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, April 30, 2009

Busy Morning

After heavy rains, thunder and lightning last night, we woke up to sunny skies this morning.

Katrina walked Brandon to school after taking a very cold shower. I took my shower while she was gone and it too was very cold. Katrina talked to our door keeper, Anna, and she sent the maintainance man (her husband)to check things out. We are not sure what happened or how it was fixed, but we now have hot water again. Cold showers really made us feel like we were camping.

We met with Simona, one of our relocation people, at the bank this morning. After Katrina acquired the appropriate paperwork on Tuesday, we were able to finally open a bank account. Banking is another interesting difference between living in the US and in Italy. At our credit union in Oregon we only had to sign one or two papers to open multiple accounts and investments. This morning we had to give 6 signatures each just to open a basic account. Getting a local account opens up more possibilities...like finally getting TV hooked up.

Forgive me if I've told this story in an earlier blog, but there is one other rather interesting thing about banks in Italy. When you arrive at a bank, you cannot just walk in. Each bank has a set of lockers outside the door for things like: guns, umbrellas, cameras, and a few other things. I even had to put my change into the locker. You close the locker door and take the key. Then, you enter the bank one person at a time. The door has a button you push to open it. It slides open and one person walks into the entry. Its actually an xray machine with clear doors on each side, almost like what you see at the airport. If you don't set off the detector, the inner door opens and you go in. If you set off the detector, you go back out and see what you forgot to put in the locker. Its sounds like more of a hassle than it really is, but they really don't have problems with bank robberies like we do in the US. I'd take a picture, but I'm not sure I legally can?!

After we finished at the bank, Simona drove us into downtown Monza to finally get a Sky Channel subscription. We couldn't do it last time because we didn't have a local bank account. We are now all set for a tech to come out and install Sky Channel sometime in the next week. Apparently some buildings have a common dish on the roof and all you do is subscribe. Our building does not, so we will have a dish on our balcony.

I picked Brandon up at 1:15pm today. He had a short day because tomorrow is a holiday. Since today was his last day of school for the week, we walked over to the Gellataria - our new 'last day of the week routine'. I had pistachio and vanilla. Brandon had limone and cherry vanilla. Its has been a beautiful day. It was supposed to be sunny and 16c (62 degrees) today. I think it actually hit 74 degrees.

Brandon and I took a walk around the building. He kept telling me that we have a pool. Oh my gosh, we do. We were never told about it. Of course, its an indoor pool and it is empty. We actually have two. One for wading - small kids - and one large one. We also have a weight room. Who knew! If only they were full of water and the exercise room had equipment. We also took a walk around the neighborhood and stopped at a different park a few blocks away. What a glorious day!

Brandon and I went next door to Parco di Matteotti. Brandon loves the park and loves to swing.

After dinner this evening - tacos, chips and salsa (without two important items I could not find: sour cream and cheddar cheese), we decided to go for a walk through the surrounding neighborhoods. We really like this area and look forward to learning more about it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sunny Day

We woke up to a sunny beautiful day after a night of heavy rain and thunder.

Brandon finally has his PE uniform for school. He is so cute and seems to be proud of how he looks.

I walked Brandon to school again this morning. Poor Katrina. She is tired. Our days have been busy, especially hers. In theory our day were supposed to go like this: Katrina wakes up and has some quiet time. She wakes Brandon and I up at 7:45 then takes a shower while I make sure he is ready for school. Katrina and Brandon walk to school at 8:30. The rest of the morning would be free for time together or for whatever we need or want to do. At 11 Katrina would leave for work and would head home at 6pm. In reality, this has rarely happened since we arrived. Getting our lives in order is more complicated in Italy. Its can be mentally exhausting when you aren't quite sure how to do things and you don't really speak the language yet. This week alone Katrina has has to head into Milan twice already. As I mentioned in yesterdays blog, she had to complete more immigration paperwork yesterday. Today she had to go into Milan again to meet with the people who will be handling the Italian part of our taxes. Because we are here for her work contract, most of these things have to be completed by her. I can't do much because I am the 'trailing spouse' as they call it. She's tired and needs a break.

