Monday, June 30, 2008

Life's Simple Pleasures

Frozen grapes

Fresh-made lemonade

Frozen Thin Mints

Oreo balls/truffles

Ice cubes

Breakfast any hour of the day

I could go on and on ...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wow, it's been a while!

Well, I hadn't intended on waiting this long to blog again. Wow. I was trying to be better about it, but life definitely gets in the way.

In the back half of May, I went back to the US to go on vacation with my family. They go to the beach every May, and I've missed the last couple of years. Between that, and given how stressful living in another country (and being a Navy wife) can be, it was kinda therapeutic being back there again! It had been three years, but we'd gone every year for so long, everything was so familiar and welcoming! It was very nice. I also have a tendency to be able to think more clearly while there, I think because you have nothing to do, nowhere to be, etc. I always get my best thinking done there.

June has kept me busy, as Neal got promoted at work, and the transition time has been a bit hectic. He is home every weekend now though, so it's nice to be able to count on that. And once he gets things in order and things on base settle down, he'll be home at a decent hour every night, and that will be wonderful!

The pregnancy is going well, clipping right along, and I'm now hitting the nesting stage. I've been cleaning like a mad woman, trying to organize rooms and get rid of unnecessary junk, and just keeping things neat in general. I've been meaning to do it for a while now, but the looming arrival of a newborn has a great way of motivating you to finish projects!

In the last few weeks however, I've been much more introspective about my life. I think, again, the idea of a newborn coming and all the responsibilities that come with it make you think about things in a whole new way. I've not been the happiest person while being in Italy. The hardest part is feeling so isolated from my family and friends, but also with the base closing and losing a lot of services, I feel so useless and bored at times. We honestly planned on me at least having the ability to work part time while here, just to keep busy and have some play money. But that never panned out. Being a stay-at-home wife can get boring at times, as there's only so much cooking/cleaning you can do, even in a big house. I wasn't all that motivated to make friends before because of a few bad experiences when we first got here. And I think I got depressed and let the house get out of order, along with life.

As I start getting things in order, I think it makes me start thinking of what else I want organized in my life. Though I love the idea of being a mommy full time, I know I want to do more with my education. Whether that means getting a masters' degree, or just taking classes to be able to sit for the R.D. exam, I know I want to do something. I do feel that in a way I'm wasting my degree that I worked so hard to finish. I don't want to just be able to say that I got it, but that it's being put to some good use. I get frustrated that I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do when I went into college (well, I did, but it wasn't feasible at the time), and I majored in whatever I thought I'd enjoy. While I loved my college major, I wish I had really taken the time to research, because I know now that I would've majored in Nutrition instead of Food Science, or some combination of the two. Looking back, I think it's ridiculous that my school separated the two.

Long story short, I feel that I am in some sort of "holding pattern" in life. And I know that last time I said that, trying to change things through my own strength only made things worse, with years of drama and unnecessary pain and grief. Though I've learned my lesson with not forcing things, it is hard to wait and let God do what he's going to do. It's hard to see my husband work so hard with so little notice or reward. It's hard to sit around at home, feeling like I'm doing nothing. And it's very hard to pick yourself up out of the pity party and let God take you where he wants you to go.

But writing this only makes me realize how large of a pity party I've thrown, and that I have no excuse not to have a better attitude about things. After all, God is in control, and I know that this is all for our good, and will work out perfectly in the end.

How many times has He proven that to me in the past?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pieces of Flair!

Okay, so if you don't get the reference, you need to find yourself a copy of "Office Space" and watch it.

So anyway, on Facebook, there's a new feature where you can pick out pieces of flair to display on a corkboard. It's cracking me up! I love some of them! Here's a few jewels:

"Spooning leads to forking"

"Girls are not complicated...seriously, how hard is it to say 'You're pretty' and give us chocolate?"

"Don't follow in my footsteps, I run into walls"

"I'm not short, I'm just fun size"

"Put on your big girls panties and deal with it"

"Careful, you may end up in my novel"

"Therapy is expensive. Popping bubble wrap is cheap. You decide."

