One week down, how many more to go?

Week one of school is finished, and I survived. Unbelievable. Because, let’s be honest here, getting the kids back on a school schedule after the summer is much harder work for Mom than for anyone else in the family. I’m not a morning person, and quite probably neither are my kids, whether it’s survival instinct (who knows what I would have done with one of those children who wakes up every morning at 6.30 all chirpy and talkative?) or their natural inclination I have no idea, either way, I tried to bring their wake up time up (and consequently all the related sleep times up) for the two weeks prior to this and I clearly failed, if the amount of tantrums, hysterical, over-tired crying fits, middle of the night wake up calls, and generalized grumpiness are any indication. I’m hoping this week will be better.

Although, as I started planning their weekly activities I already wanted to pull out all my hair… I don’t know how mothers with more than two kids do it (and I quite envy mothers of singletons right now, for organizational purposes, at least). The Boy wants to play soccer this year, they start them at 6 here, but as he’s tall they’ll take him anyway, the Girls wants to do a dance class, and I would like them to do a swimming course before the start of the skiing season. It shouldn’t be that complicated, I thought, I don’t want to over book them, but an activity each and a joint one shouldn’t overextend us. I am so naïve.

Oh, and I need to keep one afternoon for their American babysitter because I’ve realized that when they have someone (other than me) who speaks English to them they’re more prone to speak it in general. Easy peasy. Right.

So, this is what I found out after a round of calls and a couple of hours of scheduling: soccer is Tuesday and Friday, because apparently 5-6 year olds who aren’t allowed to play in the tournaments and who are basically going to chase a ball around a field for an hour and a half need to “train” at least twice a week. Every single dance school but one in this god forsaken town, in an evil conspiracy to drive mom’s insane (I presume), decided that Tuesday was the only logical day for the 3-4 year old dance class, and the one that went against the mold already has a waiting list. Oh, and by the way, our lovely American babysitter only has one afternoon off from her primary job. Guess which day. Tuesday. And after a half hour of route planning and head banging (not the heavy metal kind) I resigned myself to the fact that without the aid of cloning or a teleporter there is no way I can get them both to their activities on Tuesday. Seriously, how does everyone else do it?

Anyway, before letting myself get sucked into the insanity of a new school year, I’d like to wrap up our summer. We got back from our extremely long vacation to a garden that looked like this:

my tomato plants

my tomato plants

 

cherry tomatoes

cherry tomatoes

Eggplants! I have 3 plants just like this...

Eggplants! I have 3 plants just like this…

Peppers, I have eight plants of lovely green, yellow, and red peppers. Not as pretty as the supermarket ones, but yummy all the same.

Peppers, I have eight plants of lovely green, yellow, and red peppers. Not as pretty as the supermarket ones, but yummy all the same.

So we had a LOT of this:

Caprese salad - the tomatoes and basil are from the garden, as is the basil in the pesto.

Caprese salad – the tomatoes and basil are from the garden, as is the basil in the pesto.

Tuna salad bruschetta

Tuna salad bruschetta

And since this was overflowing:

large lavender plant

large lavender plant

so I made sachets for my closet and drawers… but when that wasn’t enough I figured I could use it to experiment…

Sausage risotto with rosemary, lavender and saffron.

Sausage risotto with rosemary, lavender and saffron.

so creamy makes me hungry again...

so creamy makes me hungry again…

Have I made you hungry yet?

I’m slowly getting my act together again with the start of a new school year. I’ve got several posts I think you’ll like in the works, and I’m pretty confident I’ll even manage to finish them and post them, so yay for school, despite the scheduling headaches.

Two cutie pies on their first day of school. Sweet brother carrying his sister's backpack. A little southern gentleman in the making.

Two cutie pies on their first day of school. Sweet brother carrying his sister’s backpack. A little southern gentleman in the making.

Life Lesson #1: Chillax, dude

Living life, as one does day in and day out till one no longer does, we learn things, life teaches us things, but oftentimes we forget these small, seemingly unimportant lessons. I figured I’d try and remember at least a few of them when they hit me upside the head.

