December 2009: family status-check [of trivialities, faves and hobbies]

Things simmer in my mind, tiny little things I want to remember never to forget. It occurred to me to take a snapshot of our lives, not of the photo variety but more of a mental, emotional, geographical freeze frame. So I set out to check-in with our family of four: of where we are with regard to current reads, favorite foods, recent memories and more. This is a quick-list, far from exhausting, but a good start:

Nicknames. What was your nickname in school? We didn't have a lot of nicknames, but this trip and circumstance seems to be fertile ground for upgrading names and attaching new ones. During our summer of cycling from Amsterdam to Paris, we called Anthony 'the cat,' and Caleb 'grease monkey.' Anthony's bike would catch a rut and throw him---on occasion---and we have multiple stories of him somehow flying off his bike and landing, uncannily, on his feet. After a day of cycling, Caleb would often have greasy proof of our day's ride. Somehow the back of his calves and his greased up bike chains had an affinity for one another.

Italy provided an entirely different proposition: new first names. Because Caleb and Janelle are a difficult to say in Italian, we have since adopted new names. We knew 'Caleb' was a mouthful in the Italian language, so we told him he could use his middle name instead. He became Francesco at school and on the soccer field. He has since gained two more nicknames: 'Franchi' (pronounced Frankie) from his soccer buddies, and 'Maio' (pronounced /My-oh/) from his coach---obviously a shortened version of our last name. Janelle is tough to say, so James started calling me Gina... and seems to get a royal kick out of it. James is Giacomo---an easy translation from English to Italian; Anthony is Antonio, with the added bonus of his mom regularly calling him 'Anto'---a common nickname for Antonio.

That was long-winded, these are not:

current favorite cereal: Anthony Miele Pops (think honey Kix) and Caleb cocoa pops. There are a LOT fewer options here!).

current hobbies:
Caleb is enjoying painting, guitar, collecting gems/minerals and sketching/researching cars.
Anthony is busy making ornaments, house design, reading, and researching Fantasy Premier League (our family of four compete online in fantasy soccer); he is also looking into fantasy stock exchange(s).
James and Janelle are into touring Florence, tasting wine and food, researching business opportunities and blogging/journaling/collecting souvenirs. Oh, and Janelle loves loves loves cooking Italian food!

fave souvenirs:
Caleb: gems
Anthony: tiles from Orvieto, San Gimignano, Florence and Pisa
James: Poggio Amorelli wine box (plus contents)
Janelle: metal chef (handcrafted metal wine-bottle holder, made to look like a chef); Christmas sangria pitcher (James just bought for me!)

current read:
Caleb: Hamish X and the Cheese Pirates by Sean Cullen
Anthony: The Firm by John Grisham
James: The Firm by John Grisham
Janelle: Mario Batali's Molto Italiano cookbook

favorite store:
Caleb: Mineral Shop (Florence)
Anthony: unknown
James: Oibo (actually a cafe, but we buy our morning espresso and pastries there...)
Janelle: euro store for inexpensive decor and dried goods, and Pep Bizzarrie in Castellini in Chianti---easily my favorite ceramic shop.

current favorite meal:
Caleb: "I have had too many great meals in my life, I could never ever decide which one was the best."
Anthony: Thanksgiving (esp. raspberry balsamic sauce, turkey, squash risotto and wheat rolls)
James: wild boar sauce on soft polenta
Janelle: wild boar sauce on soft polenta (aka polenta and cinghiali ragu)

favorite Italian cities:
Caleb: Volterra, Sienna
Anthony: Bologna, Sienna
James: Lucca, Orvieto
Janelle: Bologna (due to best meal ever), San Gimignano, Orvieto

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