Anyway, after I walked Brandon to school I headed over to the bank in Vedano to get more cash from the ATM. Cash is still used quite a bit more here in Italy. Since I was over near the town center, I decided to scout it out a bit more. I found a flower shop, another bar (bars are where you buy caffe - they also serve alchohol), the local post office, two butcher shops, another supermarket and a couple of pizzarias.

Katrina called to let me know it took her almost an hour to go about 4km (2.4 miles)!! Crazy traffic.

Sometimes differences are easier to live with if you know what the rules are in the first place. As I've mentioned in an earlier blog entry, in the US we seem to be all about convenience. You can almost get anything you want anytime you want it. Not so here in Italy. I walked over to Supermarcato Punto to buy a few things we need and found it to be closed. I guess in over a week of going there almost daily, I have always been in the morning or late afternoon - not mid afternoon. I knew that many small businesses close for an hour or more at lunchtime, but did not think that the supermarcato would be closed. Apparently they close from 1pm - 3:30pm each afternoon. Another cultural lesson learned.

Right around 2:45 the skies became very dark and our sunny day disappeared. The clouds opened up and the rain came down...along with thunder and lightning. Brandon is very happy that we have thunderstorms here. Stevie the cat appears to not like the thunder. His back is arched and he looks nervous. We really didn't have them in Oregon.

Katrina sent me a link to register with the US Dept of State. You can do this for vacations or for long assignments like ours. They will add you to the local email list for such things as travel advisories, emergencies, etc. We are now registered.

We had Mike and Jen over for dinner this evening. I made Farfalle con pesto di Arrugula - bowtie pasta with Arrugula pesto. We had a nice time and lots of laughs, as we usually do with Mike. He did two loads of laundry as well. Thats about 4 hours of laundry!!

We have decided to postpone our weekend trip to Venice. I called or emailed close to 40 hotels and B&B's. Everything is booked. I guess heading into Venice on a holiday weekend is not a good choice, or takes more planning than 2-3 days. We are going to do a day trip to the Lake Como area instead.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another Rainy Italian Day

We woke up to another rainy day in Vedano al Lambro. Its supposed to hit 15c (60 degrees) today.

I walked Brandon to school today because Katrina was heading into Milan with Olga for an appointment at Sportello Unico. No, she is not becoming a soccer pro. Basically, its more registration paperwork for living in Milan.

Sad news for Katrina's family. Katrina's cousin DJ and his wife Shelly have a 4 year old son Blake who has been fighting cancer for over a year. After a valiant fight and many inspiring moments of strength, he passed away last night at 4pm. Our hearts go out to our family. Its a sad time, but there is also relief in knowing that Blake is no longer suffering.

I visited Brandon's school this morning for a 4th grade presentation on recycling at school. They are hoping to persuade the school to switch over to more earth friendly tableware for lunches. The kids did a great job. I was also able to meet a couple of other parents. I'm continually amazed at how multicultural Brandon's school is. I met parents from Holland and England this morning.

I was just chatting with Katrina's brother Ryan on Facebook. He was asking me about the Ferrari museum, the Ducati museum and the Lamborgini museum. I looked them up and found that they are all about 2 hours south of Milan in an area called "The Land of Motors". If you are a fan, come visit and we'll take you there.

I learned some interesting information about Italy during the history section of our cultural training class on Sunday. The modern nation of Italy is only 150 years old. Before that Italy divided into city states, with more local power. That is one of the reasons why modern Italy suffers from so much bureaucracy. Regional governments have ruled for so much of Italian history that uniting into one nation has been a struggle. One of the biggest divisions in unity seems to be northern Italy vs southern Italy. They say that over 50% of Italy's gross national product comes from the north. Northerners put it like this, "The north works so that the south may play."

What a rainy day. I walked over to school to pickup Brandon and arrived home soaking wet. Its not raining all that hard, just a constant drizzle. I will be heading to Auchan for an umbrella tonight.

My faith in the USPS and the Italian postal service has increased a bit today. We received our first piece of forwarded mail today. Unfortunately it was a check and now we have to figure out how to deposit it.

