Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

We had a good Thanksgiving!  We enjoyed our meal of Turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn on the cob, stove-top stuffing, oyster dressing, deviled eggs and rolls.  Plus pies!

I roasted the turkey, breast-side down.  It was so tender that it literally fell off the bone.  It was so very tasty!

It was a pretty good day.  We had our meal.

And Norah cuddled with her biggest brother.

After dinner there was of course a bit of wresting and horse play.

We watched some football and hung out.  It really was great having Nana and Papaw here to celebrate with us, even if I only took a couple of photos of them.  I tend to forget to take those random shots that we all enjoy.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gearing up for Turkey Day!

The last few days have been a little off.  I honestly don't remember what all I did on Monday.  I'm pretty sure we went to the commissary, it seems I manage to be over there every other day or so.  I drove around Motta with Nana and Papaw.  Motta is a little town on a hill and it's amazing to see all the buildings and houses.

Tuesday I wasn't feeling well at all.  I managed to get Norah to school, then made it back home to take a nap.  I was feeling so sick with nausea and tummy issues. I was useless that day.

Today I went to the market in Motta.  I managed to get a kilo of tomatoes, a bunch of bananas, 1 kilo of little oranges (Clementines I think), 1 kilo of green beans and 5 apples all for just over 9 euro or $11.  All of the produce is just beautiful.  I also picked up a Christmas doormat.  I'll get a picture of it later when I put out our Christmas decorations on Friday.  I would have taken Nana and Papaw with me, but they weren't up when I left to take Cody to work and Noah to school.

I started working on some of the Thanksgiving meal today.  I made deviled eggs, 2 pumpkin pies with Ethan's help, a pumpkin cheesecake and oyster dressing.  The turkey is thawed and ready to go in the morning.  I'm looking forward to having a delicious and enjoyable dinner with my grandparents, kids and husband.  I'm so happy to have family here for this holiday.

I'm so looking forward to this very long weekend!  I hope to get some traveling in around the island and show Nana and Papaw some more awesome areas of Sicily.

I'll leave you with this photos of a beautiful rainbow that we saw this afternoon.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chapel and Mementos

We went to Chapel this morning.  Yep, I went to church. It was hard to hear the Chaplain, something about the tone he speaks in and the acoustics of the chapel made it difficult for me to hear him.  His sermon was on Jesus and Government.  It is clear that Christians should follow the rules of the government unless it is very obvious evil.  Easy enough.

Norah enjoyed the Children's moment and then the Children's Church during the sermon time.  She liked learning about Jericho.  The boys stayed home since there is only enough room in our car for 6 of the 7 of us counting Nana and Papaw.

After church we went to eat at the Galley.  I had never been and it was actually pretty good.  We had brunch which included eggs, bacon, pork chops and veggies. I think it would be nice to go over there every once in a while for a change of pace.

We didn't do much of anything this afternoon.  Cody and I straightened up some stuff in the dining room/ office area.  We ate pork roast for dinner, which was quite tasty.  Then after dinner Papaw and Cody watched some football and Nana and I went through one of my boxes of mementos   There were photos from when I was a kid; photos of a ghost hunt me and a friend did in Japan, lots of things from when we lived in Japan.  I came across my 2nd and 3rd grade report cards as well as my 6th grade.  Man, I sure do remember 6th grade sucking and it did; I have the paper to prove it!  It was fun to look through some old things with her.

I'm grateful for this laid back-do nothing kind of day spent with my family.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Massive Fit was Pitched...

I tried to get up early this morning, but I was just too tired.  Cody did get up early and he ran in a race through an orange grove.  I admire that he can drag himself up out of the bed early nearly every morning and run.  Even back when I was physically able to run, I didn't do that.  Boy I sure did waste my good health.

I spent the morning making our Thanksgiving menu and planning a menu for all week and the corresponding grocery list.  When Cody returned from the run; he, Nana and I went grocery shopping.  Papaw stayed home with all three kids.  It was nice to go through the grocery store more slowly than usual and be able to actually shop without worrying about getting home ASAP before one of the kids smacks one of the others.

