Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bye Bye Big Yellow House

The movers came and carefully wrapped all of our belongings in bubble wrap, boxed it up and placed the boxes into giant wooden crates. The wooden crates will go on a boat over the Atlantic Ocean and will arrive in Charleston in 45 to 60 days. Right now, we're staying at the Navy Lodge on base until our departure on the 11th. Although it's a little cramped in a hotel room with 2 adults, a toddler and 2 dogs, it's pretty fun and it marks the beginning of our new adventure.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Buon Natale da Sicilia

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Love, The Balents

Christmas Day

It's orange season in Sicily so for Christmas breakfast, I made fresh squeezed orange juice and used up every orange in the house. Dad cooked ham & cheese omelets, bacon and toast and Mom sat on her butt and fueled up on Dunkin Donuts coffee (she has it shipped here!). Since we move into a hotel tomorrow morning, my parents decided it was just too much to decorate and put up a tree when the movers are coming tomorrow to take all of our stuff away. Imagine my surprise this morning when I found that Santa brought us a little wooden tree and surrounded it with gifts.
I'm crazy about anything with wheels so I was super psyched to get a lot of cool cars, trucks and motorcycles from Bina, my Mimi and Papi and my cousins from Florida.
Santa gave me a portable DVD player along with this funny t-shirt for the LONG airplane ride to Charleston, South Carolina...
It was a nice Christmas. Now we have to get packing. It's finally time for the big move—YIKES!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

The rain kept us cooped up in the house all weekend so today Mom and I HAD to get out of the house before we drove each other CRAZY. We visited Dad at work, we checked out the last minute sales at the Navy Exchange and then we went to Piazza Pizza for lunch. After lunch we ate lollipops, worked on our skee ball skills and rode the merry-go-round until we ran out of quarters. It wasn't our idea of a traditional Christmas Eve but it was still a good one.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

We're Not Dreaming Of A White Christmas

but we're hoping for a dry one. It's been rainy and windy with temps in the 60's here in Sicily. We try not to complain too much since we know we're better off than those being pummeled with snow and freezing temps in the Northeast of America... Burrr! We hope you have plenty of spiked eggnog and a roaring fire to keep you warm through the holidays.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Joyeux Noël Meagan

We had an early Christmas celebration with Meagan last night because she won’t be here on Christmas day—the brat is ditching us for a romantic holiday in Paris (insert gag sound) with her husband. Meagan did however bring me the most amazing gift ever, a Radio Flyer trike/chopper, and thus her absence on Christmas day is forgiven. Tis the season! I can’t quite reach the pedals, but that doesn’t stop me from spending every waking moment on this bad boy.

I’ve known Meagan since I was an infant. She has witnessed many of my milestones in person (Also via this blog! She is quite possibly Bambino Balent’s #1 fan!). Meagan likes to swing me around until I’m dizzy and she tickles me into hysterics. I love Meagan! Being stationed overseas, our friends become our family. Meagan is our family. She is my aunt, my mother’s sister. Meagan works at the same travel office where my mom used to work but that’s not what brought them together. It was their love of dogs (Meagan’s dog Jack and my dog Paolo are total B.F.F) that sparked their friendship. And their friendship grew as they learned they had so much more in common… Tap-dancing-Irish-beer-drinking-jazz-hand-buffoons! Meagan not only makes us laugh but also is someone we can always count on. We’re going to miss you most of all, Meagan. We wish you a Joyeux Noël in Paris. Hurry back to Sicily so we can share some more good times before our departure from the island. Tick tock tick tock we leave in 20 days!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Party At Ella's

Yesterday I went to Ella's house for our regular scheduled Monday morning play date, but this play date was anything but regular. Ella and I built and decorated a gingerbread house together and exchanged gifts while our moms chugged sipped mimosas.
Ella got me a Cabbage Patch Baby Doll named Leo Xavier to help bring out my nurturing side and I got Ella a Little People School Bus to help man her up a little. Of course I wanted to play with the school bus and Ella wanted to play with the doll. Aside from the sippy cup fight (I always want what Ella is drinking!) and a couple of toy fights, it was a cheerful morning. We are officially in the Christmas spirit!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

One reindeer holiday Baby Gap sweater= $30.00
Four cups of coffee and one apple juice while you wait in a 2 hour line to see Santa= $10.00
Completely freaking out when you sit on Santa's lap= PRICELESS!

Friday, December 14, 2007

What You Talkin' Bout Willis?

This doubles as my "Gimme a kiss" face or my "I smell a fart" face.

Those Last Few Moments Before Bedtime...

are filled with roaring laughter when my dad tickles me while shouting, "Zizzer! Zazzer! Zoo!"

What's Cookin?

