Monday, October 19, 2009

Video: Hokey Pokey

I'm dangerous once I get started posting the videos... Matt has been taking the camera to the library to photograph old books, so most days I am "sans camera". He hasn't needed it for the last couple days, though, so I took full advantage by commanding my husband and the children to be interesting and then shot precious videos. Enjoy the Hokey Pokey.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Video Time!

I thought that everyone could use a little dose of the kids in action. Here's Dominic doing the song "Head and Shoulders" with Daddy.

And here's Cate giggling with Mommy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Corruption of Italy

The corruption of Italy runs deep. In fact, it has even penetrated our little boy's imagination (and, apparently, my spelling abilities, since I just spelled it "immagination").

While reading Harry, The Dirty Dog for the one hundred-billionth time, I start asking Dominic questions about the pictures, hoping to break up the monotony. I ask him to find the fire hydrant, count the number of shovels, locate the coal car, etc.

He catches onto the game alarmingly quickly and starts asking me his favorite question, "Whaz that?"

After we played it his way for a few pages, I turn the tables, "Dominic, what's that?" as I point to a plate with leafy greens on it in the background of the cafe scene. The expected answer is, of course, "salad" or perhaps "broccoli," which remains his favorite vegetable, although asparagus and green beans are definitely challenging its preeminence.

"Iz basil," he casually tells me.

My windowsill herb garden appears to have left quite an impression upon him. Whenever he sees me pick some for a recipe he asks, without fail, "Mommy, can I have a basil (or rosemary, he correctly identifies them), for me?"

I have also discovered that he likes sandwiches, if they're not boring. I'll give you an example. A few days ago I made him a sandwich. It was asiago cheese and salami on a fresh baguette, not too bad, I thought, but he just picked at it, hardly eating anything.

He sees me eating my sandwich and, in his typical style, asks, "Mommy, what're you eating?"

Since I make it my policy to always answer these inquiries, I "patiently" respond, "it's a sandwich with zucchini, red peppers, cheese, and pesto."

At the mention of pesto, he perks up. "Pesto? I want some pesto."

Seeing no harm from this request, I get some out, slather it on his bread, reassemble the sandwich and give it back to him. He promptly ate the entire sandwich. Ever since then he asks for a pesto sandwich. See, Italy is corrupting him.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


We were out to dinner with some friends, who made a detour to our humble abode in Padova during their grand tour of Europe, and Matt decides to try a more complicated Italian sentence involving the formal conditional and the infinitive, with an attached direct object--perhaps he wanted to impress them, I'm not sure. Anyway, we needed a little plate "piattino" for Dominic. He gets the waiter's attention, interrupts him from his very, very busy pace, and politely (and proudly) asks him, "Potrebbe portarlo un piattino, per favore?" (Basically, this means (or should have meant), "would it be possible for you (in the formal) to bring him a little plate?") Matt was then quite miffed when the waiter responded rather callously in English, "you want a plate?" Yes. That's what I said, didn't I? I guess he was just too busy to properly appreciate my use of the formal conditional with an infinitive attached to the direct object. Or is it really that obvious that we're not Italian? Maybe it's our pronunciation? Sigh.

A week later, in Italian class, Matt mentions this little anecdote to his teacher, telling him what he asked the waiter. The teacher, well, the teacher just howled with laughter. Apparently Matt had mixed up the direct object with the indirect object and had asked (using the conditional properly), "Would it be possible for you to bring him on a little plate?" Oops.

It should be "Potrebbe portargli (not portarlo) un piattino," if you're curious.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Burner Lesson

I wake up to Matt yelling, "Amyy!! Did you leave the burner on? You've gotta come see this! Now!"

"No, I didn't leave the burner on! Coming!" as I leap out of bed and rush to the kitchen, expecting fire, smoke, and charred skin. Anything with a burner and a two-year-old is bad. Very bad.

The burner is on and very hot. Fortunately, there isn't any smoke, or fire, and Dominic is fine. What I do see, however, is see coffee grounds and pools of murky brown water everywhere. On the floor, in the pan, in the sink, in a coffee cup, and on a spoon. Coffee grounds? They were in the fridge! Apparently, Dominic was trying to make some coffee. Whether it was for himself or for Mommy, he wouldn't say. Somewhat amused, but thoroughly upset that he could have been seriously hurt, I give him a long "talking to" about the dangers of the stove and doing things without Mommy or Daddy.

His innocent face and lack of true comprehension made me feel that my lecture was a bit futile. It reminded me of a story my mother told me. One of my older brothers, Josiah, was notoriously rambunctious and curious. My mother was trying to impress upon him the importance of safety, especially when playing outside near the street. With all seriousness and concern, feeling the need to make a strong indent on his soul, such that he'll never try this himself, she tells him, "Josiah, your best friend was almost hit by a car this morning..."

Eight-year-old Josiah responds, 'That's okay. I have lots of other friends."