We managed to get our front porch/carport area cleaned off.  It looks so much better.  Our plan was to go to a bowling party for Cub Scouts today, but Gavin had a meltdown and it was massive.  We decided to not go because we cannot reward such behavior.  It was a hard decision, but one that we had to make.

I needed to cool off from that episode so Nana and Papaw and I went to the Exchange to shop a little.  I picked up some Halloween things for 90% off!  I love a good deal.  I got Norah some dress-up items and a gravestone for decoration.

We had hoped to go fishing tomorrow, but it was decided to cancel because the weather is going to be iffy.

Friday, November 16, 2012

This little mouse went in the teapot...

It never did rain today.  There was snow on Mt. Etna this morning though. 

Cody took the car so I was home all day.  I got a little bit of laundry done.  We had a nice snack of Italian bread, two flavors of olive oil (lemon and garlic), edamame, and several kinds of cheeses.  It was fun to try the different things.  Nana and Papaw enjoyed it as well. 

We had some excitement outside this afternoon.  Nana and I were sitting in the car port this afternoon watching Norah play on her scooter and I kept hearing a scratching sound coming from the toy box.  I started pulling out the toys and there was a mouse! It was a cute little mouse with a long tail.  I couldn't bring myself to kill it, so we tried to catch it!  It ran into a little teapot in the toy box and I used a tennis racket to hold it in.  I walked to the end of the street to set it free and that booger turned around and started running toward the houses!  Papaw as standing in the middle of the street and it ran right between his feet and he kicked that sucker back and it bounced up and scampered across the street and toward the dumpsters!  I think he'll be happier living by the dumpsters than living in our toy box!  Norah laughed so hard!  It was so funny.

This evening Cody, Gavin and I went to a Powder Puff football game.  Four of our neighbors were playing and their team won!  It was fun!

We are supposed to go bowling tomorrow with the Cub Scouts.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

And then the rain came...

I think it's the real beginning of the rainy season here in Sicily.  It rained off and on all day.  It was a half day at school for the boys.  Before picking up Gavin and Norah we went to the thrift store on base.  I picked up some new shirts, a sheet set and some Italian language CDs.  I also picked up a couple of pieces of costume jewelry for Norah.

Ethan stayed over on base after school and hung out and got his hair cut.  He of course did not get his homework done, but hey, what was I thinking?

We had a Tiger Den meeting and it went very well.  We had 7 out of 8 scouts in attendance and we got a lot of achievements completed.  I'm enjoying doing this scout thing again.

We didn't actually do any sight seeing today and we may not be able to get much in this weekend since it is supposed to rain all weekend.  We'll see.

It will be a good time to go through photos and play some board games; you know, quality family time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The mall is the mall is the mall...

After dropping Cody to work and Norah to school, Papaw, Nana and I went to the mall Porte di Catania.  As always the actual destination was to Auchan a grocery/department store.  This was the first time I had ever been there without kids or husband in tow.  It was great since my grandparents were just as curious to check out everything as I was!

We spent nearly two hours just browsing through the store and honestly I could have stayed longer!  I love looking at all the various isles of pastas and cheeses!  They have fresh, frozen, dried pastas; there are all kinds of different kinds of cheese; it is amazing!

I picked up a couple of gifts for a few people and some candy to see how it was and of course it is all yummy!

I did self-check out but it wasn't as easy as in the past since the register would not allow English.  It did Italian and German, but not English.  I tried desperately to touch that British flag for English  but it would not work!  I went with Italian and only had a problem when I scanned the wine; the lady came along and helped me but she wasn't very pleasant about it. It seems that customer service is a lacking skill here in Sicily.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Yet another busy day...

Yesterday we did not do anything much at all.  There is a stomach virus running around base and it seems that my poor Papaw caught it.  He slept away the day and is thankfully feeling much better today.

