Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sede Vacante

Our Pope, our little pope, he's gone.

We watched his helicopter take off from behind the Vatican walls tonight, on a big screen in St. Peter's Square with a couple thousand of our closest friends.

Just when it seemed like he had flown out of sight for good, we saw onlookers atop nearby roofs waving at the sky, and turned to see the Papal helicopter coming in for a final pass over the crowd in the piazza.

When Pope Benedict emerged from the Apostolic Palace tonight my throat closed up, and when a sweet Italian man in his late 40s knelt before the aging pontiff to kiss his Fisherman's ring, I burst into tears.

Here was the driver of the world's most famous Mercedes Benz, the Popemobile, paying his last respects to his departing boss.

I have nothing profound to add to the conversation much of the world is having tonight, except to express both gratitude and sorrow: gratitude for a man whose love transcended human bonds, whose deep humility guided his pontificate and his decision to step aside and let another take his place, and sorrow for the world whose rejection, hatred, and scorn he must surely have known every day of his papacy.

But then, the One he serves was treated much the same.

God bless you, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Roman Pontiff. A father who can no longer care for his children will always choose to entrust their care to another more capable than he rather than see them suffer for his lack. We understand. But it doesn't lessen the pain of your leaving much.

Still, gentle Papa, in your own words to us this evening...buona notte.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Kiss Goodbye

'When I see you, I see the Church is alive.'
-Pope Benedict XVI
We made the trek to St. Peter's Square early this morning to line up with the crowds of faithful and curious onlookers hoping to catch a glimpse of Papa on his last full day in the Fisherman's office.

We were not disappointed.

We spent 3 hours fighting through pressing crowds and stalwartly holding our position against the barricade, hoping against hope to catch a glimpse of our beloved Holy Father,
And then this happened.

And then this.
My son, the Pope, the Popemobile. Dreams do come true.

Dear Pope Benedict, as I was able to say to you this morning, however inelegantly, when I looked into your eyes after my youngest son, John Paul, was handed back into my arms, thank you.

The Church is, indeed, alive.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What I Wore (on Pope Benedict's last) Sunday

We made it to St. Peter's square in time to squeeze in with the crowd for a farewell to our beloved Papa B. I ran several people over (literally) with the stroller while trying to fight through the crush for a spot on the square, was probably cursed at in Italian, and we settled for being just slightly east of the piazza proper.

Proof, not of my outfit, which was nothing super special, but our presence at said historical moment:

Angry, work-weary, slightly stunned, squinty mad, and ginger-haired, in that order.
Peeking at Papa past this precious Italian gentleman and his dapper outfit.

Don't be fooled by the sweetness. He bit two people in Mass this morning.

And this one...I can't even talk about this one. But he did go 9 hours straight last night.

No filter, no edits, just a glorious parting of clouds and a pause in the rain for Papa's last Angelus. A beautiful and surprising moment.
The words to his address were beautiful, and you can read the full text here, courtesy of my talented and hard-working husband.

Ciao, Papa, and grazie tu.

Flap it out.

P.S. I made two - 2! - friends after Mass today. We bonded over expensive diapers, a disappointing lack of dryers, and other laundry-related issues. Riveting stuff. I smell slumber parties and karaoke nights in our future...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dear Diary

What is the number one easiest way to ensure that some recently 'mastered' parenting trick or technique fails spectacularly?

Oh, oh, I about it!

(See yesterday's post.)

Last night was hell. Hell, I tell you. I honestly am beginning to question my competency, not just as a mother, but as a card-carrying adult member of society.

JP is not sleeping still. And that's hardly the point. The real issue is, I can't say no to my kids. Rather, I can't say 'that's not good for you, so I'm going to enforce something that is' so long as it causes me discomfort.

What could this possibly mean for the teenage years? Hell, for the kindergarten years?

