Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 3: Hay Barn Fire, Birthday Party & A Surprise Visit!

It is difficult for me to write this week as my mind is elsewhere.  I cannot stop thinking about what has happened in Ukraine.  The terrorist act of shooting down a plane filled with innocent people, many of them children, is horrifying enough, but the aftermath is also sickening.  Armed thugs holding bodies as hostage, preventing journalists, investigators and rescue workers from accessing the sight only serve to make a grotesque act truly monstrous.  And behind it all, and I firmly believe his is, Putin stands defiant, using his propaganda machine to lure much of his population into believing the Ukrainians, and possibly even the Americans, shot down the plane.

Meanwhile, back here in our blissful summer home, life continues with my four dear charges thankfully oblivious to what is going on in the world around them....

Every morning Enzo, Maria and I take a jog in the woods. 
Poor Pepper is on his second month of wearing a cone.  He continues to fight hard to recover but he has had some setbacks. Our vet here discovered that his wound was infected with a bacteria so rare she had never seen it in her entire career.  We are hopeful she was able to get it all out during his latest operation as the antibiotics needed for this particular bacteria have terrible side effects.  For now we are watching him closely and hoping.  He keeps himself busy hunting flies, sleeping and finding ever more ingenious ways of escaping his collar.  
On Wednesday as we left the house to take Gio to camp we saw a giant ball of black smoke in the otherwise blue sky.  It turns out a giant hay barn had exploded in the town down the hill from us.  
Gio was fascinated and insisted we visit the fire every day after camp.  It burned for 4 days so we had plenty of chances.
Pepper continued his quest to sleep in as many strange places as he can.
The shower is his latest, though the bidet remains his favorite.  
Thursday night was Gio's best friend's birthday party.  Andrea's family owns the terrific pizza place near our house so we enjoyed a wild evening of food and festivities at the restaurant.  

Best part of the week?  A surprise visit from Papa for the weekend!! 

It was a hot one, so we spent much of the weekend at the pool with Papa.  Maria sported a new bathing suit for the occasion.  Grazie, Nonna!

Even during a difficult week, this smile keeps my going!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Week 2 in Italy: Green Beans, Storms and Back to the Vet

The 5 of us have settled into an easy routine here.  Lazy mornings, Gio camp in the afternoons, naps, runs on the trails with Enzo, games with Gio (latest favorite is "Pop the Pig") and, of course, lots of yummy food.

Lunch!  As long as watermelon is on the table she is happy.
We discovered that Pepper is a huge fan of green beans.  
Near daily storms mean lots of anxiety for Enzo but also some remarkable skies.   
Maria has discovered how to crawl backwards.  Baby steps.  Baby steps.  She is still much more interested in working on her voice and fine motor stuff but she is starting to see the appeal of mobility!
Gio decided he wanted his hair done like his sister.  
Yep,  He maintained the look through a stop at the ice cream shop and to camp.  
It has been a strange summer weather-wise.
One afternoon on the way to pick up Gio at camp I had to turn on the heat in the car!
[and do not worry- I was stopped when I took this photo.  There is major road construction going on here so there is a lot of time spent waiting in line.]
Pepper is getting bold.  Here he is stealing green beans directly from the plate.  Naughty fellow! 
And, yes, Pepper is the more dominant of our two pets.  He gets first dibs at Enzo's dinner every night.  
Goldfish!  Maria's favorite snack.  Gio likes to line them up for her.  
Gio also likes to take Goldfish to camp where his friends go nuts for them (they are not available here).
Maria loves picking up Gio at his camp.  She gets lots of attention and is especially fond of the volleyballs! 
This week the house up the hill, where Gio's best friend Andrea lives, began to install a swimming pool.  Gio is ecstatic!
A pool with a view.
Watching the installation. 

When there are no storms rumbling over the mountains Enzo is quite relaxed.  
Our near-daily stop at the local gelato shop.  Heaven.  
Grocery shopping.  Gio is a huge help.  He pushes the cart and unloads it at checkout.  Maria loves to ride in the cart, especially on the escalators going up and down to the garage.  

Poor Pepper had a rough week.  He developed a bad infection on his wound and needed yet another surgery.  He has mastered the art of escaping the cone so I spend a lot of time hunting him down and putting it back on. 
What is Gio up to right now?  This.
See you next week!

Monday, July 7, 2014

First Week In Italy: VCUG, Ropes Course & 11 Months Old!

It has been a busy first week in Italy.  Maria and I arrived by airplane last Monday to join the 4 boys who had made the 3 days journey by car.  Tuesday morning we drove to Parma so that Maria could have her kidneys checked and to have a "VCUG" test to check her urinary reflux.  This is an invasive test where a catheter is inserted and a radioactive liquid is inserted into her bladder.  When she pees xrays are taken to determine the level of reflux (that is, how high her pee goes up into her kidneys).  This is a very basic explanation but you get the idea.  In November her reflux was at the highest level, which was worrisome as any UTI she got (which these babies are very prone to contracting) meant that infected pee was going directly into her kidneys and potentially causing damage.  The good news now is that her reflux has decreased- from level 4/5 to level 2/3.  There is some concern about the size of one of her kidneys but for now we are relieved.  She will continue to receive daily antibiotics and more tests are in her near future, but we now have hope she may not need corrective surgery!

Wednesday Paolo returned to Kyiv.  He will not return until July 25th, a long separation for all of us.  In the meantime we are keeping busy!  Gio attends camp at the local pool every weekday from 1-6 (perfect timing considering Maria's nap schedule and Gio's love of sleeping in the morning!).  Maria is loving the pool herself and even has fun on our daily runs (trying to get Enzo and myself back in shape!).  Pepper is full of energy and is busy exploring our garden and hunting butterflies. Unfortunately he has not yet caught the mole which is slowly destroying our yard!

Today Maria turned 11 months old.  Hard to believe we are so close to her first birthday!

Here are some photos from the last week....

Enzo is thrilled to have a yard again....and freedom to roam about on the fields all around our house!
After the trauma of Maria's medical exams in Parma, she had a good snooze all the way home. 
There is a new dog living in the house at the top of the hill.  Enzo is thrilled to have a new buddy (and a sand pile in which to lounge!).
We arrived to find a new resident at our house...a mole.  
She is slowly destroying our yard.  Oh well. 
Not a well-lit photo, but I am thrilled with the geraniums on our balcony!
After a busy week at camp I promised Gio that he could decide what our activities would be on the weekend.  He chose to go to the local ropes course/adventure park both days.  Here he is climbing through a puzzle box.  
The ropes courses are really fun for Gio.  He mastered all 4 of them and is eager to grow 20 more centimeters so he can do the big ones!

Excuse the repeats of photos many of you have already seen on Facebook.  Here are two of my babies hanging out in our yard.  Such a treat not to have to check the grass for cigarette butts and broken beer bottles!

Don't tell Paolo, but Gio and I picked out a new cat house for Pepper.  He loves his new hideout!
Gio woke Maria up on her 11 month birthday morning by climbing into her crib.
She was thrilled to have him there!
Daily apple- her favorite food!
Last night we walked/scootered to our local pizza place for dinner.  Enzo came along to eat the crusts.  Along the way we encountered this stunning rainbow!

Big girl with BIG hair.  1 month to go before birthday cake!