The other day I made the unfortunate mistake of making a comment on one of my sisters’ facebook statuses (stati?), but let me give you some background. This sister of mine, (half-sister, to be precise, different mothers) she has always had a ginormous chip on her shoulder, I dare say, this chip, it is the size of Texas, and just as loud, and occasionally obnoxious (I’m allowed, I’m from there). This chip, which manifests itself mainly on many maudlin and/or pissed of rants as to how utterly unfairly life treats her, along with very grave, justified-or-not, abandonment issues have led her to a lifelong search of “spiritual improvement” or “personal betterment” and other sundry related paths. So, what this means, for our purposes, is that if you enter into any sort of serious discussion with her about life, and the meaning thereof, death, and it’s ramifications, life changes and such, you do so at your own peril because, you see, she is always right, as she has “done a lot of work on herself” and you, clearly, have not. Unless you’re just like her, in which case good for you (!) and I suggest you stop reading right this instant cause you can only get more offended as you go on.

Unfortunately for me, though, I forget these things, in the general business of living my life in a manner as far removed as possible from unnecessary mental masturbatory, pseudo-psychological, life exploratory type of behavior. In any case, I was being distracted as I am wont to do, and read one of her statuses that went something along the lines of Do you really know who you are? I’m not sure I know who I am any longer… is that good… or bad? Or something very similar to this. To which I responded something along the lines of dude, lay off the wine before the existential mind fuck… (just more, you know, politely).

And, wow do I wish I had laid off the wine before commenting! I was kidding, maybe she and all her friends didn’t get it… then I apologized, but she was on a roll, so I re-apologized and stated I hadn’t meant to intrude on a serious conversation and boy were her friends on a roll! So I shut up and ignored the rest of the very serious, very self-righteous, discussion.

But honestly, all I really wanted to say was god, guys, relax, live and let live, peace and love and all that. I mean really, maybe lay back on the wine, have some fun and stop being so freaking serious, because life, it is hard enough, painful enough, and just plain unpredictable enough that we shouldn’t be getting so involved in and up in arms about the stuff we write on facebook of all places.

Mostly though, what this little episode did for me was remind me that a certain measure of laid backedness, of that chillin’ feelin’ is very important in life, as is a proper grasp of irony, and humor – misguided though it may be. It also reminded me that my Dad always used to say that the women in his family had no sense of humor… that may have been generalizing just a smidge, but in this case, I kinda see his point so… sorry Dad for all the times I over-reacted, I’m glad I’ve mostly chillaxed enough now not to care whether everyone’s opinion is exactly on board with mine.

An elephant in an apartment is going too far

I haven’t posted anything in a month, seriously A MONTH! How did that happen? How did the end of July sneak up on me? Maybe it’s because summer days tend to kind of run into each other. Also, we’re so busy with all the going to the beach, and playing in the sand, and eating ice cream, time just kind of flies by. (I know, poor me…)

Summer often feels like unchartered territory. A friend of mine asked on facebook what “good mothers” feed their children every day for three months at lunch, and that got me thinking how summertime is yet another thing that serves to mess with insecure mothers’ lives. My friend isn’t the main cook in her house, her husband is, but he’s at work during the day so lunchtime is in her hands now and she hates cooking… and lunchtime is never a problem during the school year for Italian moms because all kids eat in the cafeteria, and cafeteria food in Italy is a long shot from what it is in the US. But now that the kids are home she feels the pressure of presenting her children with a meal they are willing to eat every day that is just as nutritious as the fare offered in school, not an easy feat.

My problem isn’t so much the feeding as the entertaining. I don’t know what to do with them all day for three months. I tend to always try to settle into a routine, cause that’s how I function, but I can tell that after a couple of weeks of the same, or very similar, days, day in and day out, my kids get bored and I have to shake it up. Shaking it up is hard for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be one of those pinterest mothers with the summer bucket lists that actually get done (and also get presented on pinterest with great graphics and interesting fonts) but I’ve never been able to so much as come up with a bucket list, much less put one in action. And yet I sit here thinking the summer is almost half over, (schools start mid September here) and it’s the only time of year where my kids are a hundred percent mine, and I am a hundred percent theirs. I don’t go to the gym, I don’t run errands without them, I don’t have coffee mornings with the girls, and they don’t have all the activities that require me carting them around all day. It’s just the three of us, all day, day in and day out.