Norah went to school yesterday, even though her brothers and dad were home for Veteran's Day.  She LOVES school! Her teachers think she is just so very sweet.  I guess she hasn't ever had a meltdown at school, ha!

Today was a busy morning.  I dropped Cody off to work, took Ethan to the orthodontist, took Norah to school, took Ethan to get a flu shot, had a conference with Ethan's teachers and then picked up some milk and other items from the commissary.  Busy, busy day.

Ethan is doing well in school.  In fact all three kids are doing great.  All are well liked by their peers as well as their teachers.  It's nice to hear such praise for these kids.  It makes me feel so proud of them.

I'm truly enjoying having my grandparents here.  I know that it's a blessing to have the opportunity for my kids to get to know their great grandparents.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mount Etna...

This morning we decided to make the drive up to Mt. Etna to see what we could see.  I'm embarrassed to admit that we had not been up there and we've been here over a year.  For shame!

We had a nice drive up there.  We saw the lava stone fields.  It's a dramatic type of landscape.
Lava rock field
Nana and Norah on the steps up to the shrine

The drive was fantastic!  It was beautiful and a little bit foggy so it added to the drama of the scenery.  Along the drive on the mountain we came across a shrine (I think that's the appropriate name for it) so we stopped and checked it out.  It was very well taken care of. We picked up some lava rocks and pine cones.  I plan on making some Christmas decorations with the pine cones.


We stopped and walked around a crater.  What was super fun about that was that we ran into Gavin's teacher!  How fun to say that you ran into your teacher on a volcano!  

 At this stop where you can walk around this crater was a gift shop and Nana went in there while we hiked around the crater.  It was beautiful.

The landscape is unbelievable. 

Papaw up top checking out the view

View from the top

The drive back was pretty nice too.  We ended up driving through lots of towns and seeing lots and lots of people.  I was able to show Nana and Papaw first hand how crazy driving can be around here.  We came back through Catania; I 'm so very thankful for my GPS!  

We had another great day with my grandparents.  We were missing Cody since he had duty today, but it was still a great time. 


Olive Picking...

We could not have asked for a more beautiful day to do our Olive picking.  We enjoyed it very much.  We left the house around 9:15 and got back around 3:30.  A lovely day indeed.  Thankfully a neighbor was able to let Ethan ride with her so we all were able to go.

We arrived out to Mineo and to the farm of Mariska and Emilio.  We had to trek up a pretty big hill to get to the olive trees that needed to be harvested.  Nana and Papaw had a little bit of difficulty getting up there, but they soldiered on and made it up.  They aren't used to so much physical exertion, but I encouraged them to keep going and I think they enjoyed it.  I was cautious with them and their footing.  We had a couple of trips and stumbles, but thankfully no one fell.

We arrived to the top of the hill where there were three trees to be harvested.  They spread a net under the tree and then you pick, shake and generally get the olives off the best you can.  They have some sticks and some rakes and even some battery/electric operated tools to use.

View on the way up to the Olive grove.

Emilio demonstrating how to use a stick to remove the olives.

Using an electric tool to remove the olives.

Norah picking olives

Papaw picking olives!

Ethan picking olives

Gavin picking up the olives from the net and putting them into the bucket.

Ethan behind the olive branches.  

Norah taking a rest.

After picking olives we had a delicious Sicilian lunch at Mariska and Emilio's house.  

Nana getting ready for lunch.

Nana and Papaw eating lunch

Ethan, Cody and Gavin

Spicy pasta 

There was time to sort through the olives; separating the leaves from the olives and pulling out the "not so good" olives.  Norah spent the entire time after eating doing this!  She loved doing it so much.  Mariska said that I should leave her there to help them for the next few weeks.  Mariska even gave Norah a beautiful bar of handmade olive oil soap for all her work!

