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

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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The year in review and a sneak peek ahead

January: I meet Nicholas Cage during a girls' weekend in Las Vegas.

February: Off with their heads

March: Five families celebrating the Feast of St. Joseph

April: the post that drew the most sympathetic comments.

May: something new that got old fast.

June: the most interesting visitor

July: confessions of an altar server.

August: the Mad Hatter Dinner Party

September: My baby goes to Kindergarten.

October: Nicholas receives the Sacrament of Confirmation.

November: food, food, and spaghetti in your face!

December: the Christmas miracle that brought Sister here for the holidays.

...and coming up in June 2010: A FAMILY TRIP TO ITALY!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Don't you think I should get a free pair, or something?

So, I've been noticing a lot of traffic lately from people researching Dansko clogs . . . now I know why:

go here.

P.S. My Dansko shoe size is 39 (European size).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Finally...a compliment!

It began with a surprise email from my nephew, Christopher . . .

is this nephew? are you emailing from your own computer, or something? or is this your own email account?

Yes it is your nephew. It is my own email account. I am emailing from my new iPod touch that I got for Christmas. I'll show it to you later when we get there. I might have to use your computer to charge it. May I?
From Christopher

well, well, well. a new iPod touch. i got an iPod, too. but it's just a regular one...not a touch and i can't send emails with it. BUT it is a pretty, bright orange. so, you may be able to email with yours...but i bet it isn't orange like mine.

and yes, if you're very, very, very nice to your favorite auntie...AND if you tell her that her new orange ipod is smashing...AND if you tell her that she looks very, very, very skinny...THEN i might let you charge your ipod on my computer.

I'm sure your iPod is charming! It is very very very very skinny!

not the ipod skinny...ME, ME....YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO SAY I'M SKINNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok the iPod is skinny AND you are too.

Me, shamelessly enjoying Christopher's compliment...and the fact that I asked for it doesn't matter whatsoever. I'll take a compliment any way I can get one.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Italian Christmas Carol

Buon Natale! Merry Christmas!
Blessings (and a Christmas carol) from our house to yours!

Tu Scendi dalle Stelle

Tu scendi dalle stelle
O Re del Cielo
E vieni in una grotta
Al freddo al gelo
E vieni in una grotta
Al freddo al gelo.

O Bambino mio Divino
Io ti vedo qui a tremar,
O Dio Beato!
Ah, quanto ti costò
L’avermi amato.
Ah, quanto ti costò
L’avermi amato.

A te che sei del mondo,
Il creatore,
Mancano panni e fuoco,
O mio Signore.
Mancano panni e fuoco,
O mio Signore.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Perfect for the Holidays: Food Fight!

Sometimes you come across something so inherently dumb. Something so silly that you do something truly ridiculous and buy the thing.

Case in point: Meet Alfredo.

Alfredo spins around on top of a plate of spaghetti. His tray, hat and apron are made of velcro.

Then, four pretend chefs vent their frustrations by using fork catapults to launch spaghetti and meatballs at the revolving Alfredo.

You get so many points if your meatball sticks to his tray, hat, or apron; but you get a gazillion points if you manage to land a meatball on his mustache.

Of course, some over-zealous launchers manage to catapult their meatballs right over Alfredo and into the face of the person (i.e. a brother) sitting opposite.

Spaghetti in your face . . . ahhhh. That's amore.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why I Married this Guy 19 Years Ago

Since I do all the cooking, he cleans up afterwards.

He has a mesmerizing baritone voice over the phone . . . the first time he called and asked me out I mentally said "I do."

He is very, very good in Math (and I am not).

My Mom likes him better than she does me (but it is all good because his Mom likes me better!).

He eats french fries with a fork (quirky, but cute).

He sent me and my best friend to Rome, Italy for my 40th birthday while he stayed home to babysit.

We met at a church spaghetti supper . . . very apropos.

After the birth of each of our sons he took a week off work to stay home to help me.

He folds laundry while he watches Penn State football.

The first time we went to Italy together he spent months studying the language.

He is a great father. He is a great husband.

And I'm one lucky girl.

