Thursday, December 30, 2010

Finally, a post where I don't ramble on for hours

It rained nonstop on Christmas Day, but on Boxing Day we went to sleep with this view:

I know, it's a crappy picture, I posted it because I thought my front yard was just beautiful and I had to share. Also, the other day, I realized I don't have a whole lot of photos on here so I decided to rectify that. December has been a bit of a rollercoaster emotionally and I'm tired of boring you with all the jabber so here are a lot of pictures from this past month. Forgive the quality, but I'm no photographer!

p.s. since there's loads of pictures click below to see the whole post

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Best Posts of the Worst Year Ever

2010 is almost over, can we all shout out in glee together?! Honestly, we had a pretty crappy year, but sometimes good things come out of bad situations. I learned some pretty valuable lessons, I reevaluated my priorities, I think I’m a better person and hey, it led me to this blog. Today going through my usual blog reads I stumbled upon a year in review post by one of my favorite bloggers, Scary Mommy and then when I saw Theta Mom had done one too I figured I’d join the bandwagon. Writing this post forced me to go back and read through this year with all the good, the bad and the ugly… and I realized that though it remains “the worst year ever”, we still managed to have fun, to grow, to love and to laugh, so what more can I ask for, really?
I don’t know if these are the “best” posts I’ve written (that’s subjective after all), but I believe they represent me and this blog, so if you’re inclined to go read them, have fun. In any case, I wish you all a fantabulous 2011, full of love, happiness, health and laughter.
July: Make no Plans ; Appreciating the small things in life ; Oh, the drama

May and June – I was M.I.A. so no posts to speak of, which is why I put two extra ones from July

Monday, December 27, 2010

Living with Leukemia. The other side of the story: Anniversary of T.W.C.O.A.T

Thursday the 23rd I was moseying along, minding my own business, doing my thing when the husband comes up to me, mid-morning, and says: last year right now I thought I was healthy and my life was great. And my reaction was: Gulp. Crap. The anniversary of The Worst Christmas Of All Time starts today. And since the husband was on his way out the door to go to the hospital, the sense of déjà vu became almost oppressive, and I didn’t want him to go, cause what if they kept him there like in some weird time/space loop, where last year repeats itself over and over again à la “Groundhog Day”? But then he said, stop being crazy, I’m fine, I’ll see you later. I’ll. See. You. Later.
That night, he turned to kiss me good night and said, see, I’m sleeping here tonight, in our bed. I’m here. And there was relief in his voice. This past year was hard, I’ve said it again and again, but now it’s starting to feel like it’s finally over, like we can start letting go just a little bit.
My Dad died on February 5th 2006, and when the first anniversary of his passing came around I started freaking out just a little bit… I dreaded February 5th 2007, because in my head it felt like another ending. For the whole first year after his death I could think, last year today dad was in the office, or last year today we were on vacation together in Rio, or last year today he called and asked me this or that, but once I passed the one year mark from his death there couldn’t be any more last year todays because last year today he was already gone. So I dreaded the anniversary of his death because I would have no more recent memories of him, it felt like he was dying again. But that day came and went and what I had been dreading for a year, losing my father again, wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, on February 6th 2007 I started letting go a little bit, it’s not that I magically started missing him less, but it was a little less painful. That’s the grieving process for ya!
How does this little anecdote relate? Well, December 23rd felt like some sort of deadline too, I had the same feeling of dread, the same negative anticipation…. And yet it too came and went, and we can all truly start letting go now. The husband is doing ok, he’s got good days and bad days, but he is progressively getting better, it’s slow but steady and we’re ok with that.
I’ve mentioned in other posts that we’ve been having ups and downs lately, but on Thursday night I realized that much of the stress we’ve been under was due to this inauspicious date looming over us, I’m not saying everything is perfect now, but our hearts are certainly lighter. It seems strange to invest a date with so much meaning, with so much power, but it’s not something we did consciously, and it’s not easily explained. Suffice it to say that we counted our blessings and they are bountiful, so now when we look to the future we do so with less fear, anger and defeatism and more optimism, hope and faith. What more could we ask of the holiday season?

Saturday, December 25, 2010


‎2am here, Santa arrived, assembled toy kitchen, arranged gifts strategically and took many pictures. Mrs. Santa finished wrapping gifts, baked (and partially burned) cinnamon rolls for breakfast, rearranged gifts under the tree, rolled her eyes at the picture taking, and is now getting ready for bed. Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Update to the post where I defy the universe

