Thursday, March 29, 2012

Funny and frustrating things that make me question my sanity

On the funny side: For whatever reason that is incomprehensible to me, the Boy has managed to bang his head on some surface in the kitchen every single day this week right before leaving for school. I have no idea how he does it, one minute we’re all: ok, shoes on, finish your juice, let’s go! And then: whack! And screaming and wailing.
Yesterday he banged his head on the counter, today he banged his head on the door. He was walking backwards. That could be why he didn’t see the door… but why was he walking backwards? Every day, I tell you. I just don’t get it, and I hope it’s just this week or his teachers are going to call social services on me.

On the frustrating side: One of the reasons I stopped working when I had kids was because I was exhausted at the idea of yelling and coaxing people to do stuff all day only to come home and have to do the same thing with my kids. Because, honest to God, I don’t understand how people in Italy work. We’re buying a house, in point of fact we’re buying a stable from the 1600’s and converting it to a house… this actually sounds way more historic and romantic than what it is in reality. We’ve been having some delays on the actual buying part but as the bureaucracy in Italy is biblically long we’ve decided to go ahead and get all the plans ready for the restructuring and hand them in to the proper authorities so they can take their sweet time to give us approval and let us start the works. What I don’t understand is this: I’ve been having to call the architect to task weekly, he makes excuses, he sheepishly tells me he’s sorry and there will be no more delays, he calls my husband – because apparently I’m too scary – when a delay that’s not his fault happens, today after I called him he told me that the plans I was supposed to see yesterday will be ready on Monday. I don’t get it, I’m not his mother and yet I feel like it, with the coaxing, the wheedling, the negotiating and the yelling. And this is what any type of construction work (or really any type of work where you need to get anything done) is like in Italy. Why can’t people just do what they say they’ll do? I’m already exhausted at the idea of what the next few months of my life will be like.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sometimes I can’t but stare at you in disbelief

REVISION: from the comments and emails I’ve received it appears that the following is indeed not a reaction restricted to Italians, therefore, I apologize to Italians for my rash words and would ask my readers to mentally substitute “some people” where they read “Italians”. I don’t want to change the text itself because otherwise none of this would make any sense (if it even did to begin with). Thanks!

Fair warning: this is going to be one of those posts where I rag on Italians, so if you’re Italian please stop reading. I realize that I’m half Italian, married to an Italian and live in Italy, but sometimes the cultural difference is just too much for me and my head wants to explode so I vent on here, this is, in fact, why I started this blog.

So anyway, I’ve mentioned before that the husband and I are going through a rough patch and we’re at a place right now where we don’t know what will be of our future or whether we even have a future together or not. This has, of course, come up with people, granted not an awful lot, because thankfully very few people we know in “real life” actually read this blog, but the most significant question that any Italian has asked me as soon as they heard we were thinking of separating was “but what are you going to do about the house?”, this from my therapist, to friends, to family members.

Seriously? Seriously??

It’s a fucking house. Ask me how we’re doing, ask me what we’re doing about the kids, but don’t ask me about the house, because that is so far down my list of what’s important right now that it absolutely boggles my mind to think that anyone would be worried about it.

Yes, we’re buying a house, but guess what, the kids and I are going to be wanting to not live under a bridge if the husband and I separate. And if, in the future, it turns out the house is too big, or I want to move somewhere else or whatever we’ll sell the house, or we’ll rent it, we’ll do something about the house, but it’s so not a priority when you’re thinking of breaking up your family. How can they think it would be?

It’s just a house.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Virtual Coffee {36}

Hello dear friends and welcome to coffee! We’re having a really quick coffee today, more like a one sip espresso standing at the bar counter Italian style. Well, maybe we can sneak in a mini-croissant while we’re at it too…

We’ve been busy, busy, busy lately. We’ve finally spent the weekend at the beach apartment and this afternoon we’re taking yet another trip to Ikea to get some of the last odds and ends we kept forgetting. Our best friends from Milan came to visit us there for the day on Saturday and it was heart-warming as always to see our five kids (soon to be six kids) playing together since we all met in our coupled but unmarried living la vida loca partying days.