"Save the ta-tas" (with the pink breast cancer ribbon in the middle)

"I'm not random, you just can't think as fast as me"


For some reason, those just made me laugh!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Things I miss ...

Don't get me wrong, I love being pregnant! I have had just about the easiest pregnancy thus far, and I have nothing really to complain about. Several people have told me how wrong it is that I haven't thrown up, been super nauseous, or the like, and I know how blessed I am.

However, just being pregnant in general lends to some minor sacrifices that begin to seem less and less minor by day. Though I love this child already, and I would do anything necessary to ensure its health in any way, I often find myself thinking, "Kid, you better appreciate what I'm giving up for you!" Lately, it's mostly food items. But there are so many things that I can't do now that I could before:

1. Hot dogs: I was never a huge hot dog fan, and after going through the Food Science program at the University of Tennessee, even less so. However, Neal and I found these spicy beef hot dogs at our Navy Exchange, and I kinda got hooked on them. I know they're awful for me (they have about 15g of fat per dog or something crazy like that), but they're so good! And now that I can't have them in pregnancy (because of the risk of listeria poisoning), I really want some! I'm sure it doesn't help that it's now grilling season!

2. Running: I've never been a runner. You can ask my old PE teachers, my parents, or anyone else for that matter. I've always hated it, and never really had the stamina to even bother trying. Last year, I finally got serious and started working at it, and managed to work myself up to running (at a turtle's pace) for 25 minutes straight, and was really beginning to enjoy it. I even had a goal of eventually running regular 5k's. I ended up spraining my ankle and having to start over again and never really got back to a regular schedule before we found out we were pregnant. And of course, that's the first thing the doctors told me I couldn't do.

3. Fresh mozzarella cheese: I'm in Italy, and can't take advantage of one of the best parts of being here! Of course, there was a recent scare of toxins in the local cheese, so I likely wouldn't be eating a lot anyway, but it's everywhere and really tough to avoid. And I've always loved my Caprese salads!

4. Bike riding: Neal bought me the bike I've been wanting last year, just in time for the weather to get cold. I was completely planning on riding it this Spring/Summer to get in shape, but it will have to wait another year.

5. Wine: As if it wasn't bad enough that Neal helped me develop a love for red wine before getting pregnant, I also have to deal with living in Italy without being able to drink it (other than a sip or two of Neal's every now and then). On top of that, Neal found an amazing Chilean Cabernet-Sauvignon and opened it up shortly after we found out about the baby. I had a sip, and it was one of the best reds I've tasted! Of course, now that we want to stock up for later, we can't find it anywhere, and I am super bummed about that!

6. Bikinis/tanning/laying out: I know this was never really a healthy habit anyway, but I used to love lying in the sun and (slowly) getting a tan. I think it's part of my Florida girl roots. My favorite part of my family's beach vacation every year was laying in a beach chair, tanning oil sprayed on, listening to Kenny Chesney's greatest hits, and enjoying the beach breeze! Right before we moved overseas, I started tanning here and there at a salon, and loved the way it felt! I still have my old tanning lotion, and every now and then, I go to the linen closet in our bathroom for a sniff. It's got this tropical-coconut-cocoa butter smell to it, and just makes me feel better every time. It's probably expired by now, but I keep it just to smell every so often.

7. Wearing my own clothes: I long ago stopped wearing my regular jeans, but have been able to get away with roomy/stretchy pants until recently. Lately, I've been wearing Neal's workout shorts and shirts around the house. They're just more comfortable. And until I get some new maternity clothes (on their way from my parents), I only have a pair of maternity jeans, which are a bit hot now that the weather's consistently in the 70's.

8. Feeling like I was at least in decent shape: Lately, I feel as if I'm in horrible shape. I get breathless just walking up the stairs in our house, and can't bend over to pick something up without feeling light-headed and dizzy. If I didn't know I was pregnant, I'd think something was horribly wrong.