We had tortellini with pomodoro sauce, steamed veggies and wine for dinner this evening. Last week Katrina decided that we should keep all the colorful plastic spoons that come with gelato so that we can see how much we ate in two years. Tonight I decided to do the same thing with the wine corks.

I had to drive over to Auchan this evening for an umbrella. It is pouring outside. All the streets are flooded and now we are hearing thunder. Tomorrow is supposed to be a few degrees warmer with scattered thunderstorms.

Here is an intersting story Katrina told me this evening. Jen, the girlfriend of Mike the other HP engineer, was in downtown Milan this morning visiting the piazza and Duomo. She was taking a picture of the Duomo when a man ran by and grabbed the camera out of her hands! She chased him down and he demanded e20 for its return. Katrina tells me she ended up paying him e5. How crazy is that!! Pickpocketing is a big problem in the cities, especially the tourist areas. On the other hand, Italy has one of the lowest rates of physical crime. Its just unheard of to hurt someone, but not to steal their things.

Day at Home

We woke up to a cloudy day today. Its not raining right now, but the forecast is calling for heavy rain and flooding.

Our apartment is a bit of a mess after a busy weekend. I also have two nightstands and some balcony furniture to put together, laundry to do and the floors need mopped. Life is not all wine and cheese in Italy. Normal daily life keeps us busier than it did in the US.

Camping. Why camping? Well, sometimes it seems as though we are camping. Yes, we are 'camping' in a very nice apartment, but we don't have a lot of our usual daily items. We are cooking out of two pots. Until yesterday we only had one bath towel between the three of us. I know, we have furniture, beds and we now have Wii. So I guess its not really camping. I just wanted to use that term in honor of our good friend Katey who suggested, when we talked about our belongings taking 7-10 weeks to arrive, that we could live as if we were camping. We miss you Katey...and the Noel family.

Oh wow, I must say it is nice to have music again. Our new Ipod player lacks a little bass, but just hearing my favorite music while I do laundry and other household chores is fantastic.

Quality. Katrina was mentioning a conversation with Mike, the other HP engineer here. In the US we are all about convenience. Stores are open long hours or 24 hours. If we don't want to make food, we can buy just about anything premade or eat just about any type of food at a restaurant. Even daily chores are convenient. Washing machines are bigger - and we have dryers. We tend to buy groceries for a week or two at a time. Here in Italy we are finding that convenience is not an impotant aspect of life. Italians will almost always go without convenience. They will almost always choose quality over quantity. Why buy food premade when you can make it from scratch with the freshest of ingredients. My opinion of this, Americans and Italians can both learn from each other. One example: daily chores could be made easier here in Italy and we could do without so much convenience food in the United States.

I just arrived home from picking up Brandon at school. We didn't stop at the park today due to the wet conditions. Its been lightly raining all day. We did stop at Supermercato Punto for a few items. We seem to need a combination of fresh items and more stock items as we go along.

For dinner this evening I made insalata di fogioli con tonno e radicchio - warm bean salad with tuna and radicchio. The recipe is from our authentic Italian cookbook. It was very good and tasty. Even Brandon ate everything on his plate.

This evening we had some fun playing Wii. What a great game. Too much fun!!!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cultural Training in Milano

We woke up at 7am to get ready for a day of cultural training in Milano. Our language instruction from Berlitz included this class. Its an an all day class at their center in downtown Milano.

The weather forecast for today is 16c (60 degrees) with rain and heavy rain.

We drove to Sesta FS to park and catch the red subway into Milano. It was a quick, smooth and easy ride into the city. Once there we walked a few blocks to the studio where our cultural class was to take place. Downtown Milano is like a maze of tall building and narrow streets. We were about a 1/2 hour early for our class so we walked around a few blocks in the area to see what the neighborhood was like.

