Friday, September 1, 2017

Aria Bona in Arrivo!

Yeah, it's raining in Trieste! Time to open those windows and secure the damn things so the outside window doesn't hit the inside window and break it and crash down onto the sidewalk and it's your fault!

Wind to follow. Whooopeeee!

Found the pants. The shoes: AWOL. Hope nobody notices (but we are in Italy so everyone will but they won't judge me because they will just group me up with the Germans and reason I just don't know any better).

So that's that. Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

It's Almost September and I can't find my Pants

Living in Italy means embracing August. August is not for working. It is for going to the beach, drinking wine, eating fried food at sagras and waiting in long lines to come and go on your big road trip to somewhere just a bit nicer than where you actually are.

Joy as an expat comes when you do as the Italians do and trade in your shoes for flip-flops (infra-ditto), pack a cold lunch and head to the beach from dawn til dusk.

But tomorrow is September 1st and I have to go do "real" work (definition of real work: go to an office where you can't wear shorts or flip-flops).

Here is the rub... I can't find my shoes OR my pants.

See, I am living out of a suitcase and when I packed it 1) I was sure we would be in the new house at the beginning of August and 2) it was hot and who wants to think about long pants or closed shoes when it's hot?

I think I can rustle something up. Let's just hope the temperature change that is in the forecast doesn't require SOCKS, because then I will seriously be in a pickle.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Can we PLEASE Unplug our Children?

I know I am not the only one who has noticed that our kids have become sassy, grumpy, and dissatisfied in general, and this has a positive correlation with the amount of time they spend watching t.v., playing with parents' phones, ipads, playstations, etc.

It's time we admit that screens are addictive and counter-productive to becoming the happy, social creatures we humans are meant to be. This is especially so for our kids. I can't tell you how many times this summer I witnessed kids sitting together at tables, in parks, at peoples' houses. They are playing on their devices but not talking to each other.

In fun situations, they are not having fun because they are not getting their technology fix. Instead, they are giving their parents the stink eye and pouting. They know exactly how to get our attention, too. Some scream until we get embarrassed and give in, others cry and have a fit, still others just fume and silently hate us.

And then we give in. Why is it so hard for us to stick to our instinct (which clearly states that the phone or ipad is getting in the way of normal behavior). Do we really fear our children's wrath so much? Is this how we think we are earning their love?

Yes, it's our fault, parents. We can't say no. It is easier to say yes. We want to talk to our friends, we can't bear the thought of our little sweeties getting bored, we think we have to keep them entertained at all times and at all costs. We feel guilty for a million other things, and we want our children to love us.

But this, my friends, is not how we communicate love. We have to stop equating giving kids everything they want with love and acceptance. We have to be a strong point of reference that protects our children from things we know are harmful. Our kids love us more when we create security and protect them. We are not the same. Just because we look at our phones all the time does not mean that our kids have the right to do the same. (We should also cut down, by the way).

It's back to school time and the teacher in me is coming out to give orders. It's time for me to give you permission to do what your kids will hate, but will give you inner peace sometime in the future because you know you are doing the right thing. What we need to do is create a NEW CULTURE in the house.

It's time to snuff out the bad habit of not allowing our kids to get bored (which leads to creativity and a simpler, healthier kind of playing and happiness).

If your kids have not gone back to school yet, you can already start. Get into the habit of being a mean mom or dad (and reap the benefits). Here is how.

Create some new rules.
1. No T.V. or electronic devices during the week.

At my house, we parents also don't watch t.v. during the week, which we think takes away valuable time from talking, reading, and doing other things together. The first week is hard. The second week is heavenly.

2. Teach kids what time means the tough way.

Saturdays became ALL ABOUT T.V. when we stopped watching during the week, so I added another rule. For every hour of t.v. (or tech) you have to complete a nature walk with your mother (I can use the exercise) before the weekend is through. When Sweetie watched 2.5 hours of t.v. we ended up doing a 9-mile walk the same day. You can bet her hunger for t.v. cooled after that!

