Feeding children in Italy

I read a lot of food blogs, both the recipe ones that inspire me to try something new, or simply trigger my drool reflex, and the real food / traditional food ones that inspire me to eat better, treat my body better, and make better, simpler choices for my family. And I’ve noticed a giant chasm between how kids are fed in the US compared to Italy. I had never really thought about it, but now, what with the internet broadcasting everyone’s opinions and choices (and judgments) all over the place, one tends to notice things more.

For example, American kids seem to snack all the time. When they were toddlers I wouldn’t leave the house without a snack, whatever time of day it was, and sure this did save me occasionally, when I was running late, to avert hunger related meltdowns, it isn’t really necessary beyond the initial toddler phase when they haven’t yet completely regulated their meal times. And yet, if I’m going to go somewhere for any extended amount of time I feel the need to bring a snack. Italian kids don’t snack. They have three main meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner and a snack around four o’clock. All kids eat like this. They don’t munch on crackers at the super market. Mothers don’t cut up carrots to take with them every time they leave the house. And the kids somehow survive. That was the first difference I noticed.

The second difference I noticed was when they started preschool. My kids go to a small (tiny) neighborhood preschool, there are only about thirty-five kids aged 3 to 6. They have three teachers, the janitor, and a cook. The cook is beloved by all. Every morning she goes around to our little village shops (which are nothing more than a butcher, a mini market, and a bakery) and she buys whatever vegetables are freshest, whatever meat looks good, and the freshly baked bread for the kids’ lunch. Sure, she has to follow the dietary guidelines of the Italian health ministry, but basically she’s like a mom cooking for her kids.

In typical Italian tradition, the children get a primo (first course – which is generally soup, or pasta, or risotto) and then a secondo with vegetables (main course – generally protein, meat, fish, an omelets etc.), occasionally they get a one-course meal, like pizza or polenta with meat sauce, but that’s a special occasion and usually includes a salad. Dessert is always fruit, or fruit salad, once a week it’s either pudding or yoghurt. They eat really well. They only drink water. They take turns, setting the tables and passing around the breadbasket and then clearing the tables, wiping them down and putting the chairs up for the floors to be cleaned. They love being in charge of something. There are even days, when the cook makes fresh pasta that the kids go up and help her, once a year they make pizza as an activity and then eat it. I have a lot to complain about in Italy, and I certainly have my share of frustration at three-year olds being served coke at birthday parties (because three-year olds really need the caffeine rush), but the school system really has its stuff together, at least food-wise. Children don’t pack their lunches here, it’s all provided by the state. Of course, not all school get the quality that we do because some schools don’t have a cook on staff but outsource to a caterer so the food is reheated and sometimes over cooked, but still the meals are well-balanced and nutritious.

So for once, a post wherein I don’t complain about Italy, where kids eat really well even at school, which should surprise absolutely no one considering how obsessed Italians are with their food!

Song of Summer

It’s August, it’s the middle of summer here. Things are winding down in the US, schools are starting up, life is going back to normal, yet here we’re still in the thick of things. In fact, the Husband hasn’t even had his vacation yet. Summer is a strange time, I find, and this summer has been stranger than most.

I take off for the beach with the kids by mid June and I’m there, suspended in a sort of limbo, until the end of July. The days run into each other, people come down for a few days, this year I’ve had to come home every so often for the never-ending story that is the money pit, we get up, we go to the beach, we come home, we do chores, we watch more tv than we should, we play silly games, we argue and yell more than we do at home. It’s a strange dynamic that comes with summer, we become a one-parent family for most of the week, with nothing to do and no seeming structure but the structure imposed on us by our human needs and cravings and by the rhythm of the sun’s rising and setting.

I’ve never really wanted a house at the beach before getting this one. I hated the idea of always going to the same place, of feeling constrained and obliged to go there because it was just sitting there waiting for us. But now I appreciate the familiarity of going to the same place every year, the shopkeepers’ greetings, the special attention, the small discounts reserved for “friends” that we get at all the little shops. The Children enjoy meeting their friends at the beach every year, a year older, wiser, all from different cities, but with the same desire to leave their hometowns, their schools, their city friends behind and just dig holes together in the sand. What is it about digging holes in the sand? What’s the appeal? And yet it’s not just the children who do it, I find myself digging holes for no reason, at first with my foot, and absent-minded movement, but soon I’m getting in there with my hands with gusto, up to my elbows just digging away with the intensity of one looking for some long-lost treasure.

