Friday, January 13, 2012

Growing Up

Get a job......buy a car.....rent an apartment.....buy a house.....get married....have children....save money....Adulthood.

From the eyes of 7 year old me, adulthood looked that simple. There is a check-list, sort of, and these things just kind of .... happen, why because you are an adult, of course! In practice, not so much. There doesn't seem to be an on-switch for "Adulthood" and on top of that, and perhaps more importantly, it encompasses so much more than I thought possible.

Now, I do not claim to be an all-knowing savant, or to even possess some kind of philosophical aptitude [just an appreciation, really], so I'd be willing to bet that this post has not blown your mind. At least not because you've never thought about it before. Excellent, because I want your help: what has surprised you the most about growing up? And, what do we do with it all? Where do we go from here?

One of the most surprising things about growing up is friendships. As a kid, I feel like friendships were so fluid! Yes, it was crumby when you had a fight with a friend, and maybe it ruined the rest of recess. Sometimes longer, but [with the exception of a few] I don't remember being totally crushed by the dissolution of a friendship as a child. Do you? It presented a problem, and it wasn't fun by any means, but it didn't devastate. As an adult, I am not proud to say that I have lost more than one friendship. The pain is astronomical! It is the end of a relationship, and one that clearly was important, and it leaves a serious void.

On the other hand, friendships in childhood rarely impacted my life as positively as mine as an adult. What a curious thing it is! So often when I think about my day and count my blessings[, instead of sheep], I am overwhelmingly aware of how truly wonderful my friends are, and how much I love them.  I must say, it is a joyous "surprise," to take stock of how much love and gratitude you have.  I am fairly certain that while I was always one to voice my love for friends to them as a child, it never personally affected me this way; my gratitude matured as I did. I find that somehow depletes the void of loss, replacing it with a much more dense fulfillment.

So, dear friends, what say you?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Abroad: Why it Matters

I began this blog when I was leaving for Italy for a year to study, work, and envelope myself in all things Italian. While it didn't work out as I planned, I am beyond grateful for the experience.

Mine was a nontraditional study abroad experience, first in Reggio di Calabria during the summer. For y'all who are understandably unaware of how silly that phrase is, let me break it down for you: you can see the sands of Africa on the horizon in Calabria. We're talking the south of the south. A really, really, really good pitcher's stone's throw to Sicilia [15k]. So my love of heat and humidity was tested and increased as the temperature for the day was set at 100 degrees before 10a everyday. It was fantastic.

This town was authentic Calabrian. Our school was a school for international students who desired to learn Italian---talk about perfect. When you left class and went out into the street, you immediately had to put into practice what you had learnt! There were those folks in Reggio who spoke English, but they were few and far between. Italian was the only semi-guarantee you'd get what you wanted.



[I don't own the rights]


Me: Uhh, vorrei....un gelato, per favore.

Gelato man: Certo! Siamo in una gelateria! Certo vorrebbe un gelato! Dimmi un sappore, un taglia, se desiderebbe una cialda o una coppa o panna. Dimmi dimmi!

Me:........umm, vorrei.... un gelato, per favore. *point to the one with chocolate*



But learn we did. In fact, I am a firm believer of the deep end learning curve, ie throw them in the deep end and watch them swim. That's what Calabria was, in more way than one.

Both of my parents graduated from the same college as I did, so it wasn't foreign when I arrived there. It wasn't uber familiar, but familiar enough that I felt like I was ahead of the curve. In addition to that, my parents visited a bunch---as parents of a student and as alumni--so it felt more like sleep away camp that was only a few miles from home than a capital "c" College.

Italy, on the otherhand, was a different country! With a different lanugage! It was, by definition, foreign. So I had to adjust, feel things out, try new things and react to new situations, because everything was new! Each choice I made mattered immediately. A stunning experience, perhaps the first time I truly felt like an adult.My adult decisions carried me to Rome, the Vatican, Capri, Naples, Scilla, Taormina, Castelmola, Messina, Firenze, Lucca, Sienna and London. Not a bad deal for a first timer.

So go! Find the scholarship, scour student universe for a flight, research the programs and go! Challenge yourself to adulthood. You'll be happy with the results today and for years to come.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mother Mary Sings to Me

Mary, Our Guide



"Be Apostles of The Divine Mercy under the maternal and loving guidance of Mary …"
— Pope John Paul II, in a Papal Blessing to the Marians on Oct. 5, 2001.