Norah hard at work sorting olives

She really did enjoy herself

We rode around Mineo so that Nana and Papaw could see it.  We just rode around the perimeter, since getting into the City Center is a bit crazy!  On the way home we of course ran into another herd of sheep. 

Another Sicilian traffic jam!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Busy Day

We had a pretty busy day today, but it was the kind of busy that isn't super tiring; which I am ever grateful.  Cody and Gavin had the day off; Norah and Ethan went to school.  After getting those two off to school this morning we picked up some sweets for breakfast.  The fact that they have put a Chock-ful-o-nuts over on NAS 1 with Piazza Pizza has increased our consumption of cinnamon rolls and iced mocha.

We made a couple of stops over on NAS 2 and then we did some joy riding.  We took a scenic drive to see where an agriturismo that we had heard of was and it was a nice and rough road.  We took the front road up to Motta and came down the backside.  It's a nice way to show off the area to our guests.

We had a conference with Gavin's teacher and he is doing well.  Not only is he a hard worker and doing just fine in his academics; he's a kind and caring person.  It's great to hear how he is taking the values that we are trying to instill in him out into the world and sharing them with others.

After we picked up Norah from school we had a late lunch over at Alphio's Garden.  The food there is usually pretty good and it's never crowded.  I ordered my favorites of bruschetta and caprese salad.  Norah and Papaw both got lasagna.  Nana got Pasta alla Norma and Cody had tortellini Alfredo.  Of course there was bread as well.  Nana brought home some of hers, they were big helpings.

Waiting on our meal.

Checking out the meal.  Hmmm...what is that?

Pasta alla Norma--eggplant

After lunch we headed home and then the two littles went to a birthday party.  We had a great day and tomorrow we are supposed to go olive picking.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

High Society...

Today is another sunny day here in Sicily, but it's chilly.  The grass is turning so green now!  We've had rain and in the winter here is when we get see beautiful green grass.  It's backwards from what I'm used to.  The green is so refreshing from the dry, brown we've seen all summer long.  

Tonight I have a den meeting with our Little Tigers.  We went to see the AFN station last week and we are featured on page three of the newspaper!  Here is a link to see it.  It's pretty fabulous to live on such a small base so that we are actually part of the news!  It's almost like a throwback to small-town America.  Back in the day the fact that my grandparents are visiting would have made the society section.  It would read as follows.

Donald and Alice Curran of Oxford, Georgia are visiting their Granddaughter, Sarah Curran Schaal and family for the Holidays.  They are enjoying the Sicilian weather and countryside.  They intend on staying through both Thanksgiving and Christmas before winging their way back to Georgia for the New Year!

I suppose that our equivalent to the society and gossip pages of the old newspaper is now Facebook, Twitter and Blogs.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Family Time...Cherish it!

We had a great day here, letting my grand parents settle-in. They both go well rested last night and have little jet lag so far.

It was nice taking them with me to pick Norah up from school and going grocery shopping at the commissary.  I cannot express just how much it means to me to have them here.  It's so great to be able to know how important this time is with them and to cherish it.  We are only given our family for a certain amount of time and it's so important to be able to understand that and take each day for what it is.  We can choose to be cranky and fight about every little thing or we can choose to take each moment and try our best to make them a good memory.  Of course that doesn't mean we don't have our arguments or fights, but that we certainly do our best to not hold grudges and go crazy with useless drama.

I love my family so very much!

They are HERE! The Currans invade Sicily!

My grandparents arrived yesterday.  They were worn slap out.  Norah reconnected and bonded with Papaw right away.  She even took a nap with him!  I think my place as Papaw's girl has been taken over.  I was sitting next to Papaw on the couch and Norah came up and said, "Momma, please leave.  I need to sit by my Papaw right now!"

Norah taking a nap with her Great Grandfather.
I'm so thankful that they arrived safely and without much trouble.  They were offered assistance and taken good care of all the way here.  I was relieved to find them accompanied by two airport employees and Nana being pushed in a wheelchair.  