Our beach place makes me happy. I’m not sure what it is. I like that it’s small but large enough to have friends stay, I like that the kitchen/living room is just one large (ish) area so that the children are always under foot, I like that it’s easy to clean and take care of, it reminds me of living in Milan going to school, a simple life made of basic needs and pleasures.

We’re home now, the seaside magic always ends with the coming of August and the crowds that descend during the official Italian vacation month. Our wandering days aren’t over, of course, we’re of to the french Riviera for a few days to visit the Nonni and then to the mountains of Trentino for the Husbands official holiday. When we get home, we’ll have to gear up for the Boy’s first grade debut, which is making me especially maudlin this summer. How does time go by so quickly, how is he starting first grade already? How are we still here in this two-horse podunk town? I went on the International School of Turin’s website the other day and got all in a lather that I can’t send the Boy to school there (too far). This isn’t where I thought we’d be at this point. It’s so strange (and somewhat disheartening) how our lives tend to go down unexpected paths despite years of methodical and meticulous planning. I’m trying to hang on to summer’s insouciance but I already feel the tendrils of my temporarily abated control-freakishness creeping in and getting a hold on me. But I’m still holding on to the summer song with a strong grip as the raindrops start falling like every afternoon, and hopefully this small hint of anxiety that’s starting up will be washed away with the summer storm.

A lot like giving up

Every time I open the BonnyBard file to write another entry on the blog it shocks me how long it’s been since my last one. When I wrote on Moomser I managed to write at least three times a week and read and comment on loads of blogs, now it’s a miracle if I remember to open my mac every three days to check my email. I’m not exactly sure what has changed. My time is distributed differently: I exercise more, I have a lot more to do with the new house, I have less help, but the kids are also older and in school longer, and I’m not in the hospital with the husband for hours on end anymore. Yet I can’t seem to find the time to write. And when I do, it’s because I’ve got crap to work out. I’m starting to annoy even myself! But in the spirit of letting go and trying not to control everything I’m just trying to take things as they are, observe them, take note of them and then just sort of letting them work themselves out. Not exactly sure how that’s working out for me yet.

I had a mini meltdown today. I was sitting in the kitchen with the kids and the Husband comes in, does something funny, and I crack up. For a full ten minutes. I laugh until I get tears in my eyes from laughing, I start to get over it, the mirth gets ahold of me again, over and over for what feels like forever. Initially, it feels good, liberating, but then I realize I’m not really enjoying the laughter, it’s kind of hysterical and maybe I need a good slap to shock myself out of it. And then the laughter turned to tears, not actual crying tears but just sort of crying tears. Enough so that my kids started giving me funny looks but not so bad that they didn’t believe me when I said they were tears of laughter. Even though they weren’t, not really.

This past year has been so hard. Not in any tangible sense, nothing I can really explain that would make sense to others, but it’s been hard. The Husband and I can’t seem to connect, we try, we’ve got great days, good weeks, and then just completely hopeless days and weeks. I no longer feel like my only option is divorce, I’ve seen the consequences on a friend and her children up close and personal and I would really rather not go through that. Even though, I, unlike her, am not completely dependent on my husband financially. Yet nor do I see a way out of this slump, I don’t have the hope and blinding optimism required to pick up and leave, certain that something much better awaits me. I don’t think my life would be better with another man (who?), nor do I think it would be better if I were to be alone. I just want the marriage that I’m in, with the husband that I have, to work itself out. I’ve done all I can do, I’ve tried it all. At this point I think he’s the one that needs to work stuff out, and mostly he agrees, he just hasn’t found the energy or the motivation to do it. But all this waiting around is taking its toll on me.

I’ve learned, through trial and error, that I can’t control everything, no matter how much I may want to, or how much easier it would be if I could. I cannot keep hitting my head on the wall. But letting things go, and waiting patiently to see if they improve, if someone else takes the reins… well, that’s no easier. It’s just as painful and it’s just as much hard work, though in a different direction. Hence the hysterics.

