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Christmas 2009
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
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Our Christmas trip to Italy started out rough. There was a massive snow storm beginning in our connection city of Philadelphia and our flight was delayed for 4 hours. All remaining flights to Philadelphia were cancelled. During the delay, Eliot vomited an entire baby food jar of peaches all over himself and my jeans.

As we were landing in Philadelphia the pilot calmly said something like, "we're starting our initial descent into the Philadelphia International Airport; there's heavy snow; visibility is zero meters; and wind are at 30mph with gusts up to 50mph". Despite not seeing anything on the way down our landing was equal in calmness to the pilot's voice. No choppiness, bumps, windshear, nothing; just a smooth landing.
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When we got out things looked pretty bad. The snow storm was just starting and tons of flights were being cancelled. We were assured that our flight was going to take off (though probably very late), because international flights are given a strong priority by the airlines. Late into the night our flight was cancelled. Ilaria tried to get us on any flight to Europe, but they were all pretty much cancelled. By the time we gave up there were no more hotel rooms anywhere near the airport, and the snow was bad enough that the taxis were not running.

I wanted to just crash at the airport. But Ilaria was very much against having her little boy sleep on the airport floor. With her usual magic, Ilaria found us an (expensive) hotel room at the Marriott in downtown philly, which was close to a subway station (the only mode of transportation that was still operational).
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The storm had shutdown all of the major international airports from DC up to Boston. After many phone calls to US Airways, it became apparent that, given the huge backlog of people suddenly trying to find seats on overbooked holiday flights, the most likely scenario was to camp out in Philly for a week! until after Christmas when the first available flight had seats or to flight back to St. Louis and go see Ilaria's family in January.

Ilaria had a complete meltdown. We were either going to hang out with John and Gabriella in Boston until our flight left or more likely just give up and go home.
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The next morning, we headed back to the Philadelphia airport to try and get a flight back to St. Louis. The arrivals board was riddled with cancellations, so perhaps if enough people couldn't get to Philadelphia for their flight to Italy, there'd be a spot for us. Glass half-empty Ilaria wasn't hopeful; Glass half-full J was; No glass, bottle drinking Eliot played around on the dirty floor all day until we got our beautiful bulk-head seats on a half-empty flight to Italy.

A fantastic ending to our ordeal.
In Italy, Eliot showed off his Boboo Settite skills.
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(Pretty much all of the remaining pictures are from Matteo, who has a fancy camera and takes much better photos than I do.)
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Despite all of the playing in airports and poor sleeping schedule.
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Eliot got on track quickly in Italy with relatively little jet-lag.
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He was happy to be with his nonno.
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And to play with
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his Italian toys.
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He explored nonno and nonna's house.
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Crawling all around the cold
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ceramic floors. And saving most of his falls for carpeted and padded table that nonna setup to prevent him from hurting himself.
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Following tradition, we went to MariaRita's house for Christmas eve.
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Eliot and nonno were looking spiffy.
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as was his mom.
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Lino made sure Eliot got all of the wine he wanted (which was zero).
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Matteo was well-behaved because he brought his ball to play with.
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Thanks to Matteo, I now have nice pictures of his grandparents (bisnonno)
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And following tradition, Christmas day we went to have with Mariassunta's family in Priverno.
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The sisters all made sure there was plenty of food.
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Bisnonna made sure
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Eliot had enough to eat.
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Again thanks to Matteo, I now have good pictures of Bisnonna and
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and Tommaso.
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After lunch we opened presents,
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including Eliot's first Italian shoes;
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and we
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relaxed, went for a walk, and relaxed with Eliot as
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The previous photo and this one are my favorite photos of the trip. To me they pretty well describe our relationship with Eliot.
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Eliot was still young enough to do a substantial amount of growing and
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learning in our 2+ week trip
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meanwhile his mom had regressed back into her 1980s
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sleeping, sweatsuit wardrobe.
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Not every moment was filled with smiles,
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