Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Best Laid Plans...

...Are often laid to waste by croupy babies, shrieking toddlers, and a house so filthy it can barely be recognized as 'indoors' as opposed to, I don't know, the back alley behind a dry cleaner's and a deli.
There are boxes of c-r-a-p everywhere. Someone came by and bought all our dressers on Monday night, so there are piles of clothes all over the place, too. I meant to do something about it during naptime yesterday, but instead I crouched in my disheveled bed amidst a pile of (clean? dirty?) laundry and watched the latest episode of Parenthood.

And it was good. Dammit, Grace, it was good. You were spot on. And I don't have time for that right now. 

I have like a million billion pages of lists for world domination that are scattered about the shanty, but most days all I manage to do is keep the children alive, (yesterday, just barely though. Never, ever take a toddler to have their blood drawn. Insist upon leeches or some other more civilized means of extraction.) get dinner made ordered, and whale around on the treadmill or rowing machine while I sweat bullets over the looming specter of no gym (read: no kid's club.)

We need visas. We need a plane ticket for my little sister, aka our temporary nanny for the first two months. We need longer term housing in Rome. We need like, 7 large suitcases and many, many more Tide To Go pens to fill them with. We need 6 months worth of prescriptions, another suit for Dave, piles of linens and towels to be vacuum sealed and magically shrunken down for easy transport. We need to sell the entire rest of our house and then, somehow, still live in it for another 5 weeks.

And my in-laws are coming for Christmas. And bringing the college kids. Indoor family camping trip, anyone?

I know this sounds like the worst kind of entitled whining, and I don't mean for it to. I am just fricking freaking out a teeny bit, and wondering how this is all going to come together. Plus, I normally garner a lot of peace and confidence from having an orderly, comfortable home to dwell in. When the outside of my world looks like chaos, the inside feels about the same.

So I guess the lesson in all this is, drink more wine, watch more reality tv, spend more time in prayer. Because while I feel completely out of control these days, the only thing that has really changed is the illusion of control. I no longer gotz it.

Game on, Advent. We're ready for you.

And as an added bonus, this year we will be celebrating Christmas in an actual stable.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What I Wore Sunday

'What's that dear? Look drunk and pregnant? We'll try our best.'
How about a careless 80's pose against a timeless corrugated steel-garage-door-backdrop? 

Lifetouch portraits called, the want to know if we're available to do 5th grade class portraits for Miss Schroeder's class next week.
Okay, now put the jacket on and let the baby Mike Tyson your ear candy.

And a sassy hip pop.


'There, there, mom. Don't worry about that muffin top, all eyes are on me anyway.'
The lowdown:
Jacket: American Eagle, thrifted
Top: Apartment 9, thrifted
Skirt: Ralph Lauren (now I see why it was at el outlet mall)
Boots: Madden Girl (think Steve's bratty little sister)

Angry toddler: a scowl and Children's Place, head-to-StrideRight-toes, thrifted
Happy baby: Izod, Children's Place and Pediped, you guessed it, thrifted.

What do you mean there's no Goodwill in Italy?

Hold me.

(And a big thanks to the ladies of Fine Linen and Purple for getting us to Mass on time for the first Sunday in, oh, I don't know...ever?)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Balls to the Walls*

What I mean is, it's hall-decking time in the (formerly known as) Senour house! And in the immortal words of my sweet godson, Mikey:

"Balls to the walls, Grandad?"

"Yes Mikey, that's what they tell me."

Confused? You ought to be. (Lizzie just texted me that I basically got everything about this story wrong. Including this crucial ditty. Caution: f-bombs. Times a million.)

But the punchline is this: my Advent-loving, liturgically accurate husband has agreed to lift our perennial ban on early Christmas decor since we are leaving ze country shortly after Epiphany this year, which means I get to bust out my box of Dollar Store delights about 3.5 weeks early.

Game on, Denver.

This year, we'll be entertaining 75% of my extended family for Christmas week in our humble abode, which is rapidly emptying of any and all furniture and decor. To compensate, I plan to string party lights from every available surface and compensate for an appalling lack of pillows and mattresses with plenty of gluvine and trays of mini quiches from Costco.