Have you ever stopped and thought about the amazing concept of maternity? See, it seems so natural, I think it's easy to take for granted. Let me break it down for you:

Selfless giving of time, energy and love
Supersonic protective skills
Foresight
Ultimate comfort in discomfort

Just to name a few. It seems like a list on the application for canonization! A woman houses and loves her child for 9 months, then raises her child, fending off evil, be it an ominous crack in the sidewalk or a hostile vigilante. She sacrifices her sleep, her lack of patience, her shyness and her self concern--funneling all of that energy into her child. She puts her child above herself. Period.

Mary, the mother of God, gets extra kudos for this. Can you imagine? You get a text message/tweet/status update:

 AngelGabe
Angel Gabriel
@Mary Don't fear, God loves you and wants you to carry His son. Name him Jesus. He's going to be better than you can imagine and be king.



Talk about pressure. Unsuspecting Mary suddenly has been presented with an awesome and terrifying gift: motherhood. More than that, it is motherhood in partnership with God!


Mary
Mary
@AngelGabe Um, I don't think that is possible -- I have no way to get preggers.



Yet, despite the shock of the situation, she fixates on how it could be possible. Isn't that interesting? She doesn't say, "Whoa whoa whoa, ummmm are you serious? Is this a joke? Whatchu talkin' bout Gabe? You've got the wrong girl!" But rather, "How interesting, but wait, how can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" [Luke 1:34]. Her concern is with its practical possibility, not whether it should be or not.

AngelGabe
Angel Gabriel 
@Mary No worries.God'll send down the Spirit for that.The child'll be the Son of God too.O yeah, your cousin's prego too.Isn't God awesome?



Gulp. Okay, lets not worry. God's going to send down His spirit. I'm going to become pregnant, just like my cousin who is aparently pregnant even though she has been thought to never be able to have children. Wow. Heavy. Well, I guess if God made that happen, what can I worry about? Elizabeth is much older than me and the shock of pregnancy at her old age was probably pretty tough, but she's doing it. God's got this. Worries gone. God has asked me to carry and love His son! Wow! :D


 Mary
 Mary 
@AngelGabe Whatever God wants, I'm His servant. Let's do this.




Check!: Ultimate comfort in discomfort.
Check!: Foresight.
Check!: Selfless giving of time, energy and love.
Check!: Supersonic protective skills.

With that simple fiat Mary took on motherhood. Shabam. Transformation instantaneous. As we all know, thing didn't slow down for her once Jesus was born, hardly, it is almost like it became progressively more challenging. She was Christ's first disciple, following him from his very conception. It is no wonder that we are called to follow Mary's example as our guide.

I'm pretty sure when your child is Love itself, your heart expands and envelopes all whom Love loves; Motherly traits extend to everyone.

Monday, May 16, 2011

On Dating Nice Catholic Girls

My sister, a very accomplished blogger and finely tuned in new media Catholic, sent me this blog/article: On Dating Nice Catholic Girls

I think this article starts out excellently, subtitled with: No hook-ups but no long-term ego-busts; nice Catholic girls teach tenderness and the valuable security of the everyday. A beacon in the darkness of article after post after cosmo magazine after snide comment about the dangers of women withholding sex from their male partners--yahoo! This guy gets it and likes that we have self respect! 

Awesome.

The article pans out that way too, for the most part. His endearing description of his former girlfriend as truly beautiful, inside and out; as someone who doesn't need societal norms to tell her how much she's worth, but rather she knows inherently, and it was obvious. I must say, when I read that I was overjoyed--they do notice! 

Hooray! 

It finished off nicely, "There's a great deal to be said for nice Catholic girls: the up-front quality, all those depths made visible, like the ocean in a color-coded map."
At the tail end, he got distracted and sucker punched the women he was praising before.

Alas, I do not own the rights.
"One thing, though: a lot of these JPII generation girls are starting to look suspiciously like Sexy Puritans. The other day, I saw one wearing a mantilla and the tightest pair of shorts in Tempe, which is saying something.

I'd better write my bishop."