This is all I can say on the subject, I’ve put it out there, and hope it makes me feel better, or not. Who knows. This feels a lot like giving up, and it’s not a good feeling.

Like a dagger, or a whisper

Recently, something happened that touched me, pleased me, and broke my heart all at the same time. A girl wrote me… well, let’s be honest, a woman wrote me, a woman my age, which is why I wrote girl just now… when will I start perceiving myself and my contemporaries as the old fogies we are rather than the adolescent I believe myself to be? Yet that is neither here nor there.

So this woman wrote me an email, she’d been reading my old blog, moomser, and was asking if I’d moved elsewhere, so I redirected her here. I asked a bit about her and the email that followed broke my heart and made me cry. Actual, literal, tears.

Many moons ago I wrote a post titled “There, but for the grace of God” (http://moomser.blogspot.it/2011/11/there-but-for-grace-of-god.html) , take a minute to read it if you’re up to it, because nothing I’ve experienced so far has once brought me that feeling of having barely avoided tragedy so much as the email I received a few days hence. This woman who wrote me, she could have been me, or rather I could have been her; her situation was so similar, so similar and yet, as she says herself, so different. And reading her email, it made me ashamed, because for months, for years, even now, I concentrate on the consequences of The Husband’s illness, and there are still many, but at the end of the day I still have a husband, my children still have their father. And she does not.

I cannot even imagine, my brain refuses to imagine, how that feels.

I’m going to be brutally honest for a minute here, please don’t judge me too harshly…. there are days, in fact, there are entire weeks, where the Husband and I don’t get along, at all, and I have more than once entertained the thought that my life would be easier if he had died. Yes. I actually just wrote that. Out loud, as it were. I can barely bring myself to reread the words. Not my children’s lives, of course, I would never wish something like that on them, but my life, yes. At times I’ve though that had he not survived the illness then I would have mourned for him, I would have grieved, it would have been unspeakably difficult, but I would have healed and moved on, as I’ve seen countless people do. I would not be fighting to fit this new person I am married to (because the illness has inevitably changed him) into a box shaped like my old husband. The leukemia and all that came after changed him, as it changed me, but sometimes it’s hard to be married to a person so different from the person you married. So I’ve (callously) wondered “what if” in my darkest moments. And now I feel ashamed.

The email I received was in no way self-pitying, it was upbeat, engaging and she spent more time talking about the similarities between our situations than the differences, but the differences are what broke my heart. I cried for this woman I’ve never met and I cringed at all the posts I’ve written complaining about the Husband for this and that other reason. Because I still have a husband, and my children still have a father, and that is a much bigger blessing than I often realize.

Over the years I’ve been contacted by several women in my, or similar, situation, but I’ve gradually moved away from the illness and that period in my life and I’ve lost touch with most of them. Although I still wonder about each and every one of them, how they’re faring, how their stories continued… but this last woman, well she touched me in a way few people have in my life, because, well, truly, there but for the grace of God go I.

All this to say, every time I get a comment or an email from a reader, it teaches me something about life, about love, about death and sorrow and pain, but also hope, and happiness and health, it touches my heart like a dagger, or a slap, or a whisper, or a caress, but it never, ever leaves me indifferent. So thank you. Thank you for reading, thank you for writing, for reaching out, thank you for being a part of my life.

Rolling hills and verdant valleys, dammit!

The problem with the small, dinky, one horse town we live in is that it’s in a truly beautiful area:

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I recklessly took this picture as I was driving the kids to their swimming lessons yesterday. These hurried, one handed, trying to drive, iphone shots don’t do it justice, and proper photos like The Husband takes, with his professional camera and lenses and filters galore just make it look fake, like it’s too perfect it simply cannot but be photoshopped (even though it’s not). This place is positively magnificent, mountains and hills all around you, never ending fields, grass swaying gently in the breeze, majestic trees, wildflowers of every hue as far as the eye can see. And in the fall… well, autumn is my favorite season, the yellows and oranges, the pops of blood red… it’s dizzying.

It’s like nature is whispering “stay…” in my ear with the wind. Of course we’re staying a few more years, I mean we haven’t even moved into the new house yet (I bet you’d forgotten all about that!) but ever since I went to Houston in March my heart kind of wants to be stateside.