A few days ago I wrote a smug (and mildly smart ass) post on how I had finished all my Christmas shopping and how I was going to sit back and laugh at all the poor morons doing their last minute Christmas shopping in the craziness of the last few days, with the crowds and no selection blah, blah, blah. Thirty seconds later, when I realized how stupid and dangerous it was to thus defy the gods, I posted again, in a mildly repentant, trying to be amusing tone about how one shouldn’t defy the universe, yada, yada, ha, ha. Well, this post is for all of you who aren’t even a little superstitious (i.e. people who haven’t met my mother). You see, right after this whole little posting diarrhea I went through the other day I realized that the locked closet full of presents I had painstakingly accumulated wasn’t even scratching the surface of all the presents I was supposed to buy. So I spent the last few days, recompiling lists of gifts to get, running around like a crazy person trying to get them all, shaking my fists at the heavens when I realize that the genius idea for a present I just had for so and so was the same idea everyone else had too, so the hell am I going to be able to find that article before Easter much less Christmas, and generally doing all the things I had vowed I wasn’t going to be doing this year. So basically, if I may give you a few words of advice it would be to try to keep the smugness to a minimum during the holidays because karma is a bitch and she ain’t afraid to show it. Oh and by the way, I forgot all about a little thing called Christmas cards this year too… so please don’t expect one from me, I’ll send you two next year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Like Pizza and Ice Cream

As Christmas is coming closer and closer I’ve fallen under a strange spell. The craziness of the last few weeks, the couple’s therapy, the barely contained emotions over the one year mark from the Husband’s diagnosis, the children not sleeping for weeks now due to teeth, coughs and nerves, it’s all come to a head this week in the most unexpected of ways. Monday I almost cracked completely, and then I had one of those realizations of epic proportions, complete with celestial music and lighting. And this is what I decided (what I realized is for another post, when I figure out how to convey it through words), this Christmas I’m going to let go of all the ridiculousness. I’m not going to get mad over stupid stuff, I’m not going to stress over the perfect meal, I’m not going to argue with the husband and I’m not going to let my frustrations or my feelings of inadequacy or my demons through the door. This Christmas I’m going to wear something that’s more comfortable than elegant, I’m going to sit through the meal, and everyone can serve themselves, I’m going to eat my food and enjoy it with no guilt, I’m going to buy part of the meal instead of cooking it myself and I’m not going to care, I’m going to watch the children unwrap the presents that magically appeared in the night and revel in their joy and if there aren’t any pictures of the event, well so be it, living it is more important than photographing it, I’m going to pause for a second and thank God that this year we’re all together for Christmas, cause that certainly isn’t a given. This year I want my Christmas to be simple and guilt, anger and frustration free. This year I’m going to just relax and enjoy it.
Last night, as I was thinking all of this, we were having pizza and ice cream for dinner, and it suddenly struck me what a perfect, comforting, simple meal it is. So that’s what I want this year, I want my Christmas to be just like pizza and ice cream.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

5 signs you're PMSing

Do you recognize the signs?
1.    You suddenly start eating your weight in carbs.
2.    Everything your husband does is stupid or mean, or stupid and mean.
3.    Commercials are so sad, they make you cry.
4.    You love your children so much, it makes you cry.
5.    Your husband is so sweet, he loves you so much, it makes you cry.
Oh and a bonus: the only thing that makes you feel better is ice cream. Always keep some in the fridge, cause your husband certainly isn’t going to go get it for you in the middle of the night, that only happens when you’re pregnant. The first time. Because he’s mean. Or stupid. Or both.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Stuff that drives me nuts

When I realize a second after I posted something that it was just a blatant invitation for everything to go wrong and so when my carefully thought out plans for the week decide to come crashing down around me in a cacophony of chaos, anger, frustration and possibly tantrums I have no one to blame but myself. So for those (two) of you who don’t end up getting their Christmas presents this year because the universe decides to teach me and my big mouth a lesson, sorry!

Stuff that amazes me

That it’s December 12th and I’ve managed to get most of my Christmas shopping done. It is a turn of events so rare that I’m worried what the repercussions will be on a cosmic level. I am reeling from disbelief. Seriously, the kids are set for X-mas from parents and Santa and for the Epiphany (Jan 6th), which in Italy is a holiday where an ugly witch (the Befana) puts coal or candy (and at my house some small presents) in a stocking for kids depending on whether they were good or bad. When I was little I loved being “bad” because we got this thoroughly yummy fake coal candy. If we hadn’t had the Worst Christmas Of All Time last year (and yes, from now on December 2009 will be referred to by its official title or the acronym W.C.O.A.T.) I would fear some sort of karmic retribution. Instead, here I am gearing up to enjoy the last few days before Christmas with only a handful of presents to get and cookies to bake and then I can sit smugly on my high-horse and laugh at all those last minute shoppers.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stuff that amazes me

That I managed to go two whole, entire months without shaving, waxing, or otherwise de-hairing my legs. And the only reason I actually got off my lazy derriere and got a wax was because next Tuesday I’m going to a Spa day with my girlfriends and was too embarrassed to show up with my man legs. Oh the wonders of peer pressure. Now, should I paint my toes before Tuesday too, or is that just useless preening?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Living with Leukemia. The other side of the story - part 4 Broken

