Tag Archives: iowa

Botany project: Week one

We are can’t wait for Spring out here in Iowa. Mid-February, it really warmed up, melting all of the snow.  It was really just a big tease, though, because now there is snow on the ground again. I’ll reluctantly admit that it’s kind of pretty, but not as pretty as spring would be.

To hurry things along, I decided that Paolo would have his first Botany Project.  Last week I purchased a little mini terrarium, and in it we planted tomato, sweet pepper, cucumber, eggplant, and, of course, basil.   This took place exactly one week ago, and I can’t believe how quickly our little plants are growing. Pretty soon, we’re going to have to transplant them all into a larger pot.  (Which will require G’s assistance. He’s the one with the green thumb.)  Notice how four of the nine of the cucumber plants are cut in half? I accidentally decapitated them yesterday when I dropped the terrarium lid, crushing their skinny little stems. I was quite upset with myself. But it looks like they are making a come back.


Botany project: Week one





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Snow walk

It’s stopped blizzarding and is now crisp and sunny. An absolutely gorgeous afternoon.  So we decided to go out for a walk around the neighborhood.  We quickly realized that despite the beauty of the fresh air, it was much to cold for a stroll. (Even in our snowsuits.) After about 10 minutes, we rushed back to the warmth of our apartment.

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Snow day fun

Today it started blizzarding.  We went out this morning, to run a few errands and to music class. Then we came home. And I think we’ll be home until possibly Thursday, as the forecast says it’s supposed to keep snowing until tomorrow evening.  So we’re having some snow day fun.  Paolo received this adorable tent from one of this aunties last year for his birthday.He loooooves it.  And I think it’s pretty cute.

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Best buds

I have to be honest. This winter weather has us a little cooped up lately.  This week has been pretty cold and icy; today, it’s snowing again.  On Tuesday I slipped and fell on the walkway while holding both Paolo and two bags of groceries.  That hurt, a lot. At least, besides Paolo, there were no witnesses. (And I somehow miraculously managed to have Paolo land on top of when I fell. Thank goodness.)  So, we stayed home on Wednesday while I babied my bruised hindquarters.  We got out yesterday for a little trip to the “mall.” (The term “mall” to describe the shopping center here is definitely a loose definition of the word.)  Regardless, we’re home. A lot.  Did I mention the cold, snowy, icy January we’re having?

At least Paolo has Sofia. He absolutely loves her.  Loves her.  He feeds her most of his meals and loves to play with her. Lately, he’s started to “cuddle” her. In fact, as I write this, he is sitting on the floor, under my desk, between Sof’s two front paws.  It’s really cute.  Here they are yesterday. Paolo was lounging with her while catching up on some reading.


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Holidays 2010/2011: A review

Today Paolo turned 15 months.  And he is sooo a 15-month-old.  As in, he is very, very busy and expects me to entertain him every minute that he is awake. So I try, but he lets me know when he’s not entertained to his satisfaction. Loudly.

So, most of my normal chores and activities have fallen to the wayside. Including this blog.  Since I did not send out a Christmas card this year either, I thought I’d post some fun pictures of what our holiday was like this year.

We planned to drive up to Rochester, Minnesota to visit my aunt’s family and my grandma for Christmas. So we had our little family Christmas here on December 23rd.  We had a Neopolitan Christmas dinner (meaning all seafood) and opened our presents.  Paolo mostly liked playing with the wrapping paper, ribbons, and discarded boxes. Except the miniature armchair that we bought for him. He love love loves having a mini big-boy chair; especially for reading books and watching videos.

Pre-Christmas eve dinner

Pre-Christmas eve presents

Paolo's fave present

Our plans were tarnished, though, when we woke up on Christmas eve.  A big snowstorm had clobbered the Midwest, and there was no way to drive safely from Iowa up to Minnesota. So we ended up having to stay home and celebrated Christmas Eve again, without our relatives.  It was still a fun, snowed-in day.  And that evening, we video chatted with my family while opening the presents we had all exchanged. Which was really awesome, almost like we were able to spend the holiday together.  (Since then we’ve started video chatting through our Xbox Kinect, which is way better, because you can basically talk through the TV.  I wish we had set it up over Christmas!)

