better than normal

Lately it seems like I write mostly about Six; he is a reliable source of blog fodder.

This morning we were out running errands, including buying him the umpteenth pencil sharpener to replace yet another he’d lost at school. We were walking along the street and I was probably annoying him with all my talk about responsibility and making more of an effort to keep track of his sweatshirts, which are part of the school uniform (the boys have lost one each so far this year), and the materials his teachers require him to have for school. I tried to keep it short, but clearly it was not short enough because his response was:

“I wish I had a normal mommy.”

“You don’t think I’m a normal mommy?”

“HA! No! And I like normal mommies better.”

“What are normal mommies like?”

“Like Francesco’s mommy. And Luca’s mommy. Those are normal mommies. Zeno’s mommy.”

“What makes me different? Is it because I’m not Italian?”

“NO! It’s because you’re NOT NORMAL! Hmph! UNDERSTAND?”


“Actually, no. I don’t understand. What is it about me that is not normal? What don’t you like?”


“No, I don’t understand at all.”

At which point Nine quietly intervened. “She’s normal,” he said.

And I think I would have found it more comforting if normal had been what I’ve been aiming for all this time. Just normal?

Rarely have I ever aimed for normal. Different, maybe. Authentic, definitely. Extraordinary, oh, if only.

Preferred by my children, yes please.

Posted in The boys | 4 Comments

my induction to the national sport

This weekend we took the boys to the soccer stadium to see their first professional soccer game. While Nine gets excited about participating in a day-long chess tournament (he placed second at his last one), Six lives for the two days a week he has soccer practice, in addition to the heated soccer games at recess between the first and second grades, and for the past two months he has been mentioning that he’d like to go to a soccer game.

So Monday evening we walked over to the stadium to watch our city’s team play. Our team is not in the European Champions League but is still pretty decent (we won!) and plays in Italy’s the next highest league. But while Six supports our local team because, as he will tell you himself, he was born here, he has already chosen his favorite premier league team.

This is kind of a big deal in Italy. Once an Italian picks his team, that’s it. He sticks with it for life. He can cheat on all the women he wants, but if has any integrity he will never stray from his team, not even after a long losing streak. Especially not then!

Six has chosen Juventus, a popular team based in Turin. I don’t know how or why, but it could very well have something to do with his sticker album.

The sticker album… Not a day goes by that Six does not ask me to take him to the newspaper stand where he can buy, for the bargain price of sixty cents, a packet of five stickers, each featuring the picture of a Champions League player in his jersey, along with basic team and player stats. The American equivalent would be the baseball card, except that the stickers go into a special album that he carries with him, studies first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and during most of his meals at home.

When he gets a new packet, we must rush home so he can rip it open, examine the stickers, line them up, and take each one, flip through to the appropriate team page, then peel the sticker off its backing and carefully place it in the right spot. He takes the duplicates to school to trade with his friends. Once completed, he will have the complete collection of all the players on every Champions League team, but only for this season.

Posted in looking in, The boys | Leave a comment

happy thanksgiving

I was going to pretend it wasn’t Thanksgiving today but as we rode our bikes to school, in a little line, Nine leading the way, followed by Five (almost Six), with me bringing up the rear, they were so freaking cute the gratitude came over me all on its own.

I have loved their every age, and now I love being a mom to big boys despite missing their little boy faces, their little boy grins. Five still has his, and I miss it already, knowing how soon it will be gone.

I try to practice gratitude every day of my life, and every day I am grateful for my boys and all the richness that the mingling of their lives with mine has given me. Some days the gratitude comes more easily than others (heh, heh) and it comes easiest when I look at old pictures of them (how soon our minds cloud over the harder bits of our past and highlight the best parts!).

This is what they were like four and a half years ago:



Ooh those faces! How I got so lucky I do not know.

Happy Thanksgiving! May the gratitude come just as easily to you and yours.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

the annual pre-thanksgiving woe is me post

A few weeks ago I was at the track and had run three 4000m reps in exactly the times my trainer had advised me, except for the last one, which I had run faster. Every cell in my body was electrified with the thrill of what I had just done, and as I ran a few laps slowly around the track before heading home I let myself bask in the joy of such a very good moment. Part of what made it so good was that it was not the highest of high points because the very best moment was to have come a week and a half later at the end of the race I was training for, when I was to have obliterated my previous personal record.

