giovedì 29 marzo 2012

Navy Medicine

My mother just cringed at the title and thought “please don’t use profanity, my friends read this!” But she will be pleasantly surprised, that I have had some pleasant experiences with Navy Medicine in Naples.
My first doctor’s appointment for the baby was her four month check up and shots.  I actually had to wait for over an hour but for some reason it didn’t bother me.  It might be that I am just accustomed to waiting now and if I am seen within an hour of the appointment, I feel like it was on time! When I finally got to see the doctor, he explained why I had to wait, which always makes me less angry if you explain the problem (and don’t pass the blame!).  He was a large man who was very tough looking.  If you saw him around town, you would not guess his career was a pediatrician.  He asked all the appropriate questions and told me my baby was right on track based on the developmental guidelines.  He even melted when he saw her leg rolls!!  He spoke to me like I was intelligent but didn’t try to intimidate me by showing how intelligent he was.  He answered any questions I had and sent me to the immunization office.  The doctors here don’t give the shots.  He was awesome.
Four Month Old Birthday Shot

So then I had my life insurance physical with my doctor.  He was also very nice and welcoming.  He helped complete a form and didn’t make me do a bunch of ridiculous running around to get everything completed.  He had an awesome nurse who was very friendly and helpful.  The doctor told me he couldn’t wait to see the baby for her 6 month (it was family practice) and I explained that she was in the peds clinic.  He immediately said, here is the form you fill out to switch her to my service. Wow! Two great doctors who wanted to take care of my baby.  I was so confused about what to do.
Four Months Old and Loves her toes

My gut said I should stay with peds for the baby but I thought that if I didn’t switch, every time I saw my doctor I would feel guilty and hurt his feelings (I still had lots of emotional side effects from the nursing going on!).  I thought that if I felt guilty I would not go see my doctor and eventually we want to have another child so I will have to go to the doctor.  So I switched.  I immediately felt like I made the wrong decision for my baby.  When I grew up I went to a pediatrician.  My cousin is a pediatrician.  Why did I choose to go with the less specialized practice and the less familiar situation?  I even thought if I saw the pediatrician I would feel like I needed to apologize to him and explain that maybe I was bullied a little (apparently I have some issues with being bullied!)

St. Patrick's Day (5 Months)

Yesterday I went to the doctor for the baby’s 6 month appointment.  I realized that everything I thought was ridiculous.  The doctors don’t actually remember me and asking to see my baby.  The other doctor won’t remember that I was his patient and I am no longer.  They see too many people and have constant change with everyone moving every several years.  Yesterday’s appointment went well but it was a pretty standard appointment.  He didn’t ask as many questions about the baby and didn’t really answer my questions about how to get my baby to eat solid foods.  I am not positive I made the right decision but I am going to stick with him for a few more appointments.  I realized after talking with several other mothers or mothers to be that if I really don’t like it, I can switch back.  For some reason, I don’t feel like I get to make choices like that with Navy medicine, it might have something to do with switching prenatal care at 5 months and then being told they didn’t have any appointments to see me!  Plus, I can always ask my dad or my cousin!
6 Month Birthday Photo Shoot

mercoledì 28 marzo 2012

Another First

There are going to be some many firsts in the next three years, both with a new baby and with a foreign country.  Last week I had my first gas pumping experience.  I am sure this sounds silly as a 32 year old who has been getting gas in my car for half my life!  Every gas station (or at least 99.9%) is full service.  I have become a big fan of full service gas stations.  It provides jobs for people and it is nice to not have to get out of the car (especially with the little baby). 
There are several parts of the gas experience that are different and require a little planning. Gas is very expensive. We are lucky enough to get NATO gas coupons which means we get to pay about half price for gas.  Because we are planning in coupons, you must tell them the exact amount of liters prior to pumping.  For example, you don’t want to say fill it up and get 46 liters because you then have to pay cash for 1 liter or lose 4 liters using the coupons.  This means you must know how many liters you want before you pull up.  Sounds simple, but you must figure out how many liters are in a gallon, how many gallons in your tank etc. After several attempts, we have figured out that we have approximately 65 liters in our tank.  I watched once to see how much it would cost in euros to fill our tank.  It was 125 euros.  That means it is $162 to fill our gas tank! Luckily, we pay 50-75% less with our coupons, depending on the euro to dollar conversion rate.
Back to my first solo gas adventure!  I pulled into the local AGIP (gas stations that accept the coupons) and successfully asked for 40 liters (in Italian!!).  Of course, the attendant spoke to me in English but at least I tried!  I got my 40 liters and gave the attendant a tip.  And then he told me he could change the coupons.  I was very confused because I got 40 liters and gave him 40 liters worth of coupons, I didn’t need change.  After asking him what he was talking about, he said “you give me coupons, I give you cash.”  He wanted to buy my coupons, which is not allowed.  Obviously, someone is selling the coupons because they would not be asking if they weren’t successful. 
So even though I felt like I was sixteen again (Parsons, get ready!!) I am proud to have successfully filled my own gas tank!!