I went to Houston for a myriad of complicated reasons that aren’t really my story to tell right now, suffice it to say that there were absolutely non-tragic, yet still quite stressful family reasons for my going, and I went pretty much from one day to the next (which in mom speak means I only had a week to organize the care of my children for ten days which is essentially only marginally less complicated than a military operation to invade a moderately sized country from three sides). It was my first time in Houston alone since I went for the Boy’s baby shower six and a half years ago, and then I was pregnant so I couldn’t even drink. It felt exactly like coming home from University all those years. I stepped off the plane, completely free and unencumbered (and relatively well rested), and I partied and relaxed for a week (and dealt with some stuff, but I’ve almost forgotten all that).

My mom would wake me at ten (10!!) with a cup of freshly brewed coffee from the best coffeemaker ever invented (the Keurig), and then I would idle the entire day by, eating, shopping, hanging out with friends, going to fabulous restaurants with my Mom and Brother… I went out drinking – and now I got a major craving for a Shiner and fried pickles – and I could drink all the beer I wanted and I could even finish the night off with a jack and coke because I was responsible for no one but myself for the entire night. It was liberating and so much fun!

 

And mostly all it did was make me miss home and want to move back to Houston. Although, I know that those ten days were a break, an anomaly, that if I moved there my life would move along with me, and thank god for that. But still, I love Houston, I miss my family, and I miss my friends. So sometimes I fantasize about moving home. I especially fantasize about that when it’s been snowing for what feels like fourth months straight here.

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And then you get days like this… gorgeous, sunny, crisp, the hills all rolling, the mountains all peaky with a dusting of snow, and you get that “Sound of Music” induced feeling of singing and prancing on the hills and then you start to feel like eh, you could stay here a while longer…. And that’s the point where I start hyperventilating myself into a panic attack because the verdant hills are actually covered in snow and ice four to five months a year.

So this is where I’m at, confused as ever, foot in one shoe on either side of the pond, and craving fried pickles and an ice cold Shiner.

 

Mind over matter

I wrote this post in March. How I keep writing stuff and then not posting it is beyond me. Sooo, I’m posting it now, two months later. I’ll get into my Houston trip next I expect, just  to catch y’all up. 

I’m on a plane again, on my way to Houston, for some reason flying solo always inspires me to write for the blog. I imagine it has a lot to do with finding myself suddenly stuck to a seat for hours on end with no one to tend to and the realization that there are only so many movies one can watch before all one’s brain cells simultaneously go on strike. Although, one of the movies I just watched, Last Vegas, kind of inspired this post. Michael Douglas, talking about his age says something like: My brain cannot comprehend how old this body is… I can’t reference the exact line right now as Air France still hasn’t figured out how to make wi.fi available on its flights (I assume it has a lot to do with the fact that we’re crossing an ocean), and I’ll probably be too lazy to do it once I land, but that was the gist of it. Also, let me just say that I had to take a minute and really think about it when I wrote Michael Douglas because in my head the “old one” is Kirk Douglas (R.I.P.), when did Michael Douglas get so old?

It really struck a chord. I often look in the mirror, surprised at the almost forty year old staring back at me. In my head I’m in my twenties… hell, often I’m just a teenager trying to avoid doing her homework, wondering where all the adults went. No, seriously, where did the adults go?

One of the signs that you’re a grown up, in my opinion, is when you realize that there are no grown ups, everyone’s winging it, just like you, There are no grown ups… frightening. Someone, somewhere, once told me not to treat old people like old people, because they were young just a minute ago, young and falling in love, working, starting their families, living their lives, exploring the world, and their heads hadn’t yet caught up with their bodies. Their heads hadn’t caught up with their bodies. Mine certainly hasn’t yet, and I’m not even forty.

My dad worked till the day he died at 80, I’ve always thought he was superman, but I’m beginning to think he just never realized he was eighty. He never let his body limit him, he lived his life mind over matter, until the very end, and that’s definitely not a bad thing.

There are a lot of things my mind cannot comprehend about life, but I no longer view this necessarily as a limitation.

