On death and dying

This has been a strange week, what with the Boston Marathon and West, Texas, and I know I should probably be writing about that, but something else happened and it’s what stayed at the forefront of my mind.

On Wednesday, I had to go sign some documents with The Husband for the never-ending saga that is the house reno, and since we were done early we managed to get a rare, quick, lunch together. We were chatting about his brother’s baby’s christening that’s in a few weeks, planning travel (it’s in Milan) and dinner out with our friends and whatnot, and I remarked on the fact that I thought his brother would have asked him to be the baby’s godfather, whereas they decided to ask the other uncle and our niece. And The Husband’s matter of fact answer was that they made the better choice since his life expectancy wasn’t very good, and then he went right back to eating his sandwich.

I was kind of shocked and speechless by his answer. I was also surprised to be shocked and speechless. I know his life expectancy isn’t very good. He signed dozens of documents when he was undergoing treatment that stated that he understood the risks of chemo, and radiation therapy, and the transplant and blah, blah, blah. He’s been on some heavy duty drugs for the three years now. We know. But, since he’s always seemed so removed from his illness, he always seemed to do everything the doctors told him, but without ever truly thinking about it, he seemed to ignore the illness and his recovery in a sense, I always thought he avoided thinking about all the negative implications.

It shocked me because I had never really thought about the fact that he lives his life with the uncertainty of seeing his children grow up, with the thought that at some point, some possibly not too distant point in the future, he’ll leave me a widow and our children orphaned.

It shocked me to imagine that he doesn’t think he’s going to be around very long.

How do you live like that?

The leukemia is in remission, he should be relieved, he should be looking forward and thinking about his future, instead with every handful of pills he takes every day, twice a day, he thinks that his life expectancy isn’t very good.

I realize I’m not saying anything new, we were aware of this, but I never really thought about it, about how it impacted him (ridiculous, since he’s the one it’s impacting daily). It just made me really sad for him, to think that this is how he lives his life, with Damocles’ sword overhead. So with tragedy and death all around us these days, this is what I’ve been thinking about, the uncertainty of life and the gift each day that we have really is.

Who put this hot potato in my lap??

This weekend the Husband took the kids to Milan to visit his family. The kiddos love spending time with their Nonni (grandparents) and I get a relaxing weekend at home… alone… pure bliss! Though, I do miss them lots (between cocktails and visits to the spa and hanging out with my friends with nary a child in sight…) Also, my Husband’s family gets to do whatever they want, feed them candy, take them on adventures, without my disapproving, party pooper presence. So it works out all around.

Friday night I had “the girls” over for dinner, mostly because I needed to practice my Margarita making skills – on a side note, it took me thirty minutes in front of the liquor aisle at the supermarket to locate the tequila, there were 25 different types of rum and more different grappas than I could count but only one, lonely, half-hidden, bottle of insanely expensive tequila, which I thought was pretty weird… Anyway… one of my girlfriends wanted to hone her cosmopolitan making skills as one of her 40 things to learn before 40 bucket list, so much alcohol was consumed. Surprisingly, everyone was eager to taste test our creations. We had a lovely meal, followed by drunken dancing, and then we sobered up with a hilarious movie before bidding each other good night at the ungodly hour of 2am. All this happened while wearing drawstring pants, not a stitch of make-up and with nary a high heel in sight, basically, the perfect evening!

This is the second child and Husband free weekend I’ve had this year, and I’ve got to say that every couple of months or so it really is a lifesaver (or, less dramatically, sanity saver).


The Husband came home Sunday night and asked me to consider having his 16 year-old niece come to live with us. I know, kind of an intense subject matter for a Sunday night post relaxing weekend.

His niece, is a really sweet, slightly troubled, girl. We had actually considered this two years ago when she started high school, but decided we couldn’t accept the responsibility of a fourteen year old (the Husband had just had the second transplant and the Girl was one and a half). And now the situation presents itself once again, and I’m unsure what to do.

Our niece, let’s call her R for simplicity’s sake, has just been suspended from school for two weeks, she’s probably going to fail the year, she got recently put in a body cast for a pretty severe scoliosis that nobody noticed, and is generally left mostly to her own devices. I’m not making any judgments on her parents and their parenting, they had an ugly divorce, and other varied and sundry family drama, and since I’ve never gone through that and don’t have teenagers I can’t say one way or the other where the blame lies (if blame can even be assigned in a situation as this one). What I do know, is that we could give her a stable family environment. What I don’t know is whether I’m capable of handling a teenager, cause if it’s your own teenager you’ve raised her year by year yourself and you sort of ease into it, we would be leaping from preschoolers to at teenager with no intermediate preparation whatsoever.

I wouldn’t want to screw up the situation more than it already is, but on the other hand, we love her and want to help her, and maybe being in a new environment, having to make new friends, away from all the drama that inevitably falls on her doorstep every day, could be beneficial.

Right now we’re trying to think of all the possible scenarios, and we’re trying to figure out if we’re up to it and how it would affect her, us, and our children, then we’re going to sit down and talk to her parents (separately, but hopefully also together) and to her. In the meantime, I wonder, does anyone have any advice?

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.

The Hot to Trot Monday Listicle

Hello friends, and happy Monday!