Let the games begin.

*p.s. My dad had a really unfortunate verbal misstep about 3 Christmases ago that my sweet nephew kindly repeated to the rest of us. Every year henceforth, when mom and dad bust out the over-sized glass and plastic ornaments that are (inexplicably) tacked to every wall and dangled from every light fixture in the home, well...the rest is history.)

p.p.s. Some encouragement and edification in the midst of my almost entirely frivolous postings for the past, oh, month or so. And we're not pregnant.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What I Wore (to drive) to Thanksgiving Dinner

Holler at me Grace.

Coming to you fresh from the Rocky Mountains...

Not a drop of alcohol has been consumed yet.

But the promise is there.

Top: White House Black Market (thrifted)
Necklace: Lia Sophia (gifted)
Skirt: Target (exclusive boutique in my hood ... sorry if you've never heard of it.)
Shoes: Blowfish (thrifted)

Side view. You're welcome.
(Want guns like that? Dream on. I have good genes and hours at le gym to thank. Ever female in my immediate family has a pair. My dad refers to them as the 'Senour Baby Cranes' ... you know, for lifting babies. You can see why my parents have enjoyed the long, happy marriage they have.)

Gratuitous family shot. Only missing like 65% of our members.

The happy couple.
In real life, I'm not this fat, and he's not this tired.
Okay, yes we are.

 Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Packing, Selling, Shopping, and Smoking

Oh. So much to do.

And yet...I've been spending hours just reading blogs, obsessively cleaning the bathroom (a losing battle with a potty-training male), wandering out back to smoke furtive Camel Lights during naptime (judging me yet?), and staring vacantly at my rapidly emptying house, rendered increasingly barren by the generous shopping habits of friends and acquaintances. Did you know you can sell pretty much anything on Facebook? Apparently.

I can't believe we're doing this. And yet, if feels so much like a direct invitation from the Lord, that we barely hesitated to give our affirmative answer.

Which was comforting when I was wiring $400 via Paypal to an old man named Giuseppe over lunch today, crossing my fingers that 33 days in an internet vacation rental would be sufficient time to find a 'real' apartment when we get there in January.

So here we sit, 1 day till Thanksgiving, 30 days till my 30th birthday, 34 days until Christmas, and 42 days until we leave the country...for good. For a while, at least. Oh, it's also our 3rd wedding anniversary. Today. I should totally cook dinner tonight to commemorate it.

Pardon me, I have to step outside for a moment. Ahem.

Did I mention that it is 67 degrees here in Denver on this Thanksgiving Eve? And that 'Thanksgiving Eve' is now apparently a thing? And that Costco was off the hizzy this morning and people already had that crazed, 'gotta snap up that last faux-cashmere bathmat' gleam in their eyes while wielding their semi-carts?


I should also mention that I saw an Obama logo on a car today - no words, just the weird sun rising symbol thing - and thought to myself 'that looks like the Eye of Sauron.' Then I called my sister to tell her about it, and she said 'are you going to write a blog post about it?'


Or maybe not. Sorry for the hot mess that this is. You should see my kitchen right now. You should see my stretched out, stained and ill-fitting maternity spanx-y cami right now. You should see the new James Bond movie this weekend, I've heard. You should send a babysitter over our way so I can see it, too.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to be cheersing it up in about 9 minutes, when it will officially be 5'clock on the East Coast. Anyone care to join me for a virtual IPA and a beleaguered sigh over long-fought naptime battles?

I'll be back tomorrow with fewer words, more pictures, and lots of thrift store treasures on dem hips so Grace can see me in big girl clothes for the festive occasion. You're welcome, in advance.


Friday, November 16, 2012

7 Quick Takes: All My Fears on (Virtual) Paper

1. We're moving to Italy, y'all. It feels much more real to be able to share it with you on the internets now that all the financial questions have been settled and the tickets are being booked. But I repeat, we're moving to Italy. With 2 babies. And we're moving to one of the oldest, most expensive, and most chaotic and beautiful cities on the planet. Also, there are no screens on the windows. And we will likely be living on the 3rd or 4th floor of some ancient marble-ensconced apartment building.

