Friday, March 30, 2012

Photos, Again

Here are the photos again.

Kibbitzers in Lucrino.  Our old frail neighbor supervises the men making the handicapped spot.  Jack parked there to load the truck and the old man kept yelling at him.  He pretended not to understand.

Abigail eating her maple teething biscuits that Nonna brought her from NY.  Yummy!

Friends for coffee in Lucrino


The dining room.

Jack's study.

Our bedroom.  Abigail is there temporarily.  

Big bathroom. With fabu shower.

Living room.

Kitchen pass-through to living area.

Living area.

Pantry.  Delight.

Entry way.

My favorite room.  The laundry room!!!!

Hallway to bedrooms.

We are SO happy to be on base.  It was a great decision.  Tobi is more relaxed.  We are more relaxed.  We have eaten on our balcony every night this week.  I insist.  Even if we have to bundle up and shiver through the end of the meal.  

More AFTER pics, when there is an after to show.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Itinerant AGAIN

 I have been buried under all of our worldly goods.  Thankfully, my Mama came to save the day.  She seems to show up at exactly the right time to help me move, no matter where I am in the world.  Here is an email she sent home last week.  

wide awake on Friday and ready to boogie


a big event: painting handicap lines on the street, lots of kibbitzers

She just loves her organic maple teething biscuits.

Better water in Lucrino makes for curly hair

Jessica and Connor at the Breezy Bar in Lucrino


Abi's room

Where I sleep (in Abi's room) note hot water bottle

Jack's study

master bedroom

Abi's place, probably temporary

The small bathroom with stall shower

big bathroom with tub on the right, sideways

what the living room looks like today, Monday

the kitchen: these are sideways because I couldn't see the screen when I was sitting outside

the kitchen side of the living room

the living room

the living room viewed from the entry

Anna is happy to have a pantry.

the entry way

laundry room

hall with Jack's study on the left, master bedroom on the right

I'm showing you the before unpacking scene so when Julietta and Anna and I attack the chaos, you'll know where we started.  Right now we're happy to have Julietta here to bring fresh energy and her good eye to the situation.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Decisions, decisions...

We've had a week full of decision making, introspection and honesty.  It is tough work.  But in the end, the actual decision wasn't that hard to make.  We have decided to move again.  NOT move from Italy.  This isn't a move that has been ordered by the NAVY.  No, it is self directed.  We are moving house.

We have decided to move onto Base.

And as these things go, it is bittersweet.

Our little seaside town, tucked away on the Bay of Naples, is just too far from the small, tender shoots of a social life that we have been able to cultivate here.  We live in probably one of the nicest areas around. It is beautiful by Naples standards.  That means that there isn't too much garbage piling up on any flat surface, that the stray dog packs stick to the lake.  There are some sidewalks--albeit in sorry states of disrepair and only once a week or so do we see the shattered and scattered proof that someone's car has been broken into/stolen outside our house.  I make it sound pretty awful, huh?

I can see our friend, who is Naples biggest champion, fuming at that last paragraph.  So, I will add.  The shopkeepers around our house all wave to us and demand that we stop so they can oggle Baby when we pass by.  We have a nice market, and our favorite restaurant and cafes.  It has been home.  It is the house to which we brought our Baby Bee home from the hospital.

I feel like we are moving away from ITALY.  But then, I haven't been totally thrilled with this part of Italy myself. I also feel entitled to say that as I have spent the better part of the last six years living in Europe with a few months spent in Japan for good measure.

It isn't that we don't love it out here in Lucrino.  It all comes down to one simple yet weighty factor.

I am lonely.  Miserably lonely.

I spend my days wrangling a baby, reading blogs and drooling over Pinterest.  A thrilling existence.  My big outing is when we go to the Commissary on Sundays to food shop.

So, off we go.  Decision made.

A grown-up decision that will benefit the entire family.

Now we just have to pack.  Good thing my mom is going to be here.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Snapshot From a Sunday

I have been eagerly looking forward to participating in Snapshots from a Sunday that is hosted at Clan Donaldson.    Check it out.  It is really lovely idea.  

