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Italy Summer 2009
 
 
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After passing the three-month mark, it was time for Eliot's first flight. To start him off with a bang, we figured a 5000 mile journey to Italy was the way to go. We had a brief simulation of confining Eliot to a carseat for 10+ hours when we took him to my folks house to meet his cousins.
 
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But now it was time for the real deal. We dressed him up in an airplane shirt (which the flight attendants really liked). While waiting for the plane we put a blanket across a few chairs to serve as a play area.
 
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We got him strapped in the plane in St. Louis. After sitting there for half-an-hour, they told us there was a problem with the plane, which they were trying to fix; they let people off that wanted to wait outside the plane. Ilaria had something she needed to do, so she left only to find she wouldn't be let back in (after she told them her baby was on board, they changed their mind).

Eventually, we all had to get off the plane, they fixed it; and then thanks to Ilaria (she found out the plane was fixed and went to get a gate agent to let everyone on the plane), we left for Detroit 2hr late.

That gave us less than 30 minutes to catch our connection to Italy. They let us off the plane first and we ran for our terminal. Ilaria went by herself to hold the plane and I carried the bags and pushed Eliot. By the time we got to the gate I thought I might throw-up I'd run so hard. The flight was late, we made it with plenty of time and Eliot slept most of the way to Italy.
 
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After taking a day to sort out our jet-lag (Eliot did very well with jetlag), we took Eliot to meet his great grandparents from Fernando's side of the family (bisnonno and bisnonna).
 
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Zio Matteo came along to help out.
 
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Ilaria's parents had just bought a house on the beach in Latina.
 
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This was our first chance to see it. It was a nice place
 
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to play and relax with Eliot.
 
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When I returned from a language course in Genova, all of Mariassunta's family came over for a big meal.
 
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We even had champagne
 
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to celebrate the arrival of new family member Eliot.
 
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Eliot really liked the beach house.
 
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We brought over this new chair from the US for him to sit in. It was similar to a bouncy chair so he could play in the chair too.
 
Eliot slept really well with the sea and the scooters in the background (here he is pretending to suck on his ciuccio).
 
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He liked all of the attention he got from his grandparents (nonno and nonna).
 
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After he was comfortable with the beach house, we took him down for his first trip to the sea. At first he was curious to see and feel the moving water and the sand
 
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but then he decided he didn't like it.
 
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The found the texture of sand under his feet interesting but to foreign to enjoy.
 
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It was much better to hang out above the ground with mamma.
 
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The beach house
 
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has a huge balcony, which is great for having company over for dinner.
 
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They can even park their fancy cars across the street.
 
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We had a dinner one nite with Giuliana and Lorenzo, friends of Ilaria's parents.
 
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Every nite,
 
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we had dinner on the balcony of the beach house
 
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and watched the sunset with the moon over Monte Circeo.
 
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One thing that surprising me was how Italians are very much against having wind touch a baby. The entire trip people were obsessed with preventing Eliot from being in the wind or even by a draft from a window inside.
 
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But despite the wind
 
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Eliot
 
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was fine.
 
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Another trip to the beach
 
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maybe?
 
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perhaps?
 
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perhaps not. He'll like the beach next summer when he is bigger.
 
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One of my favorite parts of the trip
 
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was eating fresh fried seafood from a pescheria (fish market) down the street.
 
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I was surprised that in Italy they fry the shrimp with the skin on it. When you peel the shrimp you end up removing all of the tasty crispy stuff. But it was still very good.
 
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This time Ilaria held Eliot at the beach
 
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same
 
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response.
 
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It's just warmer and more secure
 
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to be held by your family.
 
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At the beach house, Eliot took his baths in the sink.
 
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We had a bbq with more of Ilaria's parents friends. Giuliana came an hour early to give me an Italian lesson. She was an Italian teacher (to middle school students) for many years. I learned more about how to use Italian grammar in the few short lessons with her than in my entire Italian course in Genova. She is a very good teacher.
 
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Eliot spent quality time learning programming with me.
 
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This particular bug I was fixing
 
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was just too much
 
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for him.
 
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Bug fixed!
 
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Programming
 
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can wear
 
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a little boy
 
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out.
 
Eliot was starting to be able to move consistently if he had something too push off of. But still wasn't close to crawling
 
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or reading.
 
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We timed our trip, so that we could attend the wedding
 
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of
 
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Aldo and Laura.
 
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I was amazed by the number of saints we asked to pray for us. We went through the list one at a time.
 
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After the wedding a car
 
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and
 
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a driver (Alessandro) were ready for the new
 
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bride and groom.
 
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After the wedding, we went to pick up Eliot on
 
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our way to the
 
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reception in Nettuno (in keeping with Italian tradition, the reception was nowhere near the church where the wedding was held; though this wasn't quite as extreme as the wedding of Ben and Francesca).
 
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Wearing his fancy outfit in the stroller on the way to the reception, Eliot took a poop. Italian diapers are not nearly as good as American diapers at keeping poop from shooting out the top and onto their back. I smelled poop and took Eliot to change his diaper. The changing table was in an ackward place in the entrance to the bathroom on an elevated table, like an altar between the men and womens bathroom. It was a hot day outside and it was even hotter in the non-airconditioned bathroom (air-conditioning is not too common in Italy). Wearing my suit (minus the jacket), I began changing him only to discover that poop had shot out of his diaper and all over his back and his clothes.

Eliot didn't like being in that hot bathroom either and he liked even less being stripped naked with poop all over his body. So everyone that went to the bathroom during the 10-minute fiasco was greeted by me dripping in sweat and a screaming baby covered in poop. Thankfully, Stefano, the brother of Ilaria's friend Andrea and a recent father himself entered the bathroom and helped a lot to get off the clothes and to get some new clothes from Ilaria. Then I gave Eliot a bath in the sink, put some new clothes on him, and cursed the air-condition lacking country of Italy for being hot. But at least it was over.
 
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At Francesca's wedding, all of the tables were numbered after rocks and everyone was running around wondering the symbolism of each rock in the relationship of the newly-weds or the guests at a particular rock table.

This time we were just given a number, which is great for non-Italians that know numbers better than rocks.
 
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I took hundreds of photos at the wedding of Francesca and Ben. Now with the addition of only a single extra human being that I need to take care of, I probably took less than 20 pictures the whole day, most of them after he feel asleep.
 
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Everyone signed a big poster for Aldo and Laura
 
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Then the dancing
 
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began (with a live band!).
 
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Italy is a great place to see many interesting WWII sites.
 
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The Americans landed on the Italian mainland at Anzio and Nettuno, which are near Ilaria's home of Latina. Most of the Americans that died in Italy (including the early battles in Sicily) are buried
 
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in the cemetery
 
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in
 
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Nettuno.
 
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The cemetery is very well maintained.
 
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On the wall of soldiers lost in Italy there was one that shared my last name.
 
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And in the book of Americans that died in Italy there were four people with my last name.
 
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Nearby there was also a baseball stadium.
 
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Back at the beach house,
 
Eliot decided that 6AM was the time he wanted to wake up. We weren't too happy about it, so I strapped him in his chair. He had a great time playing in his chair and all of his fun made waking up so early seem ok.
 
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Baby birds were born at the beach house while we were there.
 
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And Eliot found new comfortable ways of sleeping.
 
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After three long weeks of rest,
 
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it was time for one last trip to see
 
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bisnonno,
 
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bisnonna,
 
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and to play with Zio Matteo
 
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before flying back home to St. Louis.