I’ve been having a really hard time with this blog lately. When I first started it I debated for quite some time whether I wanted to tell the people I know about it because I felt I needed a place where I could speak my mind, including the unmentionables, in relative anonymity. But then my egomaniacal side got the best of me and I went and opened my big mouth and told all and sundry about my new blog that I was so excited about. So now I have nowhere to vent. Sigh. Though probably better this way cause it keeps me from writing something stupid, or that I’ll regret.
Anyway, back to the point of this post. I have writer’s block. So soon…. The main reason for it is that winter up and started and I was not prepared. Let me explain, basically, I’m making wrong associations. It got very cold here, it started snowing, the girl turned one, thanksgiving came and went and we’ve decorated the house for Christmas. Every day that passes, every minute, we’re inexorably moving closer to the day that our lives came crushing down around us and I’m scared.
It started snowing, and I started flipping out because of all the negative emotions that snow now evokes… awesome effect considering we live in a place where snow is not the exception to the rule come wintertime. So when it snows, my heart gets heavy, my breathing shallow and my stomach clenches, I have so much to look forward to since it generally stops snowing in April here. I have a million examples, yet none are all too interesting to read, it’s just, well, I have writer’s block. I don’t know what to say.
The husband and I are going to couple’s counseling because things between us are off kilter. I’m not going to say much more about this because, well, he may not want this stuff to be made public. All I will say is that we were off kilter before the leukemia, but I guess we both hoped that this illness, this shock, this journey we’re on together, whether we want to be or not, would realign us, would fix us, would make us realize what is really important in life. It didn’t. If anything it made things worst.
Typical. You would think we could possibly take some time and just enjoy life, our family and each other right now but fate is such as it is and the universe has an interesting sense of humor. So there you have it, we’re broken,  I have writer’s block, so you’ll be reading some pretty erratic stuff on here for now. Bear with me. I’ll be back, and I’ll at least try to keep the nonsense funny!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How can this be?

My daughter hates shoes. She is literally afraid of her shoes. All of them. I. Am. Not. Kidding. How could this happen to me? To you?! Yes, to me! I honestly don’t care why she doesn’t like shoes, but she’s my kid, how can this be? Because, for those of you who don’t know me, I love shoes, I live for shoes, I will buy crappy, cheap clothes and dress them up with uber expensive shoes. I literally own hundreds of pairs of shoes, to my husband’s endless despair. So to have a daughter who cries, shaking and screaming whenever I try to put shoes on her, seriously, it’s the universe punishing me, terribly and unequivocally for all of the ills in the world.
Just to give you an example, these are her first shoes:

These she wore (of course she did, she wasn’t even aware of actually having feet back then). But then, and this is where I believe it all went to sh*t, once she started moving around I put her in Robeez, or Robeez-like shoes. She has like twenty pairs (in her current size, not overall, are you kidding me!), I love these slipper like shoes because they’re comfortable, adorable (she’s got them with flowers, and butterfies, and ladybugs, and kitties, and doggies… in pink, and white, and green, and blue, and red and… well, you get the picture), and it’s like she’s barefoot all the time, but her feet are protected better than just with socks. But of course there comes a time when you want to dress up your little girl and put her in a cute pair of patent leather mary janes (for example), or the temperature drops and you want her to wear the cutest pair of teeny tiny brown baby uggs, and she stares at her feet wide eyed and starts shaking her arms and legs and emitting a high-pitched, siren-like screech that makes your blood run cold, and you wonder… is she really mine?
Now, of course I know she’s mine. Apart from the fact that I watched her being born, and that for the first month of her life she looked exactly like her brother, so no chance of her having been switched in the hospital (seriously, some pictures of the two of them the husband and I are like, huh, which one is this? Oh, wait, is that a little pink corner of a baby blanket? Huh, it must be the girl then), now she looks exactly like me (at her age, I’m not trying to imply I have the complexion of a one year old). So basically no chance of her not belonging in this family. But she hates shoes. How can this be? But most importantly, how do I solve this? brain washing? Maybe I can make shoes an integral part of her life, I’m thinking a shoe shaped bed, shoe print sheets and towels, maybe a shoe stuffed animal or two, just so that she starts feeling comfortable with the concept… I can even read her that nursery rhyme… there was an old lady who lived in a shoe…
But seriously, I have to get her over her aversion to shoes, I refuse to have a barefoot Christmas, or New Years. Plus, on a practical level, it’s snowing now, and she’s walking, at this point I can’t even let her out in the yard lest she get frostbite. I mean really, I can’t let those Uggs go to waste, and there’s another pair, in pink, on its way to me from the US. What do I do? I mean, really, what do I do? Said the old lady who lives for her shoes….

