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,


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

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?

No Bugs Bunny, keeps me sane

Bed time routines are a bloody nightmare, am I right???

I am not a morning person, by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve never been one. The Husband, on the other hand, loses all cognitive ability after eight p.m. This was always a problem when we were younger and childless because he would clock out when I reached my energy peak, as you can imagine, this made many things difficult, not the least of which was sex. Over the years we’ve managed to find the middle ground on most things (the ones where both of us have to be active and present at least) and we’ve divided up the things that occur at our respective “best” times of day. Basically, I’m not expected to function rationally in the morning, so he takes over the child-readying operations while I’m in charge of anything that happens in the evening. It works out great for us. He gets up early, has a nice relaxed breakfast with his newspaper and no one talking and or needing anything from him, he makes everyone juice, he comes upstairs and wakes me and the kids, and takes care of all the wrangling, washing, brushing, and feeding that is necessary to get to preschoolers out of the house. While I only have to concentrate the two neurons that are actually active and awake in my brain on getting just myself washed, dressed, and fed in the absolute peace and quiet necessary to avoid my head exploding first thing in the morning.

Of course after dinner, I’m in charge of the reading of bedtime stories, brushing of teeth, and yelling like a deranged person to get the same two preschoolers into their damn beds and staying there. I’m also in charge of the repeated serving of water to quench the torturous thirst that presents itself whenever I try to leave the room. I imagine The Husband is sitting in bed, relaxed, and laughing at me the entire time.

Hands down, I think, bedtime is worst than the morning routine. I’ve done the morning routine, while barely functional, and it just doesn’t elicit the same levels of stress and murderous rage that the bedtime routine brings on. Every night, it’s one more book, they have to pee (again), they have to tell me something “super, super, important” right as I’m walking out the door, they lose their luvvies, they need me to tuck them in again and again, and they are so thirsty, so parched, that nothing less than at the very least three separate drinks of water will satisfy them. It takes half an hour to get them to settle down (after they’ve been washed and effectively put into bed for the first time), at the end of which I mostly just want to kill them. It’s very frustrating, mainly because without their constant interruptions and requests our bedtime routine is actually quite sweet. Once they’re in bed, I do a little bad dream banishing magic, I sing them a song, and then we say “good night, I love you miles and miles, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite”, except that the Girl for some reason didn’t get the bed bugs part, so she would say something unintelligible, which later turned out to be “no bugs bunny”. I have no idea why, I mean, she likes Bugs, Loony Tunes was her favorite show for a while there, and yet every night it’s “sleep tight, no bugs bunny”. So of course, all of us started saying it that way, because, honestly, who could resist, but I feel kind of bad for Bugs, banished from our bedtime routine, for no apparent reason.

So bedtime makes me crazy, except for that moment when two little voices yell “no bugs bunny, mama” at my retreating back as I hightail it out of their room for the fifteenth, and hopefully final, time.

You say potato, I say…well… mind your own damn business!

It turns out that, according to some, I’m a bit of an army general whereas according to others, I’m a bit of a pansy ass. It baffles the mind.

My in-laws were here for a few days at Easter and they kept remarking on how “good” the children were and how they do things that “other children don’t have to do” and I’m such a “good mother”, the subtext of which was clearly how the children are poor, over-burdened, little soldiers, and I’m a slave driver. (And when I say subtext I mean my father-in-law literally saying the words under his breath). All this because my kids help “set the table” (I put that in quotes because while the five-year old kind of knows where the utensils and stuff go on the table the three-year old dumps everything in the middle and just spreads stuff around randomly), and unset the table (what’s the opposite of “set the table”? we used to jokingly say dress and undress the table when we were kids, which regularly prompted my brother’s catch phrase “but mom we haven’t been properly introduced” to which much hilarity ensued… or not, anyway…),  and vacuum under the table with the dust-buster, and clear up their toys, and change their own clothes, and generally try to help out around the house. All stuff we did when growing up (despite the fact that my mom generally had between one and three maids in the house at any given time). I don’t feel like a slave driver, it’s just stuff they should learn how to do (also, if they don’t do it, I have to). I realize I’m the opposite of the typical Italian mother, who still irons her kids clothes when their twenty-five and in graduate school and living away from home, but I think that if though they may not consider these things normal they should at the very least be proud of their grandkids for being able and willing to do this stuff. Whereas, I’m sure, there are conversations going on in Milan between my MIL and her friends that go somewhere along the lines of “can you believe she makes her children set the table? What kind of lazy ass mother is she?!” Ah, the joys of cultural differences.

