Thursday, December 27, 2007

We made it home....

Me, barely though. :) I'm talking about our Christmas trip to Rome. Rome was beautiful, but personally my trip could have been a lot better. We left on Saturday, and I was feeling a little sick, but of course with all the nonreturnable money we had spent on this trip, I was definitely not going to stay home.

On Sunday I started feeling a little bad. My kidneys were hurting, yeah that was all I needed walking around Rome. Monday was somewhat tolerable, Tuesday during the day was really starting to get to me, and that was the day we did the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica, so obviously I didn't get to enjoy them too much. By Tuesday afternoon at the hotel it was getting worse, and by 6:30 I couldn't handle it anymore.

We went to the Italian ER where I was in pain for a while, but they labeled me with "green" importance, so I waited forever. Thankfully the worst of the episode didn't last too long, and I was able to sit around in only a little bit of pain. They finally saw me, and gave me an iv with fluid and painkillers, ran a few tests, some x-rays (they thought I had kidney stones,) and told me, "yeah you have an infection, but we don't know what." I think they did know, actually and just didn't want to give me their antibiotics since I would be leaving in two days. Which surprisingly I'm not mad about, because health care is free for Italians, and I don't think it very highly funded. They probably knew I would make it home okay, and wanted to save the antibiotics for someone with greater need.

I was somewhat shocked at the ER. They had it set up like a triage, with a good 20 to 30 people crammed into one room, with no dividers, that I had to walk through do get to the bathroom to do my urine test, which even their instrument for that was a little plastic drinking cup. Nice. I knew I had a kidney infection, and if I knew they HAD to know it. Both my doctors and my tour guide (who was translating for me when she could be there, she kept having to go back and forth from me to the group) kept asking, "How do you know it's your kidneys? " I wanted to say, "Because I F'N know where they are, and they F'N HURT!" I guess Italians maybe aren't too keen on listening to their bodies, because they were surprised that I seem to know something about my own body.

Anyway, they offered that I could stay there for the night, with more pain killers, I said no. I wanted to get back to the hotel, not be in that run down room without my family for any longer. Unfortunately, because of this I was unable to attend midnight mass, which I had been so excited about. Oh well.

I was fine all night, but around lunch the next day, the painkillers were wearing off, and I was beginning to get miserable. Tony walked to probably the only farmacia open on Christmas and brought some over the counter pain killers for me. (My Hero!) I lived on these until we headed home yesterday. And when we arrived at the parking lot where our car was, we ran into it and headed to our ER, where I was in heaven. They didn't doubt me for a second, immediately gave me some painkillers and fluid through an IV, ran some tests, and pretty soon had me on the antibiotics that I knew I needed. I was so relieved. We stayed there for a few hours, then headed home, where I thought I would be able to get a good night's sleep, but unfortunately I was still being attacked with cold chill and intense fever episodes which made my night pretty miserable still.

Anyway, so I will post about Rome later, because I need to get the MOMS Club newsletter done today, and I know the Rome post is going to be a very long one.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

My week with our First Guest Ever...

My new friend, G, arrived last Saturday. I say my "new" friend, because actually I had never met her before, until we picked her up at the Catania airport. She is my mom's friend's daughter, and when my mom had told me that G was taking a Eurotrip, I told her she could definitely stop by our place here in Sicily. I was excited to help G out, to give her another stop on her trip, especially to Sicily, where there is so much history all around. But I was also excited for myself because I knew that having a guest would force me out of my routine and comfort zone, which it did.

On Sunday, Tony and I took G to Niscemi, the town near where Tony works. There was supposedly a culture festival, (that Tony swore he'd seen a poster for) but when we arrived in town, nothing out of the usual was going on. So we stopped at Bar Fortuna where our friend C works, and even he said, "An event? On Sunday? No way!!" and just laughed. So we enjoyed tea and cappucini. Afterwards, we went in search of food, but weren't able to find anything open. So we had to run to Tony's work to eat his stocked up frozen veg food, and whatever chips and such that we could find.