9. Sleeping: between having to pee twice a night, fighting to find a comfortable position, weird/vivid/bad dreams, and the pillow that's now permanently between me and my husband, sleeping has become quite the challenge. I wake up easier (birds chirping, cats outside fighting, or the dog snoring can wake me up), sleep lighter, and can no longer sleep on my stomach or flat on my back, two of my all-time favorites. I guess I should just chock it up to preparing for those midnight feedings.

10. My brain: Lately it seems to be getting worse, but "mommy brain" really does stink. I was a bit forgetful to begin with, but every now and then, my mind will completely go blank! I will completely forget what I'm talking about, forget where I put things, or go into a room to do something, only to forget what the heck it was I was doing in the first place! It really stinks because you know you weren't this bad pre-pregnancy, too.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wow, it's been a while

So I've been out of the country lately. I had gone home to the U.S. to visit family for a month, and didn't have a lick of time to post on my blog. Oh well. But updates abound:

First, we're pregnant! Part of the reason I was going home was to find a doctor for when I move back this summer. The baby's due this fall, and we're not super comfortable with the thought of me being pregnant during the tourist season here, and at least a 1.5 hour drive from the hospital, so I'm going to be having the baby back at home.

Another reason I went home was to house-hunt, but HOLY COW! the real estate market is crazy right now. Prices are ridiculous, and people just aren't coming up off of their listing prices. Given the current state of the U.S. mortgage industry, we keep thinking this is the best time to buy. But apparently not. Blah!

So being back in Italy was a bit weird at first. I didn't realize just how much I had gotten used to being back in the U.S. until I went to get on my flight to Rome. When I heard people speaking Italian, it was almost foreign again, which was weird. I had gotten to the point that it was natural to hear.

There are definitely some things that I don't like about moving back to the States - mainly, leaving my husband behind. But I'm also going to miss the food, the cheap produce, being so close to so many travel opportunities, the few friends that I've made here, my awesome garden outside, and the cultural experiences that I've (finally) gotten used to. I think I had to leave for a month to realize just how much I would miss. Don't get me wrong, I will enjoy being back in the States, and how easy life will be when I know exactly where to go for the things I need, but I will miss European living. Once you get used to it, it has it's appeal. I know, weird.

A few things I'm looking forward to though:

-Not having to ask everyone if they speak English before I embarass myself and try to say something in Italian
-Knowing what cut of meat I'm looking at in the grocery store, and that it's not horse (ew!)
-Stores like Trader Joe's, The Fresh Market, and Nature's Pantry
-People obeying traffic laws (for the most part)
-Not having to dodge people as I'm walking through the store
-Smoothie King!
-My esthetician
-No longer having to do math in my head to figure out how much I'm spending (and crying when I hand over Euro because it hurts so much)

There are pros and cons both ways, but I am so looking forward to being near family again, especially with a little one on the way. I'm ready to find a good church, be near friends, and just feel like I'm home!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Funeral protests

"If you won't stand behind our troops, please feel free to stand in front of them."

So I don't get the people that protest at funerals. For those of you unfamiliar with them, it's a group of people that call themselves Christians (Westboro Baptist Church), and go around protesting mostly military, but mainly high-profile funerals, telling people that their loved-ones deaths were God's vengeance on America for allowing gays civil rights.

Granted, I'm a military wife, so it's a touchy subject, but even if it wasn't mostly military funerals, what kind of person protests where people are grieving?!? I just really don't get it, there's a total disconnect between these people and common sense! When doing some minor research on their website, you just really can't make sense of their statements. On their home page, they say that because they were conducting "peaceful demonstrations" opposing the gay lifestyle, that America bombed WBC, and now God hates America.

Okay so first, how do you call yourselves children of Christ when you speak nothing but hatred? Also, I'd call their demonstrations anything but peaceful. Any time you strike at the heart of someone's grief, it is not peaceful. And I won't go into how I think God sees that. Then, they say that America bombed them. The supposed bombing was one guy that decided to take matters into his own hands, and set off a pipe bomb near the house of two of the families. That's not America, and that's not bombing the church. I agree that this guy should have gotten more than the 16 days or so in prison that he got, but America didn't do this, he did.

