Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Who's a friend?"

Here's some Cate love, especially for Grandma and Grandpa and cousins Stephen, Eliana, Abigail, and Miriam.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Buyer's Remorse

Owning your own home opens up a whole new realm of window shopping envy.  Things I never even thought about wanting are suddenly overwhelmingly appealing--to the point where I'll google it to see if the price is more than slightly prohibitive.  What kinds of things?

Oh, you know, a high efficiency washer and dryer.  A side-by-side fridge with an ice maker and filtered water dispenses (or just one with better space management than the one we currently have).  Comfy leather couches that resist crayons and juice.   A fence and remote controlled gate across the driveway.  A food processor without a crack in it.  A new, efficient and not peach toilet that does not "whine" whenever it is flushed.  A light kit for the living room fan.  Three-pronged outlets and a gfi breaker in the kitchen.  I guess I've moved from window shopping to house wishes.  Let's just be glad that I haven't put "three-pronged outlets" into Google, at least yet.

Settling into a new house brings along some buyer's remorse.  I've been told that this is inevitable.  No matter how prepared you are, the unexpected things pop up.  Things you overlooked before may come to bother you.  The first months are a money drain and you wonder, "did we do the right thing?"  The rose-colored glasses come off and you see up close the eyesore that a sagging chain link fence can be, the tar spots the your maple trees have contracted, the pipes that mysteriously leak, and the holes and live wires that previous owners just wallpapered right over.

At the moment, the remorse has waned, probably the result of our living room painting and rearranging.  It helps to make the space our own so that it's no longer "that house we bought" but is now our house, where we (and hopefully others) love to be.    

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

All Around the Planets

Dominic, with his face between angelic and mischievous (stalling before bed), told me, "Mommy, I love you this much"--and he made about ten 10's with his fingers.  And then he emphatically restated his great love for me, clearly influenced by their unit study of the solar system at preschool and the longest distance he can think of, "Mommy, I love you all around the planets and back again to Pennsylvania!"

Ah, those are the moments when he melts my heart.

 Dominic before his first day of preschool at Countryside Montessori.

Standing in front of the school, right before his first afternoon.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Living Room Makeover

The home makeover crew arrived on Saturday for a long-anticipated facelift of the living room and back yard.  This crew may seem motley with just a doctor and a housewife team but don't be fooled, they are creative, hard-working, and thorough--boy are they thorough!  Their drive to bring joy to others and to improve whatever it is they set their hands at are a powerful combination.  In short, my in-laws are amazing.  So please, enjoy the fruits of our (and most significantly their) labor.

It's a little hard to see the color in this first picture.  It's a light teal-grey color.  Think of the relaxing color you might find in a spa or waiting room for a massage.  That might be right if you have the same imagination as me.  If you don't recall, it used to be a boring beige that just muted the fireplace.

We did a little rearranging as well.  You can also see our new "game table" in the back.   This one show the color pretty well, although it's obviously a little lighter when natural light streams in.  Any ideas for curtains??  (something fairly casual that can be drawn completely to block out drafts in winter would be ideal).

We moved the reading nook to be more cozy by the fireplace and also function as an additional chair to the main sitting when we have lots of people over.

 By moving the side table from behind the couch (in front of the big wall) we made a little display place with a neat Italian painting.  The accessorizing needs some work...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's your favorite filling?

Apple? Cherry? Blueberry? Strawberry?  Most people love a fresh-baked pie, and I'm really no exception (although I do prefer crumbles to top pie crust).  But in this intense heat wave we've been experiencing for over a week, I am entertaining no ideas of pie baking.  It would just be wrong, for so many reasons.  So I'll have to get my "fill fix" another way.  Dirt fill.

Not mud pies, as you might expect in a house with two little kids who are frequent hose-in-dirt offenders.  Rather, the dirt fill is coming for our crater!   That back hoe is inside our fenced crater.  I let out a Catie-esque, "Woo hoo!"

