Truly Y'all. There are no words for this one. Just so so so so many HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAs.
Hey y'all! Today I'm answering more questions about Italy. This is so fun for me to do and often encourages self-reflection. I always learn so much when I type these up. Thank you so much for the questions!
A: We are very lucky in that we have English speaking landlords. It's very easy to get things done when I can easily speak the language. With that being said, I have had some tricky situations (getting XRays where no one spoke English, enrolling the littles for Italian preschool) where the Google Translate app has been my best friend.
I've also made Italian friends and they have been INVALUABLE. I can muddle my way through most conversations now but there are certain things that I have no idea how to express verbally! It's super intimidating and overhwhelming!
A: We live downtown, so our "neighborhood" is pretty much like the downtown of any city. As far as the layout of our apartment goes, one thing I had to quickly get used to is that Italian homes don't have wide open spaces/great rooms like American homes do.
We have three floors and each has a small atrium with rooms that open up off of it. The ceilings are really high and this apartment actually has quite a bit of square footage, but it took some getting used to because the layout is so different!
The kitchens here are A LOT smaller than American kitchens. The appliances are different too. Our freezer can't even hold a gallon of ice cream!!! We shop as we eat much more, as opposed to big grocery trips like I did in the US. There's simply not room to store everything!
There is no central air...we have a few small units in some of our rooms. It seemed so hot last summer but we've adjusted and no longer notice. I feel that the US is going to seem so COLD to us when we move back!
Our washer and dryer are small and take much longer to do laundry. A wash cycle (the short one) is one hour. And it takes at least an hour and a half to dry laundry. It's been a major adjustment to say the least!
A: H and S attend American school on post. They had some very real worries and fears about being in a school where they didn't understand the language so we chose to honor their wishes and keep them in American school.
C and L will be attending asilo (Italian preschool) in the fall and will hopefully have two full years before we move back to the states.
I am on post a lot...that is where I drop the girls off for school and that is where I pick up our mail. We have a US address/APO address. I also buy a few things at the commissary, though I MUCH prefer to purchase meat and produce locally. I do love having a PX for purchasing our toiletries and American books,etc. I'm also at the library on post often. I'd say it's about 50/50. I love spending time around Vicenza!
Okay. That's it for today. If you have any questions about what it's like to be an expat in Italy, leave a comment!
I am really happy with the quality of photos that my iPhone 5 takes. I know I've talked about this a few times here, but I'd like to revisit my thoughts and hear your input!
I think that it's still important to do periodic portraits with my "real" camera, and I also intend to get a professional photographer to take some photos of us while we are in Italy.
But let me share a few reasons I'm loving my iPhone right now.
1. It fits in my purse. When I am traveling (especially in places with alot of pickpockets- like Las Ramblas) I do NOT want to be carrying a big camera. I'm constantly picking up children, jumping on the subway in a hurry, and I have my hands full.
2. I don't want to take my big camera to the beach.
3. It takes me a bit to turn on and adjust my camera and lots of times this causes me to miss authentic moments. My girls (and Jimmy!) don't act like themselves when the DSLR is out. I find that the iPhone is much less intrusive and allows me to capture real life moments.
4. My girls can use the iPhone to capture moments that I wouldn't have. I don't have to worry about them handling it.
5. I love that I can make Artifact Uprising books directly from my phone.
When we went to Florence last Thanksgiving, J was looking at all of my photos and he honestly remarked that the iPhone pics were better than the DSLR photos. Yikes!
I hope to eventually get back to a point that I can use my big camera often...but in this phase of my life (living in Europe, small children) the phone works better. And man- I really have captured some great shots with it!
What about you? Do you find yourself reaching for your big camera these days? Or do you use your phone?
Also- would there be any interest on a post where I share my iPhone tips? Photography, editing, storage, etc?
Just let me know- Happy Monday.
Recently one of my friends posed a question on Instagram. She asked if we (her followers) would allow our littles to leave the house in costume. That wasn't her exact question, but that's the gist of it.
My immediate answer was YES! Of course! Yes, yes, yes. A million times yes.
I have allowed my girls to go out in costumes their entire lives. Monkey heads, cat costumes, princess dresses, Sadie had a phase where she liked to dress like a chef. Harper wore a flamenco dress for an entire day in Barcelona. Crowns are worn on the reg, as are cowgirl boots. Fancy party dresses are worn for no reason at all. Cate had about a month where she wore a monster head every single second of every single day.
As I type this Lucy is in a purple sequined dance costume and Cate is dressed like Snow White, with a winter hat on her head.
I believe it's whimsy, plain and simple.