This is my latest discovery. The oven door can also be used as a trampoline! Can anyone recommend a good anti-anxiety medication (besides whiskey) for my Mom?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Few Of My Least Favorite Things

Lately we've been reflecting on all the things we'll miss about Sicily. There are of course many things we won't miss about Sicily. Here are just a few...We won't miss the mountains of trash scattered along the roadside. During our time in Sicily, we've had the privilege to be invited into many Sicilian homes, each of them immaculately clean and impeccably tidy. So naturally, we are completely baffled by the trash dumped along the country roads and the litter filled streets of Sicily.
We will not miss the INSANE driving and CHAOTIC Sicilian roads. We've seriously been lucky enough to only have been in three car accidents and totaled only one car during our five years in Sicily. Finally, we absolutely will not miss the horrifying stray animal problem that reduces my Mom to tears on a weekly basis. It is gut wrenching!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bow Wow Wow Yippie Yo Yippee Yay

My Mimi gave me this stuffed dog for Valentine's Day last year when I was visiting her in Florida. I never really paid any attention to it or any stuffed animal for that matter until a few months ago when I named him Bow Bow. Now I sleep with Bow Bow, give Bow Bow kisses and demand that my parents give Bow Bow kisses at bedtime. My Mom couldn't be more thrilled that I chose a DOG to be my favorite stuffed animal!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Baa Baa

Coming up front Motta road this afternoon we saw this flock of sheep in a pasture with the Motta Castle off in the distance. We'll miss this beautiful view and we'll even miss the flocks of sheep that can be a real pain in the rear when the sheep herder and his flock slowly cross the roads whenever we're in a hurry.

Pasta Alla Norma

On Friday, we went to Pizzeria Donna Fortunata in Motta for dinner. Dad has picked up pizza from here several times, but we've never sat inside for dinner. What a shame we just discovered this little gem with only a few weeks left in Sicily. Most restaurants in Sicily are kid friendly but this place was ridiculous! The cook took me into the kitchen and showed me how pizza is made and he even let me knead some dough. The waitress encouraged my parents to let me run around so they could enjoy their dinner. And the owner chased me around and kept teasing to steal my toy cars. In addition to the fantastic atmosphere, the food was delicious. I had the Pasta Alla Norma, which is a typical Sicilian pasta dish with eggplant and tomato sauce. My parents both got pizza, which of course was great because it's pretty difficult for an Italian to screw up pizza (except for that burnt pea pizza- Auntie Cherly Lee Ski, Aunt Carrie and Aunt Hilde all know what I'm talking about!). The best thing about Pizzeria Donna Fortunata is that they actually have Guinness and several German beers on draft! I'm not kidding! Why is it that we discover such beauty too late?

Friday, December 07, 2007

18-Month-Old Well Baby Check Up

Yesterday I went to see the doctor for a check up. I'm 35 ½ inches long and I weigh 28lbs 14ozs. I'm in the 95th percentile for height and 80th percentile for weight. The doctor said that I was long and lean! I'm healthy except for an aggravating case of molluscum (wart like bumps) all over my torso, which I've had since I was an infant. I've seen several doctors regarding the molluscum and they all say that it's not a problem and it will eventually go away in a few months. However, in my case I've had these bumps for over a year and they are spreading so the doctor said he'll do a little research and get back to my parents about a treatment before the bumps move up to my face... ick!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Really Good Weekend

On Friday evening, we went to the winter festival on base. The gym was filled with inflatable slides, obstacle courses and bouncy houses. My face had a permanent smile the whole time...
On Saturday I hung out with Bina so my parents could go out on a date. While my parents enjoyed a quiet meal at an Indian restuarant, I ate pasta with Bina and Antonio. After dinner, Bina made me a little bed on her couch and I fell asleep in front of the televisione...
Sunday morning we went to Catania for coffee and people watching...
While we waited for the restaurants to open for lunch, I played in the Catania park...
We went to Sicilia in Bocca for lunch. We like the rustic atmosphere of this place and we love the swordfish involtini, which is uniquely prepared with raisins and pine nuts...
After lunch we took a three hour nap (the longest and most wonderful nap ever!) and then we headed into base to see the Harlem Globetrotters. Last week my dad stood in line for 45 minutes for tickets (he's the best dad ever!) and 10 minutes into the show I refused to sit still so we left...
I'm more of a hands on kind of guy, so I was happier shooting hoops in the lobby arcade instead...
It was a really good weekend.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Farewells Have Begun

On Saturday evening, we went to Piano D'Api, the part of Acireale where my parents lived for their first three years in Sicily. We swung by our old landlord's house to say hello and good bye. We only intended for a quick visit but ended up staying for over an hour chatting and playing with their gatto (cat). Luciana, Rossana, Alfio and Pepe are very kind people and are always so accommodating. Within minutes of being in their home, Luciana and Rossana were feeding me cookies and ice cream. My dad mentioned that I loved pasta so on a whim Luciana whipped up a batch of farfalline with olive oil and parmesan cheese and both her and Rossana fed it to me and I gobbled it down like I've never eaten before.
After my impromptu pasta dinner, we went to Josie's house to bid farewell. Josie and her husband Salvatore, who sadly died last year, lived next door to my parents and immediately took my parents in as family. My parents spent every holiday, birthday and Sunday family dinner with Josie and her family. Despite the language barrier, we always laugh a lot with this family. We will miss Nora, Tony, Josie, Alessio & Emanuele and hope they will visit us in America.
Before heading home, we stopped by our old neighborhood pizza place Antica Pizzeria and got the Focacce Diavola, which is baked Italian bread with tomato, mozzarella cheese, spicy salami, oregano, olive oil and pepper tucked inside—oh, so delicious.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sicilian Thanksgiving