Vairy, vairy Hairy

I’ve got a hairy leg dilemma. You see, my legs are very, very hairy right now. To the point that I have to wear pants, tights just don’t cut it as I now have the hairiness poking through and it looks like I’m wearing weird angora tights. In fact, I hadn’t really noticed the state of my legs, as the husband and I are on hiatus due to health issues right now, and all the extra hair actually just helped keep me warm what with the first snow falling and all. In truth, the only reason I even noticed was because I wore a dress on Thanksgiving with black tights and halfway through dinner looked down and thought, what’s with all the fuzz on my tights? Aaack, how did my legs get so hairy??!!
So what’s the dilemma, you may ask. Well, you see, I hate shaving, it’s time consuming (once I start I have to do it every day, cause the only thing I hate more than vairy hairy legs is spiky legs), I live in Italy, hence my shower is tiny, hence when I bend down to shave my legs I get the whole rear on cold tile effect, which frankly is bothersome as I’m already bothered cause of the having to shave thing. I usually wax, but this entails me making (and keeping) an appointment, leaving the kiddos and driving twenty minutes to the appointment… etc, basically wasting 3 hours when the whole thing takes at most thirty minutes. Also, if you’ve never waxed before you may not know this, but the longer the hair, the more painful the procedure. Right now, I would probably need an epidural to get through it. So, what do I do? No, really, what do I do?  It’s just, well, honestly it’s getting embarrassing, I went to pilates on Friday and spent half the session readjusting my pant leg so you couldn’t see my hairy ankles. The indecision… it’s driving me nuts. Plus, the longer I wait the harder it is to just get it done. And then I start thinking, maybe I’ll forget about my legs, simply basking in the added warmth of my natural leg warmers, and then the husband and I will decide it’s time to end the hiatus, and after all the issues with his health, literally surviving cancer, I’m going to end up killing him with a heart attack from utter horror.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Missing in action

I’ve been MIA the past few days. We had the Girl’s birthday on Tuesday, Thanksgiving on Thursday, the Girl’s birthday party on Saturday, on Sunday the girl decided it was time to start walking,  and today it also snowed and that just sent me over the edge. Oh, and Monday I went to a cake decorating get together, where a chef friend taught us basic decorating techniques. All posts coming soon! Also, the girls is teething. Not just any boring teething, her gums are swollen, she's got the mother of all diaper rashes, her mood is deathly, she's ODing on Motrin, and her mother (me) is doing not a damn think about it, and the stupid teeth just won't cut the gums and get it over with already! All this makes her want to torture us (and by us, I mean me) at night, she's in pain so she damn well better not catch me sleeping! For almost a week now. Basically, lack of sleep has impaired my ability to operate machinery at this point, and that includes the computer.
 So for now pictures:

moi and my chef d'oeuvre. first turkey I've roasted on my own. the tension in my face? due to the 20 pounds between bird and serving dish I'm holding - not constipation.

the artist, formerly known as Husband
now I'm hungry again....
Birthday Girl in her Birthday Girl Dress
She got a birthday cheesecake too. Hers is strawberry, and properly cooked, unlike mine was. Lucky girl!
the spread
(that second cake, it's carrot cake. what? are you kidding?, she couldn't have just one cake on her birthday!)
the whole family gets to blow their germs on the cake!
That's all folks!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Darling Girl

Today is a special day, my baby girl turns one year old, and my mind has been a year away all day. Last year today I got a wonderful gift, a tiny, reddish, warm, cuddly gift.
Fair warning: the following few paragraphs describe my labor and her birth. If this is too much information for your delicate dispositions scroll on down and just check out the pictures of the birthday girl.
Last year on Sunday the 22nd at 6pm I started feeling cramps, I was tired from lugging around my enormous belly, my back hurt, my feet were swollen and I had missed my afternoon nap. The baby boy was whiny, he wanted my attention, he must have known something was up, though I didn’t yet. I’d been crampy all week. I just wanted the stupid Braxton Hicks contractions to stop already cause I needed to relax and watch a movie. So, I put the boy to bed, took a bath (hoping the damn contractions would stop) and settled in bed to watch a movie (17 again, a masterpiece of cinematography starring Matt Perry and Zack Efron, that is now inextricably linked to one of the most important days in my life). But damn, were those contractions bothering me. At around ten pm we call our midwife (I had decided that I wanted to do as much of the labor as possible at home. Yes, crazy pregnancy hormones), she says try and get some sleep, there’s plenty of time, it’s probably false labor, call me when they’re three minutes apart. And at 12.30 am we call. She gets to my house and announces the torture won’t end until at least 2pm that afternoon. 14 more hours…. I can do it, it’s not so bad. At 4am I was lying in my bed hoping for death, after having done everything short of a ritualistic rain dance to relieve the pain naturally, and mentally kicking myself for not having a scheduled c-section. By 5am I was screaming at the midwife to call the hospital and find out if there was an anesthesiologist available for an epidural cause no way was breathing going to get me through the morning. (Of course I was only mentally screaming at the midwife, in reality I was doing that really emphatic whispering one does when pissed but unable to make noise, cause I didn’t want to wake the boy up in the next room). Of course, she didn’t call the hospital because I had insisted to her, the husband and everyone else I know throughout the entire pregnancy that I didn’t want another c-section, I wanted a vbac and an epidural greatly increases your chances of having another c-section, hence I didn’t want an epidural. Note to self, when pregnant avoid giving the people around you directions regarding labor that you will come to greatly regret during the actual event. At six she notices a change in me (how, I will never know) and decides it’s time for another exam (the second one since her arrival as I was not letting her or anyone else near me, the only thing I could tolerate her occasionally doing was checking the baby’s heartbeat, for a few minutes) and I will never forget the look of surprise on her face, nor the calm voice with which she said: you’re at 8cm, we need to go NOW.
At this point I need to take a second to clarify for those who have never given birth drugless or at all, that if you tell a woman who is twice her regular size, carrying what feels like a hot air balloon in front of her and who’s been in active labor for what feels like eons to get up, get dressed and get in the car to go to the hospital now, now, now the only reaction you’re likely to get is hysterical laughter, or a fireball in your face from the intensity of the hatred in her glare.
Suffice it to say that I got up, almost mauled the husband when he couldn’t find my pink sweat pants (without which I evidently could not give birth), got dressed and made my way to the car, in the midst of massive, body breaking contractions, cause the baby had decided it was time to GET OUT. All I remember of the drive to the hospital was the midwife yelling DON’T PUSH at me repeatedly, that I hadn’t put my seatbelt on cause I was in too much pain, that she was driving so fast that I had to hold on with both hands, and that I really, really wanted to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all, but was afraid the baby would pop out in the car and we really couldn’t have that. Finally, we arrive, the OB on duty examines me and catapults me to the labor room as I am now at ten centimeters and it’s time to start PUSHING. Bizarrely this part was less painful than what preceded it, though way, way more surreal. (but I’ll spare you the description)
 I walked into the hospital a little after 6am the girl was born at 7.08. I held her in my arms as soon as she was born; she fell asleep right away, not surprising, after all the work she did to get out.
And today she walked. Four steps to come to me, not by accident like the other times, but purposely and she didn’t fall on her butt when she got to her destination. She now gives me kisses. Not when I ask, of course, but random, big, open mouth kisses. She says Mama (to me!), and Pa-pà (to her daddy) and pàppppppa (that’s food), and eh, when she wants you to look at her. When the boy doesn’t pay enough attention to her, she gets right in his face and whacks him open handed on the chest. She wants to taste everything you’re eating, she pulls at her hair when she’s frustrated, she loves dogs, from afar, she loves technology (from up close!) especially my iphone and ipad. When we call her, she shakes her head no, with a mischievous smile on her face, and makes big dramatic scenes when we say no to her. She plays peek-a-boo with me while she nurses by covering her eyes with her hand. Today I looked at her, sleeping in my arms, and thought back to the first time I held her. She’s so big already, where does the time go? Today someone said to me, “she’s only one year old!” , but all day I’ve been thinking, with a knot in my throat and a weight on my heart: “she’s already one year old!”. She’s a toddler. She’s my baby.
Happy Birthday, baby girl, you make my heart sing, your smile lights up my life, and I’m so lucky to have you.
Can I touch the cupcakes?

