Post 1 from Italy — 22 days and counting

It is currently day 22 here in Italy. Wow, has it really been that long? =)

This is going to be REALLY HARD, but I know I owe people (Dev :D and my Sisters, I believe) a blog post, so here I go, I”ll try and do this constructively… lol.

THE WEATHER:
It’s only beginning to warm up here. The day we arrived it was 46 degrees out. We’ve been wearing our winter coats. EXCEPT for yesterday. It suddenly warmed up and we went for a walk, went to the beach, got our feet wet in the Adriatic, we were all wearing short sleeves except for Mum and the kids were all wearing shorts :D

THE CARS/ON-ROAD EXPERIENCE:
To put it quite simply — CARS. ARE. SMALL. here. We have a Fiat Ulysse, but Daddy calls it the microvan. To give you a decent picture of this, I think it would help if I described the luggage issues we had. Might’ve mentioned it to some of you — Daddy wanted to limit us to TWO SUITCASES. for ALL seven of us. Well, we pushed that, and probably very much against Daddy’s better judgment, here’s what really happened:

Two huge suitcases were in the back, upright, and slap against Migi and Yena’s seats. I’d estimate them to be about 8″ x < 2′ x < 3′. Those in the back, probably < 6″ between them. In between Migi and Yena’s seat is Mommy’s laptop bag, it’s slim enough to fit there, and my laptop bag is even slimmer, and that fits halfway in between the two suitcases in the back and halfway between the kids seats. Mommy’s laptop bag is in front of it. Red suitcase which is about 8″ x 1.5′ x 2′ is in Migi’s supposed leg-room area. Yellow karate bag, about 15″ x 15″ x > 3′ on top of Mommy’s and my laptop bags, and intruding on Migi’s and Yena’s seating room. (Yena has a carseat, btw) The blue bag that was roughly 15″ x 15″ x 3′ went on top of the yellow bag and was in danger of sliding onto either Migi or Yena’s laps. Except that Migi and Yena both had a backpack each on their laps. Paco and Nino and Mommy had the middle row. Paco had his backpack on his lap, and Daddy’s laptop backpack in his supposed leg-room area. Nino’s carseat is in the middle. I was in front with Daddy, and Mommy’s backpack was in between mine and Daddy’s seats, Yena’s backpack on my lap. Everyone’s coats were stacked either in the leg-area in front of Nino’s seat which he thankfully does not need, and on top of Mommy’s backpack in between mine and Daddy’s seats. Uhm… there was one more backpack and I can’t remember where Daddy stuffed it. All that being said, we were packed as neatly and tightly as sardines in a can. Oh and my violin case also on my lap. =) So the kids in the back have no leg room, Paco and I don’t have leg room, Nino wouldn’t have leg room if he needed it xD with all the luggage in there. Everythings slap up against everything else; the middle row is such that the back of Nino’s carseat is slap against the shoulders of the front seats. Which holds his carseat quite securely, yes, but I’m trying to give a visual of how close it is.

(Oh and please note that clothes were not the issue here. It was the *books*. I’m sure any homeschoolers know how it is without me elaborating =)

So there’s our microvan =) and of course being a bigger family, we have one of the ‘bigger’ cars. HAH. Anyway… cars being smaller, *lanes* are smaller. Highways feel like roller coasters, no kidding, especially with what Daddy’s [legally] going :D That plus crazy drivers, AND there are NO rules for cyclists, they just weave in and out of everyone else. But then cars weave in and out of other cars to begin with, so what the heck? lol. I’m getting used to it. This might have meaning for some of you — Mom and Dad were talking and comparing driving in Italy to driving in Manila. Does that give some concept of the insanity? Haha. But they say Manila’s still worse.

TUNNELS! are super awesome. They go on forever and they curve so you can’t see the end for ages and the lighting’s not incredible. :D love it. Mother said they were creepy. I though they were super super cool.

THE FOOD:
AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHH I am SO spoiled here, guys! Fresh mozzarella is beyond ridiculously cheap. As in I can have it in my *breakfast* sandwich. *sigh* Wayyyy too spoiled. Nutella is their peanut butter here. That’s ridiculously cheap, too. And ARTICHOKES!!!!! I know I’ve gone for years of my life without artichokes. But here… oh man. I’m already going crazy… I don’t know how I’ll be able to come back to the US and not be completely exasperated about the food… no, Jungle Jim’s Italian section will never be enough again, ever, ever again… imagine the longest Jungle Jim’s aisle you know completely dedicated to cheese. *BOTH* sides. And one side dedicated completely to pasta. Oh and I’m completely disregarding my food allergies. I’ve had more dairy and eggs these past few weeks than I’ve had in years… but I’m still not drinking milk, which I’ve completely forgotten the taste of.

