Sunday, February 28, 2016

Palazzo Reale, Filing Paperwork and the Big City

I am going to attempt to not be wordy on this post. I took some pics on our last day out and wanted to show you all a little bit of Torino and the significance of history. ;) You know me, trying to impart knowledge everywhere I go. Ha!

Excuse the quality of these photos. Some were taken with my camera, so they either have a glare or are blurry. I'm hoping you get the gist of the pictures from the Palazzo Reale, even if the quality is substandard.

So here's the story behind the excursion day...the kids and I have to go mail our paperwork for our residency application. We met our representative at a small post office, signed a form and off went the application. It was very easy and anticlimactic. I was really expecting to feel something when we started this process for the kids and I. I only felt ready to get on to the fun stuff.

We then walked to the tourist office to buy our annual pass for the museums! It took a long time to do that, so we headed straight to Soup&Go, KK's favorite Torino spot. It was yummy, like always. We need one in Northern Kentucky. One of my industrious friends needs to work on that. :P

After lunch, we headed to the Palazzo Reale. In English, this is the Royal Palace. It is huge! I am not sure which king it was built for...but I know it was for the Savoy rulers. See, you are learning already. It looks like Vittorio Emanuele II was the king of Italy that lived there when it was, I assume, abandoned. I'm not sure on this, so don't quote me! Here are a few pics of our tour.
I think this was a Throne Room

Look at this floor! Seriously. I "need" some hardwood floors like this.

So fancy...and bright. The chandeliers were amazing! I wish I had my Canon with me. Next time.

These were pictures of a ballroom.

The mural on the ceiling in the ballroom. I believe this was one representing the Olympics

The Oriental Room

The Dining Room - I think a few pieces of the place setting were missing. The table was enormous. This pic does it  no justice.

The view from one of the windows. There is a fountain in the garden and the Mole behind it

Little J and Boo in the front of the horses

Somebody is tired...oh, and KK, too.

Big J with some armor and swords

Boo really liked this horse

After we toured the palace, the girls and I headed to get some chocolates and loose-leaf tea. We were successful in finding chocolate, not tea. Somehow, I lost the tea shop we had passed on our way to the palace. You just never know when a shop is going to completely shut down and even close the windows. Not only did we females imbibe in chocolates, we bought a cone of Amsterdam chips, i.e. french fries. We had them top them with BBQ sauce, but KK and I had Samurai sauce on the side. YUM! I don't think the clerk thought we could handle the was divine! We then walked back to Piazza Castello to await our boys. They were walking through an art museum while we enjoyed a little shopping time. The girls and I were able to watch them prepare for the 10-year anniversary celebrations of the Torino Winter Olympics. We were invited to go to White Night last night with Joe's coworker, but it was raining and sleeting at our house. We decided to stay in and play some games, instead. We woke up (incredibly late) to ice covering the yard. I'm glad we stayed in last night.

 Isn't she lovely? (at Piazza Castello)

 When did my Boo start looking like a pre-teen? I don't like it! (Piazza Castello)

I must say, the kids and I loved this day! We were able to explore, spend time with Joe and walk around downtown Torino. We really, really needed a fun day like this. Arrivederci!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

What's up, doc?

As the title implies, we saw a doctor in Pinerolo this week. He is an allergist and was quite helpful to us! He gave us some meds for myself and Little J for his asthma. He also recommended a few specialists for my Boo. All in all, a good visit.

I also wanted to update everyone on the Albers's happenings. Our sea shipment arrived yesterday! I'm in Heaven, or what I imagine Heaven will be like. LOL. I have to admit, it might sound silly, but I was almost in tears when I pulled out my salt shaker. Seeing that lovely device from home, well, it almost reduced this grown woman to tears. When I saw my spoon rests, the same thing almost happened. Don't even get me started on once the bed was assembled! I haven't slept that well in a couple of months. I think I passed out around 9:30 last night and only woke up when Joe almost pushed me out of the bed in the middle of the night. Mind you, it is a king-sized bed. He has plenty of space. He thought my side was better last night, I assume. Anyway, I lived through almost getting the push and had a great night's sleep. Happy, Happy, Happy!

We went to lunch with a couple of families from church this past Sunday. The food was delicious (it was the best gluten-free pizza I've ever had, in my life), the gelato was scrumptious and the company was delightful. It was a great day! The kids would have been happy never coming home. Alas, reality struck and we had to start preparing for the shipment to arrive.

Besides the shipment, not much else has happened this week. We've settled in, gotten better adjusted, and are finding a new routine. Oh, and I started Italian lessons this week! My instructor is a great guy that was willing to let my questions dictate how the lesson went. I think that Joe and I will learn a lot and teach each other through this process. I've also enlisted my instructor's help for teaching the kids Italian. We will be bilingual when we move back, hopefully!

Funny story time...I made Borsch the other night for the end of our Russian "study"...that only lasted 2 days. Anyway, I found it ironic that I could not find Italian seasoning and had to make up my own. Skip forward a couple of days to me trying to find Italian dressing at the supermarket. No go! So, once again, I will be making homemade Italian dressing with a Pinterest recipe. Praying it works out. I guess there are benefits to living in a melting pot. Ethnic foods are in abundance in America. We've found most Italians just put olive oil and balsamic vinegar on their salad. Praying for a miracle in finding the items necessary for my recipe. :)

**Note - I can't find the cord for my camera to upload pictures to the laptop. I'm incredibly frustrated by this. I actually typed this post a week ago and have been searching for the cable ever since. Once I find the cable, I will load pictures.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Good, the Bad and the Italian

We have been in our new house for almost 3 weeks now. It is weird to call it home, but that is exactly what it has become. I guess wherever my people are, that is home.