Happy Anniversary, Joey.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

These Jeans Are Made for Walking

I have a pair of Gap jeans that I only use for special occasions. They are dark, dark blue, and when paired with black, high heeled shoes they are dressy in a casual, but elegant way.

Very European. Very Town & Country.

This past Saturday night my husband and I were invited to a Christmas party, and casual elegance was the attire of the night. I reached for my black tuxedo-style jacket, pulled out my high heeled black shoes (for one night, I would put beauty before comfort), and then reached for my Gap jeans.

As always, I held my breath as I started to put them pound in the wrong direction and they wouldn't fit.

I also held my breath because that's the only way to zip them up.

Not only did they fit, but they also looked good (my husband's words). AND I was actually having a good hair night. A wonderful life, indeed.

But like Cinderella and her ball, I knew I had to follow a very simple but important rule when wearing these jeans: any function I attend while wearing them has to be a stand up affair involving walking around and mingling.

In other words, these jeans are not made for sitting; if I do...buttons will pop, zippers will unravel, and seams will burst.

Imagine Bruce Banner's clothes when he transforms into the Incredible Hulk.

So I wore my Gap jeans to the party. I walked around and mingled.

And after a couple of people asked if I had lost weight (I LOVE those jeans!), I didn't even mind all that standing.

Sheesh. Who needs to sit, anyway?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Santa's New Year Resolution

Ho, ho, ho, ho . . . oh!
Santa stuck in the chimney.
No kidding. He’s stuck.

What was the problem?
Cookies and figgy pudding
And lots of whole milk.

Rudolph’s nose won’t help
But a wider chimney will
And a diet, too.

Do you Haiku? Go see Laura!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

All he wants for Christmas . . .

Yesterday I was talking with two mothers with children in Timothy's class. Mind you, that would be KINDERGARTEN.

So, we were talking about Christmas, and what Santa was bringing.

One mom: Johnny wants an ipod shuffle.

Huh???? My son wouldn't know an ipod shuffle if it bonked him on the head.

The other mom: We're probably getting Betty a know, one of those notebooks for $200. She's really been wanting one.

Huh?!?!?!?! While my son likes to visit and play Diego's African Safari, he does so on the family computer (which, I might add, is in full view for supervisory purposes).

There was a pause as both moms looked at me expectantly.

Me: Uhm, er, my son wants a fire truck.

And that's exactly what he's going to get...the perfect Christmas toy for an innocent little boy.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Our Very Own Christmas Miracle

This is a true story . . .

When Sr. Gaudiosa visited us this past summer, she happened to mention that last Christmas she spent the holidays alone. With the university closed and the two elderly nuns she lives with gone to stay with family, Sister was by herself the entire time.

So we told her that this Christmas, if she was alone, we would find some way for her to come spend the holidays with us.

Just before Thanksgiving I remembered my promise and knew that I had to inquire about her holiday plans.

But, I had some reservations. First of all I was a little embarrassed. You see, while we don't go overboard with gifts, by no means do we have a Little House on the Prairie Christmas. My boys get more than an orange, and knowing how she comes from a small village in Tanzania I was worried about the comparison.

Then there was the cost of the plane ticket. My husband accumulates frequent flyer miles through his business travels, but at the moment we have zero. And tickets during the holidays aren't cheap.

My husband and I talked about it and realized that inviting her was still the right thing to do...despite our reservations. We emailed her an invitation.

The Monday after Thanksgiving two things happened:

First, my husband called from the Atlanta airport to tell me that he was bumped from an overbooked flight, and that Delta was going to issue him 200 Delta dollars as compensation. When I told my husband that this was a sign, that this meant Sister was coming, he was a little dubious. Besides, he noted, this was the price of only half a ticket.

Then, thirty minutes after he called, I received an email from Sister accepting our invitation.

And here is the real the half hour between my husband's phone call and sister's email, my husband was at the Delta counter waiting for Delta to print his voucher. Due to some computer glitch, the computer kept changing his 200 Delta dollars to 400 Delta dollars, and after working for a few minutes the Delta representative couldn't understand why.

