After our morning activities around the TLF, the girls and I walked to the thrift store, which was open for a "bag sale." We were able to fill a bag for $7! (The bags they provided were $5, but we brought our own bag which was bigger.) We got a ton of great stuff. I scored 4 sleeveless running shirts and a running bra--I had been looking at them in the NEX, and they were anywhere from $30-50 per item, so those alone were worth the effort to walk there and back! We also got dress shoes for the girls plus an assortment of clothes for just about everyone. Hooray!
We walked back to the TLF so we could get ready to leave base--WOOHOO!! I have to say we've all been getting stir crazy around here! I had been corresponding all week via email and Facebook with a new friend, Tanya, who had gotten my info from somewhere along the way (the Key Spouse here sent out some notes to homeschool families when I had let her know that I'd be looking for homeschool connections). Tanya offered to come pick the kids and me up and take us to her house for a break from the monotony of being stuck in a 2-bedroom apartment, and I gladly took her up on that!
Before we actually met in person, I learned that Tanya and her husband Clay have 5 children, two of whom they have adopted from China. She is passionate about her family, adoption, homeschooling, and Jesus. I was so excited to get to spend time with her! She had told me that the unit next to theirs had been empty, and she was hoping that we'd love her house (the empty unit is a mirror image of it) and move into it. After seeing a few houses the day before, I was more than willing to see something else!
We left Zaden with Ted in the TLF, as Tanya only has a minivan, and her husband had to work anyway. We immediately began talking as if we'd known each other forever--it was wonderful! She was watching the son and daughter of a friend of hers as well, so Amanda (the mom) was home with the rest of the kids while Tanya chauffeured us from the support site. We chatted with Amanda before she left to do a Silpada party (she gave me some info on doing home-based businesses here), and then Tanya called to order real Naples pizza for us for lunch!
We visited more while waiting for the pizza. She gave me a tour of her house, and then we got to go and see the empty unit next door. It was helpful to see both furnished and empty, as I was able to see what pieces are available from the housing warehouse (items like wardrobes and appliances are loaned out here for the duration of the assignment). Let me just say...I was SOLD! The floor plan was amazing--similar to house #2 as far as space, but nicer and newer like house #3 from the day before. The views were incredible. The beach is within walking distance. The parco (that's what they call these duplexes or units or whatever) is double-gated, so the security issue was much better than house #3 (which only had a front gate and then had the problem with the empty lots around it). Having a Christian homeschooling family as instant neighbors was the icing on the cake! I took lots of pictures; here are a few.
|This is Tanya's kitchen. Her table is about as big as ours when we have the leaf in to seat 10!|
|Good-sized room in the basement of the empty house. Behind the partitions is the laundry area.|
|Main floor bathroom|
|The street below--the first gate is at the end. There are 6 units on this street.|
|The Mediterranean Sea in the distance!|
Tanya and I enjoyed visiting for literally hours. The kids played very well together. Corinna is 12, and she and Charis got along fabulously--they are both artsy, creative girls! Tobin and Arden played with Matthew (10) and Jaden, the boy Tanya was babysitting. The boys mostly did Wii games, a first since we arrived in Italy! Kenna happily played with Ada, Jaden's sister, and Carmen (9). Wren (3) floated around playing with whoever was around, and Lucan happily wandered about watching and playing wherever.
The lunch was fantastic! We've decided we LOVE Neapolitan pizza! And there were these salty fried dough balls with seaweed in them called zeppolini--amazing! She even treated us to the dessert pizza--which is covered with Nutella. Oh, my!
It was amazing how quickly time passed. Around 5:30 we loaded up the minivan to come back to our TLF, where Ted had dinner waiting for us. (Hooray for frozen lasagna! Ted was able to have a relaxing day, too!) We learned that Ted's excursion to test drive a commuter car was successful as well, so it looks like we'll be getting a car on Tuesday. Hooray!
All in all, it was a wonderful, wonderful day. I feel very blessed to have met Tanya and look forward to getting to know her and her family better in the coming days.
Unfortunately, I awoke this morning to the very sad news that the house we had all fallen in love with and were already envisioning ourselves living in is already under contract. I literally felt sick to my stomach. But I know--KNOW--that God has something wonderful for us. I just pray it will include a Christian family to be our neighbors!!