nine, and five

For his ninth birthday, my eldest son asked to go to the Lego headquarters in Denmark, which came as no surprise, given his aspirations of becoming a Lego Master Builder.

He would probably make an excellent master builder: he is creative and also logical. He would probably make an excellent anything. He loves science and comics. Basketball and bike riding, drawing and reading. He likes to play chess. He is sensitive and thoughtful. He has a great sense of humor. He is musical. He is kind. He is handsome and tall. He is thoughtful, helpful and curious. He is special in the most unassuming and magnetic of ways.

I am mostly too hard on him. I ask too much of him, and he is mostly so patient and so good.

If only he had a mother worthy of him! (If only both my sons did!)

Five and I are enjoying a quiet holiday weekend at home while almost-Nine spends a few days on his own with his father. Five and I rarely have the luxury of having each other all to ourselves for so many days at a time, and it is a treat. It is as if we were given a birthday gift too. Five is exuberant and mischievous, strong-willed and capricious. Although I profoundly understand his frustration when demands are made of him or when he is expected to compromise his principles or put his needs behind others, and where others might see inflexibility I see strength of character, it is not always easy being his mother.  Especially when I find compromise and flexibility just as challenging. But when I have the gift of time to devote to him, not to rush him, not to demand too much of him, he is a delight.

When Nine returns from Denmark, I’m sure he’ll seem bigger and older to our unaccustomed eyes. I wonder if we will seem different to him, too.

Posted in something beautiful, The boys | 6 Comments

Nur and me

Since we live in a pretty small town, it is hard not to run into people you know when you are out running. Here I am with my friend and neighbor Nur, who caught me on the block between her house and mine as I finished up my absolute favorite run: 20 km, slow and easy. (Look how happy I am!) Nur tried on my (sweaty!) sunglasses and took a picture to see how she looked. Pretty good!

Posted in running, the neighborhood | Leave a comment

same old love story

It had been over two months since my last fix, and when the physical therapist put me on the treadmill, it only took about three quarters of a kilometer before the warm happy feeling rose up from my feet and put a deep, grateful smile on my face.

A few days later I hit my usual route, thinking I’d shoot for thirty minutes, forty tops, but of course I didn’t have the strength to turn around until I reached the water fountain that marks the halfway point on my easy 7-miler – my go-to short run when there’s not enough time during the week for anything longer.

A few hours later my heel complained and the tendons all around it pulled tight, so I skipped a couple of days before heading back out. With ice and patience, I made it up to over 13 miles on Sunday, on a beautiful course through the woods and in the hills outside a nearby town, and all I had to show for it were tired legs the following day; there was almost no pain in my foot at all.

It was good to be outside and with friends from my running team whom I hadn’t seen in months. There was talk of upcoming races and tentative plans were made, but I came home relieved and happy because of the one thing that’s been on my mind: San Francisco, July 27th.

Back in December my brother and I registered for the San Francisco marathon. With three and a half more months to train, barring any injuries, I should be back in shape in time to finish it without too much pain.

Whenever it comes up, people are always saying how hard the course is, and so far I have shrugged them off thinking, they’re Italian, what do they know? But today curiosity got the better of me and I checked it out. Apparently, they do know what they’re talking about. So many hills!

I will just have to add some more hills to my weekly repertoire, I guess. Other than that, it is tempting to take it easy this time around, enjoy the Sunday runs in the countryside with friends, scout out more hills for my weekday runs, snub the speed training at the track. Among my running friends, I might say it’s because I don’t want to risk any more injury, and it partly is, but it’s also about not wanting to lose the joy and freedom of running out the door as soon as my work is done and going for however long I can until it’s time to quick get home so I can pick my boys up from school. Renegade training!

This could all change, of course. Three and a half months is a long time and anything could happen between now and then.

At least I have it back, and I am centered again. That lost feeling I get when I can’t run is gone now. There is no denying that it is an addiction, more for your mind than for your body. My brother described it succinctly in an email last month:

I listen to educational podcasts while I run and the one I listened to today was about the studies of sleep. There was a quote where a scientist said “When you sleep your brain sorts through all of the information you received during that day and analyzes it and decides where to place the information and even decides if it should hold onto that information or not.” I thought to myself, ‘that’s pretty much what I do when I run.’

It’s good to be back.

Posted in running | 4 Comments

garden party one sunday in spring

sant agostino bambini

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from the mouths of babes: Easter edition

I can always tell when Easter is around the corner because the boys come home with lots of questions about Gesù and death and resurrection. They must really up the ante at the Catholic school my children go to this time of year, and the irony of having to ask their non-believer mother what all of it means is not lost on them.

This week, with a sly grin, Eight said, “Have you ever noticed that when you ask people who made the world, they say ‘God’, but if you ask them who made God, they just pretend they didn’t hear you?”


“Really! They do. HA!” He was so pleased with himself.

Five, on the other hand, is fascinated by the cave full of dead people and Gesù rising from the dead. Why on earth, he’d like to know, would someone go to all that trouble to come back to life, if he was just going to die all over again?

Posted in Italian school, The boys | Leave a comment

beauty and love, love and beauty

In the very last days of the old year, a friend from my photography group confided to me that for her 2014 will be about Beauty, which she aspires to find in all the things around her. She confided that her Year of Beauty was inspired by my Year of Seeing.

My Year of Seeing was a couple of years ago, but I still carry it with me. There is a connection between those trees and me and never do I walk past them without feeling it.

So it’s tempting to ask my friend about her Beauty, but we haven’t seen much of each other since January, as I am sort of a recluse and she is so busy with research projects and teaching (she is a professor). Sending her a text that reads “How is the Year of Beauty coming along?” is so much less than what I really want to know.

I think about her Year of Beauty, though, and wonder where she sees it, where would I see it.

My children, mainly. My trees, of course. The silent snow when we were in the mountains and the snow-capped mountains in the distance, now that we have returned. My cat’s perfect little face, her softly pointing ears.

Beauty, it’s easy to see, is hard not to find where there is love. If you love something it is beautiful to you, isn’t that how it works?

I wonder if my friend is thinking about this too.

Next time I see her I will ask.

Posted in like anyone cares, something beautiful, the year of seeing, trees i have loved | 2 Comments

get over it already

And then it was already spring.

And has been for awhile. There were daffodils at the park two weeks ago and already it smelled like spring the day we got back from our last ski trip. As soon as we rolled into town, down came the windows and in blew that familiar scent of grass and dirt and, there was no denying it, spring. Damnit! I wasn’t ready for the winter to end; it is so much more conducive to feeling sorry for oneself and I still have some more of that do to.

There is nothing really I can complain about, besides persistent tendinitis. In the grand scheme of things I am very, very fortunate. I have a job I enjoy that pays the rent. My family loves me and I love them. My children are healthy and happy and likeable. Our life is good and easy.

Why I wish I could crawl under a rock for a year or ten is beyond me. I am not ready for sunshine and daffodils. Where is the rain? The cold? Why does the fog burn off so early in the morning?

GAH! I want to shake myself. What is wrong with you? OPEN YOUR EYES! Look around! The world is a marvelous place, filled with beautiful things, peopled with wonderful people!

Can’t you see it?


(And no!)

GAH! I have no patience for people like me.

Posted in like anyone cares | 2 Comments