Christmas eve snowstorm

Christmas eve nap

Christmas eve

Then, on Christmas Day, Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) stopped by.  A little later, when the roads were drivable, we went down to Des Moines to have Christmas dinner with my Aunt Jackie and her family.  She already has such a big family of her own; it was so nice of her to have us down, especially at the last minute.  Even though our plans to go to Minnesota for the holiday didn’t work out, we still had a fun and festive Christmas.

Babbo Natale stopped by

Babbo Natale stopped by (2)

Babbo Natale stopped by (3)


I don't know about all this snow

Christmas Day 2010

The day after Christmas, I picked up my dad and brother Zack from the Des Moines airport. As excited as we were to have them come for a visit, it was for a sad reason. My Grandma Main passed away three days before Christmas this year.  At 90 years old, she had lived a good life, with nine children, dozens of grandchildren, and even more great-grandchildren.  It was especially hard watching my 94-year-old grandfather, aunties, and of course, my father, mourn her passing.  The funeral was held the Tuesday after Christmas, in my father’s hometown of Storm Lake. The mass was said at his childhood church and the reception was held at the local Knights of Colombus hall.  I didn’t snap as many photos as I would have liked, but I did take this quick picture of my dad and grandpa at lunch, just after the burial. (What you can’t see in this photo is that Paolo is sitting across from my Grandpa here, doing his best to make him laugh.  Paolo just loves his great-grandpa; when we go to visit, Paolo just follows him around and laughs.)

Granpa & Dad

Dad and Zack stayed with us through the New Year. We had a good time. On New Years Eve, we picked up a few groceries and had lunch at the local co-op.  Then, they took Paolo with them down to Des Moines to visit Grandpa, leaving Giuseppe and I on our own for the afternoon.

Which was glorious. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves!  In a small town, in the middle of winter, there is not too much to do on a whim. But we managed to have a great time. We first stopped for coffee in a little diner downtown. (Just the two of us! No baby food fights or mess to clean up!) Then we went to see the third movie of the “Focker” triology, “Little Fockers.” It was hilarious.  After, we went to a quick cafe` for mid-afternoon treat.  We had a such a lovely afternoon, it was so nice to know that Paolo was off with his Gramps and Uncle Zack, having fun, while Giuseppe and I were able to have a little quality time alone.

Then, for New Year’s Eve, Giuseppe was on call, so we planned a night in.  After putting Paolo to bed, we started a championship, winner-take-all, five-hour-long game of Monopoly.  (I know, the exciting life we live! So glamourous.)  But it was really fun! Twice, though, during the game, the electricity went out due to, yes, yet another holiday snow storm.  It became so cold in 40 minutes without electricity, that we were getting ready to go find a hotel. Luckily, we didn’t have to.  Long story short, a couple hours after our midnight toast to the New Year, I WON the championship.  I was very pleased with myself.

New year's eve 2010

New year's eve 2010

On New Year’s Day, Dad and Zack were supposed to leave, but due to – surprise surprise – weather conditions/mechanical plane problems, they were delayed for another few days. So we had a few more days of holiday fun before they flew out that Monday.

New years day 2011

Then, on the Feast of the Epiphany, there is the Italian tradition of La Befana, a scary old witch that leaves chocolate in the stockings of good children.  (See my article on La Befana at Our Mommyhood.)  Paolo had fun digging through the Befana stocking, even if Giuseppe is really the one who was excited about the chocolate.

La calza della Befana

La Befana came!

The next day, January 7th, marked the official end of our holiday season. I took down all of our Christmas decorations and tree. Our house looks so empty (and orderly!) now.

Paolo just woke up, so it’s lunch time.  Maybe during his nap tomorrow I will be able to tackle thank-you notes and answer email…

Happy 2011 everyone!


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Happy Halloween


I love Halloween! And this year, Giuseppe really got in the spirit, eating yummy Halloween treats and candy; he even carved a spoooooky pumpkin for our front door.

This year we had a Greek Halloween. We took Paolo trick-or-treating on Greek row.  At Iowa State, all the fraternities and sororities decorate their houses, dress up, and pass out candy to the local the children. It was actually pretty fun. Here are few photos from our trick-or-treating this year.  Note Paolo’s ‘stroller sleeping bag,’ which was a definite must in the chilly autumn weather.

Happy Halloween from la famiglia Dell’Anna!


