Thoughts on this Whole30

So another whole30 finished.  Kind of.  (Psst.  Goals for this oneWhat I ate in a week.)

This one actually ended up being a whole21.  We curtailed because I wanted to focus on reintroduction, and we only had so much time before Thanksgiving.

On Day 22, I had popcorn after dinner.  On Days 26-27, I had cheese.  Day 29 was gluten.  Day 32 (Thanksgiving), wine.  After that we head to Naples so I guess it will be pizza reintroduction, followed by probably a week (or more) of recovery.

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What we decided on school for the fall

Contemplating their futures no doubt

Contemplating their educational futures no doubt

So remember how I was obsessing about what to do with Henry for school next year?

We picked Option #4.  Henry’s last day of school was this past Friday.  The plan is for me to have the boys to myself for our last year.  Here’s why this made sense for us and why I’m excited about it.

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What I’m into (January 2016 Edition)

Inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy, I’m sharing some stuff that I’m digging right now.  Could be a regular feature.  Who knows?  🙂

Cracking Nuts

With my renewed focus on paleo, I’ve been on Team Nut.  (Well, Team raw nuts or nuts not roasted in weird oils.  Natch.)

When visiting my in-laws in January, I fell in love with their mix of nuts in a vase alongside a cracker on the counter.  A beautiful display, something you couldn’t  nosh on mindlessly, and it provided endless entertainment for the boys.  I may have to do my own next holiday season.

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Isn’t this lovely?

Geox Shoes

In December, I paid a little visit to the Geox store.  My friend raved about her recent purchases.  Another friend mentioned she was interested because it is an Italian brand.

I was proud of myself because I tried on millions of shoes in different sizes and decided not to feel bad about just asking the salespeople to do something they are paid to do.  I really wanted to try on all of them because they were speaking to me.  Classic with a little edge.

In the end, I walked away with two pairs.  A pair of combat boots and some slip-on sneakers.

I’m in love with both.  Absolute love.  I packed additional shoes for my trip, but I shouldn’t have.  These two are all that I need.  They even did great in the snowzilla situation.

Yes, a little pricier, but I’ll pay for quality, particularly on shoes.  And one of my resolutions for this year (that I have yet to tell you guys about) is to buy more Italian stuff.  And to invest in quality things to boot.   (Hehe)

If you are in Italy, I’d definitely recommend a saldi visit to Geox this month!  I know I’ll be back.  Still no OTK purchase has happened . . .

Libraries

Any visions I ever may have had of myself as a SAHM definitely involved regular visits to the local library.  We have a lot of awesome stuff going on in Italy, but a library with English language books is not on the list.

On our trip stateside, we’ve been hitting libraries every chance we get.  The kids love perusing the books.  The toys there, of course, are way more exciting than any toys would be in our house.  And I love reading something besides the same old thing over and over and over.

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Driving in America

You guys!  Driving in the States is so easy!  After over a year of no driving, I have driven a few times in Italy.  Each time feels a little like preparing for battle.  Study the route beforehand, load the GPS and Google maps, strap the children in with lots of entertainment because I won’t be able to spare a second of attention for them during the trip.

But in America, it is fine!  Wide lanes, ample parking, the list goes on and on.  Granted, unlike in Italy, I do have to worry about being pulled over for a boneheaded traffic maneuver, but the necessity of making a boneheaded traffic maneuver is much lower.

I don’t love having to drive everywhere, but that’s another story.  For now, viva the automobile!

That’s about it for me.  What have you been into this month?

 

3 Things I Learned on a Recent Weekend Adventure (Free Museum First Sundays For-EVAH)

We had a delightful Sunday adventure recently.  Like shockingly enjoyable.  With almost little to no planning.  I know.  I’m as incredulous as you.

It all started after waking up Sunday morning following a busy Saturday.  We hadn’t been out of town (or even out ON the town) in a bit.  I knew I wanted to do something.

Then I remembered that it was the first Sunday of the month.  This means free public museums in Rome.

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Best Holiday Lights near DC

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Yay Christmas lights!  Did you guys also spend who knows how much time driving around in your car on the hunt for epic Christmas lights growing up?  Just us?  You probably just didn’t have the Pelzer Light People.

That’s right.  BE jealous.

And so it was with these high standards that I set off in search of epic light displays in DC.  We made it a tradition to check out something new each year.  Because the lights in DC are so much more than the Christmas trees at the White House and Capitol!

Already hit the zoo and the trains at the Botanic Garden?  Don’t feel like shelling out for ICE! at National Harbor?    Well, my friend, this list is for you.

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Do you run TO the crowd or FROM the crowd?

So there are lots of food-themed festivals around here, particularly in the summer and fall.   Fruit!  Porcini!  Carciofi for everyone!  I love food; sign me up!

I meant to do more.  And we will.  But we did make it to the Sagra delle Fragole (strawberry festival) in Nemi this June.

But the thing about festivals is crowds.  Shockingly, other people ALSO want to go to the cool-sounding festival with you.

I don’t really love crowds.

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Hobbies cost money (duh)

I don’t knit, but it IS a hobby that costs money.

I’ve been feeling a little blogging schizophrenic lately.  Well, not just blogging.  I’m having trouble deciding how I want to spend my “free” time.

