ICYMI: All the Feels Edition


This is pretty much my life right now.

On the Blog:

Thanks for all of your support on my Quitters Story and my freak out on the future.  You guys are awesome.  I totally owe you a cappuccino.

The blog’s most popular feature by far.  I should just cut the middle man and have Henry do all the writing here.  #1 blog of all time.  Done.

I’m still doing a little running and still doing a little paleo.  Looking to change up your own habits?  Try this trick.

Looking for your next read?  Check out my 2015 list.

It’s Friday!  You know what I’m doing tonight.  Henry has already called “all the Octonauts.”  Huzzah!

On the Internets:

The baffling reason many millennials don’t eat cereal.  Hint:  it isn’t because they’ve all gone paleo and started eating eggs.

Over at MMD, Anne is talking about fashion in the thirties.  I agree with it all, and loved this:  How a Closet Cleanse Helped Me Embrace My Thirties.

I need to remind myself of this frequently.  Yes, it is only a season.

Hey there West Wing fans.  I’ve got the podcast for you!   (More podcast shenanigans here.)

I’m a little obsessed with Bower Power’s faux wood laminate backsplash.  #kitchengoals

We’ve got an Easter egg hunt this weekend.  Will also see if we can pull off any Palm Sunday capers.  I mean, we are in the right city for it after all.  How about you?  Big plans?

3 Ways to be an Excellent Running Buddy

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So I ran a half marathon this weekend.  This was my 5th half, and my second in Italy.  I finished at 2:11:11.  Not a PR for me, but it was very close.  Overall, I was quite pleased with my performance.

The Roma Ostia half is a point to point race.  You start south of the city and then run straight to the coast.  Like STRAIGHT.  Like 12 miles of the race is all on the same road.  Shockingly, this was NOT as exciting as you might imagine it to be.  I know, right?

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Two Things that are Harder than I Realized

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So . . . we went to Malta last month.  I promise to talk more about it soon.  (Short recap:  it was awesome, surprisingly kid friendly, you should totes to it.  Oh, and I flew by myself with the chitlins.  What???)

Being there made me realize some things though.  Just like it is OK to admit things can be hard, I think it is OK to acknowledge that some things are tougher than I realized.

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Gift Guide for HER

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Peeps, listen up, I know it feels early.  Maybe you haven’t even had your first seasonal latte of the season yet.  (Guilty)  Maybe you still haven’t pulled the trigger on OTK boots because it barely feels like fall.  (Yup)  But Christmas is right around the corner.  Seriously.  This is happening.

(That whole first paragraph was mostly a pep talk for myself.  YES, family, I’m working on the calendar.  Or at least trying to.  There will be a twist.  Hehehehe.)

But in case you also needed a pep talk, you’re welcome.  Without further adieu, let me present my Christmas list.  That’s right.  I’m calling it a gift guide “for her” in case anything here is inspirational, but this is really just my list.

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ICYMI: Ferragosto edition

Here in Rome, we recently passed Ferragosto.  This one day holiday has somehow expanded into most of the month, and the city has shut down.  Day cares are closed.  At least half the stores in my neighborhood are closed.  Romans are getting out of dodge.

We too did some traveling.  And now travel recovering.  I don’t know that I’ll be completely absent this August, but things will probably (continue to) be pretty quiet this month.  I’m aiming to enjoy time with family and friends and do more thinking on long-term projects.

Until then, please amuse yourself with some recent blog offerings you may have missed.

On the blog:

My Aunt (paraphrased):  I liked your post.  So you’re just figuring out what you’re doing, just like the rest of us, huh?  Yup.

My new pan is here.  It is glorious.

Need any thoughts on jumpstarting your back-to-school To Do List?

Henry still cracks us upAnd is ridiculous.  Mac is gettin’ big.

Umm, so we went back to the States, and I still didn’t drive.  Ridiculous, I know.

So my running has fallen off with recent vacations.  This is unfortunate because my half is coming up SOON and you know I can’t skip it after going through this.

We’ve talked clothes for Rome.  Now see shoes.  #teambirkenstocks

On the internets:

The one piece of clothing every billionaire is wearing at summer camp  (Hat tip MDBH)  Hmm, maybe I’m really just seeing lots of billionaires everywhere?  #vestupson #vestlife

Kind of depressing and inspirational all at once.  Time to get off the couch!

