Wednesday, October 5, 2011

'tis the season... to be healthy

I need to get better about doing many things (one being updating this blog more regularly!). When I set goals, I usually reach them. I am moving to Colorado soon, one of the health capitals of the US. I want to go outdoors more- you can't do that here in MN over half the year. I need to just workout more in general again. I love Sports Authority and tend to get my workout gear there. Tonight, I found an awesome giveaway (ends 10/6) just in time!:

Shibley Smiles $250 Sports Authority giftcard giveaway

There's another link to SA videos for different fitness styles to fit everyone's lives. I liked the Yoga Essentials one, as when I do get exercise, it is usually stretching and yoga poses. I would love to try the yoga block and resistance bands but the mat is a great investment. Well mine was free because of my old job but either way- I would have bought one. They're affordable so the investment isn't huge. Anyway, it's far more pleasant than trying to workout on a wood floor!

If I won the wonderful prize from Shibley Smiles and Sports Authority, I would use it for the above pieces, as well as more workout gear (yoga pants! new shoes!). Thanks for sponsoring this giveaway!

**yoga tree pose picture from here

Saturday, August 27, 2011

keep on dancin' til the world ends...

@Krisgetshealthy loses 180+pounds & celebrates with a giveaway at

Kris' get healthy contest reminded me that my blog needs to be updated regularly again, now with so much going on! I'm beginning grad school for my Master's in Sport & Exercise Psychology and moving to Denver in a month! There's so much to do and I'll try to be better at this like I used to be with LJ.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

forget what you've heard. it's not true.

Day 3 in Rome and I'm already worn out. After yesterday's 20 mile hike in heels, I spent today riding around the city's centre by bike. Now, you may have heard that everyone in Italy likes to do things leisurely. Either this isn't true or I am living with the exceptions to the rule LOL I think everytime we go somewhere, it's like being in a triathalon. I cannot ride bike very fast- it's always been a slower-paced, scenic activity for me. Hiking is not a common activity in the flat area in which I live. Neither is Nascar-style driving but I've driven in crazy conditions in MN. However, we don't just park wherever there might be room, in any direction, or on sidewalks.

Today, we got our bikes (mine rented) and rode to the Museum of Modern Art. It was 15euros and it had art from different galleries around the world. One of the pieces, Home For The Homeless (I believe) was the scariest thing I've ever seen. It was in a tent, and a separate exhibit near the artist too. There were dummies made out of garbage bags and wearing hoodies with REAL people's faces on them talking. When I got to the artist's exhibit area, she showed me how it worked- the faces were projected onto white masks. It was cool but FREAKY. Best pieces there, I think. Very original.

Then we continued riding around the city, along the Tiber River, through (in no order) Piazza del Popollo, Trastevare (my favorite & where the American University is that I was going to attend), near the Vatican and other areas I am now forgetting. We didn't really stop so the pictures I took are all while moving. We rode for 6 hours and I don't think I've had that much cardio in years. It was a nice, quick way to see the city though. It's very beautiful.

As for forgetting what you've heard: Italians do, in fact, wear jeans and tennis shoes daily. You do not eat gelato every day. There aren't THAT many people that know much English. Nothing is close to anything else. I'm sure I am forgetting a lot of things here but future entries will include more.


Friday, May 6, 2011


Salve from Italia! Yes, I will mix the two languages together here, or translate. The family goes to sleep at 9:30pm but know I will be talking to family and friends back home after with the 7-9 hour time differences. Plus we get up at 7:30am so that offers me an adequate amount of time to sleep.

Only problem so far: plug-ins. I have to use the big converter to plug my computer power chord into and my flatiron, which does not appear to work here. Frizzy hair from day to day- hope no one minds! Since I have to use the wifi downstairs at the moment, I can only use my laptop until the power runs out. I'm at 39% now.

Yesterday was really long, with being at MSP at 3:30am, flying to Newark on a small plane in a lot of turbulence and 19 people on board, and then sitting at EWR for 8 hours between flights. None of that is really interesting enough to describe in detail so fast forward to Rome.

We landed and were told that "since it is a nice day out, we are bringing the stairs to exit on the tarmac." So all 500 of us (or whatever) had to exit the plane outside and then hop on a tram to bring us to the actual building. There is no going right to the baggage claim- you have to go through Immigration first. Imagine several planes landing at the same time and everyone crowding to try to get through one of only TWO lines of Immigration to check passports. I thought I was going to be there for hours. Some British ladies that flew in from Singapore felt bad for me, being alone I presume, and brought me with as they fought their way through the crowd. The process for me probably was a total of 45 minutes and would've been much longer without those ladies.