After leaving there, we had decided to go to Agrigento to see the Valley of the Temples, but after realizing what time it was (almost 4:30) we knew we wouldn't get there in time before it closed. So, we went to nearby Caltagirone instead. We found Scale di Santa Maria del Monte, which is a set of stairs with 142 steps tiled with hand painted tiles (no two are alike.) They had a nativity scene set up, so it was a very pretty sight. In the piazza there was some sort of Christmas celebration going on with live music and tables set up by people selling things, or looking for donations for their charity work. We went inside a building that turned out to be an art & culture center, and as our luck would have it, a Pupi show was scheduled for 5:30. So we stayed and people watched until the show began. Afterwards, we headed home as we were all cold and tired of walking around, up, and down the hills of Caltagirone.
Scale di Santa Maria del Monte
Two Pupi Fighting
On Monday, after getting G set up with a base pass, we headed out to Catania for a little sightseeing. We took G to see Elephant Square, the church, and our friend T even showed us a Greek theater that Tony and I had never seen before. It got dark fast though, and I needed to study for my accounting final, so that trip was cut short.
Part of the Church:
It was so pretty with the sun setting.
The back of the Greek Theater with city buildings and traffic all around.
Tuesday, I took my final early in the morning, which went pretty well. (I ended the class with a 93!!!) After I got back home, we decided on our first day trip with me as the driver and tour guide. We decided on Syracusa, which I wasn't nervous about much, since I had driven there before. The drive was nice, since it was filled with welcomed conversation. When we arrived in Syracusa, we followed the signs to the Greek Theater, and were not disappointed with it. It was beautiful, and soooo awesome to see. I was so in awe of the theater and of the surroundings, it was truly breathtaking. Right next to the theater is an archaeological park with the Ear of Dionysius. The pictures I had seen of this cave do not do it justice (mine don't either.) This cave is amazing! It's huge, and it's shape is so interesting, and from the inside looks like an upside down cavern. It was amazing! The surroundings were so peaceful, with the garden/orchard like setting with the quarry in the background. It was a nice relaxing walk.

After that, we headed to the Papyrus museum, which ended up being closed. So we decided to head out to Ortygia Island. Driving there was a little tight, roads were so narrow, but we eventually found a parking space. We walked the whole island in probably about an hour. We found the Fonte Arethusa, the Duomo, and the Papyrus tree that grows behind the Aquario. We enjoyed the walk and G really loved the sea side scenery in this town.
At the Greek Theater:
The Ear of Dionysius from the outside:
From the inside (see the grown man walking out for perspective on size.)
My favorite picture from the inside:
Duomo at Ortygia Island:
After getting home, we found out that the truckers had gone on strike, and that the gas stations were out of gas!!! And we only had a little over 1/4 of a tank, which would get G to the Catania bus station on Friday, and us back home, but that would be it. I was so disappointed since I thought I wouldn't be able to take her anywhere for the rest of her trip. Wednesday, we ended up making the best of the situation and hung out at Angie's house, watched Because I Said So, snacked on popcorn, and drank some really yummy apple cider. It was a nice afternoon, and G had mentioned that it was so nice to just do something American since she hadn't in 3 months. I hadn't thought of it that way, until she put it like that. I loved G's constant optimism. :)

Thursday morning, my dear husband called me from base to tell me that he had heard that the Esso gas station near our house had received a delivery that morning. So, of course, I raced out the door to check, and when I drove up I was so relieved to see that there was no signs on the gas pumps, and the station was busy.

With a full tank of gas, we headed out for our next day trip: Agrigento. Probably my most favorite place I've been to on the island, yet. I could never get tired of going to Agrigento. It is just so incredible to see the temple ruins. G shared my feelings, I think. It was a perfect day to go, too. Sunny and warm enough to not need a sweater, but not to warm to be uncomfortable with all the walking. There were hardly any people around either (likewise in Syracusa as well,) so we had the whole place to ourselves. We enjoyed it. We were going to stop by Piazza Armerina on the way home, but decided not to, as we were all quite tired.