I'm sitting here at 2 something in the afternoon watching 'Real Time' tv, Italy's version of 'TLC' (my guilty fave) and listening to JP sca-reaaaaaam for the third nap attempt of the day. He has been nursed. He has been dosed with Tylenol. He has been read to (in 2 languages). He has eaten and drank his fill of delicious, nutritious foods and beverages. He has had lots of one-on-one Mommy cuddle time. He has even been sprung from his earlier screamfest by my suspicious Romanian cleaning lady who informed me, in no uncertain Italian terms, that he wanted to be picked up. Oh, do you think?

At this point, I just have to ask myself, what the hell am I doing wrong?

Besides wanting to throw myself under one of the passing tiny trash trucks that lumber past our apartment building all night long, I'm not sure quite how to go about this entire 'sleep training' business...or any other difficult aspects of motherhood, it would seem. My fuse is thisshort, my energy is absolutely nonexistent, and my kids are probably suffering long term damage from my ham-handed attempts to raise them keep them alive.

I guess this too shall pass, but God help me, what terrifying developmental phase is looming after this one? I will gladly take in toddlers for a group potty training session which lasts a fortnight, and I'll even use sugar free treats for positive reinforcement, if only someone could make this child sleep. Any takers?

Over and out. A happy weekend to you and yours, I guess. I'll just be here drinking lukewarm and unsatisfying Italian beer and trying not to burst into tears while JP howls from the back bedroom.


Oh, and here are some unrelated and largely irrelevant pictures of Italy. Because, you know, at least I'm in Italy.

Dressing for the season. Nailed it.

Wait, your kids aren't leashed?

Lovely Tia.

Some old ruin.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

He Sleeps!

And so do I! 2 nights in a row now, I've gotten 7+ hours. Fricking fracking miracle, I tell you. Evidenced by a frenetic mopping of both the kitchen and bathroom yesterday, and daily Mass and a 7 mile trek to and fro Villa Borghese this morning, pushing the million pound limo stroller and dragging various purchases collected along the way.

This is working. It's really working!

Some stats to consider: (I'm talking to you, future self, when the next little person comes along one day. Do not - I repeat, do not - wait until said child is a toddler before ever thinking to say 'no' to them. Idiot.)

Night one: Down to bed by 9:30 pm, he cried for 90 minutes, fell asleep around 10:45, woke at 2 am, cried for another hour, took 3 oz of formula from Daddy at 3 am, fell back asleep until 7 am. I had mild panic attacks all night long from the sound of shrieking baby, which even worked its way into some truly bizarre dream narratives. Would not wish this experience on my worst enemy. Total cry time: 2.5 hours

Night two: Down to bed by 9:00 pm. Cried for 45 minutes, on an off, but less rabidly than on night one. Did not wake until 7 am. Total cry time: 45 minutes

Needless to say, I'm super optimistic about night three. Thank you times a million to infinity for the supportive, non-judgmental, and just truly helpful comments. Sleep training is hell. But it's worth the price for the sweet, sweet reward of higher levels of cognitive functioning and a baby without bags under his eyes who actually giggles at me again. Praise the Lord.

What's that you say? I can remove my extra-utero pregnancy suit, JP? Thank you sweet baby Jesus.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cry Me Out

I am awfully afraid of sleep training. In my past life as an idiot without any children, I judged many a parent in my heart for their seeming incompetence/obsession with their children's sleep habits, and I even went so far as to make some vom vom vomitous predictions while pregnant (yes, you heard me, pregnant, not even with a child in my freaking arms yet) about which 'method' we would 'do' with our extra special offspring. Slap me. Slap me across my damn face.

Anywho, JP the monster baby is screaming his 10-months-old-today head off in the other bedroom right now, because I had the audacity to hope (see what I did there? You're welcome) that he might go to sleep without being nursed into unconscious bliss, then tentatively and oh-so-gingerly transferred onto a fluffy pillow of dreams and unicorns, where he would lightly slumber whilst the entire rest of the household would tiptoe around and scream silent curses at each other for the remainder of the evening should anyone have the misfortune to close a cabinet door too enthusiastically. End scene.

I can't for the life of me figure out why this kid doesn't sleep.

