Friday, June 28, 2013

Tap, tap, tap

Oh heeeeeeey there.

Just popping in from an endless week of perfectly behaved flying children (I am not being one tiny bit sarcastic, they were amazing angels and I am equal parts proud and mystified), visits to TargetWalmartChipotleKohlsrepeatrepeatrepeat, and nights of blissful, uninterrupted slumber, facilitated by loving grandparents, compassionate siblings, and the best sleep American-made mattresses can buy.

In short, we are in heaven. And aside from Wednesday's little blip on the radar of all that is good and holy apparently dying a pitiful public death, all is right with the world. Case in point: I'm currently lounging poolside, typing on my brand new laptop, soaking in the Florida sunshine and free wifi, and not caring one bit if the kids are awake or not (probably not, they're angels, I tell you) because Daddy is  napping with them in our palatial hotel room. And we have a babysitter for tonight.

So thank you, Maggie, one of my sweetest and best friends, for getting married this weekend, for throwing such a swank Southern affair of a wedding (monogramed everything. Heavenly, I tell you.), and for living in America. Ironically, she'll be winging her way to bella Roma for a dreamy Italian honeymoon come Monday, and my wonderful husband wrangled the happy couple a private Mass with Pope Francis. Don't ask, cause I won't tell.

La dolce vita indeed.

If anyone needs me for the next 10 days, I'll be wandering the aisles of a SuperTarget (possibly near you) and eating way too much Mexican food. Gotta grow this baby bump to American standards somehow...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Jet-setting with Ankle Biters

Being 2 days away from a highly-anticipated trans-Atlantic flight, I thought I'd share some timeless wisdom for traveling with small children, which is almost as fun as sitting near a drunken bachelor party in economy class, but not quite as fun as sharing a row with a 'nervous flyer' who tends to yell the f-word or make impassioned pleas to our Lord and Savior with every bump of turbulence.

It's a little of both, truth be told.

There are some basic fundamentals to keep in mind when flying with children, and I firmly believe they are the key to maintaining sanity.
Expect this. You'll either be right, or pleasantly surprised.
1. You are definitely going to be hit with bodily fluids of some sort. Do not be afraid, rather, make it a kind of game to try to anticipate when and from where you're going to be splattered. It becomes almost fun then, like some kind of aviation equivalent to the license plate game. (Hawaii, in this case, being projectile diarrhea or more than a half pint of blood.)

2. Bring one change of clothes per child, and be liberal in your definition of what counts as an 'outfit.' I have no qualms about making my 2.75 year old do the walk of shame through baggage claim in an ill-fitting onesie if he ruins his first outfit. Because I need room in my carry-on for...

3. Snacks. Whatever your kids like to eat, bring twice as much as you think they will want. I try to sneak protein into the rotation in the form of deli meat and string cheese, but I have no problem loading up on the peanut M&Ms. Will they be intoxicated on sugar once you land? Yes, yes they will. But if you're lucky, you will have availed yourself of an in-flight cocktail and will also be feeling pleasantly loose.

4. Drink. Yes, while traveling with children. Yes, even if (especially, perhaps) you're traveling solo. One glass of wine can go a long way when you're enduring what is arguably one of the most dreaded acts in all of parenting. Plus, you're not driving! Diego is. Or maybe Buzz.

5. Movies. My kids have unlimited access to screen time when we travel. Because 1. free babysitting and 2. My primary job on a flight is to keep them as happy and quiet as possible, keeping in mind that there are a couple hundred other people whose comfort and sanity are depending on me. Is this going to work every time? Of course not. But now is NOT the place to make some kind of ideological stand on the dangers and destructive nature of moving pictures on developing young brains. Unless your kids are good little soldiers who are willing to read quietly and draw placidly on their coloring pages for 13 hours straight. In which case, call me, because I have all kinds of questions.

6. Toys. Straight up bribe your kids with a pre-flight trip to the dollar store, and then ration the goods over the span of the trip. Joey got to shop for and pack his treat bag yesterday, and you better believe he is raring and ready to board that flight to tear into all that made in China goodness. Stickers. Window clings. A notebook and crayons. Matchbox cars. A mooing cow keychain with demonic light-up eyes. All good stuff, all relatively quiet, and all for around $10.