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A few weeks ago, I signed up Paolo for a music class.  We meet every Tuesday, and he loves it.  There are about a dozen other babies with their moms/nannies/grandmas and we sing, dance, play with instruments, and learn basic sign language. It’s fabulous.

The teacher has a little baby doll that she uses to model the activities.  Paolo is a busy baby, and spends a large portion of the class crawling around and exploring the classroom.  And it turns out that he love love loves to play with the baby doll that the teacher uses. Watching him, I realized that he doesn’t have a baby doll and decided that he definitely needs one to play with at home.  The music teacher’s baby doll is African-American.

After music class, we headed straight to the store to buy Paolo a baby doll. And I definitely wanted to purchase him a brown baby doll. I mean we live in Iowa, where almost everyone is white. We need to try to incorporate a little color in our life. I mean besides Justin, the people in our Iowa life are pretty pale-skinned. I know a doll won’t change much, but it can’t hurt, either.

So, we went to Wal-Mart (there’s no Babies-R-Us in Ames) because they have a HUGE toy department.  And a huge aisle of baby dolls.

And get this: NO BROWN BABY DOLLS. That’s right, not even one. NONE.

I was absolutely appalled. I almost complained to the management, but then decided that a well-written letter to the Wal-Mart Headquarters would be more effective.  I’ve not yet heard back, but I will keep you posted.


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Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

This morning we are going to walk in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Des Moines.  It is a family affair: both of my parents and my littlest brother are in town from Hawaii, and we are walking with my dad’s EIGHT sisters.  (Yes, he is the baby to his eight older sisters.)  Two of my aunties, Beverly and Cathy, have both battled-and beaten-breast cancer in the past ten years. So we are walking with them in their honor.

The local newspaper, the Des Moines Register, took interest in them and published an article this morning, Cancer-surviving sisters set to walk for cure.

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I adore this season. The crisp air, sunny days, and beautiful landscape are so refreshing.  When we left for Italy, it was hot and muggy.  When we arrived back home to Iowa last week, we were greeted with this lovely fall weather and scenery.

Last Thursday I took Paolo to a park downtown. Everything was so gorgeous and autumny.  I loved this tree.


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Today Paolo turned one year old. It is really impossible to believe that my tiny baby is nearing toddlerhood.

We celebrated his birthday with a big festa italiana on Saturday. I rented a pavilion in a local park, adorned it with Italian-style garb, and served up Italian fare to our 50 or so guests   It was a warm, gorgeous autumn day.  Here are a few action shots:

And here we are helping Paolo blow out his birthday candle tonight at our little family celebration:


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We are back in IOWA

Yesterday afternoon we returned home from our glorious month in Italia.

Italia was filled with amazing meals, breathtaking panoramas, great friends, spectacular parties, and was so incredible that it felt like we there for about two whole days.  I can’t believe the trip is already over.  I’m still working on a travel journal; I’ve not yet decided if I will publish it here, but I will certainly be posting some photos in the near future.

When we walked out of the Des Moines airport yesterday, I was greeted by the most beautiful day I have ever experience in Iowa.  The sky was crystal-clear blue, the air crisp and cool.  Autumn arrived to Iowa while we were in Italy.  The past two days have been just absolutely beautiful.  Paolo and I have been busy trying to unpack our loads of luggage, getting the house back in order, and making some real meals for the hubs.  (Giuseppe actually did a fantastic job of keeping the house clean; but the refrigerator was barren, with only two beers and no food.) But we have been taking breaks to for walks outside. After such a scorchingly hot summer, any time outside at a comfortable temperature is absolutely heaven!  The gorgeousness of the weather is a definite plus.

We are still fighting jet-lag, which is a pain, but a small price for such a fabulous trip.  This week will be busy with party preparation: Paolo’s First Birthday Party “La Festa Italiana” is Saturday!  I’ll have to try to squeeze some time in for my blogging addiction, which I wholly neglected while I was traveling!

A presto!


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We are on Night No. 3 of crazy thunderstorming weather. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great thunderstorm. In fact, I consider it one of the pluses of living in the Great Midwest.

Crazy thunderstorms do not, however, mix well with sleeping babies.  Especially when we are trying to do some “sleep training” with Paolino.

Which means none of the Dell’Anna clan has gotten any sleep for three nights.


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