I don't find it to be disrespectful. Of course I wouldn't allow the girls to dress like animals, astronauts, or princesses for a wedding or a formal event, those things have a specific dress code.
But I love, love, LOVE this phase of their lives. Soon enough we will be arguing over fashion choices. This is a non-issue. Want to wear that cowgirl hat to dinner? SURE! Want to go grocery shopping dressed like a cheeseburger? WHY NOT! Rock that tiara, sister!
I routinely utter the phrase "No you cannot put on that dress until we get there. I can't buckle all that tulle into your car seat!"
We spend too much time worrying what others think. I wish I could wear a dang tutu now and again. Come to think of it...why can't I?
You know the best part? The looks on other people's faces. 9 times out of 10 (and many days 10 times out of 10), people stop and grin. And many of them stop to speak to us.
This season in our lives is a blink. A flash in the pan. Soon I will be surrounded by sequins, tiaras, tulle, and slippers. And no one will be wearing them. And oh...I will miss this so so so much.
Let them be little. Let them dream, scheme, and play.
Let whimsy win. Say yes to fantasy and daydreams. It's one of the few things I can always say yes to without reserve.
Can I get an amen?
We still have a few days left of J's leave and I'm looking forward to just being lazy. Not looking to all of the laundry so much but that's life. :) Ha!
Would y'all like to see all of the Spain photos and stories in one post or is it better to spread them out? I can't wait to share!
Hey y'all! I wanted to do a quick Stuck on You review because I LOVED these products they sent me.
Harper went to Girl Scout camp a while back and Stuck on You asked if they could send her a few items.
Um? Yes. Always. This company has always been one of my favorites.
Let me share what she took with her.
I generally don't have the patience for Iron-on labels but they were a necessity for this trip. Tip: make sure to actually keep the iron on the label for the recommended amount of time. I had some issues with warping until I figured out I wasn't keeping the iron on long enough.
The good news? EVERYTHING made it through the trip. These items are crazy durable. The journal is adorable and the drink bottle is so high quality and is the perfect size for H.
If you want to check out Stuck on You go to the links below.
Happy Thursday y'all!
This past Friday we went on a little adventure to Sardinia. The plane ride is only a little over an hour and the tickets were crazy affordable.
We decided that we should go to the south of Sardinia, Cagliari specifically. Oh, who am I kidding. *I* decided. I am the trip planner and packer in this family. Ha!
I picked Cagliari for several reasons. First- I heard that the southern part of Sardinia was less touristy than the northern part. Also...the tickets to the Cagliari airport were WAY more affordable than the tickets to the north. Decision made.
Here's where we were on a map:
The first day we got there about 10 am and checked into the apartment. As always, we used Airbnb. I find it the best way to travel for a large family. If you want to try Airbnb, use my referral link. We will both get travel credit!
We knew we didn't have a good grasp of the area yet and we didn't want to cram too much into the first day, so first we did a bit of exploring in the city.
Since we flew to the city, we opted to rely on public transportation. We wanted to get the lay of the land before we attempted anything complicated.
Of course that included eating. Duh. I have to say whenever anyone asks me where to eat in Italy I say ANYWHERE. This isn't a joke.
I have only had one bad meal in the year we've been here. Everything is good here.
You simply cannot go wrong with a plate of pasta. The more simple the better. Italy does al dente right. I haven't had a single plate of over or undercooked pasta since moving here.
After lunch we decided to hop on a bus to Poetto Beach. Poetto is Cagliari's "city" beach.
It was an overcast and gray afternoon so photos don't do it justice but it was quite lovely.
Since moving to Italy I've discovered the Spritz Aperol/Aperol Spritz , a traditional Italian cocktail. I'm obsessed. They are the perfect combination of bitter and sweet.
Spritz Aperol // 3 parts prosecco + 2 parts Aperol + a splash of soda water . Garnish with orange and serve over ice. Aperol is the sweet counterpart of Campari...you can also make this cocktail with Campari for a more bitter version.
On day two, we took the advice of our taxi driver and visited Villasimius.
Oh.My.Gosh y'all. There are no words. The most beautiful beach I've ever seen.
It was about a 2 hour bus ride away from Cagliari and as our bus got close I knew we were in for a treat because this is what i saw out our window.
We got off the bus and walked for about half an hour down the beach, around a corner...and saw this. GASP.
Day three we took our taxi driver's advice, yet again, and hit up Chia Beach.
Chia is all the way down at the southern tip of Sardinia.
Another day, another walk clear across town to the bus station. These four are rock stars.
Chia was closer. The bus ride was a little over an hour long.And it was magic. Wayyy more crowded than Villasimius but still incredible.
