Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Bright Side of Laundry

One of the adjustments I had to make in moving to Italy was hanging my clothes to dry. This may seem trivial because it is just one of those things that we take for granted, but when you go from having your clothes dry and smelling bounce-fresh in 50 minutes to having to clip each item to a clothesline and waiting for hours for it to dry (days in the winter!), it did not make me a happy camper. Nowadays, I have accepted the "way of life" and realize stressing over it or complaining wasn't going to get it dry any sooner.

Moreover, through my recent success of becoming more optimistic and "glass half full" girl with the help of our arriving baby, I found the bright side of it! I did my first load of baby laundry just last week and was dreading the fact that I would have to hang all of baby's precious little clothes to dry and not having it soft and warm out of the dryer. To my pleasant surprise, it got me in such a good mood. Just look at the tiny clothes being hung dry! Soooooo cute! Okay, so maybe because this is the first time I am doing it and in total baby mode right now, but I could not help but fall in love with everything I was hanging in its adorable tinyness. Just look at the picture below.... aren't things so much cuter small? I just had to stop and admire the view and appreciate the moment I had of baby clothes bliss that I wouldn't have experienced if I just threw them in the dryer. =) And of course capture the moment on camera to remember it.

Just another reminder to always try to look on the bright side and appreciate the "little" things. =)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Life As I Know It Now

Well, I am definitely on my homestretch and I have to share that these past 35 weeks so far have been nothing less than magical. Magical is truly the word. It still blows my mind I have a baby growing inside of me, a baby that is definitely having a ball wiggling around now and I love every second of it. I look back at the time when we were talking about having babies and questioning if I was ready and my biggest concerns were being emotional and not being able to deal with being pregnant away from home. I know that this is my home now and my husband and I have definitely created a sanctuary for ourselves but I still call LA my home as well because my family and friends are there. It still saddens me when I realize that they won't be able to come to the hospital and meet our baby for the first time or they won't see him in the first couple of months where he will change the most. As my mother-in-law says, "9 months, 9 different faces," which really is true.

Fortunately, with help from my family back home and my family here, it really has been a smoother pregnancy than I ever imagined up until this point (knock on wood that it will stay smooth =)). Thanks to technology, I get to video chat with my family and not feel so far away from them. It really does make a huge difference! Thanks to their generosity, we received a huge care package for baby with all things, cute, tiny, soft, useful, and American! Although they are all for baby, it is a wonder how it has helped me feel closer to home and not have to miss the products and quality at least. =) And thanks to my husband's family, they have been soooo sweet and supportive. It warms my heart and actually overwhelms me with love to see how excited they are for baby's arrival. Their faces light up when they see me, immediately ask how I am doing and touch my stomach, and my little nephews give a million kisses and caresses to baby already - it's the cutest thing!

We are blessed. I am thankful everyday that I have been able to look at the cup half full (when I am known to be a pessimistic person) and enjoy every little detail of this pregnancy from the love I have for baby already, from the love and bliss I have with my husband and the love we receive from our families and friends. I thank God everyday. I know things won't stay this way, and our lives will be turned upside down with baby, but I am up for the challenge and ready for what adventures we come across as our marriage has already been such an adventure. Our love conquered all obstacles, we had the wedding of our dreams, we are expecting a precious little baby now, and will soon start a family of our own. It's all I could ever ask for.

Thank you to everyone who has shared in our blessed moments.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Baked Zucchini Fries

It's that time of the year where all the best vegetables and fruits are back in season! Delicious, organic bell peppers, eggplants, zucchini, and tomatoes. Refreshing apricots, plums, baby pears, and watermelon.... MmmmmMmm already makes my mouth water just thinking about it. In this hot and humid weather, all you want to do is eat something fresh and it's also great that the prices are much cheaper and you get more bang for your buck.

My mother-in-law has a friend who has a field of vegetables and fruits, so she often just gives my mother-in-law tons of vegetables for free. Fortunately, those get passed on to us and we know that they are completely organic. However, sometimes we have so many that I have to think of new ways to cook them and get through them before they go bad. But I'm not complaining! =)

Here is a delicious zucchini recipe I came across that was so yummy and healthy.

