Wednesday, March 31, 2010

House hunting in Italy

There must be something wrong with me.  I haven't taken a single picture since we've been here!  Normally I would have taken at least a 2GB card full by now, but it's been raining and cloudy and we don't have a car so we're stuck on base most of the time and our little camera broke.  But I bought a new one today so it should be here in about 2 weeks.  In the meantime I'll start trying to use the DSLR more.  It's just a pain to lug around sometimes, and keep dry in the rain.

Yesterday we started our house hunting.  Per the military, we're required to look at 2 houses the first week we're here and 5 houses during the next week.  We have to document it all if we don't find a house we like and put the reason we didn't want the house.  But that's kind of a huge pain because you can't technically put most valid reasons you'd have for not liking a house - too small, too expensive, doesn't allow pets, etc.  They don't accept those reasons because they're your opinion.  You basically have to find (or make up) something relating to safety for them to count it as a valid reason to not live there.  You have to do all this in order to keep getting the allowance to stay on base.  They want to make sure you're actually looking for a house instead of just mooching off the government by staying in the base hotel indefinitely.  However, since we think we found the house we like, I don't think we'll have to worry about any of this.  Thank God.

So the first house we looked at was a nightmare.  Typical OLD Italian house.  Started off bad when we pulled up and it was behind this abandoned building with a fence around the lot.  Literally that building was pretty much in the front yard of the house.  And it only got worse from there.  The house smelled TERRIBLE.  Italy smells different in general, laundry soap, even the American stuff, smells different when you use it here, but even the brand new house we looked at smelled odd to me.  Anyway, so it stunk, really bad.  The kitchen was literally smaller than our master bedroom closet in Phoenix.  The basement was like a dungeon, and the entire place was old, dark and dreary.  Yuck.

So the second place we looked at was the complete opposite.  It was brand new and they weren't done with it.  But it was pretty small.  The kitchen/dining/living room was all one room and it wasn't even as big as our kitchen/dining room in Phoenix.  But it had walk out doors on the living room side that were neat.  And then it had this weird room that was half full with the solar heating system and off of that was a full bath - shower and all on the main floor.  Why you'd put a shower on a floor without bedrooms is beyond me.  The upstairs had 3 small rooms and a bathroom, but the house didn't have a bathtub at all, which was a big turn off for me.  Abbie needs a tub.  Anyway, that one rose to the top of our short list after we saw it, but anything would have beat the first place.

The third place we saw was currently being lived in by people who are leaving the squadron.  They'll be out of the house on the 16th.  The house is about 6 years old and it's a duplex.  Almost all (new) houses in Italy are duplex's or more.  The 2nd one was I think 4-5 houses all connected.  Anyway, it's right up against a hill so the backyard is pretty steep and small, but the yard on the side is decent.  You pull up to the garage and then you have to walk up stairs to the first level.  There's a good sized front porch on the house that has a beautiful view.  It overlooks this quaint little town with the Dolomite mountains in the background.  It's breathtaking and I should have taken pictures, but I didn't.  I will next time though.  So you walk in the front door, and the living room is on the right and the kitchen is on the left, but it's actually one big room.  (Most older Italian houses have a main hallway with rooms with doors going off of it, including the kitchens and dining rooms.  Not open concept at all.)  If you go almost straight into the house from the front door, you'll go up three steps and down a hallway.  At the end of the hallway is a bathroom and to the right and left are bedrooms.  A little before the bedrooms on the right is a staircase going up to the 2nd floor which has a bedroom and bathroom.  If you go thru the living room there's a doorway going downstairs to another large room (which probably could be a living room - it has a fireplace and it's huge, but we'll most likely use it as a guest room), the garage, another full bathroom and 2 storage rooms.  The storage rooms alone were enough to sell me on this house.  That's almost unheard of with older Italian homes unless you count their dungeon basements.  Yuck.

So anyway, Mark and I really liked that house.  We went back and looked at it again today and told the landlord we wanted it and asked if he'd fence in the yard for us.  Hopefully we'll sign the contract this week.  We looked at one other house today and it was exactly like the first house, except it had been renovated.  But it still had that funky smell to it.  Next time we go back, I'll take a picture or 2 of the outside of the house and the views.

We also looked at cars today and found a little '95 BMW 318i.  It's a decent little car.  We'll use the Passat as our main car, but this car will be Mark's work car.  We can't drive here until we get our license's, and hopefully we'll be able to get those tomorrow.  You have to take a class and a test.  We've been pretty much stranded on base, which isn't horrible, but we want to get out and explore and we just can't because we have no way of getting around yet.  Hopefully that'll change soon.

Anyway, we're taking a class tomorrow from 8am-11:30am and a lady from the squadron (whom I've never met) is coming to our hotel to watch Abbie.  It's a good thing she's older because I would have had an absolute fit leaving her with someone I'd never met when she was younger.  Then another friend (who I've met a few times) is watching her while we get our licenses at 2pm.  Ollie bit her in the face yesterday so I'm more worried about what he'll do than anything else.  He's such a turd sometimes.