Admittedly, we were a tad more schedule-driven with Joey. in face, we did Babywise fairly hardcore, and feedings, nappings, and the like were all more or less fixed in place. With John Paul...I feel like we've been in emergency triage for his entire life. From ca-razy post-partum depression to a surgery at 6 months old to our recent move to Italy, we've always had 'something' major going on, pressing down, a foot crushing our throats and demanding we fix our attention elsewhere. But now, it's time.

John Paul, you're a big strapping 10 month old, and I can't nurse you to sleep twice a day and wake up 1-4 times per night to top up your gas tank anymore. I also can't handle not ever knowing, on a given day, if you're going to nap. Not when, but if. I have become my formerly childless self's worst nightmare.

Pass me a drink.

Last night was our first official 'cry it out' venture in Italy. It was more or less successful, if by successful you mean 3+ hours of varied intensity of bloodcurdling screams, punctuated by deep philosophical pillow talk peppered with 'will he need counseling?' and 'does this seem like something the neighbors might call the cops for?' queries. Riveting stuff, I know.

The upshot is that he did, technically, cry it out to put his sad self to bed, and he didn't nurse last night....though he did get a conciliatory bottle of actual formula around 3 am from Daddy dearest, which seemed to satiate him until the godly hour of 7 am.

So why do I feel so awful|?

I don't know, maybe it's the prolonged sleep deprivation, maybe it's the lingering uncertainty over reading too many entries at, or maybe it's just the straight up wicked hormonal cocktail that floods mah brain courtesy of my endocrine system whenever his crying sessions begin.

Whatever the case may be, I hate hate hate hearing my babies cry. And I hate being so sleep deprived I press the same button in our building's elevator 5 times before Dave nudges me and points out that I'm pressing the floor we're already on. Awesome.

The moral of this story is, we're on night two of cry it the frick out, and God help us if he wakes soon...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Splash of Beauty

Had to share this with you, dear readers, on this blessed first Sunday of Lent.

Friday, February 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes

1. These kids are killing me. Killing me, I tell you. I am literally considering enrolling Joey in a half-day, thrice weekly preschool program - okay, fine, daycare - to the monthly tune of roughly what tuition cost per month my freshman year of college. But, but, he'll learn Italian! And they have a gymnastics class on Mondays! And visiting hamsters! (Compelling, persuasive, and sad, all bundled into one, am I right?)

2. They don't sleep. Or rather, Joey sleeps, but not if John Paul is in the room. In fact, when I want to severely threaten him at nap/bedtimes, I drop my voice an octave lower and warn him "Joey, JP is going to sleep in your room if you don't lie down now."

"No Mommy, no JP, no no NO! JP go away, no JP please Mommy please!!"

Et cetera et cetera, in an increasingly frantic tone and with his hands clapped over his ears, until I back slowly out of the room brandishing Mr. Piercing Decibels Only Dogs Should Be Able to Hit.

Works every time.

3. Speaking of bleeding ear drums, while recovering from their respective ear infections, both boys managed to scrape together a cough/cold combo, no doubt 1 part torce cuolla and 1 part traipsing around St. Peter's mugging for photographers and staring forlornly up at the windows of the Papal apartment. What can I say? We're still in shock, and wandering around and creepily eavesdropping on other English-speaking pilgrims has been our favorite pastime this week.
Fr. Lombardi, spokesman for the papal household, addressing the Vatican newscorp, stolen from husband.
4. Which brings me to Valentine's day, which was something to behold in a city which takes its flowers verrrrry seriously. A florist stand or shop on every block, and then maybe one more in between, I tell you. Florists are the new Starbucks, McDonald's, and medical MJ shop all rolled into one. (Which may have something to do with Romans being about 40% slimmer than the average American.) Anyway, I scored these bad boys and a very interesting literal interpretation of the term 'hamburger' (think on that for a while) at our local Irish pub, which may not sound romantic to you, but then, you aren't a frat boy hiding in the body of a 30 year-old woman, are you?