THE STYLE:
I never thought tight pants were flattering on guys. Since I only see it on the guys I’d guess to be teens/twenties, and kids here have school 6 days a week and so Sundays are really the only day you see anyone out, I suppose it’s tolerable, but when it gets to that *plus* fur-trimmed hoods, it *is* more than slightly disconcerting. I’m also not thrilled by the neon orange and light purple and hot pink scarves; yes, they *do* wear them, I’m not talking what I’ve seen on mannequins.

For the record — Tall/dark/handsome + earrings. Not bad. I have only two friends [in PA] that I think can pull it off; Sean and Andy. So usually no. But I think that most of the guys here could pull it off. And a lot of them do.

Ladies… haven’t seen any girls with cargo pants xD Hahaha. And they don’t seem to like flares, haven’t seen much of those. Hmm… I don’t really like straight pants + sneakers. But [Unc!! hehe contrary to what you said of it being totally old news] I *am* liking the straight pants and tall boots and tunics/short dresses [and scarves].

Oh, goodness!! the shoes! Uhm… shiny sneakers? like ALL shiny? Hmm… I think they’re more artistic about their shoes than they are with their jewelry. Seriously. It’s interesting for one’s eye to be caught by what’s on the *ground*. Haha.

THE APARTMENT:
Our apartment is huge. I’ll try and describe this… Visualize a central hall. One end of the hall opens up into the dining room/living room. The sala’s not as long as ours at home, for those of you that have been there, but it’s wider. Standing with your back to the sala, you look down the hallway. Immediately on your left is the foyer area. Beyond that is the linen closet, then the laundry area, then the bathroom. At the far end of the hall is the door to the boys’ room. Starting back again at your end of the hallway, on your right is the kitchen. Beyond that is the master bedroom, then the girls’ room.

The balcony turns two corners and circles half the apartment. There are doors onto the balcony from all three bedrooms, the kitchen, and the dining. It’s a 12′? 14′? ceiling.

Oooo. And there’s four couches, and two of them are sofa beds :D (meaning I expect Kim Kim and Mariel and Gloria to come visit…)

Everything, like the cars, are small. The kitchen counters don’t even come up to my waist. The kitchen feels like toyland, lol =) and I am learning to live without a microwave and toaster. I miss the toaster, but I agree with Mum — I think when we get back would be a very good time to get rid of our microwave. Our beds (us four kids) are, compared to a twin-size there, are a foot shorter and a foot thinner.

I love the grates!!! as opposed to blinds. That’s something I really wish I could have back home.

Oh and I really must include — across the street are, like… giant hobbit holes. Seriously. Well. Hobbit houses. But lol.

~~~ Random Stuff ~~~

– So we went to the mall for dinner our first night and we saw something that made me laugh and think of the YFC Sisters, just ’cause I could imagine us gathered around and laughing… so maybe I’ve been living with my eyes wide shut, but have any of you ever seen a crane game as big as a small room? It sat in the middle of the mall, I’d estimate a box about 7 – 8′ square. Wouldn’t it be cool to be *inside*?? rotfl.

– Oh and the elevator in the hotel we stayed at for the first week… so funny. We all crowded in, and we’re literally squeeeeeezed together and not able to move, and Mum wondered aloud what the number-of-persons limit was supposed to be. Dad looked around and found the sign and it said… 6. Oops :D It was just funny that we exceeded the limit every time we got in…. =)

– Nino is growing so fast!!! He likes to have conversations with us, sometimes for as long as 10, 15 minutes, as in he initiates conversation and responds continuously. Oh, lol, in our first week here, it was so funny — he bored himself to sleep. As in he was just staring out the window and we just looked at him and he was asleep. Hilarious. He smiles a lot and laughs a lot :D :D :D

– Last week, the sea was really choppy and the wind was crazy, sand was blowing onto the roads, all the stores and restaurants along the coast were closed. We went to a particular gelateria across the street from the coast (wooo Pinoys :D gave us nice big scoops, yay), and the gelateria is on the bottom floor of a building at least five stories high. The wind was blowing so hard that it was ricocheting off the building and blowing us towards the sea. When we came out, we could barely breathe, even Uncle Eric, who’d spent the day with us, had to catch his breath.

– They threw me a surprise party =) 14 people came over on my birthday and they brought 7.5 L of wine. Hahaha. Yeah, I had to share that part.

– So basically, life is good. We’re having our usual daily ups and downs, but I’m already feeling that we’re getting back some of what we had in PA… and that was Daddy’s contribution in the family journal last week, that we were spending more time with each other and that we were already closer for just having each other again. =) Honestly, I miss people, but I don’t miss the place. It’s gonna be hard going back to Cinci after living here… with the mountains behind and the sea across the street… being completely spoiled with food xD … well. Take it as it comes and just enjoy, right?

Miss you all!! I’ll try to post more pics soon…

Peace,
ais

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