That's all for now.  It's 11:30pm here and I have to be up around 6:30am, so I'd better get to sleep, even though I'm not all that tired.  My schedule is still all out of whack.  More soon!  Until then, Ciao!  (goodbye)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

We’ve arrived in Italy!

Small confession:  I actually had to open my blog up to make sure I hadn’t written about this stuff already… *sighs*

We had a bit of excitement right off the bat.  We were at Avis returning the car and started unloading all our junk.  A guy came running up and said not to unload it, that he’d just drive us to the airport and drop us and all our junk off at the curb.  Great, except there was no way 3 adults, the baby, 2 dogs and all our junk were fitting in there.  So he was chasing down the bus and yelling at one of us to get on the bus and that we’d meet at the curb.  It all happened fast and so I grabbed 2 bags and got on the bus.  I had to borrow the lady bus drivers cell phone to call Mark to ask which airline to get off at since I wasn’t sure.  But we met up at the United departures curb, only to find out our flights were at the Lufthansa terminal, even though we booked through United.  So Mark and I had to hike 5 terminals back with all our junk.  It was an adventure.  I had a luggage cart piled so high that I had to look around it because I couldn’t see over it.  And Abbie was on my back yanking on my braid the entire time.  She thinks it’s her reins.  Mark was behind me with the 2 dogs in their crates, barking the entire time and he was pulling a big suitcase.  A little nuts.  And in all the commotion, we left our GPS in the car.  Oops.  Luckily my parents are handling that and getting it back for us.  (Thanks mom and dad!)

Checking in took quite a while.  We had to put stickers all over the dogs cages and their shot records and have the cages inspected and then we zip tied the doors shut.  I got a little teary eyed watching them leave, but they made it safe and sound.

Overall, the flights went very well.  Abbie slept for about 4 hrs total on the 11 hour flight and at one point Mark said he really wished we had a “spud”.  (Our neighbor in Phoenix, Thomas, referred to laid back babies who would just sit on the couch for hours as “spuds”.)  Our little one just has issues sleeping and she was trying her hardest to figure out how to lay on her stomach in the car seat.  Obviously, that didn’t go over so well.  But eventually she crashed towards the end of the flight to Germany.  She was a little bit fussy, but she wasn’t doing her loud shrieks, thank God.  And she slept the entire flight from Germany to Italy.

We flew over Venice before we landed and it gave me butterflies.  I just finished reading a Steve Berry book that partially takes place in Venice.  It was so pretty, even from the air.

After landing, we got all our luggage (so we thought) and the dogs, and changed Abbie (she had a blow out at the end of the first flight and naturally I didn’t pack any extra clothes for her in the 14 carry-on’s we had – not one of my brighter moves, but oh well) and took the dogs to go potty.  Our sponsor, Laura, was there as soon as we got out of the baggage claim area.  We loaded up the car and headed towards Aviano.  She explained quite a few things on the 50 min drive and I probably remember about 1/4th of it.

We got checked in to our hotel room, got the dogs settled and then headed to the BX/commissary to get a few things.  Laura took us to get our mailbox set up and I had 4 packages (3 of which I mailed to myself) already, so I was excited about that.  Then we went out to eat with about 10 of the wives from the squadron.  (All the guys are gone right now.)  It was nice to meet people already.  We were going to go out for gelato after dinner, but Abbie was fading fast and I wanted to get her to bed so she didn’t get a little nap in and then stay up for another 4 hours.  Luckily we made it home in time.  We got her to bed about 9pm (which was 1pm Phoenix time) and she slept until 3:30am.  Not bad!

We got up at 3:30am and then Abbie took a nap from 6-8am and then we ran a few more errands around base and called a bunch of places about renting houses.  Abbie slept from noon to almost 3pm just now, and now we’re headed out to look at a few places.  We’ll see what we find.  Decent houses seem scarce around here and it’s odd calling people about renting them, especially when you’re not sure if they speak English.  I wish I knew Italian.  Eventually I will, but that doesn’t do us any good right now.

I’ll write more later and hopefully I’ll get to take pictures soon!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hello from LAX

Just a quick blog before we board the plane.  We had a great time yesterday with Brittany and Michael.  I'll write a blog about that when I have time.

Hardly slept at all last night, thanks to our 10 month old.  After getting up with her 3 times between 10pm and 4am, we finally brought her to bed with us after 5am.  She wanted to play.  Finally she fell asleep around 6am I think.  She fell asleep with her head on Mark's head.  And then she rolled over the her back, but her head was still on Mark's head.  Kinda funny... but kinda not. 

We got everything packed up, the dogs went potty, the car filled with gas all record time and we were at Avis to return the car around 11am.  Since the car was completely packed, they wanted us to leave all the stuff in it, and I rode the bus to the airport, and someone from Avis drove Mark and Abbie and the dogs and everything else in the car and dropped them off.  The only problem was, we had them drop us off at United, since that's who are flights were booked thru.  But we're actually flying Lufthansa, so we had to hike about a mile with ALL our junk to get to the right terminal since no taxi would take us.  I asked about 3 of them and they all said they couldn't pick up on the departures area.  Nice.  So I strapped Abbie on in the Ergo and I pushed one cart full of luggage and Mark pushed the other and pulled one suitcase and we made it.