Our nanny-less month and some is proceeding more smoothly than we had any right to expect, thanks, in part, to a wonderful young lady that works at the girl’s daycare who occasionally babysits for us. Last week the Husband and I went out for sushi en tête à tête to talk about “our situation” and tomorrow we get to not get divorced directly at Ikea since we’re not bringing the kids with us. So, yeah, she’s a lifesaver. Also, we realized although we love our kids to pieces we would not survive without the occasional childfree moment or two.
Thirty seconds after this was taken she was butt starking nekkid in the water.
yeah, him too and all their friends

we even found and carried over a bench "for the pregnant lady"

In other news, the biannual (completely useless, and monumentally annoying) time change which here in Italy happened this past weekend is totally kicking my butt so I’ve been a walking zombie the past couple of days, both mentally and, alas, physically, but I’m confident we’ll all be over it soon (until October when, inexplicably, we have to do this all over again). Also, I’ve finally succumbed to peer and internet pressure and have started reading the Hunger Games. I gotta tell you, I probably did not pick the best emotional state in which to begin the book as I’ve been intermittently crying every other page. I really hope it gets better, or I may have to sue the author for the worsening of my depression… or something.

"you wanna go in the water?" - "yeah, I kind of do..."

The Husband impersonating Lawrence of Arabia

Ok, all done, hope you don’t get too jittery from the espresso! And don’t forget to say hi to our hostess Amy. Toodles.

Picnic on the beach

who's ready for ice cream?!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Marriage, it is like a drug that just won’t leave you be.

A little over a week ago the husband and I sat down and talked about what we’d both been thinking but hadn’t had the guts to actually put on the table, the s word. Separating, separation, breaking up our family.

Rationally I know that it is very common, there’s no stigma, lots of people do it because marriages don’t always work out, and let’s face it, back in the “good ole days” we didn’t have the option and now we do. But still, it isn’t like going out to the store for a minute, a lot of thought and consideration are involved, are necessary in fact so that’s what we’ve been doing. Thinking and considering the actual, practical implications of a separation. Where would we live? When do we need to involve lawyers? How do we work out the logistics of the children? How is he going to survive not seeing them every day? Do we still raise them in this rural backwater if only one of us actually needs to be here day in and day out? We’re buying a house, a rather large house, do we keep it and go ahead with the renovations, do we divide it in two houses, do we sell it and start over?

Taking a minute (or ten) and actually working these things out in our heads resulted in not an awful lot of fighting and bickering over the furniture, as one would assume, but in a rearing of our stubborn streak. Really seriously thinking about breaking up our marriage took us back to why we got married in the first place. We started putting each other first. I can’t move back to America, not because he would stop me if that’s what I wanted, but because I wouldn’t want to be that far away from him. When the Husband got ill I had to imagine what my life would be like without him and now I don’t want to live my life without him in it whether we are married or not.

The reality of separating made us nicer to each other, it made us more caring, ironically it brought us closer together. I honestly don’t know what we’re doing but I don’t think we’re ready to give up on each other. The Boy came up to me the other day after I put him in time out for something or other and said: Mama don’t be mad at me, we’re a family. A family.  I don’t know how or if we’re going to work it out, but I guess we’re not done fighting. I just hope it doesn’t kill us. 

Linking up today with Shell at Things I can't say.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Virtual Coffee {35}

Hello dear friends, and welcome to coffee! Today I’ll be having a green tea as I’m on one of my “it’s spring, time to detox” kicks, which, much like the weather is a fickle friend but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

I have a love/hate relationship with spring. The weather drives me nuts, whenever I leave the house I look like I’m off on a trip as I’m usually carrying at least two jackets and a sweater per person, you just never know how it’s going to change from one minute to the next (just this morning it was hot and humid then chilly with some wind, then overcast, then sunny and now it looks like rain).
My vegetable garden makes sad eyes at me whenever I look out the kitchen window, probably wondering when I’m going to start fertilizing and planting and what not, but the likelihood of at least one more snowstorm is holding me off for now.
And the pollen, I swear the pollen is trying to kill me. The one thing I truly, sorely miss about living in a big, polluted city is not having any allergies as green areas are kept at a minimum in Milan.
Of course, I also love the colors, and the pretty pink flowers blooming on all the trees on my street, and alternating my dark and dreary wool sweaters with my bright and happy cotton ones, and the smell of renewal and possibility in the air that just says spring to me.

Pretty flowers, also, five minutes before taking this picture it was sunny. Crappy spring weather!!

I’m also in full spring-cleaning mode, part of the reason is that my live-in housekeeper/nanny is enjoying her hard earned holidays back home with her family. I thought this month and a half without her would be pure hell, but I actually enjoy having full rein of my house again. Sure, we’ve had many an organizational bleep as I’m used to having someone trustworthy to watch the kids whenever I need it, but apart from that it’s been easier than expected.

