A little optimism this way comes…

There seems to be a lot going on extended family wise lately.  Birthdays, pregnancies, drama… All families have drama, I know, but my tolerance for it is getting shorter and shorter as the years go by. I’ve probably simply just had my fill of it, between the Girl’s birth, the Husband’s illness, the in-laws’ health and financial insanity, the nanny leaving us, we’ve had drama up the wazoo. And now, well, now, I just try to live my life as drama free as possible, if only other people’s drama would quit encroaching on my oasis of level-headed beatitude (or so I wish it were).

My Grandma turned one hundred and four years old yesterday. 104. Every birthday that goes by is more amazing than the last. Obviously, we went down to Sao Paulo (Brazil) for the celebration.

For the first time ever the Husband managed to join us. We were supposed to be there two weeks, one of which would have been at the beach but of course the Husband’s entirely too short umbilical cord with the office started tugging at him and we had to change our plans and only stay one week (office drama). It was fantastic, though, to spend a week in the sweltering heat of the Brazilian summer coming from the dead of the most annoying winter we’ve had here. We haven’t had much snow (other than, typically, on the day before we left for and the day we returned from Brazil) but everyone’s been crazy sick, for months, just one thing after the other. I was sick literally from January 1st until halfway through the trip, so a little over a month, with everything under the sun, from laryngitis to bronchitis to sinusitis with and without the sniffles, fever, etc,etc, and the kids right along with me. The only healthy member of the family, shockingly and happily, was the husband. God only knows how that happened.

Suffice it to say, I was thoroughly enjoying being healthy and in flip-flops, I had absolutely no desire to come back to the crappy weather we’ve been having in Italy, I even briefly considered mutinously (and passive-aggressively) “losing” our passports.

So back to my Grandma or Vovo as we call her in Portuguese, her birthday went by without a hitch, she had a great week, she was very lucid and communicative. We don’t really understand her much when she speaks, which is tied to her age, but she’s perfectly capable of making herself understood. She spent a fair amount of time sitting in the living room watching the kids playing and going through the picture albums I take her every year, she had fun at her party and had her fill of champagne. What more can we ask for?

And now we’re back, hoping that “The Money Pit”, i.e. the stupid stable we’re still renovating, will soon be finished (and by soon I mean before retirement), settling back into our routine of school, skiing, and surviving the winter blues. The days are finally getting longer, if not warmer, there’s still some sunlight when we leave the house at 5.30 for soccer, which makes a gigantic difference, as you really feel like you’re finally on the better side of winter (the one closest to the end).

I have a weird excitement this year of good things to come, I can almost smell spring, I can almost see the end of the money pit sucking away at all our money, I can see better health, better weather, better moods just beyond my fingertips, but so close, so close, I just need to stretch a little bit more.

I guess that’s the best part of our trip to Brazil, all it takes is a few days with family, with nice weather, with good food, with love and just like that a little optimism this way comes…


Weekly recap

Tuesday was my grandmother’s one hundred and third birthday. 103. Amazing.

My grandmother was kind of a hardass, and not always in a good way. My mom gets mad at me cause I tell her she needs to be softer, more loving with my kids than her mother was with us, because when I was a kid my grandma was kind of a bitch. Disrespectful? Certainly. But true nonetheless. Despite all that I have some wonderful memories with my grandmother and I’m sad I didn’t make it to Brazil this year for her birthday.

On Tuesday I also went skiing for the first time ever. Practically. Well, we lived in Canada for a year, and that year I took some skiing lessons, but I was thirteen, it’s been, like, 24 years, so basically first time skiing ever. I went with my bestest, favorite girlfriends and while they skied at quasi professional level (most of them) I took a lesson with what I thought was supposed to be an average looking, middle-aged, ski instructor but was actually a young, very hot, ski instructor, who kept telling me not to look at my feet, to look at him, and I was like, well, do you want me to fall on my ass? Anyway, very distracting.  I’ll be seeing him again next week, I figure that if I can learn to ski with him around I will then be able to ski under any and all circumstances.