They haven't made any other progress yet, but at least the machine is there, looking impressive and ready for business.   So now we're waiting for the dirt fill.  Let's hope they don't confuse that with land fill. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Main Tub Scrub (and Caulk)

Perhaps you'll remember how the main bathtub looked when we bought the house.  It needed, umm...some elbow grease.  A few days after we settled in I went to tackle it and realized the sad truth.  The previous owners left it that way because it couldn't be scrubbed away.  It was embedded in the silicone caulk.  Yuck.  It gave me the heebie-jeebies just showering in there.  A call to my ever-handy, highly-experienced father yielded the verdict of death to the silicone.  Rip it/scrape it out.  Scrub, scrub scrub.  Tape for protection.  And then, re-caulk with quick-drying, flexible kitchen and bath silicone (in a tube).  I was pleased with the results of a few hours of work.  

Except that, in the process, I had to reattach/caulk a few bathtub tiles and when I scraped the first tile, the one below it fell right off, taking the supporting plaster right with it.  So, in the last picture you can see the gap left behind.  Stay tuned to see the results of that project.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Inside, now Outside

Besides the hose, this is the kids' favorite thing about the new house.  It's a bit rickety, but they love it and it has already provided hours of entertainment.

Dominic is learning all sorts of new things! (this is part of our front lawn--which reminds me, anyone know how to get rid of moles?  We're getting nasty mounds of dirt and tunnels.  Or how to keep deer from eating hostas?

Then, our next big project.  Getting the hole/crater/marsh filled.  You can see a little more than half of it in the picture below.  But we've got some nice old pine trees! :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Previous Owners
Now that we finally have internet, I decide to acquiesce to the whimsy of some friends and put up "work in progress" pictures.  In truth, I would have preferred to wait until we finished and had finally made the space just what we want, but, as they so rightly pointed out, when will that be?

So here you have it, I even included a few pictures from before when we were house hunting.  All the window coverings were left, so we attempted to work with them...not sure how that will pan out in the long run.

This is how the white wicker that we inherited looks in the living room, surprisingly nice, we thought. It was just hard to imagine how slightly ornate, garden-y furniture would look in what the previous owners made a very formal space.  But we're not stuffy people at all, so I think it'll work for us.  Future plans include painting the walls a very light, springy green and adding patterned, brightly colored curtains to frame the big window.  Oh, and of course lots of pillows for the wicker after I recover the cushions.

Then there's our reading nook.  Reminds me of my dorm room in Mauck, right ladies?  And all those books have to go somewhere! (Actually 25 boxes did go somewhere...Matt's office on campus.  Hooray!) 
Mantle--beginnings of decor

And we've made a start at decorating the mantle.  Very creative, I thought. :)  Plans are to recreate my wedding bouquet with red roses and bright lilies and trailing ferns...

We very quickly made the kitchen our own.  Maybe just one set of letter magnets would do?  But if you look closely, between the oven and fridge is my masterpiece of family organization.  Seriously, this is going to be life changing.  A place for wallet, keys, charger for cell phones, files for incoming mail, and a notepad for lists, reminders, etc.  Next is a family calendar and a magnetic dry erase for menu plan/chores.
And here's our wicker table in the dining room.  I rather like it.   We are extremely pleased with our new house and neighborhood.  I'll put up pics of the other rooms soon.  And I think I'll post, as sort of an online chronicle, details on our various home improvement and decorating projects.  More to come! :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Disney World!

As you may or may not know, we just returned from a week in Disney World.  Thanks to the generosity of the Gaetanos and an incredible feat of will power and mental energy by Matt to finish a complete dissertation draft, we were able to celebrate our anniversary, sans kids, in a magical way.  It was unbelievable.  Quite miraculous to find out that we do still like each other.  And we both enjoyed a bit of rest and relaxation before the storm of moving comes.   I present the proof:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

She said it best

Matt was waxing philosophical on us again, starting on a parley about the interesting case of x or y.  I can't really remember the particulars.  My discussion honing device was sensing length, prolonged length, for which my tired self just wasn't quite in the mood for.  But, lest I be rude, I just nodded and followed along, wishing I had a witty way out.

Suddenly the princess spoke.  And when Cate speaks, with her charming little voice and captivating expressions, everyone stops to listen.  She looks Matt straight in the eye, and, sounding just a little exasperated says, "Eat, Daddy!"  And just like that we were out, replacing the mini-dissertation with hearty laughter.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Right or Wrong?