I must not helicopter, I must not helicopter . . .

Me:  Do you have Grindr on your phone?  I want to swipe people.
Sister:  You mean Tinder.  And no.  Gross.
Looks like she has a point.  I don’t even know what to do with raising kids in this, especially boys.  Sigh.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.  I miss you already!


Take off your shirt

So remember when I said I wanted to work on getting back to running?

I decided to work on it.  Even though it is approximately eleventy bajillion degrees.  Definitely a good idea.

For me, running means racing.  I like running–once I get out the door.  I need some kind of race motivation for me to actually commence the act of running.

Ooo, a half marathon in Rome at the end of August?  At night?  Perfect!  Sign me up!!

(Never mind that it starts like at my bedtime.  Also, did I mention that it is eleventy bajillion degrees?  Slightly better at night.  Slightly.)

I decided to sign up.  And immediately ran into an issue.

Required medical form?  What could this be?

I consulted my medical peeps here.  Yup, most races require a medical form.  Some races just need a doctor’s signature.  Others need an actual physical.

Guess which one this one needed?

I got an appointment for my physical.  I knew that there would be a stress test so that I should wear workout clothes.  I knew that it would cost 40 euro.  I knew that I had to bring my own urine specimen.  I couldn’t leave a specimen there because first morning urine was needed.

Day of the appointment.  Thankfully, a friend had hers scheduled at the same time.  (She drove.)

We hand over our specimens.  Pretty sure these are straight up chucked in the trash.  Definitely no way that they were tested during the 30 minutes we are there.  Maybe they figure anyone who would actually bring a specimen doesn’t have anything to hide??

After calculating our height in cm (thanks Google!), we stand on a machine that weighs you and uses sensors to check body fat or something like that.  We get print outs, but everything is most definitely in Italian.  BMI I recognize at least.  Looks pretty good, I pride myself.

I have a lung capacity test.  It involves blowing into a cardboard tube machine.  I think I do very badly.  In my defense, I think the test was explained poorly.  They do not tell me the results.

I go to a different room for the stress test.  I wait.  I can see the sinister stationary bike in the corner, sensors dangling like creepy tentacles.

The doctor (I presume???) comes breezing in.  He picks up my printout.  “Hmm,” he says, peering at the numbers.  He fixates at a number on the page.  He makes a face.  “Fat,” he says, patting his belly.

Uh, excuse me??

I tell him to have two babies and see how that works out for him.  Either something is lost in translation or he (wisely) chooses to ignore this.

I can’t help thinking what would he have said if I showed up pre-30 Day EVERYTHING Challenge.

“Take off your shirt,” he says.

Wait, what???

Nothing is really explained, but it seems that this is a part of the stress test.  I sit on the bike.  He starts soaking me down with water.  It becomes clear that this is to make the sensors stick, but again, nothing is explained.

We start the test.  I have to keep the bike above 80 RPM for three minutes.  And it will get harder.

The first minute, I’m thinking, this isn’t so bad.  I can do this.  I’m singing Henry’s favorite, Chumba Wumba, in my head.  I get knocked down, but I take your stress test again, . . .

I can see the hills coming.  It starts to hurt.  Bad.  My legs are shaking.  I see the RPM slow to 60.  And then 45.

The “doctor” is not sympathetic.  “This is a stress test,” he explains.  THANKS.  I get it.

I keep my legs turning, even though I really thought I might stop.  I wonder why I didn’t adjust the bike seat down a little before we started.

Towards the end, when I’m thinking that I have definitely failed, he comes to stand beside me, presumably as motivation.  He pushes my knee down to keep it going.  I can smell cigarettes.

And then it’s over.  He jumps down saying “Follow me” and runs out.

I’m dazed.  My legs are like jelly.  Can I put on my shirt? I gasp.

I stumble to the reception area, and my friend (who went first) assures me that it is over.  Later, she hypothesizes that the whole thing is just a formality.  She thinks they printed out my certificate before I even completed the stress test.  Glad I went through that then.