We’re leaving the beach on Thursday to go home (finally, I know, right? How could I possibly be complaining about being at the beach?), the Husband is beyond thrilled as he’s tired of seeing us only on the weekends, and I have to come up with stuff to do for another six weeks. Oy Vey!

Anyone have any suggestions? Simple stuff, stuff that doesn’t require four different outfit changes, stuff that even the laziest of mothers can do in the sweltering heat. ( basically nothing from pinterest). The possibilities are endless…

Also, and this is completely unrelated, I have got the world’s noisiest upstairs neighbors in the beach apartment. They assemble Ikea furniture in the middle of the night (believe me, I’ve assembled enough Ikea furniture myself that I recognize the sounds), they come home at four a.m. and walk around in heels for half an hour, and these are just to of a whole host of other random and incessant noises. Tonight, for example, it really sounds like they went out and got themselves a pet elephant.

Speaking of Ikea, last week I went to get some cabinets for my laundry room here (more like laundry cubby, but anyways…), I had a few boxes, unloaded them and carted the to the apartment building. As I was loading them in the elevator one of my neighbors arrives, a sprightly gentleman in his late fifties, early sixties. He tries to bypass my boxes (half of which were already loaded in the elevator) so I politely ask him if he wanted to go ahead of me, (me, the lone woman, sweating and grunting, trying to maneuver boxes of furniture into an elevator) and he nimbly jumps over the boxes saying “I’m only going to the second floor” and takes off in the elevator with half my boxes. Two days later and I’m still getting over the shock. Seriously, how rude can one possibly be? At the very least he could’ve taken the stairs. I mean really, two floors!

I believe I’m starting to get sick of the beach, hating thy neighbors is probably the first sign I need to stop with all the “vacationing” (only mothers will understand the quotation marks) and get home!!

Seagulls, idleness, and the meaning of life

It’s the end of our first full week at the beach. The Husband was supposed to be joining us today for a week vacation, but he’s developed a temperature and is home sleeping it off. The kids and I have settled into a routine, we go to the beach in the morning, we have lunch, they nap, we go to the playground in the afternoon, then dinner, some tv or a show in the town square, and bedtime. It’s simple and quite sweet. I thought I’d be ready to strangle them by now, but I’m not, I’m actually getting used to spending all this time with them.

Of course all this leisure time has its consequences, mostly in that I have lots of time to think and observe the world around me and be amazed by all the things I normally don’t notice. For example, I always knew, but had never really realized how terrified of the weather Italians are. For example, kids here always wear undershirts, all year, so they “don’t get a chill”, despite widespread modern conveniences like, for example, indoor heating. Italians bundle up, they’re always wearing a couple more layers of clothing than I or my children are, in fact, my mother in law constantly tells me I’m irresponsible as she follows me around with a hat. I thought this behavior was mostly autumn, winter, and spring related, in reality it’s just ingrained in the culture. As I sit on the beach surrounded by children with their mothers, fathers, or grandparents all I hear around me are repeated admonishments not to go in the water, it’s too cold, get out of the water and warm up in the sun, stay out of the sun, it’s too hot, not to roll around in the sand, it’s too abrasive, not to get their hair wet (it’s too wet?), it’s annoying, and headache inducing.

