Musings of an Italian-American Catholic wife, mother, and writer

Musings of an Italian-American Catholic wife, mother, and writer

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sent with Love

"Okay, it's not the most exciting package I've ever sent, but it comes with love." Me, in a note to my son as I prepared to mail him all the socks and underwear that he forgot to pack.


Friday, January 13, 2017

A Lesson in the Snow

Cruel branches grabbing,
holding me back.
Bitter, piercing cold
burning my chest.

But still I run . . .
I must, I need to!
The snow captures my footsteps,
evidence of my journey.

Finally, I stop at a clearing
while my heart runs on.
There. There she is.
Timeless for all the world.

I stand before her
waiting, searching.
The snow gently falls,
one flake at a time.

Just me and her
and the snow.
A snowflake on her cheek,
a tear on mine.

A tolling bell
breaks the silence,
and gathering from her warmth
I turn to go.

Before me stand my footsteps. . .
like a lesson.

Boldly I step aside,
creating a new pattern in the snow.

*from the files of very bad poetry by Bia


image via

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pretty Papers


2017 Erin Condren Planner
green recipe binder for menu planning
gratitude journal (leather notebook)
One Good Deed a Day
pretty pencil case
pretty green paper clips

This is what I know: I am a happier, calmer, and much more peaceful person when I am not running around in a frenzy.

Organization is key in helping me hold it all together (planning meals, listing house projects, establishing a workout schedule).

Keeping things simple helps me be more purposeful (making conscious decisions to be present, finding time for quiet things, knowing when to say no).

Getting rid of clutter in closets, drawers and cabinets, accessorizing mindfully, and even keeping kitchen countertops clear gives me sense of order.

I do all this not to strive for perfection, but to create pockets of peace in the busyness of life.

 And so I start with some pretty papers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

It's All in the Title

One Hundred Yesterdays of Tomorrow ... That's the title of the book I was writing in my dream last night. I don't even know what that means, but it sounds like it would be good. Yes?


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Once Upon a Time We Bought a Car

Once upon a time (seventeen years ago, to be exact) we bought a car. The Dodge Neon wasn’t fancy, and it lacked all the bells and whistles which are the norm today (such as automatic door locks and windows), but it was sensible, affordable, and very, very reliable.
The original invoice

At the time of purchase, Nicholas was five years old, Jonathan was three, and Timothy wasn’t even born yet which (as Joe would say) meant he was -4 years old. And while the Neon technically wasn’t the “family car” (we had our van for that) it played an important role in our family and marked certain rites of passage.

In 2006 and 2009 Joe took the boys to a bowl game to see Penn State play (first Tampa then Orlando, both wins and both games played in the pouring rain). During both trips the boys were buckled in the back seat of the Neon wearing their Penn State sweatshirts and clutching their Penn State pillows.
Bowl Bound

They boys also learned all about car maintenance – how to change and rotate tires, check the oil, add washer fluid, and change the air filter. A few years later, both Nicholas and Jonathan learned to drive with the Neon, and it was the car they used once they earned their driver's license. 
Car Maintenance 101
I can do this!
Learning life skills

When the boys entered high school, we were still a two car family but on the days Joe’s carpool picked him up the boys used the Neon to drive to Aquinas, dropping off their little brother at St. Mary’s and picking him up again in the afternoon. They drove the Neon to prom, to work (Jonathan at Arby’s and Nicholas at Mellow Mushroom), and to their high school graduation.
Eventually we purchased a third car, enabling the boys (at different times) to have the Neon with them at college.
Heading to the Senior Prom
High School Graduation

All those years the Neon was also the date/getaway car for whenever Joe and I went out to dinner to celebrate an anniversary, or whenever the two of us had a weekend getaway (without the boys!) to Charleston, Asheville or Hilton Head.

Over time our trusty Neon began to show some wear and tear: bare patches in the paint, clouded headlights, a leaky floorboard, glitchy locks, a faded interior. The engine burned oil. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but it was still peppy and it could accelerate like nobody’s business.

Then last month while driving home from SRS, the Neon gave a little hiccup and simply quit, drifting slowly and laboriously to the edge of the road. Later that night we watched our trusty Neon, which had never broken down before, be hoisted onto a tow truck; the next day we listened to the mechanic as he told us that the timing belt was broken and couldn’t be replaced; and just like that, without any fanfare, we realized that our trusty Neon was no more.