It’s funny, last night I was reading the kids a book called I love you forever (incidentally, creepiest mother figure ever, sneaking into her kids room, crawling up to the bed on all fours, and picking him up to rock him while he slept… she does this when he’s an adult living in his own house too, drives over in the dead of night with a ladder tied to the car, climbs through the window cat burglar style and rocks her adult son in his sleep… and he doesn’t wake up… seriously I hear psycho when I read it. End of tangent), anyway, the mother obviously gets older in the book and at the end she’s a little old woman (a little old psycho woman) and my daughter turns to me and says “who’s the grandma?” and I explained that the old lady was the mother in the story, but as the boy grew up she got older and when he’s a grown man she’s a grandma, and then I told them that when they are grown ups I’ll be a grandma too. They looked at me wide-eyed and laughed in my face, such was the absurdity of the words coming out of my mouth. They started joking about how my hair would be white, and I would be small and frail… they were teasing me, like that would actually never happen. Because in their little kid heads it’s absurd that I would get old and change. But what’s even absurder (as they would say) is that though I rationally get that I’m going to be old and gray at some point, I don’t really believe it, I can’t wrap my mind around it, I, quite simply cannot comprehend it, just like they can’t.

The good thing is that not being able to wrap my mind around certain things, like the fact that my body is slowly aging, is that there are no limitations to the breadth and scope of what I think I can achieve. Thinking I am young means endless possibilities, means new beginnings, means I don’t have to be tied down to what I’ve achieved up to now. Feeling young is feeling free, I still often have the same excitement at what comes next that I had in my early twenties, without most of the insecurities. Sure, at some point my body will make itself heard, it will limit me in it’s ability to do what I want it to do, but my mind, it’s free to imagine whatever it wants, to believe that anything is possible and that is supremely liberating. I’m sure my mind will never comprehend how old my body gets, but that just means I get to be young forever. And THAT’s not such a bad thing.

Happy Birthday Darling Boy

This post is a month late, the Boy’s birthday is February 19th. I’m a terrible blogger / mother, but so far as I can ignore this blog for extended periods of time, I still can’t let a birthday go by unnoticed, the yearly letter unwritten, because my children are probably going to be the only two people in the world really interested in what I have to say, I’m mostly doing this for them and for myself so there are moments in time that can’t be ignored for this whole blog endeavor to make any kind of sense.

Anyway… here goes:

Happy Birthday Darling Boy, you are six years old. Six years old is so, so big! When I held you in my arms as a newborn I couldn’t even begin to fathom six years of being your mother. You are so grown up, that at times I hardly recognize you, you are so big and tall that I often wonder how on earth you managed to fit into my belly. You start elementary school this year and it feels like which school to send you is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. You are starting to want to be independent, you want to ride your bike around the block alone, and you want me to leave you at home when I go pick up your sister from her friend’s house, literally a 3 minute walk away. I constantly struggle with letting you spread your wings and my obsessive fear of some terrible tragedy befalling you, of the shady, lurking predator, of the car coming too fast, of the silly yet serious accident. How do I protect you while allowing you to learn independence from me? This is the modern mother’s biggest conundrum!

You are learning to write words, and one of your favorite pastimes is just copying words from whatever text you find, a while back you came to me, all proud of yourself, waving a piece of paper where you had copied all the words on the vacuum cleaner, of all things. You love watching leapfrog videos on words and letters and reading. My goal this year before you start school is to start teaching you to read in English. I wish I remembered how I learned to read in English, because it’s completely different from Italian, and I think it’s better for you to learn English first. I’m not sure yet how I’m going to do it, but I try my best!

You can now have a full conversation with me in English, which makes me so happy! You’re still shy around others, but it helps that many of your friends speak English to their parents too, so it’s not quite so weird.

You started playing soccer this year, you love it, it’s one of the few things you never ever complain about, especially since we bought you your first pair of indoor/synthetic grass cleats. You are so precise with all the footwork, you work really hard at it, and you run up and down the field like a maniac when you play a game. You’re still a little unsure about taking the ball and running with it, but you’ll get there!

We just finished the skiing season, as usual the first five weeks you’re super excited and can’t wait to get your skis on, and then the last few weeks it’s a battle of the wills to get you out of the house! But you’re a natural. This year, first lesson of the season, you put your skis on and you took of for the ski lift like a pro, on your own, no questions asked. You did not get your skiing abilities from me!