Our class was all day long with a lunch break at 12:30. Brandon kept himself busy reading and drawing in one of the spare offices. Katrina and I discussed living and working in Italy with the instructor. I think Katrina got the most out of the class. To me, a lot of it was too focused on working in Italy and not so much on living here. We finally finished at 5:30. Back to the subway for our ride back to Sesta FS, where we had to make a family decision. We had dinner plans with Gianluigi, his wife, Davide and his wife, Mike and his girlfriend Jen (who just suprised Mike by arriving today from Corvallis). We were very tired from our all day class, but also hungry. After much debate and some crying from Brandon (maybe a little from me too), we decided to go to dinner afterall.

We arrived at Gianluigi's apartment at 7pm, the first one's. After waiting for everyone else to arrive, we loaded up and drove a little ways to the pizzeria, Milano Trophy Pizza. This was a great place. An Italian buffet of sorts. You order drinks then they start bringing pizzas around table by table. The waiters give you whatever slices you want. They serve 52 varieties. Most are traditional Italian combinations. Or, how about onions and french fries? Tuna and onions? Ketchup pizza? Each table has a block of wood in the center with a green and a red side. You keep the green side up until you can't eat anymore pizza, then turn the red side up to stop. Its was a fun place to eat with great friends.

Rain, rain, rain. Its been raining off and on all day long. The next few days are looking wet.


My intent with this blog is to share our lives in Italy. I could sugarcoat everything during this experience and say that all is well and easy. I have decided not to do that. I don't plan to be negative, but I do plan to be honest about the adventures, daily life, our experiences, both good, bad and challenging.

With that said, I woke up this morning in a bad mood. It started last night and carried over to this morning. I was having my first 'unhappy' moment in Italy. I feel a bit like Brandon and Katrina have their lives in Italy all laid out for them. Brandon has school with teachers and students. Katrina has work with fellow employees and adult interaction. On top of that they both get wonderful lunches at school and at work. I am home doing things like mopping the floors, doing a daily load of laundry, cooking and grocery shopping. I eat leftovers or have to make my own lunch. I'm have not figured out what to do for myself. I've wandered the streets around our home looking through shops and neighborhoods, but I'm not sure how many times I can do that. I'm not trying to complain, heck I'm in Italy! On the other hand, I really need to find something for myself. Some activity or place I can go that is for me. I'm not sure what that is yet.

We headed out just before lunch to do some shopping for household items we are still lacking or desire. First stop was an electronics store to buy an Ipod player. We could really use some music around the house and all of ours is either on our Ipods or on our PC, which is being shipped here. Solution = Ipod player.

Next stop was also a luxury stop. We promised Brandon he could have a Wii when we arrived in Italy. We now have one.

Third stop, IKEA. We had lunch, meatballs of course, then did some shopping. Katrina wanted some red and black pillows for the couches, a red rug for the floor, a couple of black end tables for the couches, a couple of night stands for our bed and some lamps. Pictures will follow soon.

After putting together the end tables for the couches, Brandon and Katrina hooked up the Wii. Its time to go Wii bowling.

We needed a few groceries and I needed a new belt. My new jeans are too big already and they are only 3 weeks old. I decided to drive over to Auchan. I already broke a rule I set in place this morning. I shall not grocery shop on Saturday. The big supermarkets are insanely busy! It took me over an hour to shop for about 45E worth of groceries.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Its Friday, the last day of our first week in Italy. Katrina usually heads to work around 11am, but today she needs to drive into Milan to sign documents concerning taxes in Italy. We could fill a book with all the documents we have had to sign since we moved here. And next week, there are more to sign.

I walked Brandon to school today. Katrina usually walks him, but she had to leave early for the document appointment. It was chilly, but it should warm up to 19C (68 degrees) today. The sky was overcast when we woke up, but the sun is starting to break through. It should be another beautiful day in Vedano.

Brandon loves to stop at the park on our way home from school each day. Most days we stop at Parco di Matteotti, right next door to our apartment. It has a great rope climbing structure, swings and a rope swing.

Brandon is having hot lunch today because they are having pasta. He loves pasta. This is only his second hot lunch. He'll probably bring a sack lunch most days. Hot lunch costs 6 Euro per day. Thats about $7.80 at the current exhange rate!!

