Monday, January 30, 2012

Our Second Anniversary, January 31st

When I walked under that chuppah two years ago today.  I was completely unaware of the scope and breadth of the adventure I was embarking upon.  I only knew that my love for the man I was standing next to was deep, strong and courageous enough to get through anything.  

Not only would we get through, we would do it with love, joy, grace and a lot of laughter.

Two years.  
Two deployments (One combat).
Two Masters Degree (one in progress).
Two moves (one overseas).
One dog adopted.
One Baby born.

One Family made.

Engagement Pic



Pacifier? Pacify Her.

 When Little Abigail was littler I was nervous about giving her a pacifier.  I guess it was that all natural crunchy, hippiness again.  She took one for a few months. Now she prefers me.  Hmmmm.

A fun (sarcastic) family outing to the dog park today.  Abigail slept the entire time!

We met a really nice couple there who had a little boy.  I was looking forward to possibly making a new friend.  We were chatting while our dogs played.  Then out of nowhere, Tobi went crazy and attacked their little beagle.  OH MY!  Shame.

Granted she snapped at him.  But really.  Fortunately, after being picked up by the scruff of the neck and shaken, yes, SHAKEN, she didn't appear worse for the wear.  Unfortunately, her person is a lawyer, who works with Jack.



What do you do after your dog attacks another dog at the dog park?  
Well, I gave her my phone number and invited her out to lunch with my friends.  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Bottom Line

Things got ugly last night.  It was 8:30ish and I had been trying to put Abigail to sleep for going on an hour and a half.  Jack decided to try.

I got nasty.

For the last two weeks I have spent every night with a baby in my arms nursing.  I wouldn't call what I am doing sleeping.  I am barely convincing my body that it is getting enough semblance of rest to accomplish its nighttime reparative work.

Needless to say.
I have been a mite snippish. Snappish.

Baby finally went down in her crib!!  No Cry Sleep Solutions was flung across the room.  I conked out and when I woke up barely an hour a baby who REFUSED to be laid down in her crib...Jack was on the couch where he stayed all night.

Yuck. Yucky marital yuckiness.

I had nightmares of a wrinkly, overly-made up flamenco dancer dancing out of rhythm on an about-to-collapse floor.  Weird.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Yesterday's Project

Tree of Love
I got inspired while perusing Etsy.  How many hours can I wander about Esty thinking,  "I can do that." "I can do that."  How many things do I actually do?

So, with Baby Girl in the sling, dodging her pinching, grasping fingers, and only getting a little glue on her head...

I am making a flock of butterflies to fill the huge empty corner in Abigail's nursery.  These Italian ceilings are towering, expanses of white.  Which make them not surprisingly difficult to decorate.  I was thinking of hanging Chinese paper lanterns in the corner...but this is good for now.  I just need to get online and order more paper.  I have NO idea where to find craft supplies here in Italy and the Navy Exchange has only wrapping paper and scissors, but not in the same aisle.

The other crafty thingy I crafted is a garland. It is an Anniversary/Valentine decoration for our entry.  I packed away our winter scene and needed something.  I love it.  It is fitting that it is under the Ketubah.

Productive, I think so.

Today, I just have to figure out how to clean the house for guests, bake challah, shower and make dinner before Shabbat.  Hmmmm.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Joy of JOYS

This is ME.  Why?

A Dyson DC33, Multi Floor Vacuum with Cyclone Technology!!

Joy of Joys!!  Cyclone Technology!  Tobi-Fur-Monsters lurking in the corner, threatening my nearly crawling daughter, BEWARE! The Dyson is coming!  There is no place to hide....  Evil Laugh...

Florentine Fiasco Part Due

Did you enjoy the eye candy?  