But we do. You see, the 400 Delta dollars my husband received is almost the exact price of Sister's plane ticket to come spend the holidays with us.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's never too early

Set out by Timothy just before Thanksgiving...yes, that would be mid-November.

All because you-know-who might come early, you know.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It began with a wooden star

This year I decided to change our fireplace mantel for Christmas. I knew I wanted it to be woodsy, with greens, browns and reds, and that I wanted it to feel welcoming.

So, I started with a small, red star and decided to make it the focal point in a giant frame.

But, with 10-ft ceilings I needed a big frame. What to do?

Amazingly, I found an ugly, ugly painting with a damaged frame in the clearance bin at Bed, Bath & Beyond (really, with a coupon it was practically free). Using wood filler and black paint, I fixed the corners of the frame and covered the ugly, ugly painting with burlap.

My Dad (a very talented carpenter) cut out a larger, wooden star out of plywood, which I painted brown.

I centered the stars (embellished with greenery and a burlap ribbon) within the frame, placed my topiaries from last year on each side, hung up our stockings...there...done.

Now, on to baking, shopping, wrapping...

Monday, November 30, 2009

American? Italian? It's All About Giving Thanks.

People often ask if our Thanksgiving meal is modified to reflect our Italian background, and it is a question that doesn't have a short answer.

My mother came to this country as a young bride. She was only 20 years old and determined to embrace this new life. She became fluent in English, learned to drive, earned her American citizenship.

It's not to say that she wasn't Italian anymore; on the contrary, she made sure that we grew up with a strong sense of our Italian heritage: we traveled often to Italy, grew up speaking the language, and were very close to our relatives.

But there were some things quintessentially American that my mother embraced ... and the traditional Thanksgiving meal was one of them.

She had a lot to learn, however. In one of her earliest letters to her mother, she wrote about this strange, white stuff that came in a blue can (Crisco shortening).

She had never eaten turkey, much less cooked one.

She had never heard of sweet potatoes. Why, in America, even the potatoes are sweet!

And cranberry sauce? All that jiggling red stuff didn't look like food at all.

It took years of trial and effort, but today she has perfected the art of the Thanksgiving meal. The turkey is always moist, the sweet potato casserole has just the right amount of brown sugar and marshmallows, and we always fight over any leftover dressing. There are two ceramic pilgrims decorating the dinner table and we enjoy a family game of football or baseball in the afternoon.

Of course, there are small concessions to our Italian background: we sip espressos with our pumpkin pie and have a small glass of limoncello as an after dinner digestivo.

But it is an American meal, celebrating an American holiday, and with a hearty Buon Appetito! we raise our glasses of vino rosso ... thankful for it all.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

St. Giuseppe Moscati:

Just watched St. Giuseppe Moscati: Doctor of the Poor on EWTN. It was a wonderful movie about St. Moscati's work among the poor and homeless of Naples, Italy in the early 1900s. He is the first modern medical doctor to be canonized.

The fact that the movie was filmed in Italian (with English subtitles) just added to its wonderfulness.

~Remember that you must treat not only bodies, but also souls, with counsel that appeals to their minds and hearts rather than with cold prescriptions to be sent in to the pharmacist. ~Saint Moscati

Monday, November 16, 2009

Standing Firm

The weekend is over, the dust has settled, and here is what is left:

And this is what I know:
-that this chocolate chip/peanut butter cup cookie is delicious;
-that no one is here to witness me consuming it;
-that I am bigger (literally and figuratively) than that cookie;
-that it has no control over me. Whatsoever.

And that's what Makes My Monday: Resisting Temptation!

Now go visit Cheryl who has a cookie story involving two very cute chefs.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

End of a Season

Game held on a rain-soaked field.
Lost in the semifinals.
Third place in an 11-team league.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wonder of Wonders

Seen tonight:
a thirty second primetime commercial extolling the virtues . . .
of Nutella.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Surviving Yesterday

Yesterday I had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.


One word: teenager.