I walked over to Brandon's school at 3:20 to pick him up. He had a great week at school and told me all about the new words he learned in Italian class today. He even taught me a few new words that I did not know. I'm convinced he will eventually become more fluent in Italian than me.

Brandon and I decided to stop for gelato on the way home. Brandon had limone and I had cremonatta (vanilla with hazelnut chocolate). We decided this will be our Friday afternoon treat from now on!

This evening Mike (the other HP engineer) came over and we all walked over to the bar to enjoy drinks and snacks. A little after 8pm we walked over to the center of Vedano for dinner. Brandon had his customary pasta primodoro. Mike and Katrina had pizzas and I had a Calzone. Mike is always full of laughs. We had a great time.

Sunny Day in Vedano

We woke up to another sunny day in Vedano. We seem to be in a good routine now. Brandon has been slow to wakeup, even though he gets to sleep an extra 45 minutes. In Oregon he had to wakeup for school at 7am and start school at 8:15. Here in Vedano he wakes up at 7:45 and has to be to school by 8:50.

No laundry today! We don't have quite enough for a load. I guess I won't be doing it everyday.

Last night Stevie actually ventured out of our room. When I saw him come out I closed our bedroom door so that he had to stay out for awhile. He ate some food in the kitchen, then wandered around. I later found him in Brandon's bed. Then I found him sitting on the ledge of our open kitchen window. He later followed me out onto the balcony where he sat on the ledge in the dark for quite awhile. Overall, he was much less of a nuisance last night while we were sleeping.

I felt really good and full of energy yesterday. I had been suffering from tiredness in the early afternoons, but not yesterday. This morning I am extremely tired. I was hoping I was over the jet lag already, but I guess not.

Walking to Brandon's school today I was instantly hit with itchy eyes and sneezing. I guess I need to resume my allergy meds. I was fine for the first few days. Today has been a breezy day and you can actually see a lot of dust and pollen in the air since we have the park next door and it has so many trees.

I walked over to Supermarcato Punto today. We needed some ingredients for a recipe in our Italian cookbook. I couldn't find everything. That may be because things at the stores are not all in the same places at in the US. Or, they just don't have what I need since its a small supermarket. One interesting difference I can share is in the produce section. When you choose produce you must put on a plastic glove. Each item, tomatoes for instance, has a code number on its price tag. You place the item on the scale and enter the code. It then prints a tag for the amount you are purchasing. I'm not sure what would happen if you don't use a glove?

I met up with Simona (one of our relocation experts) and she drove Brandon and I into downtown Monza to help us get signed up for Sky Channel tv. After all sorts of talking about what we wanted and how much it would cost, we found out that Sky Channel will not accept credit cards from outside of Europe. They have had too many people leave Europe with unpaid credit accounts. So, we will need to wait until next week or the week after when we get our local bank account setup. We have had not problem using our Visa to pay for almost everything. They just don't like it for the annual Sky Channel contract. With Sky Channel we will get local Italian shows, news, Disney and other kid channels, movies and sports channels. All shows that are produced in English can be viewed in English or Italian. All shows produced in Italian can only be viewed in Italian.

Its been another beautiful day. Its a little breezy this evening, but there hasn't been any rain and very little cloud cover as was forecasted.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

House Setup Continues

Day 3 of our Italian adventure. We are getting more efficient with our morning routine. This morning I had to get moving a little earlier. Katrina walked Brandon to school while I pulled the car out of the ‘box’ (garage). I picked her up at school and we headed into downtown Monza to take care of a Hertz rental car issue. We had to ‘rerent’ our car due to an insurance issue. This we my first daytime driving of the car. I’ve only driven at night so far, when there are less cars on the road. I felt fine, but am finding it difficult to adjust to the streetlights. In the US we become so accustomed to watching for streetlights overhead. There are no overhead streetlights in this area. You really have to change what seem to be strong subconscious habits of looking up.

Soon after we arrived home the telephone company arrived. He is currently setting up our phone and internet service.

We have internet...obvious since you are reading this blog and I have posted on Facebook. I feel connected with the world and our friends again.