7. Less is more. As long as you have some fun! small! cheap! toys you don't care about losing/breaking/giving away, enough food to keep them reasonably quiet, and a scrap of clothing to cover their wee naked bodies with after the inevitable accident, you're golden. Seriously, security is awful enough without adding 50 extra lbs of carseats, toys, strollers, etc. to the mix. We are so used to traveling, at this point, that we know exactly how much is 'enough,' and have therefore relegated some surprising things into the 'overkill' category: stroller, car seats, blankets, diapers.

I'm not advocating for baby endangerment here, but if you're traveling somewhere near family or friends, chances are somebody will be able and willing to loan you a stroller, car seats, pack-n-plays, blankets, etc. for your stay. We are done with strollers in the airport, unless it's a mucho cheapo umbrella model you are happy to part with should it be lost/damaged/destroyed in transit. Plus, if you have a tight connection, your stroller will be the last thing they unload off the plane and you will either miss your connection or have a heart attack while running to catch it As for diapers, there are actually stores that sell them all over the world, it turns out.

I always wear our littler guy in the Ergo when we fly, and we make the toddler march through the airporpt, sometimes on a leash, because it tires him out, and because it frees up daddy's hands for suitcases. Remember: suitcases with wheels also make good wagons...

Gypsy chic. Put a baby on it.
8. Use your neighbors. Not in a utilitarian sense, but seriously, if grandma in the next row over is flirting shamelessly with your one-year old...hand him over. Use the opportunity to make a restroom break, and remember that for many people it is a joy (and too rare) to see young children in public. Chances are you will also be treated to a sad story of how her daughter and son-in-law have decided they only want 'fur babies' for now and how much she longs for grandchildren of her own. Be kind to her, and let her hold your baby for as long as she's willing.

9. Speaking of babies in public, remember: you are a witness to the culture of life when you bring your kids out in the world. I try hard to keep this in mind (probably not hard enough), especially when my kids are being ter-ri-ble and I'm starting to sweat. While I can't always (ever?) control how they will act, I can always control my reaction to them. I've also learned through countless hellish flight experiences, it's always the worst for the parents themselves. Most of your fellow travelers are not freaking out nearly as much as you might think, and even if they are annoyed, they're likely not going to say anything. And if they do...

10. More drinks. We've offered to buy people drinks before, either because they traded seats with us when we needed them to, or after a particularly harrowing episode of baby behavior. They may not take you up on it, they may continue glaring, or it may just serve to sufficiently lighten the mood. It never hurts to try a little courtesy, though.

11. Relax. You are going to be home or on vacation soon enough, and you probably won't die on this aircraft. Kids can absolutely pick up on your anxiety and will respond accordingly. If you are relaxed, happy, and keeping your standards niiiiice and low, chances are they'll follow suit. Plus, you're never going to see any of these people again in your life. So if something traumatic/humiliating does happen...yolo.

End PSA. And thank you everyone who prayed for my family - they never did have to evacuate, and the fire is now 50% contained. Sadly, more than 500 families in our community did lose their homes, so keep them in your prayers as they begin to pick up the pieces. I am so grateful my mom and dad aren't in that boat, but it's awful to see some of the pictures of those who are.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dear St. Anthony...

Please find us some rain!

Just treading water here in smoking hot Rome today with my 2 insane toddlers making me question my mental competence, but I thought I'd throw out a plea for prayers.

My family's home - the house I grew up in, the house that is currently holding 4 out of 7 siblings for summer break plus Mom and Dad - is under serious threat from the Black Forest Fire, burning uncontained and out of control in Colorado right now. So far they're only under pre-evacuation orders, but my parents are packed and ready to move should the order come. We are praying it won't.

Please also pray for the 360 families who have already lost their homes in the past 24 hours. This is the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history, and it is raging in the most bizarre and frightening conditions: single-digit humidity, temperatures approaching triple digits, and lightening strikes unaccompanied by any rain. It's awful. And we're supposed to be home in less than 6 days. Praying fervently that we have a home to go back to.

St. Anthony, St. Florian, pray for us! And protect the brave firefighters battling to save countless more homes - and lives.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Five Favorites

1. This piece, which my younger sister sent me, and has significantly improved my outlook on how my children might turn out fine, after all.

2. These.

I could eat a can a day. Lucky for my waistline, baby's cholesterol, and all that is good and decent, they are kind of hard to find here, and it's kind of ridiculous to shell out $3 for a can of chips. But still. I long for them...