Now, as to God hating America, I think these people have a seriously messed-up view of God. I guess that means that God hates everybody then, because when was the last time that you led a sinless life? I know I haven't. If God hates America for protecting someone's civil rights, then we're all in a heap of trouble. Now, whether or not you agree that gays should be a protected group, do you think it's right for these people to be targeted for their choices? God can forgive a multitude of sins, and we're okay with that. But we're not okay with that one? It's not okay for your house to be bombed because of what you believe, but it's okay for us to ignore gays being targeted for their choices/beliefs? Please!

Anyway, I'll get off my high horse about it. But I will say one thing: anyone that goes around stating "God hates..." should be awfully careful. The God I know loves, and while the bible does say he hates sin, nowhere does it say that he hates his creation (the sinner), and yes, gays are a part of that. I also seem to remember a verse that states:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12 17-21)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Today's been a bit of a drag...

So we got back from visiting family in the States a couple weeks ago. It took me a while to get back on European time, and my husband caught a killer sinus infection that seems to be hanging on for dear life. He's also working nights, which is never fun, and makes a regular schedule that much less a reality.

I'm missing home big time now. It was so much harder leaving this time. I don't think it was the leaving part, as much as the "I don't want to go back to Italy" part. It was so nice being home. If it weren't for looking like a complete lunatic, I would've kissed the ground in the Memphis airport as soon as we landed. People actually knew how to drive, and though you still had your random crazies, they followed the rules for the most part. Only about 5% of people didn't know what they were doing, instead of the 85% in Italy.

I got to drive my truck again! It was the highlight of the drive to Knoxville and back. As soon as we got to my in-laws' house, I saw her in the driveway, and exclaimed, "my baby!" I even lovingly patted her as I walked by (again, so I didn't look completely off my rocker, I elected not to hug her and not let go for 30 minutes). I usually don't mind at all letting Neal do 90% of the driving, but I had to drive her from just West of Nashville to Clarksville. It was so nice driving a vehicle you didn't have to coax into working! And people on the road actually drove on the right and passed on the left! They weren't coming at you from all sides!

Besides the wonderful driving conditions, there were WalMart and Hancock Fabrics trips, outlet shopping, milkshakes, the mall, lemonade, baby back ribs, and Chik-fil-A!!! Oh, the joys of the U.S.! Even when the temperature dropped about twenty degrees overnight and I got a cold, I was happy as a lark just to be home!

Coming back to Italy was quite a rude experience. It took us forever to get home, and we were going on very little sleep. And to top it off, it rained for just about two weeks straight. It's finally turned nice again, but it certainly didn't help the attitude. Add to that the wonders of winter here: needing bombola (heating) gas every time you turn around, electric bills through the roof, gas at our discounted rate of $3.75 per gallon (please don't whine to me about $3/gal gas), cold tile floors everywhere, the neighbors' dog that barks 24/7, cats that thought they took over my garden while we were gone, and general stupidity on base. Between all that, you get a very lovely attitude toward Italy.

Last night, I made dinner for the off-going and on-coming security guys, and on the way to base the clutch in the car decided to just stick to the floor. It has been acting up, but we haven't had a chance to take it to get looked at. That's a process in itself. It finally popped back out just before I got there, but I had to have someone follow me home just in case. Then when I got home, the pilot light had gone out, and there was no heat in the house. Luckily the landlords came today to fix it, but not before I had to go all day without a shower, delay dinner so long that Neal had to take money to order out, and put me in a horrible mood in general. I even had a minor breakdown on Neal because I was so frustrated at everything!

So yes, today was my pity-party day. It's getting better now (heat and a fire in the fireplace will do that), and I'm sure that tomorrow things will be much better. One of the girls that used to work here that we'd made friends with (she's in Belgium now) is coming to town this weekend, so that should be fun. It's supposed to be sunny for the next week, and Neal has a long weekend off. Something tells me that I just need some good sleeping in and lots of chocolate and I'll be all better!

Last but not least, stay tuned for my report on how much Mikelauren kicks my rear on Monday when I get back to her fitness class after the holidays!

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