It took a while to check in.  But the dogs are checked in cargo and we're down to one luggage cart of carry-on stuff.  We grabbed lunch in the terminal and now we're supposed to board in 15 mins.  Abbie's climbing all over the place.  She hasn't taken a nap yet, so this might be interesting....

Our camera (the little one, not my DLSR) broke yesterday.  Bummer.  It's 5 years old though.  But it doesn't work so we won't be taking pictures on the flight at all.  Not that we would have anyway.  I'll buy a new one when we get over there.  Anyone have a Canon SD 1400 or SD 1300 you'd like to give a review on?  I think that's the one we'll get.

That's all for now.  Wish us luck.  This is the part I've been dreading for quite a while but Abbie's been relatively great so far today.  Let's hope she does well on the flight.  As of right now, we're not sitting together.  Mark is like 8 rows away from Abbie and me, but we're hoping someone will switch.  Pray that the dogs arrive safely.  I got teary eyed turning them over to someone else, but had to laugh when we heard Ollie's vicious bark as soon as he was out of sight.  He won't let anything near him....

More soon... from ITALY!!!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Abbie’s 2nd time at the Pacific Ocean

Abbie is a lot of fun right now.  She loves to play, which is adorable.  When we were in Phoenix, Mark would crawl around our coffee table with her and she’d chase him and then he’d chase her, and she’d laugh and he’d laugh and she’d squeal with delight.  I absolutely love watching the 2 of them interact.  You can tell they have a special bond.  She doesn’t suck on just anyone’s nose….IMG_4809 IMG_4807 We haven’t figured out why exactly she does that, but it’s hilarious…  And I don’t know what’s more funny, the fact that she does it or Mark’s face when she does it.  HAHA!  Cracks me up!

Anyway, some of you might remember the first time Abbie was at the beach.  She was 6 weeks old.  This time she loved looking at the birds and watching the waves and she was just pointing at everything.  It was really cute, and we got some pictures, despite my camera battery dying.  Bummer.IMG_4814 Family picture, even though the weinas are facing the wrong direction.IMG_4816 IMG_4817 IMG_4822 We ate at the Reel Inn on the Pacific Coast Highway tonight.  It reminded me of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  GREAT food, but very casual dining atmosphere.  We shared shrimp scampi and fried zucchini.  It was fun and I wish my camera hadn’t died.  Oh well.

Tomorrow we’re spending the day with Brittany and Michael.  They’re driving down from Travis AFB to spend the day with us and we’re pretty excited.  They’ll be meeting Abbie for the first time.  We haven’t seen them in close to 2 years, but Mike and Mark were in the same UPT class.  I think we’re going to go to the Aquarium of the Pacific and hang out by the beach and then maybe take Abbie to her first hibachi restaurant tomorrow night.  Hopefully Abbie handles an entire day out and about well.  We’ll see.

I doubt I’ll have time to write tomorrow or Sunday, so I guess my next blog will be coming to you from Italy!  That is so hard to believe.  I still can’t believe we’re actually going to be in Italy in 72 hours!


Made it to LA

We’ve made it to LA.  We drove here yesterday.  Left Phoenix around noon, stopped for lunch and got here around 7pm.  We hit rush hour traffic coming in to LA, which slowed our progress quite a bit.  Abbie slept at least 4 of the 6 hrs in the car.  She did REALLY well on the car ride.

We managed to get everything in to our Passat, but I’m fairly sure we couldn’t have fit anything else in there.  Things were VERY tight, but we made it and that’s all that matters. IMG_4762 IMG_4763 IMG_4765

I held both dogs on my lap most of the way, but Sadie sat on the bags in the back for quite a while also.  The rest of the car could have been empty and the dogs would still be on my lap.  They’re lap weinas.  Sadie is a pretty good co-pilot. IMG_4770

On the way here we passed through an area with more windmills than I’ve ever seen in my entire life.  It was this picture below times about 20.  They were EVERYWHERE for at least a few miles, in all directions.  It was pretty neat! IMG_4786

And after the windmills we passed through these neat hills.  It made us think of Ireland.  Everything was so green, even in AZ, because of all the rain we’ve gotten lately.  (These pictures are taken on my little camera, not my DSLR.  That one is packed safely in our luggage and I didn’t feel like dragging it out.)IMG_4795

We’re hoping people realize that we’re not just in LA for the weekend…  Well, we are, but then we’re off to Italy.  Here’s the luggage cart with all our junk on it.  And the dog crates are even broken down!  Leaving is going to be even more interesting..  But at least we’re able to tackle all this together, so I’m not going to complain.  We can deal with it.  It is kinda funny though.  We seriously look like a modern day version of the Beverly Hillbillies.  We got the rental car today and the “luggage carts” are smaller than grocery carts…  We’re going to need about 4 of them to haul all our junk.  We’ll just allow extra time for multiple trips. IMG_4797

