Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Getting Ready for Turkey Time.

I put the turkey down in the refrigerator this morning to get it started thawing.  Cody, Norah and I went to the commissary this evening to pick up the last few items we will need (hopefully).  There were a lot of people in the store picking up Thanksgiving supplies.  I am looking forward to all the yummy food.  I hope the kids will eat more than just the pies.

Thanksgiving is pretty easy for us being overseas.  We haven't really been with family for Thanksgiving in a very long time so it's not that difficult a time for us.  I guess you could say that we have made our own traditions in our own little family.  We tend to eat out for Thanksgiving every other year or so.  This year we are eating at home, next year we may eat out; who knows?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Whoops, missed a day.

Man, I really did intend on writing here yesterday, but I didn't remember until I was lying in bed with all three kids and falling asleep.  I was past the point of no return and just didn't have it in me to get up and go write.  Oh well.  Missed one day, not bad.

Cody had duty yesterday, which means he was at work for 24 hours.  I dropped him off so I could have the car.  The kids and I went to see "Puss in Boots" and they enjoyed it.  It was fun to be at the movies with them.  They all had fun and got along and there was no screaming or crying or fussing.

I talked to my daddy.  I talked to Nana and Papaw.

We hung around the house all day.  Then I had to run up to take Cody his alarm clock and phone charger.  Then I was tired and went to bed.  Not an exciting day, but a very nice day with the kids.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Another movie day.

Cody got up early this morning and ran a 5K through an orange grove!  Pretty cool.  I on the other hand slept in.  After he got home and changed from his run he, Norah and I went to the Exchange, Commissary and BK.  The boys didn't want to go, so we didn't make them.  

We came home for a few hours and the boys played in the neighborhood, then Cody and I went out again to the movies.  We went to see "Tower Heist".  It was a pretty fun movie.  It had some pretty funny lines in it and was just fun.  

Ethan loves babysitting and earning the extra money and we love being able to go out for a couple of hours at a time. 

As you can see, nothing exciting this weekend.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Little Thanksgiving Feast and a train

This morning Gavin's Kindergarten class along with the other two classes had a feast to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It was a nice spread.  I tried fried turkey for the first time...OMG!  That stuff is so good!  Someday I will fry me a turkey.  Yum, yum, yum.  We carried corn and it was gobbled up.  It was a lot of fun eating lunch with Gavin.  Cody was able to take an hour or so off of work.  I took some pictures, but quite honestly I'm too tired to bother with uploading them. 

We were a bit late for the luncheon because we literally waited at a train crossing for 15-20 minutes before five train cars pulled by an ancient engine came rolling by.  It is frustrating waiting and nothing comes by for so long.  It was weird to have motorcycles pass us up and go to the front of the line of traffic to wait.  We also got passed up by guys on bikes.  They ended up walking their bikes across the tracks.  They clearly don't have the same rules here that we do in the states. 

Ethan babysat for us again tonight.  Cody brought home a pizza and a movie for them and he and I went out to a movie.  We saw "Moneyball" which was pretty good, though kind of long and slow.  It was interesting though.  We had hoped to watch a second movie but "Moneyball" was longer than I had anticipated so we missed the second movie.  We ate a bite at Piazza Pizza (on base).  We love having the affordable movie theater here on base.  We may get movies a little later, but it only cost us $3.00 to get in and we can get a large popcorn for $3!  Nice, huh?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Need some shocks?

The roads between the bases here are rough!  There are potholes and the road itself is bumpy and kind of wavy.  It is well worn.  I do believe that these roads are part of the reason why our rear shocks are wore out.  Cody had the car looked at the other day and they said that they need to be replaced.  Now we have to get those replaced.  We have to wait for the Autoport to "research" the price to order them for us.  We'll also do our own "research" and figure out if the price they quote us is any better than what we can buy on our own online. 

Lots of fun. 

Tomorrow we get to have a special lunch with Gavin's class at school.  It's a Thanksgiving celebration and I'm excited to spend some time with our special Kindergartener. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Loving some Zombies...