Ennio, the apartment owners father, came by again this morning. He had an electrician come by to fix a few of our lights. Apparently the lights in our apartment are low voltage and a few of the transformers were burned out. Everything is working now. The only item left on the list is to get the remote for the living room AC repaired. Ennio has been very kind and willing to fix everything that needs fixed.

Its another beautiful day. We woke up to sunshine and warm weather. Its supposed to reach a high of 23C (76 degrees) today.

Laundry. It appears that laundry and I will be best friends here in Italy for a couple of reasons. The first is that most Italians do not have or use dryers. Most stores only sell washing machines. I suspect the reason for few dryers has to do with electricity. It is quite different here and so many things run on lower voltage. Dryers use a lot of power. The second reason is, our washing machine as with most washing machines, is very small. With three of us we can fit about a days worth of clothing or maybe a little more, in the washer. The washing machine is a modern appliance, but it also works differently. We have been using the "light dirty" setting which is the fastest cycle....at 1 hour 45 min per load. Once again, I suspect that the machine cycles slowly due to power issues, to conserve electricity. We have decided that we will do one load every morning. Its just an easy routine to remember and keeps us from getting mounds of dirty clothes which could take forever to wash. Once the wash cycle is complete, its time to hang it all. We had to buy a drying rack which we put out on the balcony. With this we discovered that air dried clothes become stiff. Time to buy some fabric softener next time I go to the supermarcato.

After searching a couple of stores, we found microwave popcorn. Brandon and I love popcorn and weren't sure what would be available here in Italy.

Wow, what a beautiful day. Brandon and I went next door to Parco di Matteotti so he could play for awhile. Italians seem to love being out and about in the evenings. Families go out and stroll or play at the park before dinner. Its a great atmosphere to be living in.

This evening Brandon and I tried using our Skype account for the first time from Italy. We called and chatted with the Noel's. Technology is so great.

After a great dinner of pasta with Ricotta Fresca sauce, salad and Sicilian tomotoes, we took a walk to get some gelato - right across the street. Yummy!


It is day 2 of our Italian adventure. We already seem to have a bit of a routine, although some fine tuning is in order. Katrina wakes up at 7am and has some quiet time for herself. She wakes Brandon up at 7:30. I wake up sometime after Brandon and make sure he is dressed, fed and make his lunch while Katrina is showering. They leave for school at 8:30. I start a load of laundry, take a shower and have some quiet time to write this or do whatever. Katrina will be going to work at 11am on most days and plans to be home by 6pm. She also plans to work from home between 9 – 11pm. Today we decided to let Brandon sleep an extra 15 minutes until 7:45. Fine tuning.

Today my plans consist of: Alarm technician coming at 9am. I also plan to mop the floors. They are dirty and have some sort of black film on them that is really making our socks dirty. I also plan to finish unpacking my suitcase and stack most of the suitcases in the storage closet.
I’m really feeling lost and disconnected without internet. Hopefully we get it hooked up tomorrow.

The alarm technician reset the system, so we now have an alarm for the apartment. The Italians seem to take security very seriously. Much more than we do in the US. Everything seems to be fortified. We visited a couple of stores this morning with the Ennio, the owners father. We ended up buying a drying rack which will make hanging clothes so much easier. It seems as though I will have a few more chores to keep our apartment and life in order. That is ok. I also seem to have a more relaxed schedule.

I mopped all the tiled areas of the apartment today. We shall see if that helps keep our socks cleaner. I will mop the wood floors later. I plan to finish by sweeping and mopping the balcony.

I just took a walk around the block. It is interesting that I feel a bit isolated because of the language barrier, yet I’m not convinced I would feel any different in any American city. I’m not one to just buy a gelato or a drink and sit for any period of time. I just don’t have much reason to just sit. I’d rather be exploring. Ah, if only I had a car, I could cover more ground. I still have 3 hours until I need to pickup Brandon.

We got our first piece of mail today. It appears to be paperwork for our natural gas billing. It’s all in Italian, of course.