So last night was not at all good.  We’re at a La Quinta, and we were in a room with a king bed… and a crib, and 2 dogs crates, and ALL of our junk, which left very little room to move around in.  Abbie did not sleep well at all, which means, neither did we.  Mark got her to sleep around 10pm, and she was awake and screaming around 11pm (right after I fell asleep).  We tried for a good hour and a half to get her to go to sleep again in her crib, with no luck.  We tried moving her crib next to us, against the wall, by the door, rearranging the furniture each time, and nothing worked.  Finally I laid her down and nursed her and she fell right asleep.  So she slept in between us, which still means that we didn’t sleep much.  The kid is a wild banshee in her sleep.  She moves SOO much.  (What exactly is a wild banshee anyway??)  Mark and I both got kicked, bonked or slapped in the head multiple times, and when she wasn’t moving around, I still woke up to make sure her face wasn’t in a pillow.  Not our idea of fun.  So this morning I asked if there was any way we could upgrade to a suite, and they upgraded us for $5/day extra!  So now she’s in the living room area, and we’re in the bedroom, and hopefully it’ll work out better for everyone.  None of us sleep well when we’re all in the same room.

Oh, and we’ve used the Ergo a TON during the move and traveling.  I’m so glad we got that thing!IMG_4798

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Answered prayers

We got the news yesterday that our visas were in!!! I was so relieved I almost passed out, except I was wearing Abbie in the Ergo so I didn't.  =)  So now we all get to go to Italy together.  I'm SOO relieved.  I feel like Mark and I can tackle just about any task infront of us when we're together, but I was quite worried about having to do it alone.  Luckily though, I have the best mom and mother in law in the world and both of them were prepared to drop everything and pay for a (very expensive) ticket to Italy so I wouldn't have to go alone.  I am very blessed.`

Last night we stayed in TLF's (temp lodging facility) on base.  They're the old base housing, so it's an actual house - 3 bdrm, 2 bath, fenced in back yard, crib and high chair.  Very nice.  Except the bed.  It might as well be a piece of plywood with a sheet over it.  Hard as a ROCK.  And the stupid headboard squeaks so every time you roll over or move, it makes noise.  Oh well.  We can handle it for one more night.

So tonight is our last night in AZ.  Tomorrow we will drive to LA so we can drop our car off at the port on Friday and spend time with friends on Saturday.  On Sunday, we depart for Germany at 2:50pm, and get to Germany at 10:35am, have an hour and a half in Germany and then board the flight to Venice at 12:20pm and get to Venice at 1:35pm.  We're so excited.  This all seems surreal right now.

Anyway, that's the news for now.  The last packer is here and I think they'll be loading stuff up as soon as the truck gets here.  I need to go finish cleaning the house and then we'll be out of here!  And it's a freakin work out, cleaning an entire house, top to bottom while wearing a 10 month old on your back!  But I need the exercise anyway.  =)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Halfway done

Well we’re mid-move now.  2 days down, 2 days to go.  The vast majority of our upstairs is packed and gone.  They left our bed and the guest bed, and all the stuff that’s going to IL up there, but that’s about it.  Now they just have to do the downstairs – kitchen, living room and laundry room basically.  I don’t think it’ll take them too long to do all that.

We had the windshield replaced on the Passat 2 weeks ago and Friday the rear view mirror fell off.  A guy came out today to fix it, and after the 3rd attempt he got it to stick… long enough for him to leave.  And then it fell off again.  So they’re coming out Wednesday to put in a new windshield again, which is completely convenient since we have the 4th round of movers coming, Mark has to out-process on base, the dogs have their vet check appt, we have to get their health certificates USDA vet certified (which is 45 mins away), and we have to get the house completely cleaned and ready to go.  I’m not exactly sure when they’re going to replace it, but it’ll be interesting.

Today I ran a few errands while the movers and Mark were here.  I took a bunch of stuff to the post office, mainly 4 big boxes of stuff for us to ship to Italy.  It took me a good half hour or more to fill out all the paperwork for them and it was frustrating.  Out of the 4 boxes, the one I was most concerned about getting there quickly was the ONLY one I couldn’t send priority.  Naturally, it was Abbie’s car seat (which as much other stuff crammed around it as I could fit in the box).  She’s pretty much outgrown her infant carrier, so we wanted her convertible car seat to get there quickly, which is why I didn’t send it in the 3 week express shipment.  I wanted it there shortly after we got there.  But lo and behold, the damn thing was a few inches over the max to send it priority.  So instead of being there in 7-10 days, it’ll be there in 4-6 weeks.  And the USPS is the only way to ship to an APO address.  No FedEx or UPS.  And it was still $111 for that one box.  Go figure…  All 4 of them was $356.  I hope we get reimbursed for some of that….

