Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Semi-Wordless Wednesday

I took this looking out my bedroom window this morning.  This part of Italy is very foggy--something that I didn't know before I moved here.  I can't help buy think of Heathcliff walking across the moors from Wuthering Heights. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Our Italian Toll Booth Pees Money

It just so happens that our daily life here in Italy usually involves several trips each day through the toll booth. At least two trips are made each day, sometimes more, depending on the measure of hectic-ness in our day. Four trips each way are not uncommon in a day... I often find myself collecting coins in increments of 80 cents Euro since this is the cost of a trip back and forth from my house to the toll booth nearest to post.

No, I do not have a Telepass...and Yes, having one would make life so much easier.  No excuses....

Anyhow, my children are all use to the trip through the toll booth. And all of them know the cost of the trip. It's the job of the passenger to hold the toll booth ticket until we exit and to riffle through the change in search of the 80 cents Euro. 

Jackson has become increasingly interested in this whole process since at school,  he is learning about making change.  Keep in mind, the money we use over here looks vastly different than the money he is learning about at school but fortunately, his teacher has introduced the concept of American money versus Euro, so he's at least familiar with them both. 

Last week, we were on our way home from picking up the oldest brat from cross country practice on post. We were exiting the Autostrada and had stopped at the toll plaza in our town to pay our 80 cents toll. I inserted my ticket and had dropped my usual 80 cents into the cup and was pleasantly surprised when instead of simply rasing the arm to let me, I was rewarded with a €2 coin dropping into the change return. I excitedly told the kids that we had actually made money on this trip and explained to them what had happened. Jackson immediately asked if it was American money and I told him that no, it was European money. Delilah, who had been uncharacteristically quiet for this ride piped up with, "No, he's not! Jackson's not peeing money!!" 

Get it?

European money...

Ur a Peein' money!

I cracked up!

I'd love your vote for Top Mommy Blog.  All it takes is one click on the picture below.  Thanks!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Picture Book by Trey

It consistently drives me crazy that my children fight and don't want to spend every waking moment cuddled in the embrace of one or all of their siblings, but since I'm an only child, I'm told by my friends with siblings that I'm totally wacked to think that behavior would ever be normal,  I can dream, right?  And then every now and again they actually act like they don't want to kill each other. Here's proof:

Trey wrote this book about his adventures playing outside and catching lizards with his sister one day after school a couple of weeks ago.  He's been begging me to share it on the blog, so here it goes:

The captions are the words that he wrote for his picture book.

Delilah and Trey's Lizard Hunt

With Sparkle the Lizard 

We are going on a lizard hunt

We look for lizards

Then we find one

We name it Sparkle (Mom's Note: Delilah names everything Sparkle)

We have to let Sparkle go

Sparkle has to go home

Bye bye Sparkle


*Mom for the pictures
*Delilah for being a great lizard hunter
*Sparkle for being calm while we took pictures
*Me, Trey for everything else

He came up with the story on his own and then printed it himself. 

And then he read it to her...

I'd love your vote, pretty please!!

And Summer Turns to Fall...

One of the many things I love about living in Northern Italy is that Mother Nature provides us with the opportunity to experience all four distinct and wonderful seasons here. As summer slowly shifts into fall, I'm reminded of all the things that make fall my favorite season: College Football, Back to School, cooler nights with still-warm days, Halloween, breezy days and falling leaves, chunky sweaters....

Just to name a few. 

I love fall. And fall in Northern Italy is equally easy to love. The vines are full of grapes just waiting to be picked, town sagras are in full swing, and my neighborhood farmers are busy harvesting. I love it all. 

Except the flies.

 If you grew up in a farming community, then you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about, but if you didn't or haven't ever lived in one, let me explain.

When the farmers start to harvest their fields, the flies arrive in throngs to feast on the dead foliage.  It's really quite gross...and don't even get me started on what happens when they lay the fertilizer here...because they use "natural" fertilizer here, and that's just gross.

The first year we lived here, I was convinced that the fly infestation was the result of my missing neighbor's decaying body--it wasn't by the way, at least I don't *think* it was, since he's still missing. But after talking to my other neighbors, we've come to the realization that the flies are just part of the landscape around here, at least in the fall...

We've asked almost every Italian we know how they combat the flies, and they all say the same thing...keep your windows shut.  Don't go outside, because they come inside when you open the doors.

Somehow, I don't think "Fly Infestation" is an excused absence from school, so we'll be going with the suggestion of another one of our Italian friends: The Fly Stick!

I stuck it in the corner of our window down by the bottom of the screen ON THE INSIDE OF THE WINDOW and this is how many we caught in just ONE day.

WARNING:  This is GROSS!!  Be prepared!!

I know, right?!?! GROSS!! I'm seriously considering keeping it as a centerpiece on the kitchen table--as   a warning to the other flies!

I'd love your vote!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Traveling with kids--brat style

Life in the fish bowl that is Vicenza can be interesting, especially is you are not used to being in a such a small, tight knit community. I, for one, really enjoy it. I've always been a people person and a small community like Vicenza really allows me to make friends and get to know people here. Blogging in a small community like this one has developed a funny little circumstance: Delilah has become quite the little celebrity around these parts! It's really quite funny--literally every day while I'm on post or out and about, someone says hi, tells me they read the blog, and almost always make comment about how funny or cute Delilah is. And so by request, I've got two funny Delilah stories for today and another one soon!

