Saturday, December 24, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2011 from the Gilleo's

Ciao Amici e Familiari,

Hope that our Italian update finds you all full of happiness and good health, as another year comes to a close. We are completing our 17th month of living in Italia, so as an addition to my normal update letter I am including some survival tips that we have learned while living here. First and foremost we are ever so blessed for this opportunity to experience life on this side of the world. We try not to take anything for granted and even though we may on occasion find ourselves complaining about the little things, we would not trade the last year and a half for nothing. Let me give you a quick lowdown on us, and I promise to keep the bragging to a minimum! We are out of the baby stage so no cute little updates on so and so eating his first foods, or going pee pee in the potty!  This past year was an awesome awesome year for Clark at work. It took him a few months to get into the groove of the SLOWER pace of things here and the work load that like got cut into half. However he has enjoyed the fact that he can coach all the boys’ teams, be home for dinner every night, and has lots of travel time. Something that is not the case for most of the families stationed here at Aviano. Clark made his way back to the states, as they had their annual recruiting conference. This year it was held in Washington D.C. so he had the opportunity to get in some good sight-seeing. Clark won RECRUITER OF THE YEAR this year! Can I hear a WOOT WOOT?! On top of that Europe won the award for Top Recruiting Location. WOOTWOOT! We are so proud of him and his accomplishments. It was so good to hear that his hard work paid off. He gets flack on a daily basis for his lack schedule. Many people often comment that he never works, well obviously he must have done something right to get that award. We are in the process of trying to get a one year extension which will keep us here until July 2013…..we are having too much fun traveling to come back to the states just yet!

I will be hopefully finishing my associates FINALLY in the next year. I don’t really know why I sat on it for so long….guess I wanted to make sure I was always there for my family whenever they needed me. Especially since Luke will be starting school in the fall, I will have lots of free time. Since they don’t make it easy for spouses to get jobs over here I will just up my school work load. I have met some of the most wonderful people over here, and it will be hard to say good-bye to them when we or they leave. I have already had to say good-bye to several wonderful neighbors that PCSed this past summer. Other than just being the CEO of the Gilleo household, I have really enjoyed all of the traveling we have been able to do this past year and a half. This year we went to Rome for spring break, London this summer with my Mom, Germany a couple of times and again we will be spending Thanksgiving there! We will be going back to France and then maybe venture into Spain for Christmas. I am just enjoying life watching my boys grow up ever so quickly and looking to what the future has in store for us all.

Kaleb Kaleb Kaleb…..he turned 11 this year and started the 6th grade. I have NOT heard the words “I hate school,” once this year but homework is still not any fun and he hates doing it. He has loved middle school and all the independence that comes with it. He feels quite grown up being able to have a locker at school, being able to change classes and having a lot more freedom. He certainly is a pre-teen which makes me a little frightened for the teen years. I can see a lot of his belongings ending up on the front lawn in the years to come…..YIKES! He really has come a long way and as much as I hate to say it, is growing up to be quite a know it all! HA you thought I was going to say young man!

Mason in the middle started the 3rd grade this year and turned 8 this summer. He is bigger than Kaleb now and I often have to remind myself that he is only 8! He never complains about anything unless he hears Kaleb complain. He is always willing to help you out and hates to hurt your feelings. He really wants to play football again but they play it in the summer here and since we are traveling in the summer we hate to commit. Daddy really hopes there is a football career there!  Mason enjoys school and other than being a chatty Kathy we don’t have any issues with him. Mason has a heart of gold but he will argue with you to no end. If you told him the alligator was purple he would defend what he knows is true and there is no other way!

Last but not least is Lukers. He has decided that at the age of 4 he would need several aliases. He has three names, and they are not Luke Montgomery Gilleo. His three names are Luke Gilleo, AKA Luke Skywalker, AKA Lukers Skywalker Gilleo. He is a crazy off the wall goofy kid who has us in stitches half the time. Although he is 4 he really wants to be a big boy, and can’t wait to be 5 and start school. He’s still my baby but don’t tell him that. He still likes to cuddle and man oh man I don’t know what I am going to do when he no longer wants to do that!  I guess life is just one day at a time so enjoy it all while we have it.

We hope that more than anything this Christmas season that you look back on the year that is coming to an end and give thanks. May God bless you all in the New Year and please know that you all are thought of often. We miss and love you all. Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
                                                               Italia Survival Tips:

• It is all about survival of the fittest. There is no such thing as a line, and if you think you are going to be the one to create one, you better think again. Italians don’t wait in lines, instead they create mobs and it is one for all and all for one. Get ready to push and shove to be the next person to be waited on.

• Driving laws are more of suggestions and are not really followed. Except the do not turn right on red. I have not seen anyone break that law….must be a hefty fine for that one. Speed limits are posted but they drive at least 30 over. Once again the speed limit posted is just a suggestion. If you are not doing at least 30 over you will get passed….even when there is oncoming traffic and this happens on their narrow tiny roads.

