Thursday, December 12, 2013

Elf on a Shelf nonsense.

I am not a fan of the creepy weird Elf on a Shelf that people seem to have so much fun doing this time of the year.  Here is my facebook status rant about those creepy little bastards.

I had forgotten about that whole "Elf on a Shelf" weirdness that pops up this time of the year. I'm so glad that I didn't get in on that. I'm sure I'll hear from my two younger ones why doesn't the elf come to our house and I'll have to tell them; "because yo Mama ain't got time for no naughty elf up in here, up in here! You kids are naughty and messy enough, I ain't having any more. Plus I done put an elf protection spell on our house, yo."

So there you have my feelings on those things.  I understand that it is a nice little tradition for your family. I guess if you enjoy taking that precious time when our little heathen children are finally knocked out for the night and wasting it on playing with that disturbing looking androgynous elf.  If you want to spend those glorious quiet moments taking all the ornaments off the Christmas tree and replacing it with your kids underwear, go ahead.  I mean, I'll just be over here enjoying some peace and quiet before passing out and starting the day over again with these three kids.

I'm not sure I follow the logic of Santa sending an elf to watch you and make sure you are doing good but the elf itself is a horribly behaved demon.  How does that make sense?  Do people's kids not see the idiocy in that?  And the notes that the elf leaves behind?  Do your kids not recognize your handwriting?  My kids would.  Plus why would the elf suddenly be in a weird position, wouldn't it just go back to normal static position as soon as it knew you were about to wake up?

I'm glad we don't all have to subscribe to the same set of traditions.  This new one is lost on me.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

I'm gonna pop a tire...gotta get a new battery in my Mazda

This has been a very challenging week here at Casa de Schaals.  It all started on Tuesday morning when I fell taking packages to mail out to the car.  I dropped the boxes, scraped my knees and twisted my ankle.  I had to repack one of the boxes because the bag of pasta inside burst open upon impact.  I'm glad I didn't burst open on impact.  I managed to still get to Bible Study (which I affectionately call Jesus Meeting) and mail two packages.  I thought, "well, that wasn't pleasant"; the falling, not the Jesus Meeting, but did not realize it was just the beginning of a crappy challenging week.

Tuesday evening was to be one of those, "why do we have more than one kid?" kind of night.  Gavin was supposed to have Football Practice while at the same time Ethan had AVID family night at school.  We had planned on a divide and conquer strategy.  I was going to take Gavin to Football practice and Cody was going to take Ethan to AVID and Norah was going to hold down the fort...wait, what?  No, Norah was going to go with me.  It started raining and I secretly, okay not secretly; I broadcast it all over my facebook status that I wished for it to keep raining so it would be canceled.  I lucked out and it was canceled on account of the super soggy fields. Score for me!  I was off the hook for taking kids to the field and I could stay home and nurse my hurt knee.

Cody still had to take Ethan to AVID though.  He wasn't keen on it since social interaction is not one of Cody's favorite past times.  He keeps it to a minimum when he can.  He's an introvert (I think I must attract them since I have more than a couple of friends that are and I'm married to one).  I should really explore that further.  Anyway, he suffered through the AVID night and was starving since there wasn't much food at the actual gathering, though there was supposed to be a sign-up for it.  On the way home he rounded a curve in the road and BAM...hit a pothole and killed the back tire.  He drove it home since there was no place to pull off that was safe and had any light.  I was really, really good.  I didn't yell or laugh or anything.  Sometimes I laugh at the wrong times.  He and Ethan got the tire changed and I came in and ordered new tires online.

It's useless to try to get a tire here.  The NEX Autoport never has the size tire that we need.  It's always a hassle to get one.  Did I mention this is the third one I think we've had blow out on us.  Potholes are ridiculous.  Cody used the portable cigarette lighter air pump we have to pump the spare donut tire up to the proper Psi.   The next morning he got up to drive to the gym.  The battery was dead.  He had forgot he had left the pump charging.  Whoops.  for once it wasn't my fault!  Yippee!~  I've been known to be the cause of dead batteries...more than once.

