Home, sweet home goods!

Our stuff is finally here and we couldn’t be any happier!

HOWEVER…

It is storming buckets here and the moving crew has been waiting around for it to pass – perfect opportunity to update you all. We have 5 large crates and they have unloaded 2 1/2 so far. The first thing I did was dig through an old bin labeled “Leilani’s baby stuff”. Most of these bins have been in storage for a little over 4 years and this bin was one of them. In it, I found some of her dress up costumes that she loved playing in when she was 2, old toys that she never wanted to get rid of, and a few professional pictures taken when she was 1 1/2. It was so nice to have these irreplaceable possessions back in my hands.

We have heard several horror stories about families losing their belongings during transportation or the movers sneaking away some of the boxes, but, fortunately that hasn’t happened to us. Although, we DO have a 6th crate that isn’t here yet. I just hope it’s bins full of CJs junk and not mine! Me being a female and all, you would think that I’d have tons and tons of useless stuff. Like, bins of clothes and shoes I haven’t worn in years. NO. My husband has 6, old, heavy boxed TVs and countless bins full of clothes, shoes, trinkets and gadgets, wires (wires!?), and thousands of video games. As a matter of fact, the storm has died down and the movers are pulling out boxes again and – you guessed it – another bin of CJs clothes. Imagine that.

I am overwhelmed with everything in our apartment. Our home is too small to house a lot of this so we will have to  live with stacked bins against our walls for a little while. At least until we dig through it and donate things we are happy to part with. But, that’s just going to have to wait until we come back from Paris. We leave in 2 days! I love coming home to a clean house after a wonderful vacation. But, that’s not going to happen this time. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely happy that everything is here. It’s just terrible timing.

Now that the movers have left, we are digging through our treasures and feel like kids on Christmas morning. “Yehessss!!” and “Oh my God!” is all we keep saying. I was worried that I’d have to buy a bunch of new clothes for Paris but mine and Leilani’s cute coats and clothes are here! My days of looking like a mother of 10 are over. No more sweatpants and sweatshirts – literally all I wore for the past few months.

As I sit here barricaded by TVs and bins, I think about how I can finally decorate our house; turning it into a lovely home. I have several ideas and I can’t wait to get started. But, FIRST, I have to think about packing for Paris! Ahhh!

It’s time for me to pick Lei up from school now. I can’t wait to see her reaction when she walks into her room full of books and toys!

Thought bucket

Just a few thoughts I’d like to share – in no particular order:

1. We visited Rome for 3 hours last Saturday. I want to go back when it’s not a holiday so I can thoroughly enjoy the history of this ancient city.

2. I’ll be living here for 3 years. I need to remind myself this…constantly. Sometimes I act like I’ll never be visiting these places again and I throw mini internal bitch fits.

3. Last Friday, November 1st, marked our first month living in Naples.

4. Sunday, November 3rd, marked CJ’s NINTH year in the Navy and has recently become the LPO of the pharmacy (the Chief’s “go to person”). Yay!

5. Our home goods won’t be here for another few weeks. I am tired of wearing the same clothes over and over and I just. want. our car already.

6. CJ and I got our Italian driver’s license. Our childhood dreams of recreating a scene out of Cruis’n World (arcade game) will manifest next month.

7. In approximately 17 days, 11 hours and 39 minutes, I will be spending a week in Paris with my MIL, SIL, BIL, Lei and hubby. I can’t even contain my excitement. Spending Thanksgiving in Paris with family; visiting Paris Disney, the Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower, and cafés on every corner. Ah!

8. Really, the first thing that came to mind about Paris was fashion. One of the 4 fashion capital’s of the world! CHANEL and shopping boutiques. Everywhere. While I wouldn’t say I’m a fashionista, I do have an appreciation for aesthetically pleasing articles of clothing and I know my designers. I have always put my daughter first so I guess you can say my fashion sense and style is lived through Leilani before myself. I’m usually caught in lounge wear 80% of the time. But, when I do decide to doll up, I’m not too shabby. Anyway, Chanel. I am dying to go to 31 Rue Cambon where mademoiselle Chanel’s apartment sits above the original boutique. I’ll probably be sneered at in my peasant clothes, but I plan on picking up one of my favorite perfumes, Eau Tendre. Just so I can get it gift wrapped and walk out with the classic black and white shopping bag with the luxury brand stamped on the side. Because I’ll look so Français.

9. A garbage disposal would make my life easier. (no particular order, remember?)

10. Last week, I learned something about the millions of cats that roam around base and out in towns. The reason Italians feed these stray cats are to keep them in the area so they can continue to hunt rodents! It never occurred to me that there are no rats to be seen with the oceans of garbage in Naples. Thank you kitty’s, but I still don’t like you.

11. As much as I hate to admit this, Leilani just started school yesterday. I know, I know, I’m a terrible mother. I was being stubborn and refused to enroll her in school on base. I looked into my options and found an International School off base, but we had no means of transportation. Last week, the headmaster arranged for a wonderful Navy SO – whose daughter attends the school – to drive me to the site and tour the facility. Oh my goodness. It is everything I ever dreamed of for Leilani’s education in another country. But, no car = no international school. I will have to be impatient until our car arrives; then I’ll pull her out of ‘the home of the Dolphin’s’ and swim on over to the international school five times faster than an Olympic athlete! Virtual high five if you knew that was an actual dolphin fact!

12. Leilani’s second grade teacher assessed her in reading and math and confirmed that she is well advanced for her grade level. Phew, so I guess a month off from school wasn’t so bad after all! Just kidding, I had her nose buried in work books and library books daily. She wasn’t off the hook that easily!