3. Just say NO!

A kid not getting their way in the short term is painful for them and for you. It is counter-intuitive but when  you say no to harmful habits and behaviors and create positive routines as a result your children will love you MORE, not less!

Your kid may talk like an adult at times, but she is not. She is a kid. She does not get to make all of the decisions. She can make some of them. Also, kids automatically say no to what they are not familiar with. If you want to try a new experience that you know your child will love, make the decision in her best interest. Do not get her permission first!

4. Let them get bored.

When we were little, our parents sent us outside to play when we drove them nuts. Sometimes they locked  us out to make sure we stayed out there. We don't do that to kids nowadays, but the idea is clear. You as a parent are not responsible for making sure your kid is entertained at all times. If you keep the t.v. off and do something else (like make dinner or clean out your sock drawer), chances are your kid will do something amazingly adorable (like help you make dinner or clean out her sock drawer or make you a beautiful piece of art or write in her diary). The key is she has to get to the point of boredom.

My friend Monica loves to tell kids that in French (and in Italian) Being bored is a reflexive verb, as in "I bore myself" Je m'ennuie, Mi annoio. So, happily point out (when the complaining begins) that boring yourself is a choice that she has all the tools for fixing herself.

A quick reminder:

Doing the right thing takes courage. You will feel pressure not only from your children and other family members but you quickly see that other parents do not share your courage. This will make you feel terrible as you go out for dinner with another couple and their child who is happily playing on mom's phone while yours is looking at you with that pleading look of desperation. Yes, these moments are hard, but, if you stick to your guns, it will be your child who comes to you later to say.

"Wow, were those kids boring. They were on their phones the whole time!"

Good luck and STAY COURAGEOUS, parents! We are in this together.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Three Sagras in One Weekend

Sagra della Sardella -- Trieste

Saturday night we went to the Sagra della Sardella to see Lorenzo Pilat do his last gig of the summer. If you haven't seen him yet, try to catch him while you can. Everyone knows that Triestini have a pact with the devil as far as longevity, but Pilat is 79 and still playing his one-man show and singing everyone's favorites: Tram d'Opcina, Finanziere, etc. I don't know how long he can keep it up...

The Sagra della Sardella has changed locations over the years. It started out having something to do with actual water (Sardella is a fish after all) but it didn't last on the Rive for long. When I went for the first time a few years ago it was already in the outskirts of town at Campanelle. Now it is held on the Horse track (Ippodromo), which is an odd place for a Sagra, but it's not a bad location after all. There is lots of space and parking is easier. The food is good and the prices are fair. The wine isn't great, but you get what you pay for.

Festa del Pescatore -- Santa Croce

It was a lazy Sunday and we weren't sure what to do after lunch. In the end we went to Santa Croce to a mini-sagra celebrating its fishing heritage. Santa Croce was the only fishing village in the Carso (it looks down over the Filtri, if you like to go to the beach in the less crowded areas). They had activities for kids and a tug of war competition between folks from the inland part of the village and those looking over the sea. I am not sure who won because I was back in the giardinetto eating and drinking. There was a nice selection of fried seafood and a surprising plate with a grilled tuna steak, boiled potatoes and veggies. I found a veggie option: Capuzzi and Fasoi (my favorite). They also had fried zucchini and eggplant. The food was yummy and not too expensive and the wine was local.

Sagra di Prosecco -- Prosecco

On the way home we stopped at the Sagra in Prosecco where some of the guys working on my house were camping out and working from Friday- Sunday night slinging Civapcici by day and partying by night. I wasn't sure what they had to do with Prosecco because normally the people who live in the village that is holding the Sagra organize the weekend of events with proceeds going to their cultural association. Churches also hold Sagras.

This sagra was different, however. When we got there we saw that it was organized by the TLT or the Triestine Independence Movement.  So there was lots of talk of the good old days when it was the Free Territory of Trieste. The food was typical Sagra food: Meat and french fries, Palacinke (crepes), and beer and wine.

