Sunday, March 1, 2015

Boys' Night Out

This past Wednesday was my Bunco Night, and because Joe was out of town Jonathan was in charge of feeding/entertaining/watching his baby brother.

So, they went to McDonald's for dinner (Big Mac meals for both), came home and played Farkle (Timothy won), and sprawled out on the couch to watch a Hawks game on television.

Inspired by the game, they took my antique basket (which, by the way, is 30 years old and made with plantain leaves and grape vines), a wad of balled up socks (thus adhering to the "no ball in the house rule"), and while they were sitting way over here ... they practiced their shots with the basket placed way over there.

I'm thinking they had fun.

big brother still looking out for baby brother ...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Story that Ends Rather Abruptly

Once upon a time (this morning) a somewhat young-ish girl needed a break from writing, so she decided to go to the shopping.

Now because this somewhat young-ish girl is going on a little trip this summer, she thought she'd start planning her Italy wardrobe. So with visions of outfits dancing in her head -- outfits to wear while walking around Rome or while cruising along the Amalfi Coast -- off to the mall she went.

She shopped here and she shopped there. She had a coffee at Starbucks. She shopped upstairs and she shopped downstairs. She even shopped outside. Three hours later ... THREE HOURS! ... she returned home. Here is a list of what she bought:

A black tank top.


P.S. If the girl's sister calls to yell at her for buying yet another black tank top, the girl will politely say, "I have no idea what you are talking about."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Girl with the Wooden Egg

This evening Timothy was on a mission with a capital M.

He wanted needed a coiled spring to make a catapult, so he came to ask me for help.

Now, I know it's hard to believe, but I just didn't have a spring handy. What I did have, however, was a deadline, so bad, bad mommy I was totally ... unhelpful.

"Can I get some stuff from your sewing basket?" he asked a few minutes later.

Remember the deadline? Since I was in the middle of a paragraph I mumbled something that could have been yes, or it could have been no.

Timothy took it as a yes.

One paragraph later, he had unspooled (did I just make up that word?) two spools of thread, unscrewed the screw (are you following me?) from a cross stitch hoop and took off the clasp, spilled Elmer's glue on the tablecloth, and went to work gluing and building while wearing my thimble (he got glue on that, too).

"What's this?" he asked a little later, holding up a wooden egg.

"That is used for darning socks," I told him.

He was confused. I could tell.

"When a sock has a hole in the toe, you put the egg inside to provide structure while you sew the hole closed," I explained.

"Can I have it?" he asked.

I thought about that darning egg, and remembered how Nonna took me shopping for some basic sewing supplies after I announced my engagement to the family. My Nonna was a professional seamstress -- in fact, I have many childhood memories of Nonna pedaling her sewing machine while she made everything from sundresses and Halloween costumes for us, to ball gowns for my Barbie dolls -- so the fact that I was getting married meant, in Nonna's world, that I required a sewing needle, some thread, and a good darning egg. Thanks to Nonna, I was ready to set up housekeeping.

"No," I quietly told my son. "That was a special gift from my Nonna, and I need to keep it."

I have had that darning egg for almost twenty-five years; I may have never once used it, but it has always been in my sewing basket.


And as Timothy ran off to test his catapult, I thought how sometimes it's the small things -- a pebble, a ticket stub, a wooden egg -- that contain the biggest memories.

"Grazie, cara Nonna," I quietly whispered, as I carefully put the egg back in its place.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

At the Kitchen Table

In our family, every Sunday night we gather around the kitchen table for family prayer time. Sometimes we pray the rosary, sometimes we pray extemporaneously, but during Lent we pray the Stations of the Cross which, over the years, has become a tradition for us.

Our favorite way to pray the Stations involves placing fourteen votive candles across our mantel and, after reading a station, blowing out one candle. We continue doing this until the last candle is extinguished and we are sitting in the dark in silent contemplation. On Easter Sunday morning we then gather to read the 15th station, but instead of blowing out a candle we light an Easter candle in celebration. You can read about our tradition here.

