her roll up piano we got her for Christmas!

Some boxes are definitely ones we need to take and put aside until after we move to our new house this Fall at the cemetery...  Others, well as best can be described, are eclectic collections of whatever the packers found at the time and shoved into a box with just the location of where it was written on the side...  I HATE THIS KIND OF BOX!  Of course, none so far have rivaled the box of knives I came upon when unpacking in the Netherlands -- a box of sharp knives, no wrapping, no protection to unwitting hands who are unpacking in the kitchen... yes, I left this box to the last I remember when unpacking 5 years ago!

It will take one more day of work in the room to clear the boxes out and setting up of the computer, moving a printer upstairs (yes, I have two on our desk downstairs!) and then maybe, just maybe, I can get down to working on those pictures or making new fun projects with the new sewing machine I have my eye on at Euronics!  I'm going to "splurge" and buy a machine for around 100 euros that is just 220 volts so all I have to do is plug the thing in and sew.  The one I have now  is a simple Singer we bought around 1996 in Germany at the BX because it was dual voltage.  It needs a bit of TLC (or a professional tuneup) and it'll cost more to do that than buy a new one!  I so hate the fact that these days it's cheaper to buy a new something than get the old one repaired!

Now it's time to wake up Michael (he's turned into a night owl now that he's a teenager!) so our schedule for school won't be totally trashed...  Tune in next time for the progress report and maybe pictures and don't forget to send me ideas for the name of my room!  You may win a prize!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kitty's first trip to the Vet a/k/a Disney for animals in Italy!

Kitty & Michael - Christmas 2010

Kitty is our sweet cat that adopted us in Belgium back in 2003 at Henri-Chapelle.  She's a well travelled Cat.  In fact, she's been to more foreign countries than many people.  She's moved with us to France and then to the Netherlands and now is happily settled in with us here in Italy.  She hasn't been feeling well lately as evidenced by her finding places other than her litter box to relieve herself.  Needless to say, this isn't fun for her or us.  So I let my fingers do the walking on Google Chrome and found what I suspected to be the case - a possible urinary tract infection.  Michael called Mike today at the office (it was a Sunday you know...) and told him what the recent news was.  At 5, Mike called me and said get Kitty ready to take her to the vet as soon as he got home.  I was a little surprised at this as the only vets I know of that are open on weekends or Sunday evenings are usually emergency vets.  Apparently, this is one more thing that is different here in Italy from all of the other places we've lived.  Our friend lives close to the vet which is really only 5-10 minutes from here (minus any train crossing delays...) and he met us and led us straight to the clinic.  I expected a small office in a strip center.  Nope!  We drove up to a large white building all lit up with a large parking lot (almost unheard of here) and we walked in the double doors to find a row of offices on the left for about 4 vets and at the end was the emergency clinic (which we were not visiting), in the middle of the large hall were two rows of chairs and on the right was a large pet supply store.  Also included in this Disneyland for pets was a groomer and also a self-serve pet bathing room.  I'm surprised that the vending machines didn't serve snacks and drinks for the animals vs. those for the humans...  But, they did, of course, have their coffee machine because there are few places in Italy very far from the possibility of getting a cup of coffee!

We signed our name on the clipboard on the door of the vet and sat down.  More people came in with their cats and dogs while we were waiting.  Most of the animals in the carriers had blankets wrapped around them just as their owners had their heavy winter coats on (which they've been wearing no matter the temperature since September).  Our friend told us that they definitely think that pet care is a priority here and treat their animals like royalty. 

Finally, it was our turn.  We went into the office and the Dr. asked about the problem and then said he would need to get a urine sample and stepped out to another room.  Mike and I were wondering how he would go about doing this with a cat.  In minutes we found out just how one accomplishes this.  He asked me to hold her by the scruff of the neck and then he started examining her underside.  He obviously squeezed some important spots and out shot his sample onto the table.  He collected what he needed and then did an analysis.  Back he came to give her a shot that included antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory and advised that she needed to eat a special food now.  All of this for 10 euros!  The new cat food cost more than that!  We get to go back tomorrow for another checkup and shot but we now know where our pets will be pampered for sure!  Just one more step on the way to feeling like we live here!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday musings

A rainy Saturday morning greeted me today.  Normally, I would be sad that it wasn't going to be sunny and beautiful outside but today is a perfect day for rain!  Mike is working this weekend so Michael and I have two days of mostly doing what we want to do and not "have" to do.  Mike has a softball game scheduled this afternoon - yes in January...  It's actually a special game because it is in honor of the landings here in WWII.  The Americans introduced baseball to the Italians here in Nettuno during WWII so it's fitting that they play a game to commemorate this event.  But... the rain may keep it from happening... maybe.

Meanwhile, I just mixed up a Slimfast shake for breakfast (sounds great, right?), took my medicine and settled into my chair to both write this post and catch up on what happened overnight in the world.  My laptop and I are great friends these days now that I don't find myself running this way and that.  My friends in the Netherlands know that I didn't let much dust settle before I'd be off and running to another meeting, subbing at the school, attending events for the kids, or running our favorite errands at Schinnen...  I so miss all of those trips!  The Slimfast is my easy way to try to shed some weight that I've been collecting these past years during all of my transitions from legal secretary and mom to SAHM and homeschooler in Belgium to professional chauffeur of the kids in France (to the Mougins School) and finally to uber volunteer/SAHM/PTA guru/PWOC(fun and service)/substitute teacher in the Netherlands.  I guess I never realized until I really slowed down here in Italy that it was past time to take care of myself!  So the journey to reclaim my thinner self has begun.  No need to take before pictures because the pictures at Christmas serve nicely.  I'm looking forward to success and health and energy and all of the good things that go along with this process.