I was musing about all the cool things I could write about being in Italy and all that jazz that people find so unique, exotic and impressive...but when we actually were awake at my assigned time slot of 3:00-4:00 AM, Jack snapped this wonderful (bonus of being married to a photographer) photo of Abigail and me.  

I chose this picture over the photographs we took later of us getting coffee and walking in our neighborhood.  I think that while the subject may not be unique, exotic or impressive, Abigail and I awake in the middle of the night honestly reflects the rhythm of our lives here.  

Yes, we may be in Italy.  Yes, we may be able step out of our door and get amazing gelato and espresso.  But we are new parents raising a baby across an ocean from our families.  That is what colors our life now.  Having a baby changes one's perspective.  Things that seemed to be necessary and important before are instantly banished to the bottom of the totem pole.  To me, being able to step out of my door and be in Europe was very important.  Postpartum, being able to step out of my door and drive to my mom's house is my fervent dream.  

So, this is us.  An American military family awake at 3:22 AM.  Stationed overseas.  Home, yet away from Home.

My new plants

Rosemary, funny miniature tree thing, spider plant.  

We bought the rosemary and the tree thingy today.  

The spider plant was acquired...

The lovely nonnas in our apartment building have beautiful hanging jungles draped over their balcony railings.  Huge pots filled with palms, geraniums, spider plants and hens and chicks balance precariously over the railings. The trailing fronds tickling the windows a story below.

Rosario's plants are the most beautiful.  She has the most wonderful sing-songy voice. She talks to her grandson, possibly the most beautiful little boy in the world, and her voice wafts into my kitchen window.  Whenever we go out and she is pegging out her wash, she leans over her plants and asks me, " come sta, Anna?"

She makes me turn around so she can see Abigail.  She claps her hands and laughs gleefully when Abigail sees her and smiles

On Tuesday we had a roaring, raging storm.  Here in Lucrino, next to the water, we get major winds--winds that blow windows open, and rattle the Persian blinds so hard that they set the security alarm off.

One of Rosario's pots blew off the balcony and met its fate in a heap of soil on the drive below.  I had to get out of the car on the way into the garage to haul the thing out of the way of the car.  I got into the car and leapt out on a whim before Jack started off again.  I went and pinched a few baby plants to plant.  

I doubt Rosario will mind.  

The pot is still sitting where I left it almost a week later.  I wonder if she is going to reclaim it.  Maybe I need to start my own hanging forest?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Too much information...?

I came across this review on Amazon while looking for enamel paints for a DIY project.  Feel free to read it in its entirety for the full effect, or your could skip to the highlighted sections.

"I have used Testor's enamel paints, for the past ten years, for painting inscriptions and for painting miniatures. I do my paintings on compact discs and on cassette tapes. For these efforts, I use the smallest brush available from the local art store.

Here are some inscriptions that I painted directly on my compact disc:

1. Mozart K513, 2. Schubert Schwager Kronos, 3. Au Privave Sonny Stitt, 4. Ronnettes Be My Baby, 5. Temptations My Girl, 6. Laika and the Cosmonauts.

One might wonder why I put such a hodge-podge of recordings on one disc. The answer is that these are digital recordings of my parakeet chirping to these particular compositions. In other words, after three months of experimentation, I discovered that my parakeet responds most vigorously to these particular compositions. Now regarding the Testor's enamel paints, I painted all of these inscriptions using cursive writing.

For each word, I used multiple layers of paint, for example, a blue undercoat of writing, with a narrower violet top coat of writing. (Of course, you need to wait a couple of days before playing the compact disc in the player, otherwise you will risk ruining the player.)

On my compact discs, as well as on my Maxell UDXLII cassettes, I also frequently paint paisley designs with the Testor's enamel paints. My paisley designs involve multiple layers, often four overlapping layers of enamel paint. I like to build up the layers so they have a 3-dimensional effect to the touch. On one particular composition of bluegrass music, I painted a fiddle. The fiddle was made of multiple layers. With the Testor's enamel paint, it is easy to mix together the colors to get exactly the desired tints and hues. The colors also can be easily used to paint a graded effect, as in the wooden parts of the bluegrass fiddle. Most of my recordings contain music by Brahms, Schumann, Jennifer Higdon, Aaron Kernis, Bartok, and Prokofiev (not parakeet chirps!). One word of caution -- once you open a jar of Testor's enamel paint, and use the jar on three or four occasions, the remaining paint in the jar will harden on its own within a couple of months."