There. I don't have to write anything more because I am sure all of you will instantly and totally understand. But I will write, because I need to vent. And I want to be petted, and flattered, and reminded what a great Mom I am (and the fact that I am soliciting these compliments makes no difference whatsoever).

When I was pregnant I had nine months . . . NINE MONTHS . . . to prepare. I studied What to Expect When You're Expecting; then there was What to Expect: The First Year, and What to Expect: The Toddler Years. I even had Il Bambino, an Italian version of Dr. Spock's book on child-rearing.

So, I was armed and ready to combat first colds, diarrhea, play dates, Barney, and projectile vomit.

It was a foundation that served me well even as they grew and started Kindergarten, primary school, and eventually moving on to middle school.

But then, out of no where, I was blindsided.


I ask you, where along the way did we teach our son to be sullen, grumpy, incommunicative, rude and disrespectful? Because I can assure you that these fine qualities were not taught by us.

And yet, one fine morning our son woke up and there they were.

I guess the most perplexing and frustrating thing is that I don't know what in the heck I am doing. Where was What to Expect: The Teen Years because, I tell you, it would have been nice to have been forewarned.

Instead, I have been winging it.

This morning, after yesterday's terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day, I cast out my net seeking inspiration and wisdom. It came in the form of John 20:21, Peace be with you. The commentary explained that peace isn't the absence of conflict; rather, the peace that Christ offers can be found in the reality that exists when heaven and earth "connect".

Hmmmm. How about the reality that exists when parents and teens collide...that would be more accurate.

Okay, peace. I know it's there, just as I know my son is there.


Like when he apologized this morning.

It took a little work, but I did find that peace, and with it came this bit of wisdom: a working teen doesn't have time to be sullen. Brilliant! So this afternoon our son raked the backyard . . . which is rather large . . . and has lots and lots of trees . . . that have shed lots and lots of leaves.

It took him a while and, believe it or not, he did it rather cheerfully . . . for a teen.

Peace. I'll take it any way I can.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

What not to eat on Halloween

answer doorbell
admire baseball player & giant hot dog
eat Kit Kat
watch Food Network Spooky Cake Challenge
answer doorbell
pretend to be robbed by Al Capone & his fellow gangsters
eat snickers
answer doorbell
answer doorbell
admire Hannah Montana
boys come home with their loot
eat butterfinger, tootsie roll, milk duds
answer doorbell, return to the boys' loot
finish milk duds, eat sweet tarts, eat another tootsie roll
answer doorbell
dump rest of candy into lucky trick-or-treater's bag
turn off porch lights
think about another butterfinger
eat another butterfinger w/ glass of milk (just to be health consious)

feel a little guilty...okay, a lot guilty
sick, sick, sick of candy
take 3 Rolaids, waddle upstairs to bed

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Friendly Questions

Thanks to Cathy and Lisa,
and along with this came the following questions:

the Geico Gecko

Nutella... okay, okay I'm kidding!!
No, seriously... my espresso machine ... actually, my hair dryer

sense of humor
musical/artistic talents

black and brown (I'm boring that way)

procrastinator (this, from my husband)
helpful (this, from Jonathan)
Italian (this, from Nicholas)
a princess (this, from Timothy)

England, Ireland & Scotland


(Last of the Mohicans)
Duncan: "There is a war going on in the east. How is it you are heading west?"
Hawkeye: "Well, you face north and, real sudden-like, turn left."

Hawkeye: "Someday you and I are going to have a serious disagreement."

(Miss Congeniality)
Victor Melling: The last time I saw a walk like that was in "Jurassic Park."

(The Grapes of Wrath)
"How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can't scare him--he has known a fear beyond every other." - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 19

learn how to play the cello
finish my book proposal
hike the Grand Canyon

my decisiveness (see #2 above)

Monday, October 26, 2009

An Offer We Can't Refuse

My husband has always been a fan of the Godfather movies . . . and that was even before he married into my Italian family. Of course, my family is from northern Italy, so no Don Corleone or mafia connections for us.