It was a rainy and chilly day here in Sicily today.  I woke up with a headache, which now that I think about it may be from the weather.  I started watching "The Walking Dead" a couple of days ago and have caught all the way up with the show.  Wow!  It's really good.  I had read a poor review of it last year when it came out and decided not to watch it; boy was I wrong doing that.  I really like it.  I like the characters and I actually was watching between my hands a few times.  What a great show!

I'm loving that I can watch tv shows for free online now.  I stopped watching a lot of shows and did not start any new ones because I didn't think I could keep up with them over here, but that just isn't the case.  This fact makes me super happy.

I need to set up a real routine here.  I was doing good for a while, but when Gavin got sick and then I got sick; I got lax and haven't recovered.  I want to do more fun stuff with Norah instead of watching tv all day and hanging around the house.  We only have the one car and it's a challenge to make myself get Norah up and dressed to drive Cody to work so I can keep the car.  All challenges that can be met, just require me to be motivated to do them.  I'm working on that.

Some people have grandeur lives when they live overseas.  They are always going somewhere, doing something;  so far I am not one of them.  I like being with my family.  I like my cocoon of a house.  I like holing up in here with my kiddos and watching movies, reading books and shutting out the world.  I don't want to squander my time here though, so an adjustment needs to happen.  I must open myself up more. Lots and lots of things for me to work on.

And just for the record, I really, really miss my friends in Virginia Beach.  I miss Debra.  I miss Stephanie.  I miss Tracie.  I miss my house too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I learned today that a very kind and nice guy I went to school with named Jonathan Brazell was gunned down this past weekend.  It is shocking.  I don't have words today to express how I feel.  It's awful to happen to anyone.  No one deserves to be killed like that.  I'm praying for his family.  They don't know why.  We may never know why senseless acts such as these happen.

It has made me give pause and think about just how fragile life is.  We are not guaranteed tomorrow.  We really need to think about that...everyday...and appreciate each day we are given.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Report Card and McDonald's

I slept in again.  I actually had no intention of doing so, but when I did awake I was alone in the bed and feeling refreshed.  It was quite nice.

We all dressed and headed out the door to pick up Ethan's report card and to meet with his teachers.  He's doing very well.  All A's and B's with one very high C in math.  The C was one point from being a B.  He had made a few careless mistakes on a test and it brought down his grade.  I'm very proud of him.  He actually had a teacher say "the world is a better place by having Ethan here!"  I love that kid.

We got gas and it was somewhere around 48 Euros to get the car to just over 3/4 of a tank.  That my friend is approximately $65.58.  Thankfully we don't have to pay that amount.  We have to purchase gas coupons from the exchange for a set price and then we pay for the gas by the liters.  So we got 35 liters.

We drove over to McDonald's and had lunch.  It was 11am and completely empty.  Ethan had a burger called a Crispy Bacon (a double bacon burger).  Cody got a Big Mac and Norah got a kids cheeseburger.  Gavin of course had chicken nuggets and I got something called an Adagio.  It was peaceful in there.  However it cost us  28.50 Euro.  That is equal to $38.85.  Yeah.  The burger I had was interesting.  It had salted ricotta cheese and eggplant on it.  I liked it.  No one else did.  I liked to try it, but it's not something I'd keep getting.

This is the Adagio Burger.  It has salted ricotta cheese and eggplant on it.  

We decided to ride around Catania.  We still had not been to the Catania Market or to Elephant Square.  We still haven't been there.  We didn't have any directions with us and even when we did have directions we still didn't find it.  Someday we will.  We did have a good time driving around and looking at where people live.
A street in Catania
One of the many apartment buildings we saw in Catania.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Flaking out and the ER...again.

We got up early this morning, got everyone dressed and I cooked some corn, anticipating meeting up with some folks and going to pick olives or something like that. ( I wasn't completely clear on what we were going to do, but we were going to go.)  I went out side and it was raining...a lot.  I called my neighbor and she was't sure what was going on.  I wasn't keen on going out in the rain with the kids after us all just getting over colds and strep.  So we didn't go.  I was bummed, but my kids would have been miserable out in the rain.  I would have been miserable.  Cody would have been miserable.  I feel bad about not going.  I really wanted to.