Come on! JP II's legacy has permeated and inspired a generation, returning young men to the cloth, reinvigorating young women in their chaste journeys, no longer giving young men the 'boys will be boys' excuse but vehemently challenging them to a chaste journey as well, and most of all JP II inspired respect, love, mercy and compassion for all

Whether or not someone chooses to wear "the tighest pair of shorts in Tempe" while donning a mantilla speaks nothing to her love of JP II or the Church for that matter. It simply speaks to her choice that day. One of the great things about mantillas is that it is an action to focus your thoughts inward, to the presence of Christ. If it starts with a mantilla and progresses to floor length burlap sacks, shouldn't we praise the mantilla instead of chastise the tight shorts? 

This author has a great voice, and it is inspiring to hear his conviction for chastity and appreciation of the gift that it brings to a pre-martial relationship. I hope that we can focus on that, and leave sweeping assumptions about a whole generation for a totally different discussion. 

Strengthen the argument for chastity by steering clear of Church politics.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

So I turned 21 in a Country Where I've Been Legal for 3 years...

Ahhh, 21. An age most people dream about, the start of true adulthood.  Now you can smoke, join the military, go to R-rated movies, get your own credit card/insurance, rent a car, and drink. In America. Everywhere else you can do all of that at 18.  Including Italy, which you may think would make my birthday anti-climatic--think again.

First of all, let's reiterate: I'm in Italy!!  So already I'm pumped beyond normal birthday levels, but beyond 21st birthday levels? hmmmm, let's see.... I've been here a little over 3 weeks, working everyday and thus not really socializing at the local bar.

I have been hanging out with the family or other American aupairs [one of which, Katherine, is tight with Irina from Ambassadors....tiny tiny world!], Lindsay and Kate.

About 2 weeks ago it was Lindsay's birthday, Kate had not yet arrived, and we went to this SWEET little jazz bar called Charlie Bird and shared a bottle of wine, pizza, chocolate at midnight, and conversations with the bartenders.  Lindsay and Lauren, the aupair before me, had frequented the spot last year and thus were tight with the bartenders.  This gave us (on her birthday) some company, a free pass for the birthday girl to smoke inside, shots at midnight and when we left, as well as a major discount on the tab. Besides the already awesome vibe and chill music.

During that night I decided and told the bartender, Fuorio, that I'd be back for my birthday in 2 weeks.  So Monday (September 21) night Lindsay and I went to an Irish pub intown so I could get a look and we could get a drink and then we went on the real place: Charlie Bird! there we shared a bottle of wine, vibing to the music, people watching a bit [there is apparently a Circus school nearby and the students frequent the place--jugglers, acrobats, clowns galore! How sweet is that??], all while Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole serenaded us.

The twenty minutes building up to messanotte/midnight Fuorio kept looking over to our table, silently asking if it was time....and at midnight Billie stopped mid-word and Paul, John, Ringo, and George rocked out "happy birthday to you," while another bartender brought over a plate of chocolate with a lit candle.  My wish/candle blowing-out was shortly followed by a shot of rum with both of the bartenders and Lindsay. 1 1/2 hours later we packed up, headed out, graciously receiving both another discount and a farewell shot, as well as tanti auguri (happy birthday) to me.  :)

An excellent start to my 21st birthday!

7am rolled around and brought with it the start of my work day.  Other than tired, I was fantastic.  Patrizia and Ruggi serenaded me with Tanti Auguri/Happy Birthday before they left for school and I promptly took a nap.

When I woke up I got to skype my mom and sister for a while before leaving to pick up Fil from school.  Lunch at home and then pick up Ruggi at 4:30 with a quick turn around for a 6pm Karate, a 15 minute walk away.  His first class!

An hour later we left, went home and were greeted by Luisa--Patrizia's younger sister whom I had never met--and a gormet dinner complete with sparkling wine, the fanciest and most important pasta in Piemonte [Angliotti with Ragù], fanciest pork/meat dish in Italy and a MASSIVE chocolate cake to boot.

Also we were greeted by a gorgeous bouquet of white lilies and white roses courtesy of my parents and sisters back home. :) I love flowers. They're so happy [a hard one, but name that movie! hint: daisies] :) Before the cake the Carpanetos presented me with a blue envelope, inside which were 2 tickets (plus 1 for Patrizia) for a concert at the Royal Theatre!!! Piano + quartet---my FAVORITE!!