Granted, the weather this year has not been fab. It’s colder than normal for the end of June, and the rain and chilly wind are plentiful, but we’re not in Siberia nor are we swimming in the English Channel (the British do this, and they seem to be in excellent health). I spend my days wishing I could just tell everyone around me to chill out a minute, relax, and enjoy the fact that it’s summer, and hey, we’re at the beach. A few days ago it was cloudy, this town is tiny and I didn’t really know what to do, so we went to the beach anyway thinking that if it was too cold to go swimming we could at least built a sandcastle. The beach was pretty empty. After a while it started raining, the beach emptied completely. I was under the relative dryness of the beach umbrella and my kids stripped into just their suits and started running like two crazies on the beach and in the surf. They reminded me of two dogs chasing each other on the sand running in the water, running away from the waves faces held high and tongues out to catch the rain. Of course they were frozen by the time an hour had past, the rain intensified, and they calmed down enough to actually leave, but they had probably never had so much fun at the beach. I mean, seriously, when else would I just let them run around half naked in the rain? We were the only ones on the entire beach, I’m sure grandmothers were looking out their windows at us and tsk, tsking at my irresponsibility.

Another thing I’ve just recently realized, is how completely and utterly weird being at the beach actually is. Think about it, everyone around you is someone you could run into on the street, in the grocery store, your doctor, your dentist, the delivery guy, the electrician, the teacher, the business man, people you see, you say good morning to in line for coffee, people we talk to, cross, run into, all day, every day, of our daily lives, but they are all, for all intents and purposes, naked.

Seriously, is it not weird?

You have a conversation with the mom standing watch next to you, but she’s in a bikini, which is not all that different from a bra and panties. And so are you. All year we hide our imperfections, camouflage our bellies, or our saddle bags, or our droopy behinds, or our flabby arms…. And then summer rolls around and we’re all there walking around, chasing our kids, playing catch on the beach, essentially naked. How is this normal? I ran into one of the check out girls at the grocery store the other day, she was laying there talking to a friend, she’s skinny but has really bad cellulite on her thighs, her stomach isn’t as flat as it seems in her clothes and I’m pretty sure she’s had a boob job. I’m not judging her, she’s flawed like all the rest of us, but don’t you think, suddenly, I have way too much information on the check out girl I see several times a week at the grocery store?

This is what being at the beach does to me, makes me think strange things, makes me notice stuff that I’m usually too busy and self involved to notice, completely useless things. For example, I’ve also noticed how insanely loud seagulls are. Have you ever stopped to think about it? Seagulls. They’re always cawing at each other (do seagulls caw, or is that just crows?). And there are so many of them, like cuter, whiter, sea vultures, just flying in circles overhead, cawing, and pooping on bewildered passers by, landing on light posts and looking down on us all tilted head and evil eyed. I’m not sure I’m a big fan of seagulls, though they’ve never done anything to me directly.  Although, quite possibly, all this attention to seagulls and their behavioral patterns is a clear indication that I’ve got way too much time on my hands.

So summer is officially here, it’s started, whether the weather agrees with me or not, so for now, for the next few weeks, I’ll be pondering completely useless things, as I stroll half naked on the beach, and who knows maybe I’ll alight on some hidden truth on life, or the universe, or human behavior, something meaningful to take back with me or at the very least to keep me occupied in this season of idleness.

The bee’s knees

I’m not a huge fan of the summer. Surprising considering how much I complain of the seemingly endless winters and soggy springs here. But summer just rubs me the wrong way. I was probably traumatized by the insanity inducing heat and humidity of Houston summers, having to get up at dawn to go play tennis or horseback riding cause being outside whilst not immersed in a swimming pool of tepid water after eight a.m. could only result in heat stroke. Also, during the summer my schedule goes all to hell.

So, the minute June rolls around, and all the extra-curricular activities start petering off I move the kids to the beach apartment. I know, I bet you’re all feeling really sorry for me right now.

But the God honest truth is that the main reason I move down to the beach is that we just renovated last year and there’s blessed air conditioning in every room, unlike our house in town. (Also, the beach and sea).