This afternoon has been difficult for me. As with yesterday, I am tired. I took a nap on the bed and had a hard time getting up. It helped that I had to pickup Brandon at school. Fresh air does the body good. Mrs. Williams filled me in on a few items. Brandon is doing well. She said he is making friends and is very confident. That is great.

Ugh. I just keep yawning and am very tired.

Cooking dinner is a bit challenging. I’m not quite sure what I am doing. First off, most food instructions are in Italian. Secondly, there are so many different foods and ways of cooking them. Third, I’m not sure how to do it within budget and with limited kitchen supplies.

Stevie is an interesting cat. He sleeps all day long. He doesn’t come out, even when Katrina arrives home. Then, at night he plays and annoys us all night long. I know cats are nocturnal, but this is not his normal behavior. In Oregon he would sleep all day until Katrina arrived home, when he would appear and hang around or sit on our laps. At night he would play a bit, but he was never really annoying. He usually ended up sleeping somewhere on the bed with us by early morning. Do cats suffer from jet lag? Are the night and day aspects of his internal clock messed up?

Today was the perfect day weather wise. It was a little cool and a little cloudy to begin with. By afternoon the sun was out and it was warm enough for short sleeved shirts. I think it hit 21C (72degrees).

A New Beginning

It’s my first full day here in Italy. Brandon and I arrived yesterday around noon. Katrina was there to greet us and all the luggage. It was an uneventful trip. It actually went rather smoothly. Brandon and I got a little lost in the Frankfurt airport, but that was not big deal.

Its hard to believe we are here. I’m not totally sure what to think or what to do. I’m a bit bewildered. Our lives will be different. Our daily routines will be different.

It was a semi busy morning. The owners Dad came by to help fix a few things. We have a couple of lights that do not work. The remote for the AC in the living room does not work. The garage door handle broke. Nothing major, but we would like it all fixed. The kitchen table was delivered from IKEA. The TV, vacuum and microwave were delivered from the rental agency.

Katrina headed off to work. Brandon is at school. Stevie is sleeping under the comforter in our room. The house is quiet and a little too peaceful. I need to put together the table and chairs for the kitchen. I will also need to pickup Brandon from school at 3:30pm.

Eventually I can do the grocery shopping. Eventually we will have internet and TV. Eventually I will have a routine. Until then I Life here will be interesting. I’m not quite sure what to do with myself at this point. Eventually I can do need to remember to be patient and go with the flow.

We just returned home from grocery shopping at Auchen. It was a long shopping experience and we were all pretty tired part way through. It was interesting to see the different types of food and purchase some basic items and some new items.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Packing the House

The day of packing the house finally arrived. The movers began packing the house yesterday morning and had all of our belongings going to Italy packed by the end of the day. They also packed the kitchen, the family room, most of the spare room and Brandon's room.

Last night we made one last trip to Qdoba. Andy joined us and hung out for part of the evening. Katrina worked on last minute packing details. I thought Brandon was planning on sleeping with us for one last night, but he decided to sleep in his own bed one more time. Katrina and I had some trouble falling asleep. Too much excitement and a little bit of stress.

This morning Katrina and I woke up around 5am and couldn't go back to sleep. Once again, too much excitement and a little bit of stress. At 7am I woke Brandon up for school and Katrina walked him to the bus stop. He reminded her, "Don't forget to take the cat!"

While waiting for Jenny to arrive, Katrina and I hung out and eventually gave Stevie the cat his sedative for the trip. Jenny arrived at 8:45 and they were on their way to the airport.

The movers are here working on the rest of the packing job. They are finishing all the belongings, then will work on packing and wrapping furniture. They also plan to move all the boxes going to Italy out of the house today. Everything else will go out tomorrow.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day at the Coast

We decided to make one last trip to the coast yesterday. It was a cloudy day, but not too cold overall. We drove out to Newport and decided to visit the aquarium one last time. The Noel's were kind and gave us two passes. We enjoyed our usual favorite exhibits, the sea otters, Passages of the Deep and the seals and sea lions.
We had lunch at the Rogue brewery. Katrina loves their beer cheese soup.
After lunch we walked out on the pier to look at the bay bridge and Yaquina bay. Its hard to believe we will not be visiting the Pacific ocean for two years.
We also spent some time watching the ocean from a lookout near Nye Beach. It was too chilly and breezy down on the beach for a nice walk.
Now our last week in Oregon begins. It will be a busy one filled with movers, Katrina leaving, cleaning the house, carpet cleaning and finally, Brandon and I leaving on Saturday.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Going Away Party

Last night our friends Jenny and Paul hosted a going away party for us. We had a great time. It was nice to see everyone one last time before we leave this week.