Oooh, when I write that, the thrill comes back again.

Unfortunately, a few days after what effectively turned out to be the high point of my training, the various parts of connective tissue in my foot and ankle revolted. The rebellion worsened as the days progressed until race day when I withdrew. Clearly not pounding the pavement for approximately 1 hour and thirty something minutes with a foot that hurt after two Advil and only half a mile of warm-up running was the only intelligent choice I could have made, blah blah blah, but it still sucked.

On the positive side, I now have a better idea of what I am capable of if only my tendons will cooperate, and just the thought of it gives me a little thrill.

So I have not been running, which weighs on my spirits, and makes everything seem so much worse than it actually is. If only I could just go outside and pound the damn pavement for an hour and a half! I know that by the time I came back I would have perspective, nothing would seem so bad. Or I would be too tired to care.

As I get more and more desperate for my fix, I begin to think about quitting the racing and just running to run, the way I used to, when I never had injuries from pushing it to the limit and over to the other side. I go back and forth weighing the pros and cons in my head, not that I have to decide right this very minute, but what else am I going to obsess over if not running since I can’t run? It’s the “A Clockwork Orange” conundrum – the one I still haven’t made up my mind about – is life life without the thrill? I would miss it, I would miss it so much, but at least I would be able to run when things get rough, when it gets to be this time of year with Thanksgiving around the corner and all my family on the other side of the world, then my cat dies, and then my ex-husband, upon finishing the dinner I have cooked and served him, informs me that he would like to change the terms of our divorce and I should expect to hear from his attorney sometime soon.

Damn tendons.

Posted in Lou, nostalgia, running | 7 Comments



It was one of those nights. Five had asthma attacks, so I was up giving him aerosol therapy, and then checking on Lou, who hadn’t eaten all day and was uncharacteristically sprawled out on the couch in my office, one of her usual spots.

The couch has been covered in plastic for days because of her kidneys. She drinks and drinks and pees and pees, and most of the time, because her kidneys have not been functioning, she can’t think straight and pees wherever she happens to be.

I could have taken her to the vet and ended it, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I figured as long as she was eating and didn’t seem to be in pain, it wasn’t time. Last night, as I stroked Five’s hair to the monotonous hum of the aerosol machine I decided the time had come.

This morning she was a grim sight to behold, still sprawled out on the couch, and Nine said his goodbyes before we left to take him to school. Five stayed home with me and we arranged her as comfortably as we could on a towel, until the vet’s office opened and I could call to see what they recommended.

I sat down next to her and saw that she was barely breathing. By the time I could call the vet, she’d died.

Five minutes later the new people renting the offices downstairs rang the bell to say there was a pretty serious leak coming from the laundry room in my apartment and could they come in and check it out with the plumber?

Then it was time to take Five to the pediatrician, then Lou’s body to the vet, then home to work and wait for another plumber.

While fixing Five’s lunch, I kept glancing down at the space around my feet to make sure I didn’t trip on Lou. She always stands right next to me, or behind me, whenever I am in the kitchen.

We knew it was coming, and she hadn’t been herself for a long time.

Five will be fine, my work will get done, Nine has comic book class tonight, which he loves.

I took the plastic off the couch but I will leave her water dish and dry food out another night.

Posted in Lou, nostalgia | 9 Comments

more on five, the bossy one

Our bedtime ritual involves a hot water bottle, a book and snuggling. Almost every night, as he feels around for the mole on my neck, his security spot, he says to me:

“Rub my back now.”

Sometimes he adds:

“You can give me kisses. If you want.” And he sighs audibly, to be sure I realize the extent of the concession he is making for me.

“Rub my back! Rub my back and give me baci.”

Last night, he clarified:

“You always rub my back when we start to snuggle. Ok? And you can give me kisses. Ugh! If you want.”

Posted in The boys | 2 Comments

one of the countless joys of motherhood

I eagerly wait for Five outside his school and I know that his smile for some reason will be brighter and his little face even more endearing than I remembered.

He drops his backpack at my feet and the litany of complaints begins.

Today I asked, “Before complaining why don’t you first say ‘Hi Mommy, I’m happy to see you’?”

“Because I not.”

Posted in The boys | 5 Comments