martedì 27 marzo 2012

Pozzouli Fish Market

There are so many different markets in the surrounding areas.  While Jay was visiting, we went to the Pozzouli Fish Market.  This market is mainly fish and produce with some random vendors selling cleaning products.  This was my first experience at an open market in a foreign country. As we were wondering looking at all the products, I had no intentions of buying anything.  And we were with Jay so Matt and I figured we would be wandering slowly waiting for him to stop at every booth and say “Oh my God, this is the best looking ____ I have ever seen!”  At one point, I ended up a booth ahead of Jay and Matt (they were looking at meat and cheese).  I was looking at strawberries that were red and delicious!  The vendor said something in Italian which I think was pretty much here take this.  I asked how much the strawberries cost but I didn’t know my numbers enough to understand the answer.  I didn’t want to buy the strawberries but before I knew what was happening the strawberries were in my hand in a bag and my husband gave me money to pay.  I thought she said the strawberries were 1 euro but apparently they were 1.50 and there were only 5 strawberries.  Yup.  I paid pretty much 75 cents per strawberries.  I got bullied by an old Italian lady.  But they were really very delicious!
After the produce side, we went to the fish side.  I held my breath the entire time!  There were eels swimming in buckets.  There were snails crawling out of the buckets and all over the counters. 

There were fish heads looking at me.  There were big shrimp with beady eyes.  Matt and Jay ended up getting shrimp and bivalves.  I am not quite sure what type of bivalve they bought but while we were at the market, they both ate one raw!! 

We took all of our goodies (even the strawberries I was bullied into buying) back to our house and had a delicious lunch.
notice the smallest and most expensive strawberries!

lunedì 26 marzo 2012

Trash to Think About

Have you ever thought about garbage?  I never really thought about it until living in Italy. 

Taking out the trash is just part of life and usually simple.

When I was growing up, we used brown grocery bags as our garbage cans.  When they were full, we took them outside and put them in big trash cans.  The garbage men came to the back of the house and emptied the trashcans once a week.  Easy, simple. 
When I went to college, we took our garbage out whenever it was full. Sometimes we played trashcan Jenga (balance as much on top before it fell out or someone got annoyed with it and took it out-this was usually my roommate!!)  All we had to do was walk outside of our suite and there were big trash cans.  The cans were emptied every day.  Easy, simple.
When I lived in my first apartment, the garbage situation got a little more complex.  I had to take the garbage bags all the way to the dumpster across the parking lot.  When I lived on the third floor, it was three flights of stairs and across the parking lot.  Still easy.
I lived in a townhouse in Raleigh for a year.  This situation was slightly more complex.  We had a big trashcan in the backyard that we filled and each week we put out for the garbage men.  But, we could only put the can out after 6 PM on the day before the garbage men came and we had to put it back by 5 PM the day the trash collectors came.  And we had to roll the can from the back of the house to the sidewalk but since we were a middle house, there was some off-roading required.  Even with the rules associated with the garbage, it was still easy.
California had the same rules.  The cans could not sit out the day before or the day after the garbage.  Simple, easy because we didn’t have to roll them around the house, just right outside of the garage!!
Now, we are in Italy.  The situation is a bit more ridiculous.  The garbage cans are on the side of the street.  Just random sides of the street.  Everyone brings their trash and dumps into the public trashcans.  I think there are regions that are supposed to use particular trashcans but of course this was not communicated to us and we just use the ones closest to us.  (this picture is actually much nicer than what we actually have!)

