Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spelling Errors

You know how American fashion frequently has cute little foreign phrases plastered all over it?  After living in Italy for and year and a half, I frequently wonder how many of those phrases are misspelled, or just plain WRONG.

Do you think they mean "thong party"--thong as in flip flop, not buttless underwear...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Statues of "Naked People"

One of the highlights of our Spring Break trip to Tuscany last year was our opportunity to visit the Academia in Florence to see Michelangelo's statue of The David.  It was breathtaking and impossible to describe.  The Academia is really a pretty small museum when compare to most in Europe.  It housed tons of statues to see but honestly, like most tourists, we were just there to see David.
 We got lost looking for the museum and must have walked by these tiny signs a dozen times

What surprised me the most about The David was actually how big the statue is.  It is huge! The museum does a great job displaying it also. The placement of it is pure strategic placement at its best. You arrive into the museum and have to meander through several hallways of art before you come to another hall on your right, and there he is!  It was amazing...Photography was "strictly forbidden"...HA! There were "no photo" signs everywhere and several guards and museum staffers to enforce the rules, but honestly, no one said anything to the dozen or so people who literally walked right up and started to take picture after picture.  We tried to be a little more discreet...which is why our pictures are crooked!

Blurry photo of the David at the end of the hallway.  This is literally your first glimpse of him as you turn the corner.  It was breathtaking.  You can see just how big the statue actually is!

 The ceiling is domed above the statue

See that man to the left of the statue...I had no idea how BIG the statue actually is! It's amazing to think that the entire statue was carved out of just one huge piece of marble!

David, from the REAR...no pun intended...ok maybe a little pun :)

Smaller statue of David outside the Academia.  There were actually several throughout the city of Florence--another surprise!

 The kids with naked Poseidon 

Family shots infront of the museum.  This was literally the only time Delilah rode in the expensive Italian stroller we bought for this trip.  She hasn't used it since!

I often wonder how our children will remember their time here in Europe. Steve spent several years over in Germany and England while he was a teenager and he loved it.  His time over here then is the reason why he pushed so hard to get us over here also.  Because Tory and Trey are older, I think they will have a similar experience as their father.  I hope they will look back on our years here in Italy and remember it for the fabulous experience it has been.  With Jackson and Delilah, I'm not so sure. Certainly, Delilah will not remember much.  She is just too little.  But with Jackson, I'm not so sure.  He loves it over here and has loved our travels and adventures.  We try our best to balance our hours in museums with some fun time for the kids, but apparently we didn't do a great job of that on our trip to Tuscany!  When JAckson got back to school and Mrs. Tramm asked him what he did over spring break, he told her that all he did was "see a bunch of statues of naked people"....I counter that with this...At lease they were FAMOUS statues of naked people!!!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

That Leaning Tower...The one in Pisa

A rite of passage for living in and visiting Italy is stopping in to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa (or Pizza as my two little ones call it).  We decided to pay her a visit when we were vacationing in Tuscany last spring break.  I'll admit I was excited--we all were.  We considered paying the fee to climb to the top, but with my fear of heights, I decided that sheer terror was just not worth it, so we opted to just snap some cool pictures instead.

I love this one!

The first thing you notice when you arrive by the tower is that it really IS leaning pretty bad!  I don't mean to state the obvious...but it was pretty shocking.  After seeing that, I was REALLY glad I hadn't decided to climb it.  As it turned out, you can't actually climb it unless you are over 8 years old, so Delilah and Jackson couldn't have gone, and you have to make reservations and come back at that given time anyways. The second thing that surprised us is that it isn't really very tall. I expected it to be...bigger....The most shocking thing about the tower is that there is literally NOTHING else to do in Pisa.  We were kind of like, "Well, there it is...now what?? How long do we have to stand here?"  The place was packed and crawling with tourists taking pictures tipping the tower over, or propping it up, etc...We decided to eat lunch, have gelato and then head on out.  It was a let down, but still one of those places you have to see in Italy.  My advice for Pisa, leave the car running...
I also didn't know that there are other big buildings around the tower!

Tory by the tower

It was super windy!

 Restaurant where we ate
Delilah doesn't listen...

A little side note on a trip to Pisa....we had been warned by our friends The Neumeyers, who also have 4 beautiful, blonde haired children, that many Asian tourists love to have their pictures taken with random blonde haired strangers.  Even though we were warned, we were shocked as hell a little "taken back" when SEVERAL Asian tourists came up to us, plucked Delilah out of my arms, scooted Jackson over (literally) and took pictures holding her in front of the tower with Jackson beside them in the picture too.  Needless to say, Delilah was NOT HAPPY with that.  I'm so curious, why.....why do you want a picture of yourself in front of a world-famous tourist attraction while you are hold the screaming two year old of a perfect stranger?  The look on Jackson's face was priceless.  It's sad to say, but it happens so often now, even the kids have gotten use to it...  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wife of a U.S. Soldier

On Friday, I decided to mow the grass.  We get a lot of rain here in this part of Italy during the spring time and our grass simply grows quickly, very quickly.  I dragged the mower out of the shed around 5:00 and got right to work.  Now it is important to point out two things about our yard:

*Our yard has an odd shape--kind of like a triangle, with the house at the bottom of the triangle and the back door (which is really on the side) looking out onto the entire backyard.

*One entire length of our yard is "walled in" by a berm that holds back the Bacchiglione River.  It's almost as tall as our two story house and people use it to walk back and forth into town all day long.