Still no word on the visas.  My stomach has been hurting on and off for the past 24 hours, I think mostly due to nerves.  I know full well this is going to come down to the wire, and most likely I’ll have to rearrange all my plans at the last minute.  (Anyone remember the baby shower ordeal??…)

Anyway, Abbie is up there screaming now, so I’m going to go try to calm her down.  We’ll keep you updated.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Packing is never ending

…which is why I’ve taken quite a few breaks today.  We’re mostly packed, but I keep thinking of things I’d like to try to cram into a suitcase or ship ourselves.  Since I’ve heard of more than one occasion where entire shipments have been “lost”, it’s hard to decide what I want to entrust to the packers care, because in the back of my mind, I’m thinking I might never see some of my things again.  And even if I do see them again, what can I live without for 2+ months?  Not easy decisions at all.

I’ve managed to cram all of Abbie’s toys and books that we’re taking into this little carry-on.  Hopefully that thing being jam packed full of toys and books will keep her entertained for a few weeks.  (Abbie and Sadie are GREAT helpers when it comes to packing….  I put it in, Abbie takes it out and Sadie watches.  We have a system.)IMG_0126

The weinas know something is going on, which means Ollie is officially attached to my hip.  I took these pictures of them last night, while Ollie was sitting on my lap. IMG_0096

Who couldn’t love a face like this?? IMG_0099

Sadie-Roo, crazy as ever! IMG_0103

As I told you a few days ago, I got my order from Burgundy Buttons in.  I got 4 charm packs, and a honey bun of Moda fabric by Me and My Sister Designs.  Mark was making fun of me today.  I have the fabric sitting on the table, which is directly in front of the door when I come into the house.  He said I pick it up every time I come in or go past it and touch it and go through it and run my fingers over the edges of it.  He did a fairly good immitation of me doing it.  I can’t help it.  Fabric makes me happy.  It’s so pretty and colorful and I love looking at it and imagining what I might be able to do with it someday.  Here’s a few pictures of it.IMG_0113 IMG_0114 I also won that drawing from Burgundy Buttons also and she emailed me and asked if I wanted to take advantage of their 10% off sale (for National Quilting Day, which was yesterday) and the free shipping since she was already shipping me the giveaway fabric.  She talked me into it, which admittedly, wasn’t too difficult.  So I ordered 2 more charm packs and a jelly roll (which is like a honey bun, but bigger) of fabric.  And I’m having it shipped to Italy so hopefully it’ll meet me over there and I can have something else to brighten my day and make me feel not so far from home.  It’s amazing that 2 weeks ago I couldn’t have told you what a jelly roll or a charm pack or a honey bun was if you’d smacked me upside the head with one.  I had no clue about anything quilting related.  But now I follow LOTS of quilting blogs and look at all these pictures of AMAZING quilts that these ladies create and I just want to sit down and quilt for days.  I’m excited to get to Italy because it’s Italy, but I’m also excited to get there and get started on my new hobby.  I’ve been looking for a sewing table on craigslist for a while now, but it’s hard to pick up tables that big without a truck, and they’ve been kinda expensive so I’ve held off.  (By the way, I’m going to miss Craigslist like none other after we leave Phoenix.  That’s one of my favorite sites to browse.)  Anyway, I had a wonderful idea that I could get a sewing table at Ikea once we get over to Italy!  I think there are like 3 Ikea’s within a 4 hour radius of Aviano, and I’m sure we’ll need other stuff from there after we get moved in and settled.  We always think of more things we need.  So that made me happy to realize I could get it in Italy.

That’s all for now!  Back to packing!

I want to take a nap

When I get stressed out, I get tired, so my defense against stress (pre-child) was to take a nap.  However, that proves to be much harder with a 10 month old who likes to get into EVERYTHING.  Sometimes when she naps, I nap, unless I need to get things done, and then my only chance to do anything productive is when she’s asleep.
Packing is one of those things that I need to do while she’s asleep, and usually I love to pack.  I love the excitement of whatever you’re packing for.  However, this time, packing is stressing me out, mainly because I’m packing for an indefinite amount of time, and since I don’t exactly know where I’m going yet (and won’t until all the rest of my clothes are packed by movers) I don’t know what temperature to pack for.  It’s cold in Italy right now – 40’s and 50’s.  Same with Illinois.  It’s in the 70’s and 80’s here in Phoenix, and it’s in the 60’s in LA.  I really have no clue if I’ll get to leave in less than a week with Mark, or if I’ll have to come back to Phoenix to wait for visas, or if I’ll be able to fly home (to IL) and wait there.  And if I do have to wait in Phoenix or at home, I have no clue how long I’ll have to wait.  And either way, once we get to Italy we’ll have to wait somewhere between 3 weeks and 3 months for the rest of our stuff to get there.
All this packing is just making me REALLY nervous about the future.  And you’d think it’d be the whole moving to Italy thing that I’m nervous about, but that’s not it.  It’s the thought of having to live in a hotel room with my 10 month old for weeks by myself or fly a 12 hour flight (plus another 2 hr flight) with her by myself.  I love that kiddo to death, but she is a TON of work and she’s exhausting.  It’s hard enough to entertain her in our own house with a room full of toys with a husband who’s incredibly involved with her and helps all the time, let alone in a hotel room that’s not at all baby-proofed or in an airplane seat for 12 hours.  For weeks on end, by myself, with no help from anyone (unless we get to go to IL).  THAT, my friends, is why I just want to forget it all and go take a nap.  =)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Davis-Monthan air show