The other interest part of trash in Italy (luckily I have nothing to write about garbage strikes, at least not yet) is the time restrictions.  You are only allowed to dump your trash between 8 PM and 8 AM.  The realtor, housing office, and landlord of course do not share this fact with us. Our neighbor mentioned this rule to us the day we moved in and the rule follower means I forced Matt to follow this ridiculous time constraint.  And it’s a good thing we do!  Our neighbor (Italian) got a 50 euro ticket for dumping at the wrong time and our other neighbor (American) got a warning ticket. 
So trash is no longer easy and simple.  It requires driving several blocks away.  It requires planning a trip in the evening or before work.  And when Matt goes on business trips, I am not sure what we will do since the baby goes to sleep at 8 PM and sleeps until 9:30 AM.  All this when we have more garbage because of diapers!!

domenica 25 marzo 2012

Naples Resale

Because we are no longer in America and some things are harder to find, there is a Facebook page that acts like a Craig’s List.  You can post anything you want to sell or buy on the page and people will respond in seconds.  This is where we found our second car, Limone.  Somehow I was lucky enough to check right when the picture was posted, say I was interested in a comment, and actually have the person respect that I was first!  We arrange a meeting through PMs (personal messages that come to the “other” mailbox). 

Through this site, we bought a car, a free exercauser, and a spare crib mattress (no this does not mean we are expecting another baby but that crib mattresses make great rollaway beds for little people and we are hoping some little people come and visit us).  I know you are saying “wow, what great finds!” but I have decided that it is a brain sucker.  Any free moment you get,   the need to check the page distracts you from things of actual importance.  You must look to see what there is but 99.9% of the time you missed it.  For example, I am in need of baby clothes for a little girl from say 9-18 month.  Lots of cute baby clothes for $1 but they are ALWAYS gone as soon as they are posted.  The things that are still around when I get a chance to look (why I waste my precious computer time!) are the Harley Davidson clothing and half used candles.  Or the used baby toy that is being sold for $40 that was $35 brand new!! I mean, people literally put EVERYTHING on this site.  Today someone was selling food. Seriously?!
We have a giant box of stuff that was never sold in California or donated to Goodwill and I was going to donate it to the Thrift Shop on base (where I bought a bathtub for the baby for $1-sterilized 14 times at least) but maybe people will want to spend $5 on the used shot chess board.  One man’s trash is another’s treasure, right??  Too bad I don’t have the time to take pictures of everything, post them, coordinate meetings 40 minutes away through PMs, to sell all this stuff.

giovedì 22 marzo 2012

The Baby’s First Heartbreak

My daughter is in love.  And the feeling is not mutual.  I am sure this will happen many times throughout our lives but this is the first.  She stares longingly at her crush.  She talks to her and calls her.  She reaches out and tries to touch her at every opportunity.  At any moment, my daughter knows where in the room to find her crush (usually near the person eating!).  You guessed it! 
 The baby LOVES the dog.  The dog wants nothing to do with the baby, except when she is eating.  And then she really doesn’t want to be near the baby, just lick her bowls.  I think the main reason the baby wants to learn to crawl will be to get closer to the dog.  The dog is so wonderfully patient with the baby.  Most of the time she will even lay next to the baby even though the baby pulls on her ears (who can resist those ears) and the dog doesn’t react.  She pinches her leg and the dog carefully and slowly gets up to move. 

The dog does not love the attention from the baby but wants to make sure the baby is protected.  When the baby is getting attention that the dog determines unnecessary, she blocks the baby and takes all the attention herself. 

Every once in a while, the dog will give the baby a little loving!

I look forward to watching this relationship develop.

lunedì 19 marzo 2012


I have become a mother that I did not think I would become.  I thought I would be good at motherhood, a natural if you will.  I thought I would be the kind of mom who would be comfortable leaving her baby with a babysitter and going on a date, or to run errands.  I thought I would be the type of mom who had lots of little baby play groups where the immobile babies stare at each other and the mothers and we chat over coffee.   Coffee.  How I miss coffee.  I thought I would be super mom, breastfeeding until the baby is 2 (don’t judge, it was recommended by my pediatrician), make baby food, and have the world’s cutest baby all while losing the baby weight and keeping up with my hobbies.  I would be the mom who got so much accomplished during naptime it was unreal.  I would be the mom that would go to sleep and leave the baby duties to the world’s most wonderful husband/dad.  I did not think I would be the controlling mom who had to do everything herself.