Wednesday I wanted to kill myself.

That’s how badly my legs hurt. Despite that, and against my better judgement, I went to the gym. My very hot, tan, blonde, blue-eyed, trainer (pattern, anyone?), who sent me to the very hot, tan, dark haired, brown-eyed, ski instructor, decided that since my legs were in crippling pain my upper body needed to be in crippling pain as well. So…

Thursday I had a three hour long coffee with the girls.

I literally could not get up from the chair, in fact, I could barely lift my coffee cup.

Oh, but wait, back to Wednesday, three separate but related facts. On Wednesday the kids have baby basketball in the afternoon. It’s Carnival time, Carnival is a big kid holiday here, they dress up, they have parties at school, they get sweets, and usually on the Sunday before Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday, last day of Carnival before Lent starts – condensed mini lesson on Catholicism, you’re welcome) there’s a parade, with floats and costumes. I have the worst memory of any mother anywhere, ever.

They were supposed to go to basketball in their costumes, for once in my life I got them to their lesson early, we ran into one of their friends, I realized they were supposed to be wearing costumes and clearly weren’t. I had a mini panic attack induced by extreme feelings of guilt and the memory of all the times I was the only kid not in costume cause my mom forgot. I left them with their friend’s dad, raced home, got two Spiderman costumes (cause the girl made it very clear that she was not playing basketball in a princess costume. Did I mention she’s three? I definitely will not survive the teenage years.), and raced back.

And when I say race, I actually mean hobble.

Anyway, they had their costumes and were happy, and I felt like slightly less of a horrible mother.

On Friday, I went to see the seven seater Prius.

I have a Prius now, the old model, I love it but am ready to upgrade to something a little roomier. I’ve gotta say, I’m not thrilled. If I don’t find anything better, I’ll get that one, but it’s a little pricey, not enough bang for the buck. Although with the price of gas here it may be the smartest option out there.

We were also supposed to go down to the beach house, as the kids are on holiday until Wednesday, but we didn’t make it today… it’s like we’re constantly swimming upstream. But tomorrow we’re definitely going. Probably.

I’ll leave you with some pictures of our skiing expedition and my warmest wishes for a wonderful weekend (holy alliteration batman, look at that!):

J, Y, F

One of the girls, me, hot ski instructor.



The Girls (two of them are holding me cause I was having balance problems due to having to look at hot ski instructor – that’s his name.)

lunch 1

A carb and sugary drinks laden, well deserved, lunch.


Very proud of myself (also, hot ski instructor)

Very proud of myself (also, hot ski instructor)


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.

Only hot, young, guys need apply

It’s 2.30pm and I’m still in my workout clothes. At this point I’m not even going to shower and change out of them cause I have Yoga in another 4 hours so what’s the point. I mean, seriously, showering, shaving, washing my hair, blow drying it (cause I’m a wimp and can’t go out in wet hair when it’s chilly anymore)… only to get back into a very similar workout outfit? Talk about a hassle.

It’s 2.30 pm and it’s the first time I open the computer today. How does that even happen? I haven’t checked my emails, haven’t been on facebook, haven’t visited any of my “daily reads” blogs. And this is exactly what it’s been like for the past ten days, honest to God, I don’t know how this happens.

It’s not like I did anything earth shattering today, or any other day last week, in fact. I get up, I wrangle the kids, I take them to school, I run errands, I go to the gym for what feels like four, but is actually closer to one and a half, hours, I come home, I eat, I get the kids, I put them down for their naps and BAM! It’s 2.30. What the hell??

This nonsense started almost two weeks ago, when, getting up from the couch with a pain in my back, I decided I was done with feeling like I’m a hundred and three. My grandma, who is actually almost a hundred and three is more limber than I. I spent my days recently with pain in my shoulder, in my hip, in my lower back, in my knee. I have neither fallen or been in an accident. Is there any reason on this green earth why an otherwise healthy woman of some thirty odd years of age should have such a list of ailments? Absolutely not! Is the thought that started me on this road of not having any time for faffing around. Because I started going to the gym. Every day. E.v.e.r.y. d.a.y. for an hour and a half. With, thank god, a very cute personal trainer.