But a few years ago my parents met and became friends with a group of second generation Italian-Americans who moved here from New York, and it is through them we get out Godfather fix. Their relatives were originally from southern Italy, so when you take their Italian heritage, mix it with a little Sicilian and Neopolitan history, stir in a strong sense of family, and then add that New York flair . . . you have the makings for a great party.

This was the third year in a row that Joe and I, along with the boys, were invited to a pig roast hosted by an Italian-American couple whose family is orginally from Naples. The party took place in their home, which offers plenty in the way of entertainment: a full-sized bocce court, two fire pits (one perfect for roasting marshmallows, the other for roasting an entire pig), and an entertainment room complete with a large screen television, a pool table, and a state-of-the-art wine cellar where they bottle their own vino rosso.

This year's pig roast included a live band, Italian pastries from a New York bakery, and a 20 lb. block of torrone in which great chunks were hacked off with a hammer and chisel and passed out to the guests. (I may have been responsible for eating 12.2 of that 20 lb block . . . but we won't go there.)

Here's the serendipitous thing: the husband's name is Don (my husband and I secretly call him the Don), and after last weekend's party my husband and I are planning to watch all three Godfather movies this weekend.

In the words of Don Corleone: Capisci?

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Little Boy and His Planes

An entire day at an air show
with a little boy who is passionate about planes ...

Red Eagles and formation flying,
sky diving and stunt planes,
WWII Warbirds and the Battle of Midway,
pyrotechnics and exploding "bombs"...

and a five minute helicopter ride for a Mom
and her little boy who is passionate about planes.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday Morning Chores

It's early Saturday morning and Timothy climbs into bed with us.

Guess what? he asks.


Last night I had a giant booger in my nose.

And then what? I inquire.

It was on my finger.

What did you do with it? I asked, hoping that a tissue figures somewhere into this story.

Then it got stuck on my thumb.

Oh boy I think.

And then? I ask, needing to know but not really wanting to.

I don't know...I don't see it anymore. And he hops off the bed.

And I am thinking that this morning...I am changing all the sheets.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Guided by the Spirit

Dear Nicholas,

For your Confirmation we wanted to give you seven books, each one representing one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Many of the books we thought to include (The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia series, for example) you already own, so the challenge was to find ones that would be new to you. We prayed to the Holy Spirit for guidance, and this is what we came up with . . . they have much to offer as you grow in your faith.

Wisdom, in order to see God at work in our lives and in the world.
Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom

Understanding, to enlighten my mind.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Right Judgement/Counsel, to know the difference between right and wrong.
Night by Ellie Wiesel

Courage/Fortitude, to stand up for what is right in the eyes of God.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Knowledge, to know oneself and to know God.
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Piety/Reverence, for a deep sense of respect for God and the Church.
A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt

Fear of the Lord (awe of God), to recognize our all powerful God.
The Holy Bible

Mom and Dad

Nicholas with sponsors Aunt Laura and Uncle Patrick

Nicholas with Bishop Boland

The Knight and the Pirate

My brother-in-law, who is a member of the Knights of Columbus, volunteered to join the Knights of our parish for the Confirmation Mass. This was the first time our sons had seen their uncle in full regalia. Timothy was awed . . . is Uncle Patrick a pirate?

And you can see why he thought this . . .

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Shhhh...don't tell anyone!

While cooking for Nicholas' Confirmation dinner I thought I'd take a quick break and share this easy cake idea:

one chocolate cake from Publix bakery
+ one can of Pirouette rolled wafers
+ some coordinating ribbon

(And the fact that it all wasn't made from scratch? Let's keep that between us, shall we?)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Little Help From My Blogging Friends

My son's confirmation is next week, and as a gift we are giving him seven books with themes representing the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. For example, for the gift of Right Judgement/Counsel we selected Harper Lee's book To Kill a Mockingbird.

We have already thought of a few books, but I thought I'd ask you for suggestions. What books (any genre) would you suggest to represent the following:

Wisdom in order to see God at work in our lives and in the world.

Understanding to know how we need to live as follower of Christ.

Right Judgement/Counsel to know the difference between right and wrong.

Courage/Fortitude to stand up for what is right in the eyes of God.

Knowledge to know oneself and to know God.