We took Norah back to the ER to remove the stitches from her eyebrow.  She did really well, but then the third stitch was much tighter and they had a difficult time getting it out. She screamed and cried and it was awful.  Cody was with me this time and he held her head still and I was holding her hands.  Poor baby made it through and looks pretty good now.  She's such a trooper.

We spent the rest of the day hanging out watching tv online and just being together.  We made some "Welcome Home" cards to send to soldiers returning from Afghanistan.  Norah colored a lot.  Ethan worked on his project with his friend and Gavin wondered the neighborhood with his friends.  While we missed out on olive picking, we spent good quality time together and it was a good day.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lazy, Lazy day and a Conspiracy

Today was quite lazy for me and the kids.  Cody had to go to work for a couple of hours, but the rest of us slept in again.  I wasn't feeling well.  Not sick, just not good.  I watched some tv and read some and didn't do much of anything.

Ethan worked on a school project with a friend for several hours and Gavin roamed the neighborhood with friends.  Norah watched "Shrek".

We got Ethan to babysit again and Cody and I went to see "Apollo 18".  It's a pretty good movie.  It was interesting to think of the conspiracy that it showed.  Did we really find alien life and loose three astronauts?    Hmm...makes you think.

We're supposed to get cultural tomorrow and go olive picking.  I've got my fingers crossed that it goes well.  We shall see.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

I love when we have long weekends!  Today was the first day of the long weekend and it did not go as I had expected.  I had hoped to wake up as well-rested bunch of people, mosey out of the house to do some shopping and site-seeing off-base and then returning for a fun evening relaxing and watching tv.  Funny how those visions of a perfect day turn into reality, real fast.

We woke up late and for the most part well-rested, but certain people's moods were less than stellar.  We ended up not leaving the house until 12:30 pm so much later than I had hoped for and in crabby moods.  We drove up to Motta and picked up a couple of paninis and some "freaky fries" chips for lunch.  Then we headed out to try to find Elephant Square in Catania.  Of course we got lost and ended up in Misterbianco with Norah sleeping and Gavin whining about not feeling well and wanting to go home.  So we gave up and headed to NAS1 to the Exchange and Commissary.

At the Exchange we picked up new shoes for all the kids and some miscellaneous things.  Then onto the Commissary to pick up some junk food.  We all were feeling blah.  I went ahead and got our turkey for Thanksgiving.  It's a good sized one that cost $14.95 or so.

We made it home and put away all the stuff, but of course on the way home I made a turn and Gavin dropped the little cakes that he was holding and they made a mess all over the back of the car.  That incident did not improve anyone's mood.

Cody did some super cleaning for me in the living room.  We moved the couches and swept and steam mopped while the kids played outside.  I think cleaning actually helps Cody.

I threw some frozen seafood into the oven and we had a nice dinner at the table.  I think we will spend the rest of the evening watching tv and relaxing and hopefully improving our crabbiness with some "Community" and "Bones".

Tomorrow is another day!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Teacher Conference and Please Pass the Hand Sanitizer

We met with Gavin's teacher this morning and her exact words were, "I don't have the words to express how great Gavin is!"  He's doing very well in Kindergarten.  He has adjusted well and is right where he should be with his learning.  I'm so proud!

For lunch we had Burger King at the NEX Food Court.  It actually tasted pretty good this time.  The last few times we ate there it just tasted off.  Today, though it was tasty.

Ethan babysat for us tonight and we went to see "Contagion".  Wow!  I want to wash my hands every second of every day and never touch ANYTHING or ANYONE.  It was an interesting movie.

Now onto the long weekend!  Yippee!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Got your flu shot?!

All three kiddos and I got our flu vaccines this evening.  The school is pretty much requiring everyone to get them or provide documentation as to why not.  We just go ahead and get them.  I chose the shot over the mist.  Norah got the shot and the boys got the mist.  Check that off the to-do list!

I made some yummy enchiladas for dinner.  I cooked the chicken in the crockpot earlier and then filled the tortillas.  It was delicious.

