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Clearly I have lied about trying to post an entry every week. If I get an entry twice a month, I will consider that a success. How do you ‘mommy bloggers’ out there do it?! You post about all the fun crafts you make with your kids…and all the recipes you’ve tried…..and all the errands you run….. and all the great workouts at your gym….. and how your house always needs to be cleaned….. and then how you clean it…..and how you volunteer for non-for-profit organizations that try to raise awareness about such important things as literacy and global cooling,…..and how your kids excel at all sports that you personally take them to and fully support….and how your husbands question your never ending supply of energy and organization. Then, using your manicured nails you manage to post entries about all these events in your lives every couple of days!
Below is an entry I have been dabbling with for just under three weeks with my cuticle-clogged appendages and I just can’t seem to collect enough time, energy, and focus-ability to finish it. I am very unmotivated by these unfinished entries, but yet these entries can’t possibly be completed and published without my motivation. I feel like I am stuck on the spin cycle of a washing machine (which coincidentally happens to be my most favorite and most liberating invention of all time) and now I am waiting to be dizzyingly spit out from the cycle, all clean, fresh, and ready to tackle tasks again. After tending to the kids needs, interests, learning, and activities and running the house, sitting down to type at the end of the day seems as appetizing as doing shots of soy sauce. Could it be that I am burning out?! Gasp! Perhaps I raise my own expectations too high and that leaves me a weee bit angry at myself because I don’t finish what I mentally sought out to do. This could be, but instead, I will blame it on the simple fact that the earth spins too fast on its tilted axis and hence this is why there is not enough time in the day for me to do the plethora of things I want to do. The end.
Regardless, motivation-come back to me!! My blog entries drag on and on before they are posted, my paper-work at home is morphing into a mountain that is desperate to be filed in the cozy confines of our organized sleeves in our filing cabinet, I can’t explain what is happening to my hair, and I have empty photo frames hanging on my walls at home! Egad! First world problems are harsh. Nonetheless, if you’re keen, read below about our Christmas holidays even though Christmas was already a month ago. Ho ho ho….bahumbug.
I was certain we would have a white Christmas here in Milan and for that, I was very excited. The snow fell twelve days before Christmas and hung around for a few days. The city was stunning and I must say, the havoc on the roads was kept to a minimum. Ribbons of traffic, honking horns, people getting out of their cars to assess the situation, hand-gestures that mimic aircraft marshallers, cursing, and lots of yelling-all this I expected. I envisioned a scene from a Hollywood blockbuster movie where New York is packed and traffic is snarled as people await the 100 foot tidal-wave that is about to hit the city. To my surprise, this did not happen. All things went smoothly, even if italians did panic about being caught in the sudden slushy ‘dump’ without their winter tires on. Well done!
Milan is that much prettier when coated in snow but alas, by the time Christmas rolled around, all the pretty white stuff was gone. As we prepped to go out for Christmas eve dinner with three other families, it was raining. Being Canadian, I’ve never experienced rain fall on Christmas eve before and hence this year, I traded in my parka for an umbrella. Christmas was celebrated with three other families and was a very relaxing and informal blend of different traditions and dishes. I brought a polish vegetable salad, Christmas crackers to celebrate Matlock’s British influences while growing up, and enough salmon to spark a protest by Green Peace for the sudden drop in worldwide salmon population. In truth, we should have invited a whole village because there was just too much food and no one was wearing an outfit that would allow enough stretching to accommodate all the grub. It was a great evening composed of eight adults and eight children and by way of a true Christmas miracle, all the kids got along so swell, allowing us bigger people to laugh more and more with each sip of Swedish glogg that we consumed. Fa la la la laaaa, la la la la.
Christmas morning was a blast and a true reminder of the innocence in kids that only Christmas Day can bring. How I wish I could still believe that a dude in a red coat with a serious sugar high from eating too many cookies in one night travels the world in a sled, lead by airborne freaky reindeer and feels that I’m special enough to bring me the exact presents I asked for, all while I slept. Motherhood has been a blast since both the Albino Hulk and Little Miss Stubborn took their first breaths, but at this stage and age they’re in, motherhood allows me to twist the stories I tell the kids to have them behave to my liking. In truth, I enjoy telling my children little white/beige lies. It keeps me going. For all of December, I kept telling them Santa is peeking into the house whenever the motion-detector light on the alarm sensors in each room is shining red. The kids interpreted this to be true and very often they would walk a bit closer to the alarm sensors that are high on the walls and talk to ‘Santa’. This had me laughing all month long because they looked crazy but they were the best-behaved crazy little people ever. We spent the month doing crafts and Christmas baking during which the kids would break away and talk to the alarm motion detectors and even thinking of it now has me in stitches.
It was just the four of us on Christmas Day and we had a lovely day allowing us to think about our little homestead in Milan and all that comes with it. The title to this entry is from a song by Of Monsters and Men and I used it because the chorus bears the words ‘..and we are far from home, but we’re so happy. Far from home, all alone, but we’re so happy…’. (Ma, before you read too deep into what I am trying to say, rest assured all family and friends are missed but Milan has proven to be that ‘cherry on top’. That’s all.). As the year draws to a close, I always get a little more reflective and I really hope our life’s lotto ticket keeps us here a weeee bit longer because I get all verklempt thinking about bidding these now-familiar streets goodbye too soon.
Anyways, back to Christmas… I bought a turkey to cook for our own little feast but since I came home from the night before with heaps of edible souvenirs, I ended up warming everything up but made some cheese perogies to celebrate Jesus’ birth. A bird died in vain since I never got a chance to use it before it went off and so the moral of the story is, I need to buy baggier sweat pants so that I can happily consume all the food I have on hand for large festive occasions, because then I would have cooked the doomed bird.
Next year for Christmas I would like to spend the holidays here again and would try to incorporate a more italian influence into our celebration. In Milan, Christmas would be incomplete without the culinary accessory called Panettone which I wrote about in an entry ages ago (click here if you want). It’s a Christmas bread filled with candied fruit, chocolate chips, or it may also be empty. Everyone raves over it and if you don’t have it on your Christmas table, it is blasphemous like Canadians who don’t roll up the coveted rim to see if they’ve won a prize after they’ve licked their last sip of coffee out of a Tim Horton’s coffee mug. Next year at Christmas I will also take part in the tradition of the Befana in our house. The Befana is massively popular in Italian folklore as she brings kids gifts on the evening of January 5th, before the Feast of the Epiphany. If kids were good all year long, they would receive presents. If children misbehaved, they would get coal. In North America, kids leave cookies and milk for Santa; in Italy, kids leave wine and a little bit of food for her. Anyways, rumor has it the Befana was visited by the three wise men who were searching for baby Jesus. She gave them shelter over night but refused to go searching for Jesus with them the next morning after they asked her to join, simply because she had house work to do, (she sounds Polish, to be honest). Anyways, the three wise men left the next morning to continue their search. After their departure, the Befana changed her mind and left to find them and she is still looking for them today. Hence, she goes from home to home searching for the baby Jesus and her guilt consumes her (she’s probably Catholic), so she leaves presents for kids around the (italian) world. Can you imagine that happening today? No way would an old lady let three random fellas dressed in robes and bling spend the night in her house. That’s preposterous but that is the story of the Befana and so my kiddos will get a small gift on the 5th of January next year.
I will also try to make some dishes of this region. I was at the grocery store on the 23rd and it seems that everyone in Luigi Land was buying up seafood, specifically octopus for their Christmas meals. No one touched the salmon, except for me even though if I were to stick to Polish traditions, I would have bought carp as that is the popular fishy back home. Years ago eel was apparently the favourite catch of the day here in Italy for Christmas Eve but that has changed. I have never cooked octopus so that promises to be a culinary adventure. Christmas Day is celebrated by italians having a large meal at lunch, not at dinner. Turkey is starting to become more of the nucleus of the meal but the feast is also full of fish, and stuffed pasta. Sounds delicious. Apologies in advance to my hips.
On the 26th we hosted a brunch with another family which was great fun and then on the 27th we decided to pack up and head to the mountains but….by using public transport. Always an adventure we seek but I think it’s safe to say, we will never do that again. First we took a train to the town of Lecco and then waited for a bus to connect us to our town of Maggio. If Lake Como is an upside-down ‘Y’, Lecco sits on the tip on the right-side branch, opposite from the town of Como. As it turns out, I prefer it more than Como due to the geological scenery, but really, it’s like picking which Piquardo purse I like more (because I love them all). The bus route linked numerous mountain hamlets to a bigger town, but the entire schedule had six modifications to it. You can imagine it was pretty easy to get confused with the schedule since there were essentially six versions to it and hence a few times we were waiting in the cold for a bus that as it turned out, was no where near coming by the stop. Luckily, my friend Debra and her mom decided to join us on our little city break and a few times Debra offered to shuffle us around between the towns. The hill we were spending our time on was Piani di Bobbio based on a recommendation from a friend and the kids had a blast being exposed to the slopes for the first time. Matlock relished in showing the kids his favourite sport and soon they will be faster than me. How a ski-instructor-ceritified fella fell for me, the Princess of the snow plough and married me always makes me laugh. It was my first time on the slopes in five years and I carved the shit out of the mountain with my pumpin’ and pointy plough. Recall, I’m not the most graceful skier but I had a blast reintroducing my feet to heavy ski boots and trying to ‘perfect’ my skiing posture. I did however get on and off the chair lifts without falling and in truth, my skis were orientated parallel to one another a few times, so a good time was had by all of me. Needless to say, the four of us look forward to skiing some more this season indeed and with rented wheels for transportation, of course.
New Years eve was spent with my good friend Nina and her family at their house. She prepared a raclette feast which was delicious and very filling and the company was superb and funny. All the kids were still ready to party at 12:30 am but we decided to head home. Taxi’s were in short supply and of course the tram broke down one stop before the one we were waiting at and so we had to walk home. This proved to be stressful for the kids because as mentioned last year, people love to set off fire crackers in the streets and of course this was loud and alarming for the Albino Hulk and Little Miss Stubborn. The walk home was full of tears and hard hugs and two kilometres later as we juggled our keys in our lock, I thought my arms were going to drop spontaneously to the floor from having to hold Little Miss Stubborn on the walk home. I recall holding a little baby not that long ago-when did she get so big?
Soooo, to not drag any more of your time, that was our month. A highlight for sure was the kids’ Christmas productions at school. The singing, the costumes, and our parental pride to see our little canucks sing in both italian and english songs that they had been learning for a little while and also singing around the house was just exquisite. Matlock had a meeting during the Albino Hulk’s show so he missed it, however he made it for Little Miss Stubborn’s show. If you know me well, you know I have a thing about getting good seats and so I was there early enough to stand in line to get front-row seats. Matlock, me, and a very sick Albino Hulk watched the production with pride and just as the room of parents broke into final applause, the Albino Hulk applauded with projectile vomit. I was ready though and had a plastic bag to catch it all. To sweeten the night, Little Miss Stubborn was too excited to pee in preparation for her school production and hence never used the loo all afternoon. She decided just after the show and little reception was a good time as any to wet her pants. Between puke and pee, our little soppy, smelly, but jolly elves still made us proud. I think they’re the only two people in the world I can ooze pride for after their puke and pee lands on me. Motherhood is magic. Motherhood is blindness.
I’m off to publish this entry before this motivation fizzles and get some sleep. As if on cue, the kids are waking up with coughs and need me. My night shift is beginning, so feel free to drop a comment if you like since I will probably read it right away anyways.