3. This guy.

Some recent gems have tumbled from his lips in his raspy little toddler voice, and I almost die some days over the things that rattle around in his brain...
  • Imma get bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and then I'll be a priest?
  • Mommy, lay on that pillow. (Points to pillow on living room floor, strewn with shredded kleenex) lay down and rest NOW.
  • Girls don't have a penis. Just a butt. 
  • Oh! I have a little nipple right there.
  • Jesus makes me happy, Mommy'
  • Mommy, look there, you have a flower on your butt, Mommy? (Thinking about getting a tattoo, you hot, young, 18-year-old thing? Think again. Think long and hard. Actions have consequences, and God might send you a two year old boy some day to fill your days with verbal chastisements just to drive home that point. And no, it's not really on my butt. Thanks, son.)
4. My new smartphone.

My sweet husband snuck back into the house on Monday morning and surprised me with a genuine, made in this past year and compatible with modern technology smartphone so I can rejoin the 21st century. He even scribbled me a love note and left it near the box. Look out facebook, imma like all the things and share all the posts.

5. One week from today, I'll be happily loading toddlers onto a 747 at Fiumicino for a 12 hour flight via Heathrow to Denver...and I'm not even scared.

Well that was a fun image search. {Source}
Not a single ounce of hesitation or worry over their in-flight behavior, no cares about airport security or baggage issues, and no qualms about feeding them any amount of sugar and carbs to keep them happy and content. And then the 6 subsequent flights in the following weeks ... I don't even care! Bring on the screaming and the transatlantic meltdowns and the time change horrors! Hell, I would be eagerly anticipating a steamship crossing at this point. Bring on the scurvy, we're headed home on vacation!

Hallie, as always, thanks for letting my mid-week randoms have a happy place to reside on the internet.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday Best + WIWS

Bandwagon jumper.

Dave said the outfit was a winner today fact, I believe the direct quotable was 'You should wiss this, hon.'

Sorry for the humiliating shout out, honey.

Not one to disappoint, I give you the evidence:

Come closer.
Little sweaty, little blurry.

Blouse: Old Navy
Skirt: White House Black Market
Sandals: Aeropostal (don't judge me)
Accessories: Target, various Italian street vendors
Sheen of summer: pregnant in Italia

The me break it down pre and post homily:

Liturgy of the Word: Joey: A; JP: B+
Liturgy of the Eucharist: FFFFFF + another F. Strangely, I felt almost zero stress as they were melting down. Too tired to care? Too anonymous to feel judged? Whatever, I'll take it.

The church (not our usual parish, which is also pretty) was beautiful ... one of the most beautiful in all of Rome, I would dare to say. And I can't find any internet images to steal to prove it, so I'll have to go back and snap some one day.

Happy Sunday, friends. Check out Grace's crew and the WIWS ladies for the rest of the virtual fashion and parenting parade.

Friday, June 7, 2013

7 Quick Takes

Obviously because I put it on the internet, Joey is no longer potty trained, not even a little bit. After 3 solid weeks of complete success both days AND nights, he is suddenly peeing in his pants, on the carpet, all over the bathroom wall, and now, (un)happily (for me) in a diaper. Obviously I did what any reasonable first-time toddler mom would do and consulted Dr. Google, so Obama, if you're watching (which we can now rest assured, is always the case) please throw me a bone here.

So far the reasons for regression I've concocted include 1. Juvenile diabetes (Oh, nobody else ever goes end of the world/worst case scenario immediately whenever their children throw them for a loop? Just me then?) 2. UTI (TMI?) 3. He hates me 4. He hates the new baby 5. No reason at all, Mom, why would you ask?

Speaking of the new baby, Joey is still 100% sold that it's a boy, and that his name is Baby Jack or just plain old 'Tonio. We shall see, but probably not for 6 more months. We've never found out the sex ahead of time, and we were considering doing it this time for the sake of, oh, I don't know, some shred of control (or the illusion thereof), but I think I'd like to have that continuity with our other delivery room moments, so...una bimbo mysterioso it is. Or bimba. 

My kids are complete frenemies right now. One second it's fraternal bliss, the next minute somebody is hitting somebody else with a tree limb. Just before naptime today found them squeezed into the baby tub, on the balcony, hitting each other in the head with heavy metal pieces to a never-assembled IKEA baby gate. Whatever, guys. Better you learn it here than on the streets.

I have some favorite, favorite blogs that are always immediate 'read nows' whenever the content is fresh. Sometimes to the detriment of my primary vocation, God help me, but I just can't quit Jonesy, Christy, Rosie, Grace, Ana, Dwija, Lindsay, Kendra, or Lisa. In no particular order, and all worthy of a click. Who are your go-to bloggers?