In honor of our last Thanksgiving in Sicily, we stuffed the turkey with pasta. Il tacchino con la pasta è la sciocchezza! Last year for my first Thanksgiving, I tried mashed up solid food for the first time. Now I'm eating big boy food and mastering the fork and spoon. Check out my grip and serious concentration. We invited our Italian friends, Rita and Luciano, over for Thanksgiving dinner to experience our American holiday. My dad has been promising to make Luciano my Mimi's French Onion Soup so in addition to all the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, we also indulged in rich, cheesy soup. We stuffed ourselves silly! It was a day of good food and good company. We have so much to be thankful for... especially stretchy pants!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Casa Di Bina

I've been going to Bina's house since I was three months old and Bina has become like a nonna (grandmother) to me. She is a nurturer, a kind person and a silly lady all rolled into one beautiful package with a smile that lights up a room. I adore her.
This morning Mom worked up the courage and told Bina that we're definitely leaving the first week of January. Bina said the news brought her heart much pain and both Mom and Bina broke down and cried. We will never find another babysitter like Bina. She will be missed dearly.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Want A Massage Right Now!

This morning I took off my shirt and handed my Mom some moisturizer. If I could speak in full sentences I would have said, "Concentrate mostly on my shoulders, put some muscle into it and don't try to skimp. I paid you for a full 60 minutes woman!"

Playdates With Ella & Aja

Lately, we can't get enough of Ella and Aja. We meet them on Tuesdays and Thursdays at base to workout and then have lunch at Applebees and now we've incorporated Monday morning playtime at their house. I'm going to miss playing with Ella (and pushing her around!) and Mom is going to miss chatting and laughing with Aja. It's going to be tough saying arrivederci to these two ladies!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Relocating to America!

My father signed a new contract and needs to report to his new job by January 20th. We'll be moving ourselves, our household and two dogs over the Atlantic the first week of January. After ten years of living in Europe, we're excited (and a little nervous!) for the change. I'm not going to tell you where we are going, but I will give you a hint...

Bee Movie

This afternoon I went to see the Bee Movie. This is the first time my parents have taken me to a movie since I was an infant. You might remember when they took me to see my first movie, The Da Vinci Code. They also took me to see Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, but I slept through those movies. Today was the first movie they took me to see for my enjoyment. I actually lasted longer than my parents expected- a whole 40 minutes! That was enough time for me to suck down a Capri-Sun orange juice, empty a bag of popcorn on the floor, laugh at the big screen whenever the big kids laughed, and then have a major meltdown because my parents wouldn't let me run around in the aisles. Not too bad for an 18-month-old!

Saturday, November 17, 2007


It's how I keep my far away (and close by) family and friends up to date with my life happenings. Technology is sweet!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Un Amico Nuovo

This morning we went to the hospital to meet a brand new friend. Our friends Leah & Michael had a baby boy Sunday evening. His name is Andrew and he's absolutely beautiful. When Mom held the baby she just couldn't believe I was once that small. Andrew already has his own blog, Call Me Frankie. Welcome to the world little guy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Morning Snuggle

There are moments when Mom feels like ripping her hair out because it seems like all she does all day is defuse one temper tantrum after another and then there are moments when we snuggle in our pajamas and I fall asleep on her lap that remind her that it's all worth it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pavlov's Dog

This is the view from our kitchen balcony. Please refrain from being so jealous of our beautiful Italian panorama. I bet you thought we sipped cappuccinos overlooking something similar to the landscape in Under the Tuscan Sun? Well, this is reality! But our view is not what this post is about. If you look closely, you’ll see a German Shepard behind the truck. She is the guard dog for the medal works business next door. When we first moved into this apartment in Motta, she was mean and skinny. After two years of our leftovers, she has become fat and happy. She has even inherited Bruco and Paolo's old beds and toys. Similar to Pavlov's dogs, she has become conditioned. When we open our kitchen door, she runs to the fence, wags her tail and looks up to the sky for raining food. In a few months when we move away from here, the leftovers will stop and we know she will miss the food storms and we will miss her salivating face.

Sicilian Oil Spill Disaster of 2007

All of Bina and Antonio's olive oil is GONE—Poof! There has been a terrible accident. The olive oil was stored in a 50 liter barrel in their backyard. Antonio tied a plastic baggie around the nozzle to prevent any dripping. Not a drop to be wasted... The stuff is like liquid gold! Well, their upstairs tenant's dog, Gedda, detected something delicious inside the baggie and bit at the bag forcing the nozzle to open and drain a whole year's worth of olive oil onto the ground! Bina called it "brutto giorno" (an ugly day) and Antonio looked like he wanted to cry. All that back-breaking work of picking olives and hauling them to the press was wasted. Poor Bina and Antonio!