  • Should I keep doing a little at Roman Reboot, but spend more time on another internet project I’d like to tackle?
  • Should I double down on Roman Reboot?
  • Should I stress less about side internet projects and spend more time travel planning and living la dolce vita?

So, you know.  Just the usual things everyone has to deal with.  How you should spend your finite minutes and hours each week.

I was discussing this with James the other day when he was in the shower.  (This is why “free” time is in quotation marks.)  I was rambling on about how I’ve been reading more about blogging on the internet, and I’d like to make some upgrades with hosting and mailing lists and widgets, but I wasn’t sure if I should upgrade Roman Reboot or start from scratch on the new project, but I’d like to do some things to Roman Reboot but they will cost money and can I justify that if the site is just a hobby??

And he said something that is very obvious, but it is something I had lost perspective on.

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Want to hear something kind of crazy?

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I want to tell you something that is kind of crazy.  I, Melissa, mother of two, have never put both my kids in a car and driven them somewhere all by myself.  And these kids aren’t weeks old, mind you.  My “baby” turned one this spring.

The other crazy thing?  I haven’t driven a car since last August when we moved here.  I haven’t driven in Italy at all.

Back when we lived in DC, I was never a big driver.  When we were in Maryland, I sometimes drove to the metro or shopping or to visit my friends in Virginia, but I didn’t drive all the time.  Once we moved to DC proper, I mostly stopped driving.  I walked Henry to day care.  I took the bus or metro to work.  When we did family outings on the weekends, James would drive.  I did pull shifts–usually the early morning shift (no shocker there)–on our drives to SC, but I could still go months without getting behind the wheel of a car.

I’m a nervous person and a nervous driver.  Not driving much exacerbates this.  Living in cities exacerbates this.

I usually don’t mind it at all.  I have plenty of stores within walking distance.  Public transportation is still a challenge with the two kids, but it is there.  We can get where we need to go sans automobile.

But something happened earlier this month that has me reevaluating my no drivo status.

We visited Lake Bracciano on a weekend.  Although our trip out took longer because of a flat tire, this volcanic lake is only 45 minutes from Rome.  Motor sports are limited, and the lake is a pristine and quiet place.  It is rimmed by three towns to explore and an awesome (and free!) airplane museum at the sight of Italy’s first airport.

Even though the lake is crazy close, we opted to do an overnight so that we could explore more.  Our agriturismo, Agriturismo Il Castoro, sits on smaller, neighboring Lake Martignano.  You have to go down some serious dirt roads to get there.

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Even if you don’t stay there, you can pay a few euro to access the expanse of grassy beach lined with hammocks.  You can pay a few more euro to rent a paddle boat–some with their own slides–or grab some refreshing beverages at the small cafe.

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Because of uncooperative weather (I swear, it is always stifling except when I actually have aqua access), we didn’t frolic in the water.  (Although we did all touch it; Mac was particularly nonplussed.)

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We did enjoy some time swinging in the hammocks and feeling the grass between our toes.

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As we strolled, I could not help but think, I could do this.

I could load up the kids on a random weekday and hit the lake or explore a nearby town or do anything we wanted.  We have fun at the zoo and parks in Rome, and I’m trying to get better about picking off new sights with the kids, but we could just go.

Of course, exploring a new town with the adorable weirdos sounds downright frightening.  I’m not scared of my kids, per se; however, sometimes I am definitely intimidated by them.

But things change.  And faster than I think too.

Not that long ago, I could barely grocery shop with the two kids by myself.  Now we have a produce guy, an egg lady, fish dudes, and I can get around the store with the two of them if I need to.

Not that long ago, Mac refused to move anywhere.  Then I spent HOURS walking behind him holding his hands.  Now I walk beside him and sometimes dash to keep up as he darts off a few steps on his own.  (He still refuses to crawl though.)

At some point, trips with these guys may not seem so crazy.  I need to be ready.

Even if that means getting behind the wheel of a car.  I’m planning to force myself to practice when town empties this August.  Our car is already lightly “Romanized.”  No one would notice a few more scratches.

Deep breath.  I’m an adult.  I can do this.

Other Trip Highlights

  • We hit up Il Castello Odescalchi in Bracciano, site of famous weddings such as Tomkat’s.  The self guided tour involved some stairs, but went over well with the kids.  Shocking to NO ONE, Henry loved the weaponry.

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  • Historic Bracciano is fairly small.  We wandered, checked out views of the lake, and enjoyed lunch outside at Pane e Olio.  Service was slow (they were slammed), but the food was very good.

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Pistachio pasta FTW

Pistachio pasta FTW

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  • We drove through Trevignano, but didn’t get to explore this town.  Unlike Bracciano, which overlooks the lake from on high, Trevignano is down at the water.  Several restaurants on the water looked pretty sweet.
  • We enjoyed an evening wander and dinner watching the sunset over the lake at Il Vecchio Salus in Anguillara.  Although we didn’t go, Anguillara seems to have an expanse of public beach along with a jump park and rides area.

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  • If you have kids or any interest in planes, definitely check out the Italian Air Force Museum.  Fun (oversimplified) fact:  Italians built lots of seaplanes because they didn’t feel like building runways.  This free museum has several hangars of planes to delight the kiddos.  Even though half of it was closed at our visit, it was still worth the trip.  Did I mention it’s free??  Cafe inside.

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Also lots of old cars.  BONUS.

Also lots of old cars. BONUS.

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Other Bracciano Resources