2. With 2 baby boys. If the (slightly) smaller one is anything like his big brother, I expect to never sleep again, as I will be forced to maintain nocturnal vigilance over all the windows in the joint, lest someone escape and jump out.  Because if they do, how do I call 911? And how do we get to the ER? And how will I know what to google to ask the doctors?

3. I really don't love pasta. It's a nice occasional treat, but not something I care to eat on a daily or even weekly basis. Refried beans, on the other hand...well, you know what to send in care packages. How about we strike a deal: send flats of beans via flatrate shipping boxes, and I will return said boxes stuffed with gorgeous scarves, jars of authentic nutella and bottles of limoncello. K?

4. I don't speak Italiano. I mean, I can order my espresso and my vino and gelati, and I can sweet talk my way past a Vatican guard or police officer, but I can't do much in the way of conversation. Should be an interesting time at mom's group...

5. Speaking of mom's groups....Can I be frank here? I am terrified of being friendless in a foreign city. I am a rare breed of choleric introvert, and while I get lonely after too many days of only cray cray toddlers to opine to, I kind of hate making new friends, too. It's equal parts sad and pathetic, I know. So pray I meet some brilliant Italian women who speak fluent English, or that the entirely of the Christendom Rome program wants to come over and babysit my progeny while I blow all my euros buying up the entire XL rack at H&M. (Because we all know it will be full and heavily discounted, wink wink.)

6. Where are we going to live, you ask? That's a great question. Italians do things somewhat differently in the housing department, and by that I mean it's a complete clusterfunk of bureaucracy and nepotism. Don't bother with Craigslist, you foolish expat. Romans are expected to wine and dine their prospective landlords, then sign a kind of housing pre-nup, then court for an appointed period while meeting eachother's families, etc., and finally, a spit and a handshake seals the strange, strange deal. Bottom line: we are moving over there homeless, essentially, and will be living in a vacation rental of some sort until we can enter into a serious relationship with our new place, wherever that may be.

7. Grocery shopping. But wait, isn't it romantic that Romans shop every day, or every other day at the least? Fresh produce markets, fresh bread at the bakery, wine at the wine shop, meat at the butcher's, you get the picture...there are, of course, American style 'supermarkets' of sorts, about the size and selection you'd find at a Walgreens, but here's the thing: no car, no massive stock-up trips. Shopping every day is not only romantic, it's brutally necessary when you're a pedestrian pushing a double stroller filled with human life and only one small basket to receive dry goods. One of my girlfriends suggested replacing one meal per day with a small, compact Cliff bar, and it's not a half bad suggestion.

So those are the fears, kinda silly now that they're splashed in digital ink on the electronic page. I am sure the joys will multiply and outnumber them, but they're real enough, for now. As for all you fine people, I can't thank you enough for all you kind words via email, comments, and FB.

Go see Jen.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

But I Don't Like Pasta

Remember my sneaky sotto voce aside about discernment and being bad at it?

Well, the time for pondering has come and gone. Decisions have been made, authorities have been notified, and the grandparents have been traumatized. In less than 2 months, we are packing up our worldly possessions and moving these bello bambinos of ours to the eternal city for a crash course in Italian immersion.

That's right folks, we're that crazy, and we're moving to Rome.

Dave was presented with a career opportunity we simply couldn't refuse, and so after much prayer, conversation and weekday drinking (which was really just practice for our new lifestyle) we've decided to pull the trigger.

Are we excited? Um, yes, a little bit.


Yes, that too.

We have one gluten free family member and one lactard in our ranks, so the land flowing with cheese and pasta is going to be culinarily...challenging.

I also have a rather virulent aversion to heat, so summers should be fun.

But I digress.

We're moving to Italy, people! With babies! And we don't speak Italian! We're crazy!

And now, I must be tending to the somewhat daunting task of liquidating the entirety of our worldly possessions, minus a few outfits and our digital camera.

Which brings me to one final piece of information: anyone in the Denver area wishing to buy an entire houseful of furniture, $2,000 + worth of baby gear and a sensible Honda Accord in dark gray, call me, maybe?