In my bold new attempt to embrace la dolce vita, instead of collapsing on the couch at 7:12 pm when Dave walks in the door, I think we'll instead hop a bus across the Tiber so we can visit...Subway. As in, the sandwich restaurant. I've heard it's 'the only American restaurant worth visiting abroad' and I'm reeeeeeally hoping that means there is some ranch dressing lurking somewhere along that assembly line. Friday nights are hot in casa della Uebbing.

Dave and I have been reading aloud from the Duggar's latest book at bedtime this week (we're 70 and we know it), and I think I've come up with an idea to adapt some of their amazing Scripture training techniques for children with a Catholic twist. And seriously, some of the stuff their family does is so, so Catholic. Like they're, praying for a full conversion to the Truth because what an awesome, awesome family to have in ours. Plus, they just work so hard to feed their family with God's word and it is so inspiring, but I'm seriously all, oh my gosh guys, you're doing sooooo much on your own, you need to get some Sacramental grace up in there. 

So the idea? We usually try to read the daily readings at some point during the day, ideally as a family, and in the morning. That happens about, oh, probably .4% of the time. So. Today it actually happened, and I thought I'd take a short verse from one of the readings and help Joey memorize it during the course of the day by repeating it over and over again, and having him say it back to me. Plus, I promised him gelato if he can recite it for Daddy tonight. I am notoriously inept at recalling Scripture from memory, even after 3 years of working for Ana's FIL, and I'm a little ashamed. So maybe it will help me, too?

Please, please, oh please, not that anyone who reads this blog isn't also reading Dwija's much better and funnier tome...storm heaven for her sweet unborn baby. 

Pray also for her strength and peace, and for her doctor to repent of being such a galactic asshole as to suggest abortion to a mother of 6. My own mom still has rage blackouts over the memory of being offered the chance to 'terminate' my sweet little sister Tia, (number 6 in our own fam and our former foreign nanny extraordinaire) and the thought of a medical professional who is supposed to be in the business of caring for your baby's health offering to kill it, instead, makes me want to commit heinous crimes of my own.

Whew. Off to Jen for more pictures, better writing, and less profanity.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Carpe this Diem

Latin isn't Italian...but it built it's linguistic basement.

Which is helpful as a Catholic who has been quietly absorbing root words and linguistic building blocks her whole life, unknowingly. So yes, maybe I sound really, really stupid when I surprise everyone at the market (myself included) by uttering the Latin word for 'pepper' when I'm hunting for jalapenos...but it gets the job done.

Anywho, I had a sort of mini-epiphany this morning, whilst hanging laundry on ye olde drying rack, the busy morning commute rushing by 4 stories below me, and St. Peter's Basilica looming on the horizon, always in my peripheral when I'm out in our 'yard.'

It occurred to me, perhaps not for the first time but kind of for the first time, if you know what I mean, that we live here.

Like, hot damn, we live in one of the world's most beautiful, historic, epic, highly-trafficked and most sought-after travel destinations...and I have spent the past 5 months alternating between resenting it and enduring it.

I give myself 1,000 meters of slack (metric system, holler) because oh my gosh has it been hard living here with children. And the bureaucracy is insanity incarnate. And for an extremely type-A choleric who thrives on efficiency and competence...well, it's a special kind of ugly.

But...but...we're here. And for the foreseeable future, this is home.

Now, I don't begrudge myself one single second of the grief or annoyance I've felt these past 5 months, because it has been hard. as. hell. I've essentially started over, at the tender age of 30, in a country whose language I don't speak (well) and whose customs and machinations are ever so unfamiliar. And with a growing pack of mewling toddlers underfoot. So yes, props to me for surviving, no regrets, et cetera et cetera...but enough.

I'm done hating Italy.

Let me be clear, I've never truly hated it...but I have most definitely hated what it is not: convenient, orderly, predictable, fair and just, safe, and familiar.

Putting all that aside, there are a few things which my new land is: beautiful, chaotic, historic, mysterious, and filled with some of the most crazy-interesting people I will probably ever meet. Or at least observe from a safe distance.

So from today forward, (and allowing aaaaaaample room for regression, backtracking, pregnancy-induced sobfests over retail unavailability of this-or-that baby item) I'm all in.

I can't control a single thing here except for my reaction to this life that has been assigned for me to live. I can't even really control my children, as Mr. I'm-totally-potty-trained-nevermind-just-kidding-suckers has me convinced. But I am not a victim of living here. And I am not the insecure, timid, angry and overwhelmed woman I feel like a lot of the time here.