Tomorrow, Gavin is out of school for teacher conferences.  We'll meet with his teacher in the morning to see how he is doing.  I guess I  can complain about Kindergarten here.  I can't believe that they have homework in K.  They get packets to do.  They do not have to turn them in, but they encourage them to do their homework to supplement the classwork.  I don't know how I feel about that.  Do they really need to have so much homework?  I understand practicing, but it would seem that classwork would be enough.  I guess I'm out of touch with what is required to teach our kids?  I think Ethan has to much homework too.

We're all looking forward to the long weekend.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Going Cross-eyed

I spent most of the day looking at airline tickets, hotels, car rentals and varying travel blogs.  I had a wild hair thinking we should go to Rome or Venice or Pisa for Thanksgiving. What? After going nearly cross-eyed and feeling extremely anxious, we have decided to wait.  What a huge relief.

I kept hearing people talk about where they were going for Thanksgiving and Christmas and started thinking, "Ooo, we should go SOMEWHERE!"  Lord help me!  Finally we concluded we should wait until we are more comfortable and have had time to really prepare.

We will take the Holidays to do some sightseeing here on the island of Sicily.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Norah and the Green Magic Maker and ER AGAIN!

Norah has an infinity for magic markers and the wall.  She got a red one to the wall a week or so ago.  Today I went upstairs to take a shower.  I made sure she was watching a movie (she chose Tom and Jerry) and I thought all the markers were put away.  I went up to shower.  As I was stepping out of the shower I heard her making a noise in the hallway.  I came around the corner and there she was with a green marker on the wall.  I scared her and she dropped the marker.  I look down the hall and there is a line of marker on the wall.  I quickly get dressed and as I come down stairs I can see a line all the way up the wall and on the banister.  She even colored on light switches.  I was only in the shower for 15 minutes, but it only took her 30 seconds to make a huge mess!

I was making dinner this evening and the next thing I knew Norah slipped in the dining room.  She hit her head, just above her left eye on one of the chairs.  She was bleeding pretty good and it was a gaping wound.  Great! I knew it was pretty big so I got her up and took her to the ER.  Cody stayed home with Gavin and waited for Ethan to get home from Scouts.  She ended up with 3 stitches!  You'd think with the two older boys we would have had stitches before, but we haven't.  Norah is the first.  

We've been to the hospital way too often for my taste.
What a day!  I'm ready for bed!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shopping at Auchan

Cody and I went to the mall today to do a little shopping for Christmas gifts for our family back home.  We picked up a few things.  We went to Aushan, it's kind of like WalMart since it has both groceries and household goods.  

I had intended on going with all the kiddos, but the boys didn't want to go, so we were going to just take Norah but on the way out of the neighborhood she threw up because she was so mad that I didn't buckle her in the car seat, Cody did.  We took her back home and she stayed with the boys.  She has quite a temper!  Guess that reddish hair is for real. 

Cody actually drove this time and did great!  We parked in the garage and walked into the store and looked all around.  I personally could stay in there for hours just looking at all the different things.  I'm fascinated by all the things that they have.  Someday I'm going to go by myself and just spend the whole afternoon there looking at everything and then buying what ever I want.  

We checked out successfully.  I hate that I just do not understand what they are saying to me.  I have no idea what the cashier asked me, but I did my best to let her know that I appreciated her.  I said gratzie and counted the amount in Italian as best as I could.  Someday I may get it right.  May be. 

I'm trying to get all the gifts for family back home together and packed up and out the door very soon.  I don't want them to arrive too late!

On another note, we bought a bed for Norah from a neighbor.  It's a twin size bed with a trundle under.  She slept in there last night (after she had feel asleep on the couch and Cody placed her in the bed) and she took her nap there this afternoon. She's pleased with it.  It is of course called "princess bed".  Anything that is hers is "princess".  I suppose someday in the future Cody and I may actually have our bed to ourselves again. And while that is a good thing, I will miss the time when my babies were little.  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Have you went anywhere yet?

We are trying to plan our first big trip here in Europe.  We don't know exactly when we want go, or exactly where we want to go so I'm looking in books and online.  I picked up some guide books from the library today to get me started.

