31 December 2011

Cooking Adventures

You ever have that one food from home that you crave more than ever? Mine has been nachos. I tried them from TacoBell at the little PX (Army version of a mall), but they tasted weird. So today while we were shopping for groceries, I was determined to find a way to make my own.

Making nachos with minimal cookware and tin foil is an adventure to say the least. Since we don't have a microwave, I decided to melt the cheese and tomatoes in a sauce pan, then heat the bean dip up on a sheet of foil in the oven by placing a little spoonful on each chip, and then pouring the melted cheese sauce over the heated bean dip n chips.

Let me tell you...after all that work. They never tasted soooooo delicious!

Since moving here, I've fallen in love with sparkling water. It's almost as good as drinking champage. Tastes so good when it hits your lips!

Happy New Year to everyone. Much love from Italy!

26 December 2011

One of Those Days

Exhausted. I felt this this older picture of my sleepy little niece "BooBears" fit the bill pefectly.
It's not like we did much all day. Studied for the Italian drivers license test tomorrow. Hope hubby and I both pass!
Went to the little gas station-like store to pick up food. It was the only place on base open at the time. Tried cooking bacon with two plastic disposable forks. That was a sight! Finished off the rest of the day watching movies and trying to nap.
Only three more nights till we are in our apartment! I can't wait. It will be so wonderful to have more than three shirts to wear again. We might be without internet for a little while. But don't worry, we'll come back to base ever so often to connect back with the technical world while we wait for our internet to get setup.
Happy Monday everyone!

25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Happy Birthday to my husband and Merry Christmas to all!

Hubby and I went to Venice for Christmas and it was truely amazing. We toured Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco Marco, known in English as St. Mark's Basilica. It was so beautiful. If any of you come visit us in Italy, this is one place that I'm going to drag your little jet-lagged butts to. It's worth it!

Now we are back on base. Just came back from spending a little time in hubby's haven (aka. bowling alley). Enjoyed watching "It's a Wonderful Life" on the bar's tv...and drinking the best wine EVER.

Just finished calling my mom and wishing her a Merry Christmas. Think I'm going to call it a night now and go watch the Grinch (animated version), or M*A*S*H. Love that old TV series! Alan Alda cracks me up every time.

Love to all. Merry Christmas from Italy!

23 December 2011

We Picked Our Home!

We went down to the housing office today and selected one of the two apartments we toured yesterday evening.

You won't believe how awesome it is. We have a DISHWASHER and AIR CONDITIONING! (Note: You can tell I'm over the top excited because I'm killing this post with caps and exclamation points.)

We get the keys on December 29th and will hopefully have our household goods moved in on the 30th. Once we move in, our next step is to fly our dog, Jack, over. I miss him so much. How can you not resist these soulful brown eyes!

Hubby and I are off tomorrow to a little Christmas escape. I'll post all about it including TONS of pictures, when we get back on Sunday. Thank you Uncle Mark for letting us borrow your camera while in Italy!

Sipping an Italian capuchin (cappuccino) as I type. Absolutely amazing. And I'm not even a coffee drinker.

19 December 2011

Pretty Little Windows

Snapped this hazy picture yesterday while walking around Vicenza.

16 December 2011

First Night Out in Italy

We've been here five full days and finally decided to venture out of the Caserma Ederle gates and into the city of Vicenza. It was really dark out, so it was hard to mentally capture the look of the area, but we did have fun!

After rambling down the sidewalk, we finally found a tiny little Italian/American restaurant. Most of the employees spoke broken English and they had American Christmas songs playing in the background (to bad - they should have been playing some of Il Volo's songs!), but the menu was in Italian. I was told not to visit restaurants that had menus in English because the food wouldn't be good.

We both had pasta and some wine...and it was all so delicious! We bought a bottle of wine to take home as well =0)

All in all, it was an amazing evening. Much better than what took place earlier this morning.

Because I Said So

I believe that should be the Army's motto. Why do I need to go through hours of orientation and interviews to be a VOLUNTEER before I can even found out what positions are available? Because they said so. That's why. It's the way of the Army.

I feel like they believe my time is of no value. One wouldn't go thru a job interview without knowing what kind of job they were interviewing for...right? And if I wish to be a volunteer instructor, then I have to pay for the training.

Today I reached a bit of a boiling point. All the insane and stupidity finally got to me and when my wonderful hubby tried to console me by saying I'll get use to it...that kind of lit me up again. I don't want to get use to all this nonsense because that means I'm one of THEM...the little dependent drones that do things just because the ARMY says.

My poor hubby. He didn't know what to say after that.