Is it me or is it strangely humorous and endearing, if not a bit sad?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Compulsion or Highly Developed Sense of Aesthetic?

My Tita's Cabinet.  
 I tease my aunt and my mother that I can determine their stress level by looking into their kitchen cabinets. If mother and aunt are feeling particularly stressed, their Fiestaware will be arranged in some specific manner.  They mostly lean toward color blocking or separating into warm and cool colors.  The effect?  Beautiful.  Pleasing.  Soothing.

I consciously coordinate the color of Abigail's baby spoon with whatever food she is sampling.  Sweet peas, purple spoon.  Sweet potato, turquoise spoon.  The effect when feeding baby? Beautiful...maybe that's a stretch. Pleasing--yes. Soothing. Definitely.

My question:  Is this a compulsion or just a highly developed sense of aesthetic?  I know what I think. What things do you do that could fall under this category?  Is it compulsion or just a highly developed sense of aesthetic?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nu? Comments?

I am not sure if I am able to get comments... could you, dear readers, kindly leave some so that I can see if it working?  My technologically challenged self would greatly appreciate it.


1.  Began at 2:30ish when Abigail woke to practice her latest and greatest moves.  The latest and greatest being babbling, crawling and pulling herself up in her crib.

2.  Jack and I went to Base for Abigail's doctors appointment.   (I have left out the marital squabble that ensued surrounding logistics and execution of said maneuver.)

3.  Realized I was to spend afternoon on Base with Abigail.  I forgot the stroller.

4.  Spent morning at Naval Hospital getting Abi her shots and 6 month check up.  Found out that we still haven't applied for her SS#.  Found out that the Italian nationals working in the passport/documentation office once again lapsed in communicating the details of doing all the stuff that one has to do when one has a baby.  There are about three trillion babies born in Naples every year on Base, you'd think someone would come up with a nice organized checklist to give to parents.

5.  Paid our outstanding bill from Abigail's birth.  $2.30 for a breakfast we had sent up for Jack before the nurses told us they'd just order extra for him.

6.  Thanked the US Government for their awesome healthcare that allowed us to have only had to pay $2.30 for Abigail's birth.

7.  Was tired of wrangling squirming baby.  Bought an umbrella stroller.

8.  Drove to Capo without having panic attack!!!!!

9. Dinner.  Fettucini Alfredo---Light from Rachel Ray.  Yum.

10.  Chased down and stuffed baby into her pjs.

11.  Posting.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Things that make my heart smile.

Turkey meatloaf, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots.  
So, All-American, 1950's housewife, I had to post it. 

Jack's long-sleeved t-shirt drawer.  
Doesn't it give you a sense of blissful-inner calm?

Mission Baby Sleep: Night Four

We all have colds.  I am at the tail end of mine.  Jack just got walloped with it at work and Abigail is fighting the gentler-breastfed version.  She has a little hoarse voice and a bit of a cough.

Last night was kind of rough at around 12-2:30am, but baby got to sleep at 2:30 and slept straight through til 5:30am.  Awesome.

I had planned on going out for a walk today, but bundling up against the chill and setting out just was too much.  I guess I am not feeling as good as I thought I was.  Feeling kinda brain dead today.  I guess it is apparent.

Good News:  My mother is coming to visit in ONE MONTH.  We can begin countdown.  The goal is to have Abigail's sleep routine down enough that Jack and I can go out for dinner, alone.  Bliss.  My goodness.  What will we do with ourselves?

We are also trying to plan a vacation for next summer when my mother-in-law comes to visit.

