My life in Napoli… drawing to a close.

January 1st, 2011

I can’t believe I’ve been in Italy over TWO YEARS already! Wow, how time flies. In two short weeks, Bo, Carter and I will start the next stage in our Navy life. Our final destination will take us to the beautiful and always 60 degrees Fahrenheit San Diego Cal-E-forn-E-a!

We will be spending our winter and spring months on the East Coast first, landing us in Newport RI and Dahlgren VA, where Bo will be doing some training. I’m looking forward to some New England clam chowder and fresh lobster! Then SUSHI SUSHI SUSHI on the West Coast! Oh, heaven!

I have been thinking about all the things I will miss about living here:
-the cute little Monte D lady who makes the best fresh pasta, ever!
-traveling around Europe
-mozzarella di bufala
-prosciutto crudo
-pizza with eggplant
-pizza with corn, cream and prosciutto
-pizza with rucola, prosciutto, sliced parmesan and tomatoes
-not having to stop at STOP signs
-views of the Mediterranean sea from my backyard
-New Year’s Eve fireworks
-the friends I’ve made here (although most of them are all leaving for new places too)
-walking around Monte D on the weekends with Bo going to all the little local shops
-discovering interesting fruits I’ve never seen before
-cheap, yet amazing, wine
-lemoncello
-working with the fantastic people at the American Red Cross
and most of all:
-Art class with Davide!

Carter

January 1st, 2011

On November 15, 2010, Bo and I’s lives changed forever. Our first son, Carter Nolan Johns was born at 6:36pm at the Naples Naval Hospital in Gricignano, Italy. (His birth certificate even says that.. how cool!)

I woke up in the early morning hours, looked at my watch and it was 2:22 and 22 seconds… no joke! So I made a wish and an hour later it came true; my water broke. I told Bo and he was immediately like “Do we need to go to the hospital???” I said “No, lets wait and see what happens”. Later, I got up, had some breakfast and called L&D. They told me to come in some time that morning to check if it really was my water. Sure enough it was, but I wasn’t having contractions because his head was plugging the hole. Instead of inducing me with Pitocin, I asked if they could just break the rest of the water and see if I started labor naturally. Mom and Bo took turns walking around the hospital with me for 2 hours, then I went into active labor for 4 hours. Dr. Borja came in a little later, took a peek and said “Well, you’re fully dilated. Do you want to start pushing?” and I said “YES!” After only 20 minutes of pushing, Carter was born! “It’s a BOY” the doctor said. What a precious moment.

Two days later we got to bring him home. Mom was able to stay another 4 weeks and OMG am I glad she did. It was a lifesaver having her here! I would have starved to death without her. It was also nice having someone here with me even after Bo went back to work two weeks later. I remember the day she flew home it felt so funny being in the house alone with Carter…something just felt missing…her!

It’s now been almost 7 weeks since he was born and everyone is doing great! After a tenuous two weeks with him not gaining weight in the begining.. he’s now feeding like a champ and growing faster than a weed. A coworker of Bo’s recommending putting him in the same place every week and take a picture to document his growth. So every Monday we lay him down on the blanket that Mom and I made him and do just that. I can already tell a difference!

Carter one day old

Carter one day old


Carter day 47

Carter today

Prickly Zucchini

November 22nd, 2010

Before Carter was born, Mom and I took a walk around Monte D and bought these odd looking vegetables (which we thought were fruit).

Prickly Zucchini

Prickly Zucchini

The lady at the fruit and veggie store told us that they were kind of sweet. She said to peel them and slice them and cook them in a pan with oil, salt and pepper. Before we were able to cook them, I went into labor and so they kept a week until we were back at home again. They had a consistency between an apple and a cooked potato and tasted slightly bland, but with a hint of sweetness, like the lady said. I actually enjoyed them quite a bit.

They also had this odd looking seed in the center.

Seed

Seed

Alice in Wonderland

October 30th, 2010

Every year the military and supporting groups here in Naples put on a Halloween event for American, NATO and some Italian (those who work for the military) families. They have haunted houses, scary booths, non-scary candy booths and food vendors. Last year, the American Red Cross only had a food booth, but this year we got extra creative! We decided in addition to our food booth (which sold chili, hot dogs or chili dogs) to have a candy booth as well. Our theme: Alice in Wonderland (trying hard to follow the new Tim Burton’s version).

Red Cross Volunteers dressed up like the characters of Alice in Wonderland... notice the Cheshire Cat at the top!