We got out neighbor to jump the car off and Cody drove it to the Autoport and we had to buy a new battery.  Oh yeah and that same morning Gavin woke up feeling miserable and horrid with a bad head cold.  So he stayed home and since Cody took our crippled car Norah stayed home too.  Not exactly the kind of Wednesday I was looking for.  Norah missed school and ballet.  Gavin missed school and I had to cancel our Cub Scout meeting because we have them here in the house and I didn't want to spread the yuckies to everyone else.

Thursday Gavin was still sick and missed school.  As did Norah again, because I didn't want to drive Gavin with me to take Norah to school.  I had to reschedule a consult with a new breastfeeding mom and Gavin missed a football game.  I did get to go to a lovely dinner at the chapel, but of course I had a headache.  Seriously?

Thankfully today was not so bad.  While Cody is certain that the spare is going to blow out and we're going to be up shittake mushroom creek with out a paddle, I'm feeling okay waiting on the tires to arrive, hopefully next week.  A girl can dream, right?

Here's to hopefully having a calming and happy weekend.  But I'm not banking on it.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Where do you Summer?

I remember the first time I heard that question, "Where do you summer?" The question was a running joke on a tv show.  It refers to how rich people spend their summers at their summer homes.  We all know that working folks don't have time or money to summer anywhere other than their regular house; except for military dependents.  On occasion we get to go "back home" and spend part of or all of the summer there.  Now usually our military members don't take all that leave time but sometimes they do.  When we lived in Japan we would take 30 days of leave and go back "home" to visit.  It cost a lot of money and it made the long trip worthwhile.  Many families here in Sicily do the same thing.  They go "home" and visit for the summer.  This summer we did not do that.  Instead me and the kids stayed here and Cody went back for two weeks to begin his PhD program in Pennsylvania.

At first I was jealous that Cody was going to get to go back to the States and I wasn't.  I soon got over that.  I get to say that I've not been back to the USA in three years when we finally do move.  It costs a lot of money to fly commercially back to the US.  When you multiply that amount by 5 for all of us, it's ridiculous.  When we moved here, we made sure to let all of our family know that we were not going to be returning unless it was an absolute necessity.  So far it hasn't be necessary.

How did I spend my summer?  I spent it right here at my house.  I didn't do anything of cultural importance, but I sure did do some family bonding with these three children.  Gavin and Norah took swim lessons.  Gavin wasn't impressed with them, though he did improve.  Norah loved her lessons and she greatly improved from being afraid to be much more comfortable in the water.  We went to the market in Scordia a few times.

We didn't do any traveling, which is disappointing, but not only did we have to pay for Cody's flight back to PA but also the A/C unit in our house in Va Beach went out and we had to buy and have a new one installed.  That was not cheap so, yeah, no summer travel for us.

I will miss the summers here in Sicily.  It's hot and SUNNY!  I love the sunny part.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My how does time fly by

Wow, I can't believe the last time I posted was in June.  It seems that I've let this little blog languish on the internet for far too long.  What have we been up to?  Nothing too exciting, just living life.

I will sit down this weekend and draft up a lovely recap of all those months that I didn't post.  I really am ashamed of myself for neglecting this so much.  I realize not many, if any, people read this; but it isn't here for other people, it's here for us.

Living here in Sicily has been good.  I realize that I am not getting the same cultural experience that other people are and that's okay with me.  That doesn't mean that I don't sometimes feel really guilty for not trying harder to "get out there" but overall I'm happy with my life.

We were able to take a great trip to France!  I really liked France and I didn't expect to.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Keeping Calm and Carrying On

Back last June I went to Germany (Landstuhl) on my own and took a week-long certification course to become a CLC (Certified Lactation Counselor).  I had a great time and learned lots and lots of information.  I took the exam and walked away confident that I did well and all was hunky dory.

August rolled around and I got a letter...all was not hunky dory.  There are two parts to the exam.  There is a multiple choice exam and there is a competency that involves a video.   I had passed the multiple choice exam, but I did not pass the video portion.  I was devastated!  I was deflated!

I was eligible to retake the exam within a year but I didn't think I wanted to.  How could I justify the expense when I would likely fail again?  I tried to put it behind me and let it go.  But it wouldn't.  I kept feeling like I had left it undone.  It was hanging over my head and I didn't like it.  I kept watching the locations that the next course would be offered and finally it came up that it was going to be offered at a base in England.  I decided to give it another try.  I'm so lucky to have such a supportive husband that had no problem with me doing this.

