About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tough Day for Brandon

Today is a tough day for Brandon. We've known this day was coming for quite awhile, although the exact day wasn't known until a few weeks ago.
Today is the day that Brandon's best friend, Chase, is moving to Austin. They leave later this afternoon when school gets out.
Photo, from L to R: Keller, Chase, Spencer and Brandon

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Italy Update

I spent the morning driving to Portland for an appointment with the Italian Consulate. This was my third visit to the consulate. I arrived about 20 min early, so I spent my time reading the Italian newspapers in the office. I'm amazed at how much I can read and understand. I'm also amazed at how much I still don't have a clue about.

The appointment went well. Mr Bartoloni read over the documents. We had two copies of one document. One in English and one translated into Italian. After checking the translation, he put his official stamp on the documents and I was on my way home, stopping to drop off the documents to Katrina at HP Corvallis. She was waiting, Fed Ex envelope in hand. Now the documents get mailed to our relocationt representative in Milan. She will hopefully have an appointment with Italian immigration next week and the work permits will be processed....fingers crossed!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Going Away Party

Last night we attended a Going Away Party for our friends and neighbors, the Beaumariages. Terry works for IT at HP and found out last summer that IT was being consolidated and moved out of Corvallis. They were basically given three options: 1) Move to Georgia, 2) Move to Austin TX, or 3) Look for a new job here in Corvallis. They were given 18 months. They chose moving to Austin TX and put their house up for sale in the fall. They finally sold it on December 26th and will be leaving for Austin this coming Thursday January 29th.

The Beaumariages have lived in the neighborhood since before we moved here. We didn't really get to know them until Brandon started kindergarten. Their middle (of three) is the same age and was in Brandon's class. They have been in the same class now for 3 years and are best friends. Julia is active with the school Scrip program and the APT.

The Beaumariages are also very active with the Scouts. Terry is the scout master, Julia the Committee Chair.

They will be missed and we will have big shoes to fill in the various activities they were involved in. We hope they get settled and enjoy their new home and city, but we will miss them. I know Brandon will be sad when moving day arrives later this week.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Katrina came up with the idea that we should go to Disneyland before we move away for two years.

Last night she booked our 3 day 4 night trip. We fly to Anaheim on Mon afternoon of 2/9. We then have Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to play in the parks. Friday morning we fly home. Katrina will drop Brandon and I off at the Portland Expo Center. We have a model train show all weekend and setup begins Friday afternoon. My good friend Andy will drive my truck and trailer up to Portland and meet us at the show.

Disneyland and Mickey, here we come!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tough Day

Ever have one of those days when you wish you could just go back to bed and wake up tomorrow? That was my day.

Brandon and I both woke up grumpy. The difference is, he went to school and came home fairly happy. I stayed stuck in the grumpy rut all day long.

It didn't help that the internet went down around 9am, just in time for my Italian lesson. It also didn't help that cable was out, therefore no internet or TV.

I drove over to our storage space to get some measurements of a new display table for my train layout. When I arrived there I realized I didn't have the trailer keys in the truck. They are always in the truck, but not this time.

None of this is that big of a deal, but the fact is, I just woke up in a funk and was stuck there all day long. Even now as I write this I feel uptight and grumpy. Katrina is trying to book a last minute 3 day trip to Disneyland for the second week of February (just two weeks from now) and I don't have much enthusiasm for it at the moment.

Hopefully I get a good night of sleep and wakeup in a better mood tomorrow.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Scout Lock In

Brandon and I attended the annual Scout Lock In held at the Linn County Fairgrounds in Albany. This was Brandon's second lock in, my first. Last year I was away at a model train show in Seattle, so Katrina had the honor of escorting Brandon.

We arrived at 7pm ready for an evening of the usual scout activities. Since this was a lock in, we brought our sleeping gear - air mattress, sleeping bags and pillows - all of which were stored in large refridgerator boxes during the activity portion of the evening.

This years theme was The Wild West. There were cowboys strolling the aisles, a jail, the Order of the Arrow teepee, two bounce houses, gold panning, bean bag toss games, button making, bucking barrel rides, crafts, and the usual assortment of scout activities - bb guns, archery, leather craft, knot tying, fly fishing, and other shooting games. Brandon had a blast and even tried a few new things, like riding the barrel. They also served hot dogs, chips and soda for dinner.

At 10:45 the activities closed down and everyone gathered near the stage for some musical entertainment while all the booths were taken down and packed up.

At 11:45 the partitians were opened again revealing one big empty expo hall. Everyone grabbed their bedding and found a spot in the hall. The hall was full of air mattresses, a highly prized item for an expo hall with cold concrete floors.

At midnight the movies began. They played movies all night until 6:30 when it was time to pack up and be gone by 7am. Brandon made it through most of the first movie, Brother Bear, before falling asleep. I watched all of Brother Bear and about half of the second movie, Toy Story 2 before I finally fell asleep. I woke up again as TS2 was ending and ended up watching the first half of The Apple Dumpling Gang before falling asleep again. I woke up as the final movie was starting, The Country Bears. I ended up watching the whole thing, and its not that great.