Friday was G's last day here. I had intended on taking her to the Mineo Market (as Angie and I have been going each Friday lately,) but Tony had scheduled a legal appointment that his work has been on his back about for our normal market time. So, thankfully, Angie (being the wonderful friend she is) took G along with her, since she was still going anyway. So, they got to have fun, while Tony and I sat through gruesome scenarios of our various orders of death, and whose will would end up being used... What a nice start to the day.

After getting home and eating lunch, we headed out to Palermo, where G would be flying out of that night. The main thing we wanted G to see was the Catacombs. When I told her about it, she mentioned seeing a show about it on tv once, but never thought she might see it in person, so I knew she just had to see it. She was definitely a little freaked out I think, but excited at the same time, lol. The same feelings I had the first time I went. It's such a sight, and it makes you wonder why they wanted to preserve their bodies, who these people were, etc. So many thoughts go through your head while you're jumping at catching a corpse's scary expression, or turning and seeing an arm reaching out at you. I wish I had pictures, but no cameras are allowed. :( I really think G liked the catacombs though. She said she was excited to be able to tell her brothers about it. :)

Afterward, we drove around trying to find something to eat. We ended up passing by a huge church, so we decided to park and walk back. It was such a beautiful church to see at night. It was huge! and lit so beautifully. I took a few pictures, but not many came out since it was so dark. I wish I had brought my tripod, then I could have just left the shutter open, and they probably would have come out better. We're definitely going to have to go back. After looking around there, we walked around and found a little pizzeria to eat at, then headed to the airport, and said goodbye to G, our first ever guest here in Sicily.
Part of the Church:
A funny Pic:
G tried to take a pic, but accidentally hit the timer button, so we were waiting, then struck a pose lol :)
I had a blast showing her around, and I really hope she had a good time here.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A mini adventure in Mineo

Friday, my friend Ang and I decided to go to the market again. Tony was off so, I was able to leave Carlee at home... So I took my camera instead! :) It was a little chilly at first, but we knew we'd warm up as we walked around. We parked right outside the market, and first went to find a bakery in town that Ang remembered seeing before. We found it pretty quick. The fresh baked breads smelled wonderful. Too bad they used milk and egg in all of them. I wonder if she'd take special orders? hehe.

Then we headed back to the center of town and had a hot drink before our trek back to the market. We've decided to try a different cafe every week. I don't remember the name of the one we went to, but this one had good music. My te caldo was good, I mean, who can mess up tea? :)

While we were walking towards the market on the cobblestone road, I noticed a gift shop so we went and took a look. I found a few things I think I'm going to go back for, little souvenirs, and knick knacks, etc. They also had some pretty paintings of Mineo. As we were leaving, the store owner asked us if we were here for the "Presepi," the nativity scenes. We asked her if it was today, and she said, yes and that we should find the kids and follow them. Apparently there was a field trip, so we decided to tag along. Many towns here in Sicily have this celebration at Christmas. People throughout the town put together huge nativity scenes, and display them. They were beautiful. We were able to see two, before finally deciding to head back to the market before all of the vendors packed up.

We walked around the market, and I ended up with ribbon I needed for my ornaments and some fruit. I'm such a big spender. haha. Actually, I just never know what to get, because I don't know what I'm going to be cooking soon. I should just start meal planning. Then when I go to the market I would know exactly what I need. But like I'm going to do it. .... .. .

Anyway, here are some more pictures from the day:
The town put up some Christmas trees in the piazza.
A view of the market from above:

Walking through town... Imagine living this close to so many neighbors!
The men were cheesing it up for the camera today:
This guy asked for a photo, smiled, then said wait while he searched for the perfect sample to hold up. Then he said wait again, and he unfolded it. Wait, and unfolded it again. Wait, and positioned it juuust right. Okay, photo! I was so amused, LOL. Too funny....