Until next time friends, Arrivederci.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

For My Mama

My mom is amazing.

So far, she has raised and successfully launched (so far) 5 little birds from the nest. 2 remain at home though, and for the first time in 20-something years (a lady never tells), my parents actually have a bedroom/bathroom to offspring ration that approaches something like the American average.

Not that it's something they - or any of the seven of us - would have traded, but I'm sure they are glorying in the space they have now. At least until the next holiday break rolls around and the college kids return to raid the fridge.

They redid their kitchen when I left for college, and that has remained the gorgeous heart of our home. Their master bedroom and bath is also in pretty good shape, thanks to my dad's rocking handyman skills.

There is a sore spot though, a sadly abused and neglected room that my mother has probably spent more collective hours in than any other in the house. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of it, but suffice it to say it is not overly attractive, but it does get the job done.

You guessed it folks: it's the laundry room.

Being the good little technology literate offspring that I am, I painstakingly collected and emailed images of drool-worthy shelving, storage, and washer/dryer arrangements to mom this morning, only to be rebuffed by a mutual confusion over file transfers. 

So without further ado, I give you (mostly you, mom) the inspiration board for the Senour laundry room renovation of 2012. Because I can't figure out an easier way to show this to you, Mom, and since you're my most faithful reader and approximately 10% of my regular viewing audience, I thought you deserved your very own post.



(Dad, see me for pricing and shopping tips) ;)

(all images linked to original sources)

Friday, November 9, 2012

7 Quick Pics

1. Because I got nothing this week. Nada. Jen may or may be puking on a plane right now, so maybe she can entertain you more effectively.

2. Emotional hangovers be damned.

3. Still, if you're looking for encouragement, you could always read this or maybe this.

4. Or think budgetarily inappropriate thoughts while admiring these.

5. Or you could listen to this 1 or 20 times on Youtube. Not that I haven't. (Okay, 21. Thanks Dwija.)

6. But I digress. Without further ado, I give you a tale of two brothers, in still life:

One's a pleaser...
(Aw shucks, mom.)
And one's a streaker.

Sippy cup + naked toddler + leather couch = all around winning combo

Buns in the air. We just don't care.
 7. The end. Why won't they nap?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Same Sex 'Marriage' And The Trouble With Words

Here's the thing about redefining marriage to suit cultural trends; it's never going to stop.

What I mean by that is not necessarily that in the year 2045 people will be wedding their golden retrievers, (though they may be, in Boulder) but that in seeking to redefine a traditional (aka long-held) understanding of what something is, we unhinge our little corner of existence from the rest of human history and push off for some unknown shore, secure in our chronological snobbery that we have at last 'gotten it right' where thousands of years and millions of minds of human history have failed.

Because that's realistic, right? To believe that here, today, we are somehow smarter/faster/stronger/more moral/more enlightened than the entire mass of humanity upon whose bones we stand.

I beg to differ.

Redefining marriage as something other than 'one man, one woman, one lifetime' is to attempt fundamentally alter the very thing which we collectively understand and recognize marriage to be.

Proponents of gay 'marriage' and the like will argue that it is precisely a poverty of understanding which prevents people from being 'open minded' enough to recognize marriages between two members of the same sex. But they fail to recognize that fundamental truths are not arrived at by unanimous consensus. Rather, the consensus follows the recognition of reality.

It's like this. Even if some state or country or local municipality unanimously votes to change the tiresome name of the color 'red' to the more pleasing moniker 'dusty granola shimmer,' that doesn't mean folks pulling up at stoplights will begin to see 'dusty granola shimmer' and hit the brakes. It may over time start to be called another thing, but its essential redness remains intact. It is red in its essence, and we can re-name it and re-title it a thousand times, but it won't change the way light hits the retina and reflects a message of fiery brightness to the brain.

Maybe that analogy was terrible, but so is the logic behind the effort to 'redefine' marriage as some kind of lifelong slumber party with health benefits.