In fact, I’d been trying to talk her into using more “environmentally friendly” cleaning products, mostly because I’m extremely sensitive to chemical smells and most traditional cleaning products make me nauseous (I’m not exaggerating, also, it’s a great excuse to have a housekeeper!). Of course, she refuses saying that vinegar and water just don’t get the job done. I was on the fence because, well, as she does most of the cleaning I’m not going to get into an argument with her over it (I swear, it’s like I’m living with my mother!) also, I didn’t have enough experience cleaning over a long period of time with homemade products to judge. So I went out and bought some cute, colorful spray bottles and have set them up in the two main bathrooms we use and the kitchen. Well, you know what? Vinegar and water kicks ass. Seriously. Also, the kids can play with it with no adverse effects. In fact, yesterday they cleaned the windows and they thought they were playing. How awesome is that!!

These spray bottles just make me happy. 

I’ve been experimenting with essential oils to cut down the vinegar smell, because the husband complained that the kids smelled like salad the other day, so I’ve been using varying combinations of rosemary, eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, sweet orange and rosewood essential oils to find the perfect smell and as a bonus the first three essential oils are also anti-bacterial.

Ok, after this little green propaganda moment I’m off to clean the bathrooms, and I’m surprisingly excited about it!

Don’t forget to go visit our hostess Amy for coffee too, please!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Oh, to be a child again - Monday Listicles

Once you’re all grown up you rarely think about being a kid, and actually when you’ve got kids of your own you tend to concentrate on the good and bad things of having kids. This week though, thanks to Stasha (aka Northwestmommy) at The Good Life, I’ve decided to concentrate on the good things about being a kid. Both from my own, alas far-gone, experience and from what I see in my own children.

Ten great things about being a kid

1. Running is fun, not exercise
2. Sleeping in the afternoon is not only encouraged but celebrated
3. Food can be smeared, squished, thumped and ingested, both separately and all at once
4. Staying home and watching tv all day when you’re sick
5. Watching tv all afternoon because Mama’s sick or tired or irritable
6. Thinking it’s acceptable to throw a fit upon sighting broccoli
7. Going to the grocery store dressed as Spiderman any day of the week and thinking you’re the coolest thing since sliced bread
8. Sitting on the swing for hours with your eyes closed while someone else pushes you
9. Free cuddles whenever you want them
10. Crying, a hug and a kiss make everything better. Everything.

“Adults are just obsolete children and to hell with them” Dr. Seuss. How often I agree!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy Virtual Coffee {34}

Hello dear friends, and welcome to coffee. Or rather, if you’re in my time zone, welcome to a pre-bed herbal tea. I’m not a lot of fun to be around lately, which is why I’ve been participating in Amy’s virtual coffee so sporadically, but I miss catching up with everyone so here I am, late, but present.

Since I’ve been mired down in a bog of bad moods, unhappy thoughts and adult complications of our own creation today I decided to concentrate on the happy, because, thankfully there’s always some happy to be found somewhere, all we have to do is look for it. So tonight I’m counting my blessings and the reasons to be HAPPY!

I’m happy for this glorious spring-like weather we’re having. The snow is mostly melted, we can play outside again and the days are getting longer. Today we even managed to go to the park until almost 7pm. Bliss.

I’m happy that the Boy now seems to really enjoy going to preschool, he’s opening up and become very sociable and more confident.

I’m happy that the Girl is starting to slowly tone down her epic tantrums. I don’t know if it’s something I’ve been doing, or if she’s gaining more control as she gets older, but we’re ALL happy about this, neighbors and grocery store cashiers included.

I’m happy that the Husband and I are managing to be civil and gracious to each other and that whatever happens the fact that we’re friends and parents will hopefully continue to stay in our forethoughts.

I’m happy that I’m starting to get a handle on my insano-moods lately, without anti-depressants for now, thanks to a reader’s kind email that put me on the right track. Things like this remind me why blogging is so amazing.

And lastly I’m quite happy that this day is almost over, the kids are sleeping peacefully and I’m in bed fixin’ to watch one of my shows and go to sleep relatively early. Meeting for coffee in the evening isn’t half bad, is it, and tomorrow’s another day, full of possibilities!

Tonight I’m also linking up with Mamarazzi for Happy List on Dandelion Wishes.



Saturday, March 10, 2012

Living with Leukemia part 9. The End.