A year ago today

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stuff that amazes me

Today our friend D, introduced in this post, is running the Philadelphia marathon. Two weeks after NYC marathon. What is with these crazy running masochists? Blame it on the endorphins, I guess. Putting my slightly envious streak aside, I just wanted to say that D, we’re thinking of you, virtually running with you (so that’s what’s slowing you down, just so you know!), and totally cheering you on. From Italy. But if you listen closely you’ll hear us: VAI, D, VAI!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Stuff that amazes me

I announce to the Boy that we’re going to the supermarket and he starts gathering essentials: his protective eyewear, his Zorro hat, his gun, his sword, his tool kit, his lovey Leo, and his binky. Methinks he takes after his Mama, if you don’t believe me just take a look in my purse.
excuse the crap quality picture, but I'm not photoshop literate yet.

This life

Today we went to Milan for a few hours, actually we probably spent more time in the car driving there and back than in the actual city. (240km or about 2 hours each way, though we got stuck in traffic around Torino so it was significantly longer – though that’s neither here nor there). We hadn’t been back for over a year (for obvious reasons) and this time we drove through our old neighborhood to get to our appointment. It was surreal. Things had changed, but they were exactly the same. We spent the whole (ten minute) drive going: oh look, our favorite Japanese, oooh a new store there, look, didn’t we see an apartment in this building, and that one, and that other one? (we saw a lot of apartments in Milan over 3 plus years, but somehow never managed to buy anything). It was sad and familiar and nostalgic and strange, thinking of this other life we lived, in a big bustling metropolis, with no kids, in a tiny apartment, going to the gym at 7am before work, taking the subway, never having allergies cause there’s not enough plant-life to make me allergic. And we looked at each other and wondered, would we go back? Moving to Cuneo was hard, we left friends, a life, a city we loved and moved out in the middle of nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, we made more friends, Cuneo is cute and now that we have kids it’s much, much easier than a big city; but we liked Milan, we liked having options, restaurants, bars, stores, entertainment, loads of things to do. Also, we moved to Cuneo and left family, friends, my Dad died, Alex got sick, so when we think back we imagine ourselves young(er), healthy, safe, with fewer responsibilities.
But then I called home, to check in, and the boy “Mama, where you?” with the girl squealing in the background. And well, we realized our life is perfectly imperfect the way it is. Would I raise my kids in Milan? No. I like that they have a yard to play in, that the air here is clean, that you see middle schoolers walking home from school, alone, safe, that life is relatively uncomplicated; I don’t like that we have fewer options, fewer things to do, there’s no International school (which for me is a big deal), we’re often perceived as strange because we have different customs, we speak a foreign language, we have different views and opinions. But, no place is perfect. You make the best of what you have, right? We still love Milan, and we are happy to go back, occasionally, and be nostalgic for the life that was, but then we get home to big smiles and little arms and “Mama miss you” and we realize that this life, this life that we’re living right now, is perfect for us.
Us in front of one of our old haunts Bar Magenta
Sandwiches at Panino Giusto, Perfection!