It was a wonderful, beautiful trip. And I'm missing it terribly now that I'm back in the real world!
A few summarizing thoughts.
1. This part of Sardinia was the perfect choice for our family. We only heard English one time the entire weekend and that's how we like it. In Italy, wherever the Italians go is the best. That's true when it comes to beaches, restaurants, and vacations.
2. We used the diaper trick for our valuables. We took a diaper and rolled up our money inside. Who's going to look inside a diaper for money? It was a very safe area but you can never be too safe.
3. I took this beach mat from Target. It was amazing.
4. I did not take my big camera at all. Lots of people like to comment that I'll regret not taking DSLR photos. Here's the deal though. I'm not lugging my big camera to the beach and leaving it in the sand while I swim. Not gonna happen. Also...the longer I live here it's just a simple fact that I don't want to take it with me. I don't want the added bulk. I don't want to have to pull it out and adjust the settings. My iPhone works just fine. For me.
5. You don't see many photos of the girls because in Europe little girls don't wear tops at the beach. It's just the way it's done and it's so funny talking to my Italian friends. They don't understand why you would cover up something when there's nothing there. HA!
That said, the girls went to the beach every day in 2 piece swimsuits. Once they got there and saw all of the other children they all made the choice to do it the European way and I didn't argue. So there are photos, but they won't be shared here. HEEE!
6. In contrast, I felt like a nun on the beach. Seriously. I felt like I was wearing a head to toe wetsuit. In reality it was a tankini. Y'all...European women are awesome. They all rock bikinis no matter weight, age, or breast size. There is zero self consciousness. I wish I could say I've reached this enlightened state after a year here, but the fact is I haven't.
After reading this incredible blog post (by my friend Jessica) I realized I was doing myself and my girls a disservice by not participating at the pool and the beach. What kind of a message am I sending them? So I spent an entire weekend sans coverup just being present and having FUN. It was exhilarating.
7. Yes there was a lot of walking and a LOT of down time riding buses. We made the decision that our girls were just going to have to deal with it. We didn't take electronics at all. Harper did take books but didn't ever read them. There was some whining but they learned to deal with it. And I love that.
So there you have it...our Sardinian adventure!
Happy Wednesday y'all!
But y'all...I'm having a really really hard time. Sigh.
We just got back from four days in the most beautiful place I've ever seen. Hands down. Sardinia. I'm already dreaming and scheming about a way to get back! :)
Full post and recap coming soon.
Also- fun Stuck on You spotlight soon. They have some great labels for camp! Look for both of those posts later this week.
As soon as I unpack and get everything washed I'll be back to packing again. We leave for Barcelona+Valencia next week. We've never been to Spain and would LOVE any tips and thoughts you'd like to share!
Love to you all!
I can't lie. Having two 3 year olds is kind of hilarious. One of them is always mad at me.
People like to say "What's she mad about?"
And I always say "Uhhhh...Who knows."
Seriously. Who the heck knows.
Like the photo above. I'm pretty sure she was mad at me because I wouldn't hold her hand with my right hand. There was something in the left hand and she did NOT like that.
Hence the sad/angry Italian monster above.
It's so arbitrary. They get mad if someone looks at them. Or if I tell them their dress is on backwards. They get mad if the other one sneezes or if snack is not what they hoped it would be.
Lucy's new thing is to yell "NO FAIR" and cross her arms and huff loudly. Y'all. I laugh and laugh and laugh so hard every time. And the other day I actually did it right back at her. You should have seen her face. BAHAHA.
Oh I love love love three.
Today I want to share a scrapbook layout. Are you guys still creating? I can't tell if scrapbooking related content is popular or not.
I will keep sharing these pages either way, but I'm just not sure what I should be sharing here. Sometimes this feels like a mom blog, sometimes it feels like a travel or lifestyle blog.
Crafting related posts seem to be the least popular, but I do like having a little bit of everything here!
Anyway...this was definitely a "just for fun" page. One photo, limited journaling (I just shared the date and a bit about why I love my Italian flower shop- and I wrote it on the back).
This page was just for creativity's sake. I wanted to make something pretty, plain and simple!
I layered vellum, patterned paper, doilies, stickers,and chipboard. I even pulled out the old border punch. Yep, I'm old school. NO silhouette for me.
The gold doily was just too much...so I folded it and used both sides. I liked it a bit more as a white doily with touches of gold!
The Happy Place Chipboard is pretty old. It's a Dear Lizzy piece I've been hoarding for quite some time.
The gold chipboard accents (and the die cut floral piece) are both Market Street by MME.
Let's chat a bit about scrapbooking in the comments. Do you still scrap? Do you still enjoy craft related posts?
Talk to me!