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?

Monday Listicle – The oh my husband is so wonderful Edition

Hello friends, happy Monday! It’s Listicle time! This week’s topic is courtesy of yours truly, thank you Stasha for picking my suggestion! I’ve been meaning to dedicate a post to the Husband for some time now, but something always gets in the way (namely my erratic posting habits), so guilt-ridden after my Valentine’s day fiasco I suggested ten ways my partner’s awesome, because, of course, he is (I picked him, didn’t I?) and I would do well to remember that! It works out ever so perfectly because tomorrow is father’s day here, in Italy it is always celebrated on St Joseph day, March 19th, which is one of the many holidays I routinely forget about as it is the “wrong” month (as far as I’m concerned!).

Anyway, repenting my many sins in the spirit of lent (even though I’m not catholic), I give you, ten ways The Husband is awesome:

1. He’s married to me, I’m awesome, ergo he is awesome by association.

2.  He gives me regular foot massages or back rubs (and not always with an ulterior motive)

3. He’s a wonderful father

4. He’s the friendliest guy I know

5. He’s also the nicest guy I know, an example: when he was in the hospital in Houston one day he was being taken to get a test done and the girl pushing his bed was training, so it was her and two other women (and me, he looked like he had some sort of weird entourage…), anyway she had probably just started because she was not very good… in fact, she kept banging him into corners and it took forever to get in and out of the elevators… standard fare for a beginner, but she was obviously getting flustered as he was obviously very uncomfortable, anyway all of a sudden he turns to her, touches her hand, and says, don’t worry, you are a good driver this has been a fun ride. In any situation when he could possibly have the option of complaining, or being an asshole, or being stern, he’ll always choose to be nice. I really hope my kids take after him.

6. He’s thoughtful.  A few months ago I had a movie night with the girls and last minute we had nowhere to do it cause all our husbands and kids were home, so he set us up in his office, he took time out of his day to organize a big screen tv and comfy chairs and everything I would need to connect my ipad so we could watch the movie. He even left us drinks… and he doesn’t have a lot of time to take out of his day.

7. He can fix or rewire anything in the house. He’ll bitch while he’s doing it, and I need to be around to hand him tools and stuff, but he does it, and he does a damn good job of it too.

8. He’s an optimist (most of the time). When I met him he was the poster boy for positive thinking, he gave my dad (the most optimistic person I had known till I met the Husband) a run for his money. Obviously, the leukemia changed this about him, not the first time around, the first time he was Mr Positivity, there was always a doctor or a nurse in his room just to have a chat, that’s how pleasant he was to be around. Of course, when the leukemia came back that changed his attitude a lot, he was a lot sicker, he was out of strength (mentally and physically), he had probably reached his limit, so he turned into a very negative, pessimistic version of himself. But you can’t fight nature, and I see some of the light coming back…

9. He likes to dance. He’s not always … er… Fred Astaire… but he’s always up for going dancing, so can’t really complain, now can I!

10. He’ll always cut the chicken or raw meat up for me to cook when it grosses me out. And he cooked it when I was pregnant and couldn’t look, smell or eat meat of any kind unless it was properly camouflaged in the form of a very loaded burger or sandwich.

11. He sends me flowers. He sends his mother flowers. He always tries to make me happy. (and it mostly works) – I added this one because #1 doesn’t really count…

12. he is a wonderful lover ;P

Well, rereading this, he is pretty awesome… and now I have something to go read when he does something that makes me want to rip his head off (which is likely to be daily).

(#12 appeared after I wrote the list and left it for him to read… though I have no evidence, I believe I have a pretty good idea as to who could possibly have added it.)

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!

Because, my friends, I’m nothing if not rational and there’s little I love more than teaching a good lesson.

Yesterday I participated in one of MamaKat’s pretty much world-famous writer’s workshop, and one of the prompts (that I didn’t do) was write an open letter to a man. One of the many bloggers who followed this prompt DeanaBo brought up the fact that when you send a man to the store they often come back with something similar to what you asked for, but not exactly what you asked for, and that prompted one of those light bulb above the head moments for me.

I cannot count the number of conversations I’ve had over the years with countless women about this very subject. Just a few weeks ago, in Houston, one evening my mom was positively hysterical (and not in a oh, she’s so funny way) because she sent her husband to the store for “some garlic” and he came home with a gigantic tub of peeled garlic. My mom hardly ever uses garlic. Seriously, they haven’t been married that long, but it has been three years, what on this green earth did he think she was going to do with a tub of garlic, ward off a vampire invasion??

I don’t get it. There are times when I ask The Husband for a couple of lemons and he comes home with exactly two lemons (really? does he think that warrants a trip to the store?) at other times, to the same request, he responds by returning with an exaggerated amount of lemons. What goes on in their heads?

No, it’s not a rhetorical question. I really want to know what the hell they are thinking when they go to the grocery store. The Husband is perfectly rational in other aspects of his life (well… he does seem to have a flashlight fetish, he can’t walk by flashlights at the store without buying one, but that’s pretty minor, right?) what can possibly be going on in their brains when they enter a grocery store that turns them into complete morons.

A few years back, when I was pregnant with The Girl I couldn’t eat meat. I don’t know what happens to me when I’m pregnant, any other time in my life if you present me with a steak and any other food, whether it be pasta or cake or cookies or pizza or any other delicacy, whatever time of day, I’ll pick the steak. When I’m pregnant I can’t even look at cows.

But for some reason, with the girl I could eat cheeseburgers, probably cause they were so loaded with stuff that I couldn’t see the meat. Anyway, I get a craving for cheeseburgers and I send him off to the butcher to get the meat so he could grill them for me, and remember now, I was pregnant, so this wasn’t an oh I kind of feel like a cheeseburger marijuana induced craving, this was a full on I will massacre you with my bare hands until you are but a bloody, pulpy mess on the kitchen floor if I don’t get a damn burger craving.

He comes home with chicken breast.

Yes, you read that right. I mean, it’s not even in the same category. What the hell am I saying? It’s not even in the same universe as a cheeseburger. What was he thinking?? I never got the chance to find out because the sheer volume, the actual decibel level, of my shrieking was so loud that dogs for miles around our house covered their ears and cowered in fear. Obviously, he went back to the butchers and came back with hamburger meat. But, honestly, wouldn’t it have been easier to just get it the first time around?

Next time, just for fun, when he asks me to buy him something specific I’m going to buy something similar, but not exactly what he wants. I can’t wait to see his reaction to a tube of say, hair removal cream, when he asks for razors…. Then maybe he’ll understand, and learn… I mean seriously… Chicken breasts. Sheesh!

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

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