Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Spoiled Rotten In America

Two weeks ago, I made a plea/promise to a sick and shivering Paolo on the way to the emergency vet that if he didn't die I would take him and Bruco to PetSmart and Doggie Daycare as soon as we got to America. Paolo is lucky to survive and fortunate that I'm a woman of my word. America is a huge culture shock to my Italian dogs. Pet pampering is not big in Sicily so it was thrilling to be able to bring my dogs into PetSmart to shop for food, biscuits and toys. Even more of a thrill was dropping Paolo and Bruco for daycare at My Three Dogs doggie daycare, spa and boutique. This place is insane! Paolo and Bruco spent a half day in a room full of dogs all free to roam, run, chase, fetch, hump and butt sniff till their heart's content. It’s truly the happiest place on earth.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Atomic Toddler Energy

I got Currier a membership at My Gym to dump some of that seemingly endless toddler energy into the pool of balls. Honestly, the membership is more for me to have something to do twice a week. As a stay at home mom, I am happier when we don't stay at home. Also, I hope to make a few friends here. I've been too tired and jet lagged to feel lonely yet, but I know its coming.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lowcountry Shrimp & Grits

After an afternoon at the oyster roast, we were invited to dinner by one of Trent’s co-workers. Dave and Iris live in another suburb outside of Charleston called Summerville, an area we are considering. Iris gave us a warm welcome by cooking us a traditional Charleston dish—Shrimp and Grits. Sure I was a little nervous at the sound of grits for dinner, but WOW was it delicious. It was like jambalaya but with homemade grits instead of rice. I plan to make good friends with Iris, get her drunk, steal her recipe and share it with you!

25th Annual Lowcountry Oyster Roast

We moved here just in time to hit the "can't miss event", Boone Hall Plantation's 25th Annual Lowcountry Oyster Roast. The event boasts 65,000 pounds of fresh steamed oysters sold by the bucket (approximately 3-4 dozen) for just 8 bucks. We quickly learned that this is more of a giant kid friendly kegger than an oyster eating festival.

Being new to the area, we were complete amateurs at this oyster roast thing. First of all, everyone was having beer chugging tailgate parties in the parking lot before going into the giant keg party. We amateurs walked into the festival completely sober! Second, everyone brought their own chairs or at least a blanket to sit on picnic style. We amateurs had to sit on the ground to eat! Finally, it's BYO knife and glove for shucking the oysters. We amateurs had to stand in a separate line to purchase the knife and glove!

Oh, just wait until next year... We'll be old pros at this oyster roast thing!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Almost A Sober Sunday In Savannah

On Sunday, we drove down to Georgia to meet Trent's parents and two more of Trent's sisters and their kids. Savannah is about a two hour drive for us coming from Charleston and a five hour drive for them coming from Orlando. We got adjoining rooms at the Clarion Inn & Suites in Savannah and it was a blast to see Currier interact with his silly cousins.
To our horror, we quickly learned that Georgia doesn't sell alcohol on Sundays. Note to self: Never go to Georgia on a Sunday ever again. Good thing Kathy had on her thinking cap and packed a cooler of beer which the adults indulged in while the kiddies played in the indoor pool. Currier was ecstatic from all the attention from Jonathan, Austin, Nyah and Clayton. Although it looks like Austin is strangling Currier in this picture, I think his cousins like him.
When the kids were tired of swimming and the beer was gone, we headed over to Ruby Tuesdays for dinner, drinks (alcohol can be served in restaurants on Sundays- Hallelujah!) and lots of laughs. We look forward to many of these family reunions now that we're all living in the same country!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Our First Visitor

Trent's sister Carrie was our first visitor. She lives in Knoxville and took the 6 hour drive to spend a night and then drive down to Georgia with us the following day to meet the rest of Trent's family. In the pouring rain, we showed Carrie some of the neighborhoods where we’re thinking about buying a home and then we went out to eat at the Charleston Crab House. While dining on some traditional Southern food, I confessed that I wasn’t sure if I liked hush puppies and Carrie said, “What’s not to like about fried cornbread?” She’s right. Hush puppies are delicious and so are fried green tomatoes. If you come to visit us, you must try both!