That being said, it was not unusual to see some ladies out walking while I was mowing the grass.  They were old ladies, clearly Italians who had stopped on their walk to visit my neighbor, Anna Marie and her husband Luigi (Nope, not kidding about those names). I noticed that they were staring (not unusual for Italians, or really Europeans, for that matter) when they first walked by and could tell they were chattering away, so I just raised my hand in a friendly "hey there" wave and kept right along mowing.

Meanwhile, Giuseppe, my Italian Bofrost man pulled up in his refrigerated truck.  Bofrost is Italy's version of the Schwann's man, so twice a month, always on Fridays, Giuseppe pulls up and blesses us with highly overpriced but delicious frozen goodies.  He is in his 30's I'd say and his English is pretty good.  He usually texts me before he arrives and is so nice that he even sends us messages to wish us Happy Eastern (Easter--gotta love that).  I'm not kidding about that one, I have proof!

Happy Eastern, y'all!

Sorry, I digressed but Giuseppe's arrival was important because he is the one who translated when the Italian Stepford old ladies returned from the visit and had to walk back by my house.  They waved to us both and shouted "Ciao"and in Italian, asked me "Sei un italiano?" (Are you an Italian?) I totally understood what they had asked but Giuseppe answered anyway with "No, no italiano.  Lei รจ un americano."  The Stepford ladies chuckled and said sarcasticaly, "Una donna italiana non avrebbe mai tagliato l'erba."  I had to ask for a translation on this one...An Italian woman would never cut the grass.  
Immediately I thought to myself, They would if they were married to a soldier!  How many days, months, years has my soldier been gone?  His last deployment lasted into the 14th month!  I can't imagine how tall the grass would have been had I not cut it! Just another of the many ways that makes me realize how different Americans are from Italians--proud to be an Army wife!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Introducing our cast of characters...

Jackson--Our Red-shirt Kindergartener

In preparation for our brief appearance on Casey's blog We Took the Road Less Traveled in a couple of weeks, I thought I'd spend the next few posts introducing (or updating in most cases) everyone to our family "cast of characters". I'm going to begin with Jackson, for no other reason than I just took some cute photos of him and wanted to share.

Jackson is our third child and our second boy. He will turn 7 in August and is currently in Kindergarten with Mrs. Tramm.  We decided to have Jackson repeat Kindergarten again this year because he was the youngest kid in the entire school last year and was clearly struggling.  We moved to Italy from Ft. Campbell in the middle of the school year and I had a feeling that Jackson might have a learning disability. It's a decision I'm glad a made and don't think I'll ever regret.  It wasn't a easy one to make...well-meaning friends and family kept telling me I was wrong, that he was just a boy, that he would catch up, that repeating kindergarten would hurt his self-esteem, etc, etc....But I stuck to my guns, and am proud that I did. Jackson was able to return to Mrs. Tramm's class this past fall and is thriving.  He loves school, his classmates--especially Audrey--and art class. Jackson continues to tell us that he wants to be an artist when he grows up.  He enjoys living over here in Italy and loves to travel around and see Europe, although he did tell Mrs. Tramm that all he saw over Spring Break last year were statues of naked people (The David).  He totes around an old Vera Bradley bag of mine filled with his art supplies and coloring books.  When it's not in use, he keeps it at the foot of his bed.  I have a feeling this is because he is reluctant to share with Delilah his siblings.

If I were to sum up a description of Jackson in just one word, it would be "kind".  Steve and I always say he is the nicest of our 4 children and the one who is the most concerned with making everyone happy.  He always makes sure everyone has a special present from him even on the smallest holiday, usually something that he has made by hand.  For her birthday, he brought Audrey, his classmate at school, a pink plastic bracelet that he stole from Delilah found laying around the house, along with some pretty rocks that we found in Tuscany. He is always coloring me pictures and taping them to my wall, the bed, the inside of my purse...

Jackson is also the most sensitive of our children.  He is the most likely to whine and the most likely to cry if he doesn't get his way, if someone teasing him, if the wind is blowing or the tv is too loud, if he doesn't like what's for dinner, or what we happen to be doing that day...Stuck in the middle, he is likely the kid to get left out.  In secret, where no one else can hear, I tell each of my children,  "Don't tell your siblings, but you're my favorite."  Jackson just knows this is true about him.  He is CLEARLY my favorite in his eyes.  At school, when he was asked what he was most thankful for at Thanksgiving time, he said, "That Mommy likes me the best." (In his eyes, this is clearly why I picked him to post about first)
Jackson has a great smile and the longest eyelashes known to man

He loves Stitch

 And loves to have his picture taken in front of random places and things

 Like the waterfall at Disneyland

A flowerbed next to the Louvre

 Some random place in Paris

And with a strangely dressed Donald Duck

With his siblings at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

With his sister in front of the most famous painting in the world that he just doesn't understand why it is so famous because it's just some lady

He's pointing because his own middle name is Alexander

He is writing his own book about these little mice, Garcia and Mousey (Garcia is the girl....go figure)

This is an sample of his artwork that is hanging in Mrs. Tramm's classroom.  It is supposed to be Corduroy the Bear, but it looks like a stylin' mouse to me.  Check out those glittery eyes.

I love this one...

Clearly, he is incredible.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dear Delilah

Dear Delilah,
Thirteen too-short years from now when you are sixteen and smack in the middle of teenage angst, please remember that your daddy, who carried you all the way up 269 steps, and I stood on top of the Arc de Triomphe in 35 degree wind chill at 10:30 at night and then waited an extra 40 minutes just so that you could see the Eiffel Tower sparkle. I will remember the look on your precious face always.

Arc de' Triomphe 

Under side of the Arc.

View down the Champs Elysees

The tower sparkles!

Our family at the top of the Arc

See the Eiffel Tower sparkle.