Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ciao Chicago! Viva Napoli!

I figured I better get this all down before I forget - since I haven't been that great at keeping a journal as of late.  and I'm just warning ya...should you choose to read on...it's a long'un.

When we were trying to decide when to physically move out of our house, we weighed pros and cons and decided to stay in Chicago for Christmas.  The main reason being that I was scared we'd end up in some horrific storm and be stuck in Laramie (sorry Jesika) for Miles' first Christmas.  So we stayed in Chicago and pretended like nothing was happening.  On the 26th of December our friends watched Miles all day while Nathan and I tore the house apart.  We were BUSY kids that day: curtain rods & pictures off walls, re-painting the walls we'd painted, sorting storage/Italy stuff, laundry, putting away the Christmas decorations, packing suitcases, and I'm sure a few other things that I can't remember now.  We finished the night at our friends' house (the ones who watched Miles) with our last Giordano's deep dish pizza :( and some much needed time with friends who we will miss dearly.
Tuesday morning the movers showed up and started cramming all our stuff into boxes and then into crates...and they didn't finish until Wednesday evening.

Miles did really well with the hectic packing days...

...Winston did not.

When everything was said and done we had eight crates (each crate is 12 feet deep, 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide...give or take), plus a special made crate for the sofa (it was too big for the crates).

Yes...a large amount of those boxes do say 'HER SHOES'  Don't judge me.
What the crates look like...empty and almost full.

Wanna hear something funny?   Of course you do!  So I was feeling all sentimental and so I told Nathan I wanted to sleep one last time in our house...even though ALL our furniture was gone.  We borrowed some blankets and pillows from a friend and we 'camped'.  In December.  In our empty house.  Let me tell you what...my poor joints are TOO OLD to be sleeping on the floor.  Holy Moses I ached the next day!

Thursday we cleaned, painted some more and hauled our remaining crap out of our almost empty house over to our friend Nate's house (he was letting us stay with him for the next two nights)  Friday morning the storage moving company came and packed up what was not going to Italy: piano, washer & dryer, Christmas & Halloween decorations, BBQ grill, bikes, appliances, etc.  We had our move-out inspection at 2:30.  As an aside...if you ever live in Navy housing it is TOTALLY worth it to pay them to clean your place.  They are PICKY and the fees are crazy if you miss something...so we coughed over the $200 just to be done with it.  Friday afternoon we locked the door and walked away from what had been our home for only 12 months and 14 days.  Yet in such a small timeframe SO MUCH happened in our little lives...what a 12 months and 14 days it was.

goodbye house...we loved you!!

Anywhoo...sorry for the sentimental sidetrack...we spent our last evening in Chicago trying to cram all our suitcases, the baby carseat & stroller, the cat crate, the litterbox, cat food, and lots of other random little things in our Buick.  We ended up having to buy one of those roof-top luggage things just to make everything fit.  And since our car doesn't have the track thingys (technical term) on the roof we had to 'Nathan-rig' it.  Motorcycle tie-downs were millimeters above our heads for the 1400 mile drive.  My hair kept getting caught in the cinching mechanism...I'd get out of the car and have a nifty 'do to show off at the truck stops.

The back seat.  Left to right: cat litterbox bottom, cat crate on top, nestled into cat litterbox top.  My sweatshirt on top of that...my makeup train case behind the seat...as well as a bag of formula, baby food, bottles, bottle brushes, etc.  Miles is in the center.  On the right is his pack n play, a box of food/snacks for the trip, his bumbo chair, his diaper bag, our small suitcase, my camera bag, Nathan's coat, the cat food container and a bag of kitty litter.  

We hit the road early Saturday (New Year's Eve) morning (MANY tears were shed...I think I cried almost all the way to the Iowa border) and made it to our favorite pit-stop that evening: The Holiday Inn Express in North Platte...seriously awesome hotel.  They give you FREE chocolate chip cookies at night...FREE hot breakfast...clean rooms...nice pool...and they are CHEAP for military!  We spend New Years Eve hunching over take out boxes from Ruby Tuesday and watching TV.  We were all asleep by 10:30.  Lame.  I didn't even take a picture.  Lamer.  We woke up Sunday and headed West...we pulled into my parent's driveway about 5ish on New Year's Day.

We spent the next week soaking up all the family we could...knowing full well that we will not see most of them for the next 3+ years.  Just even typing that now makes me a little weepy...we didn't see them all that often when we lived in the states...but somehow being 5000 miles away I FEEL the distance more.

Three cousins...all born within 2 months.  Anna (April 6), Asher (March 17) & Miles (May 16)

We even got to a Utah Jazz game...Nathan was a HAPPY boy. 

How cute is this??  I mean seriously...
One of the parts of this whole move I was most nervous about was flying with a baby.  Miles is very good natured but I had no idea what he'd be like on a plane...for 14 hours...and that was just the flight to Italy!  I had someone suggest something to me that one of her friends had done (the link to which I cannot seem to find now...)...so I copied the general idea, wrote a seuss-y poem and came up with this bag of goodies that we handed to the people seated in front and in back of us on each of the flights.
The goodies: earplugs, granola bar, mint, pencil, puzzles (suduku, word find, crossword), wet wipes, M&M's
They were mostly a big hit...the couple seated behind me from Detroit to Norfolk were a little odd about it and wouldn't take them...they were truthfully a little odd looking.  But like I said, most people got a big chuckle and one guy even joked "this is going on Facebook...and Pinterest"  I think this small act of good-will went a long way...although Miles was an angel so we didn't need it.  

Monday morning, January 9th we boarded a plane, had a 3 hour layover in Detroit and then landed in Norfolk at 8pm.

Daddy and Miles hanging out in the Detroit airport.
Miles and mommy on our flight from Detroit to Norfolk.  The plane was too small for his carseat so he had to sit in his own seat during takeoff...not in my lap.  He was pretty excited to be a big boy. 
We were lucky because the ONLY Navy flight to Naples leaves from Norfolk...and Nathan happens to have two brothers stationed there right now...not only did we have a free/safe/clean place to stay for the night...we got to see some family!!

The Virginia component of the family...at a VERY yummy breakfast place. 
Playing drums with Uncle David

Playing piano with Uncle Jeremy

 Tuesday we went to breakfast for Jeremy's birthday (Nathan's brother) and then hung out for a few more hours.  We had them drop us off at the terminal at 3 so we'd have almost three hours until our flight left.  Well...the Navy is always so organized (read: not)... no one told us the flight had been changed to 10:15PM.  So we had seven hours to kill at the tiniest airport I've ever been in.  Seriously...TINY.  The gate...the security checkpoint...the bathrooms...a teensy mini-NEX/galley...and that's it.

Us outside the airport with all the junk we had to bring with us: baby, cat, cat crate, stroller, baby carseat and carseat base, diaper bag, mommy's bag, daddy's bag, pack n play, six suitcases.  And a partridge in a pear tree.
On the plane...ready to go!
The flight was nice...lots better than I expected.  It was a large plane, 250 people, and every seat got a pillow and a blanket.  They gave all the kids this cute little backpack with toys and games...we got one for Miles even though he is too little...he loves to drum on the empty backpack.  They gave you a meal which wasn't the most horrible thing I've ever eaten.  They also did hot towels, a beverage service, a movie (with free earphones) and all the flight attendants were super attentive.  Then we stopped in the Azores Islands to refuel, pick-up/drop off passengers.  The stop was only for 30 minutes...not too bad.  The next leg of the flight was exactly like the first...more drinks, another meal service, a movie and hot towels.  Miles was amazing on all the flights...holy smokes we lucked out.  He slept almost the whole flight to Italy...I didn't because I was so worried he'd wake up and start screaming and wake everyone...but he was a super champion traveler!

We landed in Naples at close to 7pm Italy time.  Our friend Joel (who we knew from Chicago) picked us up and took us back to his place.  The transition/temporary hotel was booked when we arrived so we could either stay out in town or stay with friends...Joel and his wife Davina graciously opened their home to us.

We made it to Italy!!
We started area orientation that Friday...and we began house hunting that weekend.  We had every intention of making it to church on Sunday, but we were both EXHAUSTED and we'd stayed up too late the night before watching NFL playoffs.  But the following week we made it...and the branch (super small congregation) is awesome.  Very friendly...mostly Italian.  It will surely help us learn the language.

We bought a car about a week after landing in Italy...it's a cute little French car we lovingly call Gilberto.
We found our house after looking at SEVENTEEN (maybe 16, or 18...?? after a while they all started running together) houses...we finished the contract phase in about 2 weeks...which is VERY fast (see Miles comment below), and moved in Friday February 17th. Our stuff was out of customs the next week so we only had to use loaner furniture for a week - thank heavens!  That loaner crib is a death trap!

Everyone is settling in nicely.  They day our stuff got here I think Winston took a big sigh of relief...he was very happy to have 'his couch' back.  The jetlag wasn't too bad.  We got into town in the evening, by the time we had all our stuff, schlepped it back to Joel and Davina's, fed us and Miles it was late so we went to bed and slept in the next morning.  Miles had it the worst...he was just out of sorts for about a week.  Although he didn't sleep through the night again (like he had in the US) until we moved into our house.  My snoring probably kept waking him up (we were all in one room at Joel & Davina's) :(

We still don't have internet at home (Italians are not in a hurry to do much of anything...except leave work).  I'm using the hot spot feature on my phone...I don't even want to know what that costs...I just needed to feel connected to the outside world again (no TV either...and only one car...leads to a little bit of isolation)  No internet at home also means I haven't been reading blogs :( Our cell phone plan doesn't have unlimited data (not even an option...?!? Maybe Italians aren't as addicted to their smart phones as Americans...poor, sad, pathetic American that I am...I am more than addicted).  So sorry for the lack of comments...I have every intention of catching up once we get connected again.  

Observations so far about Italy: 
:The trash problem is real.  Holy smokes, it is EVERYWHERE.  A lot of cities have no trash pick-up so people have to dispose of it on their own.  And they do...all along the roads.   
:There are a TON of stray dogs and cats here...it breaks my heart. 
:The Italians LOVE babies...especially Miles.  And he eats up all the attention...ham.  I think we have had such a smooth transition here because we have taken him EVERYWHERE...he has opened doors that wouldn't have opened otherwise.  Things also moved a lot quicker when brought Miles along.
:It snowed here.  Yep...in Southern Italy.  Locals we've talked to said this is the coldest it's been in like 30 years.  Yay.  
:The Coke here is awesome.  Yay for cane sugar!
:The food is different than I thought...and it's ok.  It's a little blander than I like - I'm all for spicy! - so when I make my own I'll have to Holly-ize it.   The Italians think BBQ sauce is too spicy....and pepperjack cheese?  Forgetaboutit!
:The language is coming...Naples has it's own dialect that makes things tricky...they shorten EVERYTHING.  Which is cute, but frustrating when you're trying to learn.  


Happy Herrons said...

I am glad you are back in the virtual/real world and still alive! Eat some ice cream and know the PX is still available!

V said...

What an awesome post! I'm glad you wrote it out. I like better understanding how everything came together. Good job supa mom!