By the way, not one single person here has had a stigma about me being American. The Italians *are* as welcoming as people claim and even though I haven't met any that speak English yet, it is still possible to sort of communicate.

The luggage turnstile took forever and I began to think my luggage went MIA after MSP. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to re-claim and check it in Newark or not but the tag did say EWR and FCO (Rome). Luckily, both of my suitcases showed up and only 1 thing in my bag exploded/had a mishap- my eyeshadow pallet. I hadn't even thought to put that in a separate baggie from my cosmetics case. Anyway, I wasn't sure where I was supposed to meet my family and had already passed a few people holding signs. I ventured outside and low and behold, there was my Italian dad, Mossimo, with a sign reading my name. He knew who I was right away and he, along with mom Alessia and the youngest boy, Filippo greeted me. We hopped in the car to get some breakfast and since I'm not a coffee connesseur yet, I ordered a standard cappuccino and brioche (a croissant). The guys working at the bar, which is their coffee shop, were about my age and the one making my cappuccino drew a heart in it for "the American" HAHA! I did take a picture of that via iPhone so I'll add it to this post later.

Then we were off to the polizia with a copy of my passport, I gathered to report I was living here as a temporary citizen. The Romans really do drive as crazy as everyone says; there are no stoplights and the few stop signs you see are not obeyed. It is pretty much every man for himself on the road. They also do not care if you are a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Almost all of the cars I saw were small Fiats, except the one I will be driving, which is a Mercedes. I was starting to feel a bit ill during the ride with all the craziness on the road and some jetlag but we only had one more stop to get a SIM card for my international phone.

After that, we made it to the house. It's really a bunch of houses built around gardens with a building in the center of it. I'm not sure what that is yet. My bedroom is on the top floor and the French doors to the balcony open up to the garden, which is my favorite part so far. I also have use of a walk-in closet, my own desk & chair, and my king-sized bed. I showered, put away my clothes, and then took a nap. The family was out running errands so I could rest a bit and settle in. I'm not positive how long I napped but I believe it was about 4 hours (and seemed like 30 minutes).

I walked downstairs and Mossimo and Fillipo were down there, waiting for the other boys and Alessia to come in from buying vegetables. The family eats organically, which is awesome. I said ciao to the other two boys, Tomasso and Edouardo and they showed me some Italian singers on youtube. One was a rapper and I wrote his name down because he was too funny. Then I cut some strawberries for dinner and a torta (pie) that we will be bringing to a party tomorrow. I'm not clear on the details for that yet but I think we are going to the Mediterranean Sea first and then the party. Dinner was really good and all new things I'd never had before. I think 3 of the items were meat, there were homemade fries and then greens and bread. We had strawberries with freshly squeezed lemon juice and brown sugar over them. Those were delicious.

After I helped clean up from dinner, I got out the tshirts I brought everyone. They were all perfect-size and the boys wanted to sleep in theirs. They usually go to sleep at 8:30pm and the parents 9:30 or a bit after. We will get up at 7:30am tomorrow.

My first impression of the outskirts of Rome is that I love it. Passing by the shops and cute elderly people and everyone seeming to know everyone else was fun to see. I got to see some Mussolini-era buildings near the polizia. That's all I have for my first update, other than the fact to say I am getting tired. At home, it would only be 3:16pm! It is 10:16 here!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It is cruel, you know, that life should be so beautiful.

In about 30 hours, I will begin my descent into the mysterious skies, en route to Rome with a layover in Newark. This moment has been a long time in the making and it still isn't sinking in, as I sit here with stuff thrown everywhere but my suitcases. I'm not sure why it doesn't just pack itself.

As I sit in the President's Club at EWR, I think that is the moment when it will all become real. No, not even the first plane ride but the one over the Atlantic, when all you see out the window on an overnight flight is the darkness below. By the way, I will be wifi-ing it up from that airport for 8 hours so some of you better be online to keep me company LOL

In Italy I'll most likely use my computer in the morning or later at night (Rome time), since I work late afternoons/evenings over there. I will be teaching English to 3 boys, ages 10, 7 and 4. Hopefully, they'll help me with my Italian too! I am doing a homestay so I can fully immerse myself into the Italian culture. My family there eats organically and they also own a ristorante/pizzaria! I will be living near the Vatican, just across the highway from the Vatican gardens. There's so much to see in just that city alone that I know I won't cover it all.

Now, I had been planning this 3-month homestay with a possible Visa extension/residency if I really became attached. That's why I've called it a move. I wasn't sure if I was actually coming back for good or just long enough to tie loose ends, grab my cats (to bring over) and spend time with family and friends once again before going back. You can't really plan such things. Well you can but life always has a funny way of turning out.