Getting off my soap box now.

15 December 2011

What you are missing out on...

I was just informed that I can't take pictures while here on base anymore. Something about security. So, instead of a picture of us here on base, I have a picture for you of what you are missing out on, there in the States!

Every night since we've been here, Bondi Rescue has been on the oh so wonderful (sarcasm here folks) AFN television. As you can see, these hot Australians in blue are lifeguards that patrol the beaches. You are really missing out. It's a great show. Almost better than Hawaii Five-O and that is saying something. =o)

13 December 2011


Here is a view from the Arena. It's hard to tell from the photo, but it was beautiful and sunshiny outside!
Hubby and I went to the Comissary for the first time today to by lunchmeat and some microwave foods. We are getting VERY tired of eating at the PX (military version of a mall, but more like a walmart with a few fast food venues) or Burger King, the only two places to eat here that we know of so far.

On our way to the Comissary, we found the Outdoor Rec office (they schedule all kinds of activities). Coming up they have a Santa Run and a Klagenfurt Christmas tour. I'm not sure if we'll be doing the tour as you have to be up and at the bus at 6:30am on Sat morning! We might go to France for Christmas though. =o)

We also found the base Thriftstore. I plan on going tomorrow. From what I've heard, this thriftstore is pretty cool. I'll let you know after I visit it.

Before walking around and finding the golden gems (thriftstore and Outdoor Rec), I was feeling pretty blah. No offense to the military, but they REALLY suck at planning. It wouldn't be so bad if we had moved to someplace in the states, but being dropped in the middle of a foreign country, you might as well have thrown me in the middle of the ocean, literally.

Good news is, we are growing thick skin fast and in-processing starts tomorrow. Plus, Hawaii Five-O is on tonight...and watchihng hotty Steve McGarrett makes EVERYTHING golden.

12 December 2011

New Day...New Adventures

Good Morning!

This whole jet lag thing is really kicking my butt. I've been up since 2am. Haven't crashed yet, but if it's my luck that will happen when we are out shopping for essentials or something and halfway across the base. It's just a ten minute walk from one end of the base to the other, but when you are running short on sleep like I am...functioning like normal is a thing of the past.

On a good note, I've seen three Christmas trees here on this tiny base. If you happen to know me well, you'll know that I can't fathom Christmas without a tree. Since I haven't been able to find a "Charlie-Brown" tree for our hotel room yet, you'll be happy to know that there is a real one outside our window on the other side of the street!

When everything feels upside down, it's the little things that count.

Including the fact that Hawaii Five-O is on the TV here. I actually cried tears of happiness when I saw the preview for the next show. (Mom: I promise not to call you at 2am in the morning to tell you how it went.)

We are off to get a cell phone.

Love to all!

Oh what fun it is tonight....

Actually, it's morning here in Vicenza, Italy. Since neither hubby and I could sleep, I decided to deal with AT&T and try and get our phones unlocked so we can purchase cell service here. Unfortunately, they won't unlock our phones due to a contract with Apple. Nice.

Now we can only hope that the cell phone place here can unlock them. =0) Cross your fingers!

22 November 2011

Moving Madness

All of our stuff is either packed in boxes, or wrapped and tagged, and waiting to be loaded into crates and onto the truck.

With only my computer to help pass time, I've been looking for jobs and volunteer opportunities...and not to pick on anyone, but the volunteer site could use a spell-checker!


Really? Do they have a five year old managing the site?

09 November 2011

Living In A Dream

I'm not the uniform gawking type, but when my tall,dark and handsome, comes home every day wearing his fatigues ...I can't help but drool. And he's all mine to boot!

Actually, there are days I still can believe I got to marry my best friend, the one that makes my heart skip, the one I get to go to Europe with and have the experience of a lifetime...

Someone pinch me please!

18 October 2011

The Holiday

Graham: Well, I cry all the time.
Amanda: You do not.
Graham: Yeah I do. More than any woman you've ever met.
Amanda: You don't have to be this nice.
Graham: It happens to be the truth.
Amanda: Really?
Graham: A good book, a great film, a birthday card, I weep.
Amanda: Shut up.
Graham: I'm a major weeper.

I've been having multiple "Graham moments." The whole leaving concept has started to sink in big time. My husband got his official transfer orders last week and I cried my eyeballs out. Don't get me wrong...I was elated over the fact that we FINALLY got the papers, so now I can start processing my Visa (once my no-fee passport comes in), but it also meant that we are leaving for real. This isn't a short vacation. It's three years.