 (I've got to satisfy her fans, right) 

Story number one happened back in August when the Brats were traveling through Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia. It was literally hot as FIRE that week and we were swaying through the sights in a part of the world I never thought I'd ever see, let alone get to vacation in...

Eastern Europe and the old Soviet block countries definitely appeal to me. They are always so clean, the people always speak English and are happy to share their country with us, and tourists are only just now starting to discover this magnificent part of the world. 

On the day in question, we had literally driven from the Northern tip of Croatia all the way to half way across the country. It was a scenic drive through the beautiful country side, but as we got close and close to the Eastern side of Croatia, we saw more and more evidence of the war.  We spent the day at the Plitvice Lakes National Park (which I'll tell you about soon) and although the temperature was over 100 degrees, we had a great day! When we were planning our trip to Croatia and the waterfalls at Plitvice, I realized that we would be only a couple of miles from Bosnia Hertzegovia.  I knew lots of people who went to Bosnia as a soldier during the war, but knew no one who had been there as a tourist.  I told Steve it was a must do--to be able to say that we had been to Bosnia, I country I totally remembered as being a war-torn nation during MY not-so-distant lifetime, was a must.

The trip from the waterfalls at Plitvice to Bosnia was breathtaking, to say the least.  As we got closer and closer to the border, the area around us became more and more rural.  At about 3/4 of mile before the actual border, the road turned into dirt and gravel.  I am not kidding.  Within sight of the checkpoint,  the road was paved again, but it was obvious that the paved section was new construction.  Keep in mind that most check points at border crossings that we've been through are non existent.  We simply drive from one country to the next, with less pomp and circumstance than we have when we drive from one state to the next in the US. Since Croatia became part of the EU back in June, Bosnia was our first "non EU country" to visit.

The checkpoint was super crowded.  There were lots and lots of cars and lots and lots of people who were out of their cars walking around.  I was very nervous.  Another odd thing that we noticed was that there were tons of DOGS laying in the street or walking around the check point.  It was a weird couple of hours--yes, it took us close to 2 hours to get completely through the checkpoint and into Bosnia.  The thing that I never really realized was a checkpoint between two countries is actually 2 checkpoints--one to get you OUT of the country you are leaving and then another to get you INTO the country you are visiting.

Keep in mind, it was super tense throughout this entire experience. When we finally made it to the first set of guards at the check point, they were ALL Business. They carefully checked both Steve's and my passport first, looking closely at us and comparing our faces to the photos in our passports, and then checking everything out in the computer system. 
Next, the guard wanted to do the same with each of our kids. There was no idle chitchat, and no talking whatsoever except to ask us security questions. It was tense. We were obviously driving our giant Suburban and the guard told us we would have to roll our back windows down so that he could look carefully at the kids. We rolled down Delilah's window and she immediately looked at the guard and with a huge smile on her face, she said, "Hi, my name is Farter Pooter Pants". And then she started to sing this little song that I sing to them to the beat of the graduation march and its only words are Farter Pooter Pants. Repeated Over and Over.

The guard was NOT amused. I still don't know how Steve and I didn't get arrested...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Grape Stomping

Hey there!  Let me start by apologizing for being away so long...I am not dead and nothing is wrong.  With several people--family, friends, and perfect strangers included--contacting me each day to check on my well being, I thought it might be important to start with a little, "everything's ok" message.  But I appreciate the concern and the support.  It's so nice to feel the love.  I have just literally been bogged down with life at the beginning of this school year!  Yikes!  What a fickle bitch I am.  At the end of the school year last year, I was begging summer to hurry up and come and then at the end of summer, I was begging her to hurry up and end.  Now all I want is just a few more days!  Come back, summer.  Just hang around for a few more days!  Please?

So, like I was implying, we've been REALLY busy here at Via Fontanelle during my unintended break from the blog. Life in Italy with four brats kids in four different schools is hectic, never dull, but always fun (hahaha, I hope you can detect the sarcasm).  So I've got a lot of catching up to do over the next couple of blog posts, but I wanted to post today about something amazing that we got to do in Italy over the weekend.  When we moved here, I made this little Italy must-do list that I keep in my head of random things that I wanted to do during our time living here in Italy.  It includes things like:

*Ride in a gondola in Venice
*See the chess match in Marostic
*Pick grapes and mash them I Love Lucy style with our feet

I've done all of these now, by the way, because this weekend we went grape stomping!  What an awesome experience it was for us!  The kids LOVED it.  And Francesca and her wonderful friends and family at the Salvan Urbano Vinicola were super to invite us to give it a try.  The kids actually got to pick the grapes from the vine, dump them in the giant mashing tub and jump in with their feet to stomp them.  There was wine and local food for sampling, live music, and lots of fun.  It was a great way to spend a weekend enjoying what our local area has to offer us here in Italy! But I cannot even begin to describe just how sticky it was....

(Let me apologize for all the pictures now)

 (Tory and her boyfriend, Drake--they've been dating forever in teenage years.  This is the smile that I always get from them)

(Delilah's future husband)

The man up there pouring the wine carved his name into the stone back in 1993...

Sure would love your vote!