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

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


A few weeks ago I attended a funeral Mass held at our lovely church, St. Mary-on-the-Hill. Four priests were in attendance, one of whom had driven several hours to be there. There were four altar servers, and music filled the church.

We gathered to honor someone
who wasn't famous,
who didn't accomplish anything great or mighty,
who never gave a famous speech,
but who, nonetheless, left a mark in this world.

You see, Baby Jesse never walked on this earth; he died in his mother's womb during the fifth month of pregnancy.

With trembling voices we sang the hymn, "On Eagle's Wings", and although it was heartwrenching to see that teeny, tiny casket in front of the altar, we also felt God's loving presence as all of us - priests, mothers, fathers, teachers, Catholics, non-Catholics - came together to celebrate a life . . . not a life that had been lived in full, but one just as important that had barely begun.

(Thanks, mg, for sharing.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Taking Care of Business (because I'm not at my blogging best)

After a very hectic week, I am behind in everything: blogging, commenting, memes, awards . . . really, lately I have not been my blogging best. So, I need to catch up.

Laura and SuzyQ tagged me with this meme about blogging some time ago. I won't admit how long ago it was because it's too embarrassing.

What 5 things have I learned from blogging?

1. That on our faith journey, we are not alone. Oh, I go to church, I am a member of Familia, and I attend a weekly Bible Study, but it wasn't until I started blogging that I realized what a common bond our faith can be in the world. It is no coincidence that our family nights began around the time I started blogging as I began to get so many ideas on how our family can practice and live our faith. Blogging helped me see my faith on a larger scale; it has helped me realize how much more I can grow spiritually; it is a wonderful tool to share faith ideas and practices.

2. That blogging is a wonderful way to preserve the every day ordinariness of our lives. Writing about wonderful vacations or profound thoughts is fine, but sometimes it's the small things, the very ordinary things, that make life special. Writing about Daddy's ability to make a silly monkey face or about a dead car battery stranding us in the middle of the carpool lane helps keep these seemingly insignificant details about day-to-day life alive.

3. That I like writing . . . I really, really do. Ever since I was a little girl and wrote lengthy "Little House on the Prairie" stories, writing has always been a part of who I am. I majored in English, wrote for my college newspaper, reviewed plays and had a poem published here and there. But because it was something I always did naturally, I never took my writing seriously. Blogging has reminded me to nurture this side of me that I have taken for granted.

4. That it's a small, small world. There is something exciting about getting an email or a comment from someone you've never met; blogging is like having a pen pal with the entire world.

5. That I have met some wonderful blogging friends. When I mention your names at the dinner table, my family knows who you are. (In fact, I don't think my sons realize that I know you through blogging; they think that you are my friends at church, or something.)

Also, since I am taking care of business, SuzyQ passed on the "I Love Your Blog Award" to me because she is kind that way, and Laura gave me the "Super Commenter Award" because it makes her mother happy when I leave comments. Grandmak also gave me this last award . . . two people giving me this award . . . OH! the pressure to leave good comments!

Also, speaking of Grandmak, she passed on a "Holy Card Meme" in which I had to come up with a holy card for myself if I should ever make it to sainthood. Which brings me to this question: as a mother, am I not already there? See. That settles it. I am not humble enough and I procrastinate too much to ever be a candidate for sainthood. (I made the mistake of asking my husband this question an hour ago, and he hasn't stopped laughing. Well, then. He'll never make it to sainthood, either.)

Now, I can't tag anyone because everyone I know has already received these awards and done these memes . . . I told you I was waaaaay behind in everything.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Italian 101

As a mother of all boys, there are certain things I have perfected when I mean business.

One, is the look. My mother is Italian, so I have generations of Italian women in my blood who know how to do the look. Even my husband recognizes the look. I wouldn't go so far as to call it the evil eye . . . but there you go, it does have power.

Two, is the art of peppering my speech with two key Italian phrases when I am in no mood to be messed with:

~Basta! = Enough. Stop.