So what’s the summer like at our house? Well, I’m alone with the kids, which is equal parts wonderful, exhausting, and infuriating, as the Husband works so he only comes down on weekends (and usually on Sunday nights when he leaves he’s all YAY, I get to go relax at the office tomorrow! Woohoo! – I’m not kidding), the apartment is smallish so the upkeep is easy, and I don’t have a lot of stuff in it, so it’s mentally very relaxing. We get up, spend the morning at the beach, eat lunch at the beach café or at home, the kids nap, then we go to the playground in the afternoon and walk around all the little shops, the baker, the butcher, the greengrocer (yes, an actual greengrocer), the fishmonger… for our evening meal, we go back out after dinner if there’s a show in the church square, and then we rinse and repeat. We do this until the end of July. I spend a lot of my time yelling. It turns out, that a three and a five-year old don’t have an awful lot of common sense, and this fact hits home especially hard when you’re with them 24/7. Who’d a thought. And yet…

Despite the fact that I’m a bit off during the summer, that the heat gets me down, and that I’m annoyed by my body image more than at any other time of the year, basically despite the fact that I’m somewhat of a sourpuss during the summer, I love all the time I spend with the kids. I’m their main source of entertainment, so I learn to be more patient, more fun, more flexible, I even manage to not adhere to our strict meal and nap times without going off the deep end (in case you haven’t noticed I’m a bit of a control freak). And the children learn to be more helpful, more articulate, their English miraculously improves, they’re better at cleaning up, at helping me do the menial daily chores that they usually aren’t privy to, and they love it. They don’t, much to my surprise, get bored just hanging out with me. Apparently, hanging out with me is the bee’s knees. Sure, I have to come up with new stuff to do every once in a while, and there are many kids for them to play with at the beach or at the playground, but they’re just as happy sitting on the couch watching tv with me. And that feels nice. During the school year, we’re usually too busy doing what one does all year, nobody really notices how quickly time slips away, but during the summer we get to all just be for a minute, together. I guess it’s not such an awful season after all. And, when the heat really gets me down, I try to remember that soon enough I’ll hit the finish line, and the next season is my absolute favorite, of fresh starts and of new beginnings, Fall. But for now, I’ll just try to enjoy the silly things they say and do, because, I suspect, soon enough they won’t want to hang out with me all summer.

linking up today with Mamakat for her prompt: 2) describe what summer is like at your house.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Melancholy

This year Father’s Day took me completely by surprise. In Italy it’s in March (on the 19th, Saint Joseph Day), and I’ve been off the internet so wasn’t really paying attention to what was going on in the US. When I realized it was Father’s Day, I decided to post a picture of my Dad and I, one of the last pictures we took together, before he passed away in Rio de Janeiro on February 5th 2006. We were at a lovely fish restaurant where he loved to go in Rio, and The Husband was goofing around, taking “artistic” pictures of his unwitting models. It’s been seven years since my Father died. It seems like forever and it still feels like yesterday. I can’t look at pictures of him, and especially of he and I, without getting a lump in my throat. Will the feeling of loss ever go away? And how is it possible that each year that passes I love him more, not less, as the memories of his annoying behaviors, of the occasional hurtful word, of the arguments, fade away and only the good, the fun, the amusing, the kind, the generous, and the love remain.

I so want my children to hear anecdotes about him, to know, at the very least, his stories since they can’t know him in person, and yet, I can never seem to be able to talk about him. It’s almost like I can’t remember anything about him, save the feelings he invoked, until I see his pictures and then I’m bombarded with memories in a barrage that is too difficult to process much less to share.

Fathers die before their daughters. It’s the circle of life. And certainly easier than the other way around, because we expect our parents to not be there at some point, and yet it’s still difficult. Seven years on, and I still want to pick up the phone and have a chat. Seven years, and I still get melancholy on his birthday, and on holidays, and especially on Father’s Day, as it is celebrated in the US.

I wonder if I’ll ever stop missing him, I want to, and yet I don’t. Missing him is a way to feel close to him, I guess. I went through the stages of grief, I remember them. But I don’t think this pain I feel occasionally, this melancholy, the sense of loss tugging at my heartstrings when I see one of the kids do something that’s just so him, I don’t think these feelings are ever really going to go away.

Hee, hee, hee, chick-a-dee.

We’re back from our whirlwind trip to NYC. Everybody survived. The kids had a fabulous time with their Nonni and the Husband and I suffered no untoward catastrophes. Phew.

