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This is what I love about the south of Italy.  You buy your food fresh.  I mean real fresh.  Take these chickens being sold by the side of the road.  Anyone up for slaughtering and cleaning their own chicken dinner?    This photo was actually taken right outside the city of Foggia at a round-about on the way to Luca’s parents’ house.  
 

Chickens being sold by the roadside

 

Other canned items & beans being sold at the roaside

 
 

Stripey

 

Meet the newest members of our family.  I think I like them even more than the boys.  They are too cute. 
 

Scratchy

  
Duilio has a laboratorio d’arte on Monday afternoons. While he’s at class, Russell and I will sometimes do our own art project.  Here he made some paper bag puppets.

Russell and his puppets

 
Every once in a while, the boys open a Dinosaur Museum which they are always very proud of.  This one was complete with a “Grand Opening” sign.
 

Duilio and the Dinosaur Museum

 

I’m happy to report that Duilio’s birthday party was a success.  There were a few tense moments prima la festa like when the cake boss almost had a total meltdown because her no-fail vanilla birthday cake recipe FAILED.  The cupcakes fell into shriveled little mounds.  I rallied and made the recipe again into a sheet cake.   It also wasn’t perfect but was acceptable since it was the back-up cake.  (I was afraid we wouldn’t have enough.)  The main cake was chocolate and came out perfectly. 

A few moments before 11:00 am, the appointed party hour, Luca and I had another moment.  We looked at each other and said, “What if no one shows up?”    Just then, people started arriving.  It was beautiful weather and many, many people came.   We put out a big tub of bubbles and that got the kids started off.     We also had a paper bag puppet activity which was new here.  The parents and kids loved it.  They spent a lot more time on that than expected. 

Luca was in charge of hot food so he arrived with tons of pizzette and rustici from a pasticceria.  He also manned the grill.  Everyone raved about his hamburgers and hotdogs.  They even asked how we made the hamburger which was pretty amusing.   Ummm, take some ground beef and make a patty….

Duilio was in his glory.  He had fun playing and couldn’t wait for the opening of the presents (of course).    Russell stood guard while he opened the presents since some of the little ones were trying to help.  He had to get pretty tough with them. 

It was a relief to be finished but we were happy we did it.  This week I’m going to do a whole lot of nuthin’.

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I’ve been off the blog-o-sphere because I’ve been planning the birthday party of the century.  At least it feels that way to me.  Whenever it comes to something for the kids, I get a little crazy.   We’re also not following some of the “rules” of birthday parties in Salerno.    All kids in a class (25 by the way) are invited which we did do.  They’re normally held in the evening in a Ludoteca (a party playplace) because not many people can fit nor want 30 to 50 people in their apartment.   We’re holding it at our place from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.    We’re lucky enough to have a garden large enough to accommodate the party.    Cross your fingers for good weather.   It’s looking good so far.  Today was sunny and 75°F.  (I know, I know.  Shut up and stop gloating about the weather.   Being a New England girl, I’m amazed that people actually live in a place where it isn’t cold and snowy for a good part of the year.)

I unwittingly caused confusion with the invitations.  People were unsure if parents could stay (due to lack of space).   Would lunch be served?  I had to create a follow up notice to clarify!   I’m afraid they will all come out of curiosity.   Oh, and forget getting RSVPs.   Not done here.  I only got about 5 and those when I saw the mothers in passing.    We’ll either run out of food or be eating little pizzas and hotdogs for a week. 

Planning this party has taken a lot out of me.    It’s not like I can go over to Walmart and the party store for all my party needs.  It’s been a path of discovery.  Not easy for someone who speaks really bad Italian.   I was really stumped on creating a cake.  Duilio chose The Pink Panther as his theme.    If he would have chosen Ben 10 or Bakugan, it would have been a cake walk (ha, ha).    I had to go pay homage to La Regina delle Torte (the Queen of Cakes).  This mother created the most awesome cake for her boy.  It was a massive and magnificent Gormiti cake.  She told me that she starts planning the cake a year ahead.    (Seriously?!)    Anyway after some laborious conversation, she directed me to a store called “Candy, Candy”.  Very cool little store.  Again, laborious conversation at the store and was told I could design a cake top that they turn into a cardboard-like edible topping.  Design something on the computer, right up my alley!  Check it out.

Almost ready.  Activities and games are planned.  Help from a friend is lined up.  A big day of baking tomorrow then the event on Saturday.    Wish me luck!  I’m definitely going to need a mimosa (or 2) at the party to calm my nerves….