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Archive for August, 2010

Today we made our first foray into San Francisco to do a little preliminary sight seeing with Francesca. We wanted to visit the city before school starts and studying, soccer and water polo games monopolize our weekend plans.

from one bridge

We picked a beautiful day for a drive into the city! Skies were clear and the weather was crisp and breezy. The kids crammed into the back seat of the Mazda, and on the way into the city we had the first ever “Muldoon ipod challenge“… we each took turns selecting songs from our personal ipod music libraries and plugging them into the car’s stereo system. No one was allowed to “dis” someone else’s choice, and as a result we listened to an eclectic assortment of tunes which included, but were not limited to The Killers, Eric Clapton, Sinatra, Billy Joel, Coldplay, ABBA, Maroon 5 and even Zucchero!

...to another!

We crossed into San Francisco on the Bay Bridge and drove along the Embarcadero, passing the Ferry Building, which was a buzz with people and tourists. We crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge, and drove up into the Marin Headlands for a spectacular view of the bridge and the city, and of course to take loads of pictures. We strolled around, rubbing shoulders with other tourists and foreign visitors and enjoyed the views of the rough and rugged California coast and the vast blue panorama of the pacific ocean.

We crossed back over the bridge and drove up and down the streets of San Francisco, ending our day with a trip down Lombard Street, the crookedest street in SF. Then it was on to our favorite “ristorante” Piazza Pellegrini, in Little Italy, (located in North Beach, just off of Columbus street) where the waiters speak Italian and the food is delish. I love frequenting this place because I can speak Italian with the owners and wait staff. After exchanging pleasantries with us the waiter looked at me and then he looked at Francesca and then back at me. “You signora speak well…but she is Italian!” Can’t fool anyone around here! Listening to the waiters speaking in Italian and the conversations around us, Francesca kept smiling and laughing a bit, and said it was weird to be in the States in a restaurant that reminded her way too much of Italy. After all, she hadn’t travelled 6,000 miles to be back in Italy! But, none the less, we ate our pizzas, enjoyed our tiramasus & gelatos and downed our espressos with great relish! (I can’t seem to write a blog with out mentioning food and what we have been eating!)

We have just begun to scratch the surface of the city and all the interesting things it has to offer, so we will return another day, to explore some more!

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The days are flying by and blending together. We aren’t doing anything amazingly, spectacularly impressive, but we are settling in and starting to establish a comfortable routine. We are making dinners and eating left overs the following night. We are doing laundry, unloading the dishwasher, reading books and working at our computers.

We did accomplish something rather important this week. On Tuesday, Francesca officially became an Irvington high school student. She entered the Senior Maze Day as a Italian student and exited, as an American Senior. She has a locker in the Senior Hall, next to a group of great kids, who I’m sure will show her the ropes and help her to settle into the routine at the high school.

School doesn’t start for a week and until then we are continuing to do routine things like going to the grocery store, getting stuck behind annoying trains, sitting in traffic and waiting in long lines at the schools for registration. Francesca has learned that even here in the states, we have to put up with seemingly endless lines and sometimes inefficient bureaucracy! So, after spending two hours in the sweltering heat, waiting to enroll Kyle at Horner this morning, we all decided we deserved an indulgent treat and off to Burger King we went to fill ourselves with hamburgers, fries and chocolate milk shakes. In our defense, we don’t usually stuff ourselves with burgers and fries…but, today we couldn’t have cared less. At last some good ol’ American junk food!

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Francesca, Casey and Michael find school spirit at Walmart!

It’s been a busy week of meeting new people and starting the process of registering Francesca at Irvington High School. School offices just opened in Fremont on Thursday and we toured the school briefly, but mainly saw janitors and empty hall ways. The real fun will start next Tuesday on Maze day when all the Seniors return to fill the corridors and Francesca will receive her class schedule.

Our days have been filled with conversation and a what seems to be a constant stream of movies. We are getting more comfortable with each other and letting our hair down a bit. Casey, Michael’s “ragazza” (girl friend) came over on Friday and while Michael and his dad ran errands together, the two girls watched the “The Holiday“. The kids had pizza and then we trouped over to the high school pool for a waterpolo meeting (both Casey and Michael are waterpolo players), and Francesca got to meet other Irvington students. Everyone is very warm and welcoming and fascinated that Francesca is from Italy and will be attending school with them.