And that is how I am the proud owner of a certificate stating that I have excellent physical fitness which is good for one year.  And after that creepy, painful experience, I am now obligated to run ALL the races.

And I sure showed that “you’re fat” doctor.  After I get home from my test, I make a healthy dinner.  And then go get some gelato.

This is why I moved to Rome (Visit to Parco degli Acquedotti)

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I think whenever you make a major life change there is a compulsion to justify it with optimism and cheer, even if it is sometimes forced.  Because if the new situation isn’t better, why did you blow up your life?  Why did you get that new car or change jobs or buy that house or move across the world if you aren’t happier?

This was true for me, anyway.  When we first moved here, I met every obstacle with a sort of manic enthusiasm.  Oh, the sidewalk is busted and there are three cars parked in the middle of it?  No problem, that eight block detour lets us explore more of the neighborhood!  Ooo, more dog feces on the sidewalk, how charming!  I wanted everything to be great, and I was going to enjoy it.  NO MATTER WHAT.

The wheels started coming off the wagon around the time we went to Germany in December.  Everything was just so easy there.  Sidewalks were in good working order.  Pedestrian zones abounded.  Public transportation was a snap.  Restaurants were open when we wanted them to be.  It was convenient.  It was nice.  It made me realize how different things in Rome are.

I slowly started to acknowledge that there are some annoyances here.  The sidewalks and roads frustrate me on a daily basis.  I’d love to be able to walk around without being stuck behind smokers.  It would be great if the hard water didn’t leave grit and film on our dishes and glassware.

Things aren’t perfect.  And that’s OK.  Because nothing is perfect all the time.  Some days are good.  Some days are bad.  And some days are just, you know, ordinary days.  This is normal.  This was true when we lived in DC.  It is true now.

I do have plenty of highs to go with the lows.  I’m spending oodles of time with my two adorable weirdos.  (This is sometimes also a low, but generally a positive.)  I’m eating pasta so good that it would make you cry.  I haven’t seen snow all winter.  There is so much here to do and explore.

Recently, we ventured over to Parco degli Acquedotti (Aqueduct Park).  We drove–and James is driving a bit more Roman today than my stomach likes–but you can easily get here on the metro.  A few stops would work, but Giulio Agricola is probably your best bet coming from downtown.


The park is a relatively flat stretch of land that is crossed by, you guessed it, an ancient Roman aqueduct.  There are actually two aqueducts, but one is in better shape.

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Because of the flat tracks looping around, the parks was a popular spot for bikers, runners, and walkers like us.  This would be a great spot to get in a run and soak up some ruins on a quick trip to Rome.  There is also a playground, if you are into that sort of thing.  (We are into that sort of thing.)

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We stalled Henry from the playground long enough to do a walk by the aqueduct.  Even though it was February, the temperature was up in the 60s.  In the sun, it almost felt hot, and we ditched coats for the first time of the year.

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I pushed Mac along the path, contemplating the civilization that created these aqueducts that would stand for hundreds and hundreds of years.  I watched Henry kicking a soccer ball up and down the path.  I smiled at James in the bright sunlight, soaking in the coatless February weather.  And I just thought–THIS.  This is why I wanted to move to Rome.

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State of the Situation

We’ve been here almost seven weeks.  W00t!  It’s true what they say: time flies when you’re trying to figure things out in a foreign country.  For fun, here are some stats and updates on previously discussed topics.

Cappuccinos enjoyed (Melissa)3

Cappuccinos enjoyed (James): eleventy billion   Ok, it just feels that way.  But I think he gets 2/day at work.

Restaurants sat in as a family2  We did go to one 2x.  We’ll try to increase this number, but tough because most places don’t open until 1900 or 1930.  We have done pizza and panini take out.

Date Nights:  2  This should be four, but we’ve have had babysitter cancellation.  We’re currently trying to find more sitters.

Exotic Takeout Delivered:  1!  After I mentioned a lack of options, I discovered justeat.it.  For you law-firmians, this is very similar to seamless.  They have plenty of Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and Thai places listed.  The knock is that most places don’t open until late which means delivery is pretty late.  I don’t think it could be here in time for a family dinner, but we may use it as an at-home date night after the kids are in bed.