Of course I have the opportunity to come home whenever I want. But I'm trying to reconcile myself to the fact that I won't be coming home during those three years. I don't want to waste money traveling to the US when my husband and I could use those $$$$...$$$ to experience and travel throughout Europe.

But back to the Graham moments. I was trying to put together my Christmas budget I as begin to plan and scope out deals for the few presents that I'll be buying. As I thought about presents for my mom, I started to tear up. I'm going to miss Mom tanto.

08 October 2011

Good News...Sort Of

My primary physician doesn't concur with the specialist that said I have lupus. This is a good thing in some ways because I'm not branded with this diagnosis...yet.

Bad news is I don't trust my primary. She's only seen me for two months, and while she has all my records, it would take longer than two months to read though it all! On the other hand, I trust the specialist who's known me for years.

Thankfully I'm not having any significant problems at the moment, so I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that things will stay this will until we get to Italy, and then the Army docs take it from there. Boy, do I feel sorry for them. Haha.

06 October 2011


I was just recently diagnosed with lupus. Oh the irony. Especially since the day before I received this diagnosis, I posted the "Spoon Theory" and the my first words were...."I don't have lupus."

When I first received the news, I was almost relieved. There was FINALLY a reason as to why all these random things were happening to me at such a young 20-something age. Fast forward to a few hours later, after I had spent some time "Google-ing" my diagnosis, I was no longer happy. I was now overwhelmed, upset, and scared. Lupus patients have SO many problems as time goes on. Is this going to be me? Am I going to look like that?

Maybe I can wake up tomorrow and this will all be just a bad dream.

30 September 2011


I don't have Lupus, but this "Spoon Theory" written by Christine Miserandino is a classic example of what life is like when dealing with chronic pain.

Today was a day with few spoons...especially when struggling to pull open a door this afternoon. It's so frustrating. So I wrap myself up in icepacks, turn my ipod on, and hope that I can get thru the next half hour.

The Spoon Theory
by Christine Miserandino www.butyoudontlooksick.com
My best friend and I were in the diner, talking. As usual, it was very late and we were eating French fries with gravy. Like normal girls our age, we spent a lot of time in the diner while in college, and most of the time we spent talking about boys, music or trivial things, that seemed very important at the time. We never got serious about anything in particular and spent most of our time laughing.

As I went to take some of my medicine with a snack as I usually did, she watched me with an awkward kind of stare, instead of continuing the conversation. She then asked me out of the blue what it felt like to have Lupus and be sick. I was shocked not only because she asked the random question, but also because I assumed she knew all there was to know about Lupus. She came to doctors with me, she saw me walk with a cane, and throw up in the bathroom. She had seen me cry in pain, what else was there to know?

I started to ramble on about pills, and aches and pains, but she kept pursuing, and didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. I was a little surprised as being my roommate in college and friend for years; I thought she already knew the medical definition of Lupus. Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.

As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.

At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.

I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.

Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.

She grabbed the spoons with excitement. She didn’t understand what I was doing, but she is always up for a good time, so I guess she thought I was cracking a joke of some kind like I usually do when talking about touchy topics. Little did she know how serious I would become?

I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons”. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting. She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, and I knew right away that this little game would work, when she looked disappointed, and we hadn’t even started yet. I’ve wanted more “spoons” for years and haven’t found a way yet to get more, why should she? I also told her to always be conscious of how many she had, and not to drop them because she can never forget she has Lupus.

I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As, she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon. When she jumped right into getting ready for work as her first task of the morning, I cut her off and took away a spoon. I practically jumped down her throat. I said ” No! You don’t just get up. You have to crack open your eyes, and then realize you are late. You didn’t sleep well the night before. You have to crawl out of bed, and then you have to make your self something to eat before you can do anything else, because if you don’t, you can’t take your medicine, and if you don’t take your medicine you might as well give up all your spoons for today and tomorrow too.” I quickly took away a spoon and she realized she hasn’t even gotten dressed yet. Showering cost her spoon, just for washing her hair and shaving her legs. Reaching high and low that early in the morning could actually cost more than one spoon, but I figured I would give her a break; I didn’t want to scare her right away. Getting dressed was worth another spoon. I stopped her and broke down every task to show her how every little detail needs to be thought about. You cannot simply just throw clothes on when you are sick. I explained that I have to see what clothes I can physically put on, if my hands hurt that day buttons are out of the question. If I have bruises that day, I need to wear long sleeves, and if I have a fever I need a sweater to stay warm and so on. If my hair is falling out I need to spend more time to look presentable, and then you need to factor in another 5 minutes for feeling badly that it took you 2 hours to do all this.