I don't mean to be flippant here. I know there are people who struggle with same sex attraction, who don't struggle with same sex attraction and believe with every fiber of their being that they are gay and were made to be in relationship with a person of their same sex. But that individual belief, that personal experience should not - does not - have the power to alter reality.

For decades, the culture at large has been desperately trying to alter and ignore this reality. The reality that men and women are made to be in relation with one another, to bring forth life together, and to parent and educate that life into adulthood. Enter contraception, abortion, broken and abandoned families and no fault divorce, and is it any wonder that the very mention of the 'sanctity' of marriage in a culture such as ours is greeted with guffaws and incredulous laughter.

Are all these things linked?  Maybe it isn't apparent. But it seems to me that when the majority of a culture rejects the divinely inspired and ordained order and meaning of a thing, namely, marriage, then those who would defend it from subsequent attacks have little left to stand on.

Why shouldn't gay people have the right to sign a contract, throw a party, and pledge their lives to another person and call it marriage? Will their union ever be capable of producing love so incarnate it needs to be named 9 months later?

Well, no.

But there are so many sterilized 'straight' marriages out there now that the argument falls on deaf ears.

Why wouldn't a person vote to allow two people who love each other to call one another 'spouse' on legal documents and hospital paperwork? If spousal love is no longer understood to be a reflection of the life-giving, self-immolating and re-creating fire of the Trinity, then why not let everyone with the inclination claim it as such?

They're just words, aren't they?

Or are we defending something more than words here...are we defending reality itself from the decline and decay of a language - and with it, a civilization?

Just some food for thought on this Election Day.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go make myself a big plate of nachos dripping in cheese and call it a salad. Because that feels right to me, and very true. No matter what the scale tells me tomorrow morning.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Women, Know Your Limits

Emily Stimpson once again knocks it out of the evidenced by the borderline satanic feedback in her combox below the original piece. Read on, be inspired, and go VOTE.

"Optimism has never been my thing. I blame it on the rather high percentage of Irish blood I have in this body of mine. We Irish hold our traditions of pessimism dear, and if I am any kind of woman, I am a traditional one.
Nevertheless, as the election grows closer, I’m having an awfully hard time remaining true to type. There’s this strange feeling growing inside me that can only be described as hope. I am increasingly hopeful, with the occasional moment of confidence, that Mitt Romney will take Ohio and the presidency next Tuesday.
I’m also increasingly hopeful that this election cycle will deal a serious wound, if not the ultimate deathblow, to the whole idea of “women’s issues.” Or at least to the idea of women’s issues as politically conceived.
I don’t want to let my hopes get too high on that count, but with Romney’s campaign finally closing the gender gap, I can’t help but dream of a day when certain politicians don’t think that the fastest way to secure a woman’s vote is to promise to be her substitute father, husband, lover, doctor, teacher, and friend (ala The Life of Julia).
Nor can I stop dreaming of a day when those same candidates don’t assume that all women are keen on having the right to kill their unborn children, and recognize that, in fact, more women identify themselves as “pro-life” than “pro-choice.”
Try as I might to stop it, my mind continues to wander to a halcyon future when liberal politicians acknowledge that women own small businesses, have investments, and worry about pesky things like job creation, debt, and runaway entitlement spending.
In that future, they also recognize that women are rational creatures, with thoughts on war and peace, education and energy policy, trial lawyers and unions. In other words, they recognize that there’s a veritable laundry list of issues we consider more important than government-sponsored birth control.
Heck, since we’re dreaming, let’s just go for it and imagine a day where all politicians show some real concern for women’s health by pledging to put some of those government research dollars to work studying the many links between birth control and cancer.
Baseline minimum, I’m hoping for a future where presidents of the United States don’t think it’s anything other than nauseating to equate the act of voting with losing one’s virginity…where fathers of two young girls don’t have campaign ads mocking abstinence…and where those entrusted with safeguarding the Constitution realize that women might—just might—be more worried about the government violating the First Amendment and depriving Christians of their right to live their beliefs than they are about seeing Big Bird lose his government paycheck.
Okay, okay, maybe I’m getting a little out of control here. I should probably reign the fantasizing back in. It will take more than one electoral defeat to send the message to liberal politicians of Obama’s ilk that women are reasonable, intelligent creatures, who use our pretty little heads to think about more than sex and shopping. Indeed, that we think all sorts of thoughts and that those thoughts aren’t the same as every other woman’s.
Which I suppose, even more than the assumptions underlying President Obama’s particular approach to the politicking of women, is what really bothers me about the idea of “women’s issues.”
You see, just like men, women are capable of caring about a world that’s bigger than our own. Just like men, we work, pay bills, and worry about our children’s (or potential children’s) future. Just like men, we read and think and observe the world around us, then make decisions based on what we read and think and observe. And we do it all as individuals, not as a sex. Again, just like men.
But despite the fact that both women and men do all those things, no politician ever insinuates that men base their vote on their gender or their sex lives. They don’t cater exclusively to men’s self-interest, nor do they pander to men as a political monolith. They respect men as individuals, capable of independent thought and action. They acknowledge the differences in the opinions men hold.
That same respect isn’t given to women, not by President Obama and not by countless other politicians. Which is why the whole concept of “women’s issues” is laden with sexism from the start.
And yes, I know, there are bigger problems in the world than a president who puts his stamp of approval on raunchy, demeaning political ads. But ideas, as they say, have consequences, and in this administration, the persistent sexism of our president has had more than a few of those. The most serious infringement of religious liberty by the national government in our history is one of them. Christina Hoff Sommers uber-ably pointed out many others in an essay that ran earlier this week for National Review.
What concerns me most, however, are the numbers of otherwise intelligent women who still don’t have a problem with this administration’s conception of women. Who, in fact, seem to share it, and in doing so, are failing to grasp the deepest truths of their own dignity and worth.
What, I wonder, will it take for them to see beyond President Obama’s talk of being “pro-woman” and see the sexism underlying his every word?
What will it take for them to realize that if you strip away the Hollywood Starlets and armband tattoos, this video…Says pretty much the same thing as this video.
That’s Obama’s message to us lady folk in a nutshell: “Women, know your limits.”
Hasn’t the time come for us to say the same thing to him and the whole idea of “women’s issues”?
This Tuesday, we’ll get our chance.  Here’s hoping we take it."