The highlight of the Prosecco sagra was music in Triestine and a set by DJ Zippo, who basically holds a sagra-wide aerobics class. Everyone gets into it and does the synchronised dances of the summer. Super fun.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

We Heart the Riposino in the Summer

I don't know about you but this Summer thing is getting out of hand. I feel like every day I wake up saying "now TODAY I am REALLY going to be good. No spritzes, no staying up late..." and then, BAM, some kind of special occasion comes up and one spritz leads to another and blah blah blah.

That's Trieste in the summer (and winter, too, come to think of it). Friends visiting, last night in Trieste, gotta celebrate and STARE INSIEME...

So, it's a good moment to remind you of the importance of another Triestino summer classic, The RISPOSINO. It's that little rest you take after lunch because you can because you are not quite back on your full winter schedule or you still have some vacation days left or it's your day off. No, don't call it a siesta. We are in Italy, remember, and that word is Spanish. No code switching.

Sleep during the day is beautiful. I just got up from my little nap and feel like I have a second chance at life. I hope you got one in, too!

Can I ask you something??

Why isn't the statue of Giuseppe Verdi in Piazza Verdi? I mean, it's just so confusing!! For years, when I wanted to meet up with people I would have conversations that went something like this:

Let's meet up where Verdi is. 

Where? Piazza Verdi? 

No. Wait? Which one is that? The one by Teatro Verdi or the one where Verdi is sitting down, because they are both Piazzas but I can't remember what they are called. 

Verdi VERDI is in Piazza San Giovanni and Piazza Verdi is that other one behind that big yellow building that has no stores in it because the rent is so high. 

Yeah, they sell studio apartments in that place for like half a million euros. Does anyone live there? It looks like a ghost building to me. 

Where are we meeting again? 

Piazza Goldoni. 

Is that the one with the giant glass cd tower across the street next to the fountain by cremcaffè?..

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Delfino Verde - Take the Boat to the Beach from Downtown

If you're looking for a cheap thrill before real life starts again in September, especially for kids, the Delfino Verde is a good option. It's run by a private company but has contracts with Trieste Trasporti, the local bus company, and APT, the bus company that takes you further afield (like to the Airport).

The Delfino has three lines departing from Molo dei Bersaglieri in downtown Trieste.

1. Muggia (Trieste Trasporti)
2. Barcola/Grignano/Sistiana (Trieste Trasporti)
3. Grado  (APT)

This summer I decided to get a 10-ride pass so that Eva and I could have five trips to Muggia, which is a great place for a walk and some ice cream, or to go swimming and lay on the beach (we walk about 10 minutes and choose a different place each time. Some beaches are free and others you pay for but have more services (like bathrooms and restaurants). While the view from the Muggia side is not as pretty as Barcola or other beaches on the Trieste side, kids love boat rides and a trip to Muggia is easy peasy. The historic center is also quite cute and feels like mini Venice. I don't have a car, and the busses to Barcola are always super packed in the summer, as are the beaches in that direction, so Muggia worked out for us this year.

The down side is that kids pay (on the city bus kids are free up to age 10, at least in 2017) and if you want to ride together you have to have two tickets. This means I had to buy two ten-trip passes, which cost 13.50*2. I thought that was dumb, but, then again, I just couldn't get myself to pay 7.90 each for one round trip. We have only gone twice so far, but that's okay. The Muggia line runs all year, so we will eventually get those rides in.

Another cheap option is to take the Delfino Verde in one direction and then take the city bus back. We did that both times (I have a yearly bus pass and Eva rides free). Bus 20 leaves from the Bus station in Muggia and takes you all the way downtown to the station in Trieste. Eva got her boating fix two days in a row and we still have 8 more chances to go.

As an aside, and because I am talking about Bus lines this week, Bus 20 also stops at the Free Time shopping mall and that is the one that has Decathlon, for cheap sporting goods. Just so you know. Keep Bus 20 in mind when Carneval time comes again. Muggia does Carneval in spectacular fashion and who wants to drive anyway?