There is so much perceived pressure to go out and travel that we feel like we are letting someone down if we don't jump right into touring all of Europe.  Who exactly are we letting down?  I don't know.  We just want to take advantage of being in such a wonderful area.  It's overwhelming.  All the public service things on tv and radio tell us we should "go out and see Europe".  We were warned to not live in "the triangle".  The triangle is going from your house, to work and to the base with the stores.  It's easy to just do what is comfortable.

I have to keep telling myself that we really don't have to live up to anyone's ideals but our own.  We are not letting anyone down by not running all over Europe with three kids in tow.  Traveling with a two year old is not easy anywhere, much less a foreign country.  It costs money to do all that traveling.  We will travel eventually.  We will see Europe, but on our own terms and no one else's.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Teacher Workday

Today was a blessed day called Teacher Workday.  It is a wonderful thing built into the school year where I get to sleep in and not worry about rising and shining until I feel like it.  We all slept late.  It was quite lovely.  When I did wake up, I woke Ethan up.  Norah was already up just waiting for me and Gavin was downstairs.  When I came down he was fully dressed and lying on the couch with a book.  What? Yes, a book.  The TV wasn't on.  The laptop wasn't on.  He had one of  "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books.  He was looking at the pictures and spotting his sight words in it.  I tell you his some kid.

We all lounged around for a bit.  I checked email and finished watching an episode of "Who do you think you are?" featuring JK Rowling.  After breakfast we all went upstairs and cleaned up the boys room.  It was a mess!

Gavin watched "Madagascar" while Ethan and I watched an episode of "Finding Bigfoot".  After lunch we headed back upstairs to rearrange the playroom and straighten up Norah's room.  Then I kicked the boys outside while I worked on my room.  Things get out of hand quick around here.  I'm notorious for just piling junk on my dresser.  I managed to get it mostly cleaned off.  I don't know if I'll ever get caught back up with laundry.  Five people create a lot of dirty clothes!

The boys took Norah out for a while and she played with them.  I put away the last box of books that weren't unpacked.  I do think we are completely unpacked now.

Today has been a very laid back, but productive day.  I wanted to start watching "Doctor Who" but I couldn't convince the kids.  I will win them over.  I will just start watching them myself and then I'm sure they will join me.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

We like to share...

As a family, we like to share.  We share food, we share blankets, we share strep throat!  What?  Yeah, I've got the dreaded sore throat.  I went to the doctor today and she gave me some antibiotics and two steroid pills.  The steroids are to help with the pain and they are awesome!  I took them and an hour later my throat hurt less and my lymph node is feeling less tender.  I like my new doctor by the way.  She is nice and she listened to me go on and on about all my problems since the back surgery in May.

I haven't been seen by military doctors in a while, so I'm having to get used to the way military healthcare is run.  Speaking of how military healthcare is run, it's bizarre to go to a social function for hubby's work and then go to your doctor appointment and there asking you how your bowel movements are is the lady you saw at the gathering.  She likely saw you going to funky town on all those little cookies.  Not to mention that the guy that lives around the corner knows all about how you had to get treatment for your kids' pin-worms.  This small town base living is hard to get accustomed to.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Souls Day...

It's Wednesday and that generally means that the market is open in Motta and I can get some fresh fruits and veggies.  I haven't been in a couple of weeks since Gavin had been sick.  I'm not feeling so hot today myself, but thought I should make myself go on up there.

Cody pulled Norah out of bed and dressed her, all the while she is yelling, "No, I want to sleep!" I drove Cody to work and headed up to Motta.  We've started taking an alternate road between here and NAS1 since the regular road is rough and has tons of potholes.  Our car has started making a noise coming from the underside on the right like something is loose.  We haven't figured out what it is yet, but think it may have something to do with driving that rough road.  Anyway, I took the alternate road and then proceeded up the back Motta road.  There was apparently an accident because there was a firetruck, an ambulance and a military guy directing traffic.  I couldn't tell what had happened, but hopefully no one was injured.  That is one of the things that I'm afraid of happening, an accident.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that Sicilians drive like crazy people.  Most everyone thinks that the people drive crazy wherever they live, but here it is absolutely true.  If any of my family or friends were to see how they drive, you would fall over.  They fly past you and pass even when there is traffic in the oncoming lane.  It's crazy.

