Monthly Motivation?

January 31, 2010

I opened a new box of tampons today and was surprised to discover it was like opening a box of bizarre fortune cookies. There were motivational messages on each wrapper like: "Stay flexible"; "Practice makes perfect"; "Live out your dreams". What the heck? At first it was sort of amusing, but I quickly became irritated (and not just because I was PMSing!). Those messages must have been written by a man or the lucky/rare woman who has never experienced PMS. If they had been written by an ordinary woman, they would have said things like "Go ahead, you deserve more chocolate"; or "Don't worry, everyone still loves you even though you are grumpy and covered with zits right now". I have often thought it would be fun to be the person who gets to write the fortunes for the cookies or name the paint chips or nail colors. It never occurred to me that there might be someone out there writing motivational messages for tampons. We live in a strange world, don't we?

Fresh Juice and First Money

A break from the rain, two hard working kids, a pitcher of freshly squeezed blood orange juice, a table on the sidewalk, and a profit of a $1.50 = one very exciting Friday afternoon and a momentary lapse in rain-induced sibling bickering!

January List

January 27, 2010

Gardening: We lost the battle in our backyard with the pests (seems like it was snails and slugs), but our front bed is doing great and we now have baby broccoli and purple cauliflower. The lettuce, oregano, thyme, and rosemary are all still going strong and the daffodils are starting to emerge from the ground. I also attempted to transplant some euphorbia from our recent trip to Noto-Antico. Hoping to plant lavender, poppies, and nasturiums soon.

Resolving: Still having success with making my bed each day and I have been writing letters (did I ever mention that was also one of my resolutions for this year?).

Learning: Noah is currently obsessed with ancient history thanks to Story of the World and he is having a blast learning how to play basketball. Camille is quickly becoming my Italian translator and in the past week she has starting trying to teach herself to read. I am slowly learning how to use my I-touch. Adam has been spending time plugging our lives into something called Google Calendar and he is trying to convince me it is a good thing. I am just happy to have a good old fashioned calendar on the wall.

Reading: Just finished Manhood for Amateurs. All I can say is that I am still chuckling, mulling, and savoring Chabon's words (who else can write so beautifully about legos?). Interesting to have read it just a few months after reading his wife's book of essays which was equally as engaging. Just started A Room with a View today. How is it possible that I have never read it before? Already enjoying it and eager for the kids to go to bed so I can resume my spot on the couch.

Viewing: Over the weekend we saw Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Blin
d Side, and It's Complicated. All three were very entertaining. I think we have seen more movies in the past six months than we have in the past six years. I guess it is due to a combination of things: the kids are getting older and enjoy seeing family movies, they are also happy to have a babysitter which means we can venture out to see grown-up movies, and $3 movie tickets are hard to beat (military rate at the on-base theatre, not the Italian rate...I imagine it is much pricier). We tend to get the movies a few weeks after they are released in the States. So if you have recommendations, please share. And speaking of movies, take a look at this interesting list.

Raining: We have had several days of rainy, grey gumbo weather. Which means there has been a lot of reading,
painting, writing letters, making snowflakes, and jumping in puddles. I guess this is finally the start of the rainy season. Itching to make a gumbo and maybe even try knitting again. What brightens up your winter days?

Making Snow

January 26, 2010

It has turned rainy, grey, and dreary here so we have been making snow: one flake at a time. We started in art group last week and it continues to be a near daily experience. It is such a strangely satisfying activity for big and little hands...the cutting out and the thrill of opening each one to see what emerges. Our windows are now covered with flakes.

So here's our discovery: coffee filters make the best flakes. When my sister and I were younger, we would spend hours cutting similar flakes from typing paper. It's not so easy to find typing paper these days. We tried to make flakes a few weeks ago with computer paper and it was challenging because of the thickness. But coffee filters turn out to be perfect. They are thin but not prone to tearing like tissue paper. They are already circular. And if you want to try even larger flakes you can order these. We have the medium and large size which has been fun, but just regular sized, white, round coffee filters are perfect, too.

Exploring: Noto Antica

January 24, 2010

We hiked up the vine covered steps and within minutes we were transported back in time.