We had a great time, and such good luck with the lady telling us about the presepi. I was so glad we got to see them, it made my day extra great.

Today, we have our first guest flying in today. I'm excited to show her around! I'll be taking plenty of pictures hopefully. :) Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Chri'tmas TIME!!!

"It Chri'tmas TIME!!!" That's exactly the reaction we heard when we plugged in the Christmas tree last night. Yes, that's right... I finally convinced Tony to go get it out of the storage unit. hehe. Carlee's reaction was priceless and completely melted my heart. She was jumping in excitement around the tree. I took these pictures without the flash so that you could see the lights, with the flash on it looked like daylight. :) I couldn't stop smiling last night.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Play Dough Recipe

Carlee's been playing with her play dough all afternoon again. She's really enjoying it. At least it keeps her busy, and lets me get some housework done. :) I've had the recipe for a while, since last year some time when my friend put it in our MOMS Club newsletter. I don't know why I waited so long to make it for her instead of buying new play dough that dries out so fast. It's great too, because the color doesn't come off of the play dough! Here's the recipe if anyone is interested:

Play Dough
1 Cup water
1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Salt
1 Tbsp. Cream of Tarter
Food Coloring
1 Cup Flour

Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tarter, and food coloring in a saucepan. Heat until warm. Remove from heat. Add flour. Stir, then knead until smooth. Store in airtight container or freezer bag.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sugar Cookies for Carlee!

This morning started out early, with me almost deciding to ignore the alarm clock. I thought of the fun Carlee would have today, and it forced me out of bed. I headed downstairs and made her holiday sugar cookies: snowmen, stars, bells, angels, and gingerbread men galore. I got Carlee ready and gathered the cookies and we were off to decorate with friends. She had a blast! Of course. I got a few laughs for bringing my own cookies, but also a few inquiries about how I had made them, and what substitutions I used. Interestingly enough though, after eating one and a half cookies with a little bit of icing on it, she handed me the second, saying, "I don't want anymore." A little too sweet, maybe?

The recipe I used was one I found on and then altered it to the following:

Vegan Sugar Cookies For My Little Carlee to Decorate
3 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cup non-hydrogenated margarine (or another butter substitute)
1 1/2 Cups Natural Sugar Cane
2 Tbsp Soy Flour + 2 Tbsp water (to replace 2 eggs)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. Cream together margarine and sugar. Beat in egg substitute one half at a time. Stir in vanilla. Gradually blend in sifted ingredients until fully absorbed. Cover dough. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheet. On clean, floured surface, roll out small portions of dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
5. Decorating with icing/candy of your choice.

These turned out a little chewy (which I like) since I took them out as soon as their raw looking glisten was gone. I didn't wait for them to brown at all. They weren't too sweet but just sweet enough. You don't want them too sweet anyway, with all that icing making up for it. :)

Carlee enjoyed decorating with her friends, and I really hope that I'm making it clear to her that eating vegan doesn't mean giving up socializing or doing fun food things with friends. I know she's still probably too young to understand that, but I want to make it clear from the start. If there are any left, (since Carlee and Tony have been eating plain sugar cookies left and right,) we're going to decorate the rest tomorrow for some family time, except using home made icing instead of cake icing like they used today. (blech!) heh.

P.S. I started putting copyrights on my photos, only because I don't want people thinking they're in the free domain and they can distort pictures of my baby! lol. If any family want originals, I'd be happy to email them to you, just let me know!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Weekend Happenings

This past weekend was great. We got a lot done, although putting up our Christmas tree somehow got overlooked yet again.