Red Cross Volunteers dressed up like the characters of Alice in Wonderland... notice the Cheshire Cat at the top! L:R March Hare, Mad Hatter, Alice, Queen of Hearts, Absalom, White Rabbit, Tweedle Dum, Tweedle Dee

We spent over a week preparing decorations in the Red Cross office, along with organizing all the food and volunteers to run the other booth. We even had a Red Cross volunteer’s niece in town visiting from the States who is an art teacher… so she drew and painted our Cheshire cat… isn’t he fabulous!

Everyone decided that I should be the blue caterpillar who smokes the hookah! So my hunt for blue fabric led me to Leroy Merlin (a store that is a cross between a Home Depot and a JoAnns) in Naples, trying to tell the guy helping me, in Italian, how much I needed in square meters. I ended up just saying I’d take it all since there wasn’t more than 3 yards left on the bolt. I spent the next three days sewing on sleeves and stuffing gloves, socks and arms. I had tons of compliments and lots and lots of Italians asked to have their pictures taken with me! The best part was that I stayed super warm all evening when the other poor characters froze… especially Alice.

Absalom, the blue caterpillar

Absalom, the blue caterpillar


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Bo was the March Hare. We found an old wig at the Thrift store on base and I made his ears out of an old pillow, cardboard, a hanger and a headband. He looked great! As did our Alice, Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts, White Rabbit and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum!

Who knew a March Hare and a Caterpillar could bear offspring?

Who knew a March Hare and a Caterpillar could bear offspring?

We found out later in the evening that the judges chose us as the winners for Best Decorations!! The American Red Cross won a tour for 50 people! We can choose between, Caserta Palace, Pompeii, Herculaneum, the Naples Underground, Castles of Downtown and a few others I can’t remember. It’s a fantastic prize and we are so excited that we can reward our volunteers who slaved over the hot grill making hot dogs and chili all evening! WAY TO GO RED CROSS!

205th Anniversary of Trafalgar

October 25th, 2010

You might remember a post to my blog a year ago about Bo and I going to the British’s Trafalgar Night. Well, we went again this year. It was in an absolutely beautiful location! I guess this building and ALL the land around it are owned by the head boss of the mafia. (At least we knew it was secure!) Many Italians have their wedding ceremonies and receptions here. They even have two swimming pools that have boats in them, so the wedding couple can spend their first night on the water! How funny is that!!!

My biggest issue this year was finding a dress! I ordered one online at the end of September and it didn’t come until the Monday before the event. I purposely ordered a size larger and it was still too small… panic. So I took it to the tailor at JFC and he was nice enough to fix it in such a short time, but it still wasn’t quite perfect… I had to use a few pins in strategic places to keep it from gaping in areas. But overall it worked and I think looked better on that it felt. We have the Marine Corps Ball in two weeks, so I hope it still fits for that too!

Bo and I at Trafalgar Night

Bo and I at Trafalgar Night

Preggo Update

October 25th, 2010

So I’m officially 37 weeks this Wednesday, which means FULL TERM!!! Woohoo. From working in a NICU during my time in Memphis, I realize what a relief it is to not have to worry about having a preemie! Especially here in Italy, which would mean the baby and I would have to go to an Italian hospital and not be at the American Hospital on base. It would also be a challenge due to the fact that we are suppose to leave in January… which might not happen if we had a baby in an incubator.

The doctor on Friday said that the baby is head down, facing back towards my right hip… excellent position, we just have to hope it doesn’t try to move too much in the next few weeks. She did a quick ultrasound just to confirm that the baby was correctly positioned and we could see the baby’s ribs moving up and down, which is a sign it is trying to breath, which the doctor said is a good sign it’s central nervous system is fully developed.

I can tell baby Johns is getting bigger! My stomach is growing.. now 36 cm and its kicks are getting stronger. They almost take my breath away sometimes with the kicks to the ribs. I’ve also noticed it must be sitting on a nerve as I get an odd pain in my right leg on occasion and the back pain has started. It’s fairly sporadic though and nothing a good rub up against a corner or from Bo can’t alleviate. For being as far along as I am, I can’t complain. I feel really good! Hardly any swelling and no stretch marks! (Thanks to my sister and friends Amanda and Devon for supplying ample products for keeping the belly moisturized).

36 weeks

36 weeks

Change of Command Ceremony

October 10th, 2010

As the Station Chair of the American Red Cross, I often accompany Jacquie (the Station Manager) to Navy functions that she is invited to attend. Last Wednesday, we went to the change of command ceremony for Admiral Mark Fitzgerald (the Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, US Naval Forces Europe and Africa). A big wig. He is retiring from the Navy and Admiral Samuel Locklear III is replacing him.