Enjoying spicy Thai food at Salathai, one of our favorite places to eat!

Today we decided to introduce Francesca to Thai food, something she had never had before. She seemed to like it, which is a good thing as our family thrives on Thai! On the way home the kids wanted to go to Walmart to pick up s’more fixings and also look for Irvington High School sweatshirts and Tees, which we had heard were being sold there. The kids had fun clowning around, throwing marshmallow bags at one another (and me!) and helping Francesca pick out her new Irvington gear!

Back at the house, we started a fire in our backyard fire pit. Luckily, after a few failed first attempts, our boy scouts pulled through and we managed to get a roaring blaze started to roast marshmallows and make our s’mores…and dare I say it… yet another first for Francesca!

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Focaccia anyone?

Tonight Francesca made a potato focaccia for dinner. Yum! We ate well! I can tell that Francesca is a bit of a perfectionist. She was a tad unhappy that the focaccia didn’t rise more. But, I think that had more to do with American yeast and the fact that we used cold left over shredded potatoes right out of the fridge. My bad! They probably should have been room temperature. But, all in all, if truth be told, we don’t mind at all repeating this exercise until Francesca is completely happy with the results! 🙂

We had another fun and productive afternoon. We stopped in at the AT&T store and got an American sim card for Francesca’s iphone. She was very happy to get her phone sorted out. Now she can text us and her friends as much as she likes. To celebrate successfully converting her phone to AT&T from Wind (the phone service in Italy) we ordered up a couple of Jamba Juices, another first for our Italian girl. Then it was  off to the New Park mall to do some shopping, where she found a couple of cute tops at Charlotte Russe. The kids (Kyle and Francesca) finished off the evening watching the movie “Up” together.

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The girls go to a movie

Moms and daughters got together this afternoon for lunch and a movie at the Great Mall. We decided to see the new Julia Roberts movie “Eat, Pray, Love“. Francesca and I met our gal pals first at Chipotle Mexican Grill, where Francesca had her first Mexican burrito which I think she liked quite well! We were happy to have Melinda, from across the bay who is host mom to Riccardo (also from Italy) and her daughter join us for the movie too. (Riccardo wisely opted to shop while we girls went to our “chick flick”.) The teen girls sat together in the front, while we moms sat in the back. The movie was fun, and Francesca said she enjoyed watching the parts that took place in Rome from an “American” perspective. After the movie the girls wandered ahead and window shopped, checking out the stores, H&M in particular. Francesca is ready to go shopping and we will have to hit the malls another day for some serious buying!

you have to appreciate the window behind the girls that says "when girls take over"!

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Pat and Francesca share Mac Technology...she with her MacBook, he with his iphone

We knew this was a match made in heaven when we discovered that Francesca is a die hard Mac user! She sent me a letter before she left Italy and asked if we had a wireless connection in the house and if she should bring her MacBook. I responded that yes, infact we have a wireless internet household and we all work on Macs, play on Macs and talk on Mac iphones. She responded “Great” because she didn’t think she could survive without her Mac for a year!

In fact, one of the first things Francesca did, during her day of orientation in Emeryville, only hours off the plane from Italy, was to step into a Mac Store near the hotel and take a peak around. In my opinion, there is no way better to start to feel at home than to find the nearest Mac store! I can tell already that we are kindred spirits. That and the fact that Francesca accompanied us to Yoga her first morning with us. What a trooper! She is a true adventurer and likes to try new things! You go girl! Brava ragazza!

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Benvenuta! She’s here!

The big day has arrived! We picked up Francesca from the Woodfin Suites in Emeryville (near Oakland) this morning around 11am. She is adorable! So far we have spent the day giving her a tour of Fremont and our home, having lunch and getting acquainted. Francesca’s English is very good and she seems to have no problem understanding us. She has a wonderful sense of humor and even laughs at my husband’s jokes. A very good sign! We are all trying to slow down and speak intelligently, not always an easy thing for our family – the speed thing we can handle, the intelligence thing, well, not so much! We have already launched into the murky waters of explaining a few English idioms! I have to say, all in all, she is a very good sport and is tolerating us very well! We are off to a fine start!

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