It was a short, but sweet, trip. We arrived on Tuesday, to a drizzly, cold Manhattan, and I was quite verbally and repeatedly upset to have forgotten my new raincoat at my in-laws’ house. The weather, of course, soon turned to hot, sunny, and muggy and I immediately regretted all my complaining about the cold. My mother basically just complained about the fact that New Yorkers are like Europeans, afraid of the a/c… because they don’t live in the subarctic indoor climes she’s used to in Texas. We had good food, discovered some great new restaurants, saw old friends and new babies, and did a healthy dose of shopping.

The Husband spent most of the time working (he had to justify the pricy tickets and hotel somehow, right?) and I spent most of the time walking, which I’ll get to in a minute, cause first I have to open a parenthesis (or start a tangent, as usual) on the Apple store on Fifth avenue. Totally cool. I loved that it was underground, I loved the glass cube, the glass elevator, the whole beam me up, Scotty, feel of it all, I also loved the fact that it’s open 24 hours because if my iPhone goes belly up at 4am I need to be able to get it fixed right away. Life or death (and dependence on technology) and all that.

image from greatspacestv.com

image from greatspacestv.com

image from boinboing.net

image from boinboing.net

Back to the walking, two things: one, I’m pretty sure that the reason why I’ve gained weight in the last few years was because I went from living in a city where I didn’t have a car and the unpredictability of public transportation coupled with my lack of funds for cabs, meant that I walked most everywhere I went. Meaning miles and miles, and hours and hours of walking each day. It makes a difference. I’ve become so sedentary that walking around NY for a full day (and I’m talking about the kind of walking you do whilst shopping, not whilst trying not to be late for appointments) was incredibly tiring. I’d get back to the hotel exhausted, my feet and legs hurting, like I’d been trekking in the mountains. Painfully pathetic. Woefully wimpy.

And two, I saw this yesterday:

image from blog.lifespanfitness.com

image from blog.lifespanfitness.com

It’s positively genius. I think all offices should have it. I’m trying to talk my husband into making me something similar, as they don’t sell the original here in Italy. I spend so many hours on the computer each day, doing things that don’t require a lot of concentration so I’m pretty sure I could couple it with some coordinated motor skill type of activity… like walking relatively slowly…. without too many adverse consequences.

I could walk and read emails, blogs, facebook… I could, in fact, spend all morning doing it with a clear conscience, because I’m also exercising… pure brilliance! And it’s not like I have to do the whole production of changing into workout clothes and shoes, warming up, sweating, stretching and then showering, because it’s not that kind of exercise, you’re just doing the stuff that you’d normally be doing sitting passively on your behind, only you’re walking, strolling even, for a couple of hours at a time. Anyway, read this post by Anne-Marie from Cheeseslave, she totally convinced me!

Also, I’ve started walking with some girlfriends by a river bed around here (apparently this post has a theme, though, I promise it’s unintentional, I thought it was going to be a fun post on NYC not a long ramble on walking, but these things are generally out of my control), and when I say walking, what I mean is that ridiculous looking huffing and puffing, arm pumping, speed walking where you’re literally going faster than people who are actually jogging.

It’s a beautiful place that I’ve managed to completely ignore in the seven years I’ve been here, just fields and wildflowers , big, round, smooth, white, river rocks and the sound of rushing water. One of these days I’ll go down there for a stroll with my camera.

Anyway, my point is, though I’ve been going to the gym three times a week for months now, walking (or running) on an actual road (dirt, gravel, or cement) and on a treadmill, are two completely different things. The former is much harder, for some reason, much more painful, I feel these walks for days afterwards, but they’re also much more satisfying, the cool breeze, the changing scenery, the hot sun, the bees a-buzzing… very pastoral and relaxing, like a Thomas Cole panting. It helps in ignoring the shin splints.