So, when Matt's gone and it's just the kids and me, I turn to breakfast foods for dinner, which according to Matt is not a legitimate dinner option.  But, when it's just us, a quick and easy meal that even picky Cate devours is just the thing.

Today while Dominic was eating his Mickey Mouse  pancake, he pronounced, with all his four-year-old taste and authority, "These pancakes are delectable and yummy!"

Does this mean we're doing something right?  Or something seriously wrong?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Super-Duper Lady

I was wearing big Audrey Hepburn sunglasses on top my head--you know, the kind that were in style a year ago--and Dominic announced to me, "Mommy, you look like a super-duper lady."  I wasn't surprised that my ever-observant son noticed my sunglasses, but I was more than a little curious at how he knew about Hollywood glamour with its super-duper ladies in their stylish, and often garish, accessories.  To my delight, he was warming up to tell me about these super-duper ladies.

"You know, you know...they're..." he said, stammering as he tried to vocalize exactly what he was thinking.  "Like the ones...the ones who have fire in their feet.  It comes out of their legs!  And they're super powerful.  And really cool.  And they shoot like rockets way up to the sky.  That' when they have their glasses on.  But then, when they take off their glasses and power down...then they turn into a regular lady, like you."

Didn't you know? Obviously, that's what a super-duper lady is.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Washed by Water

I had a very special addition to my Holy Week this year.  On Monday, in Colorado Springs, I was privileged to be witness to Samuel Philip Good's baptism.  This is my college roommate's first child--a beautiful baby boy with a perfectly shaped head and cute blue eyes.  
Proud parents Zach and Laurel holding Samuel 
at St. Mary's Cathedral in Colorado Springs.
 Samuel and godmother
Samuel Philip Good -- 4 weeks old.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Mattress Adventure

Matt and I have been living with hand-me-down mattresses since we got married--soon to be five years!  In fact, our first bed and mattress were Matt's childhood set.  A full size bed with a ten-year-old mattress.  It was a bit small, but it worked for two poor, newly-weds.  It was sold during our massive possession purge to another poor, newly-wed couple.  At least I hope they were wed.

Moving to York, with my in-laws, landed us with their beautiful king size bed--an oriental with two-toned wood.  Wow. It was amazing. King size was amazing.  "Matt, where are you?"  I can't find you! Oh well,  I'll just enjoy my own space.  The mattress, on the other hand, was not so amazing.  Just an old, firm mattress that made my back hurt every morning when I woke up.

Next up was our 450 square foot, furnished Italian flat provided us with two institutional twin beds (read: no box spring, just a firm european mattress made up with two flat sheets and a wool blanket) that could be pushed together to make a "matrimonial".  The  crack, which opened of its own accord, did not prove to be very comfortable.

After returning to York and making morning back stretches a part of my routine again, we made a firm resolution that our first purchase for the new home would be an awesome mattress set.  Even if we had to skimp on the bedroom furniture to make it happen, we would splurge on the mattresses.

I'd been half-heartedly researching mattresses, looking through deals, and trying to make sense of the ridiculous nomenclature that changed for every retail store and brand.  I had no idea how to compare them and it was a purchase that we couldn't afford to get wrong.  Craigslist to the rescue.  An advertisement for Sealy Posturepedic pillowtop mattresses brand new, in plastic.  For sale because they had been staged in model homes and were no longer needed.  Delivery available.  Hmm...on a whim, I picked up on the phone and called.  I would have been skeptical about it, but when Jeff answered, he was just so nice and sounded so trustworthy.  My bargain instincts told me this was worth the risk.  And really, the risk was actually pretty low.  The delivery guys would bring two (of my choice) mattresses, picking from plush, ultra plush, pillowtop, and something else, we'd be free to try them out and buy one with cash if we liked it.  if we didn't like either we paid them $15 for their time and they were on their way.  They would come in two days between 9-11am.  And two guys showed up at 9:05am with two mattresses for us to try, on our driveway.  Aside from feeling very sheepish at lounging on two mattress in the shared condo driveway, it went well.  I clearly like the pillowtop over the regular one.  A bit of google research showed that they were top of the line mattresses, so I decided to be impulsive for once and take the risk.  So they hauled it upstairs, we forked over $550 in cash, and that easy, we made our first purchase for our new home--an ultra plush euro pillowtop mattress set.

