The real story

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.36.42 AMA few people have mentioned that it’s great that things seem to be calmer, but the reality is even though we’re living in Italy, there are 6 of us in the house and the chance that all 6 of us are having a GREAT day at the same time is actually pretty slim. Sure we have some pretty family pictures, but for everyone one with *almost* everyone smiling (or at least not frowning) we have 10 like this one.

We went to stay on a farm this weekend and both Max and Christine commented that it’s the first time since we’ve arrived in Italy that it’s felt like a vacation. Most days involve grocery shopping, cooking diner, homework, getting kids to school, stubbed toes (a lot of those oddly), arguments about how much screen time is appropriate, and… well everything that happens in the US (go figure).

Originally when I planned this trip my plan was to find a farm (like this one) that we could stay on for a year. I imagined the animals would help the kids feel grounded and free, and it would be a big change from where we live now.

Max felt pretty strongly we should live in a city where we could meet people and make friends and “do things” and if we lived on a farm we’d have to have a car, and all sorts of other logistic issues opened up, so we picked Siena.

Do I regret it? No. I don’t.

While we were on the farm Christine asked “what would it be like to live here”. We’re locked into a lease for 6 more months in Siena, but we could deal with that. Ironically, Max (who hadn’t even been part of the conversation) came up about 20 minutes later and said “I like it here, but I’m still glad we live in Siena”.

  • Charlie – Has good days and bad days. She still hates school, but we now have a tutor 5 days a week and do a half-assed home-schooling on Saturdays since she’s so exhausted.
  • Ian – Doesn’t like school. He’s always been bored, but it’s worse when he can’t even understand the language. He has a tutor 2 hours a day 5 days a week, but he’s just not invested. We’re going to stick with it for another couple of months and see how it goes. He is starting to talk about kids in his class now by name. His favorite subject is Math because “that teacher doesn’t yell at him” and PE because they play baseball. He told me that he really likes Baseball and he’s better than most of the kids in his class because he’s “played Baseball on the Wii before”. I just realized I’m not sure if ANY of my kids have ever hit a ball with a bat before… lol.
  • Max – He’s really embracing it. He now has a class that’s helping him instead of regular class and he dives into his homework. Today he pointed out that September Settembre literally translates into “the 7th (sette) month”, same with October – December… which got him speculating as to how/when we added 2 more months! That being said it’s a lot of work to learn a new language, so he’s always tired.
  • Tristan is loving it. It’s really hard to get him to LEAVE his schools. The nuns there are great. It’s amazing to see a single quiet woman managing a room with up to 16 three-year-olds and four-year-olds. *Sometimes* there are two nuns in there, but most of the time it’s just one… and it works. The kids sit down and down their work. Tristan continues to love giving hugs to all his friends before leaving school.
  • Me … Well I’m working more than I wish I was, but it helps that there’s such an awesome team at Gravity Switch, and so I feel good helping them out. The lack of internet is KILLING me. I want to plan some trips and do some research and learn to program in Meteor and start a new business and do all sorts of other stuff, and instead I have 2 hours in the morning between dropping off and picking up kids to chug through my slow, expensive internet connection. I have read half a dozen book since August (maybe more?) and I’m spending a lot more time with the kids. I enjoy walking home from school with the kids, and hanging out… missing games. People are too tired after school so other than a few games between me and Max here and there we’re not playing many.
  • Christine – I learned long ago not to speak for my spouse. What I can say is she’s amazing. She’s learned so much Italian, and navigates so many situations. When she’s coaching the kids on home school it goes so well. She’s patient and focused. She’s better than me at throwing on the backpack and shopping, and does more than her share of cooking. She’s found a gym and is making friends there and with other parents…
A relaxing weekend at the farm!


Kitten therapy on the farm. We have to do more trips like this and get out of the city.
Our first (and probably not last) Italian cooking class. We learned to make pasta and tiramisu