You are still the whiny willy of the family, when you’re tired or something makes you mad or upsets you, hoo boy! Let’s just say I sit back and let you rant, there have been times when you have gotten on a roll that you’ve ranted even half an hour none stop, pacing up and down the house, waving your arms, occasionally wailing and crying but mostly complaining about how unfair life is, how terrible being you is, and how horrid your parents and/or sister are. Let’s just say you have a flair for the dramatic. Thankfully these performances only happen every couple of months, and mostly you are a pretty easygoing guy. I guess you just occasionally need a good vent, and who can blame you.

You are still an awesome big brother, though you are starting to complain more when your sister gets on your nerves. I’m pretty sure things will be better once you’re in elementary school and not interacting so much on a daily basis. When she’s not around though you walk aimlessly around the house, bored out of your mind, cause you miss her.

I wish you would ask for cuddles more often, I try not to smother you, but sometimes you just look like you need them. I love that you always draw me with freakishly long arms, and when someone asks you to explain, you always answer that it’s because I give big hugs.

You are my favorite guy, you amaze me every day, you bring a smile to my face, a spring to my step, you make my heart sing, I love you miles and miles,

Mama

A little optimism this way comes…

There seems to be a lot going on extended family wise lately.  Birthdays, pregnancies, drama… All families have drama, I know, but my tolerance for it is getting shorter and shorter as the years go by. I’ve probably simply just had my fill of it, between the Girl’s birth, the Husband’s illness, the in-laws’ health and financial insanity, the nanny leaving us, we’ve had drama up the wazoo. And now, well, now, I just try to live my life as drama free as possible, if only other people’s drama would quit encroaching on my oasis of level-headed beatitude (or so I wish it were).

My Grandma turned one hundred and four years old yesterday. 104. Every birthday that goes by is more amazing than the last. Obviously, we went down to Sao Paulo (Brazil) for the celebration.

For the first time ever the Husband managed to join us. We were supposed to be there two weeks, one of which would have been at the beach but of course the Husband’s entirely too short umbilical cord with the office started tugging at him and we had to change our plans and only stay one week (office drama). It was fantastic, though, to spend a week in the sweltering heat of the Brazilian summer coming from the dead of the most annoying winter we’ve had here. We haven’t had much snow (other than, typically, on the day before we left for and the day we returned from Brazil) but everyone’s been crazy sick, for months, just one thing after the other. I was sick literally from January 1st until halfway through the trip, so a little over a month, with everything under the sun, from laryngitis to bronchitis to sinusitis with and without the sniffles, fever, etc,etc, and the kids right along with me. The only healthy member of the family, shockingly and happily, was the husband. God only knows how that happened.

Suffice it to say, I was thoroughly enjoying being healthy and in flip-flops, I had absolutely no desire to come back to the crappy weather we’ve been having in Italy, I even briefly considered mutinously (and passive-aggressively) “losing” our passports.

So back to my Grandma or Vovo as we call her in Portuguese, her birthday went by without a hitch, she had a great week, she was very lucid and communicative. We don’t really understand her much when she speaks, which is tied to her age, but she’s perfectly capable of making herself understood. She spent a fair amount of time sitting in the living room watching the kids playing and going through the picture albums I take her every year, she had fun at her party and had her fill of champagne. What more can we ask for?

And now we’re back, hoping that “The Money Pit”, i.e. the stupid stable we’re still renovating, will soon be finished (and by soon I mean before retirement), settling back into our routine of school, skiing, and surviving the winter blues. The days are finally getting longer, if not warmer, there’s still some sunlight when we leave the house at 5.30 for soccer, which makes a gigantic difference, as you really feel like you’re finally on the better side of winter (the one closest to the end).

I have a weird excitement this year of good things to come, I can almost smell spring, I can almost see the end of the money pit sucking away at all our money, I can see better health, better weather, better moods just beyond my fingertips, but so close, so close, I just need to stretch a little bit more.