A typical day at home with the baby lately has been far from these things.  We get up around 3 to eat, then again around 5 or 6, and then for the day between 8 and 9.  I think that is pretty awesome that I can get my baby to sleep until 9 (or 10) most days.  Score one for me!  But no longer sleeping through the night part is not so cool.  We get up around 9 and I get the baby dressed and put on my workout clothes.  Delusional on some days but others just wearing the clothes already is the reason why I do it.  Saving  ten minutes during a 20 minute nap by already being dressed properly is crucial.  I eat breakfast like a good dieter and the baby and I talk while I eat.  Recently she has started rolling all over the carpet while we chat.  After breakfast, she usually tries to chat with the dog who typically ignores her.  Around 10 or 11 depending on when she got up, she is ready for her morning nap.  Even though the naps do not last long in the crib, I try to do it every single naptime.  I know I will not get a big break but eventually she will sleep longer and longer, right?  So we rock and read stories and sing.  I think her favorite song is “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”  After she is asleep, I must make the game time decision-workout, clean, shower, blog, read, knit, stare into space.  Usually in the AM, I try to do housecleaning or workout. Today I choose to blog because I felt like I needed to reflect.  After her nap, which can be 20 minutes to an hour, we get up and play some more.  The toy of interest right now is the ring toy that we all had as kids.  Our child really does not have many toys.  She has two balls, a dragonfly toy with things to play with, the ring toy, a play mat, some teethers, and a musical cube.  She has a swing and exercauser and eventually a jumper.  When she can crawl she has a crawling ball toy.  That is about all she has.  Lately during our play time she is fussy and I think she might be tried of her toys.  I try to rotate them so she thinks she is getting new toys all the time but when you only have ten toys and you have a smart baby, this trick does not work long.  I usually eat lunch around noon and she watches.  She really watches the dog who is watching me.  After lunch, she will play in her exercauser while I put away dishes and fold laundry.  You can only run the dishwasher and dryer at night so this is a pretty standard daily chore.  I am pretty good at keeping on top of this one too!!  After laundry, we play a little more.  Sometimes we sing the wheels on the bus or we do baby curls.  Next, around 1-2 (depending on first nap and wake up time), she is ready for the second nap.  I am usually hopeful this one will be 1-2 hours.  I am usually wrong.  She will nap for two hours if you hold her and some days when she is fussy or in pain from her teeth, I will do this.  During this nap, I try to do the workout that I never got to the first nap and maybe shower.  Sometimes I even have time to sit down and watch the Today Show (it is on live here).  Whenever I can sit, I work on my TWO projects that both need to be complete in the next two weeks and both are delayed because JoAnn’s fabric takes 45+ days to ship to an FPO.   They do not seem to think this is ridiculous at all when I contacted customer service after the first 30 days.  After the second nap, we play some more.  Sometimes, playtime is the baby on the floor with her toys and music with me watching but working.  Sometimes playtime is me playing with the baby doing all sorts of silly things.  Although I am in need of new songs, I have used the ones I know all the words for WAY too much.  We will start prepping dinner during this part of the day.  She usually likes to be in her swing.  I will make her baby food (so far butternut squash and peas, neither impressed her), and talk to her about what I am doing.  She usually talks back and holds her spatula.  By the end of her baby food preparation, she is usually making her grunting which means not that she needs a new diaper but that she is ready for her third nap and that dad is probably on his way home from work.  During this nap, I try to shower because usually I haven’t showered or tidy the house so it doesn’t look like I played all day!  This nap is never long enough for both so usually the shower waits until Matt is home.  After the third nap, we play with daddy for a little bit and finished cooking dinner.  The three of us (four because Lucy sits under the table) sit down to the dinner table.  She spits out her homemade baby food flavor of the day and we enjoy a nice dinner and conversation.  This is usually around 7 because Matt’s job keeps him late.  So after dinner, she stays in her high chair and helps us clean up the kitchen.  My husband does all the dishes while I put away the dinner and pack his lunch and breakfast.  Lately, when we finish cleaning up the kitchen, it is time for Matt to complete his work (taxes, currently) and me to put the baby to bed.  She gets her bath (table to tub!!) every two or three days.  Here the water is so harsh that we usually go longer between baths.  She has started to splash and play a tiny bit during the bath.  We rock and sing and read as she gets sleepy.  Most of the time, we start around 8 and she is asleep by 9.  Does she stay asleep, your guess is as good as mine!!  I think that once the taxes are done and we are completely unpacked/organized in the office, we will be able to sit down together and watch television when she goes to sleep. Unfortunately, all the shows start at 7.  What are we, Arizona??
So that is a typically day. 