Days of whole30:  9ish  After declaring my plans, I was going strong with only one accidental goof.  (I put some premade pesto on veggies before remembering, duh, parmesan.)  I was proud that I made it through a weekend.  But then last night we ordered sushi and I went a little crazy with some off-plan rice and soy sauce.  This is definitely not the way the program is supposed to work.  If you give it a try, I encourage you to really stick with it for 30 days.  I think I had a different mindset knowing that I might allow myself to wrap up early.  It has been a really helpful reset, and I’ve made it through the feel-crappy-early-days.  I’m sticking with it again for now, but might stop based on any weekend travel plans.  For example, it just would seem all kinds of wrong to go to Tuscany and not have a little wine.

Markets visited: 2  One vegetable and one antique.

Parks visited: 3  We’ve made it to Villa Borghese, Villa Ada, and Villa Torlonia.

Playgrounds visited:  5  We’ve been to two in Borghese, one in Ada, and two in our neighborhood.  If there is a playground, Henry will find it.  And immediately head to the swings.

Trips outside Rome:  0  😦  But we just booked our trip to Germany for this December!  We’re going to see the Christmas markets in Munich and Nuremberg.  Excited to cross something off the travel wish list.  We may see about something close by this holiday weekend as well.  The rest of our stuff gets here Friday (holla!), so there will definitely be plenty of unpacking to keep us busy.

Runs:  1  I’m embarrassed to say just the one at this point.  I resolved here to do more exercise, and this still needs work.  I did pilates two mornings, but Mac has been uncooperative with his sleeping.  This means I might be dealing with him in the morning or just more tired from being up.  I am trying to be more deliberate about going for walks.  Which has the added strength training benefit of pushing a large stroller or carrying an 18 pounder.

Suckers given to Henry:  2  He added another to his count of freebies.

Visitors:  0  But we have people coming in December and April!

Gelato eaten:  too much to count



Daddy working; Mommy running?

I finally made it out for a run.  (Ok, more of a run/walk if I’m being honest.)  It only took a little over a year since the last one.  This was sadly the first time I used the stairs in our building.  Every other outing, I have been accompanying a toddler or the stroller and opted for the elevator.

I got to explore more of Villa Ada.  This is a mega-huge park a few blocks from our house.  We’ve all been to the dog park on the fringe, but had not yet made it inside.  I aimed to remedy that.

I jogged over the footpath and found myself in the woods.  Very tall trees/shrubs and muddy paths.  Huh.  After the manufactured beauty of Villa Borghese, it was not at all what I expected.  But it was great for running.  The trees provided shade and the dirt was nice and soft.  My only worry was getting lost.  I ran and ran.  (Probably only like 10 minutes.)  Eventually, I found a clearing and turned back.  There are supposed to be gardens and lakes and all sorts of other things in this park.  I’ll have to come back.

It was a good run.  Good to get out of the house.  Henry seemed to miss me.  Once he realized I was not anywhere in the house, he apparently had a minor freak out.  When he learned what I was doing, he wanted to go running too.  (I’m sure I’ll have a good running buddy very soon.)

Henry misses his dad too during the days.  He talks about him much more now than I ever remember happening when we both worked.  “Daddy? Daddy?”  Now it is “Daddy working” said randomly throughout the day.  When we were in DC, I think he thought James worked in the car.

We have had workers in our place three out of the last four days.  There was some sort of water leak in the unit below, which meant a lot of drilling and patching in our unit.  All the workers were male.  Henry has been good about staying out of the way.  “Men working.”  “Men working.”

One of Henry’s sweet new friends got him a Lego set for his birthday.  It’s really cool.  It has a working dump truck.  It also has a little man in a construction vest.  So now even more “Man working, man working.”

To sum it up, we have a lot of men working around here.  I’m sure I’ll work again some day, but it is weird to think that the kids will (very probably) never know me as a biglaw type.  I’ll tell a story some day about “when I worked at that big law firm” and they won’t really get it.  It will just be a story.

And I know Henry will see plenty of women working, even if I’m not at the moment.  He’s only 2.  There’s time.  But it is nice to have a thing that Mommy does.  Something that takes her outside the house.  Something easier to explain than “Mommy blogging.”