Speaking of cultural differences, on the other side of the Atlantic, in the sweltering heat of Houston, my Mother thinks I have forgotten the meaning of the word discipline, because my kids want my attention right now even when I’m speaking to another adult, because they jump on the couch, because I, *gasp*, allow them to take all the living room throw pillows and blankets, dump them on the floor, and then keep score to see who can jump farther from the couch to the pillow pile. My children whine and complain when I send them to brush their teeth, they dare protest when it’s time for bed, they have (occasionally) thrown a tantrum in a public place… Her favorite refrain is “your children’s behavior is a reflection of you as a mother, you have to take pride in them”, like I should only be proud of them when they’re well-behaved, or rather, I should take pride in myself when they’re well-behaved. Or something along those lines.

I try to walk the middle of the road… I do that a lot, lately. We had plenty of help around the house, but my mom made sure we learned how to do everything for ourselves, we learned to cook, and clean the house, and do laundry, and iron, and sew buttons… but our house wasn’t a lot of fun, there was a lot of tip-toeing around and not bothering the adults. Whereas my in-laws, as well as most Italians, like to complain (or pride themselves on) how many sacrifices they make for their children, how they’re still at home when they’re thirty-five, how no one wants to get married, because, let’s be honest, why should they? They live rent free in their parents house, with a free maid (their mother) and all the freedom in the world. How today’s youth is so entitled… but who made them that way?

And how on earth did I become the bad guy in this in the eyes of two completely opposing camps?? Walking the middle ground is hard, neither camp is happy, and I get a lot of crap from both of them. But I’m sticking to my guns, because I strongly believe in discipline, but I also very much believe in fun, and the two aren’t mutually exclusive. My kids need to learn how to do practical things, it’s part of my job to teach them, they need to be well-mannered, and learn patience (gradually), they need to be respectful, and independent, and responsible, but they also need to have fun and make messes, and do stupid things, because how else will they learn? I didn’t have a bad childhood by any stretch of the imagination, but I also didn’t have a lot of fun, or rather, there was always a limit to the fun we could have, we couldn’t make too much noise, too much mess, and when we did scoldings and guilt would ensue. There was lots of guilt and a fair amount of fear and I don’t think fear equals respect. I want my kids to respect me, to know when and where there are limits but also when and where it’s ok to cut loose, and I absolutely, positively, don’t want them to fear me or my reactions. So to some I am too strict, and to others I am too lenient, I just hope I manage to straddle the “just right” position at least half the time.
Do you have family members judging/questioning your parenting, and if so, how do you deal??

Joining Shell today for Pour your heart out.

Happy Birthday my sweet Boy

You are five today. Five is pretty big.

You lost your first tooth on Sunday, and you finally, finally, managed to say goodbye to your nighttime binky. I know how hard it was, you cried a little and you kept kissing it goodbye, parting is always difficult, but it’s part of growing up. You were really worried that you would have to give up your luvvie Leo too, but no one is ever going to take that away from you. Hey, I still have my rabbit from when I was little, and I’m old! You were very impressed that the Tooth Fairy wrote you a letter, when she decided to take away your binkies with your tooth, to the binky mountain up in heaven (I’m not sure where this story comes from, maybe your Nonna).

After our last trip to Houston you’ve finally really started speaking to me in English, though your vocabulary is still somewhat limited, but your sentences have really come together and you’re starting to sound like a little Texan (with a hint of an Italian accent)!

In the last year, you’ve also gotten a bit rowdier, a bit less compliant, a little more headstrong, and though I’ll never admit it to you, this makes me if not happier at least a bit more relaxed. A little rebellion is ok, I want you to develop your own personality, just stop whacking your sister and you’ll spend much less time in time out!

You’re a perfectionist, which is both good and bad. It means you try really hard to do things right, but it also means that you get frustrated when the result isn’t perfect. You’ve been learning to write your letters (this was your decision, by the way, I was waiting for you to start doing it in school next year), so I write things down for you at the top of the page, whatever you want me to, and you copy it over and over underneath, but if a letter doesn’t come out exactly the way it’s supposed to, you get so mad! And then you stop, in frustration, because you “can’t do it”. But you can, you will, it takes a little time, a little patience, and a little practice. We’re working on it, though, because learning things should be more fun and less stressful for you.

You tied your shoelaces today, in a double knot, not a bow, but I was amazed because I only showed you once, a few days ago. How did you remember? You certainly didn’t get your memory from me! You got this from your Dad, he sees something once and can recreate it later, from memory, somehow.

You’re such a sweet boy. For your birthday you asked to be allowed to sleep with me, in the big bed. You’ve actually been asking for months, but we decided it can be a special occasion treat, since Daddy hardly ever travels. So Daddy will sleep in your room with your sister, and you get to sleep in the big bed, maybe we’ll even watch a movie… just don’t tell anyone!

So Happy Birthday, my sweet, sweet, Boy, I love you miles and miles, your smile lights up my life, you make my heart sing. Mama

Random thoughts on Valentine’s Day, skiing, and how I need to work on my wifery so this post is all over the place.