Blushing profusely with extreme gratitude and surprise I thanked them endlessly for the whole evening to which they humbly replied that it was nothing, of course this should be how my birthday is. :)
One more skype date home with my mom, dad and Elizabeth and then the warm embrace of my bed.  An excellent 21st birthday, complete with personalized bells and whistles. :)

Back to School Blues

Week three: the start of school.
By this point I am decently knowledgeable of the schedule and life rhythms of the family Carpaneto during the summer.  I figured that school would be a change [of course] but a good change because there was a more defined schedule.  Despite this, I expected the first couple of days to be pretty high stress because that just seems to be the nature of change, stress inducing. Uh, hahaha, yes. 'Twas certainly high stress for a couple of days, in the boys more than anyone else.
We has a task Monday and Tuesday to organize and declutter the boys' rooms in the afternoon: every child's favorite thing to do, particularly after the first day back at school after an awesome summer vacation of both lethargy and adventure. On Monday, post-cleaning, the boys went over to their friends Pietro and Giovanni's house [they too are brothers and the exact same ages at Fil and Ruggi] for a couple of hours.  Silvia, their mother, told me that I could go and do whatever I wanted/needed while they were there, so I traversed the city a bit and relaxed in the house.  I traversed very little because I am so incredibly prone to getting lost as many if not all of you know and I didn't want to be late to pick the boys up. The free time was marvelous though, breathing in the changing air filled with school supplies, falling leaves, and the chatter of haggling Italians.
I picked them up for dinner with Nonna Mariucia [Alberto's mother] at our place. It was an Italian dinner, language and food wise. Alberto translated this and that for me, but I tried desperately to hold my own....I did pretty okay.  Pretty very okay for only 3 weeks out.

Tuesday a friend of Fil's, Francesco, came over to play and we made bread clay! Have you ever made it? Well we didn't do it very well....it was way more like bread than clay, but they were content so there you go. After Alberto and Patrizia got home I joined Lindsay and Torino native Andrea for a reading/presentation in Teatro Regio (AN OPERAHOUSE!!!! :D it was amazing!!) with John Berger and Arundhati Roy. It was absolutely fascinating--I took 4 full pages of notes.  The questions were asked in Italian, but as John Berger is British and Arundhati Roy is Indian (from India) both of them responded in English. It was man, amazing.  They talked about the current global happenings in regards to renewable resources, war and destruction, the role of storytelling in one's life, exploitation in capitalism [this topic I wish I had heard and understood the question...]. Man, I mean just awesome. I love stuff like that!!



Wednesday was the first day that I picked up Fil from school, and even though I had a map, had walked it on google maps, and had specific directions, I got lost. :( Quite a frustrating thing, let me tell you. But somehow, miraculously, I was only 2 minutes late. No clue how that happened, but Filippo was hanging out with a schoolmate that he knew before--no harm no foul. Wednesday was also the first day that Filippo came home at 1:30 whereas Ruggi had school until 4:30, so we had lunch, just Fil and me. Behavior-wise, Wednesday was a stressful day. An extremely stressful day. But after Ruggi finished school the three of us went over to Silvia's house and hung out, me with the moms in the kitchen with delicious plum cake which has no plums in it at all...go figure...and the boys with the house-full of friends.
Thursday I started  class! I had my first Italian class! I chose to take a conversation course at a language school not far away from where we live, and it was well rated and reviewed on many a language school website.  :D I was so happy to go back to school!! And the class was awesome--all foreigners and the only language we all have in common is Italian, of course, and thus we just chatted with prompts here and there by the teacher for 2 hours in the morning! :) 'Twas marvelous.
I decided after talking with my parents and witnessing the stressful (lets just stick with this adjective, eh?) behavior of the boys all week long that the missing link was responsibility and incentive to behave well. So I went onto Supernanny.com to get some tricks and behavior charts so that they could behave well, working towards a reward that they really want and choose.  This reward cannot be a toy or really a purchased item at all, the idea is to move them away from that, but instead time with Mom/Dad/Everyone, a special afternoon, a special cake, a special music lesson etc. So I printed this out and developed my plan with the aid of Supernanny.com on Thursday before going to get Fil from school.  Thursday, thankfully and unlike the rest of the week, was absolutely gorgeous so we passed the afternoon outside at the park all the way until dinner.