Piety/Reverence for a deep sense of respect for God and the Church.

Fear of the Lord (awe of God) to recognize our all powerful God.

(BTW, I got this idea a while ago from our Catholic Teacher Extraordinaire, Laura, and filed it away to use, thanks Laura!)

Capturing Moments

An early weekday morning . . . it's dark and the little one is sleepy . . .
I sit in a kitchen chair as he stands in front of me . . . I help him get ready for school . . . I tuck in his shirt, fasten his belt, brush his hair . . . his face is inches from mine . . . I breathe him in . . .

Leaving the Reconcilation service with my oldest son . . . talking about his confirmation next week . . . stopping at Wendy's . . . delighting in the fact that right now, in this moment, we are in a state of grace . . . we are angels sipping vanilla frosties

In an attempt to get my middle son to read more, I propose we read a book together . . . he is skeptical . . . he's not convinced . . . I read the first chapter of The Outsiders to him . . . he has a reluctant grin on his face . . . he likes Ponyboy

You must live in the present,
launch yourself on every wave,
find your eternity in each moment.
-Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dinner, Football Style

I am all about family dinners with everyone seated at the table passing plates of food and conversing with voices that tend to get louder and louder as the meal progresses.

But sometimes, such as on football Saturdays, it's also nice to do this: a crockpot full of Sloppy Joes, hamburger buns, carrot sticks, potato chips, and Halloween cookies . . . all placed on the kitchen counter with plates and utensils, ready for whenever anyone is hungry.

It works nicely when your living room is full of grown men, and medium-sized men, and one teeny tiny man cheering on Penn State.

And it works very nicely for me as I read, scrapbook, blog, and check in on the score from time to time.

-What's for dinner?

-Why, it's all there . . . just help yourself.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Roll Over, Beethoven's Mom

Whenever this commercial for AT&T's Rollover minutes comes on, a call goes out throughout the entire house and everyone comes running to see "the mom look". We laugh, and laugh, and laugh . . . apparently, according to my sons, she is me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Irritation

My husband, who is an engineer by profession, has a secret passion for the weather.

He likes to read the weather forecast not only locally, but around the globe.

During a storm he stands on our front porch and studies the direction the clouds are moving.

When the boys were younger I had to ban him from making certain comments during a thunderstorm such as Wow! That was a close one! Or, This is tornado we have some flashlights?

At his work they have a very sophisticated radar, and he will call me throughout the day with updates: Get ready, a storm is going to hit you in about two minutes. Or, There's a break in the weather. Do you see the sun?

He is amazingly accurate, and truthfully, I never, ever read the weather forecast...I just ask my husband.

Not only does he like weather predictions, but he loves past forecasts. Yes, I said forecasts from the past.

This morning:

Did you know that on this exact day ten years ago Augusta had a record low temperature of 42 degrees?

He glances at me expectantly when I say nothing.

You don't remember, do you? (He has an accusatory look.)

I continue to sip my cappuccino, not really knowing how to answer that.

I mean, I ask you, would you remember something like that? Cielo Santo!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday at the Mall with my Men

Saturday morning chores were done, and out of the blue my husband suggested we go walk around the mall. HUH?! Who was this strange man? Then, all three boys said they wanted to go, too.

Well, I wasn't going to let this opportunity slip by . . .

I gathered my coupons and made mental lists: new church shirts for the boys, a new pair of winter shoes for me, shorts for Jonathan, check out the clearance rack at Macy's and JCPenney . . .

And this is what we did:

-spent half an hour in Dick's Sporting Goods trying out different basketballs, putting, and drooling over the golf clubs (FYI: I wasn't the one drooling)
-walked in Foot Locker and admired the cool basketball sneakers, the cool running shoes, the cool football cleats
-had a pretzel at Auntie Em's (would you believe my husband had a coupon?)
-walked into Champ Sports and admired the football jerseys
-threw pennies into the fountain and tried to hit the underwater lights
-went into Williams Sonoma only for the free sample of chicken
-spent some time in Gamestop drooling at Rock Band and Guitar Hero (FYI: I wasn't the one drooling)

No Macy's, no JCPenney, no clearance racks, no shoes . . . but the morning wasn't a total loss . . . I did come home with this :o)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Makeup Monday

I do not purchase a lot of makeup in department stores; in fact, I have whittled my department store makeup items down to two: Estee Lauder's Idealist Skin Refinisher and an under eye concealer from Lancome. Both items last a long time, but when it comes time to replace them I play it smart and wait for Bonus Gift Time. You know . . . spend a certain amount and get a free makeup bag filled with samples.