In fact, if he wasn’t quite so young, and fit, and blonde and blue-eyed, and smiley, and cute, I probably would have throat punched him by now. Because the pain I was in before is nothing compared to the pain I’m in now. The pain I’m in now laughs in the face of the pain I was in before. I’m doing squats, and lunges, and all manner of outlandish movements on weighted medieval torture devices. And then I walk, oh my lord, I walk for like forever, uphill, then downhill, then at a faster or a slower pace, I walk, and walk, and walk, and by god, I don’t go anywhere. Talk about frustrating.

And that’s why it’s 2.30pm and I’m sitting here for the first time all day, finally in front of my long forgotten friend, wondering if I’m too stinky to just stay like this until yoga tonight or if I really should go shower, and change into a fresh pair of yoga pants. All this so I can fit back into all the marvelous clothes I have in my closet and I can play with my kids without creaking and huffing, puffing and jiggling and complaining. Ugh.

Ode to a fine old broad

I went to Brazil last week to see my Grandmother. I usually go in February for her birthday, but I didn’t go this year cause I had just spent two months in Houston at my Mom’s and since she is slowly starting to decline I decided to take a last-minute trip to see her. Don’t get me wrong, she’s perfectly healthy, her body is just, well, old. And she’s starting to look like she may be getting done with the whole living thing… she’s started retreating into herself, not talking much, it’s like she’s in her own little world, which is fine, at her age she’s allowed to do whatever the hell she wants. And since the stars aligned just so, and I could leave the kids for a few days I decided to go see her, just in case. In case of what, I sometimes wonder, since I’m pretty sure she’s going to bury us all.

My Grandma turned 102 years old this year. 102. It constantly boggles my mind that she could possibly be that old. She was born in 1910. There were no cars back then, her preferred mode of locomotion was a horse. Seriously, a horse. There were no telephones (they existed, like cars, but nobody had them), no TVs, no computers, no wi-fi, no iPhones, no color photographs, no cameras for personal use, there were no washers, nor dryers, nor, well, electricity in the house where she was born, in fact. Because she was born at home, of course. She had something like fifteen siblings, but only eight made it to adulthood. She had four daughters from three separate husbands, only one of which died. This means she got divorced twice. Two divorces seem commonplace nowadays, but she was born at a time when women couldn’t even vote. She had my Mom when she was 43, which means she was practically decrepit for her time, and yet my granddad was ten years younger than her, At some point, for reasons beyond my understanding, she kicked him out of the house. She always worked for a living, she raised four daughters and buried three, she learned to drive, she used to smoke (and roll her own cigarettes, of course) and she quit, before the surgeon general realized that smoking was possibly not great for our health.

She never said a word when my Mother went to live in sin with a man almost thirty years her senior and proceeded to have two kids with him. In the thirty-six years that I have known her I have never, not once, seen her without dyed hair and painted nails.

with my Mom, her youngest daughter

With me, last week in Sao Paulo

She was a hard ass, she was not a coddling grandmother, I couldn’t step out of line cause she was always there, ready to tattle. I resented the crap out of her as a teenager and yet the day I turned eighteen she changed completely. My life was then my own and she never, ever commented on any of my decisions. The day I got married, she gave me all her jewelry and her blessing and then visibly relaxed.

She told me the most wondrous, amazing stories when I was a kid, I wish I had written them down, and she always sang me to sleep.

And now? Now she is doggedly hanging on to life with tooth and claw. She had a hard life, but she loved it, she still loves it, and I believe, she will love it till the end.

Dancing on her birthday with one of her physiotherapists, whom she probably would have married had he been available…

Linking up today with Shell for Pour your heart out.