Big baby, my love, (slightly) smaller baby, and a human-sized bouquet
5. Can we revisit number 2? JP literally sleeps 9 hours in a 24 hour cycle. I'll let you speculate how many of those are at night, but it isn't nearly enough, considering the meat on his almost 19 lb frame. He isn't quite 10 months old, and he has the sleeping patterns of a colicky 10 week old. Which he was, at one point, so, in sum, f word. Thank you for your time. Any suggestions are welcome, though we've tried everything at least once, and are currently rocking a really healthy combination of CIO/co-sleeping/baby-wearing/threatening abandonment/daily happy hour. Can't imagine why he isn't better adjusted...
"I'll sleep when you're dead."
6. This week's 'When in Rome' highlights included Carnivale (mardi gras) fireworks in Piazzo del Popolo (awesome), Ash Wednesday Mass outside of St. Peter's, for 20 minutes, in front of a jumbo-tron screen, after being glared out of Santa Ana, a charming little church inside the Vatican walls that isn't overly keen on small humans, and watching the first tide of pilgrims, Vaticanista, and spring tourists roll through the city. Overnight, the Vatican area has gone from tepid foot traffic to surging crowds across the square at all hours of the day. Also noteworthy: the dozens and dozens of white-lit media tents springing up all along Via Della Concilliazione and on rooftops of apartment buildings with a line of sight to the Basilica. White smoke is coming...
Sister date at the Spanish steps. I tried to get her to smooch me, but she declined.

7. Please pray we make some friends. Gosh, how hard up does that make me sound? Terribly, I'm sure. But we have a great friend in Dave's co-worker and his wife, a lovely couple with baby #2 on the way and a Nebraska heritage, to boot. But besides them...friend desert. And all the wine and pastries in the world can't replace something like that. Trust me, I've been attempting it.

Now off to Jen with you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Losing Papa Benedict

We rang in the one-month anniversary of our arrival to the Eternal City with some truly shocking and historic news which is already old and promises to be seriously over-reported, (so let's add another voice to the clamor): the abdication of the papacy by Pope Benedict XVI. He is the first pope to resign the papacy in nearly 600 years, so it's kind of a Big Deal. Which explains why we can't walk across St. Peter's Square this week without being accosted by photographers or reporters, and why Joey has probably been snapped 200 times by various paparazzi (isn't the term so fitting right now?) as he runs around waving a little Vatican flag we bought for him, yelling 'I love you Papa!'

It feels both surreal and sad to be preparing to say goodbye to our Holy Father, a man whose papacy marked my return to the Faith and to the Church of my childhood, and whose gentle countenance and soft, German accented voice has become as familiar as that of my own father's. John Paul II's death called me home to the Catholic Church, but it was Pope Benedict who held the door open and welcomed me inside.

We've talked about it as a family these past couple days, what it means to be living in Rome right now, what it means for the Church, what it must feel like to be in Papa's shoes right now...there are so many questions. We don't have many answers, but I want to share with you, via Facebook and the blog, whatever we can over these next several weeks.

One thing is certain: He loves us, and the One he serves loves us, and we will not be abandoned or left orphans. Pope Benedict has a servant's heart, and the wisdom and love of a father, so it makes sense that, in recognizing he can no longer adequately care for his flock, can no longer provide for his family, he would make the heroically difficult decision to step aside to let someone take his place.

We, as the Church, now have the unique privilege to say thank you and goodbye to our Holy Father while he is still with us on earth. What a gift. What a weird situation. What do we wear for this?

I'll keep you all posted, promise, whether you like it or not.

St. Peter, pray for us.

Friday, February 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes: The Glory and the Grit

Or something like that.

I was trying to come up with a pithy encapsulation of experiencing the glamor and wonder thousands of years of culture with my two tiny terrors in tow, but all I could muster was a Graham Greene knock off and some annoying alliteration. English-turned-Mental Health and Human Services degree, don't fail me now.