I’m a horrible wife. Yesterday I completely forgot it was Valentine’s day. I got clued in by the wrapped present on my plate when I went down for breakfast. And I knew I was getting a present, because when a package arrived at home a few days ago the husband said “don’t open that, it’s your Valentine’s day present”. I forgot. Not only did I not get him anything, I also consulted with my friends and could come up with nothing even remotely original or interesting to get him, and I didn’t have time to get him anything all day anyway because it was one of those back to back days that happen rarely, yet at the most inconvenient times possible.

I now have all weekend to come up with something good, cause the Husband took the kids to his mother’s this weekend. He had a doctor’s appointment today in Milan so he decided to take the kids and let me rest, cause I really needed a break, and though a major control freak when it comes to my children I trust my MIL enough, though I don’t trust her not to give them candy… but hey, I’m not there to deal with the sugar induced insanity so totally not my problem. So it’s my first weekend at home sans children and it’s both weird and wonderful (and sad). I miss them, though I kind of like this complete lack of responsibility (I had a McDonald’s shake and fries for lunch…), but I miss them, but I’m enjoying myself, but I’m feeling guilty for enjoying myself. Motherhood makes women crazy.

On another note, the house renovations are on track and I’m soon going to quit just talking about it and start posting pictures so you get an idea what I keep going on about. The electricians and plumbers are starting to run all their tubes and stuff so I spent all morning yesterday (and this morning) on the construction site freezing my buns off. Yesterday afternoon I spent all afternoon freezing my buns off on the slopes taking pictures of the Boys skiing lesson. They had their first trial “race” and can I just say that skiing has got to be the most mind numbingly boring spectator sport there is. Also, it’s just plain uncomfortable, you’re wearing eight layers of clothes so you’re three times you’re normal size, and still your fingers get numb from the cold, you’re slipping and sliding on ice, or sinking to your knees in fresh snow, you’re clumsy, there’s no point cheering cause they can’t really hear you anyway, and it’s hard to get decent pictures. (I don’t have any to post cause the Husband took the camera with him before I could download them. Sorry!

Anyway, the Boy has fun (and truth be told, it is fun) I just hope he doesn’t decide to do it competitively because I don’t want to spend my Saturdays and Sundays with chattering teeth trying to unobtrusively play with my ipad while pretending to be fascinated by whatever is going on on the slopes. (And also, I imagine, freaking the hell out cause apparently as they get older, they get faster and faster, which is the point of the race… but they go 100-120km an hour. I don’t want to watch my kid barreling down a mountain with no protection at that speed after eight hours of labor, a c-section and countless sleepless nights!) So, he needs to choose soccer, or better yet basketball (so no torn ligaments), or some other team sport, because I want to sleep nights and not worry, and also, I want to be the annoying mother cheering on the sidelines with a cowbell.

I have a big girls’ night planned tonight, pizza, a movie, popcorn, sundaes and lots, and lots of alcohol! Updates tomorrow as soon as I shake off the hangover haze. So for now I can’t but wish you a wonderful weekend and if anyone has any tried and true hangover remedies hit me in the comments!

Also, sorry for this post being all over the place!

The grandmother wars (going on nowhere but my own head).

We’re going to Houston again this year for Christmas, YAY! Even though we already went last year, the Husband graciously conceded to go again as otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to go till at least next October, what with the house reno, and the move, and honestly, who wants to be in Houston in August, plus I’d really like to have the kids experience at least one real, honest to goodness, Halloween in the US before they start big kid school in 2014, (and that’s all of next year summed up in a short paragraph), all to say that I get to go home for Christmas! (and did I mention, YAY!!).

Anyway, I’m having a bit of a mental quandary this week… Talking to my mom the other day, she mentioned that she’d like us to have some rules for our stay, that she’d like the kids to eat with the adults at lunch, but not at dinner because she wants to be able to spend some uninterrupted, quality, time with me and would like to be able to have adult conversation at dinner. And, of course, I said that was fine and we’d work it out since we’re her guests and all and it isn’t a completely unreasonable request. But I won’t deny that it got me thinking… Well, first of all, if last year was any indication the kids won’t be eating with her at lunch either since they have lunch at noon and that’s pretty much right after breakfast for her, and if their not eating dinner with her either then she won’t be seeing an awful lot of them during our stay.

But this is nothing new, I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that my mother loved my brother and I a great deal, but I also am very clear on the fact that she was never particularly interested in us. She cared that we were healthy, and well fed, and doing well in school, and generally happy, but she was never one of those mothers who was really interested in what we were doing (unless it was something we weren’t supposed to be doing), she never asked what we were reading or thinking or doing if we weren’t in trouble and weren’t bothering her directly. She is pretty self-absorbed, she always has been and I don’t think we suffered particularly from it growing up.