I was waiting for them at the arrival area, without my cell phone of course (I accidently left it in the car); and they were waiting for me in a special area that I was not aware of.  I was so glad that they came out and I they found me.  It was kind of funny to see and hear Papaw trying to talk to the Italian men.  They were all trying very hard and were able to get things across to each other I think.  

I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful family.  I'm blessed to be able to bring them here to be with their great grandchildren and to see Sicily.  I love them so very much.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

It's not due until tomorrow morning...

Why is it that we tend to procrastinate and then try to do everything the last minute?  Why does it seem that we thrive on such a thing.  I really do like having things already completed, but I never seem to be able to do it.

My sweet grandparents are flying in to visit tomorrow and my house is still a wreck.  I've never been the best at keeping house.  I mean, we don't live in filth but it's definitely not spotless. I can never keep up with the laundry and I despise doing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen.  Here it is the night before they are to arrive and I've still got tons of laundry to do with no hope of it being caught up by tomorrow.  My bedroom and bathroom are a mess.  I tend to only sleep up there so I don't spend much time cleaning it.  On top of all that cleaning I still need to plan a Cub Scout Den meeting and work on my classes that I'm taking.  Time management is not one of my strong skills.

I'm excited about having my Nana and Papaw come stay with us for the Holidays. I hope that their trip is easy and they get here safely.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

You're wearing as size what shoe?!

Today I am floored by how quickly my baby boy Ethan has grown into a young man.  When did he get to be so grown?  I mean, I noticed his clothes getting smaller and I noticed he was getting tall; but seriously, when did this happen?  We went shopping for new shoes since his last pair of tennis shoes had wore slap out.  He had a big gaping hole in them.  

The child is wearing a size 9 ½ or 10 in MENS.  Yes, I know it’s normal, blah, blah, blah...but wait until your little funny baby boy goes from being a sweet little thing to this smelly (yes I’m saying it, pre-teen and teenage boys REEK), voice cracking, leg hair growing near man child that is bigger than you!  

It is amazing to me how we give birth to these wriggly little creatures and then they grow into funny little boys that play trucks and cars and trains and then the next thing you know they are gangly, stinky teens.  I have to cherish this time.  He’s nearly 13 and it won’t be long until he really is a man and I’ll have to actually let him go...forever.  He won’t always be my responsibility.  He’ll always have my heart and he’ll always be my baby; but I have to let him go out into the big bad world on his own and fend for himself.  But, I won’t think about that right now.  Right now I’ll hang onto my almost teenager that will still let me give him hugs and kisses and pray that his dad and I can keep him going down the right path to be the man that we know he can be.  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Camping with Cub Scouts...

Gavin, Ethan and I went camping with the Cub Scouts last night.  I used to really love going camping but then I grew up and became the one that had to do all the planning, packing and set-up and my love started to vanish.  The idea of lying in a tent with the damp dew making everything wet is not my idea of fun; but I powered through and went for my boys.

This was Gavin's first time camping as a Cub Scout.  Thankfully Ethan loves to camp and enjoys being an experienced Boy Scout and wanted to go to help out. 

We left in a caravan out to the location to camp in Niscemi, Italy. It's an annex base for the Navy that we got permission to have a family camp at.  It was actually very pretty there.  

It's very much like a desert with tumble weeds, sand and rascally rabbits.

We left out from our neighborhood and drove an hour and half to the town of Niscemi.  I almost lost the caravan, but I was lucky enough to be following some really good folks that put on their flashers and I was able to see where they went.  Italian drivers are very aggressive.  There is no waiting your turn, they just come on out in front of you; not matter what.  

We arrived to the camping area after dark of course and proceeded to quickly put up our tent.  It didn't take us long at all to get it all put together.  Ethan then helped others.  Gavin was so happy and excited about being at camp.  

The Pack provided dinner which was dump chili.  Each family brings a can of something to dump into a chili base.  I brought cans of  black beans and pinto beans to add.  The chili was good even though it had potatoes and beets in it!  