I guess that’s the best part of our trip to Brazil, all it takes is a few days with family, with nice weather, with good food, with love and just like that a little optimism this way comes…

 

New Year, Old life

I like the idea of fresh starts. The new year, my birthday, a fresh season, heck, even a new month, these are all occasions that trigger expectations of new beginnings, renewed efforts, opportunities… but not this year. This year I don’t want to start out with resolutions, with hopeful plans of a new and improved me. This year I’ve decided to start out with more acceptance of the old me, the flawed, familiar me. I have a whole list of things I’d like to do, I’d like to finally completely eliminate processed foods and artificial products from my life, I’d like to exercise more, I want to get back in a dance studio, I want to be more patient, more fun, a better more engaging mother. I want to be a nicer wife, I want to have more sex, I want to lose lots and lots of weight, I want to be healthy, and less tired and less irritable… I could go on for pages…. But that’s exactly what I don’t want to do this year. I don’t want to start the year with a series of HAVE TOs.

In fact, I’m going to try to not make plans for “this year” at all. All I want is to be happy. Happy, right now, today. I don’t even want to worry about being happy tomorrow, or next month, or when spring arrives, I don’t want to worry at all, in fact.

I realize I’m not going to be able to eliminate worry from my life completely, I’m always going to worry about certain things, I just want to let go of some of the completely useless weight I’ve been carrying on my shoulders forever. I want my life to be lighter, both in weight and in intensity, I want it to be light as air, light as a bright sunny day, light as when you’re floating in the sea in the summer.

I’m a control freak, but I want to let go of some of the control. I’m tired of fighting to control the things I have no actual control over. I’m not saying I’m planning on becoming a completely laid back person. I’m not, I couldn’t, there’s not enough weed in the world for that… I’m always going to fight to get dinner on the table at 7 no matter what the circumstances are, but there are some fights I’m just not willing to fight anymore.

Being happy, happy with me, happy with life… it seems so simple and yet so daunting. So that’s my plan, that’s my goal, for right this minute and hopefully the next one and the next, but I’m not going to worry about them, I’m only thinking about right now for now.

 

So, friends, Happy New Year, may 2014 be whatever you want it to be, and may you always love yourself and be good to yourself… because, well, you’re with yourself a lot, aren’t you now…

Venice, eternally beautiful (or for however long it lasts)

Birthdays are pretty important to me. My mom always made a big deal of our birthdays, it was probably the time of year when she made the biggest effort when it came to us kids, it was our special day. This is in sharp contrast to the Husband’s family that made a huge gigantic, twenty really awesome presents per kid on Christmas, but not much fanfare at all on birthdays. All this to say, I like to make a big deal of birthdays, I mean before kids I would have week-long celebrations for my own birthday (just to give you a frame of reference). But, for whatever reason, I never seem to manage to make a big deal, or even any deal at all, of the Husband’s birthday, this year I completely forgot to even wish him a Happy Birthday until he hemmed and hawed for a while… poor thing. And this year, of all years, I should have remembered… because this year his birthday present from me was a weekend in Venice. I mean, we woke up in a hotel in Venice and quite literally the only reason we were there was for his birthday, and still I forgot. Not sure what deeply rooted psychological issue is going on there…

Anyway… I had good intentions… His birthday is so close to Christmas, and I’m so crap at celebrating it, that this year I organized a family trip so he would have something special. I had just read one of those apocalyptic meme’s on facebook about the ten (or twenty or something like that) places to visit before they disappeared forever and Venice was on the list. It’s relatively close to us (compared to, say, the great barrier reef in Australia) and it’s off season there now so hotels do not require one to take out a loan to pay for them as they do in high season.  It was a wonderful trip.

We drove an hour to Turin and took the train there for Venice. It was the kids’ first train trip and the excitement was palpable. I’m sure all the other passengers were just as thrilled. Everything was cause for wonder, especially the bathroom, as evidenced by the frequent trips we took there.

The hotel was great, I would definitely suggest it if you’re ever in that neck of the woods, Hotel Moresco. It’s a small, very new hotel, the staff is very helpful, the prices are average for Venice, the position is quite good without being too touristy, and the rooms are large, clean, and modern (also wifi is free, which is not standard in Italy).

We arrived Friday evening, Saturday was freezing cold and foggy, perfect for a romantic gondola ride…

And Sunday and Monday morning were beautiful and sunny. Overall, we had a wonderful, if slightly more expensive than expected, time. Even though we forgot to wish the Husband a Happy Birthday.