We LOVED Florence.  There was a pleasant nip in the air, despite the sun streaming down in the crooked medieval streets.  We stayed in a place we found on  The owners provided us with this very cleverly written list of off the track, locals only food haunts.  We spent most of our weekend wandering the streets finding food to eat.  Delightful.  The list was so nice, it apparently decided to stay in the diaper bag and so it has migrated home with us (whoops).  I still need to email the nice ladies and tell them I will speak to it sternly for stowing away and send it home.  It's been a week.  I will get to it.

Reluctantly, we left Florence amid the musings that always accompany our departure from the north of Italy.  They sound like this,  Me: "why couldn't the Navy have a base here?"  Jack: "Because there is no place for the boats."  Me: "So. You don't work on the boats"  Jack: "I know." 

The ride home was a little iffy.  Maybe Abigail could perceive something we couldn't.  She was fussy and exhausted and unbeknownst to us about to embark on the second sleep strike of her life.  I wonder if there is any correlation between her being born here and striking... Confused? read on.

Italy, like many of the post war social democracies of Europe, has found that strikes are an effective method of influencing the political climate.  So, there are lots of strikes.  Most are announced and it is quite necessary to check the times etc. before planning travel.  We did...but not thoroughly enough.

As you might remember, we took the small, local train from our house to the station.  When we arrived in Naples, with a finally sleeping baby in the Baby Bjorn, we were approached by a middle aged man in a worn, dark leather jacket mumbling "taxi, taxi"  Much in the way we would turn away the same sort mumbling, "coke, coke" or "tickets, tickets"we breezed by him.  Not stopping to think.

We had one goal which was to find the metro to get to our train.  We stopped, me nervously trying to shield ALL of our luggage with my body, and asked a security guard where the metro was.  He told us, 
with what I still believe was honest regret, that the trains were on strike.  Seriously?

After much debate, I remembered that there was a Sepsa bus line that followed the same route.  We could not find anyone who could tell us where the bus stop was.  Finally, I channelled my mother and marked the family to the police station and asked there.  We were given directions and headed out of the station and down the road.

Now, the Napoli Centrale Station is not a place to be distracted, lost or generally not looking like you will rip the head off of anyone who looks at you sideways.  Am I exaggerating? Perhaps, but then I come from the bias of one who has actually been mugged.  And it could happen to you.  

OUTSIDE the train station, is downright sketch.  Let's step back and look at the situation:

Me, with diamond ring turned inside, baby strapped to chest and hauling a Jansport carry-on size suitcase behind.  Jack wearing the diaper backpack and pushing our UppaBaby Vista stroller.  We were like sitting ducks out there in the wilderness.  

Off we set to find the station.  After we passed a family selling about six pairs of used shoes lined up in front of them on the street, a block with clothes competing with the garbage strewn all over we finally stopped before we got to the cluster of about ten young, rough around the edges men standing around.  All I was capable of was controlling my breathing to ward off a panic attack.  Jack finally stopped and said, "I don't care how much a taxi costs us.  We are getting out of here."  We turned around.

On the mad dash out of there we were stopped by two older men who scolded me for not having a hat on my baby and not putting her in the stroller where she would be warmer.  There must be some conclusion to be drawn from this, but I don't have it.  I mean really?  I was in NO way going to put my baby in something that could be taken AWAY from me.  

Ok.  We got back to the taxi stand.  We saw a bunch of empty taxis and a group of taxi drivers standing around smoking...Yep.  The guys whispering taxi to us?  Taxis, ON STRIKE.  Joy of joys.  

I whipped out my cell phone and called our dear angel friend Jess.  We got on the Alibus that runs between the airport and the train station, and Jess picked us up at the airport.  Bless HER.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Florentine Fiasco Part I

The Duomo
I have been meaning to post this all week.  But it has been crazy.  Abigail is preparing for her next big developmental leap so she is a bit whacko---"like all babies are at these times" says my aunt.  Unfortunately, for the house, my back, my blog, my sanity, my husband, her choice of whacko behavior this time round is needing to be attached to my boob at all times.  Lovely.   I thought it was bad last time when she just wanted to be in the sling.