Me and the best Tiramisu in the world (though I look like I'm feeling ill, I was actually laughing)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why Mama, why?

The boy is almost three.  A few months ago he started in with the occasionally “why, mama, why”. We thought it was cute, plus I had always said that I was really going to make an effort to answer all my kids’ questions and really pay attention to them. So the other day we were watching some show on tv with pirate ships and the ships’ cannons were shooting at another ship, so he asks “why shooting, mama, why?” and of course I answer that that’s what pirates do, they have cannons on their ships to protect themselves (he gets PG answers, of course) and they navigate the seas to rob other ships and fight, cause… that’s what pirates do. He nodded like it all made perfect sense and went on with his life. The next day, we’re in the middle of his naptime routine and he starts asking me about the cannons again. “Why cannons, mama, why?” So I repeat the above answer and move on to “why shooting, mama, why?” well, I answer, because that’s how pirates defend themselves, with guns and swords and cannons, you remember when you dressed as a pirate you had a gun and a sword, right? “why boom, mama, why?” well, I answered, because cannons have a ball inside them that shoots out and goes boom and breaks the other ship. And so on and so forth for quite a while. And then somehow I hear myself answering the 34th question about the cannons with: they’re like big guns, except cannons shoot at ships and guns shoot at people, and the boy: guns break people, mama? At this point, I had an out of body experience whereby I was looking at myself sitting on the armchair with my almost three year old in my lap, wondering how the heck I had gotten myself into this conversation that I had no idea how to handle and I was yelling at myself, shut up, shut up, shut up!
But of course I didn’t shut up, shut up, shut up… I went on to explain how guns shoot a little ball (cannons shoot a big ball) and if the little ball hits a person they get a really bad owie and bleed and can even die, as in they go to heaven with the angels.
And I swear to you, out of body me was staring at me, shaking her head in horror and going change the freaking subject you moron! But, well, I wasn’t paying attention to out of body me, so the conversation continued for quite a while.
So this little event, in which I did a truly horrible job of both explaining and avoiding what I consider a really sticky subject for such a small kid has got me thinking about what I should’ve, could’ve, would’ve done.
I mean, how do I explain violence, and firearms, and death to a toddler. And really, should I be explaining it at all or should I have changed the subject and left him wondering about it, albeit for a really short time considering the average toddler’s attention span. I honestly don’t know.
Part of the problem is that I don’t know how I feel about the subject myself, so I don’t know exactly how I want to handle it with the kids.
Obviously, having grown up in Texas gun use and gun ownership was pretty common. Most people I know had some sort of firearm in their house. I mean, even my extremely liberal Dad, who I’d be hard pressed to believe ever shot at anything in his life (and he was a young man during WWII) had a rifle at home, he even went so far as to have cartridges.  I’m pretty certain I have the basic knowledge to load and shoot a gun or rifle myself. (whether I actually hit the target is another story!) But I live in Italy, where guns are the devil and rifles are only used for hunting by those fanatics, plus you’re not allowed to shoot at an intruder in your house anyway so what would be the point of owning one? And so my own view of firearms has changed over time. I still think that my kids will need to learn about firearm safety, and I’ll probably take them to a shooting range at some point so they know what they’re dealing with (hey, you never know, what if the world ends and we have to go back to hunting and gathering?), but do I really want my toddler to understand that the real version of that toy he’s playing with will actually kill someone? How do we keep our children innocent, when we’re surrounded by violence? And, no, I’m not judging it, though I don’t like it this is the world we live in. So what do I tell him when he asks about these things? Cause if I avoid the questions I’m afraid he’ll read in my reticence that it’s a forbidden, therefore interesting, subject, but I don’t want to fall in the too much information trap either, I mean he’s not even three yet. And also, there’s a lot of violence in the history of mankind, do I simplify history or change it to explain away some of the unsavory things that happened. Cause what if we watch “The Sword in the Stone” and get into a whole drawn out “why” sequence there, I mean, how am I supposed to explain the middle ages?
And all this leaves me wondering, I have many, many years of “why mama, why” ahead of me and this includes conversations that are possibly even scarier than death and violence, like sex, should I just start implementing a no question policy at my house?
But seriously, how do you deal with the tough questions?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lasagna, salad and Meringues

