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

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

Friday, July 22, 2016

Finally ... An Exercise Program that Works

Right now Timothy is a hot, sweaty mess.

You see, he's trying to hatch an egg.

Evidently when you're playing Pokémon Go and you have an egg that needs hatching, you need to move (and riding in a car doesn't do it).

So he's either been walking or riding his bike up and down our street in order to hatch those darn eggs. All day. In and out of the house.

You need to walk or run 2, 5, or 10 kilometers to hatch an egg, depending on the Pokémon. And he's done his math.

Five times up and down our street is .6 kilometers.

So far he's ridden 6.8 kilometers.

He's gotten quite a workout.

So yeah ... maybe I need to play Pokémon Go.

so, so close!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Do you note?

I am all about the note. I take notes, write notes, leave notes, and send notes. My notes can be funny, inspirational, and instructional. Sometimes they even come from the files of very bad poetry by Bia.

Instructional. Definitely.

from the files of very bad poetry by bia

funny ... the camping trip I survived (barely)

Inspirational ... school is cool! Right?!?

instructional ... mental note

supposed to be funny, but epic fail

instructional (i.e. a threat)
all these shelves, and the shoes are usually on the floor.

funny + inspirational + instructional + from the files of very bad poetry by bia


an instructional, inspirational, funny note for THIS jumble of drawers

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Best Seat in the House

Some of you may know that I work from home as a writer.

I really love my job. I love being able to contribute to our family income from home and I love having the chance to write. But in order to write the articles I have to first conduct a phone interview, and I am not good at interviewing.

Oh, I am prepared with questions, I do preliminary research, and I know exactly where I want to go with the article, but the problem is that five minutes into the interview it's not an interview any more. It's a conversation.

Through these interviews, I have encountered people who are so interesting, so inspiring, and so full of faith that I forget my questions and want to just to buy them a cappuccino and sit and listen to them talk.

Recently I interviewed a man in Illinois who takes communion to the elderly and homebound every single Friday. When he told me how humbling it was to witness a cancer patient's connectedness to God through the Holy Eucharist, his voice trembled. Hearing his emotion made me teary-eyed and then, there we were, two strangers crying over the phone.

I interviewed a Catholic art teacher on a special scholarship and working on an Indian reservation. When I asked him about his very interesting last name, he explained to me that his father was full-blooded American Indian and that his mother was Italian. Well. I ask you, how could I not take that further? So we spoke for a long time about many things ... just not his scholarship.

On a recent article I did on Advent, I spoke with a priest who passionately shared why Advent was his favorite liturgical season. He quoted that it was time for spiritual renewal and preparation. He pointed out the readings from Isaiah and the prophets, the beautiful references to the lion and the lamb, and the visions of peace and social justice. I could have listened to him forever.

Truly, I may not conduct an interview very professionally, but with each one I get a tiny glimpse of how many good people there are in this world.

With the news focused on wars, murders, and greedy politicians it's comforting knowing that in Iowa there is a couple married for 53 years who still serve their parish as adult altar servers; or that in Texas there is a priest who learned Spanish so he could connect with his new parish; or that in Oklahoma there is a retired Hispanic couple who recite the rosary together while they clean their parish every Monday morning; or that a mother in South Dakota, after tragically losing her son, is still so full of the love of God that she became a CCD teacher to honor her son's memory; or that a group of doctors back from a mission trip to Guatemala are still humbled at the generosity from the very people they had gone to help.

Yes, there are bad things that happen in this world; we know this because we face it every day in the news. Bad news make headlines, but I see why God loves us so much. From His vantage point he sees it all. The bad, yes, but also all that is good.

And there is so much that is good.

Santuario Madonna della Corona
(near Verona)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Downriver (summer reading: week 9) (and a progress report)

Yesterday Timothy and I were in Target when reality came crashing down in the form of the BACK TO SCHOOL signs that were everywhere. Such a cruel reminder, especially since there are still three weeks of summer vacation left. I'm not sure -- it may have been the lighting -- but I thought I spotted a tear in Timothy's eye.

But it's still summer, vacation isn't over (we leave for the beach this Saturday), and so the summer reading continues.

I have to say, compared to past summers Timothy has been doing a great job with his summer reading. I think the biggest difference this time was that once we set the goal that he had to read a book a week, we then stepped aside and let him work out his own schedule. As a result, he's become very goal-oriented: he figures out what he needs to do to get the job done, and then he does it. He reads most days, and it's not because mom tells him to. He just knows that reading every day is the easiest way to meet his goal.

This week's book is one of the starred books on his summer reading list. Downriver by Will Hobbs is a whitewater action adventure book that has been ranked by the American Library Association as a “100 Best of the Best” for twenty-five years. To set the tone we'll visit the author's web page (here) and read an interview he did about this very book (here).