I digress.  Florentine Fiasco.  (Actually, the fiasco didn't actually begin til we got back to Naples.  Surprised? Anyone?)

It all began when Jack found tickets to London for around $196 for the two of us.  Pause.  Jack came in wanting to get into the desk drawer--which I am sitting in front of, while nursing Abigail, while typing. Maybe I should just stand on my head to make things really interesting.

Tickets to London for cheap.  Apparently he can't type fast enough because between the time he started putting the credit card info in, and when he got it in, Expedia popped up a window saying that the tickets had gone up...300 buckaroos. I think it is a scam.

We didn't go to London, but the feet were already itching.  Soooo... "Florence," he suggested.

I found us an apartment on vrbo [Vacation Rentals By Owner] right in the Piazza del la Signoria: READ the perfect place to stay-- for 100 euros a night.  Done and done.

I, then, nervously, booked tickets for a train leaving Naples Centrale Station at 7:45 AM.  Ambitious for two first time parents of a five month old.  I guess I was feeling cocky after our successful transatlantic flight.  We were going to travel on non-transferable Sabato Italiano tickets.  You can travel two for one on Saturdays, but you have to book at least a day ahead. Check. Saved us about a hundred bucks.

We were going to take advantage of the little local train that runs outside of our door and supposedly goes into Naples.  I say supposedly because I looked for an hour or so online to try to figure out exactly HOW the train connected to the main terminal.  Unsuccessful.  I figured we'd leave early and wing it.

On Friday afternoon we piled into the car with Tobi to drop him off at Krista, the German lady's kennel. "Eeet ees a kennel zee dogs like, not zee people." Her words. Upon seeing her again, this is where he stayed while we were at home, Tobi leapt into her, like the 70 lbs of crazy black fur that he is, and followed her tail-a-wagging, without a backward glance at us.  Hmmpppf.

Saturday we got up too early. We gathered things: stroller, diaper backpack and one, ONE!! small suitcase and went on the adventure to get to the station.  Getting on the little train to Naples was fine.   Jack shlepped the stroller up the stairs to the platform (accessibility has not yet reached Naples).  We waited maybe ten minutes until the graffiti-covered train rattled up to us and then Jack tossed us, stroller and suitcase up the three feet of stairs between the train and platform.  We didn't buy tickets because the ticket window was closed.  Ahhhh.  say it with me, "Naples."

On the train we asked a nice old man where to get off to get the metro to Naples Centrale.  This sparked a debate amongst the handful of half asleep people traveling at Zero Dark Hundred on a Saturday morning.

PAUSE:  Abigail is screaming.  Jack is trying to soothe her.  She wants the Boob.  Unfortunately, I am attached to it.

The folks finally decided on how we should change trains to get off the metro.  The man told me what we had to do, but I was half asleep and totally confused so I didn't really understand what he said.  He must have read the blank look in my eyes because before our stop he asked another lady to show us where to go.

We followed her off the train.  Jack tossing us all down the stairs again.  She past a sketchy looking guy lurking at the corner of the passage to the platform and up the escalator.  I nervously flipped the diamond on my ring to the palm of my hand and tried to control my breathing.  I DO NOT like sketchy looking men lurking anywhere.  We left the station like little ducklings and she shooed us down this empty park looking thing to another building which looked like a train station.  How kind.  She left us with congratulations and compliments about our beautiful baby. Now, smiling, we say, "Ahhh.  Naples."

We walking over the park that was graffitied and littered with trash, but had the potential of being pretty, to another building.  Which we found to be the Campo Flegri Station.  From there, after hearing the appropriate gushing and congratulations about my beautiful daughter, we were guided to the right metro.  By then it was 7:35.  Uh oh.  Jack and I we getting worried and being to snap at each other about what we would do if we missed the train.  Correction:  Jack was speculating and I was snapping at him to be positive and not screw our chances by spewing negativity over us.  I know.  I know.  It was early and I was VERY anxious about being out in Naples.