I'm finally trying to take life one day at a time, instead of laying everything out and being disappointed if things changed. Tonight, while incredibly happy, I'm also extremely bummed. Life shouldn't be like that- always having to take the extremely best of the best with the worst. I'm not sure if anyone else has made that observation but I've known this for years. Things don't just get handed to you without a huge obstacle.

In the overall picture, the obstacle I encountered tonight is just a small part of what my life will be like for the next few months. We will cross the bridge of everything else when we get to it. This point in time is when I'm reorganizing my life so I'm not just living to live. I will do the things I say I want to do. I will go where I want to go. I'll take the good with the bad and eventually realize, it all turns out in the end.

Make it happen.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

dancing slowly in an empty room...

I gave notice today to my current nanny family about Italy.

Italy is just 22 days away now. !

Homework needs to be my priority, as Finals week just happens to coincide with flying-to-Rome week. Yes, I have a Linguistics Final the morning before I fly out. How awesome is that? I have a lot of homework to do still but the weekend is now calling for SNOW and cold temps. Hibernation, here I come.

I had planned to have a garage sale at my sister's on Saturday. Pretty sure no one will come in snow and 30-degree weather though, ahaha. Not like I'd want to sit out there myself. I have stuff I need to get rid of but don't have time to put it all on craigslist + most of it is clothes. I've donated so much of my stuff that I thought maybe I could use a little extra money from selling things. Looks like I'll have to list just a select few things on eBay. That's all I have time for.

Oh! I purchased my unlocked cell phone last night too. It's an LG Cookie and super cute. Even though I assume using the internet via phone would be super expensive with a prepaid sim card, I got a phone with internet anyway so I could still use it later if needed. My iPhone should be able to work like an iPod over there via wifi. At least, I'm really hoping it does.

Have to get up early tomorrow to bring my car to the dealership. They messed up my windshield wipers back in January and I've had to reschedule my return appointment at least 500 times since then because of weather. Of course, Mother Nature chose tomorrow to rain so I can't see (w/o the wipers, obvs). Sigh.

Monday, April 4, 2011

everything in its right place

As everything comes down to the wire for my departure, I have been super busy! That's probably obvious (and an understatement) but here's a brief recap of Italy-related preparations since my last update.

My flight is booked! Just when I start to become anxious about something- and believe me when I say I am the most patient person I know- that's when it turns out alright. Of course. It is hard to understand the pace at which Italy does things, being at a distance for the moment. I am excited for the more relaxed nature of doing things, as opposed to the American "always in a hurry" mentality, though. My original flight preferences skyrocketed in price by the time I was able to book so I ended up with an 8-hour layover on the way THERE in luxurious Newark, NJ. LOL! I have no idea how I will spend 8 hours in an airport on US soil. Most likely, I'll be doing things online (and checking out Dunkin Donuts- they have one!). The flight is obviously an overnighter and I'll arrive in Rome at 7:45am local time. This will seem like over 24 hours to me, what-with departing here at 6:03am our time. I do realize there's a 7-hour time difference so mathematically, 24 hours is not correct but we are figuring in jetlag here.

The return flight is a bit more "exciting," if that's the correct word I'm searching for. I fly from Rome into Munich for a couple hours, then over to Chicago, my least favorite airport I've ever visited. O'Hare is huge and they always seem to organize flights so that you are running from one end of the airport to the the complete opposite side on minimal time. I missed my flight the last time I was there. I was booked with a 45 minute layover going from concourse B on the right end (if you consult a map) to concourse L on the left end- no kidding. I am relieved to see the international arrivals are all in one terminal and my layover is something like 2 hours. Then I fly back here from Chicago, which is just over an hour flight.

Other than arranging and booking my flight, I have also obtained my International Driver's Permit!! This was super exciting, as I've never had one before. The process is as simple as getting a passport-sized photo taken, showing your current/valid license, signing some dotted lines and paying $15. Our local AAA has a travel store with this service so I was able to pick up a few items for my trip while I was there too. The Permit is actually a little paper book, like a mock-passport. This was a bit disappointing. I think I imagined more of an ID card but then again, $15 isn't going to produce anything fancy. I also waited in the wrong area for my #605 to be called (they were on #40 when I got there...) and when I was finally called up, I was informed I only needed to go to the travel store, where I had started out browsing while waiting for my #. Ha!!

I have also purchased some Euros here to get me started. Now I'm wondering if it's better to wait and exchange at a local bank in Rome for more or to do another exchange here. I'm also getting a Visa Travel Money card from a bank with some money on that for a backup form of currency. Italy is heavily-Euro-centric though and "cash is king." If anyone has knowledge of the Rome bank vs local exchange of Euros idea, let me know. They used travelers' checks and Lira the last time I was in Italy so long ago.

4.5 weeks to go...!