(As in, the boys are arguing, but when I yell BASTA! there is complete and total silence . . . instantly.)

~Punto e basta! = End of discussion, period.

(As in, the boys keep begging for a Wii; every day they complain until we finally say: No, you do not need a Wii, punto e basta. Go play outside. This signals the end of the discussion. Nothing further needs to be said.)

Now shhhh!, I'll let you in on a little secret: these are my secret weapons; I hoard them and whip them out only when absolutely necessary . . . like today.

It's been one of those days.

Remember when . . .

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A is for apple . . . I think

After a shaky start, our little one is learning (albeit begrudgingly) to like preschool . . . that is, he's gone from crying and clinging to my leg to shedding only a tear or two when he waves goodbye to me. So, we are making progress.

I'm just not sure what he's learning . . .

Our Preschooler: "D" is for Daddy, "J" is for Jonathan, and "N" is for Nicholas.

Me: Excellent!

I wait a second or two, then ask: And what does "M" stand for?

He thinks, and thinks some more, then declares: McDonalds!

Er, would you like some fries with that?

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Wonders of Nature...who knew?

Me, to my four-year-old: "How do you make mud?"

His reply: "First you dig a hole, then you put water and chocolate in it."

That's it. Next time I go hiking after a rainfall I am taking a spoon.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

La Bella Luna

Lisa has a wonderful post over at Are We There Yet announcing the next Harvest Moon September 15th (go visit...she has some fun trivia about the moon). Coincidentally, last night I took our little one (already in his pj's) outside to look at the full moon through the trees in our backyard. So in honor of the Harvest Moon, in celebration of the fact that autumn is just around the corner, and in reverence for the moon's majesty here is a post from the past.

I admit that I have a quirky trait: I love looking at the moon. On a clear night, with no clouds, there have been many times I have dragged my family to a window (and, yes, even outside in their pj's) to look at the beautiful moon. "La bella luna" , in Italian.

Last night, when the full moon was hanging low and heavy right over our house, I found myself again calling to my family to come and see. I enthusiastically pointed out how serene it made everything look. I challenged everyone to think of as many songs as they could that mention the moon. I even made up this corny poem: "The man in the moon smiled as he looked down on the mother and child."

Then I noticed everyone looking at me as if I were, well, loony (from the root word "luna"; lunatic also comes from "luna"), and realized that I was turning into my mom...and my Nonna.

In the early nineties, when we were vacationing in Florida with my parents and my Nonna, we were told that the space shuttle launch from Cape Canaveral could be viewed from our second story balcony. The fact that it would take place at 3 a.m. didn't stop us because we knew that it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially for Nonna who was visiting from Italy.

At 3 a.m. we gathered on the balcony, listening to the shuttle countdown on the radio and watching the horizon. When the shuttle launched, and we could follow the shuttle's ascent, my Mom and Nonna couldn't contain their enthusiasm:

Mom: OH! Lord bless them. Bless them. Keep them safe!! At 3 a.m. she shouted this 550 times from our balcony.
Nonna: Maria Santissima! Cielo santo! Che bello! Dio mio! Again, it was 3 a.m., and this was also shouted repeatedly.

With the mixture of English and Italian being hurled towards the heavens, the rest of us cringed (did I mention that it was 3 a.m.?).

So, last night as I was extolling the virtues of "la bella luna", the reality that I was becoming just like my Mom and Nonna hit me. Yikes!

Cielo Santo! Maria Santissma!
I'm not sure if I should be terrified or not. (wink! wink!)

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Nightmare on Our Street

My oldest son, whispering: "Mom, I had a really bad dream."

Me: "Hmm. What was it about?"

Son: "There was this man holding a hammer and he was chasing me."

Me: "Well, you had the nails...he needed some."

Son: "Oh. Okay, then.

