We made it!

Happy Christmas 2012

It took twice as long as planned but we finally made it to Houston. This will be short and sweet: I hope you had a Merry Christmas! After five days with no internet I’ve got blogs to read, so I’ll be back tomorrow, just wanted to reassure everyone that no, I have not, in fact, fallen off the face of the earth. Relieved??

Almost there

The last week before Christmas, the last day before the end of the world… Honestly, I kept asking myself all day, would I be doing this if the world were really ending tomorrow? The answer, of course, was always no. No, I wouldn’t have met with the other class mothers to sort out Christmas pageant problems over coffee this morning. No, I wouldn’t have gone to the gym. And definitely, no I wouldn’t have spent most of the morning packing for my trip to Houston. I wouldn’t have had white rice and vegetables for lunch, I wouldn’t have spent three hours at the hairdressers getting my hair de-frizzed so my mom doesn’t spend the next 19 days telling me how unkempt I look, and I would not have spent the past hour fighting with the British Airways website trying to get on their frequent flyer program.

What would I have done instead? I have no clue. I can’t imagine what sort of activities are appropriate if one’s existence were to be knowingly and expectedly wiped out. I definitely would have wanted to spend that time with my kids, eating Nutella, and watching cartoons. But I also would have wanted to spend that time alone with the Husband, enjoying… ahem… each other’s company. Or with my family, or my friends… But mostly I realized that if I were to cease to exist, or rather, when I cease to exist, cause there’s really no getting around that, is there? I would want to do it suddenly, unknowingly, as I go by my daily business, because, at the end of the day, I can’t imagine planning a perfect day. There would be too many “last things” I’d want to do, and that day would become never-ending, and all those last things would lose their significance, their “specialness”. I can’t imagine any one last thing that would make my total obliteration meaningful.

So I go about my business, sorting clothes into suitcases, trying to plan for everything as usual, I go about my day, my very mundane tasks, methodically, purposefully, because that is all I can do. Tomorrow the kids have their Christmas Pageant and I can’t forget the appropriate outfits, I have to distribute the last raffle tickets, I have to pack my carry-ons and unearth my passports from the mountain of unfiled crap all over my desk. I have to get two last-minute gifts and I have to go to the bank to get my engagement ring, without which I simply won’t travel but which can’t stay in the house cause we’ve been have a flurry of petty thefts in our neighborhood. I absolutely, positively, have to make it to the post office to send off a very important package. I have to get all teary-eyed and sniffley when my kids, an angel and a friar respectively, get onstage tomorrow afternoon. And then I have to quietly freak out about our trip on Saturday.

So you see, I don’t have time for the world to end. Not tomorrow.

Road trip!

I’m off today, off in a beautiful land filled with children, two at a time, dogs, handsome ranger husbands, and snow… lots and lots of snow. I’m in Alaska today, freezing my butt off, if I may add…

Just kidding, the lovely Bridget of Twinisms has left the kids, dog and snow in favor of a week in the sun with the aforementioned husband just back from Afghanistan. She asked if anyone was interested in guest posting, I excitedly said yes, and then forgot about it… Thankfully Bridget is a really nice gal and send me a “where the hell have you disappeared to” email so I got my butt in gear and she kindly found me a spot in the lineup.

So go visit me there please, and find out how much of a workout my butt’s been getting.

Notice how I’ve written butt at least four times already? That’s in honor of Jackson, a.k.a. BUTTCHEEKS!

Now go, go, go! http://twinisms.com/2012/12/16/on-the-hot-seat/

My gun or yours?

I love the US. I grew up there. It’s my home. I love Texas. It’s the best state in the union. (or so we think.) Up to a few years ago I would’ve given anything to be able to move back. And then I had kids, and though I would love nothing more than to have them grow up there, because there are many, many wonderful things about the United States of America, I simply cannot imagine taking them voluntarily to a place where 27 people in an elementary school can be randomly gunned down by an idiot. (And also, healthcare is unacceptable, but that’s another post).

I live in Italy, there are hunters here too, people have guns in Italy too, one in six families, in fact, keep a firearm in the home. But to get a gun you have to jump through a thousand and one hoops, you are not allowed to walk around with a gun, you are not allowed to carry a concealed weapon, you are not allowed to walk into a public space with a gun, and, you are certainly not allowed to shoot a gun. Yes, you read that right. No shooting. Unless you’re in a shooting range, or aiming at ducks. You’re not even allowed to shoot someone invading your home unless they’ve shot a gun at you (although I personally don’t agree with this exaggerated interpretation of proportional force). What all this means is that Italians don’t take the use of guns in the same excessively cavalier, I done gone and shot him dead, way that Americans do.

Because guns here are scary, they’re seen as frightening, which frankly is the way it should be, because guns actually do shoot one dead. And sure, you can kill someone with a knife, or with a rope, or with your bare hands, in fact, but all these other ways of killing people take a certain degree of skill, whereas you barely need basic motor skills to kill someone with a gun. Guns are too damn easy to use, which is why they need to be regulated. I absolutely believe in the right to bear arms, but every right should be accompanied by obligations, by responsibilities and by limitations. Because it is absolutely unacceptable, in an evolved society, that small children be gunned down in the middle of the school day. We are not barbarians, we need to stop behaving that way. Guns have to be regulated, because we simply cannot count on every person toting a gun to be responsible, and the alternative is too horrifying to be left up to chance, we’ve had proof enough of that.

