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 (www.moomser.com)
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 moomser.com 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.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Facebook, you're killing me!

I have spent the past two days figuring out how to make a blog button (you can see the results on the left hand bar, if you feel the effort is worthy spread the love by posting it on your blog and I’ll be happy to do the same for you!!), how to open a new account on facebook for my “blogging persona” and how to put up a fb fan page for this site. Phew.
Why did I thus occupy my time? Well, because I’m following the suggestions of veteran bloggers with far more experience than I. This blog is still a baby and I have yet to figure out where it’ll take me, but I do know that I get a little thrill when I see a new comment to a post, and I’m beyond excited when I get a new follower (thanks, guys!) so I’m going to follow the advice of experienced bloggers on how to get out there. Of course, content is the key, as well as decent writing but I can’t judge those myself. I write how I write and I blog about what interests me, whether that is pleasing and interesting to others, only time will tell. But I digress, back to facebook. I was on the fence about how much interaction I wanted between my real life fb friends and acquaintances and my blog. Sure, I want everyone to read my blog and love it, but I don’t want to fill my friends’ walls with links to all my posts if that is going to annoy them, plus, I try to keep my blog moderately anonymous. This may seem a bit like overkill right now, when my audience is basically me, my husband and a few friends (thanks y’all!) but maybe one day strangers will read me too and being from a pre-internet generation I’m still a little wary (ok, paranoid) and I’m a bit shy about putting myself (and my family) out there. So, I opened another account and created a Moomser fan page (click on the fb “like” button top left column to link there!), anyway, enough with the motivations. Ok, opening another fb account is not as easy as one would think considering it’s a social network and not the map to uncovering the holy grail. First off, you have to input your name, and it’s got to be an actual name – it rejected Moomser blog – but it doesn’t have to be your real name… how would they even check that? So the first thing I did was open an account with a made up name. And this was mistake number one cause you have to associate an email to that account (I used my blogging email Moomser at gmail dot com) and apparently my email is now eternally bound to that name, it is a bond stronger than marriage, it cannot be dissolved. Crap. Cause then I read a suggestion from Scary Mommy (who’s post Building a Facebook Fan Page is what started me on this road to hell) suggesting you use your first name and then your blog name as a last name to open a fb account. So that’s what I did next (I just didn’t like the whole fake name idea), you can befriend me on fb as Yara Moomser. Buuuuut, my email is linked to Mrs Fake Name now. F***, S**t, C**p and many, many expletives later I decided to open another email account so I could open the danged fb page. It had become an obsession at this point. And then I opened a fan page for Moomser (blog, not me, this blog here).
Anyway, I’m up to my elbows trying to figure out html codes, javascript and wondering why I didn’t just start writing a good old fashioned journal, seriously, what is with this insane need to connect to other people that is blogging??? Too late for me now. I’ve already gone down the road of “read me, need me, love me”, but I’m comforted by the fact that everyone says (and when I say “says” I actually mean “writes”, cause I haven’t ever talked to any of these people whose lives are now important to me) that the initial blogging craziness, where you’re checking your stats every three point five seconds will eventually pass. Thank goodness!
For now, I’m just working on getting everything up and running and trying to keep it interesting for everyone. Oh, and if anyone can explain to a bit of a moron how the *%$@ Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol works, please, please, speak up, you would be making me so happy and a bit of positive vibes your way can only be good right?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dear Sting, letter from a fan

