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

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

Monday, December 31, 2007

Felice Anno Nuovo

The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.
-C. S. Lewis

The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.
-Abraham Lincoln

I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.
-author unknown

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Rainy Afternoon

  • tickets for three to see The Water Horse: $19
  • two packs of sour patch kids: $6
  • total price before even finding a seat: $25
  • two hours in the theater with my oldest boys on a cold, rainy afternoon watching a magical movie: PRICELESS!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Holiday Highlights

McDonalds, ugh: my toddler got a Mcdonalds cash register and play food for Christmas, and ever since he's been going around saying, "Welcome to McDonalds, may I take your order?" Everyone has placed at least 10,000 orders since Christmas morning. And he's very bossy. If we order, let's say, Chicken McNuggets, he says no, you can have a sundae and fries. Well, then.

One of my favorite gifts: the Paul Potts cd, One Chance. Paul was working in a car phone warehouse when he auditioned for, and ultimately won, Britain's Got Talent contest by singing opera. You can check out his auditon here. . . it will move you to tears.



Speaking of tears: I was touched when my twelve year old had tears in his eyes and gave me a fierce hug after we finished watching The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey. It always moves me when my rough and tumble boys show their sensitive side.

A late surprise: the day after Christmas my sister noticed an envelope tucked in the branches of our tree. Huh? Inside was a gift card for a local restaurant which our good friends placed in the tree when they were visiting the week before. What a lovely surprise, especially considering that it was not discovered earlier.

A family accomplishment: we ate all 500 tortellini. . . there were no leftovers. None.

One of my favorite Christmas moments: watching It's a Wonderful Life with my husband on Christmas Eve when the boys were all in bed and we were playing Santa.

Too tender for words: watching my eldest son humor his Nonna by dancing the fox trot with her.

And I spoke too soon: Late Christmas morning, as we were getting ready to head over to Nonna and Nonno's house, I remarked to my husband that it was nothing short of miraculous that we actually made it to Christmas day without any of the boys getting even a sniffle. That afternoon my toddler throws up. Go figure.

Buon Natale: I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. Thanks to all my blogging friends for their holiday well wishes...I'll be visiting soon! God bless.

Buon Natale from our family to yours!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Advent Season: The Fourth Sunday

And the word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father's only Son,
full of grace and truth.
-John 1:14

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Bling: The Photo

Well, some of you have been asking to see a photo of the ring, so here it is . . . my early Christmas present!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Un tradizione italiano

What does our family do when the boys are out of school and my husband takes off the week before Christmas? We assemble in Nonna and Nonno's kitchen in the early morning to make 500 handmade tortellini! On Christmas Eve at our house we serve the tortellini with a bechamel sauce, and on Christmas day at Nonna and Nonno's house we serve them in a broth. Believe it or not, with my sister and brother and their families coming in town for the holidays, ALL 500 tortellini will be eaten; in fact, every year we assign an official "counter" to make sure everyone gets the same amount on their plates . . . we're THAT serious about our tortellini. (One year Nonna felt sorry for my brother the "starving" med student and tried to give him extra . . . well, let's just say that the rest of us put a stop to that! And when my husband and I tried to claim more because we were the ones that actually helped make them . . . well, that didn't work either!)


Our toddler helping Nonno with the pasta machine


500 handmade tortellini. . .



Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Bling

Cleaning house this morning, I had just turned on our local radio station when I heard the words, "... be the tenth caller!" Since I was near the phone I grabbed it, dialed, got a busy signal and hung up. I tried again.

This time the call went through. It rang 7-8 times, and I was just beginning to think I had the wrong number when I heard, "Congratulations! You're on the air and you're our 10th caller!"

Yikes!! I went into a full-blown panic attack. What was the contest? Would I have to answer any questions? Would I have to do something stupid like sing Jingle Bells backwards? What if the prize was something weird like dinner for two at Hooters, or something?

And truthfully, I didn’t even know what radio station I was listening to. What if they asked me what my favorite radio station was and I said the other one?

The host explained. It's really very easy, he told me. The contest is The Twelve Diamonds of Christmas, sponsored by Windsor Jewelers. All I had to do was pick Box # 1, Box #2, or Box #3.

That's it? Pick a box? Wow! I thought. I can do this! I can!

So I told the host with the pleasant voice that I had three sons, the youngest was three years old, so I would please like box #3. I heard him open the box, and then he asked "Uh, how would you like diamond ring?"

What? Did he say diamond ring?

The panting over the airwaves was me hyperventilating.

Apparently, it was true . . . I had just WON A DIAMOND RING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I picked it up that afternoon at Windsor Jewelers, and they presented it to me nestled in their signature green box. It's pretty, it fits perfectly, it's bigger that I thought it would be, and it's sparkling very nicely right now by the light of this computer terminal!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Advent Season: The Third Sunday

Start by doing what is necessary,
then do what is possible,
and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
--St. Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"To-do" Lists

Yesterday I happened to come across a "to-do" list that my eldest son had scribbled on a scrap of paper, and I thought, "Yes, he is definitely our son." Both my husband and I are big list makers, and it was touching to see my son, now that his schedule is busy with school, sports, and exams become a little adult in the way he organizes his world.