Keep it up, Miss Stimpson. You're pissing off the Devil just like a good Catholic girl should.

Friday, November 2, 2012

7QT: The Election Edition

Just kidding. Wouldn't that be so terrible?

Holler at me, Jen.

1. But seriously, go vote on Tuesday. We got our vote on as a family this past Wednesday, and it feels so good to have checked that little box marked R (for Responsible) next to the future POTUS' name.

2. If you're somehow still undecided, (What? Seriously? After an election cycle this obnoxious? What kind of information are you still somehow lacking? Inseam measurements? Blood tests?) use these fine resources to help you make up your civic mind: Obama's soulless response to dying babies; what Joe Biden and co. really think of your vagina, et. al.; and how much money amorous liberal law students are willing to spend on their educations prodigious annual birth control costs.

3. w.t.f.

4. Now that you're appropriately informed, do yourself a favor and go buy lots and lots of alcohol this weekend. One way or another, we're going to need it come Tuesday.

5. We are in the middle of making Life Changing Decisions here at the homestead. I can't say I'm a huge fan of discernment, mostly because I have never been good at it and have frequently resorted to the baptized version of a Magic 8 Ball by opening my Bible to random passages in Psalms and/or flipping KLove on at odd intervals during a drive to see if Mercy Me has a throaty, warbling 'word' for me. So effective.

6. My little sweeties were dressed as Bl. Pierre Giorgio Frassati and Bl. John Paul II for yesterday's All Saint's Day festivities. And they didn't win.

I had to lock myself in a bathroom at the party and compose my crushed soul before I could properly participate in the evening's revelry. I am 14 years old. On that note...

7. TaySwift is killing it with her newest anthology of broken relationships. This one is my particular fave.

A very pleasant weekend to you fine people. As for us, we'll be waving Romney signs in front of ChickFilA tomorrow afternoon and trying not to think about this. Sob.