Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tutto Okay

Another long blog absence...We were struck down by chest colds (Matt and Amy), fever (Cate and Amy), flu or perhaps food poisoning (Dominic and Amy), and an eye infection (Cate).  After 5 days, I think we're definitely on the mend now.  I'll spare the details, but there is one funny story that came out of this that is too good to pass up, which highlights Dominic's cheery personality and perfectionism all at once.

After Dominic threw up all over the bed, we gave him a bucket and instructed him on what to do.  He nodded and lay down to try to sleep.  A few minutes later we heard the dreaded sound and came in to see how he was.  But before we get there, we here this cheery little voice announce, "I'm not very good at this."  Apparently, he had partially missed the bucket.  Sweet Dominic.  Even in his sickness, is thinking about his performance...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Italian Fashion

"To be out of fashion is more criminal than to be seen in a state of nature, to which the Parisians are not averse." (Abigail Adams, becoming acquainted to French custom)

The Italians might agree...

These puffy, shiny jackets are all the rage.  Note also the man scarf on this stylishly-grayed husband. Knee-high boots (thigh-highs are also popular) and skinny jeans. Also notice their one child and his fur collar, who is sitting in their posh, very expensive stroller.  Gotta love the classic Italian style.  I'll try to periodically post some pictures of Italian fashion for your inspiration or amusement. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Art of Persuasion, Lesson 1

So, Daddy was instructing Dominic in the art of persuasion.  It was his turn to do the bedtime routine with the kids, and Dominic was putting up a huge fuss.  For some reason, he wanted Mommy to read his stories.  He threw himself on the ground, yelling I WANT MOMMY.  And he was getting nowhere.  Zero sympathy from me.

A tired Daddy, hoping to get out of reading Uncle Willy (Richard Scary's Bedtime Stories) again, whispered to Dominic that he needs to say, "Mommy, you're soo beautiful.  Mommy you're soo wonderful.  Would you read me a bedtime story?  Just tonight.  As a special, special treat."  So, Dominic came over and was trying to say it all just right to me.  But he got stuck after "Will you read me a bedtime story?" So he looked at Matt and said, "What next?" Matt, of course, fed him the rest of the lines.  Dominic carefully repeated them very sweetly to me.  But when he said, "As a special, special treat."  He paused and looked up very excitedly: "Can I eat it?"

I did end up giving in and reading him his bedtime story, so I guess Daddy's lesson in the art of persuasion was successful after all.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Answer Is

All right...the answer is... 
Why?  We have no idea.  In fact, I'm not really even sure how he knows about caterpillars.  I don't think he's ever seen a real one, we don't even have Eric Carlyle's book, The Hungry Caterpillar.  The only thing I've ever done is make little play-doh balls and stick them together, adding eyes to the front one, and tell Dominic it was a caterpillar.  And then another day he lined up a bunch of coins and proudly told me he made a caterpillar.  But scary?  And going to eat him? I have no idea...he's a weird little boy.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


So, Dominic woke up crying in the middle of the night.  Mommy to the rescue.
--Dominic, Dominic, what's wrong?
--I'm scared.
--What are you scared of?
--They're going to eat me!
Okay, guessing time, what is Dominic scared of?

Friday, February 5, 2010


I came home from church today giddy with excitement at my conversation with Alberto.  I felt like a little school girl.  He was so interesting.  He was so nice.  He was so...Italian! 

No, not a crush, of course.  More like a sense of triumph.  Alberto is my once-a-week Italian friend at church.  The first week he came up to say hi, I felt so sheepish.  I could only reply, "Ciao.  I'm sorry I don't speak Italian, but I'm learning"  to his friendly Italian "overtures". 

About a month went by when this Alberto came up to me again and tried again to speak to me.  That time I was able to say a little more, although I still understood very little.  I could tell him my name, that I was married and had two kids, and what we were doing here.  We left on friendly terms, and I felt encouraged that I was able to say a little more. 

Since then, we've had several conversations, and each time he encourages me that I am speaking more than the last time, and certainly far more than the first time.   Sometimes I get discouraged that I can't say what I want, but it's hard to gauge my own progress.  This sort of outside measure has proved to be most encouraging.  Each time I am understanding more and able to say more. 

This last time, I felt great about our interaction.  One, I understood 75% of what he was saying and, most importantly, I was beginning to be able to ask questions if I didn't catch what he was saying.  For some reason, it has taken me a long time to feel comfortable asking a question regarding my comprehension.  I guess in order to do that, I need a reasonable assurance that a clarification will help me catch it the second (or third) time, otherwise it's just a waste of time and embarrassing.  Second, we had an interesting conversation about the US and Italy.  It had snowed about an inch again today, so I asked him if this was typical.  He told me that it was colder this year, and it doesn't usually snow in Padua.  I asked if he liked the cold, and he told me he much preferred the warmth (wild gestures here).  Then he asked about the weather of Philadelphia (we always say we're from Philadelphia, it's much easier for Italians, who have frequently at least heard of it, instead of Pennsylvania or York).  I told him it was colder in the winter and hotter in the summer than Padua.  He told me a funny thing.  "I thought so," he said.  "I remember very well the first time that I saw you, you had on a short-sleeve shirt and all the Italians were wearing long-sleeve shirts.  That was how I knew you were not Italian.  We were all so cold and you were not.  You could not be from here." 