I think she was starting to understand when she theoretically didn’t even get to work, and she was left with 6 spoons. I then explained to her that she needed to choose the rest of her day wisely, since when your “spoons” are gone, they are gone. Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow’s “spoons”, but just think how hard tomorrow will be with less “spoons”. I also needed to explain that a person who is sick always lives with the looming thought that tomorrow may be the day that a cold comes, or an infection, or any number of things that could be very dangerous. So you do not want to run low on “spoons”, because you never know when you truly will need them. I didn’t want to depress her, but I needed to be realistic, and unfortunately being prepared for the worst is part of a real day for me.

We went through the rest of the day, and she slowly learned that skipping lunch would cost her a spoon, as well as standing on a train, or even typing at her computer too long. She was forced to make choices and think about things differently. Hypothetically, she had to choose not to run errands, so that she could eat dinner that night.

When we got to the end of her pretend day, she said she was hungry. I summarized that she had to eat dinner but she only had one spoon left. If she cooked, she wouldn’t have enough energy to clean the pots. If she went out for dinner, she might be too tired to drive home safely. Then I also explained, that I didn’t even bother to add into this game, that she was so nauseous, that cooking was probably out of the question anyway. So she decided to make soup, it was easy. I then said it is only 7pm, you have the rest of the night but maybe end up with one spoon, so you can do something fun, or clean your apartment, or do chores, but you can’t do it all.

I rarely see her emotional, so when I saw her upset I knew maybe I was getting through to her. I didn’t want my friend to be upset, but at the same time I was happy to think finally maybe someone understood me a little bit. She had tears in her eyes and asked quietly “Christine, How do you do it? Do you really do this everyday?” I explained that some days were worse then others; some days I have more spoons then most. But I can never make it go away and I can’t forget about it, I always have to think about it. I handed her a spoon I had been holding in reserve. I said simply, “I have learned to live life with an extra spoon in my pocket, in reserve. You need to always be prepared.”

Its hard, the hardest thing I ever had to learn is to slow down, and not do everything. I fight this to this day. I hate feeling left out, having to choose to stay home, or to not get things done that I want to. I wanted her to feel that frustration. I wanted her to understand, that everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, and the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategizing a war. It is in that lifestyle, the difference between being sick and healthy. It is the beautiful ability to not think and just do. I miss that freedom. I miss never having to count “spoons”.

After we were emotional and talked about this for a little while longer, I sensed she was sad. Maybe she finally understood. Maybe she realized that she never could truly and honestly say she understands. But at least now she might not complain so much when I can’t go out for dinner some nights, or when I never seem to make it to her house and she always has to drive to mine. I gave her a hug when we walked out of the diner. I had the one spoon in my hand and I said “Don’t worry. I see this as a blessing. I have been forced to think about everything I do. Do you know how many spoons people waste everyday? I don’t have room for wasted time, or wasted “spoons” and I chose to spend this time with you.”

Ever since this night, I have used the spoon theory to explain my life to many people. In fact, my family and friends refer to spoons all the time. It has been a code word for what I can and cannot do. Once people understand the spoon theory they seem to understand me better, but I also think they live their life a little differently too. I think it isn’t just good for understanding Lupus, but anyone dealing with any disability or illness. Hopefully, they don’t take so much for granted or their life in general. I give a piece of myself, in every sense of the word when I do anything. It has become an inside joke. I have become famous for saying to people jokingly that they should feel special when I spend time with them, because they have one of my “spoons”.

© Christine Miserandino

04 September 2011

Another Day in Paradise

Who knew that an abdominal tear could land one in the hospital for a week! Whew. It seemed like the longest five days of my life. I'm sure hubby felt the same way as well.

But thankfully, I am back home enjoying my own comfy bed and not getting poked and prodded every few hours.

Tomorrow is little Boo's (niece) birthday. Can't believe she is turning four! How time flies.

22 August 2011

Visiting Grandma

Took the weekend and went up to visit Chad's grandma and uncle. Great time. Grandma is a gem for letting us all stay at her place, and uncle is a bbq master!

07 August 2011


Thank you to everyone that helped us and showed up to our wedding reception/bbq! We had a wonderful time!

26 July 2011

2nd Job

I have a theory that the military believes every soldier's spouse has nothing to do all day but run around and complete piles upon piles of paperwork for each new PCS. Just getting approved through the EMFP feels a full time job.

22 June 2011


Spent the LONGEST four days of my life stuck in the hospital with an infection. My poor husband. He's already being tested in the "for worst" part of our marriage.

13 June 2011

Wedding Bells

There were no bells...but we became Mr. and Mrs. May the journey begin!