I’m guest posting over at my friend Bridget’s wonderful blog Twinisms later today, as she’s off enjoying a much deserved Hawaiian vacation. Please stop by and visit me there too!

Because TV and cancer just don’t go hand in hand

Let me just start off by saying that I don’t have high hopes of this post actually making sense to everyone, but bear with me because I’m pretty pissed off. But first a quick tangent to get the new readers up to speed: my husband had leukemia, he was diagnosed at the end of 2009, he had chemo, radiation therapy and a bone marrow transplant in 2010. And we thought he had beat it. In February 2011 he was re-diagnosed, he had more chemo and another bone marrow transplant. He’s been in remission since. And now back to the point of this post.

I’ve just recently found a way to watch Netflix in Italy (not available here) so I’ve been doing a LOT of the watching of tv shows. In fact, I’ve started watching Brothers and Sisters. It’s a decent show, funny at times, sad at times, Rob Lowe is in it… I’m about half way through season 4, and if I wasn’t so late to the party (it aired a couple of years ago, I think) I would contact the writers and tell them to go screw themselves. Or, you know, to do some research before writing stuff. Now, I’m not an idiot (most of the time), I know that tv shows aren’t real and much of the stuff they portray does not reflect reality, I also get that most of us watch tv to get away from reality not get slapped in the face with it. But still.

One of the characters, Kitty, has lymphoma, she has chemo, she loses her hair, she doesn’t seem to be getting better, the second round of chemo doesn’t work, so she has a bone marrow transplant. Three weeks later: she’s fine! In remission! In fact, she’s home with her baby! Her blood white cell count is up! And OMG a few months later she’s considering running for office. WOW!

To be honest I’m not sure why this pissed me off so much, I don’t think we’re actually going to have a zombie apocalypse nor do I believe that the vampires are among us, but these episodes hit a little too close to home.

The Husband had his second BM transplant over a year and a half ago, and he still hasn’t recuperated his energy. When you get a BM transplant you’re in a sterile room for weeks afterwards, once you get to go home your immune system is still so suppressed you have to wear a mask everywhere, even in your own home, your child gets a cold and you have to stay away from them, and you’re certainly not hugging and kissing all your family members with tears and soulful music moments before a transplant.

A year and a half later, and the Husband still has to take a crap load of meds to keep his immune system suppressed, because if he doesn’t his immune system will attack his body. He’s got scars all over his torso from GVHD (graft versus host disease) which happens when they adjust his meds, because his liver or his kidneys are overloaded, and he gets these horrible red splotches all over his skin, because his immune system, the transplanted bone marrow, doesn’t recognize the rest of his body. He gets tired, easily. His heart is stressed, as are his lungs, from the radiation therapy.

He’s better, of course, every day that passes he gets a little better, but he’s not fine. Not by any stretch of the imagination. His hair hasn’t even grown back. The first time around it was all back after six months, but the meds he’s taking now are keeping his hair from growing back, and he hates it. He hates being bald, because he didn’t become bald “naturally” he’s bald because of the disease, so every time he looks in the mirror he remembers how sick he was, and how unwell he still is.

A few months ago, he had some very bad stomach pains and he was nauseous, there was a stomach flu going around. He felt horrible for twenty-four hours, we had to call the doctor in the middle of the night. The doc gave him two shots but told him that if he wasn’t feeling better by morning he had to go to the hospital, that he should have, in fact, gone straight to the hospital. I have never seen anyone more terrified of anything in his life. He was shaking, not from the pain, but from the fear of having to go back in.

This is what it’s like a year and a half after a bone marrow transplant. You get better, slowly. You go on with your life, partially. You get stronger, hopefully. But you certainly aren’t back to normal. In fact, you can’t even see normal off out on the horizon. And you absolutely aren’t off running for office.

Linking up today with Shell from Things I can’t say

Monday Listicles, the food edition.

Hello friends, it’s Monday Listicle time! This week Stasha’s assignment is pure torture for me, as I have to do another no carb, no sugar, my meals are so boring and I’m starving all the time week. Thank god my personal trainer values his life and only makes me do this for a week at a time! But since this was Bridget’s idea, I couldn’t very well ignore it, although I was tempted since she’s in Hawaii on vacation and I’m green with envy! But no one deserves a vacation more than Bridget and her husband so I’m putting my envy aside. My love and loyalty to her notwithstanding, I couldn’t very well make myself sit here and think about all the lovely things I want to eat but can’t… so I decided on another angle. I like to cook, I hate the daily drudgery of having to come up with what’s for dinner, but once I know what I’m doing I enjoy the process, and baking and decorating relax me into a very zen state. So, I figured, why not share my ten favorite cookbooks, I’m addressing the food category while not having to actually think about specific foods, because honestly, I’m starving, and I know you don’t want to torture me, reading everyone’s posts will be torture enough!!