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I have been to a couple change of command ceremonies since I’ve been in Naples, but this was by far the most elaborate and fancy one yet. As I think now, it is the first one I’ve been to where Admirals were changing command. Admiral Fitzgerald loves music, so much of the ceremony had bands and people singing. One group in particular called the Bersaglieri were quite impressive. I can best describe them as the Italian Army Mountaineer Running Band, complete with combat boots and hats with large plooms of ostrich feathers. Italians LOVE uniform hats with feathers! They are so impressive because they are running (not marching) and playing brass instruments at the same time!

There were a number of dignitaries and big wigs from all over Europe, Africa and the United States there. At one point I remember looking on top of the nearest building and seeing snipers everywhere. There were also Carabineri (the top police force in Italy) helicopters flying overhead. But the most entertaining part of the whole ceremony was the constant replacement of color guards because everyone was passing out from heat exhaustion! I think I saw at least 10 people pass out in a 3 hour time frame. You would start to see a guy or girl wobble, then the person next to them would catch them, as three guys standing by would rush up and carry them off. Then a replacement would be outfitted with the proper flag holding harness and take their place. It wasn’t an overly hot day, but wearing long sleeve poly-wool uniforms, complete with neck kerchiefs, gloves and boots while standing in the sun holding a flag with your arms up over your heart didn’t seem like the most comfortable way to spend 4 hours.

A Carabineri with the Color Guard

A Carabineri with the Color Guard

Green Melon

October 10th, 2010

Bo and I were at Auchan (the closest thing they’ve got to Walmart here) a couple weeks ago looking for cheese. We were hosting the month of September for cooking club and our theme was ‘cheese’. It’s impossible to find any good or unusual types of cheeses at our base commissary, but I knew that Auchan often carried hard to find kinds. I was pleasantly surprised to find aisles upon aisles of cheeses from all over (mostly Europe). Bo and I ended up making a recipe called fondue with a twist, in which the twist was a smoked Gouda and balsamic vinegar. It was yummy, but I think I prefer the regular fondue better.

While we were at Auchan, we also looked through the fruit section. I like to see if there are any fruits I don’t recognize or have never had before. This time I found an odd looking football shaped green melon. It was quite tasty! Dense like a honeydew, but flavor similar, and slightly sweeter, than the other Italian yellow melon.
Green Melon (2)
Green Melon

Neighborhood Kids

October 1st, 2010

Yesterday evening, I was sitting in the living room watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, when I heard an unusually loud number of kids outside my front door. I know there are two girls that live in the red house next door, but upon inspection there were at least 8 of them outside. They were playing some sort of game where they were hiding in my window sill (it’s a big windowsill about 4 feet deep and 3 or so feet wide). They were also running up and down the stairs to my rooftop patio. As I was watching them, they must have noticed me, because then they started a new game… “Let’s harass the American”. They started knocking on my door, screaming, then running away. When that didn’t get my attention, they started ringing the doorbell incessantly, followed by shrill screams and hiding places. I felt like I was the old grouch of the neighborhood who is always telling the neighborhood kids to get off his lawn. I just ignored them and let them have their fun (I was laughing quite a bit at them). It wasn’t until the next morning when I went to lock my door that I realized they had shoved my key hole full of olive leaves! I couldn’t even get the key in the lock! So I had to pick them all out (as many as I could get), then work the key back and forth till I could turn it. Those little devils.

33 weeks

September 29th, 2010

Bo left for Scotland yesterday for a business trip. I think he felt slightly guilty for going because he kept saying “Why did I sign up for this trip?”. I told him not to worry, because baby and I have an agreement that he/she won’t come early and that he/she won’t wait TOO long either! I know Bo thinks I’m slightly crazy making “deals” with the unborn, but I figure it can’t hurt. My mom told me that when she was carrying me, she use to say “Oh baby, please don’t come today… Momma has too much to do!” and sure enough, I was three weeks late, after most of harvest season. The squash never got picked… and thus “rotted in the ground that year” as mom says. Now they won’t let you go more than 10 days. I’d rather not be induced and I’ve looked up that the full moon is November 21, so I keep telling baby that he/she can come then.

Last night, I was laying in bed reading “Nursing your baby” that momma gave me. Baby was really moving around a lot, then I started feeling a very rhythmic movement, which I had never felt before. I determined that he/she must have had hiccups. I wish Bo could have been there to feel them too.

32 weeks

32 weeks