Monthly Archives: December 2009

2009: Our family’s first, the aughts’ last

We’re about to ring in a new year, a new decade and here’s the scene in Rome: Phoebe’s asleep, Carter’s sacked out, pasta is cooking on the stove and Paul is working at his computer. Unless something drastic happens between now and midnight, I’d say the next decade will likely look a lot like the first…but who could mind?

Best arrival: Phoebe Ann in May (second: Carter in March)

Phoebe’s first family member to visit: Charlene

Number of countries visited: 6, not including Italy


Phoebe’s first plane ride: to Amsterdam

Most difficult task: finding an apartment in Rome

Weirdest apartment toured: tie between the triangle kitchen and the dropped ceiling with florescent lighting


Number of castles toured: countless

Number of times visited Villa Borghese: (see above)

Best Italian speaker in the house: Charity

Best Italian listener in the house: Paul


Hottest month: August, near 100 degrees

Number of visitors to Rome: 9

Classes attended: Italian (Paul – 3 & Charity – 1), Natural Childbirth (Paul & Charity), Bible Study Fellowship (Charity)


Fitness plans/best intentions: yoga (Paul – hot, Charity – prenatal), aquagym (Charity), sit-ups/push-ups/squats (Paul & Charity)

Favorite foods: all (Phoebe)

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Last hat of 2009

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Bye-bye Dummy

It’s been about 18 hours since we’ve taken away Phoebe’s pacifier. She’s asleep right now, a fact that we are surprised and awed by because it’s been shockingly easy. At least so far. Yesterday there was seven minutes of crying, over the space of one nap and one bedtime. This morning’s nap involved two noises, for about five seconds total. Could this be it? If so, I think we’re on to something. Something called sleep.

The problem with the pacifier started early. Phoebe loved it, and was indeed pacified. You could see the stress and agitation melt right off her little face the second she got that sweet sucking going. The issue however, was keeping the pacifier in place. Many a nap and most nights have been interrupted because of the stray pacifier. For six months. This is too long to wait for a full night’s rest. For everyone. For anyone.

We never got to the point of giving it an official nickname. Sometimes “passy” but that’s just because everything in Babyland ends up with a Y at the end. I’ve heard “nay nay”, the classic “binkie” and in Amsterdam, “schnoo schnoo”. In Italy (and England) it’s called a “dummy”, like a stand-in for the real thing (think of a safety dummy). For us, it’s replaced sleep. But no more.

After my first full night’s sleep in ages, I feel, well, still pretty tired. But if we can keep this up–say until college–I’m bound to be back to myself in no time. We’ll work on the extreme wake-up time next. Note to the universe, Phoebe and anyone else who’s listening: Anything past 5am is good.


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Merry Christmas


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The cafe culture of Vienna


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Very Vienna

We went to Vienna for a festive Christmas weekend. This was Phoebe’s fourth trip in two months and for the fourth time she was a delight. As the smallest passenger on the train (left) and plane, she also gets the most attention. Special seatbelts and hot water are always delivered immediately, and for a refreshing change, with a smile. Upon landing, one of our Dutch flight attendants even asked excitedly, “Oh! Can I carry her?” Cute.


Now about Austria. Their capital city was indeed decked out for the season with twinkly lights draping every street.

And instead of silver bells, every street corner served mulled wine, apple cider and a hot home brew called punsch.

The city itself is stately and beautiful. Old, intricate architecture everywhere.

And don’t forget the pastries, starting with apple strudel.


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Home is where the heat is on

Or in our case, isn’t.

The apartment has lost its magic this holiday season because things only kind of work.

Take the heat. Our building has a boiler. Our apartment has radiators. Somewhere in time and space, the two are supposed to get together and provide warmth to apartment number 9. Unfortunately, this isn’t happening. The hottest we’ve been able to reach, and I use the word loosely, is 16 degrees. About 64 degrees in America, sweet, sweet land where I remember heat magically coming into my apartment year after year. Even with the radiators cranked up to 5 (even the number sounds puny), this is it. So it’s oldie-timie here. We’re wearing thick sweaters, puffy slippers, sometimes hats. Space heaters are in effect, but it’s a careful dance to not overload the finicky circuit breaker. Two heaters maximum–and no running the dishwasher at the same time. Ditto for clothes, which is fine because we’re wearing most of them anyway.

Then there is the elevator, which in Italy is called a lift. Actually it’s called an ascenscore but always translated in the British style. What’s important is this: ours works 80% of the time. This figure may seem like a lot but the 20% failure rate packs a punch. It’s usually out of commission just as I’ve gotten Phoebe bundled up in her stroller, Carter collared and everyone out the door. We press the button and…nothing. Or, even more frustrating, the elevator comes but the door doesn’t open. From the 5th floor, it’s not possible to bump down the steps out the door. And let’s face it, Carter isn’t much help. So, it’s back inside to unbundle, repack and break out the Bjorn. Sometimes this involves changing my outfit to accomodate the new demands of the errand, almost always my coat. Mid-process I think to myself, Without the stroller basket, do I need pockets? What about a big bag? If I can’t carry everything in one trip, what’s most important to get now? When is this kid going to start walking? When is this kid going to start walking the dog? And so on.

These annoying failures, coupled with the neighborhood yelling and the general mediocre feeling I’ve always had for the pad have caused quite a stir this weekend. Our landlords have been notified, repairmen are on their way…and we’ve started looking at other places. As always, I’d like to live in an oasis of quiet and green; Paul would like something more lively, with interesting things just outside our door.

We’ll see what happens but either way, I will say one thing. It will be warm. If I have to start wearing a Santa costume around the house just to keep cozy, you’ll see me at the Big Belts store first thing in the morning. They’re probably on sale now anyway.


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