We took Abbie to her 1st (although according to my mom, technically 2nd) air show today.  We had planned to stay and watch the Thunderbirds, but it was hot, and you had to rent chairs for $15 each and we were worried about Abbie getting too much sun, even though we’d bathed her in sunscreen multiple times.  I’m the one that ended up getting a little burnt.  But anyway, we left before they performed.  We did see A-10’s, F-18’s, C-17’s, P-51’s and a U-28 though, and a couple of F-16’s and C-130’s.  It was fun.  I did take a few pictures of the planes, but usually my camera was focused on Abbie.  =) IMG_9938 IMG_9949
And since it was Abbie’s 10 month birthday today, we gave her a TINY taste of our ice cream cone.  She liked it. IMG_9979 IMG_9995IMG_9984

Friday, March 19, 2010

End of the week.

Yesterday I got the autographed book from Me and My Sister Designs in the mail.  I'm pretty darn excited about it.  But, since the packers are here, I had to put it with the stuff that they're taking today so hopefully it'll be in Italy in 3 weeks.  I know I've said this before, but seriously, if they lose all our stuff, I'm going to cry.  Especially all my new quilting stuff.  I'm so excited to get started with my new hobby, it stinks that I have to pack it all up right now.  Oh well.  I suppose it'll be fun to quilt in Italy.  =)
My other good news is that I won a giveaway!!!  I'm so excited about it!  I won a jelly roll from Breath of Avignon by American Jane and 2 yards of coordinating fabric from Jaybird Quilts!  I posted on my facebook status yesterday that I was headed to Joann's to get a few more quilting supplies and a girl that is currently in Italy said something along the lines of "enjoy it while you can because there aren't stores like that over here".  I've been spending WAY too much money on quilting supplies lately, but I am afraid that I'm going to have very limited access to fabric once we get to Italy.  Even if they do have fabric shops over there, I'll have to pay for it in Euros, which automatically makes it half again as much as fabric in dollars.  Luckily I've been finding fabric shops online that ship to APO addresses.  Yay!
Yesterday at Joann's I got the rest of my fabric for my 2nd quilt, plus the batting, and then fabric to make Abbie 2 pillow cases, and quilting safety pins and thread and a thread rack.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of it, so I'll have to show it to you after we get to Italy.
Tomorrow we are heading to the Davis-Monthon air show near Tucson.  We’re pretty excited about that.  A guy that used to be in Mark’s squadron is now a Thunderbird, and he’s flying his first show tomorrow.  Tomorrow is also Abbie’s 10 month birthday.  I can’t believe she is 10 months old already! 
I was going to post a few pictures today but unfortunately Mark already took them off the camera and put them onto our desktop, which is now packed.  I’ll post pictures tomorrow though.  Sorry my posts have been so boring lately.  I’ll post pictures soon!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Many moves.

So this is our fifth move in 5 years, but compared to all the other ones, this one seems much more difficult.  I don’t know if it has to do with the fact that it’s an overseas move or that we have a baby (and all her junk) to deal with this time, but it’s much more stressful.  I guess all the other moves have just been one move, and this one is actually 3 moves.  With the other moves, we’ve just had to decide what we wanted to take with us in our cars, and we were never without our stuff more than a week.  The move to Italy is quite a bit different.  We need to decide what we want/need to take in our luggage with us, what we want to put into storage for 3 years, what we can handle being without for 2 months, and what we think will hold us over until all our other stuff gets there.  It’s kind of complicated and we don’t really even know where to start.
I’ve been going through the kitchen trying to pick out stuff to put in our express (3 week – if we’re lucky) shipment.  Surprisingly, it’s Abbie’s stuff that’s the hardest to decide about.  The kitchen stuff was easy, the bathroom/bedroom stuff is fairly easy, the desktop computer, tv, bikes, trailer, all that stuff is easy to decide to send in the express shipment.  But Abbie’s stuff is different.  I think I’ve decided to pack all of her 12 mos clothes and bring it with us in our luggage.  We’re going to send her crib in the express shipment, along with some of her books and some of her toys.  The rest of her books and toys we’re either going to take in our luggage or mail it to ourselves so we have them as soon as we get to Italy.  (That’s another twist, we can’t get our express shipment until we have a house for them to deliver it to.  So even if it does get there in 3 weeks, we don’t get it until we move into a house.)  I bought a new shower curtain today so we have that when we get a house, and put a curtain rod in with our express shipment pile today.  I am just praying to God that they don’t lose all our stuff in any of the shipments.  Mark’s been busy today videotaping all of it so we know what we have and that everything (electronics) work.  Thank God the military does all the dirty work with all these moves.  If I had to pack and load and unload all our stuff myself during every move, I wouldn’t enjoy moving half as much.  I unpack most of it myself, although I usually point the movers to the rooms that I want the boxes going in, so it’s relatively easy.  (Except for last time when I was 34 weeks pregnant, but luckily my mom and Mark’s mom helped out a ton.  And I’m not pregnant this time, so that helps a lot.)
I’m going to cry when they pack up our desktop computer.  This little laptop is alright, but it is SOO slow sometimes and it’s hard to do any work on it.  Hopefully we won’t be without the desktop for too long.
On a side note, we’re having a landscaping company come tomorrow to clean up our yard.  The weeds are outrageous right now!  Apparently AZ has gotten more rain this year than they have in a long time and it doesn’t look like a desert anymore because of all the green.  When we moved into this house, it took us a good few months to get the lawn green and grass growing.  We haven’t watered the lawn since November and it’s growing like crazy, along with all the weeds in the rocks.  (Most AZ landscaping includes a yard consisting of mostly rocks.  It is a HUGE pain in the butt keeping weeds from growing in those rocks, especially with all the rain we’ve gotten lately.)  So hopefully the guy can work wonders on the lawn tomorrow!
That’s all for now!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The fine line