Jenny's house is a 'no shoes' house, so they invited everyone to wear some fun and interesting socks. Brandon was chosen as the judge for the evening. He had fun checking out all the socks and picking a winner.

It's amazing how two of our friends already have airline tickets to visit us this summer. I hope we get lots of visitors. I don't think you can get a more inexpensive trip to Italy than you can by visiting us. We'll provide a free place to stay.

Thanks to Jenny and Paul for the party.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Mine and Brandon's Visa's arrived about an hour ago. We can officially move to Italy now!!!
Only 10 more days....

Spring Break #2

Brandon begins Spring Break #2 today. He had a week off for Spring Break #1, then one week of school. This week he only had two days of school and the rest of the week off for conferences.

We met with Mrs. McShane last night for Brandon's conference. He is doing very well and continues to be an excellent reader. She told us he is reading at a 4th grade level! The one area where he could use some extra practice is with addition and subtraction. He seems to understand it fine, but is slow with his answers.

Overall, I am very proud of Brandon. He's smart, fun, goofy and very messy at times. He makes us laugh almost every day. I can't wait to see how much he grows from the experiences of our new adventure in Italy.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Italy Update

A lot of our 'to do' items have been completed in the past couple of days. Katrina and I completed the sorting and inventory of our belongings on Sunday. On Monday I finished up some details in the garage, then emailed the spreadsheet back to HP and the movers.

Today I drove to Salem to get the paperwork for our cat completed. We had all the health certificates. We just needed one final element, a stamp of approval from the USDA vet. This proves that our cat is healthy and can board the airplane with Katrina on Tuesday.

This afternoon I got a USPS update. The return envelope with mine and Brandon's Visa's was entered into the postal tracking system at 2:11pm in San Francisco. Maybe they will be here tomorrow?!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Brandon's Birthday

Today is Brandon's 8th Birthday.

He chose to have a party at Papa's pizza with friends. It was sort of a birthday / going away party. He had a a great time. The kids played in the playroom, had pizza and soda, played some more, enjoyed cupcakes followed by opening presents, then finished off the afternoon with more playing.

Its hard to believe that my little boy is 8 years old. He's grown up so fast. It's even harder to believe that he will be 10 when we return from Italy.

Here is a link to pictures of the party: http://ksloma.multiply.com/photos/album/10/Brandons_8th_Birthday

Friday, April 3, 2009

Visa Update

I got a call from the Italian consulate in San Francisco this morning. They were processing mine and Brandon's Visa applications and needed a faxed copy of my OR drivers license.

I hope this means that the Visa's will be approved and be mailed back to us today or in the next couple of days. That would be great and would have us on schedule for Brandon and I to leave on the 18th.


2 days until Brandon's 8th birthday
11 days until Katrina and Stevie (cat) leave for Italy
15 days until Brandon and I leave for Italy

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Consulate Visit

We made one last visit to the Italian consulate in Portland this morning. Brandon and I needed to get our paperwork approved for our Visa's to live in Italy. All was approved. Now we FedEx the paperwork and our passports to the Consulate in San Francisco where they will review and process it, then place the Visa sticker in our passports.

Katrina's took one week from the time she mailed it off to its arrival back home. We are hoping ours take about the same amount of time so that we can get the airline tickets, which are on hold, issued for the 18th.

In the meantime, we must finish our sorting and inventory list by Monday. We need to turn that paperwork in by Tuesday. We also have Brandon's 8th birthday party on Sunday. So much to do and so little time left.

Only 13 days until Katrina leaves and 17 until Brandon and I leave.