• If your car fits or even if it doesn’t it’s still a parking spot. Italians don’t buy smart cars because they are fuel efficient they buy them because they can park them anywhere. ON the sidewalks, in between two other cars where a normal car wouldn’t fit, and because they can be picked up and move by a handful of people. Even if a parking or non parking spot is available or not, just stop in the middle of the road and put your flashers on and leave your car. The other cars behind you will go around you and carry on with their day.

• You will not be able to run any three of the following at the same time: washer, dryer, microwave, air conditioner, dishwasher, or transformers without blowing a circuit breaker. You have to schedule accordingly and this is especially difficult in the summer when you really don’t want to turn off the air conditioner.

• Riposo which is their 3 hour lunch break is usually from noon to 3ish….so don’t try to go to the store or fill up your gas tank. You must plan accordingly….

• When going out to eat you will not get ice with your drinks….room temp is as cold as it gets most of the time. Water is not free or out of the tap, even though their tap water is perfectly drinkable they do not serve it.

• If you are ever anticipating a trip to Europe, my first suggestion to you is to work on your squats!! Squatty potties are everywhere and if you don’t have nice muscular legs, trying to squat to potty can be very challenging.

• Blending in with the culture is very hard when you have three children; because the average Italian family has 1.27 children (don’t get the .27)? Plus it is also hard to blend in when you drive a big minivan.

• The average Italian consumes 66 pounds of pasta and 26 gallons of wine a year. Now no wonder I can’t lose weight.

• The Italians do one better than the “box of wine” they do the wine in a juice box! No kidding here….you can simply by a 12 pack of wine in juice boxes! Perfect for the lunch box or purse!

• They do not do monthly meter readings….you get your bill when you get your bill. Usually once a year (if you’re lucky.) Even their readings are not really readings they are more of an estimate. Our housing got switched over to the landlord in August and we have not seen one utility bill. We put all of our utility money into an account and don’t touch it.

• When getting ready to plug something in, it is not a good time to have a brain fart. Always ALWAYS make sure you check the voltage before you plug something in. Yep it had to be me that ruined Luke’s BRAND NEW DS because I plugged it in where it was not supposed to be plugged in at. OOPS. 110 items cannot be plugged into a normal outlet, or into a power source that is plugged into an Italian outlet or else snap it’s a goner.

Love The Gilleo Family: Clark, Janea, Kaleb, Mason and Luke

Monday, December 5, 2011

2nd Annual German Thanksgiving!

For the second year in a row I have not had to cook, clean, or figure out what to do with all the Thanksgiving meal leftovers. No, Germans do not celebrate Thanksgiving but the American Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch Germany cooks up a mean Thanksgiving feast! The boys did not have all week off from school so we took them out Tuesday and we made the 5 hour trek to Germany.

All Luke could talk about for the week leading up to our trip was the swimming pool, so the 5 hour drive must have seemed like weeks for him. Even after we got there he wasn't going to be satisfied until he was IN the pool! However Clark and I were not going to be satisfied until we got food and the yummy 32OZ ritas!! :) So swimming would have to wait a little bit longer.

On Wednesday we ventured up to the "top of Germany!" We rode the the top of Zugspitze in a cable car. We all thought this type of transportation was so cool, however there had to be someone in our family that had to shout out the "what ifs!" Would have been alright had we been the only ones on the cable car and not headed straight for the mountain side! The view from the cable car was breath taking and some of God's glorious creations at their finest. There was not much snow on the mountain  but there was just enough to get in some good sledding! Zugspitze has an altitude of 2,962 meters above sea level. We really felt that in how winded we got walking up the sledding hill.

 After a day of sledding and having some lunch we ventured back down the mountain. On the trip down we took a train, which took us to the bottom via THRU the mountain. Couldn't see much but was a cool trip down. We of course ended the day at the pool and the not so hottub! :)

The next day was Thanksgiving so we didn't want to venture out to far....since we surley didn't want to miss our dinner reservations. So we ventured into Garmisch and walked the town looking for souviners. We went to a part of town we walked through last year and then we found a big shopping area and poked around there for a while.

With the afternoon coming to a close it was time to get ready to go to the Thanksgiving feast. We made sure to skip lunch just so we would be nice and hungry for turkey and stuffing and so much more! The food was delicious and we all made severeal trips to get more food! :) My favorite part was not having to clean up! 

Bet you don't know what we did after dinner! LOL

On the last day we ventured to Munich for their Christmas market. We did this last year too but it was COLD and SNOWY! This year was perfect weather for a Christmas market. We got to see a lot more and spent more money!

The adults enjoyed lots of Gluwein which is hot wine. MMMMM kept us nice and warm and feeling good. The kids enjoyed some yummy German hot chocolate! We enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Hard Rock, and the guys (no not the boys) enjoyed a beer at the Hofbrauhaus house. We were after all in the beer capital of the world so they couldn't leave without having a beer!

So this concludes our wonderful annual German Thanksgiving. We are hoping to make next year our 3rd visit there for Thanksgiving! :) Hope that you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and that you reflected on all that you have to be thankful for!

"We may run, walk, stumble, drive, or fly, but let us not lose sight of the reason for the journey."
~ Gloria Gaither