My dream is to rent a narrow boat and travel the rivers of some cooler clime.  Germany, Ireland, (not England because of the Olympics).  There is also talk of Scandinavia or Croatia.  Hmmm.  That is the one good thing about living in Europe.  These are all doable possibilities.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, dear reader.  Leave them in the comment section.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Night Two

Last night wasn't as bad as I expected it to be.

Jacks shifts were easier.  It was REALLY hard when it was my turn, but it wasn't as torturous for Abigail as I expected it to be.  I mean, she cried a lot.  But she was being cuddled and loved.  Just not nursed.

She woke up at 3:18 AM, which is usual for her.  This is her "playtime" when she likes to practice all her new tricks.  Last night she wasn't able to practice.  She wasn't happy.

She wasn't happy until 5:00am.  I lost count at how many time I soothed her to dozing and then tried to lay her down.   At 5:00,  threw in the towel and brought her to bed.  It was time for her to nurse anyway.

I hope we didn't ruin everything.

But good news.  I actually had a dream last night.  Usually I don't actually get enough sleep to dream.  Last night I did.  I think that is a good thing.

Tonight our routine got a bit screwed up because she didn't nap well and ended up falling asleep at 5:00pm.  I woke her up at 5:30, but she really wasn't ready to go down.  She did fall asleep at 7:15.

It is 8:30 and she is still asleep.

We'll see.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Blogging for my Sanity

Beware.  This might be a doosey.  We are currently thirty-nine minutes into the first night of our GENTLE- LOVING SLEEP TEACHING with Abigail.  That is what I am calling it for me.

Judging from the wails that are coming from the other room, I am not sure she would agree with the title.  Basically, we are trying to get her to go down in her crib and stay there.  She is learning to sleep in her crib.

I don't know if I am strong enough for this.  I feel like a cruel, hard-hearted mother.

I can hear her settle, fall asleep and then she starts wailing.  I am sure it is when Jack puts her down in the crib.  But seriously.  She cannot be held ALL the time when she sleeps.  I mean-- it is not even the nursing down. It is her being able to sleep without being held.

When I was nursing her, before handing her off to Jack, tonight I was crying.  I am sad to think that this is the end of me being able to nurse her to sleep.  But it isn't, not really.  She needs to be able to sleep in her crib.  She is awake and crawling around our bed in the middle of the night.  It is not safe.  And she cannot spend every minute that she is asleep with me.  It is impossible.

7:46.  Crying again.

We split the evening up.  Jack is on until midnight and then I am on til 6am when she wakes up and presumably, I get to go to sleep for a little.

Not the best night to start, either.  I had a migraine today.  Which means I spent the day trying to keep Abigail happy while suffering though bouts of puking.  Lovely.

Ok.  Maybe knitting will calm me.  Etsy?  Alcohol? Valium?  Anything.

I guess I'll clean the kitchen.

Test Video: Black Bear in our Backyard

A couple of years ago, a dry summer tempted many bears to come down from the mountain into town.  This young male bear visited us often.  He pulled down Pat Pat (my step dad's) squirrel come hawk/owl feeder.

Yes.  Squirrel feeder.  Funny story that.  It started as a bird feeder.  But then the squirrels found it.  Pat Pat has a inexplicable fondness for rodents, so he built them a feeding platform.  He liked to watch them eat during his morning soak in the hot tub.  The squirrels got fat.

We have a family of Bard owls that live in a tree about fifty yards from the bird/squirrel feeder.  They realized that Pat Pat was serving them as close to a free lunch as any bird of prey is gonna get.  The squirrels were fat from having their meals served up on a platter.  The owls and hawks were pleased because they also were being served a meal on a platter, too.  And that platter was about twelve feet up in the air.  Perfect.  

Pat Pat got upset when he started seeing small stains of blood on his bird/squirrel/owl feeder.  He built a mesh dome above it.  Much to our chagrin (my mother and I) it seemed to work.

Then the bears came down from the mountain.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


It had been a rough night. Mama Georges was being punished for indulging in that yummy penne al carpaccio ( penne pasta with scampi and a rosy sauce). Why must nursing moms be punished twice for lapsing on dietary restrictions? I suffered. Then I suffered while Abigail suffered. I feel guilty. Times two.