So, that's what makes my Monday . . . Bonus Gift Time at the make-up counter.

Now go visit Cheryl for some more Makes My Monday fun.

Monday, September 7, 2009

In which I feel like a heel but learn a valuable lesson

Yesterday I was checking out at the grocery store when I saw an old neighbor of my parents standing behind me . . . and I pretended not to see her.

She was always a bit crotchety and, since it had been a long time, I figured she probably wouldn't remember me.

That's what I told myself, anyway, as I ignored that inner voice telling me to be charitable and reach out to her.

I walked out without saying anything.

However, as I was backing out of my parking space I noticed her leaving the store and heading to her car which, I realized with a sigh, was parked right next to mine.

I came this close to driving away anyway (I am ashamed to admit this).

But that inner voice spoke up again, so I begrudgingly rolled down my window:

-Mrs. Robertson, do you remember me?
-Oh, of course! How are you? How are your parents?
-They are doing well. Do you have plans for Labor Day?
-Actually, no. My husband is in the hospital with pneumonia.
It doesn't look good.

Suddenly, I had all the time in the world as I gave her my undivided attention. Later, I realized what a valuable lesson this had been. How often have I not bothered to reach out? How often have I missed the opportunity to comfort, encourage, or help someone? How often . . .

Evidently, lately, much too often.

But not anymore. I am listening to that inner voice.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

An Evening Meal...Buon Appetito!

grilled panini
fresh tomatoes and mozzarella
special treat: San Pellegrino Aranciata
strawberries in lemon juice

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Visit from the Holy See

About a month ago I noticed a new visitor on my blog: Holy See, Vatican City State.

Yes, that's right, someone at the Vatican visited my blog.

First I was in awe. Holy Toledo the Pope visited my blog!

Then I was worried. Have I written anything unkind? When was the last time I went to confession? Uhm...I probably shouldn't have said Holy Toledo.

Then I called my Mom.

My Mom . . . who with the birth of every grandchild declares to all the world that he will be the next Pope (not a mere priest, mind you, but THE POPE). She was thrilled about the holy visit: You write such nice things about your faith, why shouldn't the Pope read your blog?

Mom, please.

But then I figured it out: a few months ago the Bishop of Verona ceremoniously sealed and forwarded to the Vatican the formal papers nominating our family friend, Sandro Nottegar, as a candidate for sainthood.

And because I have written about Sandro a few times . . . well, it was those specific posts that were visited. It seems that the formal investigation has begun.

Wow. I am still in awe.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Choosing to Act

I am a cautious person. With decisions I ponder, mull, and consider all the facts.

And when it comes to questions of health, I don't like to take risks.

What am I talking about? Well, I have varicose veins AND venus reflux disease in my legs. There. I bet you didn't know that about me. Varicose veins...ugh. I even hate the words.

For years I simply ignored them and dressed accordingly: long, wide-legged pants, long skirts, stylish black tights in the winter, etc.

What I couldn't ignore was the fact was that they were painful, caused swelling, and were the reason for which, during my third pregnancy, I had a DVT (deep vein thrombosis) in my right leg.

But the time came when I was tired of dealing with them. I was tired of planning my wardrobe around them. I was tired of having to elevate them. I was tired of hearing myself complain about them. And I was tired, very tired, of being afraid to do something.

So I did something.

I was referred to a vascular surgeon who is an expert in the field of VNUS closure, a minimally invasive procedure that closes a defective vein using radio frequecy waves. Since he diagnosed venous reflux in seven of my superficial veins, he said that taking care of the problem veins in four surgical procedures would relieve the strain they were placing on my deep vein system (which, thankfully, is disease-free).