1. Yesterday we did the Vatican museums. And by that I mean we rolled in at 3 pm, shamefacedly admitted our desire to proceed di-rectly to the Sistine Chapel, and were escorted VIP-style by a Vaticano guard (sadly, not of the Swiss varietal) backwards through the tunnels of frescos, etc. that lead to the Cappela Sistina. Once inside, Christina was properly awed, I was surprisingly moved, and Joey and JP were both weirdly good. And by good I mean that JP slept in the stroller, (yes, we brought it in...and got to use the wheelchair lifts to ascend and descend stairways. 2 parts baller 1 part humiliation.) and Joey strolled around through the throngs of tourists and art students craning his tiny neck and studying the ceiling. Seriously. He let us stay for 20 minutes. What. And on the way out, he started playing kissyface with an older Italian lady and her adult daughter, and what began as innocent blown kisses and 'ciaos!' ended with full-on lipsmacking and shouts of 'love you!' Put a leash on it, son.

2. I was determined to show Tia at least one Caravaggio, (though she ended up preferring Renit, go figure) so we roamed the museums for another 2 hours, the highlights of which were definitely Joey's identification of the antichamber to the Sistine Chapel as a 'troll cave,' and his scholarly interpretation of some bronze papal jewelry from the 3rd century. 'Sick Mommy, poop.'

3. Yep.

4. For every meanie in a smartcar who tries to run us down in the (absence of a) crosswalk or every crotchety old lady who steals our 3rd chair at a cafe, there are at least 2 kindhearted souls content to carry one of the boys around on their shoulders and play with them while mommy relaxes and has a drink of something wonderful. Italians truly love children, though they're not having nearly enough of their own. I'm hoping that we can somehow be a tiny encouragement in this area to people we meet or even briefly interact with, which is probably too much to hope for, but maybe not? I try not to look angry/ugly/bitter/exhausted in public for this very reason, and 78% of the time I probably succeed with a C average.

5. The buses and the metro. Oh my effity eff what were we thinking buying this stroller of ours? Just kidding, I love it so much. Except when I'm trying to mount curbs or ascend a set or 20 of steep marble stairs, and then I just curse Jillian Michaels, Michelle Obama, etc. for their toned and capable upper arms and tight-lipped sneers. (What, you don't ever take Jillian's name in vain? I guess you've never Shredded.)

6. Have you ever tried to be gluten free in Italy? Hahahahahahahahahahaha....sob...hiccup...cackle...sigh.
Poor Joey. He subsists on rice, yogurt, apple squeezies and gelato. He doesn't seem to mind, but I feel like a failure. Still working through this one.

7. We now determine whether or not a restaurant is 'kid friendly' or not by the staff's reaction to one of the boys shattering a wine/water/espresso glass or flinging a plate onto the floor. Oppa! Why do they set the table with 14 pieces of china and glassware at each setting? Joey will take care of that for you, good sir, don't you worry about removing the crystal stemware from the toddler's seat. What's that, no high chair? No problem, we'll just strap him to our lap with this human leash we purchased at the local baby shop and let him smear us with meat sauce and wine for the next hour or 3.

Until next time, dear takers. We're off to Piazza del Popolo to ring in Carnavale Romana properly: with cheap, spiced wine and confetti.

P.s. Sorry for the lack of pictures and the sporadic posting. We're still using internet from 1999 until the visa situation clears up. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pushed from the Nest

Guess who's holding his own bottle of powdered poison and not even pretending to like it a little bit?

This guy. And screaming (his satisfaction? approval?) for all the world to hear.

We found an obliging pharmacist who sold us the goods - stashed behind the counter, naturally, being a controlled substance and all - and he is presently screaming 6 inches from Joey's ear while they lie in side-by-side baby cages, pretending to take naps, with a fatty bottle of the good stuff clutched in his inefficient little paws. (Any tips on teaching a baby to hold his own bottle would be welcome here, this is a safe place.)

I was only a little bit confused and a whole lot relieved to find the magic powder hidden safely in the back of the shop, and I only blinked slightly rapidly whilst whisking past the condom and cigarette vending machines (what?) to make my dirty little purchase.

Sufficiently shamed and very much optimistic about this evening, I bid you a fond farewell as I prepare to grit my teeth for a dueling banjo screamfest for the next 90 minutes of' 'quiet time.'