We spent most of today exploring the ruins of Noto-Antica, the original city of Noto, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1693. We scampered up and over bits and pieces of history (Hellenistic, Pre-Christian, Jewish, Byzantine, Arabian, Norman, Renaissance and Baroque ruins to be more exact...isn't that amazing?). We admired the stunning views and hollered out greetings which echoed back at us from the canyon below. We ventured down paths lined with caves and blooming euphorbia. And we relished the fact that we had it all to ourselves. Noto-Antica isn't mentioned in any of our tourist guidebooks for Sicily, but luckily it was one of the walks highlighted in Walking in Sicily. This handy little book is quickly becoming a favorite resource for our Sicilian adventures. If you go, be sure to pack snacks/water or you might want to turn it into very special day/weekend trip and head up the road to the beautiful agriturismo, Borgo Alveria. Read how their website describes this amazing area. We'll be back again soon. There is still so much to explore.

Slug Lessons

January 21, 2010

Did you know slugs are hermaphrodites? That they have a breathing hole and lay up to 100 eggs at a time? We learned all of those facts yesterday while trying to figure out the best way to remove them from our winter garden.The parsley which had been big and beautiful just a week ago, is now gone and they have moved on to the purple cauliflower. The kids built beer "traps" (buried empty yogurt cups in the soil and filled with beer) and we are hoping that will make a dent in their destruction.And a quick update on the visiting cat situation: Tony Chachere's seasoning seems to be doing the trick. We just have to remember to re-sprinkle after the rain which is becoming a little more frequent these days, but that's a job the kids enjoy doing. I had such idyllic images of gardening with my kids: harvesting fresh veggies, picking zinnias, building fairy gardens. I never imagined I'd be sending my kids out to work in the garden with bottles of Italian beer and Louisiana pepper! If you have other slug suggestions, please share.

Rainy Day Beach Art

January 19, 2010

He wanted to stay home. He spent the whole car trip grumbling, moaning, and complaining. That monkey boy of ours is sometimes like a grumpy old man, but before we had even finished parking he was trying to leap out of the car. He saw the ocean and had to get closer. Scampering over rocks, collecting sticks, stones, and other beach debris; he quickly went to work. I stood by watching, documenting, and grinning to see the sudden transformation from grumpy monkey to focused land artist. And then the rain started to come down a little harder, the waves started creeping closer, and we knew it was time to head back home.

Curious about land art? Check out this great interview with Richard Shilling at The Artful Parent. We got started several years ago after discovering Andy Goldsworthy's work. Highly recommend any of his books and this excellent documentary. And this flickr group. And then try it yourself. It's good for rainy days, sunny days, and especially grumpy days.

Home Again

January 17, 2010

It was a hard trip, the kind you never want to think about making, but a good one. Some crying, some remembering, some closet cleaning, some laughing, some good southern food, and some singing (I taught the girls some camp songs that I am sorry to say will probably drive Jill crazy over the next few weeks!). Jill and I have known each other for nearly nineteen years. We met on our first day at Mary Baldwin College. We have celebrated marriages, babies, careers and other good milestones together. And we have also been there during hard times for each other. She was there during my dad's last week of life. And now this. There is a lot to be said for so much history together. Makes me very grateful for our friendship and so glad that I was able to make the trip.

Actually the whole trip filled me up with gratitude. Seeing how so many have reached out to Jill and her family. Being surrounded by reminders of Flip and his love for Jill and their girls, his dedication, and his fun-loving spirit. Realizing how lucky I am to be returning home to an amazing husband, two wonderful kids, loyal friends, a house full of books, and a garden full of lettuce ready for picking. Gratitude is a good thing.

Roadside Oranges

January 7, 2010

Sicily's orange season is still in full swing. Lots of oranges for sale on the sides of small country roads. And even this super big orange which sells couscous, crepes, and grilled artichokes in addition to freshly squeezed orange juice. It's the closest thing to a drive-through that I have seen since moving here and although I occasionally crave Popeye's biscuits and chicken (sad to admit, but it's hard to get rid of my Louisiana cravings) I think this Sicilian version of roadside fast food is pretty amazing.

