Sunday, November 28, 2010


The most pressing reason that we moved back was that Italian junior high wasn't working for our family, so it is with great relief to say that American school has been great for us so far. The boys seem happy, the teachers are actually nice, in fact, seem to want Shae and Shad to really make it. There have been cultural adjustments, of course, but nothing that has been too difficult with the exception of one; getting the boys to understand the American grading system. They are doing fine except in English and American History which is totally understandable given that they've never had either subjects before. I've been fairly relaxed about it. Junior high grades rarely make or break a person, and given that they are improving every week, by the end of the year we should be good to go. 

I realized a few weeks ago, however, that I needed to step up a bit when one of the boys did a fist pump in the air when he got a 68% on his progress report. I said, um Shae that's a "D".  Yeah, he said as if there was no reason to be worried. I tried in vain to explain the letter grade system, again. In Italy it was a number system so A, B, C, D, F mean very little to them. The next day at work I ran into a mom who had raised her kids overseas as well. When I told her my dilemma and she finally helped me with a way to explain it to the boys. In Europe you start with a zero and work your way up. So a 68 would never be the equivalent of a "D", more like a low B or C. . You've worked your way over half way up. In America you start with a 100 and work your way down so you've lost quite a bit by the time you get to a 68%. The next day I tried again and finally recognition started to dawn in his eyes. One more hurdle cleared. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Time Limit

It seems that I am nearing the time where it is becoming socially unacceptable to keep struggling so much with the fact that I've left a whole life behind in Italy and am now living in Orlando Florida. Before I go on, let me clarify that there are many many people that have been and will continue to be amazingly supportive, safe, loving, understanding....true gifts from God. We COULD NOT have made it without so many people that God put in our lives from the very beginning here, the Alexanders, Streets, Brockmans, Petersons, people I work with, those of you who have written, called, commented, Marty who as I write is hauling food accross the ocean from Italy to give to us, Nancy who is sending me money for a special bottle of wine... I could go on and on and so I have to say I feel so incredibly blessed.

But outside certain circles I will have to begin to be careful what and how I share. Not that I care what people think but they just don't get it and I don't have that much emotional energy right now. In the beginning of course everyone understood and I shared freely. However, I had a conversation yesterday that went something like this. "How are you doing?" "Well", I said "it is going to take awhile" Really? (Questioning tone). Yeah, they say maybe two years. Really? (Incredulous tone) Now I could be making everything up, but I am starting to sense that some people who haven't walked this particular path are ready for me to move on. This is familiar ground. Grieving for some (in Christian circles especially) is given a time limit. When that time limit is over it is time to move on and put on your praise bracelet.

Don't get me wrong, some days I can really be a pain to be around because of all the transition so I understand that some might choose to avoid me and I respect that. Ok I've always been a bit of a pain but seriously, right now, I need to put a shirt on that says don't mind me, I'm critical, grouchy and negative because I'm going through withdrawals and I don't like the taste of life here. Or maybe it should say, Stay away from the bear, she bites. Anyway, I do wish the process was faster. Why does it take so stinking long?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Allergic to America

So I have broken out in hives. The more I itch the redder they become and the less I sleep. This has never happened before in my life and so I start asking around and consulting the vast amount of online medical journals. I have to say I'm quite good at coming up with the right diagnosis for whatever ailment my family and others are suffering from. As a mother living overseas you have to become good at this for various reasons.  My cabinets sport quite an array of homeopathic as well as other medicines.

In Italy I would determine the course of action and then trot down to the local pharmacy where the pharmacist would give me whatever I requested. He knew me and trusted me and so why bother the doctor? Here, however, I was pretty sure that wouldn't happen, so after I made my diagnosis I made an appointment with a local doctor so that I could get a prescription for what I needed.

I walk into her office and decide that I'll tell her right away what the problem is to save her time. "I've broken out in hives because I'm allergic to America" I say. "I probably need to take steroids for a week" She didn't believe me at first, but after going through all the options and doing a few tests she finally agreed with me and I walk out with my prescription. The problem is that the steroids ease the syptoms but don't really solve the problem.

I wish there was anti-rejection medicine for America that I could take similar to what they give patients who have had heart transplants. Maybe I need a heart transplant too because I'm pretty sure my heart is broken.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Since leaving Italy we have been reading this passage from the book of Joshua as a family:

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you, nor forsake you.
Be strong and of good courage; for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded you: don't turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.

"Be strong and courageous" I say to the boys as they jump out of the car and head into their new school.
"Be strong and courageous" I say to myself as I get out of bed in the morning.
"Be strong and courageous" I say to Sean as he tries to find a good bottle of wine in Florida on our budget.

What could be more comforting that the fact that God is with us wherever we go? Even in this strange planet.

This life of transition is not for wimps. Be strong and courageous.


Elfi (friend from Italy) asked if the fact that I haven't been blogging has to do with the fact that I'm doing better. The answer is no, but it is complicated, like most things in my life. I can't really answer no or yes. I guess the best answer is the one I gave my mom when she asked how I was doing recently. I happened to be looking at the transition chart I've posted on my refrigerater and I said, "Mom according to the transition chart I'm doing great, getting straight "A"'s in fact. " Straight "A"'s because I basically could check off everything listed during the cultural transition period: emotionally unstable, judgemental, critical, disconnected, identity crises, low emotional reserve, stessed, depressed. All normal expected emotions during this time.

The other thing that has happened is that there are hurricanes here. I'm not talking about the ones that come from the sea, accompany rain and wind and cut off the electricity, but this whirlwind of activity that the people from strange planet are swept up in and well it got us too. Why is it that there is so much running around. Chickens with no heads come to mind. We do have teenagers and when you add the craziness of soccer.....everyday.... well that is enough in and of itself. Now in Italy soccer was more than a sport, it was a part of their DNA. But even there we didn't have practice everyday and never during the dinner hour when you were supposed to be eating with your family. Which again brings me to my ongoing biggest struggle here, not only what am I supposed to feed my family but when can I feed my family all together.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sleepless Nights

I'm awake at 2:00. Not jet lag. Something else but can't put my finger on it. Just sad I guess. Summer nights in Italy were divine. I listen to Max Gazze'-Mentre Dormi and dream of running away to one of my favorite places in Italy. I should be on the beach. It is August, after all, and I need to fortify my body with the minerals of the Mediterranean to stay healthy through the winter. All sorts of things come to mind that I can't mention to escape the grief I feel. Still not taking the secret stash of prescription drugs my friend Laura sent with me. Tempting though. Sean keeps saying that he is more worried about the non-prescription drugs. Guess I'll settle for melatonin and try to go back to sleep.

It's HOT...and cold.

It's so hot and humid that Sean gasps when he goes outside. Literally gasps. I gasp when we go inside buildings because the air conditioning is turned up so high that it is downright cold. Shae gets angry, "Why do they do that?" he says as he pulls his arms inside his sleeves. Sean keeps trying to borrow the scarf I put around my neck to keep from getting sick. Get your own scarf, I say. He looks around, none of the other male inhabitants are wearing scarves and he is trying to fit in. Shae finally does catch a cold. Stupid air conditioning. I knew it would get us in the end. How are we going to stay healthy with our systems being shocked back and forth?