Saturday we had our BFFs from Milan over for the day (2.5 hour drive each way, with kids, they love us!) and since one of my friends is a food blogger (an actual food blogger, who posts recipes that usually don’t involve pre-made stuff, unlike yours truly! Check her out at Nuts about food) I went into a bit of a panic when I realized I was going to have to cook… actual, real food… for everyone… yikes! So I made a Lasagna… and salad… and the husband bought dessert… I shouldn’t even have a food section on this blog!
Also, I made it with ready-made pasta sheets, it comes out quite well, but it’s nothing compared to making it with homemade pasta. My mom used to make several lasagnas at a time (due to the hassle of making fresh pasta) and freeze them, I’m planning on following in her footsteps as soon as I manage to empty my freezer of the insane amounts of homemade vegetable puree cubes and jars for the baby… any day now…
Anyway, here’s the Lasagna, it tasted about a gazillion times better than it looks!
This is what you need:
I made two lasagnas which worked out great cause there was nothing left when we were done with them! But the ingredients here are for just one lasagna.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Changes to Moomser

I have decided to rearrange things a little here on Moomser, Moomser Food and Moomser Baby. I’ve decided to group everything under one blog: Moomser (
I simply am not organized enough at this point in my life to maintain three separate blogs. I’ll still be writing about the same things, I’ll still be posting recipes and talking about specific child-related concerns, you’ll just find it all under Moomser along with the slightly neurotic ramblings of my sleep deprived brain. And if you’re just interested in recipes or babies you can click up top on Moomser Food and it’ll automatically select only the posts labeled food (recipes and such), or on Moomser Baby for the baby and child stuff. I hope this works for you! Any suggestions are welcome as always.
I will eventually be shutting down the separate moomserfood.blogspot and moomserbaby.blogspot accounts so if you've bookmarked anything you won't find it anymore, but it's all on already. (phew! sorry about the confusion!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Just another Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I love chocolate chip cookies. Or rather, I love store bought chocolate chip cookies.
Ah, now that all the purists have left my blog with expressions of disgust, let me explain. I’ve made a lot of chocolate chip cookies, but they’re either too crispy, or too soft, or too sweet (that happens a LOT) or, you know, they just make me reach for the Pepperidge Farm. The fact is that there is no such thing as the “perfect chocolate chip cookie”, cause perfect is different for each of us. Anyway, this is a “pretty good chocolate chip cookie recipe”, I’ll probably make it again, it’s not perfect… but it’s good enough.

This is what you need:
150 grams (1cup plus 2 tablespoons) flour
½ tsp baking soda
115grams (8 tbs – 1 stick) unsalted butter softened or straight from fridge but cut into small pieces
100grams (½ cup) white sugar       
120grams (½ cup) brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies (or chocolate chunks)
½ cups chopped pecans (or walnuts) optional
This is what you do:
Preheat oven to 180°C - 350°F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper, or grease them but this may make your cookies a little richer.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Skinny jeans here I come! maybe...

For the past few years I’ve been unhappy in my body and now two pregnancies later followed by several bouts of depression eating I can’t stand the sight of myself anymore or rather I can’t stand how uncomfortable I constantly feel in my clothes. So I’ve decided to do something about it (and it’s about damn time, my mother would say). Of course, at thirty-five I’m starting to become realistic about what my goals should be so I won’t give up, deflated, after three days. I’m not looking to fit back into my favorite jeans from the halcyon days of university. No, I’m mainly looking to drop a size or a teeny bit more, get rid of the five months pregnant look and manage to go up a couple of flights of stairs without huffing and puffing like a twenty a day smoker. The days of flat abs and support-less boobs are behind me, but I feel it’s too soon to head for the plastic surgeon, so I’m thinking some mild, fun exercise and a little dieting should do it.
So what’s the problem, you may ask. Well it’s threefold, actually: I am genetically predisposed to be contrary, so when I decide to diet, my body goes on strike and decides it’s hungry 24/7, I get more hungry from the mere mention of a diet than other women get when pms-ing or pregnancy; I’ve got the beginning of a food blog going that, though it doesn’t yet have a defined direction, does seem to involve me doing inordinate amounts of baking; I’ve got to feed other family members that are too young or not in the physical condition to be going “no-carb” or “no-fat” or whatever other fad comes knocking at my door. So what is a girl to do?
I made it simple for myself, I went back to basics. I was skinny for most of my life so what’s changed? Obviously my metabolism, a little, but really I’m thirty-five, not a hundred and ten, so it’s not a good enough excuse. Well, a couple of objective things have changed: my portions, at some point, I can’t figure out when, I started thinking it was ok for me to go back for seconds and thirds of pasta; the amount of junk I eat, I enjoy some desserts and chocolate and soda, but at some point I started eating one or all of those things every day; and then I had kids… when one of the two doesn’t finish his/her food I end up scarfing it down… what am I, the trash can? And the last thing is, I used to be a despairingly slow eater, people would get frustrated at how slowly I would eat, now I eat like I’m in some sort of food eating race and have to win.  
So, here are my resolutions: eat more slowly, cut portions by 25%, eat only the really high quality junk (it’s not like I’m going to stop baking cakes and cookies, I mean I have a blog to think about!), and if the kids don’t finish what’s on their plates, well the husband can eat it, he actually needs to put on weight. I’ll keep you posted (ha, ha, pun) on how it’s going. My goal? To drop a size by Christmas. You know, so I can gain it all back in a week.
After this, maybe I’ll even start getting my hair professionally colored, right mom?
Now, do you have any sure-fire secrets to losing weight and / or feeling better in your skin?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