So things really seem to be falling into place right now, which is almost scary.  For so long, we really had no clue if this move to Italy was going to actually happen or not.  At first we were all gung-ho about it, but around the 3rd time of all our plans changing, our hope was quickly diminishing and we weren’t sure the move was going to happen at all.  I stopped studying Italian, and tried to focus on other stuff (unsuccessfully).  But now the movers are actually scheduled, Mark is doing all his out-processing stuff, we have flights scheduled, hotel rooms reserved here and in Italy, dog appointments for health certificates made, etc.   The only thing that is going to screw this all up is whether or not Abbie’s and my passports are back in time.  I’m walking a very thin line of trying not to freak out that they won’t be here, and trying not to get my hopes up too much that they will. 
If they do get back by the 25th, we’ll be leaving LA on March 28th at 2:30pm and flying directly to Frankfurt, Germany, arriving there at 10:35am.  (That’s a 10.75hr flight.)  Then we’ll fly from Frankfurt at 12:20pm to Venice, Italy at 1:35pm.  The dogs have spots reserved on those flights also.
Now I find myself wondering often what Italy will be like.  I’ve been to Italy before, but not the part we’re going to live in.  How long will it take for me to figure things out there?  Be able to read road signs, or understand signs in general?  Will it smell the same as the US?  What will the weather be like?  What will the Italians be like?  What will the new squadron be like?  What will it be like to have Mark busy and gone a LOT?  What will the 6 hour time difference be like and how often will I get to talk to friends and family?  There are so many things we take for granted now, like being able to turn on the TV or radio and understand what they’re saying.  Or like having houses with any sort of storage in them. Or kitchens that are bigger than the size of bathrooms.  Or carpeting.  Or having appliances that actually plug into outlets.  I’m a little nervous about them packing up all of our stuff and moving it for us.  We’ve always done partial dity (do-it-yourself) moves, where we’ve taken our most important stuff with us.  But we can’t really do that when we’re flying.  As long as we, along with all of our stuff, get over there, I’ll be happy.
Hopefully this will be the beginning of, yet another, great adventure.  I guess that all depends on how you look at it.  =)

Quilting excitement!

I have to admit.  I’m super excited about this quilting stuff.  If I didn’t have a baby to take care of and an overseas move to prepare for, I’d spend all my waking moments quilting.  But… since I do have a (very needy) baby and we are moving to Italy in less than 2 weeks, I unfortunately don’t have the time to do it right now.
But I’m still shopping for quilting stuff.  Saturday I went and picked up the batting and the backing for Abbie’s quilt, along with the thread and more supplies for my new machine.IMG_9610IMG_9617
Here’s a close up of the fabric I’m using for the backing for Abbie’s quilt.  It’s black with tiny purple flowers on it.  I think it’ll be really cute.  IMG_9612 And here’s the thread I picked up to quilt it together with.  It’s multicolored and I think it’ll look pretty neat!IMG_9614
Yesterday I went to Joann’s to get a few more quilting supplies.  I have no idea what will be available to me in Italy, so I’m trying to stock up on things now so I don’t have to pay for shipping later.  I got 15 fat quarters of fabric, a small rotary cutter, permanent fabric pens to sign and date my quilts, a new pin cushion, fabric pencils, and that heart thing in the middle is a magnetic pin holder.  I’ve discovered when I have my quilt pieces pinned together, as I’m sewing them together and pulling out the pins, I don’t have enough time to stick them in a pin cushion.  So I end up with a pile of them next to my machine, and they tend to roll everywhere.  With a baby that picks up everything and puts it all in her mouth, having pins on the floor is scary.  So the magnetic holder will keep them all together for me until I can stick them in the cushions. IMG_9616
And now for my most exciting news:  While I was at Joann’s, I was looking at quilt patterns.  I always gravitate towards quilt patterns made by “Me and My Sister Designs”.  They are fairly easy and very colorful and I love them.  But they’re $9 each.  I was thinking to myself how if they had a book of quilt patterns I’d buy it in a heartbeat, and lo’ and behold, on my last time past the books section at Joann’s, I found one of their books.  This book, to be  However, it was $25, which in comparison, is a great price since there are about 12 patterns in it.  Much cheaper than buying the patterns separately, but still, that’s a quarter of $100.  I decided to splurge, but when they rang it up, it was only $14.99!!  SCORE!  I practically skipped to the car.
As I was perusing through the book, I noticed the website for “Me and My Sister Designs”, and decided to check it out.   I’ve discovered that there are hundreds of quilting blogs and websites out there, and I’ve joined at least 20 in the past week.  Their website had a blog, so I checked that out.  They had an entry in there from last week saying that they’d be at an annual quilting show in Mesa, signing their books on Friday.  Last Friday.  Bummer!  So I commented on their blog about how I was so bummed that I missed it since Mesa is less than an hour from here and I would have loved to get a signed copy of their books.  And today they responded!!  They asked for my address and they’re sending me a signed copy of their first pattern book for free!  They’re just giving it to me!  I’m so excited I can hardly stand it!  They said that they liked my comment about being a new quilter and they wanted to help me on my journey.  Isn’t that incredible?   They also design fabric for Moda, and it’s all really colorful and happy and I’m so excited to use some of their fabric for future quilts.  (The pattern on the front of their book is some of their fabric.  It’s all colorful like that.  I <3 it!)
I’m going to add a bar on my blog to put all the quilting blogs I’m following.  (Ashley, this might help you too!)  Lots of them give stuff away like fabric and quilting supplies and I’ve even seen one give away a sewing machine.  Pretty darn neat!  I just entered a drawing for fabric at
Anyway, just wanted to share my excitement with you all.  I’m SO tempted to put my sewing machine in the fast shipment to Italy.  If we have room, I might!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