This post is all over the place, as usual, but I guess the point of all this is my new motto, which is: when in doubt, walk, (Much better than my old motto, when in doubt, eat chocolate!) now all I have to do is talk the husband into thinking we absolutely cannot survive one more measly day without the treadmill/desk contraption. Then all my problems, real or imaginary, will be solved – or so, at least, I’ll think for at least a couple of weeks.

p.s. the title for this post is completely random, I just wanted something that rhymed and that’s is the absolutely first thing to come to my head, and then I couldn’t shake it off for the rest of the day.

Up, up, and away!

I wrote this Tuesday May 28th, but only able to publish now…

It’s a funny thing leaving your kids and flying across an ocean. Last year, right about this time, I wrote a post, much like I’m doing right now, on an airplane over the Atlantic Ocean. Last time I was going to Brazil by myself to see my ailing grandmother (who has since blown out 103 candles on yet another birthday). The Husband and the Nanny were home with the kids, and though a bit nervous and guilt wracked at leaving the kids behind, one parent was home so I was pretty fine and ready to enjoy myself on the five-day trip. This time I’m flying to New York with the Husband, and I no longer have a Nanny. My kids are with their Nonni (paternal grandparents) and right before leaving for the airport I found myself handing my mother in law an envelope containing my will, a video for the kids, and instructions on their caregiving should they find themselves orphaned.

 

My parents travelled a lot when I was a kid. They travelled both with and without us, and they went all over the world. When they flew with us we all travelled together, when they flew without us they took separate planes. It was very matter of fact. They wrote their wills early on, they nominated a guardian for us, they took care of things. It must have been hard for them, but it was very normal for me. We knew about it, and it wasn’t weird.

 

So when the Husband asked me to go to NY with him for a few days, I immediately started thinking about the things I needed to do, not just the packing and the organizing, but the taking care of things. We’d been talking about it since The Boy was born, but I’m a world-class procrastinator and he’s Italian (that’ll become relevant in a minute) so it just never got done. When one travelled the other was home, and we know exactly what the other expects of us should anything happen. This time, though, we had no excuses.

 

Writing my will wasn’t hard. It was actually quite simple and straightforward. The hard part was thinking about what we’d want to happen to our kids. Have any of you had to think about this before?

Ideally, we would have liked young guardians so we went through all our siblings first… apart from the fact that we are total opposites on the religious, political, and quite possibly moral front, my brother is unmarried and still living the simple, single, lifestyle. Also, I’m not a huge fan of his girlfriend so his taste in what would presumably be my children’s mother figure did not bode in his favor. My other half-siblings are all in their fifties and their kids are all in their twenties and leaving home. I can’t imagine they’d want to have two preschoolers fall in their laps right when their getting ready to finally start enjoying some peace, quiet, and independence again. I don’t think I’d want my ability to travel at the drop of a hat and go out to dinner somewhere with tablecloths rudely taken away from me after twenty years of deprivation right at the finish line, would you?

The Husband’s siblings are more age appropriate but his sister is the one who wants to send us her teenage daughter to raise, so that doesn’t fill me with confidence, and his brother is… well… kind of an asshole.

And friends are always a tricky option when you have families as large as ours. So we were in a bit of a bind…

We finally settled on a joint, both physical and financial, guardianship of the two grandmothers. The kids have an awesome relationship with my MIL, and even though she’s older than my mom we think she’s a better option for when they are little, with the clause that they go live with my mom when they’re teenagers (unless they strongly object to this themselves).

 

Reading all this you’d think we were on death’s door. Of course we’re not, and we have a higher chance of kicking the bucket whilst driving than flying, but I guess it was as good a time as any to start thinking about it. But let me just say that it was absolutely, bar none, the hardest thing I’ve had to do. Ever.  Having to sit down and actually think about and imagine my children’s lives without me was enough to make me want to surgically reattach them to my body and never, ever let them free.

And it made me realize just exactly how precious, how absolutely, unquantifiably, important they are to me.