Friday, my friend Angie, and I went to the local Mineo Market. I had one thing to buy: purple ribbon, but also came home with some beautiful purple cauliflower, celery, and 4 bunches of spinach as well. After our shopping, we stopped by a small cafe to have a hot drink, te caldo for me and a cappuccino for Angie. Carlee enjoyed her chocolate Silk, and a sip of Angie's cappuccino which she decided she didn't like after all. After our drinks, we sat and talked. We got onto the topic of being ready to go traveling even if it meant without the guys. It's funny how facing the fact that I'm not accomplishing what I had wanted to here in Sicily, has really renewed that excitement and determination to do it. I've even been practicing my Italian again, which really came in handy at the cafe. An older man sat at a table beside us and was (of course) automatically in love with Carlee. (I love how the Italians absolutely adore kids.) He started talking to us, asking how old Carlee was, how long we had lived in Sicily, did we like it, etc. I understood almost everything, I was surprised at myself.

Words I learned at the market:
Cauliflower: cavolfiore
Spinach: spinaci
Carrot: carota
Celery: sedano
Meter: metre

We had so much fun out in town, and I can't wait to see how much fun we have as we start to get out more.

Saturday we spent all day trying to get a virus off the desktop. A bad one. Tony eventually got rid of it today, but only after a lot of time being annoyed. I also got my Christmas cards addressed. Saturday night we went to my friend, Emy's going away party. :( I'm going to miss her. She's one of the few people here that don't think I'm a little weird. :) She's such a great person, and I hope everything goes awesome for her and her family. Good luck Emy!!!

Sunday, I got a lot done around the house. I also made 3 batches of play dough for Carlee (she goes through play dough so fast!) She had a blast playing with it, she's got a ton of cool play dough utensils and molds and such. It kept her busy for quite a while. I also made some salt dough ornaments for Carlee and me to paint. I'll post pictures once we get that done. (Of course if we don't ever get the tree up, then they will be useless....) We also went to base to take my friend Emy & her husband out to dinner one last time. After we got home from dinner, I made a batch of vegan sugar cookie dough so that Carlee can go to a cookie decorating event tomorrow. It's in the fridge at the moment chilling. Tomorrow morning I will cut & bake them, and hopefully they will turn out okay.

And that was my weekend. I'm about to go fold a load of laundry, and then wind down for the night. Hope everyone had a great weekend. :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Daft Punk Video

On our myspace page, Tony and I have this Daft Punk song. My sister posted this video in a comment for me. I laughed so hard, these girls have way too much time on their hands...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Addictions... new and old

Lately, I've got a few addictions... Thanks to my friend, D, who sells Close to my Heart scrapbooking & stamping stuff, I've gotten back into my old addiction to scrapbooking and... well, stamping! I've finally started Carlee's baby book, which has been a lot of fun. Also, through D I've met another lady who sells Stampin' Up! products, who also gives cardmaking workshops. I went to two of them so far and really enjoyed it. Here's some Christmas cards I made:

I made this next one last at one of the workshops, and I was rushed since D and I had to pick up the kids from the sitter's, so I forgot to stamp the leaf background onto the green part... :(

This one's my favorite... I love the colors!

I can't wait until my printer/scanner gets in the mail! Anyway, I kept adding my own little flare to all the cards and the envelopes. The hostess said, "I learn something from you guys every time we do this." And after seeing me stamp one of my cards, she told me, "You have got to join the stamp club!" It was nice to have a chance to be creative, and to hang out with girls who save every single little scrap piece of cardstock, too. :)

As for my new addiction.... thanks to the same friend, I'm now addicted to Desperate Housewives. When the show first came out, I think I saw maybe one episode and wasn't interested in it at all. A few weeks ago, I caught the last episode of season 3 at D's house, and asked if the whole show was that good. She assured me it was, so eventually last week I finally gave in and rented the first disc to the very first season. In one week, I'm almost done with the entire season, and can't wait to start season 2! I'm just hoping that the show does in fact stay this good.... I'm amazed at how complicated the characters are, I never realized how much depth this show had. Now I do, and I'm hooked. :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

A quiet house...