Norah of course fell asleep on the way to the market.  I finally get there and it's empty.  Ugh.  I had forgotten that it is All Souls Day.  There was one single vendor there selling flowers.  The is market area is directly across from the cemetery so that makes sense.  Today is the day that families head to the cemetery and place flowers on the graves of their deceased loved ones and remember them.

In honor of this day I'd like to remember my Mama.

Donna Jane Thomason Curran
15 May 1957~18 May 2006
This is my Mama.  I miss her each and every day.  She was 27 in that photo.  She loved Science fiction movies and Romance novels.  She taught me to use my imagination.  She loved to watch cooking shows.  She enjoyed painting ceramic and plaster figurines.  I wish she could have got to know Gavin and Norah.  She would have loved having a granddaughter.  I gave Norah the middle name of Jane in honor of Mama.

Many people that I have cared about have passed away.  Dealing with death is just a part of life.  It often seems that Americans don't want to deal with death.  We don't want to take our children to funerals and we often make it a scary thing.  It is scary, but it doesn't have to scare you.  It's interesting how other cultures, such as Italians, embrace their deceased love ones and make the idea of them coming back to visit, not scary.  They make bone cookies to celebrate! And their past relatives leave gifts the night before for the children to find, something like our tooth-fairy 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Rash, A Pumkin and Autumn Fest

Last week was a doozy.  Wednesday morning Gavin woke up and had a few dots on his chest.  I checked his temperature and it was normal.  He was running around like normal and said he felt fine, so I sent him to school.  I gave him Cody's cell phone number, just in-case since Cody was going with me to a doctor's appointment.  First Cody had an appointment for something and as soon as he was done with that he got the call from the nurse to come get Gavin.  I went in and picked him up and the few dots he had on his chest had spread all over him and was on his face.

We went straight to the hospital since I already had an appointment and Cody was with me he could see if they could fit Gavin in sometime that day.  I just had to do a urine test (UTI ugh).  They were able to get Gavin in right away.  It appears he had a reaction to the amoxicillin that he was taking for the strep he had the week before.  They are theorizing that he had mono on top of the strep because the rash was characteristic of the ones that happen with mono and amox.  He looked awful.  He stayed home from school the rest of Wednesday and on Thursday.  By Thursday afternoon the rash was beginning to fade.  Poor guy.  The red around his mouth is a juice stain.

By Friday he was feeling better and didn't look like the plague was eating him alive so he went to school for the Storybook Parade.  Each child dressed up as a storybook character.  Gavin first wanted to be Scooby-doo, but I managed to give away all the books and we couldn't find one at the base library.  Actually I didn't try to hard to find one.  We had a pumpkin costume and several books to choose from. He chose "The Magic Pumpkin"  Here he is that morning before school along with Cody and Norah.

He was happy.  Of course on Saturday I found a couple of Scooby-doo books in a box we hadn't unpacked yet.  

When I was in 3rd grade we had the same thing and I dressed up as Princess Sapphire from some book I had read.  I'm the one in the blue dress.  

Friday night was the first Middle School dance and Cody and I convinced Ethan he should go.  He said he had a good time.  I didn't take a picture of him, but he wore his blonde wig and a pirate hat!  He was adorable and so many people didn't recognize him!  

Friday and Saturday the base held "Autumn Fest".  Ethan's Boy Scout troop had a booth where they put up a rope bridge and charged .50 to cross it.  The Sicilian kids loved it as well as Americans.  Ethan worked there for three hours each day.  The troop camped out there on Saturday night, but Ethan just didn't feel like it so he came home with us.  

Autumn Fest had rides, food booths and games.  It was fun.  I got cranky there....not sure what that was about.  I calmed down once we ate.  I suppose it was dropping blood sugar or may be I was just grumpy. Probably the latter.  

It's blurry, but Gavin and Ethan riding the swings.

Norah on the kiddie swings.

Gavin and Norah riding the train.

All in all, we had a great time.  It was a good end to a week full of ups and downs.