But it bothers me a great deal in regards to my children. There are times that she will talk to me for half an hour about some completely mundane thing going on in her life before she finally asks about the kids, and it’s a completely perfunctory question, I could answer “fine” or go into minute detail about all the wonderful new things that they are doing and it is exactly the same to her. It doesn’t help that on the other side of the family they’ve got a fantastic grandmother. My mother in law, with whom I fight regularly because I don’t want her to give them candy, or some other completely ridiculous thing about which I need to assert my dominance, comes to see the kids once or twice a month and she plays with them. For hours. She came to stay at my house when I left for a weekend to be with my mother before her wedding, she came again for a week when I had to go to Brazil to see my grandma. She takes over responsibility, despite the fact that she knows I’m going to find something wrong with her actions, because I’m a gigantic pain in the ass sometimes, and also a control freak, and yet she watches my children, she entertains them, she scolds them, and cuddles them, and takes really great care of them so that I can go do my thing. She is genuinely interested in them. The first thing she asks whenever she calls me is how they are, and what they’re doing, and then she proceeds to the rest of the conversation. My mother and my mother in law are at exactly the opposite ends of the grandmother spectrum, and it kind of pisses me off, because I would like my mother to be the really great grandmother. Or better yet, I wish my kids had two really great grandmothers.

I’m constantly making excuses up for my mother, she lives far away and hasn’t seen them as much, she’s young to be a grandmother, she’s got a new husband and she’s just not that into kids. These are all valid points. But they’re not a good enough explanation. Not that I think there’s more to it than that, but in my mind it is simply not good enough. Because, frankly, my kids are freakin’ adorable. She should want to spend time with them, she should be interested in them, she shouldn’t care that they take over our meal times because she can spend quality time with me in other moments of the day, She should want to spend as much time as possible with them because she only sees them two or three times a year. But she doesn’t. She’s just not interested, and I simply don’t understand it. I accept it, I’m not angry, I know what she’s like, but I am disappointed. My mother talks about her cats the way she should talk about her grandkids.

I know she loves them, when we went for Christmas last year, she made the house perfect for them, she made us perfectly comfortable, she was welcoming, and she put up two Christmas trees, a beautiful magical one to look at, and a smaller one for the kids to play with, with ornaments they could touch and rearrange and eat… that was pretty nice, and thoughtful of her. She cooks for them, and she does really cool stuff like she got the Boy a gigantic Lightning McQueen bed and this year she’s looking for a cool bed for the girl, but she’s not all that interested in them. I realize I can’t expect her to be perfect, and I grew up with her so I know her attitude isn’t going to do any lasting damage, but I wish she was interested in them anyway, I wish she was a more involved grandmother.

My kids love her, and they’re happy to see her, but they also don’t mind too much if they don’t see her. But they get super excited when my mother in law comes over, they ask about her when she hasn’t been back for a while and they are genuinely upset when she leaves. I guess I’m a little jealous maybe, I know this isn’t a contest but we’re losing dammit!

Also, I’m nervous about our visit, which, thankfully, will be short compared to last year (two weeks rather than almost two months), but last year I had the nanny with me and despite that my mom felt like the kids were invasive, I cannot even begin to imagine what it’s going to be like with no help. I don’t know… I’m sure it’ll work out fine and we’ll figure it out, but I can’t shake this feeling that still, she should be more interested in them. I realize that it’s a bit arrogant of me, and presumptuous, and maybe also a little bit sad, because the truth probably is, that while I feel bad for my kids, I also feel bad for me because despite my age and the distance it still hurts a little bit that she’s still not all that interested in what amounts to really the coolest thing I’ve ever done.


The Boy is a lazy bug. He is NOT a morning person. When he wakes up I give him juice in a sippy cup (so he can drink it lying down), he then moves to my bed, and then I give him warnings every ten minutes for the half an hour it takes me to dress myself and the Girl like a gigantic automated snooze button, and then, when he finally gets up I have to tread lightly, and calmly. Because if I don’t, if I don’t follow this complex and frankly often annoying morning dance, he wakes up in a foul mood and I have to deal with His Grumpiness all the liv long day. This morning we apparently turned the lights on too soon, he was already lying in my bed, so we were well into phase two of operations, so he protests and puts on my eye mask. He’s a practical kid.

Later, when he was finally up and washed and getting dressed, I had to take the eye mask off to put his shirt on, and he looks at it for a minute, hmmms, and then the light bulb went on over his head:

I just had the best idea!

Hmmmm…. What…  Wait, hey! BOOOOOOOBIES!!!!



By the way… I got sucked back into the black hole for bloggers that is twitter, so please be nice and follow me. If only for my self-esteem… and yes, I will soon (soonish) set up the easy and practical sidebar button for just this here purpose, for now click on the link or search for thebonnybard or follow the smoke signals… please and thank you.