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Torce Cuello...

...Which is not even an Italian word, but a Spanish one.

(Thanks, boss. And I'd like to also give a grateful shout out to Federico, the religious brother from Mexico who sat beside me for the 4 days I attended language school, and who was, apparently, speaking in Spanish 95% of our conversations. Which explains why a lot of my efforts to communicate with the locals have been met with blank stares.)

The phrase, however it is spelled, translates something like 'to twist the neck,' and is the apparent source of many a health ailment in Italia. The reasoning goes something like this: if you are out in the wind, exposed and scarf-less (or simply underdressed), the force and chill of it may twist your neck, rendering you permanently damaged. Therefore, each and every Italian bambino and bambina we see is wrapped in at least a fur-hooded parka and a scarf, twisted ostentatiously round the outside of the jacket, in order not to arouse the suspicions (of the authorities? Fellow parents?) that you're not doing your due diligence toward your child's health.

As a transplant from the land of random snow, wind, sunshine, and 40 degree temperature swings on a given day, I am not much accustomed to dressing 'for the weather.' In our family, we practiced more of a 'run from the house to the car, from the car to the store' defense against inclement weather, and if it's warmer than 58 degrees Fahrenheit ... tanning weather!

Here, it is apparently a criminal offense to bring a child out into the world hatless. Double negative points if they don't even own a scarf, which I would swear is a kind of mom gang flagging symbol meant to portray your competence to other mothers. I mean it's tied on the outside of their jackets for crying out loud. But that is so typically Roman: flash before function.

At any rate, we've gradually come to a grudging belief in/mockery of the torce cuello (or the torchy cola, as our American accents render it), and have adopted it into our lexicon to describe all things weird, amusing, and potentially dangerous about our new, strange homeland.

Example: "Pull his pant leg down, he'll get a torchy cola on his leg!"

"Shut the window, the torchy colas will get in during the night!"

"Look at that pantsless freshman wearing denim booty shorts over tights - she's sure to catch a torchy cola on her ass."

You get the picture.

So, I'm calling it our first step into real cultural integration. And I'm also a bit chagrined to report that yesterday evening, when headed out for a stroll to St. Peter's square, I bundled Joey into a tshirt, sweater, ski coat and knit cap. And it was 50 degrees.

The cultural pressure is getting to me already! I can feel the penetrating glares of the smoking grandmothers and moms at the park when they behold my two blonde bombshells, bare-headed in the face of dangerous whipping winds and rain.

Colorado, don't disown me. I'm just trying to fit in. 

Head and chest covered: torchy-cola proof

Exposed cranium and neck meat. Basically inviting torchy colas to attack.
An abdominal torchy cola. It's terminal.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: Franciscan Style

Hail, Steubenville... and all you other fans of Francis out there. And all the lovely ladies decked out in delicate cotton weave and eggplant.

We spent a glorious and quick overnight in Assisi and it was simply amazing. Great food, great prayer, not so great wine (our fault, not theirs), and .... great sleep.
For 1.90 Euro per liter, why would this not taste amazing?
May this day be remembered henceforth as the morning we all woke up in one hotel room having slept for 8 continuous hours. I attribute it, in all sincerity, to the miraculous intercession of St. Francis and to the astonishing peace which the entire hilltop town is awash in.

Anyone who's trod the cobblestoned inclines of this Umbrian paradise knows exactly what I'm talking about. Francis is there. God is there. It's truly a little taste of Heaven on earth.
Heavenly lighting. Proof positive. Plus, behold Joey's peaceful countenance.
Now, to the more superficial fare you've come to know and tolerate from this corner of the internet.

Baby wearing sister date.
Dave: "Are you using those friars as props?" Jenny: "Yes."
Please, let's walk the hill one last time? My feet feel amazing.
Accessories shot. Nothing awkward about this angle whatsoever.

Just so you don't think aaaaall we did were glamor shots of her ladyship, here's a little reenactment from our engagement/maternity session. (No announcement here, just a little nod to the awkward hand placement.)