My ten favorite cookbooks:


1. The Joy of Cooking – this is my absolute go to recipe book for everything, if you only have room in your life for one cookbook this is the one you should have.





2. Nourishing Traditions – this is the first “real food” cookbook I bought and it really changed my outlook on a lot of things, it’s easy to follow and very informative.





3. The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever – I love casseroles, cause they’re easy and comforting and many of them are make ahead and after dinner I don’t have to wash a hundred pots.



Lost Art

4. The Lost Art of Real Cooking – this book is lovely to read, the two authors each write their own recipes in two completely different styles. It’s funny, and entertaining and the recipes are wonderful.




5. Put ‘em up – I have a vegetable garden, which is great, but it also means that when the eggplants or the zucchini or the tomatoes are in that’s all we eat for a month. Canning and other preserving methods have really saved my sanity, cause after eating string beans every day for two weeks straight you kind of want to kill yourself.


forgotten skills

6. Forgotten Skills of Cooking – this book does what it says in the title, if you want to learn how to debone a duck, for example, you either need this book here or Julia Child’s Mastering the art of French cooking. Not that I’ve ever deboned a duck, but should I need to, I’m totally covered.




7. Canning for a New Generation: A seasonal guide to filling the modern pantry – see number 5.





8. Il Talismano della Felicità – this is my favorite Italian cookbook. Not many people in Italy have it nowadays, but my grandma used it, my aunt used it, my mom uses it…. It’s a bit old fashioned, and has no pictures, but just like the Joy of Cooking it’s one of those must have books.




9. Once-a-Month Cooking – this book I just bought, so I haven’t tried it out yet, but it looks fab, and honestly cooking only once a month and then just defrosting and making maybe a side or salad is my dream of kitchen utopia.




10. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook – this book I haven’t yet bought, mainly because the Husband has threatened to kick me out of the house if I buy one more cookbook. But I love the smitten kitchen blog, and the author Deb Perelman, her pictures are gorgeous and her food is mouthwateringly good, and she really tries to simplify her recipes so you don’t make a gigantic mess in the kitchen, what more can we ask for?!


So what are your favorite foods (or cookbooks, or any other food related thing, in fact!)?

The – why couldn’t I keep my mouth shut – Monday Listicle

Hi! This week the Listicle subject is my fault. Thanks Stasha for picking my suggestion! But you should really learn to ignore me, because this week, the listicle is just too damn hard, what the hell was I thinking??!!

I’ll tell you what I was thinking, a few listicles ago Ducky suggested we write ten amazing memories and it felt wonderful to remember some of the great things that have happened to me and to just generally look at the positive, so on the resulting high I tweeted this suggestion to Stasha: @NorthWestMommy Hey Stasha, how about 10 reasons why I’m great, just to get us in a positive mood before the Christmas insanity.

GAWD! Now what do I write? Cause I can’t very well ignore my own Listicle suggestion now can I? Note to self: next time write out the list before suggesting it to others. Why am I making such a big deal of this, you ask? Because what I hadn’t thought of is how to actually write this list without sounding like a gigantic self-important ass, or being falsely modest.

Anyway… here goes ten reasons why I’m wonderful (without being an ass or falsely modest.)

1. I can throw a pretty great party. Of course, I’m a nervous wreck by the time the party starts and don’t enjoy myself at all, but everyone else is happy and that’s what counts.

2. I worked for my husband for two years (as in he was my boss, I answered directly to him, I was managing a company that belonged to his family, so no pressure at all) and I managed not to kill him.

3. I generally learn from my mistakes (I’ll never work for my husband again, no matter how enticing the offer).

4. I get stuff done (when I’m not procrastinating).

5. I speak five languages (four fluently, one passably, I made no effort to learn any of them, it just happened when I was a kid).

6. I can out argue almost anyone.

7. I can also annoy almost anyone to the brink of suicide, which means I usually get what I set after.

8. I read really, really fast.

9. I can usually bake or cook myself out of any conflict (unless my mother is around, in which case I can’t cook at all for some reason).

10. I’m a really good mother. I know, I shouldn’t say it, but I am. I’m not the best mother out there, I’m not the most patient, I’m not the most fun, I’m not perfect, obviously, but my kids are well-mannered, they’re nice to everyone, they’re happy 99% of the time, they know right from wrong, and they’re very, very loved. This is actually the one that lifts my spirits up when I’m down, or when I’m wondering if I’m doing anything right, I look at them and they’re happy, so yeah, I’m doing a good job.

I’m going to be looking over this list often in the next month or so, when the holiday blues hit, when I’m overloading on too much family time, too many obligations, when I inevitably forget to mail Christmas cards, or buy someone important a present, when I’m fighting with my husband or my kids because that’s what too much holiday togetherness and too much holiday sugar does to us. And I’ll be looking over all of your lists too, because it’s important to remember how wonderful each of us is, but it’s also important to remember how much wonderfulness surrounds us.

Thanks Stasha for coming up with Monday Listicles, and for picking mine this week!

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.