We'll be sleeping on it tonight.  I'll let you know if it was a mistake or not...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Home Style (not fries)

It is astonishingly paralyzing to attempt to create a home style from scratch.  Since we have been freed from owning a house or any furnishings for the last 3 years, we are blessed and cursed with the chance to really pick what we want.  But where do we begin?  I think it would actually be easier if we had to work around a few existing pieces.

After taking a dizzying walk through Ashley Furniture, Wolf Furniture, Budget Furniture, and some other furniture store, I feel even more at an impasse.  Formal?  Country?  Transitional? (what does that even mean?!) Real wood or paint something?  So, following the style quiz suggestions from younghouselove.com, a great blog about high style, low cost DIY home projects, I took the Ikea style quiz and the sproost.com quiz.  These suggest that I'm "country (50%) and wine country style (50%), another labeled my style as "bohemian casual".  Labels aside, both descriptions suggested that I love a cozy, comfortable house and that is exactly right.

We want our new home to be a welcoming respite for us and our friends.  A place to hang-out and make memories.  A place where our furnishings and spaces serve us, not us them.  Easy-care and comfortable, but not slouchy or frumpy.  Oh, and lots of pops color.  That is what we want. Whatever that is.

Now, how we achieve that is the big question.  My vision is neutral (not white!--maybe green or light brown), plump sofas.  Colorful, patterned drapes that are not geometric or modern looking but not country florals.  And brightly colored, fun accents like pillows, books, pictures, and souvenirs from our travels.  A serviceable coffee table in a warm wood.  Something that screams, "Put your feet up!"  End tables a plenty to hold those steaming cups of tea and freshly brewed mugs of coffee.  And lights everywhere.  Light pouring in the windows, light from the end tables, and maybe even some recessed lights.  Darkness is depressing.  I want cozy, but light.  Is that too much to ask?

It seems like a tall order as we begin thinking of how to accomplish this.  I guess we'll just have to be patient.  Little by little and layer by layer, we'll get there.  We'll prioritize our needs.  1) a bed for us with an awesome mattress and a dresser  2) a bed for Dominic and dressers for the kids.  3) couches for guests.  4) couches for family room. 5) coffee tables, end tables 6) lamps 7) storage solutions 8) rugs 9) accessories.  And paint, that'll go in there somewhere.  Probably after step 4, before 5.  But it's all a process that will take time.

And did I mention that we're not above taking used furniture off your hands? :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"I got a REAL light saber!"

Dominic received many presents for his fourth birthday that he really liked, but this one especially tickled his fancy.  His cousins, Stephen and Ellie, both have their own light sabers and it had apparently been a secret wish of his to have one too...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dissertation Immersion?

Lately, Matt has been more machine than man. Night after night he's been staying up until the wee hours of the morning, disciphering page after page of Latin and writing it all up in a most erudite way. I believe he hit the 250 page mark yesterday. There's real hope that he'll finish by April 15th!

But this dissertation immersion has its own costs. This morning, on his way to the Lancaster train station, he found himself in need of a little pick-me-up. BK drive-thru to the rescue. Most would opt for coffee, but my untainted husband finds cola the more palatable option for his caffeine fix. He pulls up and orders. One medieval Diet Coke, please. Thanks. And only after pulling forward to pick up his order, did it hit him what he asked for. So he immediately called to amuse me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Videos: February

In lieu of something witty, interesting, or insightful to read...rot your brains with some more videos.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I guess math could be a joy...

Dominic had a break through about numbers.  We've been gradually teaching him the concept of "adding", mainly using his fingers for counting.  Three on one hand, two on the other, together they equal five, etc.  

And today when he realized that 4+4 and 3+5 and 6+2 and 7+1 all equal 8,  he announced to me with great excitement and wonder, "Mommy, this is SILLY!  They are the same!"

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ship out the Shape-Ups

Have you seen these Sketchers that have recently become the latest rage?

The Shape Ups.  