That's about how futile my attempts at stove-safety felt today.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Foreign Tidbits

I was just making a quick list of interesting things I've found out recently, originally intended just for my own records, but I thought you all might enjoy them as well. I made friends at the park with a Finnish mother (2 kids) and our neighbors are Danish. Both speak excellent English, so I've been learning a lot about their countries. And, of course, there are random things we keep learning about Italy. So here they are, in list form.

-all children go to "school"
-take the public bus to school or parents bike them to school
-shop every day
-Albanians and Moroccans are the victims of much prejudice. But this is apparently different than prejudices in America, because these people "really are thieves."
-very sweet (and minimal) breakfast foods: croissant, brioche, choco-cereals, muesli, yogurt (even chocolate chip flavored! (straticella)), coffee, juice
- eat dinner late 9:30-10:00
-kids go to bed about 10:30 or 11:00
-everyone goes to the park at 4:00, after picking up kids from the school
-make payments on strollers. I.e. Peg Perego stroller with pram is 60 euro/month for 10 months!
-frequently ask me about the kids, "are they yours?" and "how old are you?"
-apparently, it is not rude to ask "how old are you?" and "how much do you weigh?" after all, everyone can see these things any way.
-I cannot find Shout, brown sugar, baking soda, jarred garlic, dried mint, ranch dressing, and the pacifiers are lame (no curved nipple).
-the pizza is delicious, but apparently, "American pizza" has corn on it. What?

-eat dinner about 6:00
-kids to bed about 8:00
-much recyling/thrift stores, hand-me-downs
-hardly any cars
-the trope 'you cannot eat pasta every day' is there as well. Too many carbs are bad for you
-English is compulsory in school. almost everyone, even grandparents, speak English.

-meat is more expensive there than in Italy. wow. 9 euro/kilo for chicken = $6/lb for chicken and ground beef. yikes.
-they eat dark bread (like pumpernickel) with various toppings for a traditional lunch
-almost no mothers stay home
-bikes everywhere. including a bike with a box in the front to house a child and another person
-buy a special bike and stroller instead of a car
-dissertation = "writing a Ph.D"
-liberal and conservative politics. but the support of the right wing party is necessary for anything to pass.
-more recently it is becoming right-wing. the police sent back 50-100 Iraqui refugees, even though it is not safe to send them back yet.
-eat dinner about 6:00
-kids to bed about 8:00
-concerned about 'sustainable living'
-minimum wage is 11-13 euro for someone without any education
-learn English from tv programs. nothing is dubbed.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Questura Continued = Not so Happy

Today Matt went to the Questura to be fingerprinted. Naturally, he needed a paper he did not have (for some reason, they require all the same paperwork that you already submitted copies of...even though you have a receipt showing that your papers were already accepted...) and, also, they wanted me and the kids there at the same time, even though they never told us that, and our appointment wasn't for another ten days, anyway...I got the paper, strapped Cate onto my front in the Baby Ergo, took Dominic firmly by the hand, and caught the next bus for the center.

Things went relatively well. I waited with the kids at the gate for 10 minutes. We waited inside for another 30 minutes. Then we submitted all our papers again. Waited another 20 minutes. Then we were called up to the window. They accepted everything! Then we put each finger on this little blue machine. Okay. So far, so good. Then la polizia asked Matt how tall, in centimeters, he is. Wow, we have no idea! After a bit of trying to make a reasonable guess, he tells her that he is 190 centimeters. His logic went something like this: a meter is pretty close to a yard and a yard is three feet. So...six feet would be two meters. He is 5 inches (half a foot) shorter than 6 feet. He remembered from school rulers that a foot was pretty close to 30 centimeters. So, he figured that he was about 10-15 centimeters shorter than 2 meters. Ergo, 185-190 centimeters. She scoffed in disbelief. Responding in half-Italian and half-English she said that he is certainly not as tall as a basketball player. I guess our calculations were in error. She guessed that he was somewhere in the 160s or 170s. A yard and a meter really aren't that close... One foot equals about 30 centimeters. 30 x 5 = 150 + 15 = 165. OH.

Funny bits aside, we did succeed. But after that, we needed to go to another building, down the street, to have another set of fingerprints taken by a bureaucrat with blue gloves who took his job very, very seriously. Having done that, we were finished. Well, at least for 40 days. In 40 days, we need to go back to the URP office to check something on the internet and get an appointment to pick it up, I guess.

Side note: On the way to the Questura, after we exited the bus, Dominic was throwing a little tantrum because he wanted to stay on the bus. In an attempt to appeal to his reason, I told him his behavior was not making Mommy very happy. He eventually calmed down and we kept walking. Later in the afternoon, he randomly asks me, "Mommy, are you happy?" I tell him, "Yes, Dominic. I'm happy." I respond, "Are you happy, Dominic?" He informs me, "No, Mommy, I'm not so happy." And that is exactly what he said, Matt can confirm it.