When I started this series of posts on how the Husband’s illness affected us I never thought I’d end up where I am right now. I actually thought I’d be at the opposite of where I am right now. Cause where I am right now is at the dashing of all my hopes and dreams. The other day I mentioned a quote by Dr Seuss from Oh, the places you will go, if only we knew when we embarked on this voyage the places we would go. We would at least have tried to veer off course, perhaps.

The Husband and I, we’ve been off for some time, possibly since a little while before his illness. When I think back to when he was first diagnosed, how we honestly thought it would bring us closer together, how such a serious hurdle to overcome together would help us put aside all our pettiness and it would bridge whatever divide had started to come between us, how silly of us. It did, of course, for a time, it brought us back together, we clung to each other like a drowning man to a life raft. And yet here we are discussing the dreaded S word, the one that precedes the much more final D word, the point of no return.

Tonight I lay in bed next to the Boy and all I could feel was guilty. The endless debate in my head: how can I seriously consider tearing apart his stability, pulling the rug out from under him, how do I break up his home? And yet, how do I not? What am I teaching him, we’re his example of love, of companionship, of partnership, we’re teaching him how to relate to others, is this really what I want for him?

The Husband and I, we’re civil, most of the time, we’re friends, we talk and get along but we also hate each other, we’re mean, and unpleasant, we’re not really good examples. We could go on like this for years, most likely, but why? Why should we, when we still remember what it was like to love each other, to like each other?

I don’t know where this is going, but I do know it can’t stay like this, because if no one is happy then everybody loses.

This is the last living with leukemia post I’ll write, because it’s heartbreaking to me that we managed to avoid the one and only really terrifying ending that could have come from this illness, that of a life without the Husband, ironic then, that now I may still be living my life without the Husband. 

If you're interested in the other Living with Leukemia posts you can find them here:
Part 1 - The Girl
Part 2 - Me
Part 3 - Me again
Part 4 - Broken
Part 5 - Anniversary of T.W.C.O.A.T.
Part 6 - Anger
Part 7 - Loneliness
Part 8 - The Ugly Truth

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Stand. Just stand.

Today I remembered a little bit of who I was, I remembered my thing. You know that thing, that thing that makes you feel better, that get’s your juices flowing, that amps your energy, for some people it’s running, for some people it’s yoga… everyone has their thing. My thing was dancing. Not professionally or anything, probably not even very well in fact, but that was my thing.

As a child and tween I took the obligatory dance classes, anything from ballet, to modern dance, to flamenco. As an angsty teen I’d sit in my room with the stereo as loud as my parents could stand it and dance around, and around, and around… for hours. As I got older and more disciplined I went back to the dance studio and pliéed my way to something akin to a nervous breakdown. I flitted from class to class, spending time and money I really didn’t have as a college student, trying everything you can imagine, classical ballet, contemporary dance, modern dance, even something similar to African tribal dancing simply called Afro. All this of course seasoned with a healthy side of clubbing on the weekends, where I was probably the only one actually there to boogie rather than the drinking and hooking up that normally goes on at that age.

And then I got older, work got in the way, and relationships… because what guy in a relationship is going to take you dancing? And life in general, it gets in the way of what we really like to do. And then you start feeling self conscious and silly, at 36 I’ve managed to lose the simple pleasure of being silly. I get embarrassed, I feel like an idiot at the idea of jumping around the room with volume up, I’m too old, I’m a mother… I don’t think twice about prancing around my living room, neighing, with both kids on my back as I pretend to be a horse, but dancing, that’s too embarrassing. How ridiculous. How sad. When did I start thinking I was too old to dance? When does anyone get too old to dance?

This biblically long preamble to say that today I got in the car and Stand by Lenny Kravitz was playing and I got that giddy feeling one gets when the endorphins start pumping, I laughed out loud, and I imagined myself dancing (I was driving, I couldn’t actually dance), I even bounced around in my seat a little bit. And it was fun. And it made me happy, well happier than I’ve been lately anyway. When did I get too old for fun?

So I got home and I downloaded the song and I got the kids and we played it really loud and danced around the living room. I could see my reflection in the windows, I looked idiotic, I was embarrassed, I wasn’t sure what to do with all those limbs flailing about haphazardly. But it was sort of fun.

And my two kids, they had no compunction whatsoever about dancing around and being silly, more proof, if any was needed, that children are so much smarter than adults.

Now turn up the volume! (I linked up the Glee version of this song because I like this video better than the official Lenny Kravitz video, which is a bit ridiculous and won't let you concentrate on the music. Also here there are cute boys in suits dancing about.)