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?

Coffee and Chit Chat

Hello dear friends, and welcome to coffee. If we were really meeting for coffee, I’d tell you about the last few days.

I’ve mentioned before that I have some really good friends here and the more I talk about it the more proof I have that it’s true. Last week we organized a girls’ movie night, one of our friends is going through a really crappy divorce (I know divorce is always crappy, but sometimes you luck out and the person you are divorcing is a mature, compassionate, sensible and responsible human being, in this case however he is an immature, irresponsible, arrogant, inconsiderate, piece of horse shit), so she needs regular distractions from her situation. So we decided to go see Magic Mike (which was still on at the theatre here). And why yes, we wanted to go see it for the articles.

First a note about the movie itself, for those who haven’t seen it: It was generally pretty horrific. The men though hot, were not really sexy… I don’t know, I just can’t get behind the whole man in a thong thing (pun intended!) and the parts where they aren’t stripping are pretty boring, so it’s basically the movie equivalent of Fifty Shades, that said, we had fun.

Seeing the movie itself was not without its obstacles, we decided to go see it last Friday, and last Wednesday they took it out of the movies. So I downloaded it on my ipad, but obviously, we couldn’t all watch it off an ipad. The only one of us (the soon to be divorcee) who didn’t have kids or a husband at home, didn’t have a tv built in the last century to which we could hook up the ipad (guess who took her new tv…). It took awhile, but we finally found a place to go laugh, and whoop, and act like drunk college students (or cougars, whichever you prefer), the Husband’s office. (He gets his own post about what a wonderful husband he is later in the week). He set up a big screen in his office, hooked it up for us, got us comfortable chairs and left us with the keys and the “don’t get too drunk” speech.

Today, another friend gave me an awesome belated birthday present, she invited me to her house for coffee, but was waiting for me outside, got in my car and directed me to an undisclosed location – her beautician, of whose massage skills she’s been waxing poetic for months. So I got a wonderful surprise massage instead of coffee today, and then we had a quick lunch. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world! (Also, the most relaxed)

I would like to go on, as I haven’t done a virtual coffee in a long time, but nap time is almost over so my time’s up. I’m going to try and get back into the swing of virtual coffee every week, I’ve missed it, and it’s a great way to catch up!

Till next time then, for now, toodles!

 

Girls’ night out – a post where I prove once again I have no concept of brevity

So I’m trying to organize a night out with the girls. I’ve mentioned before that I have a great group of friends here. In fact, I’ve found I’m pretty lucky in the friendship department. I still have a few good friends (some even amazing friends) in Houston though I haven’t lived there in many years now, I have some great friends in Milan, and now I have some awesome friends here. Even though when I came to this tiny rural town seven years ago (my God has it been that long?!?) I thought I would never again make friends like the ones I was leaving behind. In fact, I remember clearly stating to my  best friend in Milan that I would never find such good friends again, that at thirty, working full-time, in a company where, for all intents and purposes I was, not only the boss, but also the owner’s wife, I would never find the time to make friends and I couldn’t befriend my co-workers.
And instead, here I am, seven years later, two kids, no longer working full-time, and with some fantastic friends. As I said, lucky.

Amazingly, most of my girlfriends here are from English-speaking countries. I don’t know if I can fully convey how incredible (literally as in hard to believe) this is, we live in a mountainous area of northwest  Italy specifically known for how closed off the general population is and yet I’ve managed to find a group of girls my age (take or leave a few years) from the US, England, Australia, Canada, South Africa… and this fact, isn’t just surprising from a statistical point of view, it’s actually been a lifesaver for all of us. It’s hard living away from home, it’s hard always being a little bit foreign no matter how integrated you are. I’m Italian, but all of my childhood experiences, all the things that speak of “home” to me, many of my best and oldest memories are “American”, and even though I speak perfect Italian my first language is English.  Being around other people who feel just as foreign, who gripe about the same things, with whom I can, jokingly, rag on Italians without fear of offending anyone is liberating, it gives me a feeling of belonging.

Anyway, getting back on track (it’s astounding how I always manage to take off on a tangent for half an hour), we try to organize an evening out a month (it doesn’t seem like much, but just try organizing ten to fifteen women almost all of whom have kids and/or husbands, it’s like  trying to organize scattering ants) and at least one coffee a week. This week we’ve decided to ditch our husbands home with the kids on Friday night, right at dinner/bath-time so we can go out to the movies and possibly grab a quick bite first.

We need these girly nights, in fact we deserve these girly nights. We usually go out to eat somewhere nice, where the wine flows freely, or we (rather more rarely) go out for drinks, or dancing, but we’ve never all gone to the movies together. It should be fun, and er… funny… most likely. And now that I’ve hopefully got your curiosity a little bit peaked I wonder if you can guess what could possibly grab a group of thirty something women’s attention away from the wonderful dinner with free-flowing wine we normally would be having, diverting it instead to an evening of candy-smacking and popcorn-crunching at the movies.

Those who guess will be named my new super-duper best friends on the internet!

Stronger than the wind, hotter than the sun, steady like a mountain

I have some very good girlfriends, I realized today.

When the Husband was sick I felt abandoned by everyone, everyone but my internet family. And today I realized that the problem wasn’t that I don’t have good friends, the problem was that I can’t let people in when I’m down. I have to put up a strong front, I have to keep it together, I also have a bit of “money guilt” (interesting subject in which I’d like to delve in the near future), I’m lucky, I can hire help when I need it, so I feel like I can’t and shouldn’t ask friends for help. This is pretty stupid of me. On my old blog I could talk (almost) freely about how his illness affected me, about the hard parts, and I felt a strong sense of understanding and support from my internet friends but when my real life friends asked how I was, or if I needed anything, my answer was always a chirpy “fine”, or “life is what it is”, and “not a thing, thanks”, when it probably should have been come on over and bring some wine I need someone to get shitfaced with and cry.

Of course through most of the Husband’s hospital stay I was breastfeeding, but I could have asked for ice cream, right?

I was lonely because I put up walls.

I’m better now, I’ve ventured back into the world so to speak, I actually have the energy to see what’s going on around me. I had a bunch of my “anglo” girls over for coffee today, it’s a great group of women who are all originally from English speaking countries (some American, some Canadian, some Brits, some Australian and South African) who all ended up in this tiny corner of rural Italy. We get together and speak our mother tongue, gripe about Italy, complain about the proximity of our in-laws and the distance from our own families, we drink coffee or wine or cocktails (depending on the time of day or our respective moods) and we stay sane, away from home.

One of my friends is going through an ugly divorce (which is clearly all her asshole husband’s fault), another is struggling with a newborn and a slightly older baby that barely counts as a toddler (yeah, contraception doesn’t always work), one wants kids while her husband doesn’t and has to listen to her biological clock clanking away like an amplified bell in her head all the time. Everyone of us has her own personal tragedies or difficulties, large or small, and today I realized I cannot, I will not, allow any of them to put up and hide behind walls when having a friend stand by you could make the difference between depression and despair or strength and understanding.

Because when life throws you lemons all you can do is make lemonade, whereas a friend will call reinforcements, make gin lemon fizzes and strong arm you into a party.

I’m grateful for my friends, so this week I’m linking up with Maxabella Loves for 52 weeks of grateful