Really, that was what gave it away?  I was giddy about this discovery.  Yes, I talked to a real Italian and I understood a more complicated conversation.  But I also uncovered something that Matt and I had been talking about.  What gives us away as non-Italians?  Italians don't often assume that we're from the US, for some reason.  Spain is actually the most frequent assumption; last week, Lana and Matt were identified as Portuguese!  But why?  Often we haven't even talked, or we say something that is very typical and, at least in our opinion, sounds pretty Italian.  What is it?  It seems that it is these very small cultural things, things that we don't even think twice about.  Like a short-sleeved shirt in September.  Because it is still hot. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cheerios and Salt

What's that proverb?
 A little sleep, a little slumber,
       a little folding of the hands to rest-
 and poverty will come on you like a bandit,
       and scarcity like an armed man. 
Yes, indeed. 

A little sleep cost us a box of cheerios.  And a shaker of salt.  A lot of aggravation. And thirty minutes of cleaning.

So what happened?  Dominic slipped out of the room without our notice.  We were slumbering peacefully away until we were jostled from happy-land by an unusual scream from Cate, who had, I gather, finally gotten tired of having Dominic in her pack n' play.  I'm not sure how long he had been there before she had had enough.  All I know is that it was long enough for Dominic to get breakfast for the two of them.  He had taken the two boxes of honey nut cheerios off the counter and threw them into Cate's bed, then climbed over the rail into bed with Cate and the cheerios.  Together they were smashing in cheerios, dumping them out into the pack n' play.  For easier access?  For play?  I'm not sure.   I guess they thought the cheerios were getting a little boring tasting, though, because Dominic then took the salt shaker off the table and began pouring it's contents on top of the cheerios. 

During the cross-examination of incomprehension at this travesty, I kept asking Dominic, "Why? WHY  Why did you do it?"  He was at a loss and just stared at me, not getting it.  He shrugged and added, "I pour 'em, for Catie.  See, I sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle," he told me as he demonstrated just how to shake a salt shaker. 

Sigh.  Well, at least one bag of cheerios was still sealed...

 Proverbs 24:33-4

As I took this picture, Dominic said, "Mommy are you taking a picture of my cheerios?  Do you want to take a picture of my doggies too?"

Monday, February 1, 2010

Blog Sabbatical

I've been absent from the blogosphere for quite some time.  I do sincerely apologize for depriving you of my wit and charm.  I know that this is the reason you surf the net, perhaps even the reason you get up in the morning;  I am truly sorry. There are several reasons--most of them legitimate--for this unplanned blog sabbatical. 

First, Matt's sister, Marialana, came for a wonderful two-and-a-half week  visit.  Since she chose to spend her J-term here in Italy with us instead of taking an intensive three-week course at college, we made our best attempts to give her a little Italian crash course.  Matt and Lana took a little brother-sister trip to Florence and Rome for five days, doing a blitz of the major sites that would not have been possible with the pace and luggage of kids.  Once back in Padua, we did some more sight-seeing all together of Padua and the surrounding area.  We tried to take Lana to see Petrarch's house in Arqua Petrarca (about an hour away), but it ended up being impossible to reach by bus, so we ended up taking a ten minute train ride to the nearby town of Monselice, a charming village with medieval walls and a scenic walk/pilgrimmage of seven "churches" winding their way up a hill to a large church at the top.  

Leaving Matt behind to do some work in the archives, Lana and I took the kids to Verona together and, by a wrong turn, discovered the amazing Roman Theater and Archeological Museum.  I posted pictures of that about a week ago.  It was originally a Roman theater dating back to the second century (AD).  On top of this was a temple.  Then, the Gesuati built a monastery and the marvelously frescoed church of St. Jerome above this.  Built even higher up into the hill was the Castel di San Pietro (Castle of St. Peter).  As we went higher and higher, the view of beautiful Verona and its river just kept getting more and more spectacular.  This was a nice reward for poor Lana since she ended up carrying Dominic almost the entire way.  (Cate was already in the baby carrier on me, sleeping.)  We didn't get a chance to go to the very top because the castle is only open on Sundays, but it was an amazing find.   I think it was even more exciting because we found it by chance, peeking in through a side gate at the towering ruins, wondering, "What's THAT?" and then discovered that it was a museum with a cheap entrance fee!

Lana and I made a little trip to Venice by ourselves. We left Matt and the kids back at the apartment because of the frigid weather and the annoyingly abundant stairs in Venice.  It was still magical despite the weather.  We had a lot of fun trying out the cozy (code for: crowded, standing room at bar only) cafes to try a toasted panini, cappuccino, and fritelle.  The best cafes are, apparently, jam-packed with people.  You weasel your way to the bar, give your order to one of the two bartenders when they ask, wait for it, take it to some corner of the floor, trying to stay out of the way of the opening doors and the fifteen other people vying for room in the warmth of the cafe.  Should the cafe have a table or two, you will pay a premium for it.  The prices are often 100% more for taking you drink at a table instead of a bar.    You don't pay until after you consume your drink or food.  Very interesting.  They must make a killing.  All the panini and wraps are pre-made.  I'd say the average customer only stays 8 minutes.  One guy makes drinks and the other guy heats up the panini.  Very small space (although this particular place was very classy with polished wood bars, glass sliding doors, and a hanging, mirrored display of drinks.  Brilliant.  Amazing. 

So Marialana is the first reason that you've been deprived. I'll try to get her to do a guest post on something she saw for a fresh perspective on Italian life to make up for it. :) 

The second reason is that we intensified our potty-training efforts and with great success!  We can now proudly boast of having a "mostly potty-trained" son.  Perhaps by 3 he'll be completely there. Just diapers at night now, and we've had several days without any accidents--or splashes, as he refers to them (because he gets a slash on the paper instead of a star)--including going on several lengthy outings.

The third reason is that our internet has been dysfunctional, again.  Or still, depending on your perspective.  Server error.  Internet not working.  This time for four days.  I actually wrote a whole stash of posts off-line a few days ago, figuring that I should just stop stalling, get down to business, and restore the sunshine to your lives...