Off We Go!

May 30, 2013

Off We Go!

Three suitcases and one carry on plus my trusted and much loved LV Neverfull GM (seriously, it can hold as much as a small carry-on, it is one of the best investments I have made in a very long time!).

For those wondering whether all three suitcases contain clothing for me and little Miss Paulina, no, only one does! But, boy, did we have fun shopping for coordinated head to toe outfits in sizes 12-18 months and 2 years (we didn’t know which would fit since she is so skinny), right down to flip flops with stars and stripes and a yellow polka dot bikini for when we will go to the pool and the nice dresses for when we will go out to dinner (thank you Uncle Paolo for all the yummy restaurant recommendations!).

The second suitcase contains Orestes’ clothing (including beautiful cotton minimal iron shirts from local purveyor Hugh and Crye -you can never have enough of them), meds (when you are allergic to pretty much everything chances are you will get sick sooner or later), gifts for our hosts (we can’t thank them enough for having taken care of Paulina during the past two years) and a few things to keep Paulina entertained.

The last suitcase contains clothing we will donate to the orphanage. While clothing is not the most important thing in anyone’s life, I do believe that it does a lot to a person’s self esteem, even that of a small child, and it is my way of sharing the joy of finally bringing Paulina home with other children who are either waiting for their forever families or will hopefully soon find a family to call their own.

As for the carry-on, it contains documents, books (Julia Reed is very entertaining), the I Pad where we have loaded all the back issues of Garden & Gun as well as concerts by old time favorites like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, JJ Cale and others…. Sixteen hours from Chicago to Hong Kong is a very long time so we will need to be entertained -especially since the food will be mediocre (we will drink lots of water and keep the food to a minimum in anticipation of the binges to come). Hong Kong and China here we come!

What is in a name

April 2013
What Is in a Name

On our second or perhaps third date my husband took me to a store that sold antique and exotic furniture and told me to start picking what I liked because he was sure we would marry. Sure enough, ten months later we were husband and wife.

I was still in grad school so, while starting a family was not a immediate goal, selecting names for our future children seemed the perfect thing to do. After all, who knew how long it could take and whether we’d find names we would both agree on.

We started discussing boy’s names first. My husband bears the name of his father and his grandfather, but I did I not care to continue this tradition. So we went through a list of names that were reflective of our personalities and our cultures and almost immediately came up with Urbano, which coincidentally was my husband’s great grandfather’s name. Given that we are both trained as architects we thought the name was perfect!

For girl’s names we considered many – from the medieval Beatrice and Allegra, to the simple and pious Pia, to Ornella (inspired by Italian poet D’Annunzio and meaning flowering ash tree). In the end we decided on Paulina Delia Noemi in honor of three women who were fundamental in helping us become who we are, and in honor of my brother Paolo who has been my companion and fan since I was 20 months old.

My grandmother was registered as Paola when she was born and baptized as Paolina. When very young, she suffered an injury which left her with a leg 2″ shorter than the other. Despite this she biked, walked, hiked, and danced! She was very beautiful and was an accomplished seamstress who taught me how to make my own patterns and sew when I was 16 years old. Delia was Orestes’ beloved grandmother and, coincidentally, also an accomplished seamstress. When she was young her father moved the whole family to Saranac Lake in upstate NY and she learned to ride a sled, walk through knee deep snow, and appreciate nature and the outdoors in general. She was an accomplished huntress and rode horses as if she was born on top of one! Noemi was her sister, she trained and practiced as an architect when women rarely studied past middle school, and she was the Cuban version of the hostess with the mostest. Her grace, good manners, and social commentaries made her unique. Needless to say she had oodles of talent and a temper to match. Unfortunately they are no longer with us, but I am sure that they are watching over us as we embark on this journey.

We are very fortunate that Paolo is very much with us though. He is the the tall and skinny one in a family full of short and portly people… He has beauty, brains, a wicked sense of humor, and a gentle and caring soul. He is talented, tenacious, very loyal, and has been my companion, my friend, my accomplice, and my fan for over four decades. For this and much more I can’t think of a better name for our daughter. Welcome to the family Paulina!

An Elephant Birth

March 2013
An Elephant Birth

August 17 will mark our sixteenth wedding anniversary. We initially decided to start a family after I finished grad school, almost three years after we got married. Our families lived far away (one on the other side of the ocean, the other a three and a half hour flight away), but we both had stable jobs and thought that it would be nice to raise our child in a cosmopolitan place like New York City. Unfortunately, the stock market crash of 2000 followed by the tragic events of September 11 put an end to this dream as we were both left jobless and in fear of what would happen next.

After a few years we were solidly back on our feet. But… Our careers were in full swing and left little room for anything else, our families lived far, and we diid not think the place where we lived was ideal for us in the long run. Plus, I had a health scare. So we decided to wait. It was hard but we wanted to do the right thing.

During one of my visits to Italy to see my grandmother I mentioned all of this to a friend who was 43 and had recently had her second child. She had decided to take a break from her career, which I thought was very brave, and we discussed at length the necessity to balance family life with work to achieve a happy medium. It totally made sense, if only I could figure out how to do it . The night before I left Italy to return to the US she gave me a small elephant pendant -for good luck and fertility.

After my return to the US I wore the pendant on and off for a while, but the reality is that life (a new job, yet another move, a tiny apartment, the 2008 crash, a stepdaughter in college) took over and we put starting a family on hold again. As soon as things stabilized a bit we decided to finally do it -it’s now or never, we said. Well, it didn’t happen. So we weighed our options, we prayed, and decided that we would have a child, but not a biological one. We would adopt.

Fast forward two and a half years and we are planning to travel to China to meet our daughter in two months, maybe less if all the stars align and travel approval comes quickly. Thirteen years have passed since our initial wish to start a family, talk about an elephant birth! The important thing though is that we are almost there and soon little Paulina will join us. We can’t wait.