Lots of things have happened over the last 3 weeks! We got WiFi, lost it within a day and got it back the next week. Joe took two of the kids hiking on trails in the Alps, and they loved it! I had to stay home with two sick kids. Oh yeah, kids have been sick non-stop since arriving in the house. Little J has had an asthma flare, not cool. We think it is partly the dust, partly the gas stove and partly exposure to new allergens and bugs that he has never been exposed to before. All of the other kids have had runny noses and/or coughs for the past three weeks. Good times, good times.

Our cute little hikers

It finally rained here on Sunday! Torino has been in the middle of a dry spell for months. No rain, no snow, no precipitation. This rain was a blessing on the entire region! Not only was the rain good for the valley, the snow is pretty on the Alps. :) There have also been a few nights of high winds at the house. It has been a long time since I've been in wind storms like this. It was close to scary, especially being in a new house with half the family hiking in the Alps at the time. I'm starting to adjust to the sounds.

The Alps from our school room door, pre-snow

Same shot, post-snow

Speaking of sounds, every night there is a sound like a dying cat that seems to be right outside our bedroom window. There are many feral cats in the area, and we often see them dashing through the yard. We also see their droppings everywhere. OK, not sure if droppings is the right term for cat poop. It is disgusting, regardless of what you call it. Joe did say he saw a dead fox on the way to work today. Maybe the dying fox would come to our window to beg for help every night, only to be rejected by the crazy Americanos. Poor fox! He picked the wrong house. UPDATE: Joe saw a black cat sitting outside the bathroom window this morning. He thinks it is mewing for food. It is more like a dying cat sounds than a meow, but you get the point.

We are learning a lot about Italian bureaucracy. For one thing, doing anything is a series of steps, meetings and requirements that would make you believe that you were eligible for presidency. I won't go into detail, because it would bore you to pieces, but the steps Joe has to take to get citizenship here is beyond crazy. Granted, I have no idea what it takes to do this in America. I have to believe it is much less complicated. Even to get an Italian bank account is worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize! It was an hour-long appointment, it has taken close to 2 weeks for the debit card to even come in and we still don't have a PIN number. You know the saying "2 steps forward, 1 step back"? Well, I'm pretty sure it is 1 step forward, 2 steps back here. At least, that is how it feels. And we are not the only ones saying this! Never say the word bureaucracy to an Italian. Man, they hate it worse than we do! They will either just throw their hands up in the air in frustration or go on a diatribe of how awful it is here. Typically, Italians will not complain or say anything negative about Italy. Mention bureaucracy, watch out. Game on. Remember earlier where I mentioned the WiFi yo-yo? It has taken some American friends MONTHS to get WiFi. Bureaucracy.

Another strange thing, to this American girl, is the amount of paper sent just to give you information about an account. Electric company sent a 10-page information packet, all in Italian, thank you very much. The same day, we got an equally thick envelope from the telecommunications company. Granted, we have WiFi, my cell and our house phone through telecom store. Still, it is a bit excessive. Especially since we can't read a single line of it. :-P

We bought a vacuum! It is tiny, rechargeable and is not powerful enough for us...but we feel the house is already cleaner. I've been vacuuming my little heart out this week. Yes, it has taken me the entire week to vacuum this house. I think we picked the only Italian house with carpet upstairs. All the other spaces have many, many area rugs. I have cleaned the filter on this little piece of machinery so many times, it is insane. Our landlord hadn't lived in the house for at least 2 years before we moved in here. So, yeah, lots of dust accumulated in the rugs and carpet. We can feel a huge difference in the feel of the rugs and the overall aroma of the house. It is amazing how sweeping a house can be so rewarding. Trust me, I am not a clean freak. My house typically has more of a "lived-in" feel than "disinfected" feel. Still, it is nice to have clean floors.

Our cute, little vacuum.

We have been imbibing in the local custom of Bugie for Carnevale! It tastes like a crispy funnel cake and we are addicted. The chocolate ones are my favorite. It is awful and wonderful, all at once. My stomach hates me for what I am doing to it. Sorry, tummy. Hopefully soon we will find out what is wrong with you!

 Yummy, flaky decadence

Joe is buying us year passes to the museums! We attempted to go to Stupinigi after church on Sunday. It was cost-prohibitive, to say the least. Now, we can go on our passes! I'm excited to see the museums and palaces around Torino.

Joe and the babies at Stupinigi - it was a dreary, rainy day

Heading to make a cup of hot tea! I've taken up the nasty habit of caffe lattes every morning. I can never get warm. Hot tea, hot coffee, lots of layers, blankets everywhere. Between the marble, hardwood and tile floors, my body is just zapped of heat. I try to wear my house slippers but don't always remember. This morning, the kids tried to make me a caffee latte with my breakfast, while I was still in bed. Umm, let's just say they burned up the coffee grounds and a moka pot. Luckily, no Italian house would be complete without multiple moka pots. It is the thought that counts, right?!?! LOL. Arrivederci!

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Yep, we ruined one of these already.