Enough on that!  I've happily realized that I didn't have two copies of the book "Italian Neighbors" as I thought I did last night.  But instead, I have the book "The Italians" which is by a different author and will be very enjoyable and shed a little light or maybe a lot of light into how the Italians live.  It's described as a "witty and iconoclastic look into the Italian people."  Hmmmm, we'll see...  I just reread the back of the book and it talks about "the two Italies" -- the one that brought us all of the beauty, religion and Leonard da Vinci or the one that is prone to catastrophe, backward in political action if not in thought.  Once I finish reading this book, I'll share a review of it here!

Michael has great plans (he's still asleep... he is a teenager you know!) of playing on Star Trek Online to see what new things will be introduced this week.  He's a trekkie thanks to Mike's (and my) enjoyment of all things dealing with Star Trek.  I have to admit that I didn't add this to my TV viewing until after I got married. We have agreed though that tomorrow will be the day to tackle his essay that needs to be submitted to his teacher at Calvert School in Baltimore (thanks to the Virtual Classroom!).

I'll add a post later about our homeschooling days... meanwhile Facebook, email and my book are beckoning.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Messing around with free Picasa photo editing tools and created this collage of pictures from our walk the other day. Amazing!
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Essays, Life and more in Italy

The statue at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery (our "new" since August home) .  It perfectly shows the brotherhood of soldiers serving and fighting side by side.

This is the rose garden to the right of the memorial where the previous picture was taken.  When the roses are blooming this is a beautiful and peaceful place to reflect on those who gave their lives for our freedom.

Softball in Italy!  The cemetery crew have a team called the Minas Vagantes and Mike happily joined when we arrived.  These are also the baseball fields where Michael practices and plays with the Nettuno Lions.

Kristen borrowed Mike's Nettuno hat to wear to his game over her Christmas break from college.

13th Birthday Celebration Part I so Kristen could be part of it before she went back to the States...  Michael is now officially a teenager!

On the subject of essays, Michael was assigned an essay of Advantages/ Disadvantages.  The most obvious subject we came up with was the discussion of homeschooling vs. attending the American School in Rome.  It's one of those topics we've been discussing since the new assistant who is set to arrive at the beginning of March has a 9 yr old child who they'd like to attend that school.  We've also considered this possibility but the commute from Nettuno/Lavinio to AOSR which involve getting up at 5:30am, taking the 6:20am train to Rome/Termini, taking a school bus and then arriving in time for class followed by the same reverse course arriving back home after 5pm (and then dinner, homework and bed).   I've described life as a Calvert homeschooler (which is very do-able by the way) and they still prefer a school with other students to provide friends for their child.  I so understand that desire!  Michael has a great time playing on his XBox and StarTrek Online but having a real friend right there to play with would be so much better!  However, school time, as they get older, leaves very little extra time for "playing" or socializing since classes are structured and talking to friends isn't meant to happen there... Plus lunch breaks and "recess" are being shortened to take advantage of as much time as possible for teaching (to the standardized tests...) so school is really not the place to think you will have much time for friends.  We are lucky that an American who lives close by has a 13 yr old son.  We plan to get them together very soon.  Plus, we're hoping to have a get together with all of the Americans who live close by to enjoy each other's company.  I bet pizza or pasta will definitely play a large role in this get together!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A New Year and Back to School!

I set my alarm and woke up at 7am today.  So far, I've been enjoying the quiet time before Michael and I get down to business with school.  Unfortunately, that "quiet" has been stolen away as chainsaws are being used in the lot across the street from us which is being cleared for a multi-family home.  Mike warned me of this but there's really nothing that can be done other than monitor their progress.

Meanwhile, I woke Michael up before I came downstairs but I'm afraid he fell back to sleep.  I'm hoping to combine lessons and accelerate our pace so that we can finish our year close to the time that Kristen comes home for Summer break.  Let's see how successful I am in this plan as the days go by!

Many thoughts have been going through my head of how long will we live here in Italy and what to do for Michael for high school curriculum or do we want to start the long days of up early, catching the train, travelling into Rome, etc. for him to attend the American School of Rome.  I don't have to make this decision yet but it will be something lurking in the background.

On a positive note, we had a lovely dinner in Anzio at a great pizzeria with an American family, the Orsinis, on Saturday.  Patricia is wonderful and I look forward to getting to know her better and being able to go out and wander around here with the help of someone who has lived here for a long time.  She's promised to take me to the best bakery and other places she's discovered.  Fun will be had for sure!

Now I'm off to wake Michael up for the second time or my plan will be foiled for sure!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Early Birthday celebration for Michael with Kristen 1/5/10

Last night, Kristen's last night at home with us here in Italy, we celebrated Michael's 13th birthday a little early so she could have a part in his special day.  So this is just before we sang Happy Birthday and in the kitchen where it was total chaos but fun chaos nevertheless!  Kristen was using the new snap video camera we gave her for Christmas.  It's hilarious and a good look inside the life of our home.  Enjoy!  Welcome to Michael's Birthday Part I... If you're turning into a teenager, there's nothing wrong with celebrating it more than once!