So I can't speak the language well? Well, time to start putting in more hours with Miss Rosetta Stone in lieu of trolling the internet for scraps of familiar comfort. Especially considering how very much I'd like to be able to (convincingly) ask for an eventual epidural 6 months from now, and for my cervix to be left alone during all future pre-natal appointments. Despite feeling otherwise, I am not, in fact, an over-sized child at the mercy of Italian-speaking adults.
I have let so many things happen here which I would never have allowed back home. For one, I've become that annoying foreigner who is constantly mentally referring to life 'back home,' which a sweet friend and fellow ex-pat strictly warned me against when we were still in the starry-eyed planning stages of this adventure.

"Don't be that girl who is always throwing around 'well back home we do such-and-such,' because nobody will want to be friends with that girl. She isn't really 'there,' she's just putting in her time until she gets back to her real life."

I may not be doing this out loud, but I'm definitely doing it on the inside. It's the reason I always sit by myself at the park. It's the reason I've stopped accepting new invitations from mom friends or potential mom friends who come across the radar periodically. I don't have time to invest in that relationship or that event, because I won't be living here forever, or simply my Italian is so bad it isn't worth trying to make a non-English speaking friend.

Well shame on me. Except I said I wouldn't shame myself for my largely excuseable but no longer acceptable behavior here. So never mind.

The simple truth is, I'm here now, and for who knows how long. So I might as well be here. And not in a resigned, long-suffering way, but in a bright and engaged and, dammit, a cheerful sort of way. Pope Francis was totally not expecting to live in Rome, either, but I'd say he is handling it rather well.
And after all, it's a blessing that we're here. That any of us are wherever God happens to have us at the moment.

So I am going to carpe the shit out of the diem. (Mom, I promise I don't swear this much in front of the grand kids in real life.) I am going to borrow a sort of detestable but applicable phrase from the effervescent Kelle Hampton and suck the marrow out of this experience. 

Because what else can I do? I'm here. Rome's here. And all this pasta...well, thanks to a mild lifelong aversion to the stuff, I'm finally experiencing one of those magical, mythical 'skinny pregnancies' where the first trimester passes but the scale remains stationary.

So Rome, I'd  like to start fresh. I'm new in town, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you've got to offer.

I'm all in.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Define Necessity

My dishwasher broke 3 weeks ago. I might be able to conjure more indignation than I'm presently feeling, but I suppose my capacity for outrage/frustration/annoyance was maxed out somewhere along the last 5 months. So this is more of a factual statement than a complaint.

Our vacuum cleaner is a drag-along Hoover circa 1987 and, is in perfectly good working condition provided you change the bag frequently and (our landlord's words) 're-scotch the machine' between bag changes. So yes, there are approximately 50 meters of scotch tape wrapped painstakingly around the body of the machine, holding its guts together. The hose also pops off periodically during use, sending a plume of dirt, hair, coffee grounds, and general filth into the air. But that doesn't bother me, because I don't actually use it.

My housekeeping standards, while never high altitude, were nonetheless borderline hygeinic before our immigration here. Now, well, it hardly matters that the kids are 6 months behind on their vaccinations, because natural immunity! Healthy germs!

I've already gone on and on anon about the laundry situation up in here, but won't you indulge a housewife in a little photo-documentation  anyhow?

The good life.
Does the washer keep clothes their original colors now? Aw, hell nah. Did we get a dryer? Hahahahahaha....

But look! A galvanized steel tub to corral detergents! I've stood in the bath/laundry room for minutes upon minutes since the weekend, admiring my craft-tastic handiwork. Somebody pin this shit before it gets away.

I used to be really into housekeeping. And by that I mean I used to spend a lot of time spraypainting crap I found at the Goodwill and trolling Target clearance end caps for that one, magical piece that would tie my entire house together and bring decorative harmony and just plain fabulous to our little abode.

I never found that redecoration unicorn, and I suspect he isn't really out there, after all.

Because no matter how many times I found 'that perfect piece' and DIY'd the shit out of it with a can of teal spraypaint in the backyard, I still felt a hollow 'something-is-still-missing-ness' when I surveyed our little home.

Here, I've had more of an opportunity to explore what that 'something' might be, apart from the latest chevron print throw or upcycled bookcase.

We're ugly and we know it...just lookit that wicker, just lookit that wicker...
Everything in my house is ugly. Almost none of it was purchased by me. And just looking at our  dishes sometimes reduces me to a state of near despondency. A furnished apartment in a city as expensive as Rome is a huge blessing. But hot damn, these people don't know how to decorate.