Leaving the baby with other people is hard because she will not take a bottle. I know that she will eventually take it before starving but I feel bad for whom ever is kind enough to watch my baby that she potentially screams for several hours because most of the time she is pleasant and lovely to watch. Matt was so kind to be on baby duty the other night so I could get some sleep and she was not as cooperative.  She woke up and would not take the bottle.  Expressed milk is like gold to us because we don’t have lots of stored milk.  I have had a tremendously hard time pumping because of the moving at first, then the manual pump. The problem is improving because I recently got a mechanical pump and now I am able to get more than 1 ounce for 40 minutes of pumping.  I guess now we need to practice taking the bottle.  I am not sure where to leave the baby because the local day care doesn’t have room for babies and will only take them full time.  I have great neighbors who will watch her but I feel like to use their kindness I need to have a real reason to leave her not just to get my hair cut.  As for socializing the baby, I am trying to meet people with babies and I am joining a mother’s workout group.  I am not sure if the people will have them same parenting philosophies I have or the time/desire to have playgroups.

So I am a natural at this motherhood stuff.  My baby and I have a system that works and we love it.  And based on my situation, it is understandable that the baby has no friends and is used to having me do everything.  But, I would like to be able to ask for and accept the help that is offered.  I would like to be able to have a baby who naps for multiple hours in her crib.  And I would like to have some new songs to sing to my baby.  And I would like to have a baby who likes to eat baby food.  But as my husband says, life does not suck.  I have a wonderful, healthy, smart, and beautiful baby.  I am pretty blessed. 

martedì 13 marzo 2012

Crank Phone Calls

Part of the internet is a required landline.  There is no way around it.  I of course have a telephone that can plug into the wall…I know, crazy thought that I have a phone that isn’t mobile and actually has a CORD! Can you believe it?  I hooked up the phone because when you have a phone and a working phone line, it makes sense.  Of course I don’t know my phone number and we didn’t give it to anyone.  So imagine my surprise this morning while folding laundry: the phone started ringing.  If you know me,  I don’t really rush to answer my phone, especially if it is across the room and I am in the middle of folding all the sweet baby clothes.  So I ignored it and continued what I was doing.  But it just kept ringing.  Finally, I was finished folding the clothes and it was still ringing so I decided to answer it.  I deliberately did not answer “Ciao” or “punto” like the Italians answer the phone (punto-ready, go ahead and talk).  I was pretty sure the person calling was Italian and I didn't want them to get the wrong impression.  The woman on the other end said something.  Who knows what she actually said.  It sort of sounded like “Lizzie.”  I told her I don’t speak Italian so of course she continues to repeat the word in Italian.  Then she hangs up on me.  Immediately, she starts calling back.  I mean she obviously knows I don’t understand her and I am not who she is looking for.  She just hung up on me!  Naturally, I must answer the phone and see if she suddenly learned English or if I would magically understand Italian.  This time it sounded like she was saying “Regina.”  She again repeated herself for several attempts.  If I don’t understand you the first time, repeating the same word over and over without any new phrases or hand motions, I most likely won’t understand you the second time!  I did understand when she called me “stupid American” and hung up on me again.  Who is the stupid one?  You called the wrong number twice!

lunedì 5 marzo 2012

Landlords: Italian Style

When you tell people you are moving overseas, everyone has a story to share.  A LOT of stories were about people being adopted by the Italian landlord and becoming part of the family.  This was a lot of people’s favorite part of living overseas and embracing a new culture. When we were looking at different places to live this was always in the back of my mind.  Did the family seem nice and inviting?  So naturally, I feel in love with a place that didn’t have the typical type of landlord.  We have an older gentleman that seems a bit intense.  Not the come to my house for dinner type of guy, although he melts when it comes to the baby.  I was afraid that by choosing this house, we were going to miss out on a real opportunity to “live” in Italy.  I don’t want to miss anything with this experience! But the house was perfect in all other areas,  I mean, who could resist the pizza oven? 
So, my fears were calmed during moving day!  We have very friendly neighbors.  Two families are military and one neighbor is Italian.  The Italian lady, who lives next door is named Rita and is very inviting.  She does not speak English which makes things even more interesting!!  During the move-in, she invited me and the baby into her house so that we would be warm.  And she made Matt and me big bowls of spaghetti for dinner.  Since we got here, she has done lots of little things to help such as try to fix our hot water heater, buy the baby warm hats and clothes because she doesn’t think we keep her warm enough, ordered the gas for the house, and watched our house!  I am pretty sure she knows everything that goes on in our little neighborhood!  SO even though we don’t have the landlord who wants to adopt us, we have a neighbor who does!