This week I’m going to be bad and not follow Stasha’s Listicle prompt, sorry Stasha! But I’m hoping once you see my list you won’t mind, or care at all, in fact….

Because, you see, I’ve been watching altogether too much tv lately and I’ve noticed a decided decline in my cognitive ability… in fact, I seem to have developed a schoolgirl crush on Ian Somerholder.

This is Ian Somerholder:

ian somerhalder 3

Or rather I’ve developed a schoolgirl crush on Damon Salvatore, the character he plays in the Vampire Diaries.


I’ll let that sink in for a second. And for those of you new here I’m a “respectable” 37 year-old wife and mother, the reason behind my watching the Vampire Diaries is beyond even me. I blame the novelty of Netflix, and the abysmalness of Italian television programming (and quite possibly the fact that too much television kills brain cells.)

In the last six months since my mother revealed to me the secret of streaming American shows abroad I’ve watched more shows than I will admit to and developed a series of truly improbable crushes. The last of which is Ian Somerholder, because though a tragic douche in Lost, in the Vampire Diaries he’s terribly sexy (and he knows it, if the number of gratuitously shirtless scenes in the show are any indication).

ian-somerhalder abs2

in case you’re wondering, I’m not opposed to the gratuitously shirtless scenes in the show.

I’ve also managed to crush on Kris Holden-Reid from Lost Girl (has anyone even heard of this show??):

a bit too leonine and blonde for my taste, but he does have the requisite blue eyes and sculpted torso.

a bit too leonine and blonde for my taste, but he does have the requisite blue eyes and sculpted torso.

Matt Bomer from White Collar

matt bomer bw 2

though he’s undeniably hot, his costar Tim DeKay is sexier in my opinion, there’s something almost feminine about Matt Bomer, delicate features or something that makes me want to look at him but absolutely not sleep with him (which is fortunate as I’m positive he would absolutely not want to sleep with me. So we can just be friends, Matt, ok, just walk around shirtless every once in awhile and I’m happy):


Jonathan Rhys Meyers from the Tudors, which, incidentally, is a really good show.

jonathan rhys meyers2

There’s something about him that makes him seem a bit psychotic or serial killer-ish, which made him perfect to play Henry the eighth – who was not renown for being especially stable – but he doesn’t fill me with confidence as to my safety around him, which is, of course, not a problem, as I can’t imagine us ever running in the same circles. Also, he’s probably a perfectly nice guy.

maybe it's the sword...

maybe it’s the sword…

And my longest standing crush:


Yes, I’m predictable, Ryan Gosling, but how could I keep him out of this list, I mean, just look at those abs!

ryan gosling abs 2

Is it sad, I wonder, to occasionally sit at traffic lights and daydream about these total hotties falling madly, passionately in love with me? (with their shirts open, of course) Or does it mean that they’re just doing a really, really good job at whatever they’re doing?

Anyway, there you have it, five of my most recent crushes for this week’s Listicle, I feel like I’m providing a public service today by helping you start your week out right with a little eye candy!

p.s. While diligently and meticulously scouring the net for half-naked pictures of the above-mentioned (and, though arduous and tedious work, I did It just for you), I found out that Bradley Cooper has a pretty hot bod. Who knew?!


If wishes were horses…

It’s a beautiful day today, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the breeze is still cool but there’s hope of warmer weather in the air. And I’ve been totally jacked up since yesterday, my trainer even asked me if I was on amphetamines yesterday morning since he’d never seen me so chipper so early (or ever, in fact). The answer is no, in case you’re wondering, I wasn’t, I was probably just high on the unexpected, unseasonable, sunshine.

But of course, as life has taught me repeatedly lately, to every high there is a low… something about keeping balance in the universe… although, if you ask me, there’s altogether too much low in the universe and definitely not enough high.

Anyway… the Husband is ill again. Nothing serious. He’s just got a relatively high temperature and is nauseous, which could be nothing or it could be plenty, but that’s not my point. I’m just so monumentally sick and tired of him getting sick. Of course he’s not capital S sick, but still, every few weeks, or months when we’re really lucky, he gets sick again. He lies in bed all day, he doesn’t eat, he needs to be taken care of, and sometimes he gets better on his own and other times he spends 10 days in the hospital like we did in Houston, racking up a bill that would have bought us a new house (thank god we still have insurance). He’s not big on complaining, mind you, and we’re married so there’s the whole in sickness/health thing, also I love him, but still, I would like to go back to a life where we could travel and not worry about whether there was a decent hospital nearby.

Ever since I moved to this site from Moomser I promised myself it wouldn’t be about the leukemia and all the crap that ensued, I didn’t want to rehash all that, but trying to keep that part of my life from this blog has resulted in my not having an awful lot to post about. I’m so tired of living with the consequences of his illness, but I’m going to have to make peace with it, because this is what our lives are about, still, three years in. Three years isn’t all that long, but believe me, it feels like a lifetime, a lifetime of worry, and fear, and misery, and meds, and hospitals, lots and lots of hospitals.

I know it’ll get better, at the depressingly slow, slower than a snail’s pace we’ve been moving in, I just wish I had something to take my mind off it, something light, and fun, and easy, to distract me. Then again, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride…