Friday, December 27, 2013

Bag lady

You know it's interesting.  I have attended (or plan to attend) a few childbirth classes in prep for baby girl's impending arrival, and I've declined others.  The receptionist at the OB clinic is always surprised when I say no to classes like "New Dad" or "Newborn Basics".  She'll tell me they are wonderful classes and I should attend to learn some valuable things to help with the new baby.  I tell her this isn't our first - well, sort of - it's our first pregnancy and delivery, but not first baby.  Once the baby comes out - we're golden!  It's the getting the baby here and getting her out (ouch...) that makes me a wee bit nervous. 

So with that being said, there is something I need advice on from all my momma friends.  
The hospital bag(s)

When we left for the hospital for Miles it was a mad dash, pack fast, throw everything into the car, drive 26 hours, buy what we forget at Target kind of deal.   This go around I have quite a bit more time to plan - so I plan on taking advantage of that!  I have read a few books and online forums and baby websites about what to pack...but I'm looking for real-world advice from been-there-done-that moms.  Things like this gem from my friend Carlie: buy depends...they are much more comfortable than the mesh "undies" the hospital gives you.  

So I'm curious - 

-How many bags did you pack? (some suggest a labor bag, post-delivery bag, hubby bag, and a baby bag...that seems like a lot of bags)
- What did you take that you didn't use? (everything I take will have to be schlepped down and then back up 60 stairs...I don't want to take unnecessary stuff!)
- What did you not pack that you wish you would have?  

And any other random tips you have for me.  

A quick few things...the hospital here does not have a DVD player, or a cafeteria (except for during breakfast & lunch's a military hospital, so it's a galley for the workers).  They do not provide pacifiers or formula (formula will be used only in the event of an urgent need for the baby).  We will have no access to any sort of prepared food (cafeteria, fast food, etc) after 8pm.  I will have my own room (yay - I don't like to share).    

Granted ALL of this changes if I go into labor before 37 weeks.  Because this hospital isn't equipped with a NICU, if I go into labor before 37 weeks they will not even allow me to labor at the hospital...they'll send me out in town to an Italian hospital and it's a completely different world at one of those.  So my fingers, toes, and legs are crossed that we make it to Valentine's Day...that's 37 weeks!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Keep the plates spinning

You know those fancy trick guys who put a plate on top of a stick, spin it, and keep it spinning without falling off?  I've been thinking about those guys a lot the last couple days.  And it reminds me of life.  We all have things to keep spinning.  Sometimes we are the one who starts the plate and other times a stick is handed to us and we just have to keep it going.  

In the last few months I have felt - in more moments than I care to share - that I wasn't going to be able to keep all my plates spinning.  Wife, mother, photographer, ombudsman, friend, teacher, cook, maid, daughter, sister, etc, etc, etc... it was a lot to keep spinning all at once.  The thing is, you never know how close you are to that point until you are to that point.  People would hand me spinning plates and I'd gladly take them.  I'd see others struggling with a plate so I'd offer to take it.  Then I'd think, huh, a pink spinning plate would be I'd start a pink spinning plate.  And then I'd stack plates on top of ones already spinning.  And all the plates are great and need someone to spin them, and I am more than capable, so why not me?  And every once in a while one would wobble a bit and require a little extra TLC to keep it from toppling off it's precarious perch.  And that was fine.  I'd take my eyes off the steady spinners long enough to tame the nervous plate.  But then I had more than one wobble at the same time...and the wobbles became more than wobbles and I didn't have enough eyes or hands to tame the finicky dishes.  I did my best to keep them all from falling, but some did.  And the unfortunate thing is the ones that fell are some of the ones that matter most to me.  I was so concerned about keeping plates spinning that could have been kept going by someone else that a few of my own crashed to pieces.  

Over the last month I have learned a few things: 
I don't need to spin all the plates.  
It's ok to sometimes say no to someone who wants you to spin one.
It's even ok to ask someone else to take one and have a turn spinning it.  

Next year I will spin less plates, and I'll only spin the ones that REALLY matter.
It's my only resolution.  