I sit watching the steam float above my hot cup of tea, waiting to be sipped. My thoughts are swirling around aimlessly, not wanting to settle. I figure I should just write them, and hopefully I'll be able to sleep.

Today marks the beginning of the Christmas season for many people. They put up their decorations, start their plans, begin shopping at 4:30 AM with a million other mad people (I could never understand that,) play Christmas music, and of course hang up the lights (or for the people who keep them up year round, simply plug them in.) Unfortunately, we had none of that today. I had hoped to set up the Christmas tree, and start on making my ornaments. I decided that I wanted to make salt dough ornaments this year, and have Carlee and I decorate them. But, Tony wasn't much in a holiday mood.

Last year, after Christmas flew by, I had made an entire list of family 'traditions' I had wanted to start. Carlee's getting old enough to understand the holiday, and it was really exciting. However, this past year has flown by, and December is rushing here way too fast. We have decided not to buy Carlee so much stuff, like we did last year. We went all out for some reason, got carried away in the Christmas shopping hoopla. She played with the toys for a bit of course, but not as much as we had imagined she would. So, this year I want to get her one main present, an easel/chalkboard combo, and I keep waiting for the NEX to get one in, but they still haven't. She's much more of a creative child anyhow; she loves to simply play and create with paints, colors, play dough, and play pretend.

This year, I am personally very excited because I think that we are going to be reflecting on the real meaning of Christmas much more this year than we ever have as a family. We're going to Rome for Christmas, and we've got tickets to go to Midnight Mass at the Vatican! A friend of mine asked me the other day, "Well are you going to take presents in your luggage?" I was so baffled. I couldn't imagine why I would do that, when this would be the best opportunity to let go of material things and to celebrate Christmas with Jesus and God as the main purpose, instead of what's inside the pretty wrapped boxes.

Now, my husband is not Catholic, and not very religious at all in fact, but I'm so grateful that he agreed to this trip and is being very positive about it. I feel that for me, this is going to be something I will never forget.

Religion is such a complex issue for me. I was raised Catholic, which I still consider myself, although I honestly don't go to Church, my marriage is not recognized (therefore I cannot receive Communion,) and honestly there are things that I don't agree with that Catholicism includes. On the other hand, there are also many things that I do believe in, that Catholicism at best dismisses, and at worst condemns as sins. So, my faith has always been something I've struggled to label. Personally, I believe that God honors any way that people choose to worship him, although not many people share my acceptance of religions, which is really sad.

Anyway, back to the trip. I'm very excited about it, and I'm really looking forward to experiencing Christmas this way. And to visit a place with so much history is going to be simply amazing! I'm counting down the days!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! I'm blissfully happy with a full belly. We had such a great day today. We had a potluck Thanksgiving dinner with a bunch of our friends here. Almost everything was vegan friendly! Are my friends awesome or what!?! It does help that one other family is vegan also. :)

"I brought the green bean casseroooooole!" (I always think of that old commercial, where all the ladies show up at the door singing that, haha.) I also took an Apple Cherry Crisp from Everyday Vegan cookbook. And for Tony's and my "meat-y" portion of the meal, I made Tofu Cutlets. All of my dishes came out so tasty! The green beans especially. They were awesome, better than any regular green bean casserole I've ever had, and trust me, that's always been one of my favorites, and I know it wasn't just me because everyone was saying how good they were. The tofu came out nice too, I was pleasantly surprised with it. It went along with the meal perfectly. There was also vegan stuffing, a potato dish, a corn dish (my friend says it's Pennsylvania Dutch style,) it was pretty good, vegan gravy, pumpkin, a cranberry dish, and a ginger carrot cake. Everything was so delicious!

I was so grateful at the effort everyone put in to make the meal vegan friendly. I'm so thankful for a ton of stuff: my wonderful husband, one of a kind daughter, awesome family, great friends, my freedom, my health, all the once in a life time opportunities I get here, and so much more. I could go on, but that would be a very long post. And my full belly is making me sleepy. :)

At the Kids' Table:

Our Awesome Friends:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stress Induced Baking Produces Yummy Results

This morning we had delicious Pumpkin Muffins from the Vegan with a Vengeance! cookbook. These were the positive result of a stressful day yesterday and getting my first Christmas present in the mail.