This year I decided to try something different. Rather than using our mantel, I placed fourteen tea lights in a French bread serving board and, as we sat around the kitchen table, we took turns reading a Station and then ceremoniously used a candle snuffer to put out the candle. It only took fifteen minutes, but with the rain falling outside and my boys (big and small) praying in the flickering candlelight, God's grace was shining.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

No Boys Allowed

On my side of family, I have six nephews and ONE niece. If you add in our three sons, that's NINE boys and one girl.

On Joe's side of the family, the numbers are similar: EIGHT boys and one girl.

Now, I like boys. I do. But sometimes with all these boys ... well, too much testosterone is too much testosterone. Bleck, ick, patooey.

So this afternoon I borrowed my niece and the two of us headed to the Morris Museum of Art (which, for you local yokels, has free admission on Sunday afternoons). Because my niece just celebrated her ninth birthday, I gave her a pencil case, some colored pencils, and we stopped in the museum store to purchase a sketchbook.

Our goal was to find a painting with a kitten, and we did.

Then she studied, copied, sketched, interpreted ...

and made it her own.

And then, if the day couldn't be more perfect, there was Elvis Presley. I kid you not. The museum was sponsoring a lecture on Elvis Presley, complete with an impersonator, and we got to sit in and watch him perform.

It was the most perfect afternoon: an art museum, Elvis Presley, and no boys allowed.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Big Brother, Little Brother

When Nicholas was home for Christmas he had a little shadow, for wherever he went and whatever he did Timothy was glued to his side. Timothy sat next to his older brother on the couch, during dinner, in church. If Nicholas was working on the computer, Timothy would play with his Legos nearby. When Nicholas came home from work, Timothy would be waiting for him at the back door.

It was so sweet to see -- older brother mentoring, humoring, teasing, playing, and talking with his little shadow. Needless to say, baby brother blossomed with all that attention and felt a little lost when school resumed after the holidays.

But then came yesterday's letter from Nicholas, addressed to Timothy. A letter ... just for him.

And not just any letter.

It was three typed pages in which Nicholas, who knows how much his little brother loves Britain's Top Gear, described how he used the Forza video game to create his own Top Gear challenge. He sent a photo of the three cars he selected (a Ferrari California, a Lotus Evora, a Mercedes SLS AMG), a map of the virtual racetrack, and the rules for the challenge:

1- Two laps around a German racetrack, fastest time wins.
2- No using the rewind button.

And just like the show, Nicholas then went over the results: the Ferrari California had the best handling, but was the slowest; the Lotus Evora was faster, but harder to control; the Mercedes SLS AMG, despite a 360 degree spin, managed to come in with the fastest time.

It was the perfect letter from a big brother to his little brother, who couldn't stop smiling the rest of the afternoon. Of course, after dinner Timothy set up his own Top Gear challenge, and his results (in a three page typed letter) are already in today's mail heading to Clemson.

The smile was there for the rest of the day.

A letter ... all for Timothy.

Nicholas' shadow.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Trials and Tribulations of an Out of Uniform Day

Last night

Timothy: Tomorrow is out of uniform day and I don't have any clean clothes.

And he's right. I have totally neglected all laundry duties this week. Since he has to wear something that is NOT his school uniform, I do the laundry.

Later last night

Me: Timothy, come pick out what you want to wear tomorrow.

We discuss the weather (no shorts), we go through several options (no to the Adventure Time t-shirt, yes to the college sweatshirt), and he finally settles on an outfit that I approve.

This morning

My bambino takes a little longer to get ready, and when he comes downstairs he is not wearing ANYTHING that we had discussed. He's wearing shorts (did we not discuss the cold temperatures?) and a Minecraft t-shirt (didn't I say no to the graphic t-shirts?).

Timothy: I changed my mind.

I give him the Mom look.

Later this morning

All this occurred before cappuccino when I am not at my best. In the end, Timothy walked out the door wearing ... well, I can't remember. All I know is that he wasn't wearing what we picked out last night, and he wasn't wearing what he had chosen this morning. I'm sure he was wearing something, though.

At least ... I'm pretty sure.

I think.