“every mother…”

When I was at the airport Friday morning waiting for Mark, an older couple (probably in their 70’s) sat down in the chairs next to me.  We got to chatting.  They were heading to Washington state to visit family, and they thought Abbie was adorable.  The woman asked if Abbie was my first and then she said “Every mother should have at least one daughter.”  I kinda smiled and she said that her first was a daughter and then “all the rest” were boys and they never got another girl.  She said girls are special.  And I agree. 
It’s funny, I had always wanted to have a boy first.  I’d always thought it would be fun to have a big brother, so I guess I wanted my kids to have a big brother, which would entail having a boy first.  But I can’t imagine having anything but our feisty little Abbie now.  I’m sure boys are wonderful too, but I wouldn’t mind having all girls.  (By “all”, I mean 2 or 3… or maybe 4… We’ll see.)  My mom and Mark’s mom and my grandma all made it clear before we found out what we were having, that they were rooting for team pink, and they got their wishes.
As I said before, girls are fun, just for the mere fact that they’re like little dolls you can dress up.  It always seems that the girl’s clothes selection is MUCH larger than the boys clothes section.  I loved this little outfit on her.  She looks too cute in skirts, and anything else I guess.  IMG_9536 She rode her (actually it was mine when I was little) bug bike by herself for the first time the other day.  I helped her on it, but she pushed herself (backwards, but it’s a start).  Her long legs actually pretty much reach the floor now on both sides so she was pretty stable on it.
Here’s a few more books pictures.  She’s always looking at them and pulling them off the shelves, but as soon as I go to get the camera and she sees me, she’ll desert the books and follow me, so it’s hard to catch her in the act. IMG_9493IMG_9575
She loves getting in to the pantry.  I’ve moved everything she shouldn’t get in to up to higher shelves.  She has a good time yanking all those bags out.  I thought she looked adorable sitting there trying to figure out what to get into next. IMG_9548
She’s taken to screaming at the top of her lungs any time she wants anything.  Anyone know how long this stage lasts or how to get her to not scream?  It’s slightly embarrassing when we’re out and about and she sees something she wants and she just starts screaming at the top of her lungs.  Luckily people usually laugh and point, and then she points back at them and it distracts her, but geesh…  I hope this is a very short stage or our trip to Italy is going to be long… IMG_9500

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It’s done!

Here’s the finished quilt top.
IMG_9580Here’s a few of the steps leading up to the finished product.
Sewing the strips together. Here I have 4 of the 6 sewn together.IMG_9441
Here are all 6 sewn together.
Then I cut the strips into squares.  I got 3 12.5x12.5 squares and 1 7x12.5 square out of each strip.
Here are all the squares laid out in the order I wanted them to be in, although I don’t think they ended up in this order…
And here are the rows sewn together.  Somehow I managed to sew the wrong sides of two of the rows together so I had to rip out that entire seam, but I got it fixed in the end.
And here’s my new machine.  I LOVE it!!!
Today I’m going to pick up more supplies for the quilt.  (Batting, backing and binding.)  I probably won’t start quilting it until after we get to Italy because I’m not sure I’ll have time this week. Boo..  I’m VERY tempted to put the sewing machine in our “fast” shipment, just incase it is faster than the other shipment.  =)
And as I promised, here are the clothes I bought for Abbie on Thursday.  I hear the Italians LOVE babies and give you perks when you travel with them (like move you to the front of the line, etc).  Here’s hoping!  (Elyse, you’d be proud, I actually bought her some brown!!!)
IMG_9560 IMG_9561 IMG_9562 IMG_9563   IMG_9569