The ugliest cupboard in all the land. Pinterest is crying right now.
I have not done so, willingly, but rather, kicking and screaming. Last week I believe, after one particularly arduous hand-washing dish session (the suffering, the suffering...) I think I actually tilted my head heavenward and began pleading aloud 'How long, Oh Lord?'

Luckily, Dave was home to hear me, so when something actually difficult eventually comes my way, maybe he will be able to remind me how perfectly I have been equipped to handle hardship like a responsible, spiritually mature Christian.

On a tangentially related note, I have spent the past 2 months without buying a single item of clothing for either myself or the boys, unless you count a 3 pack of the cheekiest man-briefs ever assembled, currently gracing our Euro-toddler's buns. Well, 3/4 of his buns, anyway. But I digress. 2 months is the longest period EVER I can remember not buying something clothing related. And it has been hard.

But the truth is, the Gap is like an hour's walk from here and so. flipping. expensive. That and our rent here is roughly the equivalent of a hearty mortgage payment in the promised land.

So we dress in rags. Or at least, in the same clothes I stuffed into suitcases 5 months ago. And it works. It's not fun or even especially pretty, but it works. We're all running out of jeans and underwear, (well, except Joey Klein) but we'll make it till June 19th. In the meantime, a friend FB's me this morning and asked, did I want to troll through her donation pile of (size withheld) women's clothing and 2T boy's duds (my faux-twins can both rock 2 to the T) and I'm like, dang, God always provides.

He always does.

I used to hardly ever let Him. I mean, I still prayed prayers of petition and still allowed Him the occasional wiggle room to pull off something minor, but for the most part, my life was very much within my control. If I wanted something, I bought it. Or made it. Or concocted a plan of freelance jobs and budgetary adjustments that would put us on track to attain it.

If I wanted something non-material, well, I'd work like hell to make it happen. And usually, due to an insufferable combination of the force of my will and the maniacal persistence normally seen only in political lobbyists and viral illnesses, it would happen.

Not here. Not now.

I can't force my way through life here in Italy. It's partly the language barrier, partly the insurmountable cultural differences, and partly the simple reality of 'we don't have that'/'you can't do that'/'we don't make those.' But it's humbling.

Another domestic illustration, if I may? Our shower door fell off a few weeks back. Not a huge deal, but one we'd like to remedy sometime in the coming months as my ever-changing shape shifts once again into mama grande. It's hard to feel clean when 1/4 of your body is always hanging out of the telephone booth shower.

We've tried to find the replacement part at 4 different hardware stores now. Nobody has it. We had a handyman out 3 weeks ago to look at the dishwasher (Antonio, if you're reading this, please come back...) and he said it would be 'so easy to find, he couldn't bear to charge me were he to perform the job himself.'

Please, perform away.

In the meantime though, well, Dave rigged some hooks up and mounted the door like a picture frame. And it works. It's not pretty or even particularly functional, but it suffices.

That is so much of our life here now that I'm forgetting what pulled together and polished even looks like. But I play with my kids more. And when they wipe Nutella everywhere and soak their mattresses with urine and lose surprisingly hard-to-locate sippy cups I'm all, Yolo. (Except about the Nutella. That stuff costs the earth. But I can't quit it.)

At least this dishwasher isn't broken.
But I don't know, they seem happy here. And I'd probably be just as exhausted and frustrated with 3 under 3 (Can I count the one who's cooking? Because gestating is exhausting) back home in the US, except I'd be more like 'Whyyyyyy was the line at Starbucks so looooong, now I'm late for my prenatal appointment and I have to bring both kiiiiiiids.'

Where here it's more like 'Uuuuuuugh, there isn't enough hot water to do the dishes and shower and I'm going on day 4 and I'll never feel clean again.'

So the problems are admittedly more basic, more along the lines of 'quality of life/standard of living' issues...but they're still so incredibly minor, that it's hard for me to admit to myself that a few months ago yes, I would absolutely have counted a hot shower, a functioning set of basic household appliances, and a car that runs as basic necessities. And I was probably never, ever grateful enough for them.

Now I must try to content myself with our functioning internet, our AC units, (should summer actually ever commence here) and a roof physically over our heads. All still ridiculous luxuries by most of the world's standards. And yet not enough to satisfy me.

God, make me more grateful. And please, do so without smiting the modem.