Dear Sting, great concert. It would’ve been nice though to have known that it was starting an hour early. I realize that on the ticket it does indeed say that the time printed on it may change, kind of like what happens to planes and trains, but one really does assume when reading the disclaimer that if the time changes it’ll be later, not earlier. Oh, sure, you put out a press release on La Stampa di Torino, but, and okay you may not know this, you're actually a pretty famous singer, so sometimes if your concert is in one city people from neighboring cities will come too, and one measly press release (which incidentally I haven’t found yet) is really not enough. Also, and this is just for your information, Italy has a pretty burgeoning journalistic community, so, you know, people actually have a choice between more than one newspaper, we truly no longer live in fascist times. So for the future, please assume that not everyone reads the newspaper of the city where the concert is being held and you should probably put out press releases in ALL THE MAJOR PAPERS as well as on the internet. I mean, I know you’re all zen and in touch with your spirituality and such, and if you need information you have an assistant that finds it for you, but the rest of us, we use the internet. In fact, yesterday afternoon I did a search on “Sting, concert, Torino” cause I couldn’t remember the name of the venue and the address, it’s a pretty specific search, I’m thinking that your “press release” on the concert starting an hour earlier should really have come up.
And honestly, I wouldn’t have minded getting there an hour early, I mean, since I went to the trouble of arranging childcare for the kids, getting them set, making sure they and the husband had dinner ready, and all. Also, there was a lot of fog last night, and I live an hour away, so actually it would’ve been nice to leave when there was still daylight out, had I known that it started at 8 rather than 9.
Oh, and one last thing, since you did start the concert early, I totally would have appreciated it if you had altered your song roll and played the really great, more famous songs in the second half of the concert rather than right at the beginning, just as a gesture of goodwill to all your fans who don’t think to show up an hour early for a concert, just in case. And I realize that it’s not just you out there deciding stuff on the spur of the moment, you’ve got the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, but I bet that if you asked them to shift the songs around for one concert they’d mange to, you know, rearrange their sheet music, they are professionals after all. Anyway, good show, I wish I had seen the whole thing, those tickets weren’t cheap after all, but hey, you must have had your reasons. As the husband says, it is understandable that at your age you may want to hit the sack a little earlier every once in a while, I definitely appreciated that unexpected extra hour of sleep, I just wish it hadn’t cost quite so much in anger and negative vibes (sorry about that, but you get it, right?). Anyway, I’ll post on my thoughts about the concert next, I just felt you needed to know that though you are famous and all, your actions have consequences too, in this case you just really pissed me off.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stuff that drives me nuts

Dear Prada, you would think that you’d manage to make shoes that don’t absorb water as if they were sponges. Or was I supposed to wear them with waterproof socks? Just asking.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


If you think it’s ridiculous to actually post a recipe for apple sauce on here (can I even call it a recipe?) I’m sorry for my ridiculousness but hey, I’m sure someone will find it useful. Applesauce is really, really, ridiculously easy to make, and it’s so much better fresh than packaged that if you have the time and a few apples on hand, you may as well try it at least once.
All you need are apples, peeled and cored, water (I’m partial to bottled or at least filtered water cause it makes me feel like I’m giving my kids fewer chemicals, but if your tap water’s good, then use that) and, well, a pan…
Just cut up your apples in quarts and then half so they’re easier to beat once cooked, cover them with water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until quite soft. Try to cook them so that most but not all of the water evaporates, so you’re not losing any nutrients. Then puree, I like to use an immersion blender (easier), but anything you have that will leave it very fine and smooth works. You can freeze it or can in glass jars.
A few things: don’t add sugar even if your apples are really tart, sometimes pureed fruits taste sweeter once they’ve cooled.
You can spice things up by adding spices. Cinnamon is a classic with apples and babies tend to like it, though wait until month eight to add this and just in case ask your pediatrician.  And for older kids you can make Spiced Applesauce by adding cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice, when you make this the first time, go easy on the spices, this way you can figure out what combination of spices and quantities you like!

Easy peasy cream cheese frosting

I use this a lot, so I figured I'd give it it's own post so I don't just keep repeating myself over and over and boring you into a stupor!
This is what you need:
150 – 160 grams Philadelphia cream cheese
40 – 50 grams butter (softened)
120 grams (1 packet – 1 cup) confectioner’s sugar
Depending on what you're frosting you can also add powdered cinnamon or pure vanilla extract, or almond extract. It is also a good base for flavored frostings like chocolate cream cheese frosting.
This is what you do:
Beat together cream cheese and butter until well combined and fluffy (smitten kitchen says to soften cream cheese too, but I find that cold cream cheese makes for a thicker frosting – as suggested by the Joy of Cooking) add vanilla if using.
Sift in sugar (and cinnamon, if using) and beat until well mixed, but don’t over beat cause it’ll get runny.
Try and wait for your cake to cool before frosting….

Healthy Carrot Cake

Sunday the husband wasn’t feeling well so I decided to bake him a carrot cake to cheer him up. This version is loosely adapted from the Joy of Cooking, though I modified it to make it a little healthier and more kid friendly. Luckily for me, my toddler doesn’t like overly sweet cakes so I substituted part of the sugar and part of the oil with applesauce (this also makes it more diet friendly for me!) Carrot cake is so easy to make and so satisfying there’s really no reason not to bake it every week… well, you know, if you’re naturally skinny or have a lot of self-control or can stand to eat it with no icing… I can only get away with it once a month or so but it’s so worth it!
This is what you need:
200 grams (1 ½ cup - 7oz) whole wheat flour (this’ll make it slightly denser than all purpose flour, but it’s still moist thanks to the applesauce)
100 grams (½ cup – 3.5oz) sugar                             
10 grams (1 ½ tsp – 0.35oz.) baking soda     
5grams (1 tsp – 0.2oz.) baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves; ½ tsp ground nutmeg; ½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp salt
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
200 grams (1 cup – 2oz.) spiced apple sauce
200 grams (2 cups – 4oz.) freshly grated carrots
55 grams (1 cup - 2oz) finely chopped walnuts or pecans (I used the latter) - optional
1 handful golden raisins (if they’re the largish kind chop them up a little bit) - optional
This is what you do:
Preheat your oven to 180°C – 350°F
Mix together all your dry ingredients (follow the list down from flour to salt) in a big bowl.
Add in your wet ingredients (oil, eggs and applesauce) and mix by hand or beat on low speed.
Add in carrots, nuts and raisins and mix by hand.

