I’ve assimilated.

I’ve been living in Italy for almost 2 years, married to an Italian for four years, together for six. After awhile, some of our cultural differences wear off onto each other. We take in each other’s cultures as our own. Obviously, as I live in his country, I take in more of his culture. I’m not sure Umberto has really taken in truly any American traits but he has accepted things for what they are and doesn’t find things about me odd anymore, such as eating sweet and salty food together.

The longer I live here, the more “Italian” I become.

Living in Switzerland I adapted to the cultural, but as the society was so multi cultural and my friends were other expats, I never truly adapted to assimilated into Swiss life. With Umberto, I’ve learned that each shape of pasta has a certain sauce and you should never put the wrong sauce with the wrong pasta. I’ve learned that “pasta in bianco” (pasta with only oil and parmesan) is for when you’re feeling under the weather, “minestrone” is for when you have the flu, “riso in bianco” when you have a stomachache, beer goes with pizza, not wine…etc. There are so many food rules! I really think they’re on to something though with not having coffee with milk after breakfast time… its now almost repulsive to me to drink a cappuccino in the afternoon.

Another profound characteristic of Italian culture is being ill and how you get ill. The cause of most illnesses is a draft of air, the air conditioning, the change of seasons, the pool, and wind. At first I thought it was all old wives’ tales but now I’m starting to believe there’s some truth in it. Maybe it’s not an entire truth, not the only cause, but these things may not help what it is already there (a virus).

Raffaello was very whiny Sunday morning and complained that his ear hurt. Once I finally got him down for a nap, I measured his temperature and he had a fever. As it was Sunday and it is rare that he is ill, we decided to take him to the ER. His diagnosis was an ear infection. He had no other symptoms, no runny nose, no cold. The doctor said it could have been due to cold drafts of air from the air conditioning or the pool. Maybe she’s right as he really had no other symptoms? Is the draft of air real? I am beginning to question my American thinking.

My little monkey on the mend after getting him from the hospital.

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Summer Heat, head on.

The heat of the summer has hit us full on. Temperatures have been reaching 100F for nearly everyday for a week. After 13 years of living abroad, without a/c, my body has acclimated a bit to the hot temperatures and it doesn’t affect me like it did years ago. You know to not go outside during the heat of the day (unless its the pool), eat cold and light foods, always have cold water in the fridge, eat plenty of fruit (melons are so good now, especially when eaten cold from the fridge…) take a cooler shower (or 2…), etc. Does anyone else get “melon belly”, as I’ve come to think of it as? When you eat too much melon and your tummy is so full (from essentially all the water in the melons).

We beat the heat yesterday by taking the kids to see Pets 2 at the movies. It was Raffaello’s first time and he did so well. He sat in his seat and didn’t make a noise the entire time until it was over and the lights came on and he said “Oh, finished!”. We spent the rest of the evening at the little funfair outside the mall/theater, got quick dinners at the food court (Toastiamo will let you choose your ingredients for a sandwich,so it was my best vegan option… I had a really good avocado, tomato, grilled eggplant, and rucola sandwich).

After dinner the kids literally run through the mall while I managed to pop into a few stores and picked up some much needed shorts and pajamas. These shorts are a size bigger and much needed because I am done trying to be a smaller size by paying too much attention to what I am eating. My body is naturally about 138/140 lbs and I know by having clothes that fit that body comfortably I will ultimately be more comfortable in my own skin.

Have a great Sunday!

Namaste.

Eco, Green or Sustainable

I have been cleaning up our life one step at a time. I want to move us to a more enviromentally friendly lifestyle. We bought Raffaello reusable diapers for at home and biodegradable ones for school and if we need them while we are out. We already eat very local, mostly from my in-laws garden and I try to save as much money as possible and not waste food. I meal plan in order to not need to buy extra ingredients.

I am now trying to buy most of the food that we do buy to be organic and for all of our products to also be natural. This is a difficult endeavour where we live though, I have searched through our local stores for organic cleaning products and don’t usually find many products. I am also spending more time shopping around to find material products that need to be sustainable (Raffi is in dire need of a new backpack for school after he lost his…).

Amongst all of this, I am continuining with yoga daily. If I don’t find time to come to the mat, I feel like something is missing. Yoga has helped me considerably with depression and anxiety.

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Breaking Food “Rules”

As many as eating disorder recovers know, we put rules on food. Big rules, rules we can’t break or we suddenly blow up to 500 pounds overnight or the world falls apart if we break them. We stick to the rules and we live by the rules. We create these rules ourselves though, they aren’t rules “normal eaters” have.

In my journey to recover from my eating disorder, I am trying to break the rules that constrain me. These rules also constrain us from enjoying life, like everyone else. One of my main rules I have had for a long time is to not eat a big lunch. Lunch should be small. Lunch should leave me hungry, hungry enough for a snack. Hungry for a bigger dinner. In Italy, lunch is the bigger meal, so you can see where I quickly ran into problems with my “rule”. Even after living here for 2 years it is hard for me to accept this rule, I still struggle with it and usually on eat a “big” lunch on Sunday, when I am home with my family and want to keep the traditional large Sunday lunch for my husband. I always approach this meal with anxiety. Anxiety of eating too much, anxiety because I know I will feel full after eating. Feeling full usually starts a downward spiral…I think all day after that I ate too much and go into a feeling of panic.