 

Doing all this also made me feel a little weird. In Italy people do not talk about death. At all. I remember when the Husband got sick, I casually told his mom that he needed to let me know what he wanted in case something went wrong and she completely freaked out on me, it was strange and pretty much incomprehensible to me, because my parents had always been absolutely straight forward and matter of fact about this stuff. When my dad died we all knew exactly what he wanted without even needing to read his will, this made things easy for us and avoided much pointless arguing. Of course this time was no different, I called my mom and told her about my will and what was in it, and all she said was to write the kids a letter to read when they got older (this being the digital age, I left them a video), my MIL, visibly tensed, got tears in her eyes, and told me to stop talking. This morning before we left she took me aside, showed me a secret drawer and said I should put “those things” I mentioned in there, and then shot off like a cat on fire.

 

It’s fine, we did what we had to do, and now I hope to enjoy the four days the Husband and I have in NY together. He’ll work some, I’ll shop loads, my mom is joining us there, the kids are having fun with their Nonni, whose action packed schedule for the week rivals anything the  Disney franchise could possibly come up with for coordinated family fun. And the small, innocuous looking, white, in case I’m gone, envelope sitting in the “secret drawer” has ensured my piece of mind.

 

Now tell me, have you done this? Thought about it?

It’s not that I want to go, it’s my wifely duty after all

These past two weeks have been pretty decent. The Husband was away for a few days two weekends ago for a trade fair, and again this week he was gone Monday and Tuesday giving speeches somewhere (I’m not very involved in his work life…), so I had plenty of relaxed bonding time with the kids. Is it weird, I wonder, that my life is so much easier when I’m alone with the children? I don’t mean long term, long term, I’m sure, would be a gigantic hassle, but just a few days here and there, if I’m the only adult around we can decide to have breakfast for dinner (something my Italian husband just doesn’t comprehend), or just snack in front of the tv, or spend the afternoon in bed reading books rather than being productive. Even the morning routines are more relaxed when he’s not around, of course, we’re always late, when it’s just me, mostly because I’m a much better procrastinator than my two preschoolers but occasionally a break from all the discipline and order is refreshing. As long, of course, as it doesn’t last too long, we need him to get us back on track, or our lives would be total chaos!

So anyway, he came back from the trade fair ten days ago and announced he needed to go to NYC and would I go with him. Our ten-year wedding anniversary is next month, so we had already decided to leave the kids at their Nonni’s house for a long weekend and go off somewhere alone. Initially, my reaction to going to NY was, absolutely not, remember what happened last time we were in the US?? But then rationality set back in and it’s not like his getting sick is related to our geographic position, right? Plus, I’m an awesome wife, I can sacrifice a few days of tedious routine, to accompany my husband to the city that never sleeps, where he has to work and I will have nothing to do but shop, eat out, and sleep in. With no kids. It’s my duty as a stay at home mom to set aside my engagements to stand by my husband. Right? Am I convincing you with this whole virtuous act??

Anyway. So we’re going next week. I’m taking the kids to Milan on Sunday, getting them settled with my MIL, who, incidentally, is over the moon at the idea of having her grandkids to herself for almost a week and The Husband is joining us there on Monday as our flight is on Tuesday (one of the major things that sucks about living where we live is that the closest big airport is in Milan, which makes travelling anywhere into a big two day production). And the cherry on top of this particular cake is that my Mom is joining us there for a couple of days. So to recap: the kids are spending a week in a place the thought of which gets them more excited than Disney Land, The Husband and I get to fly to New York in business class (company paying, and did I mention, no kids?), we get to stay in a nice hotel, I get to go shopping with no one breathing down my neck and asking me if I really need one more pair of shoes, in fact, I get to go shopping with my mom who likely will be all like, you really need another pair of shoes to go with that dress you just bought, and other than possibly a couple of work related dinner engagements we get to do all the stuff we didn’t get to do in Houston this past winter. I’m feeling pretty good about my life today. Of course, I have a whole host of insane worries that I’ll share with you soon enough. But for now, well, the sun is shining, the weather is finally a little warmer, and I refuse to think about the bad stuff, today is all about the blessings. Of which there are many.

p.s. this blog turned one year old this month, and my last post was the 100th post. So lots and lots of bloggy milestones!