Butter and flour your round spring-form pan, pour in the mixture right away and spread evenly.
Bake 25 – 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes then take out of pan. Frost when completely cooled!

Living with Leukemia. The other side of the story - part 3 Me again.

Fair warning: this is going to be one of those poor little ole me posts so if that’s going to exasperate you stop reading right now and feel free to click on away or, you know, scroll down and look at pictures of my kids in costume.
Today the husband woke up with a temperature of 38.9°C (102°F) so he had to call the hospital (anything above 38°C – 100°F) and they said come on in for some tests and we’ll see if we have to admit you. Yay. So off to the hospital we went, and I descended into a pit of desolation, self-pity, dispiritedness and hopelessness so vast that my therapist and I will have enough subject matter for the next two months. So much for not getting sucked into the black hole that is therapy. I’m sure the weather contributed to my mood, it’s wet and cold and dismal here, the dark side of autumn (generally my favorite season, what with the golden hues and the crisp, cool air, but not today). But really, it’s the idea of how long the husband’s recovery is. Now, you did read on at your own risk, cause I warned you about the self-pity and no, I’m not a total moron, so I know that whatever I have to say about the matter, the husband is definitely the one worst off here, cause he’s feeling like crap and he’s the one that has to go to the hospital and get tests and stuff, but this is my blog and I’m feeling sorry for myself today. So there. As I was saying, I am not built for endurance, if I were ever to become a runner (oh, so unlikely) I would never go for the marathon, not even the half marathon, possibly the 100meters or something quick and easy like that. (Though on a side note, honestly, if you were ever to find me running look behind me, cause something bad is chasing me.) They say that you really get to know a person’s character in times of strife, well, sadly I’ve learned that I’m all about the instant gratification. I’ve been relatively fine, I try to have a go-getter attitude, so during the first half of the husband’s sickness I concentrated on getting things done and moving on with our lives, but this recovery period, man, it is wearing me down. He gets better, and then he gets worse, and it really seems that whenever he gets a little better he then gets a lot worse. Of course, this isn’t technically true, his blood work is slowly getting progressively better, his BM is clean (YAY!), he’s not as nauseous anymore, he can actually eat now, so the reality isn’t as bad as our perception of it. Unfortunately, what matters is our perception of it (bummer). Whenever he starts feeling better, meaning he can go to work for a few hours and interact with the kids, and maybe go with me to run some errands and eat real food, we get complacent, and start thinking that it’s all uphill from here on out. Not so. Soon enough something goes wrong and he starts feeling crap again, moves back into bed with his four or five wool blankets and down comforters (he’s perpetually cold), back on a liquid diet, and I go back to being a single mom. (And really, I haven’t said this enough, but all you single mothers out there, chapeau, seriously). Which is where we are right now. Which is why I'm complaining to you.
And now for the grand finale, in a whiny voice if you please: I want him to feel good again, I want him to have energy, I want him to gain some weight for pete’s sake. I want him to play with the kids and wash the cars on Saturdays, I want him to go grocery shopping with me and carry the heavy bags, because he can. I want to have middle of the night arguments with him to see who’s going to go check on the kids, I want him to leap out of bed when the alarm goes off for no reason at four a.m. and flail around for his baseball bat so he can go check there’s no intruder. I want to see him eat steak tartar again because he loves it. I want to share the responsibility, and the decisions, I want to make plans for the future and be able to believe them. I want him back and it’s taking too damn long, my patience is wearing thin and my energy is running out.
Ok. I’m done. Just so you know, they sent us home from the hospital after taking about half his blood for tests and giving him a massive dose of antibiotics, which are going to make him feel way shittier before letting him feel better (hopefully), but his lungs were clean so at least he didn’t have to stay there. Because apparently amongst the many things we have to look forward to now that we’re moving towards winter is a heightened risk of pneumonia, which, as they never tire of reminding us, could be fatal for someone who’s immunosuppressed. And then you wonder why I get depressed going to the hospital.