There's no such thing as baby proofing

There comes a time in every mother’s life where she has to get down on her knees and… figure out what could be dangerous for her baby. Baby-proofing your home is important, it’s vital. Literally, your child’s life could depend on it. Stores are filled with baby proofing gadgets and I’ve even heard of services that will come in and baby proof your house for you (now that would never work in Italy!). So I’m not saying you shouldn’t baby-proof. What I am saying, is that you can hire all the professionals in the world and you can spend three days at ground level trying to figure out what could harm your child, and I promise, your baby will find something dangerous anyway. Children are maddening that way. So baby proof away, cause you’ll be reducing the truly, obviously dangerous stuff, but don’t get complacent. Don’t think that your house is actually baby proof cause no house ever is. You have to watch the kid like a hawk anyway. The only time you can really relax is when your baby is sleeping, in the lead-less, no drop-bar, slats are the proper distance apart, crib you just bought.
I’m not being facetious. I just think that watching my child is the best baby proofing I can do, that teaching him to go down the stairs on his butt will eventually benefit both him and me, but I did put in the baby gate for when I have to turn away for a minute cause kids are fast! The thing is, we can’t baby proof the world. You will end up taking your child places that aren’t kid friendly, you may go to a restaurant that has no high chairs and you’ll have to make do with pillows or (a favorite here) a phonebook on the chair, you may travel and believe me, the rest of the world does not baby proof like Americans try to. I grew up in Texas and I live in Italy, I spend half my time going those crazy Italians and the other half going those crazy Americans. So make sure your child is aware of the danger around him, if the gate at the head of the stairs is open I expect my kid to not careen down the stairwell head first cause he knows that stairs are dangerous and he has to hold my hand. Put it this way, the gate is for my peace of mind! Also, there are dangers at any age, so getting in the habit of teaching them what they can and cannot do, will make our lives as mothers easier, cause we’re going to be doing it for a very, very long time. And teaching them to recognize danger and using their brains to assess it will help them all the way into adulthood.
We can’t baby proof the world, so teaching our babies to be careful is the best thing for them, and getting in the habit of being ever vigilant is the best practice for us mothers and in the end a little trust goes a long way!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I heart New Yorkers

New Yorkers have a bad rap. I grew up in Texas where people are generally nice, and polite (to your face) and there is still a strong sense of Southerness in manners and hospitality. Whereas New Yorkers… well, I always heard about how cold and superior they were, how self-involved, how you could be having a heart attack in the middle of the street and no one would so much as glance your way. And for many years I subscribed to this cliché. Until, of course, I met some actual New Yorkers. We have some friends in New York, which we rarely get to see, barely even once a year, oftentimes less than that. And yet, this weekend they showed us how kind, how generous, how altruistic New Yorkers can be. How the fact that we barely see each other doesn’t mean anything when you’re kindred spirits.
But let me start at the beginning, the Husband’s cousin, P, started running marathons a few years back and the first marathon he ran was NY in 2008. He and the husband had often talked about running NY together in 2009 but then we got pregnant with the girl who was due in November and everything got moved back a year. When the husband got sick, P promised him that he would run NY 2010, despite some physical setbacks, and dedicate the effort to him. Unfortunately, it didn’t look like P was going to be able to run, but he’s hardheaded as can be and has a lot of faith in fate so despite a really bad knee he trained and trained and got on the plane to NY. We got P together with our New York friends as he was alone and they all really hit it off (of course they would, they’re all wonderful people, being our friends and all). But by Friday it was obvious that P wasn’t going to be running since he was barely walking. He was massively disappointed and disheartened, cause he had put a lot of faith and heart in this effort, he really wanted to do something physical, tangible to show the husband how much he cared. Throughout the Husband’s illness P constantly cheered him on, saying that conquering Leukemia was like running a marathon, he just had to have faith and keep going and he’d reach the finish line. This is why this marathon was so important to him, and not being able to run it, I guess felt like a big failure to P, like he was letting the husband down.
Now, getting to the point of this post, D, who also likes to run marathons (what is with this marathon lark anyway?) offered to run in P's stead (for the husband). This may seem like a little thing to you, but it was a huge thing for us. We haven’t seen D in years, he was the boyfriend (now husband) of a friend who lived in Milan for only a few months. He had no earthly reason to take a day out of his busy life and run a marathon he had decided not to run for a guy, P, who he had barely just met who was running for a guy he hadn’t seen or talked to in eons, other than the fact that he’s a really nice guy.
So how anyone can say that these people are cold and self-involved, these people who took P in and helped him out, took him to the doctor and watched over him, for no reason other than he’s related to us and they’re our friends, these people who stood out in the cold to cheer D (and vicariously P and the husband) on and take pictures for us, who ran a freaking marathon for us for crying out loud, well all I can say is if that's what you think then you haven’t met a real New Yorker yet.

D running
his shirt says for Alex
P and D

our friends

Thanks guys, you’re the reason why we heart New York.