Friday after the first week of school! The plan was to go to Lerici for the weekend! Hooray!! I was utterly exhausted on Friday, both physically and mentally, and honestly emotionally.  It had been a terrible week of behavior, and try as I might I couldn't continue to tell myself that it was back to school stress enough in order to stay calm and patient.  So I very very seriously considered sticking behind in Torino for the weekend instead of going to Lerici, but the beach won out :).  I am so glad that I did.  It was absolutely gorgeous weather Friday evening and Saturday.  Oh my gosh! Saturday morning, Marta (cousin who joined us), Fil, Ruggi and I walked all the way over to the next town on the boardwalk, made a volcano in the sand complete with a trapped burning leaf so it looked like it was smoking, and leisurely walked back gelato in hand. In the afternoon we drove to a private beach---drop dead gorgeous.  The beach took up the inner part of a cove that had rocky and tree covered cliffs as bookends. The ground immediately dropped off almost as soon as you dipped your feet in the water, and the water was warm! There was a dock out in the middle of the cove's water, with sailboats and yachts bright as the summer sun gliding on the crystal blue water. It was heaven, and the sun smiled warmly down on us the whole afternoon. For dinner we ate outside in the open air but parentless (took a mini date night) and poor Ruggi, who drank zero water all day long, was as sick as a dog....and just in case you were wondering rice and cheese is too too rich for a dehydrated stomach...

Sunday morning I got up early to go to mass--there was a baptism!! It was perfect because I still wasn't sure if I was going to be able to go to little baby cousin Federico's baptism the following weekend because i went to Cinque Terre. [If you are confused by the tenses, I am sorry. Unfortunately it is more confusing because it happened a little while ago...] It was very cool, but something that is very strange about mass here is that they don't use music! The language that basically invented musical notation doesn't really use music in their mass! In their celebration of God. Strange.
Pretty much right after mass it started raining, so we packed up early and headed back to Torino.  That afternoon I went out for aperitvi/dinner and drinks with the newest aupair to come to Torino: Katherine. Check this out: she is best friends with Irina!! She's from NoVa, just graduated from Tech, and knows many JMU Ambassadors thanks to the lovely Irina.  Talk about small world!  We went to an English Pub intown and got to know each other.  Veramente una buona ragazza. Very cool girl.
Sunday September 20, 2 days before my 21st birthday. :D

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Week 2....

The next three posts are going to be about the last three weeks, but I'll separate them to pretend like I did them when I was supposed to....

