An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Are We There Yet?

This week we are headed to Virginia Beach to spend Thanksgiving with family. It's an eight hour car drive, but one we are used to. One year, however, we almost didn't survive ...

What our toddler does on a 8-hour car trip to visit Nana and Papa for Thanksgiving:

--Fifteen minutes after leaving home, gets bored, takes off his shoes.

--Listens to his favorite song 12 times in a row. Everybody is beginning to hate that song.

--Eats a pack of fruit snacks.

--Bored again, takes off his socks, throws them over his shoulder and hits big brother in the head. Big brother throws them back and a sock war rages. Daddy gets mad.

--Seven hours to go.

--Begins undressing again. Even tries to take of his sweatpants, but he's buckled in. Works on his shirt.

--Doesn't take a nap.

--DOESN'T. TAKE. A. NAP. (I have to emphasize that point.)

--Eats a pack of fruit snacks.


--Yells that he wants to get down RIGHT NOW! and imitating his parents says, I'M SERIOUS!

--Eats chex mix.

--Throws his cup, hits other brother in the mouth. Nobody is happy, especially the brother.

--Starts laughing at EVERYTHING. Won't stop. Everyone is most annoyed.

--Falls alseep twenty minutes (twenty minutes!) from Nana and Papa's house. Looks very peaceful. Looks like he'll sleep for a while.

Twenty minutes goes by very quickly.
Really, how could someone so cute
possibly be  responsible for all the above?

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Thanksgiving Blessing

This is our family Thanksgiving blessing. Every year we gather around the table to say this prayer, the beautiful words written by Lino Villacha, a poet our missionary friend, Sandro, met while working in Brazil. Lino Villacha's prayer is incredibly moving when you consider that he suffered from leprosy and eventually died from complications of the disease.

Obrigado SenhorThank you, Lord, for my healthy limbs, when so many are crippled,
For my perfect eyes, when so many are without light,
For this voice that sings, when so many are mute,
For these hands that work, when so many have to beg.
It is wonderful, Lord, to have a home to return to,
When there are so many who don't know where to go.
It is wonderful, Lord, to laugh, love, dream,
When so many cry, hate, and die before being born.
It is wonderful, Lord, to have so little to ask,
And so much to be thankful for.

Lino Villacha

Sandro Nottegar with Lino Villacha

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A confession, or two

Three years ago we converted our two-car garage into a rec/entertaining room. We do most of our entertaining in that room, and so every year at this time I start thinking how nice it would be to have a small, simple Christmas tree next to our 10-ft. farm table. I harbor visions of a Christmas dinner in which the only lights are those coming from candles of the table setting and the white lights of a Christmas tree. The problem? Here's confession number one, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit this: we already have three Christmas trees.

Yup. Three. I never, ever planned on three trees; it just happened. We have a huge tree for our family room, a small tree ($11 at a Target post season sale) in the boys' room which they decorate with football cards, and another tree that I use for my old glass ornaments. So, with three trees I absolutely refused to absolutely even think about buying another tree.

Then, this past weekend my husband and I went to chat with a neighbor who was having a moving sale. And I saw it: an Alpine Christmas tree (a tall, slim tree, sometimes called a pencil tree) that was $15, pre-lit! What's a girl to do when the tree of her dreams lands in her lap? So here's confession number two: I bought it. And the miracle of the whole thing is that my husband voiced no complaints whatsoever about yet another tree; I mean, he didn't even roll his eyes! I love that man!

So, one tree up, three to go . . .

Friday, November 9, 2007

Have you ever done this?

1. Run to the grocery store for ONE item, come back with ten, and then discover that you forgot to buy that ONE item?

2. Realize that you forgot to wash your sons' school uniform pants the night before, so you dig out some dirty ones, throw them in the dryer with 500 dryer sheets for five minutes, and consider them "dry cleaned"?

3. Spend five minutes looking for the remote when it would take 1 second to just turn it on manually?

4. Set the clock on the microwave and instead of pushing "set" you push "start" and then don't realize that the microwave is running until the wicker bread basket you had hidden inside (to keep the counter tops clutter free, you see) catches fire?

5. Cook a frozen pizza and when you couldn't slice it realize that you had forgotten to remove the cardboard circle from the bottom?

6. Forget to pick up your kids when they have early dismissal?

7. Cook a whole turkey without taking out the bag of giblets and not realize it until the 250 people you have invited over are seated at your table?