Finding his list also filled me with delight because (and here is a dirty little secret) I am a list saboteur.

Yes, I like to add "to-do" items to other people's lists. Nothing I add to these lists is a chore; instead, on my husband's list of change air filters, check pressure in front tire, or fertilize backyard I might surreptitiously add hug your wife, ask your wife out on a date, or bring your wife flowers. Sometimes I just draw a heart, or a smiley face.

Nothing difficult, but my add-ons often bring a smile . . . and sometimes they even get done.

My son's list was a new territory for me. Should I scribble help your mom with the groceries? Tell your Mom she is the greatest?

Reviewing my various options, it dawned on me that lists always seem to deal with this physical world. . . what to do instead of how to be. What about a spiritual "to-do" list, one full of reminders on how to be a good person? Mentally, I made list.

  • practice charity
  • forgive someone
  • help a stranger
  • take a stand
  • visit the sick
  • read/watch something inspirational
  • sing a hymn
  • be a peacemaker
  • be kind, smile, speak gently

I need a list like this.

Which brings me back to my son's list. There was nothing I wanted him to physically do, but there was so much that I wanted him to be. So, at the end of his list of turn in reading log, lift weights, type story I simply wrote: be a child of God.

And I drew a smiley face.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Advent Season: The Second Sunday

"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you."
--from The Confessions of St. Augustine


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

We've got mail

This time of year the postman is one of my very favorite people. In this internet age, it is wonderful to get actual mail . . . in our mailbox . . . with cursive handwriting . . . with a real stamp on the envelope. Call me old fashioned, but I love getting Christmas cards.

A Christmas card is like a mini present. Inside there may be blessings, or good wishes, or photos, or shared memories, or even funny jokes. One time we received a card that someone forgot to sign, and we had ever so much fun trying to guess who sent the card with the red cardinal on the holly branch. Was it Uncle David? Aunt Ann? Our realtor? We never did find out for sure.

What I find beautiful is that, behind every card, someone out there was thinking of us at any given moment when they wrote our name on the envelope and signed the card.


It's wonderful, this exchanging of Christmas cards, and to ensure that my rough and tumble boys fully appreciate this tradition . . . to really show them how to take the time to go beyond the picture on the front of the card and value the well wishes and blessings that are being sent . . . we've started a new Advent tradition.

Now, when we sit around the dinner table, we take a few moments to pass around any Christmas cards that came in the mail that day. We read each card out loud. We comment on which ones are beautiful. We share stories about the people who sent them ("This is from Aunt Clare, the one who made that beautiful quilt when you were born"). Then, when we say grace, we offer up a special prayer for them.

This way, at some time at any given moment, our family is thinking/praying for someone out there.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Matter of Time

This past Sunday I was watching my son's basketball practice. After a while, the coach split up the team and had one side remove their shirts for a "skins" vs. "shirts" scrimmage.

The sight of all those scrawny fifth graders, with their long, skinny arms and legs was very endearing to me. They looked so vulnerable, so innocent.

A fifth grade girl sitting next to me had an entirely different reaction.

"Ewwww," she remarked, with a heavy southern drawl, "That's just gross."

Hmmm.
Just. you. wait!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Advent Season: The First Sunday

This year I wanted to make a new advent wreath, something a little rustic and a little non-traditional. So I took a piece of weathered wood from a corncrib, some rusted mattress coils, and some burlap garland.

I added some holly berries, some handmade candles, and some purple and pink ribbons. Our new advent wreath:


Wishing you heartfelt blessings on this first Sunday of Advent.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Christmas Tag

Karen over at The Rocking Pony was kind enough to include me in a fun Christmas tag. It's an easy one . . . list a favorite gift you received as a child, one you received as an adult, and one you would like to receive in the future. So, here goes:
  • Hands down, my favorite childhood gift was an acoustic guitar. My Italian Uncle (Zio Luciano) played in a band, so he helped my parents pick one out. I'll never, ever forget that feeling when he carried it into the room and handed it to me. I hadn't even told anyone that I wanted one, but somehow everyone knew. I've played that guitar at campfires when I worked as a camp counselor in college, in a folk choir at our Catholic church, and now I like to pull it out this time of year for singing Christmas carols.

  • As an adult, my favorite gift was, and still is . . . soap. Yup. Soap. About five years ago we let our two oldest boys buy their own Christmas presents for the family, and that year they gave me some beautiful bar soap. The following year it was fancy shampoo. Then, a bath set. It took me a while to figure it out, but now I know that they are boys, buying their Mom a gift, and they are trying to buy something feminine; in other words, they are buying for a girl and for them soap is a very "girly" thing. So, I treasure their soap gifts, and I love it when they give me a hug and then mention that I smell good.

  • Now, for a future gift . . . can I think big? I would like to be able to spend an ENTIRE summer in Italy with my family. Rent a villa, explore towns, absorb the culture. Part of my childhood was spent living in Vicenza (an hour by train from Venice) and I would love for my husband and my boys to experience actually living there. Two years ago we did take the boys to Tuscany for the first time for a couple of weeks, but I want three months. There, how's that for thinking big?!

Thanks again, Karen, for tagging me. In turn, I think I'll tag mg at blue suede shoes, Karen at The More, The Messier, and onthegomom.