I am signing off of the blog for awhile. Headed back to the States to be with Jill and her girls. I will miss Adam and the kids and all of the Sicilian oranges, but so glad I am able to do this trip.

First Embroidery

January 6, 2010

The joy of sewing continues. When Camille saw Noah's handiwork, she was very eager to give it a try. It turns out that felt is perfect for these first attempts. Per SouleMama's advice I bought burlap before we left the States in anticipation of these early sewing experiences, but it must be on the bottom of those last few boxes I haven't dealt with yet. Perhaps that was a good thing. The felt wasn't only conveniently located, but also very handy for these amazing little fraying, easy to pull a needle through, and stiff enough to hold shape when turned into ornaments. I love the abstract designs that emerged. She loved picking the colors, stitching, and cutting off the loose ends after I zigzagged them on the machine.


January 4, 2010

“There are two Italies.... The one is the most sublime and lovely contemplation that can be conceived by the imagination of man; the other is the most degraded, disgusting, and odious. What do you think? Young women of rank actually eat -- you will never guess what -- garlick! Our poor friend Lord Byron is quite corrupted by living among these people, and in fact, is going on in a way not worthy of him.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley, in a letter from Naples (22 December 1818)

Add us to the list of the corrupted.


January 2, 2010

I don't usually do New Year's Resolutions, but this year is different. Starting small, but still starting. My resolution: make my bed every day. Horrible, isn't it? Reveals how lazy I am that I have to turn a simple daily task into a resolution. But there it is, out and in the open. I always feel better when I start the day with the bed made. I fuss at the kids to make their beds and yet, more days than not, our bed is not made. Really hoping I can pull it off because I have bigger resolutions in mind. Part of this has been spurred by a memory. Eleven years ago, my father was in a horrible car accident a few days before New Year's. On New Year's Eve, Adam flew into town to be with my family, attend a family wedding (Happy Anniversary Jennie and Jon!)and to propose. Lets just say it was a very intense and emotional time for all of us.

A few days later my dad called a family meeting. A family meeting to discuss his ten year plan. That's what he called it. He was very focused and serious about the whole thing. I remember sighing and wanting to roll my eyes. I just wanted to relish the new ring on my finger and the fact that my dad had survived a very serious accident. Ten years seemed like such a long time and why make all of us sit there while he discussed each bullet on his list? My dad was a serious list maker. He carried a metal clipboard with him at all times for notes. There is no doubt in my mind that I inherited my list-making habits from him. But that family meeting to discuss his ten year plan was more than just a random list. He had been shaken up by the accident and he was intent on making things happen. I am sure we still have the notes from that family meeting eleven years ago. I don't remember everything on his list, but I do know that he wanted to make sure we were all well aware of his goals. And I am happy to say that most of the big things on that list did happen.

Which leads me to this year: 2010. A new year. A new decade. The year I will turn thirty-seven. The year we will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. The year of my fifteenth college reunion. Seemed like a good time to do my own ten year plan. So I did that on New Year's Eve. I didn't call a family meeting. I didn't share the details of it with anyone. I just wrote it down in my little black Moleskine book (still struggling to learn how to type on my new itouch and trying to decide if it will ever really replace my little black books?). Due in large part to our nomadic lifestyle, Adam and I frequently discuss possibilities for our future (where and when will we eventually settle down? what do we want for our kids? when/how will I return to "work" etc), but I haven't really written concrete goals down and certainly not in ten year increments. I guess it is a sign of getting older. Realizing that ten years really isn't a huge amount of time. And I think having kids really solidifies that realization: ten years from now Noah and Camille will both be teenagers. That is a shocking to write and to comprehend. So I am taking a lesson from my dad. I made a list of things I want to happen in the next ten years; I am keeping it in my little black book; I will be calling a family meeting soon (ok, perhaps just a meeting with Adam!); I have started making the bed every day and I will be moving on from there. Have any resolutions or ten year plans?

Latest Instagrams

© Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish. Design by FCD.