The lights came on at 6:30. Donuts, fruit and juice were being served but Brandon and I opted to just head home and go back to bed. I slept for another 2 hours. Brandon is still sleeping as I write this, 3 1/2 hours later.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Italian and Italy

I just finished lesson #9 of my online Italian classes. Whew, its a lot of work to learn a new language. I'm 'getting it' more and more each day. First I learned basic words...nouns...fairly easy to remember. Then we added the masculine/feminine into basic sentence structure. Challenging, but still ok. Then we added formal/informal to our sentence structure. Now its getting more and more challenging to remember all the variations. Its very challenging but I'm also finding it a lot of fun. It helps that I can go at my own pace and know that I am not being graded on it.

On the Italy front, new paperwork from HP and the vendor in Italy has been submitted to Olga, our immigration representative. We may get a 'work permit' answer this week or next week. I really feel like I need a final decision to be made, good or bad. If its good, then we can count on being in Italy by March 1st or so. If its bad news, then there will be a period of 'mourning' and frustration followed by 'getting on with our lives' in Corvallis.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Since we arrived home from Colorado, the only times I have really thought about Italy have been the when others ask about it. I've been busy with other things and trying to live life as normal as possible, just trying not to be annoyed or impatient with the process.

Yesterday, as Brandon and I were getting ready for school, Brandon said "I am sad because I just don't feel like we are going to Italy." Since then I have had Italy on my mind. I agree with him. I am beginning to feel as though we might not be moving to Italy afterall. What will we do if we don't go? Where will I find work?

I am just so ready to move on and was looking forward to a bit of a life change. I just wish the Italian government officials would decided - issue the work permit or reject the work permit. At least that way, even if it is a rejection, we can go on with our lives.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

BWCA Memories

I was looking at some photos on Facebook of summers long ago in Minnesota. For seven summers I worked at a youth camp in Orr, MN. Almost all of those summers were spent working in the canoeing department.

When I was in camp I taught canoeing classes. My favorite part of camp was not being at camp at all. It was taking 3-4 day canoes trips into the Boundary Waters Canoe Areas of northern MN. A great week would consist of an evening of packing for a trip, 3-4 days of canoe camping, returning in the afternoon of the 4th day and showering, doing laundry and packing up to leave again the next morning. It didn't get much better than that.

Well, when you live canoe camping that much, its bound to have some affects on you. One of my funniest, and most embarrassing, moments was a rare night spent sleeping in the college men's dorm. I slept in the bottom bunk with David Black on the top bunk. Apparently I was dreaming of a canoe trip. Specifically of portaging - carrying our canoes and equipment down a trail from lake to lake. When I got to the end of the trail I panicked because I could not get the canoe off of my shoulders to lay it down by the shoreline. I shook and shook it and tried to lift it off my shoulders. The next thing I know I am being awakened by about 14 college friends who were both concerned and laughing. I was trying to lift the top bunk off my shoulders with Dave Black in it.

Now, Dave Black was by no means a little guy. He wasn't overweight, but just a big fit guy who must have weighed 200lbs +. The bunks were old military style metal bunks. The supports for the top bunks fit into the tops of the supports of the lower bunks. I was lifting on the bed so hard that I almost disconnected the top bunk.

Well, its obvious that word of this incident spread among the staff that summer and I was reminded of it until the day in late August when we headed home.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tough Day

Today was a tough day. This afternoon I learned that my Uncle Jim (Dad's sisters husband) had a major stroke and is on life support. The family was told that he is brain dead and that there is no hope. The Dr's have suggested taking him off of life support.

This evening Katrina informed me that her cousins son who is 4 and has been on chemo for much of the past year, has cancer again. I can't imagine what it must be like for you child to have cancer.

Sad day all around...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Italy Update

Another step towards Italy has been taken. We had an appointment with the moving company this morning so that they could see what we have and give an estimate to HP. All of our furniture and most of our belongings will be put in long term storage. We will mostly be taking clothes and personal belongings to Italy.

The next big date is January 19th, when the work permit is up for review once more.....

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Italy Update

Here is the latest:

We have a new TENTATIVE timeline. I'm not putting much faith in it since it has been postponed about 2-3 times already, but here it is anyway.

1/19 Work Permit up for review
2/23 Preview (apartment hunting) trip to Italy
2/28 Brandon and I return to Or to finish packing and finalize things. Katrina stays in Italy to begin work assignment.
1-2 weeks later Brandon and I will move to Italy to join Katrina.

As of this new year I am back to just trying to live life as we know and love it here in Oregon. I've signed up for a train show in February. Brandon and I are staying involved in Scouts. I've just realized that I can't put my life on hold anymore. We are ready to move and if the work permit gets approved, we will. If not or until then, life goes on.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Weight Watchers Update 8

I had my latest WW meeting this morning. After one week of cancelled meetings due to snow and two weeks on vacation, my goal was to maintain my weight loss at +/- 2 lbs. I weighed in at -.2lbs for a total loss of 12.4 lbs so far.

We are back home and back into our routine. My goal is to exercise all week and track my food.