This is going to sound like bragging because it is bragging. It’s also an elaborate apology/excuse for using a ton of disposable partyware.

Max had a heart episode again on Wednesday, but we still managed to:

  • throw Frida an epic birthday party on Friday afternoon, complete with both salmon-and-cress and hot dog canap√©, chocolate fondue, and German children who eat a few mouthfuls of each and then walk away from the table sated, leaving me with 30 crustless sandwiches and about a kilo of chocolate ganache,
  • send Tobias on a long-planned ski weekend with his brother. He left on Friday night and came back Sunday, tired and happy.
  • go swimming and bouldering and out for Indian food with the kids over the weekend,
  • finish the leftover salmon sandwiches and make a good dent in the leftover chocolate fondue.

We also consulted with Max’s cardiologist to change his medicine to something that might do a better job of preventing the tachycardia episodes, and we are very happy that doubling the dose of his beta-blocker doesn’t seem to prevent him from having fun climbing walls and kicking around in the swimming pool.

German birthday party: When kids ask for normal water they mean sparkling. I was chastised by three different kids for not having a trash receptacle on the table (what do we do with our strawberry stems?) 12 kids + 12 fondue forks = 0 disasters. Whew. I tried to convince them to dip a pretzel in the chocolate (not pictured) and failed. Your loss, kids!

There’s so much to cringe about in this picture: paper plates and paper cups and single-use everything, plus out-of-season strawberries plus bananas. Really, though, it’s a picture of two kids I love having a wonderful time. Disposable party supplies are crap except that they really remind you to live in the now!

I feel so proud of my family for pulling it together and focusing on the things we CAN do instead of the things we can’t, and when/if I fold some of the week’s laundry I am going to feel absolutely triumphant.

Let’s Lighten Things Up

Here’s a post without swearing! You’re welcome!

When Tobias and I moved to Tegernheim, it was bang in the middle of the harvest season and we didn’t have a kitchen (our full-service movers cancelled days before the move. We will forever be grateful to the last-minute replacement moving company but, like an emergency C-section after 24 hours of labor, recovery from their slapdash services took about six weeks longer than planned.)

So, there we were without a kitchen but surrounded by late summer’s finest produce. We went to the berry farm and picked to our heart’s content. We went to the farmer’s market and ate a feast of tomatoes and cheese on the walk home. We went to the pick-it-yourself produce patch and thought, well, those zucchini sure look good and weren’t we planning to buy a grill anyway? We’ll just do it on the way home! And then we turned around and saw…

…artichokes. Bushes full of them.

Tobias and I met randomly at an airport baggage carousel and knew each other for about six months before we started getting serious about trying to start a family. We met in 2009, moved in together in 2010 and started IVF, got pregnant in 2011, had one kid in 2012 and another in 2013, moved to Italy in 2014; the milestones flew by amid parental loss and stints in the children’s hospital and new countries and new languages – it was hard to tell who we were as people amid all the newness and the stress. Imagine my relief, then, when, after a minute’s search for a bag big enough for all of the artichokes I planned to cut, I walked toward the artichoke patch – lack of kitchen be damned – and saw Tobias coming toward me, arms full of a family’s worth of freshly-cut artichokes.

We, Tobias and I, are a people confident in our logistical skill, able to change plans when we see an opportunity, ready to celebrate the goodness of the moment, ready to cook 8 artichokes on the grill and then go downstairs to the laundry sink to clean the dinner dishes.

A dishwasher’s a lot more fun if you haven’t had one for a while, and when I compare the best times in my life to the list of ‘wants’ in my head, they don’t add up. I don’t want a kitchen, really, I just want to cook delicious food for my family. I don’t want a nice house, I want to be safe and warm and comfortable. I don’t want the perfect husband, I want one who will make a couple of silly decisions and then have fun living, really living, with the consequences. Hurrah for artichokes! Hurrah for flexibility! Hurrah for kids who are happy to eat on the floor.¬†