So yesterday I underwent the first of what will be three outpatient surgeries (we're still haggling with the insurance company about the 4th one).

And it was fine. My husband took me in at 6:15 a.m. for the procedure, and by 7:40 a.m. we were driving back home. My leg was bandaged from ankle to thigh, but this morning I took it off and, other than a single stitch and some tenderness, there was no bruising or swelling.

One down, three to go . . .

Will it help? So far, so good. My doctor says that I will thank him every day for the rest of my life . . . I plan to hold him to that.

For now I am content that I faced my fears and chose to do something.

And boy does that feel really, really good.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Can You Say Outhouse?

So here’s the thing, my three sweet boys
I was in your bathroom today.
But when I entered I lost my poise
and stood there in utter dismay.

I shouted out so all could hear,
Why, oh why can’t you boys aim?
Who is at fault? It’s really quite clear
There’s no one but you three to blame.

Now aiming is something I know you can do…
It’s done in sports, I assume.
So make your aim so straight and so true
Like an athlete…in the bathroom!

Indoor plumbing is a privilege, you know
Its comforts you must respect.
And when nature calls and you have to go
Into the bowl your piddle you’ll direct.

Or else.

Love, Mom

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dancing through Life in my Dansko Clogs

Have I mentioned my love affair with Dansko? Their clogs are comfortable (I wore them to climb the hills of Tuscany, to walk the cobblestone streets of Verona, and even to play football at the park), they are durable (I've had the brown pair for 6 years), they go with anything (except maybe an evening gown but, who knows, the potential is there), and they look great with a pair of jeans.

This year I have my eye on a red pair . . . just waiting for a sale, or a coupon, or maybe a free pair from Dansko.Com?

So, that's what makes my Monday . . . Dansko. Now go visit Cheryl for more Monday marvels.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tiny Marching Feet

ants in the pantry . . .

the fault of he-who-must-not-be-named who for some reason always feels the need to repack a half empty juice box back into his lunch box to bring home . . .

a little bit the fault of she-who-must-not-be-named who forgot to unpack his backpack . . .

i am creeped out . . .

i am in battle mode.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Competitive Monster Rears its Ugly Head

Sister is back for the third summer in a row, and the week has somehow developed into some kind of sports camp with every day offering an introduction to a different sport.

She watched We are Marshall. When we explained that it was based on a true story she insisted on staying up late to find out what happens. The funny thing is that because it was a school/work night, Joe and the boys went to bed early so it was just the two of us: one who didn't know a thing about football, and the other who didn't know much more.

She played pool . . . holding the cue stick in one hand like a javelin. Timothy loved playing with her because she thought it was perfectly fine to move balls around to more much convenient locations . . . like directly in front of the pockets.

She joined us in watching and cheering the track and field events during the World Championships.

And one rainy afternoon, with Joe at work and the boys in school, I decided to take her bowling.

First we picked out shoes. She looked very cute in her dress and bowling shoes and she couldn't stop giggling.

Then I helped her pick out a bowling ball. We decided that ten pounds was about right, and she giggled some more as I showed her which finger went in which hole.

We walked to our lane, and after spending more time then I should have signing us in on the computer scoreboard, I gave her some pointers and turned her loose.

She picked up her ball, walked to the line, came to a complete stop and swung her arm back and forth a couple of times, finally releasing the ball in mid air so that it landed with a loud thunk. It very s l o w l y rolled down the lane and . . . STRIKE!

I don't know who was more shocked.

Then, when she did it again her on very next turn, I had a very Grinch-like thought: How, how can a nun from Tanzania, who has never bowled in her life, beat me? I will never, ever hear the end of it from my boys.

I know, I know . . . very uncharitable of me, but being the sole female in a house full of males has turned me into a competitive monster. Very unbecoming.

So to make amends for my grinchiness, that evening she and I stayed up to watch the television version of Titanic, which had us boo-hooing in grand style.

And I felt much, much better.

Sister visiting Timothy's Kindergarten class.

Sister and Timothy.