Once Timothy finishes the book I have a surprise: I am going to tell him about my own whitewater rafting adventure (before marriage, before kids) which involved a Class IV river, a raft full of Italians who didn't understand the guide's instructions, and a daring rescue.

Come to think of it, that adventure would make a good short story ...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

My thoughts on Mary and Martha (let me tell you what I REALLY think)

I would like to begin with an apology.

As I sit down to write this brief (but passionate) commentary, I have a vague idea on where my thoughts are going to take me, and I know it's not going to be good. I might even be a little irreverent. I am apologizing now, in advance.

So Mary and Martha. You know, the sisters in the bible in which Martha is the very essence of domesticity while Mary sits at Jesus' feet and lets her sister do all the work.

This story annoys me.

Believe me, I have tried to understand, and a few years ago I wrote a spiritually meaningful post on this very story in which I used my nightly ritual of turning on a lamp in every room to describe the relevance of the Martha-Mary story today. It was a nice commentary ... heartwarming and poetic. (You can read it here: Learning to be Mary in a Martha world).

So believe me when I say that I get it. Totally. I know that the story is about spiritual, rather than physical nourishment. I realize that it's a reminder of the heavenly banquet table, rather than an earthly one. I understand that we can't function like Martha if we don't try to be more like Mary. I get all that.

But still.

I would have liked to hear the story told from a woman's point of view because, believe me, I bet everyone was relieved when dinner was finally served.

And that meal didn't prepare itself.

And I think Martha gets a bad rap.

It seems as if every time this story is discussed Martha represents someone who puts her busyness in front of her faith; that she is running around trying to make everyone happy and comfortable while letting her (spiritual) self go; and that -- worse of all! -- she chooses to do so and is therefore forever known as the less spiritual sister.

Well, excuse me, but I'm with Martha on this one because in her I see someone who is an example of the practical aspects of our faith -- the hands on approach, if you will, of what it means to live stewardship.

I mean, is it better to pray for someone who needs a coat, or to give him one? Or, in Martha's case, is it better to let everyone sit around hot, dusty, hungry and thirsty, or to lovingly see to their needs?

And think about this: in the examples above, which actions are easier?

Then, during Mass last night our priest mentioned another angle of the story -- that of Martha's anger at her sister. He pointed out how we are all guilty of "flying off the handle" or "blowing things out of proportion." I never considered that angle. Let me think about that ...

Yup, guilty. Many times over.

But ...

Hello?!? You try to get dinner on the table for lots of (unexpected) guests.

Now, we don't know the rest of the story, but I just bet everyone eventually sat down to a nice meal (one that did NOT prepare itself) and that grumbling stomachs, parched throats, and heat-induced headaches disappeared all because Martha worked behind the scenes.  And because their tired bodies were now nourished, everyone lingered to hear even more of Jesus' teachings.

So what do I REALLY think? Martha is the heroine. She is, after all, the one who greets Jesus -- As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him (Luke 10:38) -- and she is the one who provides for everyone's physical needs so that Christ's work could be done.

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary
-Johannes Vermeer, 1655

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Pikachu on My Knee and a Rattata on My Hand

The other night we were watching America's Got Talent when Timothy asked if he could check the Pokémon Go App on the iPad to see if any Pokémon were around.

"Why?" I asked. "It's too dark to go outside."

"Sometimes they will pop up right where you are." he replied.

"Pokémon can be here? In the HOUSE?" I asked, a little horrified.

Timothy nods, and opens the app. A few minutes later he looks up.

"Uh, Mom, you have a Pikachu on your knee," he informs me, and turns the iPad so I can see.

 Sure enough, there I was wearing my striped pajama pants, with a Pikachu on my knee.


It was neat, weird, and freaky all at once.

Then later, Rattata popped in. See? They're everywhere!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Reading Gene

Either you like to read, or you don't. Either you're good in math, or you're not. It's all in the genes, and it's totally random. Take our family, for example ...

Jonathan is the only one of our sons who looks like me, but who totally takes after Joe in that he's great in math and will only read sports books.

Then there's Nicholas. He looks more like Joe, and has Joe's mathematical/engineering mind, but he definitely inherited my reading gene. Here is a photo of his summer reading.

"He's reading all these books even when he doesn't have to?" a horrified Timothy asked me.

And speaking of Timothy, we're still trying to figure him out. He may look like Joe, but otherwise he is a smorgasbord of everything else.

Nicholas' summer reading.
I call him my Renaissance Man because he reads everything --
biographies, programming books, fiction, nonfiction, music books, and sports almanacs.
That's my reading gene he's exercising.