Baked Zucchini Fries

Servings: 4

3 zucchini cut into long thin sticks like fries
2 eggs - use only egg white
black pepper
garlic powder
olive oil

1. In one plate, mix the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, parmesan, oregano and garlic powder.
2. In another plate, beat the egg whites.
3. Dip the sticks of zucchini in the beaten egg white.
4. Then dip the zucchini into the breadcrumb mixture.
5. On a baking sheet, drizzle a little olive oil and then place the breaded zucchini sticks onto the sheet with spacing between each one.
6. Place in oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown. (Flip them half way to make sure both sides get nice and golden)
7. Then eat up while they are hot! If you like your sauces, you can dip them in your favorite marinara sauce.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Beautiful Pietralcina

This past weekend my husband and I decided to go to Pietralcina to see where Padre Pio, a well known Saint here in Italy, use to live. It is a small town in the province of Benevento and in our region of Campania. It has become a tradition for us every year nowto go to San Giovanni Rotondo in the region of Puglia where Padre Pio's body now rests but we decided to see his birthplace this time around before the arrival of our baby.

This town was absolutely beautiful. I didn't expect it at all. Firstly, the drive there was magnificent. We drove along the fields and hillsides and although nothing compares to the Tuscan hillsides I lived in and fell in love with and am a little biased, they were just as beautiful and breathtaking. This town was so cute and the small streets and white cobblestones reminded me of Capri. It certainly had character. It was so interesting to see how homes were built back then and still plenty of them now that have never been remodeled. You can have your one bedroom in one room and then have to go outside and downstairs for your bathroom or kitchen. There was a lot of separation and connected rooms were uncommon. It is also amazing to see how simple life was back then by just seeing how minimal their decor was. It was actually really refreshing to see. It was great to get away from materialism and just immerse myself in the simple life back then and nature.

I have surprisingly become more religious since living in Italy, partly because religion is all around us here, then partly because of my husband and his family, and mostly because I think I always needed to find some peace with the help of faith. I have been so blessed these past years that it has really put a lot more in perspective for me. Thus, I love the fact that I get to visit these little towns that may not be major foreign tourist spots but definite hidden treasures that the Italians know about. It truly is a different experience being a resident here rather than a tourist. There is a much more in depth appreciation for the culture, people and traditions compared to just scraping the surface as a tourist with limited time. It is truly a great learning experience.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Click it or No Ticket... No Worries...

So here in Italy, the laws of the seat belt are a little different from the U.S., lets just say a little more lenient. Basically, only the driver and front passenger are required to put their seat belt on. The passengers in the back are not required. Just up until recently have law enforcement cracked down more on the rule and have been giving out tickets. I think about two years ago, everyone was still not using seat belts and thought I was so weird when I put mine on. But now, just out of the fear of getting a ticket, and NOT for security, are they being more conscious about it.

One of the things that bothered me the most was seeing kids just free, standing up in the car, in the back seat or front. Or, when I see an infant in the arms and lap of a mother in the car. It almost makes me sound like a prude here in Italy, but how programmed are we in the States to buckle up and definitely belt down our children in their proper car seats at all times in the car? Sure, also out of the fear of getting a ticket and obeying the law, but mostly for security - especially for our children. For some reason, Italians just don't really account for security which is ironic with how crazy they can drive.

Which brings me to the experience I had this weekend. Italy has been enforcing a lot more police checkpoints in the past couple years. Basically, they will stop random cars passing by to just check that you have a driver's license, are registered, and have insurance. These aren't sobriety checkpoints, but of course, they scope out your car and you for any suspicious activity. When the cop came up to our car, he asked my husband for his paperwork and then said to me, "You know, you don't have to wear a seatbelt if you are pregnant. It's not required if it bothers you." Which in turn, my husband says, "Oh it's okay, we are use to just putting it on now." He checks our paperwork and then we are good to go....

I am not required to put on my seatbelt when I am not only protecting my own safety but now the safety of my unborn child as well? No worries if I risk flying through the windshield, as long as I am comfortable? All I have to do is put the seat belt below my belly and I am fine - a seat belt has never bothered me since I have been pregnant. However, the Italian law enforcement has graciously waived this requirement for pregnant women. Again, who cares about safety, as long as you are comfy, no matter what may happen.

Excuse my cynicism but it still boggles my mind and although I know there are a lot of countries that are still lenient on the seat belt rule, this is not one of the things that I will just settle into and go with the flow on. Unfortunately, I don't think this is the last time I will hear this from someone, especially when I decide to buckle down my child in the carseat for a five minute car ride. They may think I am a little uptight or ridiculous since it is out of the norm here but safety comes first and this is one thing I will not do as the Italians do.