He goes back to bed...all is right with the world.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Weed Bucket

Okay. Preschool is not going that well. From day one our little one mentioned a boy that yelled a lot and threw toys. He told us this child had to put all his flowers in the weed bucket (a behavior chart: good behavior, flower in the basket; bad behavior, flower in the weed bucket). We took his comments in stride, knowing that every class always has a student who acts out.

While excited the first few days of school, by the end of the week he started getting teary. But he survived, we re-grouped over the weekend, and thus began week two. He came home Tuesday again complaining about this child, and again I patted him on the head and changed the subject.

But at dinner one of his brothers asked him about school and he started crying and would not stop. He said this child screamed at the teachers; he said he was scared of this child; he said that it made him sad and that Miss Andrea had to hold him...something was definitely going on.

The next morning I met with the teachers and they said they were working with a child who, when upset and didn't want to participate, threw these enormous temper tantrums. They apologized for not making the connection that our little one getting teary and quiet was a direct result of this child's outbursts. But they were on it and, despite my little one's reluctance, I left him for another day.

I received a call thirty minutes later that he was crying (quietly) and couldn't be consoled. Needless to say, I went to pick him up.

When we came home we played, did some fun schoolwork, and watched a Thomas video, but in the back of my mind I am feeling more than a little guilty. I attributed his tears and his reluctance to go to school to the fact that this was all new for him. I thought he was exaggerating about this child, and I didn't fully listen to his fears that were very real for him.

I feel like a bad Mommy...I need to put all my flowers in the weed bucket.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dolce Sentire

This afternoon we received a phone call from Italy. It was my parents, calling to say they had arrived safely and were about to sit down and have dinner with all the family. The laughter, the noise, the sounds of the table being set...all these things were so beautiful to hear.

There is something inherently exciting about receiving a transatlantic phone call: the slight pause when you first pick up, followed by the laughing and the shouting as you try to be heard over a vast ocean.

The phone gets passed from person to person, and those who don't get to speak are shouting in the background. It's pure's wonderful. Even our little one wanted to "talk to Italy"; he was only two years old the last time we were there, but he still got excited. After speaking with my cousin (who kindly asked him about school) he declared, "I love Damiano."

So, tanti carissimi saluti Paola, Silvio, Davide, Martha, Tizi, Luciano, Chiara, Damiano, and Irene (and you, too, Mom and Dad!).

And because I'm a little nostalgic, and because it's a beautiful, heartwarming song, here is Dolce Sentire (Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna).
translation: Brother Sun, Sister Moon (based on The Canticle of Brother Sun, Sister Moon by St. Francis of Assisi)

Dolce sentire come nel mio cuore
ora umilmente sta nascendo amore…
dolce capire che non son più solo,
ma che son parte di una immensa vita
che generosa risplende intorno a me…
dono di Lui, del Suo immenso amore!

Ci ha dato il cielo e le chiare stelle
fratello sole e sorella luna
la madre terra con frutti prati e fiori
il fuoco, il vento, l’aria e l’acqua pura
fonte di vita per le sue creature.
Dono di Lui, del Suo immenso amore
Dono di Lui, del Suo immenso amore

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Goodbye, My Shadow

Dear Little One,

You know how Peter Pan felt when he lost his shadow? Well, that's how I feel today on this, your first day of preschool. For the past four years you have been my shadow, accompanying me everywhere: Bible Study, carpool, luncheons, weekday Mass, library. The one constant of my days has been you at my side.

This morning I went to the grocery store and you weren't there to mix up my coupons or beg for a matchbox car. I didn't have to explain in two words ("morning snack") to the checkout lady when she asks why the potato chips, the fruit snacks, or the animal cookies were all open.

And now you're off on your own, experiencing exciting adventures, meeting new friends, learning new things, and discovering the beautiful world that is out there. You will have fun, of that I am sure.

But I will miss you. It seems that once a mother gives birth, she then spends the rest of her life letting her baby go.

mille bacioni,