8. Run into an old Italian boyfriend (one you haven't seen in 10+ years) when you have just been caught in a rain shower and your hair is plastered to your face and your mascara is running?

Just wondering . . .

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Unexpected Results

My son's science project involving taste tests comparing generic and name brand products yielded this interesting result: in a blind taste test involving Nabisco oreo cookies and Publix oreo cookies, the testers (several members of the family, including Nonna and Nonno) unanimously picked the Publix brand over the Nabisco one. Huh? What's up with that? We were all shocked. Shocked.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Music to my ears

Last night the downstairs baby monitor was on while my husband was getting our three year old ready for bed. I stopped cleaning the kitchen to listen. It wasn't so much what they were saying as it was the sound of their voices: the deep voice of my husband's intermingled with the sweet voice of my toddler's. I wanted to bottle that moment.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Random Facts

Well, I've been tagged to share seven random facts about myself; I just hope that I don't bore you to tears. I am especially embarrassed to write this on the heels of my previous post about Sandro, who is much more deserving of the attention. So, forgive me in advance . . .

1. I love the serenity of the moon, or in Italian, la bella luna. Don't get me wrong, the splendor of a sunrise or a sunset can take my breath away, but to go outside when there is a full moon, well, there is nothing quite like it. I guess it's the solitude, or the way the light lands gently on the trees, or . . . okay, I'll stop. As you can see, I wasn't kidding about the moon.

2. I once went on a two week mission trip to Haiti and studied in Spain for a summer during college. But it is Italy--the food, the culture, the art, the language,the land--that holds a special place in my heart.

3. Before I had children I taught high school English and Spanish . . . an Italian, teaching Spanish and English, with a British maiden name that was changed to a Slovak last name after I got married in the middle of the school year. Don't worry, I'm confused too!

4. I turned 40 this year and accomplished the following: went to Rome, Italy with my best friend (a surprise from my wonderful husband), let my hair grow long for the first time in my life, and started to get serious about my writing again.

5. I turned 40 this year and noticed the following: my knees are creaky, I'm having to exercise furiously to get rid of my "Hi, Marys!" (don't ask), I don't need as much sleep, and I like who I am.

6. I won a $2,000 college scholarship from Coor's Beer! I'm not kidding. (It was set up for children of veterans and my Dad was retired military.) This scholarship generated more than a few laughs while in college, but strangely most people thought I was just joking. (FYI: I did get a few other scholarships that were more scholarly in nature.)

7. My family calls me Martha Stewart because I love to decorate, cook and entertain. I make a great chicken and polenta dish and nothing makes me happier than to have people seated around my farm table sharing a meal. Dinner anyone?

8. I met my husband while serving the garlic bread at a spaghetti dinner at our church. This December will be our 17th anniversary and, despite the fact that he has this quirky character trait of not liking coffee (Java Joe . . . or not), I love my husband dearly. We have three wonderful sons, and I couldn't be happier.

Okay, I know that was 8 random facts. Did I also mention that I was never good in Math? Now go read something really interesting!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Saints Living Among Us

Growing up in Verona, Italy my mother had a friend named Luisa who married Alessandro Nottegar, and together the two of them dedicated their lives to Christ. When Sandro (as he was called) finished medical school, he and Luisa decided to take their family to Brazil to work as missionaries among the poor. They ran clinics, began a small school, worked in a leper colony, and opened their home in the evenings for music and prayer.

When the illness of their youngest daughter forced them to return to Verona, Sandro was called to continue his work there. With much prayer and faith, la Comunita` Regina Pacis was founded in 1986, a religious community dedicated to prayer, fellowship, and evangelization. It was there, just one month after the community officially opened, that Sandro suffered a massive heart attack and died. He was only 42 years old.

But his death wasn't an ending . . . it was the beginning of an incredible journey for those he left behind. His wife, Luisa, their three daughters, and the members of the Community continued Sandro's work in his name so that today they are doing mission work in Italy, Brazil, Hungary, and Yugoslavia. God's work, carried out in four countries, began with this one man, and in 2007 the Bishop of Verona began diocesan proceedings to formally nominate Alessandro Nottegar as a candidate for sainthood.

Just an ordinary man . . . and yet that's what makes Sandro's life story so powerful. It shows that there are Saints walking among us today, here, on this earth. Ordinary people, accomplishing extraordinary things, all for the glory of God.

Update: The documentation papers for the canonization of Sandro were ceremoniously sealed by the Bishop of Verona and are now officially at the Vatican. The formal investigation has begun.