Really they're tennis shoes fused to those thick-bottomed, weird shoes that people over seventy wear. 

Don't they look a bit like those shoes for diabetics, the ones sold at medical supply stores?  I've got no beef with elderly wearing these shoes, they've earned their license.  Not to mention that the extra grip, support, and overall ease, are probably necessary for their well being.  But curved athletic shoes with a thick bottom that are sanctioned to wear with any outfit because of the marvels they do for your body as they simultaneously tone the legs, hips, and butt?   Who gave license for young people to wear old-people shoes under the guise of "toning" shoes?  Not okay.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Videos: Christmas Cuteness and Veggie Tales

I know, Christmas was almost 6 weeks ago... But I just went through my pictures and videos and found this precious one of Dominic and Cate dancing.  They're the best of friends.

And here's a promised video of the kids trying to sing the Veggie Tales theme song: 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Last year

Last year at this time, we were smack dab in the middle of our Italian sojourn.  Month 5/10.  Matt's parents had come bringing us needed replenishments of over-the-counter medicines, new toys, and larger clothes for the kids.  We were off for a week-long vacation in Florence with side trips to Siena and Pisa. It was a time of exploration and excitement.  Sometimes I miss the novelty of our surroundings and the unexpected nature of everyday.   I miss the delicious cappuccino and the chink of cups wafting in our window.  I miss the mild weather, which allowed us to get to the park and piazza every day.  I miss hearing the lilt of Italian everywhere.  And, during my recent illness, I missed the tiny apartment with its convenient proximity of the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, and living room

But that missing is pretty short-lived.  The nostalgia for the tiny apartment only extends that far.  When I have at least half my normal energy, or when the kids have all of their energy, that apartment sounds as awful as it often was.  Dominic put it well as he was singing and spinning yesterday.  "I love Mommy...and our house is beautiful..."  Oh, I guess the first part wasn't totally relevant, but I thought it was quite charming.  So I made myself a cappuccino this morning in my Italian moka on the gas stove, while I enjoyed heating up the normal milk in the microwave.  Then I checked my e-mail on the fast and reliable internet.  And I put on Sesame Street in English for the kids while I took a warm shower in a shower with a door and water pressure.  Shortly, I'll load the kids up in our car and drive to story time.   Sure, those memories from last year have turned sweeter with time, but life in America is pretty great.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


We attempted to get a family Christmas photo.  It ended up like all our attempts...a little too candid.

And then I took 45 pictures trying to get a cute brother-sister picture.  This was at least amusing.

And then we tried once with Michael Gaetano, our godson.  This child is an angel.

Cate sporting her favorite present, her pink tricycle from MaMa and PaPa.

Dominic sharing his new Toy Story sleeping bag with Cate.

A great picture of the Gaetano siblings: Matt, Stephen, and Marialana.

A Day of Firsts

January 31, 2011 was host to a myriad of "firsts" for me.  None especially desirable, but interesting in that cold, analytical way.  First a miscarriage, not unexpected since we had found out two weeks ago at an ultrasound that our baby died, but a rather bleak first in the physical proceedings.  It was also my first time of blacking out repeatedly, my first ambulance ride, my first out-cold anesthesia, my first surgery, and my first multi-day recovery in bed.

 I think most people have their first ambulance ride as kids or when their elderly, not usually as a healthy twenty-five-year-old fully conscious.  The situation was such that my blood pressure was dangerously low and I needed to go to the hospital, but I couldn't sit up without blacking out, so I couldn't ride in a car.  Hence the need for an ambulance bed, which, by the way, was surprisingly comfortable.  The EMT's were very nice and made some funny cracks as they loaded me up and drove to the hospital.  I'm sure it was an easy call for them, not having to actually do much work or carry a heavy person.  They covered me in lots of sheets and a very heavy plasticky blanket and then strapped me in for the ride.  It felt very strange to be wheeled and carried around.  The nice thing is, when you go though ER on a stretcher, you don't have to do much waiting or asking.  They just put you where you need to go.  So ambulance rides aren't so bad.