13. I took a stroll down to the thrift store (again) today. I found the cutest, never-been-worn, blue blazer and black vintage inspired heels. Definitely struttin’ in those down Champs-Elysées. My negotiating skills are impeccable (thank you, nana!). I got them both for $10.

14. I will never, EVER, get tired of Napoli pizza and gelato. My heart aches when I think of the last day I’ll eat a box of its cheesy goodness. A brick oven just may be in the works when we move back to the states. American pizza makes me cringe.

15. Gaeta is beautiful, I love visiting. I still haven’t forgotten to post those photos and will do so soon.

16. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jesus.

Our first Halloween in Italy

– was a success!

Around early September, Leilani and I decided that a European inspired costume would be fitting since we were moving to Italy.

Ensemble in mind: The Mona Lisa.

Now, there were no Spirit stores, craft shops (oh, Michael’s how I miss you), or anything of the sort that would help me transform Leilani into Mona Lisa. I was discouraged and very close to giving up. But, the determined mother in me put my creative cap on and got to work on making her costume homemade – and I had 2 days to do it. Challenge accepted.

I picked up a tri fold display board, 5 cans of spray paint, a ruler, box cutter, gorilla glue, and a small bungee cord to make the frame that Leilani would be standing in. CJ and I measured all sides of the cardboard and took a box cutter to trim down the size and punctured holes in the center where the bungee cord would weave through, and where Leilani would hold the box up with her shoulders. We used the scraps as the frame and CJ spray painted the box in his Da Vinci best while I went on a hunt to find an outfit that resembled The Mona Lisa’s. The base thrift store was just the place I’d find what I was looking for. They had bins of old costumes that were impossible to dig through. But, I was desperate and had a vision of exactly what I needed. Then behold! A long, black, crushed velvet fabric vampiress dress was finally in my hands. I ceased my search for a black wig and was forced to come to terms with having a blonde haired Mona Lisa until upon checking out, I saw a black net collecting dust on a hanger behind the counter. Inspiration struck and this would become part of Leilani’s “wig”. Our thrift store experience was everything I needed on my steps to materializing our kid into the famed painting. The dress and net together came out to be only $3! Oh, and I managed to grab a fabulous red dress for myself as well ($3). Score!

I have never studied a painting [online] as much as I have as The Mona Lisa. I wanted to make The Mona Lisa come to life in Leilani as much as possible. So, wearing just a black dress wasn’t going to cut it. In the painting, you can see a brownish-gold fabric as her sleeves and silk draping over her left shoulder. I bought some leg warmers for Leilani’s arms and a black scarf to drape over her shoulder to recreate this look. Of course the leg warmers and scarf are something I can use in the winter; parts of this costume aren’t a complete waste! After frantically searching and shopping with one day left, Leilani’s costume was finally coming together. Except her wig. I ended up knitting the net to a headband but it wasn’t dark enough, so I added black tissue paper and tucked it under the headband to keep it in place. Now her costume was complete.

While Leilani and I studied The Mona Lisa, we also learned quite a few facts about Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece. Leilani read some interesting things about the painting and we thought it would be a neat idea to be a walking history lesson and give “fun facts” to those who liked her costume. At first, we thought it would be funny to use these facts as a means to get an extra piece of candy out of our neighbors by saying, “Yes! I am the Mona Lisa. If you share an extra piece of candy, I’ll share a fun fact about me!” But, everyone was so generous she never had the chance to do it. When she was done treating around base, she passed out candy and was able to recite her 5 fun facts to people who gaped at her costume.

Here is a quick video we made this morning of Leilani sharing her ‘five fun facts’. She isn’t in full costume but decided to throw on her “wig” and sit in the boxed frame to become The Mona Lisa one last time.

Leilani’s costume ended up being a hit and everyone loved it. We received many compliments and several people took photos of our walking Mona Lisa. CJ and I have a bet that there will probably be 1 or 2 Mona Lisa costumes next Halloween. We are happy to be an inspiration to families to use their creativity and stop spending 50 or more bucks on a costume your kids will wear for one night. Luckily, Leilani had the chance to wear her costume twice. Last Friday was the base’s annual Spooktacular where 2,000 service members and Italian contractors and their families got to trick-or-treat at booths, go on hay rides, enter in contests, and eat carnival food. This is where Leilani debuted her costume for the first time. Several of the Italians took a particular liking to her costume and would say things like “bellisima!” or “que bella!” among other things that we couldn’t understand. This costume might have helped us become a little more accepted by the Italians. Whew!

Here are photo’s of her makeup and outfit. I pasted the outer parts of her eyebrows down with a glue stick, went over them with concealer, and powdered the heck out of them with foundation to make the hair less visible. Up close, you can see her eyebrows. But from a short distance and in photos, they are barely noticeable – just like in the painting. I powdered Leilani’s face and lips, contoured her nose and darkened her eyes to bring The Mona Lisa to life. I also used a black eyeliner pen on her forehead to create the thin veil that Lisa Gheradini wore over her hair. The transformation was in full effect!

 

Here are photo’s of my little walking painting –

Leilani in full character!

Leilani in full character!

This was such a fun project to put together and a great first Halloween in Italy. We were sad to have to retire the costume so I had the idea of sticking the box to her bedroom wall where friends can use it to play and take pictures in.

We missed the haunted houses, smoke machines, fully decorated neighborhood houses, and pumpkins back in the states. But, we were so thankful to have spent our first Halloween together as a family in 3 years. I hope you had a BOOtiful Hallow’s eve as well and a night with less tricks and more treats!

Now, excuse me while I go ravage through my little candy fetcher’s pillow-case-full of sweets. Mwaaahahahhh!