Week 2 was also the last week of summer for the boys, and at the beginning of the week we still weren't sure what the time schedule for the boys' schools would be. Fil started middle school this year, so it all changed....
As per my contractual 'schedule' I still had the mornings to myself, so Monday morning Patrizia and I braved Italian bureaucracy. It took 3 and a half hours to become  registered with the State, about 10 minutes of that was spent actually going through the paperwork with an official.  The rest was spent waiting in line....my absolute favorite thing to do, ever.
Fil had stayed at the sea/beach/Lerici with his aunt and uncle and would return on Wednesday so it was just Ruggi and me. We had lunch, spent the afternoon playing board games: battleship, Risk, Uno. And then we watched youtube videos of Starwars with italian dubbing as Ruggi explained to me the importance of each scene and each fight manuever. Then we went out to the park until dinner--a pretty low-key day.  Dinner was amazing! It is still warm enough to eat outside at this point so we ate out on the front porch, with the Alps dining along side us, and had the most magnificient soup.  It was very light, but it had so many flavors! Carrots, fennel, peppers, and the broth was a lemony broth....mmmmm sooo good.  And for second plate we had a smörgåsbord of cheeses--the custom is to eat from fresh to aged. I will get the names of the cheeses and comment them up here, but bascially oh my gosh, heaven.  There are more than 100 types of cheeses just in Torino!! Well, the area around Torino. How ridiculous is that?!? We didn't have all 100, just 10... :)
Tuesday was another low key day, a little room organization in the morning after a not so subtle hint from Patrizia about whether I had enough space in my room for all of my things or if we needed to buy more boxes or shelving units.  Afternoon craft was collages, where Ruggi and I made a jungle from cut out animals from national geographic [thanks Lauren for the tip and the pre-cut starters!], and then Uno was the game of the hour.  Patrizia was in Rome on Tuesday so dinner was just Alberto, Ruggi and I.  Alberto likes to drink wine, which is fine with me, but usually there are 3 of us to drink the wine....This night Alberto and I shared the bottle and it was powerful stuff...so after dinner when I went out with Lindsay for her birthday, I was already a little buzzed walking to the bar.  The bar was awesome.  It is a Jazz bar!! Real jazz, not Frank Sinatra, and I am a major Frank fan.  But I'm talking Nat King Cole trio, Louie Armstrong, Ella, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis--the good stuff! mmmm let me help you imagine the scene: a small bar with mostly wooden fixtures; a warm red as the only other accent color; tons of wooden tables and chairs, not necessarily matching in style but in size and material; the crooning voice of Billie Holiday overhead; 2 bartenders who make a point to get to know the customers be it with conversation, shots, hand-rolled cigarettes, what-have-you; a lively yet hippie vibe to the place without being exaggerated; not too many people but not empty either. Can you see it? With our shared 10 euro bottle of red wine from the Piedmont (Torino) area we sat in a booth waiting for midnight to roll around. Lindsay and I had really spent limited time together so we got to pick each other's brain--an excellent exercise at anytime but the environment made it ten times better. One of the bartenders, Fuorio, sat with us for a little bit, rolled a cigarette, chatted, we informed him that it would be Lindsday's birthday at midnight and that we wanted a plate of chocolate (haha, random I know).  Sure enough, at midnight he returned to celebrate with chocolate, and a shot for everyone.  Lindsay and I cleared out at about 2am [6:45 wake-up call.....], and Fuorio had a parting gift of one more shot, whatever we wished. Yeesh! We promised to be back for my birthday in two weeks [see birthday post].
Mm, so Wednesday morning was hard to get up. I had to meet with Patrizia early because I was going to do the shopping for the family at the market with Nonna Dina (her mom). Quiet an experience, let me tell you.  First let me describe Nonna Dina: pretty much the classic Italian grandmother that you think of.  She openly praises and criticizes everyone, from relative to stranger on the street; she repeats what she is saying four and five times; she half guilts people into giving her what she wants; she cares deeply for just about everyone she meets; she has a very strong Piemontese accent, making her sound like Sean Conery in Italian. Okay so maybe the last one isn't the classic Italian grandmother, but it is Nonna Dina.  So shopping with her was a trip! She criticized the farmers selling their goods, telling them that they cost too much and that no one in their right mind would buy from them at that price, and doted upon her favorites hailing praises at their quality and price.  She speaks zero English, so while I can understand her [thankfully she repeats herself 4 and 5 times everytime], I stumble to respond back to her questions....she looks at me sometimes like I am a little slow....but we make it work :) Almost immediately after I returned to the house cousin Marta, 13, was waiting to go shopping.  First we hit the markets for discounted, fallen-off-the-back-of-a-truck finds and then we went down to the designer stores on Via Roma.  I loved the former, Marta loved the latter.  Lunchtime. Then another cool afternoon of Uno, battleship and Jenga, with playing outside at the park for dessert.  Fil came in on the train Wednesday night around 7 so at dinner we had a full table.