First, yesterday was pretty stressful for me. One of the nursery workers who watches the kids for the main base's chapel's bible study group was sick, so a friend of mine had asked me if I wanted to come in on Tuesday to fill the lady's spot. "Sure," I said. I figured I wasn't doing anything else, and it would be nice to get out of the house for a bit. Monday night, I planned out all my other errands and wrote my grocery list so that I could get it all done in one trip.

I was put in the 2 and under room and worked until noon. It went pretty good. The kids were a little fussy and cried every now and then for their moms, but it was okay. Afterward, I had to mail a few boxes at the post office. Trying to carry two boxes (one quite heavy) from the car, through the parking lot, across the street to the post office proved to be a challenge since it was impossible to do this while holding Carlee's hand. At one point she took off through the parked cars, and believe you me, I was quite upset. After 4 times as long as it should have taken, I somehow managed to open the unusually heavy door and usher Carlee inside. "Stay next to Mommy," I told her, since the last time we were in here she managed to run behind the counter, grab the attention of a Chief in a back office, who (thankfully with a smile) came out and said, "Who's trying to mail this little girl?" I had been very embarrassed, but apparently it wasn't the first time it had happened. Of course, today, Carlee failed to listen to my demand, but the door to behind the counter was not open, thank goodness.

After mailing the boxes, we headed over to the Nex to pick up a mic for Tony (who has self admittedly fallen off the deep end in WOW as he and his friends now voice chat.) Then we made our way to the food court for lunch. Subway is pretty much our only option, other than a small pizzeria in which I can order a veggie pizza senzo formaggio, but I didn't feel like waiting for a pizza to bake. So I ordered my veggie sandwich and grabbed a bag of Frito's, which Carlee usually likes. She wouldn't eat. Not only would she not eat, she wanted to run around the food court, and not let me eat. I tried to make her sit down. She wouldn't listen. I tried to hold her in my lap, but she thrashed around making it near impossible for me to eat. But I kept pulling her back up obviously against her will, ignoring the stares I was more than likely getting. I just wanted to eat.

The next stop was the commissary in order to get a whole list of things that I can't get at our neighborhood's small commissary, things I needed for our Thanksgiving dishes. By this time I was so tired of Carlee's behavior that I just put her in the seat and buckled her up, ignoring the whines, the "pleases," and the countless "Mommy I'm stuck!s" This trip actually went faster than I expected.

After making our way to the car and turning it on, I noticed how very close to running out of gas the car was. Tony had said I would have enough to get to base and to gas up on the way home. It wasn't looking that way. I drove toward the smaller base where our mail box is, constantly watching the gas level the entire time. As I drove through the gates, the car was already driving funny, I knew I should just go get gas. So I turned around and drove toward the nearest gas station (which isn't all that near when you're almost out of gas.)

"How much?" the attendant asked. Even though he asked me in English, I answered in Italian: 35 liters, please. He nodded, and I think he was a little surprised I had even attempted the Italian number. After pumping the gas, he washed the windshield for me, and started saying something else to me, but I didn't understand. Maybe he thought I knew more, I just smiled. I handed over my gas coupons and said thanks. "Grazie," he answered, "ciao, ciao." I was so grateful I had made it to the gas station.

At this point, I had to decide whether to drive the rest of the way home (since I was half way there) or to turn around and go back to the small base to check my mail. I knew there were probably boxes in there, at least I had hoped, so I decided to check the mail. However, turning left at that particular gas station is a nightmare, you can't see the oncoming traffic coming around the curve at all, and pretty much have to hope for the best if you're going to turn left there. I decided not to chance it. I turned right and drove about 5 miles before I found somewhere safe to turn around.