There was a little star gazing done and the boys learned about constellations.

We had a large campfire and we had some skits, some songs and a really cool Bobcat ceremony.  I didn't get any pictures of him actually receiving his badge, because we were all three involved in the ceremony; but it was nice.  I'm so proud of him and his fellow Tiger Cubs. 

We roasted marshmallows and in true Italian style used nutella for our s'mores.  Yummy!  We crawled into our tent and tried to sleep.  It was cold.  We made it through the night and woke up around 6AM when we heard gun shots; rabbit hunters!  

This morning we had a lovely breakfast of pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs and fruit.  It was a collaborative endeavor by our den and it came out great.  Afterwards there was a long hike where the boys learned how to use a compass.  Gavin says it was his favorite part of the whole camp out!

A very happy Camper!

We left camp around 11 and got home around 12:30PM.  It was a good day and camp out even though there was not a bathroom!!!  I ended up with a headache, but a nap, a hot bath and some Advil took care of that.  

Ethan snapped a couple of pictures for us on the way home of the scenery. 

The town of Niscemi



Mountainside as we drove along.

The town of Caltagirone from the highway.

Friday, November 2, 2012

All Saints Day, All Souls Day

Yesterday was All Saints Day and today is All Souls Day.  Here in Italy they are National Holiday.  Norah's preschool is closed.

     I grew up attending a Church of God church.  I never really felt like we had many traditions or ceremonies, I mean we would take communion sometimes and we'd do a foot washing on occasion, but those never felt quite as ceremonious as what I had heard about the Catholic church.  I once went to a Catholic Wedding and they held a Mass; that was pomp and circumstance.  That felt like something important.

     I always felt like we were just a little bit off from the other religions that had ceremony.  They had Altar Boys and special classes.  We didn't have that.  On one hand I liked the relaxed way the church service was, but I longed for the kneelers and special incense.  Which is funny as I was taught that incense burners and lighting candles for the dead were evil.  I was taught a lot of strange things.  Things like playing D & D was evil.  Listening to rock music was evil.  Celebrating Halloween was evil. If you smoked you were a sinner.  If you drank you were a sinner.  If you cursed you were a sinner.  If you wore too much make-up, you were a sinner.  The list was endless.

     I remember being shocked out of my skin the first time I realized that Catholic people could drink a glass of wine and no one looked twice.  I saw a Catholic priest at a base chapel event have a glass of wine in the O-Club...I was literally floored!  You would NEVER see a Church of God preacher even look at a glass of wine without condemnation.

Wow, how did I get here from talking about holidays here in Italy.  Oh, that's right; Italy is a Catholic country  and these Holidays are Catholic Christian Holidays and then my train of thought went to why I don't attend organized religious gatherings. I may get into that on another day; it's long and complicated and I'm not sure it even would make sense to anyone else.

Back to the Holidays, I think it's remarkable that the belief that one's deceased ancestors look over them and bring them gifts is still alive today.  I love that they are preserving a relationship with family members long gone. Long live traditions and ceremonies!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

What happened to England Part 2?

I have grand plans, indeed I do.  I have terrible follow-through.  I had intended to write in excitingly delicious detail every day of our trip to England.  I was going to tell you how everything went on each day.  It was going to be glorious and you would have been so impressed, but real life isn't so beautiful or grand.

Here it is, Thursday, November 1st 2012; over 6 months later and I have only managed to write about our first day.  How absolutely pitiful.  I have every resolution to improve myself and blog posting is high up on that list.  This month is NaBloPoMo and I intend to write here everyday.  I cannot guarantee that it will be earth shattering  soul wrenching awesomeness covered in awesomesauce, but I will be here; writing.

As for England:  I will do an overview here shortly and include some photos.  From now on I plan on actually writing while on vacation even if it requires good old fashioned pen to paper and transcribing it later. I haven't even began our trip to Germany!  Agh.