We got on the Metro.  Uneventful, and SLOW trip to Napoli Centrale.  We got to the station at 8:00.  We missed it.  A short debate and two NEW purchased tickets (another 114 euros).  We were on the high speed train to Florence.

I leave you with some eye candy courtesy of Jack and will return tomorrow with Part DUE.
Finally on the train

Rape of the Sabines, Piazza del la Signoria

Ponte Vecchio

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Home. Is Home relative to where you are?  Where your family is?  Where your mom is?  Where your parents are?  Your center?  Your community?

When we were going home (see I did it without even noticing)--I mean on our way to NY, we were telling Abigail that were going Home.  This brought up the question of where home actually is.  We are a family now.  We, Jack, Abigail, Tobi and I, are a family.  So, Home would be wherever we happen to be hanging our hats together, right?  But still, Jack and I realized, we refer to New Paltz, NY as Home.  It has been years since either of us have lived there, but still, it is Home.   

I have been an Expat for quite a while.  The lifestyle that one lives while in a country not there own is as difficult as it is exhilarating.  I chose to live in Spain for all those years, called there by my passion, my art, but still nearly each week, if not more often, I had to reaffirm my choice to be so far away from Home.  Because it was a borrowed country.  My mother once told me that she thinks that I would always feel like I had a foot in the door of each place.  Not entirely happy in NY when I wasn't in Spain and not entirely happy in Spain because I wasn't in NY.  I would reply that I would be entirely happy in Spain if I could just get my entire family there.

I still feel the same way.

When I was feeling homesick, or questioning my choice to live in Spain, all I would have to do is walk outside and hear the strains of flamenco coming out of someone's window or gaze at the Alhambra , or walk across the Puente de Triana.  That was it.  I would see the swallows making their sweeping arabesques over the river and I would KNOW I was in the right place.

Now, I am in Naples.  When I walk outside my heart does not go a-flutter.  If it does it is more likely the start of an anxiety attack.  I am here because a Senior Chief dropped the ball.  If the ball had not been dropped I would have been in Spain.  I would be dancing in Jerez--learning the mysteries of the Buleria de Cadiz.

I need to LET THAT GO.....

Anyway.  I am trying to feel at home here.  I am trying to come to terms with the idea of blooming where I land.

I am intrigued by this question of home.  Is home where you are or where you left your family?  Is it where you have spent the most time? Is it where you FEEL at home?  

Jack and I feel spoiled.  We both agree that if we had been from some po-dunk town in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do it might be easier to leave it.  But we are not.  We are from one of the coolest places in the States.  It is where we would choose to raise our daughter.  Unfortunately, we don't see how we could support our family if we moved back...

Anyway.  I am rambling.


New Paltz was amazing.  It was so, so HOME.

But here we are in Naples.  Our house is feeling cozier and more like ours.  We are slowing expanding and filling in the empty corners.   We are finding our favorite nooks to sit and read, our favorite places to drop stuff when we come in the door. We are finding our rhythm, carving our place out in this little town.

Making our mark. I always used to envision being a stick. Yes, a stick. Bear with me.

I believe that expats often are a stick in the mud.  When you pull the stick out, the mud quickly moves in to conceal the hole.  I always felt like that in Spain.  Like when I left my space was quickly filled in by another expat flamenco dancer.  I wanted to be a stick in dry ground.  When you pull that stick out it leaves a space.  People know you were there and they know you are gone.  In New Paltz I always left a hole.  Now our family leaves an even deeper one.  People notice our absence.

I think that makes a place home for me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Year, New Design...

Once again, it's been a while.
We went home and had a whirlwind of a trip.  Presenting Baby to all her family who hasn't met her yet.  Being home, getting taken care of by moms.  Having dinner with relatives and old friends.  And this...

What more is there to say?  It was perfect.  Needed and perfect.  And totally worth crossing the Atlantic standing because Baby Girl won't sleep sitting down.