So here I am.  I flew to London and drove up to the base.  I've sat through two reviews and am preparing to re-take the exam.  I am more calm.  I am going to do my very best and that's it.  I'm not hanging anything on it.  It is what it is and despite what happens, I'm still going to do my very best to help mamas and babies with learning to nurse.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

When in Roma...

We finally made the big trip down to Rome back in February.  We used the President's Day weekend to bite the bullet and just do it.  For some reason I was extremely nervous about going to Rome.  I cannot explain why it made me so anxious, but it surely did.

We left on Friday morning, well sort of.  Gavin had the day off from school, and I thought Ethan did; but I was mistaken so we had to fill out paperwork to take him out for the day.  At any rate, we were trying to get to the airport for our flight so we stopped at the ATM on base to get some Euro out, but ALL of them were not working.  So we started out our trip with very little Euro.  We rush to get to the airport only to find that our flight was delayed by at least an hour (it ended up being two or three hours) and that the flight was open seating!  What is open-seating? you may be asking.  Well, my friend; it is where it is a free for all when you get on the plane.  You just plop yourself down in whatever seat you wish.  Now, in the states it would pay to be at the front of the line at the gate because you just mosey on through the tunnel and onto the plane; but here in Sicily you herd up onto a bus; the great equalizer, then you make a beeline for either the front or the back of the plane and up the steps.  We managed to get me and Cody and Norah in the same row; and the boys together in a different row.  Nope, never doing that again.  Only if I'm flying alone will I ever attempt an open seating flight.  On the flight they sold snacks and we lucked out and was given a cup of water.

When I booked our hotel I also booked a driver to pick us up and take us there.  Best 60 Euro ever!  He was standing there at the meeting point with a sign with my name on it and he took us immediately to the van and away we went to Roma.  I don't know why we call it Rome when they call it Roma.  Why is that?  Do other countries call Atlanta something else other than Atlanta?  Just like why is Japan, Nippon there but we call it Japan?  Weird.

We arrived at our little hotel and it was great.  No stress trying to find it.  We checked in and it was like in the olden days.  First they took our passports (everyone over 14) and then they gave us a real key.  It had an enormous key chain on it.  So every time we left the hotel, we would give them our key and then when we came back, they would give it back to us.

Our room was filled with beds!  The two main reasons I booked the hotel. (Hotel Nerva) was for the location which was right at the Forum and very near the Colosseum and the fact that they would let us all stay in the same room.  There was a King Size bed and two single beds there.  One was a roll-away and one was a chair kind of thing that let out into a bed.  It was crowded, but it worked.  The bathroom was a step up and don't you know I nearly killed myself one night tripping up into there to go pee.  The shower was tiny, like a shower in a camping trailer.  There was a bidet, but I didn't use it.  I still think of Crocodile Dundee when I see one of those things.

We lucked up and the free wi-fi actually was in our room.  Many of the reviews said it was only available in the lobby, which by the way was tiny.

We ate dinner at a place just down from the Colosseum and our hotel that was really good.  It was called Angelino Ai Fori.  We ate inside, though they have a patio outside.   I had soup and salad.  The kids had pizza of course and Cody had a fritata.

 We walked to the Colosseum and saw it at night.  It was beautiful all lit up.  What wasn't beautiful were the guys trying to sell laser grid lights and other tschoskys.  They were so annoying  Of course Gavin was all, "Ooh.  How much is that?" which to the guy meant that if he hung around us long enough and tagged along we would finally give in and buy the thing for Gavin.  Dude was he wrong!  I think we told Gavin no 800 times and that guy just kept hanging around.  We finally escaped that guy without buying anything!

I want to tell you that our trip was AMAZING and that Rome changed my life and was spectacular and all of those things but in reality it was just Eh to us.  I wanted to be enthralled, feel the power of being in the Colosseum but honestly is just wasn't that for me.  We pretty much just checked off the boxes of all the places you are supposed to see and called it good.  I'm good with Rome.  If we get an opportunity to go back without little kids I might, but all in all, I'm good.