 Outfitted by:
Ergo baby sport
2 days sans shower
And not
(Top: Loft, Skirt: Target, Boots: Don'tbesuchanobxnoxiousnamedropper, Earrings: Assisi boutique.)

Winter night in Assisi. From our gorgeous hotel.

Finnegan Fieldhouse Basilica San Francesco on a rainy night.
Lovely Christiana, sister, auntie, nanny, and photographer extraordinaire. "Please don't take my picture Jenny, my jacket is ugly."

I told her\ that we all had to make fashion sacrifices to embrace the true spirit of Francis. Poor Fr. Julian had to flip his hood up in the biting wind, and on a good hair day at that.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Language Barriers

So I have this incredibly weird relationship with breastfeeding. (Pulitzer prize material, that opening line.) On the one hand, I'm so thankful I can feed my babies this way, and completely in awe of the way my body works.

On the other hand, I'm sick of being 10 lbs overweight, waking up at all hours of the night, and being on call 24/7 for an almost-20-lb 'newborn' who can't seem to self soothe because, wait for it...he has never had to. Idiots, we are.
"I own you, Mother."
Yesterday, after a lengthy facebook chat with my best friend, and the 23rd consecutive night of broken sleep in Italy, I made the heart-wrenching (Really? wtf is wrong with me, seriously?) decision to (gasp) buy formula and (shudder) put it into a freaking bottle and let Daddy go on night duty.

It should be noted, I actually have a rocking breastpump, a perfectly willing husband who has offered multiple times to take over night feedings, and an apparent complete inability to relinquish control of this area of child-rearing, but for whatever reason, last night was the night to pull the trigger.

I think it maybe had a little something to do with the 9.6% ABV of the Scotch Pub Ale I consumed with dinner at our (our) very own little Irish pub downstairs from our apartment. I swoon. But I also digress.

Fortified by strong drink and terrible, terrible salad topped with fennel, raw salmon, and radicchio, I made my way down the block to a nearby Farmacia (highly confusing to this Colorado girl, as they are marked by neon-lit green crosses, which mean something a bit different in my mind) where I stared stupidly up at a shelf of overpriced baby goodies for something like 15 minutes.

As I scanned the shelves, looking for something that looked like formula, the internal debate raged:

Am I a terrible mother? Is this admitting defeat? Will this actually help me sleep at night? Will I get pregnant in 11 minutes when my cycle comes back after feeding JP one bottle? Are the store workers talking about me right now?

I finally settled on a can of what looked to be promising powder, and read it while walking home, trying in vain to decipher the Italian.

Dave, whose schooling has continued and who is much more fluent already than I can ever hope to be, was equally puzzled by the stuff, but I consulted my memory banks from years of babysitting adventures and scooped 4 tbs into a bottle of sterile water (actually, flat mineral water, which probably tasted absolutely delicious.)

I went to bed after nursing the little beast last night, filled with a mixture of hope and guilt, and much to my delighted surprise, he woke only once last night. ONCE. And he drank some of the bottle Dave offered him, only to demand a top-up from yours truly around 2 am. But still....going from 3 or more wakings to one was a dream come true.

I faced this morning with a strong cup of espresso and a new gleam in my eye, and I examined the bottle from the night before, noticing something rather odd, something that seemed quite out of character for formula to do.

Breakfast of champions.
The bottle had completely settled out in solution, so that it looked like on of those Jello desserts from the early 90s, with 3 different layers of something special, each a different shade of taupe.

Um, ew.

Being the fantastic mother that I am, I bravely lifted the bottle to my lips to sample what my youngest wolf had been feasting on in the night.

Powdered biscotti is the answer. I shit you not.
I don't know, it felt right at the time of purchase.
I gagged on a mouthful of chalky, biscuit-y mineral water, feeling a mixture of disgust and relief. I mean, technically, I hadn't given him formula after all...he had sucked down a bottle of gruel last night, and he slept! Hallelujah.

Still, after tasting that stuff, I think I have a better idea of why the Italian birthrate is so low.