I made it back to base eventually and found out that in fact I did have boxes, a lot of them. It took me two trips to get them in the car. Finally done with that, I could head home. In the end, I'm glad I decided to turn back for the mail, as on the way home, I passed a pretty bad wreck. Four or five cars were on either side of the road in awkward positions. I decided that my long delay in getting to that particular spot was a good thing after all.

I finally arrived home, got Carlee inside, unloaded all the groceries and the boxes, and I was exhausted. When Carlee acts up like that when it's just us, it's very energy draining. I put the groceries up, and opened the boxes. This is where my Christmas present comes in... I opened the biggest box from my grandparents and there sat the box for a KitchenAid Artisan mixer!!!!

I've wanted one of these for years!!! I've listened with envy as my friends talked about theirs, and how great they are. Now, I had one! I immediately tore open the box and placed it on the counter. I felt like a 16 year old kid who had just gotten her first car. I carefully wiped it down with a dishtowel, getting all my fingerprints off the shiny black body. I called my grandparents right away, to thank them of course, then I cleaned out the bowl really quick and decided to use it right then. Is baking a weird stress reliever? Not to me.

Knowing of course that a standalone mixer is just a thing (albeit a very nice and helpful thing to have,) I'm even more grateful for the love of cooking and baking that my Grandma and Mom somehow instilled in me. I can remember baking all the time with my Grandma. It was always so comforting to smell the yummy scents coming out of the kitchen. And cooking, well cooking I didn't get into until I got married, because to be honest, my Mom and Grandma always did the cooking up until the day I left. But as soon as I was in my own home (a handful of states away) I found myself wanting the exact mixture of flavors my Mom and Grandma always cooked up. So I had to learn. It took a lot of practice and many inedible dinners... especially learning to make my Mom's enchiladas...

But with that love for baking, this KitchenAid just makes it so much easier! I was so amazed at it, how fast it mixed the muffin mix, how the consistency was perfect, and how quiet it was! I was in love. And as the muffins baked, and the pumpkin aroma filled my kitchen, I was suddenly completely relaxed and in a mood 100 times better than before.

The rest of the night was nice, Carlee went through her bedtime routine perfectly (which is unusual on Tony's duty days,) and, needless to say, we ate the muffins for breakfast, and started today out on a tasty note!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why yet another new blog?

I've been chuggin' away in the blogging world for only about 2 1/2 years. In that time, I've had more blogs than I can count on one hand. Why? Well, my first blog I started when I lived in Florida, and after I moved, I felt that I needed to start a new blog to better reflect the new phase of my life. I also had various blogs for hobbies and one for recording the highlights of my daughter's life, which I still keep up. The newest main blog was Color Me Italian, which I had started because we were moving to Sicily Italy. While I have lived here for a year and a half, I feel that my blog doesn't quite represent my life right now at all.

My original hopes of mingling with the Italians, learning their language and culture, and traveling all the time did not come true completely. Although, I have learned a lot from living here, and I've had the chance to travel quite a bit, I don't often get the chance to become completely immersed in the culture here. I've realized that living in "Little America" (military housing,) raising a toddler to become a socially acceptable (or at least decently behaving) person, on top of going to college online, on top of volunteering countless hours, on top of dealing with my anxiety that still pops up every once in a while, on top all the usual countless housewife jobs that are never ending.... there just isn't much time to accomplish what I had dreamed of doing here in Sicily.... and we're already half way done with our tour here. Awesome. I will still continue trying though, until the very day we leave.

With that being said, my life obviously doesn't revolve around immersing myself into the culture here, so I figured a new blog that better represented myself would be nice. So here it is. I also decided to start a new blog, because my old blog uses an old Gmail address, and it was frustrating to check my mail with the new Gmail account and have to keep logging out & back in to go back and forth from mail to blogger. I hope my few readers will follow me to my new blog! :) I promise this one will be the last blogger move!