Thursday I set off to finalize my Italian language class stuff.  Explanation: part of the reason for my whole Italian excursion is to become fluent enough to present my argument for a Fulbright Scholarship researching the relationship between Commedia Dell'Arte and Northern and Southern Italian societies in Italian. Clearly I need to make sure that I leave here fluent or I would have missed out on a seriously huge opportunity and be really dumb.  So back to the story, after a week of research for the classes, done by both Alberto and myself, pretty much any University based class was out of the question either because of the time schedule or because of the cost.  Private language school was the only option, now I just had to pick which one.  Thursday and Friday mornings I went to two prominent schools in Torino, took the entry test and got information, eventually chosing the CiaoItaly school for the price, the duration of the course, and the vicinity. I finished my test on Thursday morning in time to go to lunch with the boys and Nonna Dina to get pizza at a nearby shop.  On the way I asked them about tie dye, if they had ever done it--they didn't even know what it was.  We had to pass through the open market on the way back from our pizza lunch to get to the house and low and behold there was a natural dye stand. I kid you not.  So we bought dye, but it was old school stuff.  We started tye dying as soon as we got home (2:30) but it wouldn't be finished until 9:30 that night....super old school, but a very exciting adventure/experiement for the boys!  As the tye dye set, we three went to go see Ice Age 3, 3-D.  Which was awesome, probably mostly because it was in Italian and because there were 4 people in the whole theatre. But check this out: on the way to the movie, some how we started talking about American history, the Boston tea party to be exact. The boys were hooked.  We spent the rest of the afternoon post-movie talking about the Boston tea party, Jamestown, even got into the declaration of Independence and Constitution, while these two little boys sat in rapture listening and asking questions. IT WAS AWESOME :D. Thursday night is date night for the parents, so we spent the evening checking on the tye dye, building a fort with cushions, eating pizza [yup, welcome to Italy, pizza 2x a day] and then reading the Indian and the Cupboard.
Friday, after confirming the Italian course, I had both of the boys at home together.  This was a funky day becaue Ruggi had a birthday party at 4:30, so I was prepared for the nerves and excitement to yield badish behavior in the boys....thank goodness I was prepared. A rough morning filled with whining, rough fighting, and yelling was finally couched with Uno, the miracle game.  They like to be a team against me [because I'm so good, and modest too ;)] which seems to be something they want to do pretty much all of the time. 
Patrizia came home early from work to make a chocolate cake, from scratch, and to get ready for the party, and then the boys arrived. So it was only 4 little boys but I felt like it was 23000. Running around, yelling, fake shooting, fake and real wrestling--absolutely insane. And there were only 4.  Apparently last year there were upwards of 8. Unimmaginable. Right after the party pretty much was dinner, which was piggybacked with some friends of Alberto and Patrizia coming over to see pictures of their US vacation, i.e. more Uno for the kids and me. A late and exhausting night/day.
Saturday--first day in Torino where I am off work. Super slow and relaxed day.  Mid-day shopping with Lindsay, just galavanting around town, continuing to get to know each other and buying a few things at h&m [including my outfit for the baptism on the 27th]. It was a gorgeous day, perfect for strolling, and stroll we did. We finished our spree around 4, Lindsay wanted to take a nap and go for a run [mad props to her] and so I decided to take advantage of an empty house [mom, dad, ruggi and fil all were at a birthday party or work until 7] and free tv to watch Slumdog Millionaire.  It was marvelous.  I just chilled on the couch, watched the movie, had exactly what I wanted for snack when I wanted it and it felt for the first time that this was my place.  Not completely but enough to really lounge in shorts and a tshirt on the sofa.
7 o'clock rolled around and Ruggi, Fil and Caterina [a little dancer/gymnast with TONS of energy] arrived, we had dinner, and sat down to watch "Tata Matilda," or it's true name "Nanny McPhee." A half chapter of Indian and the Cupboard and to bed we went.
Sunday, the last day of summer, I had to babysit in the morning, which included bringing the boys to mass with me.  Something that I cannot do again without going to another mass just for me.  They are Catholic, but they don't go to mass, and thus were not well behaved in church.  If I was fluent in the language, or if it was in English, I feel like it would have been less distracting, but as I needed to concentrate really hard to stay focused on what was being said in order to fully grasp it, their distraction was exactly that.  It was, however, a really nice mass, but surprisingly with very little music! It was an experiment of sorts to bring them to mass with me...and now I know that I need at least one mass just for me, for my time, and that bringing them with me will be a babysitting gig for real.
Sunday evening, Alberto, Ruggi, Fil and I went to the Basilica of Superga.  The story is that the Duke of Savoy really wanted to win this battle, and promised to God that if he did win, then he would build Him the most superb church on the hills looking at the Alps.  They won the battle, thus was born this gorgeous church.  This was also teh church that the Torinese soccer team's airplane fatally crashed into 20 years ago, cursing the team with losses ever since. We picked the perfect time to go, the sun was starting to set, and because of the height and direction of the church we got to see the sun set over Torino and the Alps.  Breathtaking.  I'll post the pictures up here soon. We finished the week, my second full week in Torino, with a scrumtious dinner outside on the front porch, buzzing excitement for the school week to come!