St. Peter's Square

We did not go into St. Peter's.  The line was pretty long and we had already bought tickets to visit the Vatican Museum and couldn't risk not getting through in enough time to get over to the Vatican.  I'm sure it is amazing and beautiful; but we never did make it back over there to go inside. 

Below are photos from inside the Vatican Museum.  It is huge and there is a whole lot to see; but again when you are traveling with younger children, you kind of have to fly through these kinds of things.  Gavin really enjoyed this one since he had the children's tour and it had specific items for him to look for.  Of course Norah was too young for it and Ethan was too old.  

The thing that struck me about the Sistine chapel (you are not allowed to take photographs) was the way the hands and fingers looked very pudgy.  We didn't spend much time in there.  We were in there with 800 other people and of course Norah is whining about something and they have guys in there yelling "Silencio!" "No photos!"  It would be awesome to visit without anyone else there.  

Swiss Guard

This is what my kids do while waiting for me to write out and mail postcards from the Vatican Postoffice outside of St. Peter's.

Part of the Forum.  We never did go to the main part where you get a ticket and walk around lots and lots of ruins.  We just didn't feel like it.  The kids didn't want to and honestly, once you've seen a half standing building and lots of ruins, it's kind of enough for me.

I saw this nun reading and I just had to have a photo.

One really cool thing is that they shut down the street by the Colosseum on Sunday mornings.  We were able to walk down the middle of the street and get some really cool photos.  There were people walking and riding bikes, but no cars.  It was really nice.  

We went to the National Museum of Rome and saw some really rockin' old statues.  This was one of the best parts of our trip.  The kids loved it.  It wasn't crowded and we were right up close to them.  It was really fun.  

Here is one of the Check Mark things.  The Spanish Steps.  They are steps.  The end.

And another check mark, the Trevi Fountain.  Granted this one was at least entertaining to watch the people.  It is beautiful, but's a fountain.

The Pantheon was nice.  It was free.  There was no bathroom so Cody spent a lot of time walking Gavin back to a McDonald's so he could go to the potty.  I sat in there with Norah while she fell asleep.  It was interesting.  

The ceiling in the Pantheon.  There is a giant hole.  It does rain in there. 

This sums up my visit inside the Colosseum.  I sat on a rock and held Norah.  It was difficult for me to visualize where the seats were and just how awesome this place was supposed to be.  

Lunch after the Colosseum

Gavin after the Colosseum

We also went to visit the Capuchin Crypt.  That was very cool.  Again, you can't take photos in there, but we did pick up some postcards.  There were bones arranged into artist sculptures, alters etc.  Here is a link to the museum.  It really is worth a visit.  

Another highlight of our trip was eating at the Hard Rock Cafe!  Yes, it was so great to get a good burger and just relax in a restaurant that we knew what to expect.  

So there it is.  We in all honesty were not impressed with Rome.  We're glad we went, but it just wasn't our cup of tea. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Christmas Day 2012

Here are a few happy moments from Christmas before me and the boys fell ill with Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease.

And Santa brought us Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease...

Our Christmas was highlighted with a visit to the ER for what we first thought to be Chicken Pox.  Cody and I have both had Chicken Pox and all the kids have been vaccinated, but they looked like they had something!  Gavin was covered and benydryl wasn't doing any good and Ethan was starting to run a fever so we decided to take them both in to get checked out.  I mean, as soon as we were done opening our gifts both boys lay on the couch and was watching tv...not even touching their new gifts.

This is when we knew something was up.

We took them to the ER and the initial diagnosis was Chicken Pox.  But then I started running a fever and my foot started to break-out and a neighbor mentioned HFM so I started to question it.  We returned to the doctor two days later and got the diagnosis of Hand, Foot & Mouth disease.  My foot started to look awful but I didn't bother getting diagnosed since there is nothing to do but wait it out.  

Below are some photos of my foot and of Ethan.  Gavin refused to let me take pictures of his rash. LOL

My foot all swollen and starting to get a gross rash. 12/27/2012

Ethan with the rash on his face.

My foot a few days later.  Gross.  It continued on and eventually my entire foot's skin peeled off.

We managed to survive this gift and live through to the New Year to see 2013.