Once at the hospital, there was the obligatory gown and plastic id jewelry.  The i.v. of lots of fluid.  And the questions, oh the questions.  I almost wished I'd arrived unconscious and somebody else had to answer all those questions!  Once was bad enough, but every new nurse, doctor, or aide asked me the same ones. Yes! I'm allergic to penicillin.  No! No medical history.  My name? Amy Gaetano!  My birthday! MAY 13 1985!!!  Don't you people write this stuff down??

But then came the determination from the gruff ob that examined me that I needed the D&C surgery and they could be ready for that in as soon as half an hour.  We had already scheduled one for the upcoming Friday (it was Monday), so I felt emotionally prepared for it, in that utterly exhausted, do what you will with me, sort of way.  At least we knew for sure the baby had died as the miscarriage was mostly completed on its own earlier that night.   We waited.  I don't really remember what I did.  Maybe I dozed?  I think I sent a few text messages.  Matt would probably remember.

Then they wheeled me off to yet another room, I guess it was the pre-op room where they asked me the same questions and gave me another iv filled with something clear that was supposed to put me to sleep. I didn't quite believe it.  I thought I'd have a warning or be getting sleepy or something.  But I felt pretty clear-headed as I took out my contacts and got another delightfully warm blanket from the nurse.  They have these microwave things that they take blankets out of for patients, it's like getting a blanket right out of the dryer.  Wonderful invention.  Bravo.

Then the nurses in blue wheeled me off to the O.R. and some pretty, young nurse asked me to get on another table.  I did and I remember the bright lights and the unimpressive room pretty clearly.  And then, all of a sudden, I remember nothing.  I woke up from a nice sleep in a recovery room that looked very similar to the pre-op room.  In fact, I wasn't quite sure I'd ever left.  I felt the same.  I wasn't in any pain, no parts were missing, and I could move my limbs just fine.  Was this before or after?  As I came to--and you might not know that without my contacts, I can barely see, although from practice I'm pretty good at distinguishing hazy forms--I determined that it must be over and I was in post-op.  No one was asking me questions and I was left to be half-asleep as I wished.  It was rather pleasant, actually.  My first surgery wasn't so bad.

Then we were on the go again, I'm not sure who gave the signal, but it was time to move me to another place.  Wheeling the litter, as they called it, down the maze of hallways and on a few elevators, I arrived in a recovery area where another nurse, who looked like my Aunt Kiki, took charge of me.  Matt showed up in a few minutes and we were left for an hour or so to recover and discharge.  I was a bit sleepy, but not loopy or funny, to my surprise.  After being disentangled from the various cords, I was able to get up a bit and move around, a definite improvement from earlier that morning.  About five hours after arriving at the hospital, we were allowed to go home.

While being pushed to the car in a wheel chair, we passed a couple brining home their first baby.  The father was proudly video-taping the mother in the wheel chair, baby in her lap.  It was a very sad moment to be leaving the hospital, feeling as if I'd done all the work of a labor, and having no joy to show for it.  But I was no less happy for them and their first joy.  I thought back on our first trip home from the hospital with Dominic and chuckled to myself that this new father would soon be making the slowest, most cautious drive of his life to bring his precious, fragile child home.  Our joys were waiting for us at home and in our future.  And we take comfort in knowing that God is holding us in His wings and that little Francis Jerome is watching us from Jesus' arms.

Oh, the things kids say

Dominic, almost four now, is extremely verbal but still manages to amuse us with lingering mistakes.  I record some of them for your here for your pleasure and our memories.

  • "Catie, would you do me a favorite?" 

  • Upon eating potato salad that had that quintessential vinegary taste:  "I can't eat it. It's destroying my mouth."

  • Shutting the door on Cate while she was in the bathroom: "She needs her pridacy."

  • "Here, take these cards and shuggle them."  And also, "Can I go outside and shuggle the snow?"

  • Dominic finished painting his first picture.  As usual I asked, "what is it?" fully expecting his usual answers of "stripes" or "polka dots" or "green".  To my surprise, he had actually painted something specific.  "It's Papa (Grandpa Gaetano) making a mess and being buried in toys!"

  • "Can we watch Bugs Rabbit?"

  • "Mommy, I can't find the 'clause' button on the 'mote."

  • "I know how to finger it out!"