It was salvaged for $350.
in the garage
When we went to the garage to sign the paperwork, there was our car – broken, taken apart, reduced to bits and pieces of this and that. We retrieved the phone charger, the jumper cables, a St. Christopher medal. We took some photos.
bits and pieces of this and that

saying goodbye to our trusty Neon

And we walked out thinking how Once upon a time – 17 tears ago, to be exact – we bought a car.

Afterword: After the Neon died, we did not purchase a new car . . . but Nicholas did; however, that is another story -- filed under Novajosky News -- coming up soon.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Novajosky News: Jonathan

Last week I pulled out my 2017 planner and contemplated the rows of empty calendar squares marching into the coming months. It’s going to be an exciting year – one which will include a college graduation, a 50th birthday celebration, a new job, a personal journey – and I look forward  to embracing it all (embrace: my one word resolution in 2009).

So here we are. We’ve barely tiptoed into the New Year and we already have a lot of news.

But I’m going to dole it out piecemeal. Timing is everything (especially when you have to wait until things are official) and patience is a virtue (especially when it involves paperwork and red tape).

In the meantime, though, let’s talk about Jonathan.

Oh yes, let’s.

A few days after he came home for Christmas, Jonathan received an email announcing that his accounting professor had requested Jonathan as a Supplemental Student Instructor for a general accounting class. Basically, Jonathan will meet regularly with the assigned professor, sit in the class with the students and take notes (a class in which Jonathan has already taken and in which he made an A) and then prepare, plan, schedule and facilitate SI sessions in which he will tutor, provide practice problems, and help students study and prepare for tests.

Now, I’m not going to lie. When Jonathan told us his news, this was our initial response:


Same response – word for word – from every member of his loving family.

Well, we could never have imagined it, but apparently our Jonathan – he of the enigmatic smile and flashing dimples – does indeed speak.

Not often, but often enough to impress his professor who submitted his name for this position in which he will (hooray!) be paid.

Whoa. You go, Jonathan. Keep us guessing. He returns to school tomorrow, two days ahead of schedule in order to fill out some paperwork and to attend a training class on Sunday.

But all joking aside, we are proud of him. Jonathan may be quiet, but he still manages to speak volumes. He appears to be laid back, but he is a hard worker. Most importantly, the little boy who almost caused an international incident at the Milan airport, who jumped a barricade to step on holy ground, who got his finger stuck in a wiffle ball, who once morphed into Captain Jack Sparrow right there on Disney's Main Street USA and who always made his bed in the morning (and still does), well, that little boy turned into a nice young man.

I think we’ll keep him.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Panera Adventure which Inspired a New Year's Post

Early this morning I rolled out of bed and decided to surprise everyone with cinnamon crunch bagels from Panera.

This is what I was wearing when I walked out our back door: my pajamas.
Yes, indeed.

My nightgown hung below my coat, but I hoped people would think it was a tunic. I was wearing my pajama leggings, but I slipped on my mukluks in an attempt (a rather feeble one) to go for a ski resort effect, or something. I coiled a scarf around my neck for good measure and wore my biggest pair of sunglasses. My hair was in a ponytail; I hadn’t even looked in the mirror.

The only thing going for me? I was color coordinated with varying shades of black and grey (no lectures, please).

Fifteen minutes later I was walking into Panera and here were my thoughts: Please, God, don’t let me bump into anyone I know. Please, God, don’t let anyone recognize me. Please, God, don’t let a camera-yielding reporter from the Augusta Chronicle be here asking everyone for their New Year’s Resolutions.

And then this happened:

“Welcome to Panera!” boomed the chirpy Panera employee. “Wow! Don’t you look nice and put together this early Saturday morning. I just love your outfit.”

She was totally sincere.

Everyone turned to look at me – EVERYONE – and while my initial reaction was to melt into a puddle of embarrassment, I instead decided to fully embrace the moment by giving everyone my biggest, brightest, most all-inclusive smile. And people smiled back.

I'm back home now, and as I eat my cinnamon crunch bagel and sip my frothy cappuccino, I have decided to put aside my original New Year’s post (which, by the way, was appropriately introspective and nostalgic) and instead go with my Panera Adventure which, as it turns out, yielded some beautiful lessons: life is messy and full of the unknown but that messy and unknown can still be good; that sometimes we need to step out of our head and just be; that many times how we perceive ourselves is not how people see us; and that sometimes we just need to be present in the moment and roll with it.

All lessons that can be resolutions.

And so from someone who is still in her pajamas, I wish everyone a Happy New Year!