I have been trying to focus on “eating what you want” and nothing more.I still struggle with it though, I still don’t like a large meal at lunch and usually avoid it. Lunch in my “rules” should be a sandwich or a salad and nothing more. Today, I broke the rule. I got home from work, I didn’t feel like a sandwich or a salad and made ravioli and a side of edamame we had in a freezer. I ate it, noted how delicious it was and moved on. It was refreshing to eat in peace and to remain in peace after the meal. It wasn’t a big portion, it was still “small enough” but it wasn’t a sandwich or a salad.

There’s still a lot to work in this journey to complete eating disorder recovery and I am not sure when or how I will reach it, but I am hope to be going in the right direction.

Some breakfast pictures from the past two days:

Eggs cooked in butter, a piece of zucchini bread from the freezer, cherries

Scrambled eggs, IKEA cinnamon roll (frozen) and pineapple

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and finding a niche

What should my blog focus on is a question I am always thinking about. I’m not sure where to go with it. I want to follow a pattern, not post random subjects. Living abroad and raising children abroad is a niche but it is not a niche I find myself very passionate about. I have been living abroad for 13 years, it’s a part of every day life and I don’t even know where I am “from” anymore. I’m American on paper but I lived most of my adult life in Switzerland, which is what I always find myself missing, not America. I also lived most of my time in Switzerland with my Italian husband and quickly adapted to an “Italian way of life”. Now that we live in Italy, moving here wasn’t a huge culture shock.

One thing I find myself passionate it about is food, intuitive eating, and eating disorder recovery. Also PPD and depression in general. So that being said, I’m going to focus blog on mental health, with a little daily life thrown in as well. As well as the difficulties that arise when you must express yourself in a foreign language to a therapist.

To leave you with a picture of my breakfast today, simple and perfect, Cheerios with a banana:

Catching Up

What has been going around here? We have been trying to enjoy the short spurts of sunshine and warm weather when it isn’t raining, which seems to be often these past few weeks. I feel like we get closer to summer and then a rainy, cold, windy day comes to remind us we’ve still got time until summer.

I have been walking in an effort to get exercise. Ever since I fell I am afraid to run. Walking has been a blessing though, slowing down and noticing everything in town has led me to discover a lot of stores and things I’ve never seen before. I found a cute Bulgarian shop run by a sweet Bulgarian woman who was so excited to introduce me to Bulgarian food. I’ve also noticed a few clothing stores I’ve never seen.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time working on my anxiety around food with my therapist and listening to inspirational podcasts about intuitive eating and healthy relationships about food. My therapist urged me to talk to my psychiatrist about the food anxiety as eating disorders are anxiety disorders. My psychiatrist prescribed me a long term, long release dose of Xanax to help with the anxiety of eating. I’m taking it now but hopefully soon I can reach a point of keeping the anxiety under control on my own.

Raffi is talking so much now, he has new words every day. He mimics his sister and wants to do everything she does, down to taking a purse out with him. Felicity has turned into a little girl, no longer a toddler. She loves to play outside and to be “boss” when she plays with her brother and cousin. They are both doing well at school, Felicity has many friends and loves her teachers. Raffi is happy to go to school every day and I believe a lot of his speech improvements is related to his teachers at school. Raffi will continue in the fall his same school and we are deciding now if Felicity will stay at the public school or go to the same private preschool as Raffi.

Have a good weekend!

Update on speding freeze, one week in

We’ve been in one week of trying to not spend money. I think we’ve done really well with food shopping. We used an app to have our groceries delivered which keeps us from impulse spending at the supermarket. We have used it twice, bit only for necessities, such as meat and fresh fruit and vegetables. So far it has helped with not spending as we are not going to the store to get anything and also picking up a few other random objects on the way. I’ve meal planned and focused on food we have so there is no last minute grocery store runs needed.

I had a few big necessities to take care pf this month that I couldn’t avoid. Raffi needed a need car seat since had outgrown his last one and was visibly uncomfortable in it. I spent a week shopping around on Amazon until I finally decided on one that was what I was looking for at a good price. I also needed to buy the kids new sneakers, Felicity’s were falling apart and Raffi had outgrown his. I also researched for both of their pairs and decided on a cheaper pair fo Raffaello since he goes through them so quickly and a more expensive pair for Felicity since she doesn’t outgrow shoes quickly but she also seems to ruin shoes quickly so she needs a pair that will hold up. One change I made for myself was coloring my hair back to a more natural color to avoid having to color it every few weeks and spending more and more money.

Lastly, we need to buy new clothes for a First Communion in the beginning of June so that will be the end of big expenses for us this month. I will update soon on how we’re doing with the budget.

Photos from this week:

Felicity on her school field trip:

Raffi in his new car seat: