Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Win Money! Lose Weight!

At the beginning of december I was in a dilemma about how to get through the holidays without gaining too much weight. Short of getting sick, I almost always gain a few in that one week window between Christmas and New Years. Nowadays it takes me months and way too much mental and physical energy to take it off again (menopause sucks...). Then I came up with what I consider an ingenious plan. I called my Business Coach up...his name is Alessio. He'd just had his fat and muscle mass measured and it turns out that he needed to lose about 12 lbs. The plan was this:

- From December 2nd to January 7th we had to lose 1,5 kg each (about three lbs). I figured it was an easy enough weight that we didn't have to really "diet", but it would ensure that we were careful during the holidays.

- If I lost the weight and Alessio didn't, he owed me 100,00 euro (now the fabulous equivalent of 144 U.S. Dollars),

- If Alessio lost the weight and I didn't, I owed him 100,00 euro.

- If we both lost the weight, congrats and cheers with a glass of mineral water.

- If we both did NOT lose the weight we both had to donate a hundred euro to charity.

I lost, he gained, I won!

I'm planning on spending most of it on clothes. I did already donate a small portion to my favorite charity.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

No T.V. Friday

For 2008 I've reinstated one day a week as a television-less day for the family. Don't get me wrong, I love television. I even have a special satellite dish subscription so that we can get 500 channels and see any program we want. The audio is bilingual and I can see all my favorite American shows (Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, ecc) in english. But as a family we do tend to get rather automatic with it and just flip it on whenever. Having one day a week where we purposely do not turn it on gently reminds us that we can also listen to music or put a nice atmosphere in the house or have a reading night. We did this on a regular basis years ago but sort of got out of it. Evan had never experienced it so it was really funny for him to get up in the morning and read the sign on the television. At first he didn't get it, but he started playing with some toys and never asked again for the rest of the day. As for me, after a really tough day, instead of plopping myself in front of a movie I simply went to bed earlier.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Word of the Year

I love Allie Edward's idea of having a personal power word for the year. I still have to do some closing with 2007, but I really feel that 2008 is going to be a year of change for me. Doing things in a different way, trying to see other's from a different angle. I chose the word "Evolve" because it signifies positivity and future. I also like it because it's "bilingual" and means the same thing in Italian and English (to evolve, evolvere). I printed it in beautiful red letters and framed it. I have to find a place to put it so that I can see it every day while I work in my studio. Now I can't wait to see how this year Evolves (with a capital E!)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Was it any of my business?

Saturday was a pretty crazy day for me to decide that I had to go grocery shopping at the Coop mall. Here in my world there are two distinct seasons where all clothing items go on sale for a one month period. For winter that would be on January 5th. Everything is marked from 30% to 70% off and you can get some really nice deals if you wait it out until the new year. It took me about fifteen minutes to find a parking spot and then had a long trek to get to the mall entry. I got out of the car, grabbed a shopping cart and then lifted Evan and settled him in. I’m not a fan of bringing Evan shopping with me because he gets restless and complains after three minutes. In the past he would start to act out on everything and anything right in the middle of an isle. That’s when I started to get smart and either not bring him at all or entertain him. I whipped out my ipod where I had loaded up two children’s song albums (he loves to rock out) and two Winnie the Pooh narrated stories. He smiled, plugged the earphones in and zoned out while I happily shopped.

An hour later we were finished and I steered the cart towards the exit. As I was leaving the mall I passed by an accessories store where just the week before I had been looking at a new purse. I didn’t see the it in the window, probably because everything was marked off 50% and it’d already been sold. I wanted to check out the other purses but had to find a way to do this without losing sight of Evan who was now singing along with “Quarantaquattro gatti”. I parked the cart right to the side of the entrance so that I could clearly see Evan while I just glanced in at the merchandise. Blocking my entry into the store were two women wearing headscarfs with a total of three children in tow. The children were all under five years old and one of the little boys was crying. They were speaking in another language so I couldn’t understand what they were saying. All of the sudden the mother whips around and starts hitting the little boy on his face. He tried to protect himself with both his hands, a sure sign that this had happened before. Even at four years old, he knew what to do.

My father used to hit us when we were children. Whenever one of us would get in trouble there was always a belt ready. I can clearly remember an incident where someone had done something and nobody would fess up, so he just lined all four of us up and spanked us all. I was a pretty well behaved child so I didn’t have too many encounters with his belt, but my two brothers were constantly getting into trouble, especially my older brother. What I used to hate the most was listening to his cries while he was getting spanked. I would sit in my room and cry along with him while it happened. Even worse than listening to him get spanked by my Dad was going through the same thing at my Grandparents. It all stopped when we grew older though. In any case, we weren’t battered children and I don’t feel I suffered any trauma from it. That’s just the way a lot of adults disciplined their children back then. I think it’s a learned process. My Father had learned it from his father and he had probably learned it from his. When Olivia was around two years old I knew I had to teach myself a different disciplining method. I poured over a lot of child psychology books and tried out different methods. A lot of them were failures and I can still remember my frustrations with her. Quite honestly I don’t think I ever really arrived at a good solution until Evan came along. That’s ten years of trying different methods! What I learned from Evan, what I could still apply to Olivia is that if a child is crying or acting out or behaving badly, they’re trying to tell you something. And if you want to get on with things you have to listen to what they have to say. I’ve gotten to a point with both my children where I can just ask them what is going on and they can tell me straight out. Usually this involves getting on their physical level (kneeling down, face to face, making eye contact, touching them). Just asking them what they need seems to cut right into the bad behaviour and make it all good again. Adults that hit children are not listening to them. Hitting them just vents their frustration without resolving the situation.

I turned around to watch since all five of them were blocking the door. Evan was on the other side watching me, the scene and singing. The mother turned her back on the boy and walked in the store passed me. Still crying, the little boy tugged on her shirt and tried to get his mother’s attention again. She took a quick wack at his face and said something to him. I don’t know why but I put my hand on his head. I wanted to stop the scene. I wanted to comfort the boy and at the same get his mother’s attention. His hair was thick and course, I thought right away that they were probably Moroccan. She turned to me and I looked her straight in the eyes and said in a calm, firm voice “Non si picchiano i bambini” (you don’t hit children). Under her scarf I could see that she was young, not more than thirty years old. She answered me with a taint of sarcastic disdain in her voice, “Oh really?”. I kept her stare and at the same time kept my hand on her child’s head. I repeated to her “non si picchiano I bambini”. Then I left.

No, I haven’t solved the world’s child abuse problems. I’m sure that Moroccan mother thought I was totally crazy. But at least I didn’t passively watch a scene that I knew was wrong.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

I'm the first to vote!

My democrat party ballot came in the mail yesterday. I used to only vote if I happened to be in the States during elections, but then the Bush-Gore debacle occured and all the expats realized how important every little vote is. When I was small my father used to keep his vote this HUGE secret. He absolutely would not tell us who he voted for. (I'm pretty sure he went republican all the way). I don't know why...Anyway, the only two candidates on the ballot that I liked are Hillary or Barack. I went with Barack. I really wanted to elect Hillary but she just doesn't convince me. I dont' know if Barack will be my candidate at the presidential elections, I'll have to see more on whoever his competition is and watch how he handles himself during the debates. I still think it's amazing that my choice was between a woman and an afro-american. We've made progress!

Friday, January 04, 2008


Here in the north of Italy where I live it gets cold in the winter, usually staying around 1° to 5° c, but it doesn't snow. It will snow two or three times in the month of January though. Last year was exceptionally warm and it didn't snow at all. Even though everybody was thrilled about, it got me really worried, global warming et al. Yesterday it snowed all day. It'll be gone by next week, but for now I'm happy the planet seems to be functioning as usual. After ten days indoors (due to being sick) I took Evan on a walk to the post office. He wanted to know where our sleigh was.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Modified plans

The plan was supposed to be that we all went down to Puglia where Piero's family lives, hang out through Christmas, and then I would go back to Modena to be with Olivia for the New Year while Piero and Evan stayed down south. I know it sounds complicated, but it's not and it keeps everybody happy. But then on the morning of the 24th I saw Evan playing with his cousins and he didn't look right. Nothing particular, but Mamma's intuition told me that he was getting sick. Sure enough that same night he developed a 101° fever that lasted five freaking days. On day four I called the doctor in and started him on antibiotics. The fever went down within 48 hours but I decided then that I couldn't just leave him there with his grandmother (though she loved doting on him), so we all packed up and came back home. It's an eight hour drive so it wasn't a light decision, but I feel much more comfortable taking care of him while I can keep him in site all the time.
Before the fever it was a very Merry Christmas. I'll tell you more about it in the days to come. Right now I think I've caught the tail end of whatever Evan had...sigh...