Currier got a kick out of Carrie, especially when she held out her fist and said, "Give me some love!" He knocked fists with her and in an instant a bond was created and I was reminded of why I urged Trent to find work in the States so our child can grow up around family. We love you, Aunt Carrie!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Paolo's Nine Lives

Like a cat perched on a windowsill basking in the sunlight, our sweet Paolo is doing much better and once again enjoying his life and bringing joy to ours. His horrendous run in with poisonous mushrooms just twelve hours before our flight departure from Sicily to America was absolutely, ridiculously terrifying. I'll spare you descriptions of the vomit and diarrhea, but I will say that I've never seen anything like it. The mushrooms not only brought on a vile sickness but also made Paolo trip. I know this because he told me. In his hallucination, he was the talking dog Brian from the Family Guy and I was the cartoon character Lois Griffin and we danced to the beat of Jefferson Airplane’s White RabbitAnd you've just had some kind of mushroom and your mind is moving low. Go ask Alice I think she'll know. Wait a minute, which one of us was tripping?

Seriously, we really thought Paolo was going to die. Paolo is the dog that we rescued after being hit by a car as a puppy. He has trouble breathing. He has constant health problems. Paolo just has bad luck. One time he ate one of those little rubber chicken toys and had to "deliver" the freaking thing with labor pains and all. I've seen some weird stuff in my life, but seeing a chicken emerge out of my dog's butt was definitely in my top five weirdest things I've ever seen. Paolo is like a cat with nine lives. Let’s hope he keeps landing on his feet because I'm kind of crazy about the little guy.

Dunkin Donuts At Last

Every morning should start out like this!

Home Sweet Home

As soon as the wheels touched down on the Charleston runway, I heaved a sigh of relief but it wasn't until we claimed Bruco and Paolo in the baggage area that I felt like I could breathe again. Hallelujah... we all made it! Trent rented a car and I hailed a cab to follow with the dog crates and luggage. It was late in the evening when we finally stumbled into our temporary apartment. We were a little nervous upon opening the door since you never know what you're going to get when you rent something online, but we were pleasantly surprised. The apartment is in Mount Pleasant, an adorable suburb outside of Charleston. The apartment came fully furnished including dishes, sheets, towels, etc which is convenient since everything we own is floating on the Atlantic and won't reach us for a couple of months.

We opted to save a couple hundred bucks a month by renting a one bedroom and having Currier sleep in the living room but on our first evening we discovered the apartment had a big walk in closet and it made a perfect little room/fort for Currier. He loves it in there but we're thankful Currier can't speak in complete sentences otherwise he'd be going around telling people that we make him sleep on a closet floor and I'm sure that would prompt a little visit from Child Protective Services.

The Seat Belt Sign Has Been Turned On

This picture is in no way at all an accurate representation of how our trip to the States really went down! This cozy moment only lasted for about fifteen minutes. The rest of our twenty six hour trip from Catania to Charleston was torture. Many years ago when I was a flight attendant, I once judged mothers that were unable to control their children or quiet a crying baby during flight. Let me assure you that I have been fully paid back for that sin.

My meticulously prepared carry-on suitcase contained coloring books, crayons, markers, animal stickers, story books, choo choo trains, motorcycles, matchbox cars, a portable DVD player, all of Currier’s favorite videos, 2 blankies, a favorite stuffed animal, snacks, candy and lollipops and NOTHING entertained Currier more than running up and down the aisles. Unfortunately, we were urged to stay in our seats with our seat belts fastened during a majority of the flight due to turbulence and of course trying to explain this to a 20 month old child is like explaining interest rates to a dog.

While Currier wailed, everyone on board took turns turning around to give “the horrible mother” a dirty, nasty look. I hung my head in shame and wished that all those gawkers would lose their luggage or miss their connecting flights. At one point, I actually had to go into the bathroom to bawl my eyes out because I was so frustrated. I remember looking in the bathroom mirror at an ugly, exhausted woman and saying, “I hate being a mother right now!” and I wondered if I could ever look back on this moment and laugh. Good thing I’m resilient but not resilient enough to get on another airplane with Currier until he’s 21 and able to buy his Mama some first class overpriced inflight cocktails.

Previously on Bambino Balent

Last season, we watched this Sicilian born American baby grow from a helpless infant into a rambunctious twenty month old toddler. The Bambino Balent blog took us through all of Currier’s major milestones… his first smiles, words, steps, fights, injuries, illnesses, friendships, holidays, meals, travels, and laughs… and you were there through it all. Thank you for being a part of our happiest moments.

When we said goodbye to Sicily, we also decided to say arrivederci to the Bambino Balent blog. As we begin this new chapter in our lives, we're also starting a new blog with a new name, new look and new voice. Let the Balent Times begin!