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Sleepy on Hudson is the sleep consultancy that we called on Saturday in desperation.  We heard about Brooke through Victoria Gearity, our WONDERFUL Birthing From Within mentor, find Victoria here.

We have been having a really hard time sleeping.  Abigail refuses to be put down any other way than lying next to me and nursing.  She is up at least every hour from 7:00pm to 7:00am.  We try to put her in her crib at night, but she only stays for about an hour. She knows where she wants to be--in bed with me.

It is SO hard.  I am so torn.  I want to give her what she wants; to be cuddled and nursed all night.

BUT:  I am awake all night because she is either pulling at me, kicking me away or doing both simultaneously.  Not to mention that three of us in bed is a tight, tight squeeze.  When she does sleep I wake up because one of my arms has fallen asleep.  Not cool.

The past month (this new not-sleeping thing started when we got back from NY) has turned me into a brooding, cranky, forgetful, short-tempered, snippish, snappish, shrewish, weepy mess.  I am so tired I don't even know that I am tired.  I have no energy for anything.  I just want to sit on the couch and stare at the wall. When I try to sleep with Abigail during the day, I can't because I am just SO tired.

Enter Brooke, Sleep Consultant.  She was really nice and understanding and I was SO SO SO excited to hear her suggestions.  On her website she mentions that she provides alternatives to Cry-It-Out.  Perfect. Enlighten me.

(Oh, and where if not in Westchester will you find such thing as a baby sleep consultant)

We spoke with her last night after filling out the sleep history she sent us.  She began telling us her suggestions.  How over 3-5 nights we would put Abigail to sleep in her crib.  I could nurse her down first, but after that initial "bedtime" we would try to soothe her upon each awakening WITHOUT nursing. Upon which we could expect her to cry and cry and cry.  We could hold her and rock her and sing, do anything---but nurse.  How is that different than CIO?

My heart is crying just to think about depriving my baby of the thing that she needs and wants most.  The only thing that she needs.

I don't like being in this sleep-deprived state.  I don't like that I had another argument with Jack at 1:30 in the morning.  I hate that he slept on the couch AGAIN. I hate that I am the one who has to be up nights because Jack has to go to work.  I don't like that the only way to get her to sleep and stay asleep is for me to be wearing her in the sling or to lay next to her.  I don't like that I am so used to holding her that for the short times where she actually is sleeping in her crib, I have no idea what to do with myself.  I wander around the house like a half-way deflated balloon---scared to embark on a project because I know that I will have to go back to her the minute I start something.  Yesterday, I realized I had only ONE clean shaven leg.  I hate to admit that my marriage is suffering because we have no time to ourselves.

Hate is a very strong word.

But I HATE to think of my baby crying and crying because I am very consciously denying her the very thing that she wants.

I do know this.  That up until a little over a month and a half ago Abigail slept in her crib for naps and slept in her crib for all if not most of the night.

So, it is something that she has done for the better part of her fresh, new, sweet little time her on the earth with us.  

Brooke heard my trepidation and feelings that this was CIO packaged a little differently.  She assured us that she would write up a number of sleep plans that she thinks might make us comfortable.  I am holding out hope that she will be able to come up with something that doesn't make me cry to think about it.

That is the drama of the moment.  I feel like curling up in a little ball and rocking and sobbing.  I feel like this is the first hurdle of a lifetime of letting her go.  She is growing up.  She is crawling.  She is becoming independent and while it is amazing and exciting to meet the emerging identity, it is SO very painful and scary.

I never imagined the amount of blind courage it takes to be a parent.

I wish there was a better way.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Midnight Superbowl

After the Game
So, thanks to those pesky time zones the Superbowl didn't air live here til 12:30am.  Jack wore his Eli Manning jersey all day and stocked up on game food for his own private party.  I didn't make even make it til 10:00.  Abigail begged to be invited and made a honorable attempt.  Tobi was bribed to stay awake by said game food.

Jack found out that:  Tobi likes jalapeno poppers better than Cool Ranch Doritos.

I found out that Tobi's stomach can't handle either.

Yep.  Puke.  Puke on New Rug.