Sunday, December 01, 2013

"Perks" of living in Italy

There are so many wonderful things about living in Italy - but there are days that I long for the comforts and conveniences of home.  I think the honeymoon phase of our Italian life has definitely passed.  For example.  It is cold.  I've mentioned that before, and YES I grew up in Utah with snow and freezing temps but you know what we also had?  Insulated houses and central heating.  Here all the houses are made of cinder block and have NO insulation.   We can run our radiators or a space heater and it will take the chill off but because the walls/ceiling/floor are cement the heat goes away very quickly.  When we wake up our house is routinely 50 degrees...INSIDE.   I'll turn the radiators on (oh how I wish they could be set on a timer!) for an hour to take the bite out of the air.  But once I take Miles to school I just layer, layer, layer to keep warm.  Thermal undies, leggings, sweatpants, hoodie, socks, and slippers.  I will run a space heater under my desk while I work...and that is heaven!  In the evening we'll run the radiators for another hour, maybe...only if it's super cold.  Why don't we just run the radiators all day you ask?  Well...because it is SPENDY.  Like, super spendy.  We figured out that we use 7 litres of gas for every hour the radiators are on.  Gas is about $1/litre.  So if we have the radiators on for 3 hours a day for the month it would end up costing us about $600/month.  And that only keeps our house warm for THREE hours a day...the rest of the time it would hover between 50-55 degrees.  That is a LOT of money to pay for not a lot of comfort.  Hence the reason for the layering and the snuggies and the massive quantities of hot chocolate/cider/tea ingested. 

Also - the power.  Oh mamma mia.  If it rains, our power goes out.  If we have too many things plugged in, the power goes out.  If it surges (which happens almost every day at least once), the power goes out.  And "too many things" is not many at all.  For example...I cannot run the washer and dryer at the same time as a space heater (or the oven, or the microwave).  So earlier this week when Miles had rotovirus and I had 4+ loads of laundry to do (our washer/dryer are TINY) I had the choice...clean, barf-free clothes/sheets/blankets or warm feet.  I opted for barf free and put on an extra pair of socks.  So we froze all day while I did the four batches of laundry. 

Imagine it is 5:30pm and you are hungry...and you don't want to cook dinner.  In America your options are unlimited....well, limited only by budget.  Here?  Nothing.  Restaurants will all be closed still from riposo and won't re-open for dinner for another hour and a half at least.  There is a McDonald's at the airport...and a Burger King over near IKEA...both are 30+ minutes away and not what I want.   

And everything will get done "domani" (tomorrow).  We have been having problems with our cell phone company since MARCH.  They keep saying "give us a week and we'll fix it".'s been a LOT of weeks and nothing is done.  Customer service is non-existent here in Italy.  You don't like it?  Tough.   Even when I threatened legal intervention I was laughed at!   Our landlords seem to be the exception to "domani".  If something is broken or needs attention they help that day - or at the VERY latest the next.  We are SO grateful to have them!  

Italian food is amazing.  Seriously.  But what I would give for a plate of sushi.  Or a bowl of Thai curry.  Or Chick-fil-A.  Or (gasp!) Olive Garden's salad.  Italians aren't big on other culture's food.  At all.  We found one "Chinese" place that does ok...but it's almost an Italian's interpretation of Chinese food.   And there are a couple sushi places downtown Naples...but I hear mixed reviews.   I can make things of course  - provided I can find the ingredients.  Cilantro, avocados, and yellow squash are hit or miss at the base grocery store.  And things like Lemongrass and masago and spaghetti squash are impossible to find.   I've found raspberries here twice.  

Speaking of food.  A lot has recently come out in the media about thousands of tons of toxic (in some cases nuclear) waste being buried all around where we the towns where our produce is grown.  It is frightening.  It's obviously not good for us...but then if we were in the states we'd be dealing with GMO's...not sure which is worse. 

I know this seems like a whiny post - and it is.  I love living in Italy 90% of the time.  But I've had a rough week here and I need to vent.  And I also want to have this down so when I'm back in the US someday feeling nostalgic for Italy that I can remember that it wasn't all smiles and butterflies.  Not that living in the US is all smiles and butterflies either...