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

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

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Making the Grade (or trying to)

The end of May. Finally. While at times it seemed the last 31 days flew by, in reality the month seemed to never end.

It was as if I were caught in a riptide . . . being pulled here . . . being pushed there. I never felt as if I were on terra firma.

And that's not a good feeling. Not at all.

But I do this to myself, and it's a mistake I make over and over . . . and yes, over again: I let the busyness of life take control, and when that happens, instead of me stepping forward to greet the day, I let it rush towards me in a frenzy and take over.

This is nothing new. I have been here before, and I know that the only solution is to be grounded in prayer . . . to be centered . . . to surrender it all. Only then can I live each day to its fullest.

It's a simple lesson, and you would think that I would have gotten it by now, but lately, in the classroom of my spirituality, my grade is a big, fat "F".

What's really sad is that I know I need my quiet prayer time. I know it. Really. So why don't I do something that I know is good for me? I still haven't come up with an answer for that one.

However, God is good because with today's lesson comes some added inspiration from Cathy over at A Bit of the Blarney who shares this quote:

Build yourself a cell in your heart, and retire there to pray.
-St. Catherine of Siena

So, I am given this lesson again . . . hopefully I won't have to be reminded for a while. But I am not discouraged because God, in His infinite patience and love, gives me the grace to want to try again.

And maybe, just maybe, that will get me an "A" for effort . . . or at least a "B+".

La Verna
Franciscan Monastery in the heart of Tuscany
where St. Francis received his stigmata

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cafe', Cafe', Cafe' Paulista

My mother is the eldest of three daughters. When my mother married her handsome americano, her two sisters were still young girls. As a result, when I was growing up my aunts seemed more like older sisters to me.

They were Italian, they were beautiful, they had lots of friends, and they had boyfriends. Need I say more? I wanted to be Paola and Tiziana when I grew up.

Today is Paola's birthday . . . Paola with the most beautiful hair, jet black and shiny, cut in a razor sharp bob that makes her look like Cleopatra. Her boyfriend, Silvio, drove a motorcycle, and nothing was more thrilling than accompanying them around Verona to the mercato, to visit Silvio's family, to purchase a small gift at Standa, Upim, or Coin.

(Paola and me, Verona 1967)

When I received my First Communion I did so in the same church in which my parents married, and the same priest who officiated their wedding ceremony also said Mass for my First Communion.

My Nonna planned a huge celebratory pranzo at a local restaurant, and Paola made 30 place cards for that pranzo, each one capturing a unique characterstic about the person.

There was Renato, a farmer, who loved the whole image of the cowboy americano so much that my parents once brought him a real cowboy hat from Texas and cowboy boots from the American base in Vicenza.

Then there was Sig. Pasquali who loved food, loved wine, loved life. When my brother was baptized, Sig. Pasquali later performed his own ceremony and baptized him again . . . this time with wine to make him an official italiano.

I had the crown because, in my long First Communion dress, I was princess for a day.

My Nonna's card depicted her as an astronaut because she loved to travel. That card turned out to be prophetic because years later, on her first trip to the U.S., she witnessed the launch of a space shuttle in the early morning hours from the balcony of our condo in Florida. It was such an emotional moment for her.

(some of the place cards for my First Communion pranzo, Verona 1975)

So, Paola, grazie for being someone I could look up to. Thank you for your notes and gifts through the years. Thank you for being more like a sister to me than an aunt.

Tanti auguri . . . and I still want your hair.

Bacioni, Bia

Thursday, May 21, 2009

8 Reasons Why I'm Behind in Blogging

1. Mother's Day luncheon sponsored by Timothy's Preschool

2. Work-sponsored Augusta Greenjackets Baseball Game

3. Field Day at St. Mary-on-the-Hill Catholic School

4. Evening of the Arts featuring students' artwork

(the Philadelphia Eagle by Nicholas)

(Smileys Gone Wild by Jonathan)

5. The birth of my nephew, Peter Joseph

6. Preschool Graduation

7 . 8th grade graduation

8. Thinking about a cell phone, getting advice on teens and cell phones, researching cell phone plans, purchasing and presenting the graduate with his very own cell phone.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Channeling Oscar the Grouch

Looking at the contents of my Target shopping cart, this song popped into my head:

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

-Sesame Street

Contents of my shopping cart:

graduation cards
AA batteries for camera
wrapping paper
tissue paper
coordinating ribbons
one large gift bag
gift card
80-ct bottle of Advil liqui-gels

Monday, May 18, 2009

Room 404

8:30 p.m.

Dear Peter,
Shhh. Your Mommy is sleeping and your Daddy went home to take care of your brothers. I'm glad to have this chance to get know you; of course, I wish your Mom still wasn't so sick from a complicated cesarean. I wish she still wasn't in the hospital. But she's strong, and despite the vertigo, nausea, vomiting and extreme headache she still gathers her strength to feed you every 2-3 hours. And tonight, between those feedings, I've got you all to myself. So hello, I'm your auntie.

10:00 p.m.

Dear Peter,
Holding you over my shoulder is like holding a football with scrunched up arms and legs. Of course, at 10 lbs. 4 oz. you were born a linebacker. You had the hospital nursery scrambling to find clothes that fit you . . . all their onesies stretched across your chest like a muscle shirt. But I like chubby babies, and speaking of which, you're hungry, so let's go wake up Mommy.

10:37 p.m.

Dear Peter,
With your poor Mommy struggling, it's very nice of you to nurse so well and so quickly . . . your Mommy is already asleep again. Oh! Wow! That wasn't a burp. That was a belch worthy of any truck driver. I think you're going to fit in just nicely with all the boys in this family. Good job.

11:17 p.m.

Dear Peter,
Since your bilirubin is too high, and since your bassinet is equipped to provide you with phototherapy, in the darkened room you have become our night light. You are a blue, glowing ET.


Dear Peter,
I know it's already been two hours since you last ate, but let's see if we can give your Mom a little more time. Come here. I'm going to sit back like so, and you can curl on my chest. Do you hear my heartbeat? I can hear your soft breathing and I can hear your Mom's IV drip, but that's all. It's very quiet and peaceful. Times like this is when you can hear God whispering.

1:14 a.m.

Dear Peter,
You let your Mom sleep an extra hour; not only that, but you and I slept for another hour. Now, finally, let's get you fed.

5:11 a.m.

Dear Peter,
Thank you, my little nipote. All through the night and into the early morning hours this big, complicated world was reduced so that it was just you and me in Room 404. I am so glad we had this time together.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Life is Good

A new baby.
On earth.
What could be more joyous.

Welcome, Peter Joseph.
Welcome to this world.

Information on an as needed basis

Me, to our four-year old: Today Aunt Laura is going to have her baby!!

Timothy: Really?! Today?!

pause, pause,pause

Timothy: So, is it just going to pop straight out of her?

Me: Er . . . something like that.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Slowest Line

It was early December, and for whatever reasons our entire family had been snippy with each other for several weeks . . . especially at the dinner table.

Finally, enough was enough. I knew we all needed something, so on a Monday I announced that we were going to Thursday's Advent Reconciliation Service.

Thursday came, and I didn't remember about the service until we were cleaning up after dinner. We had thirty minutes, and I all but threw every single member of my family into the minivan. We were going to confession if it killed us.

At the church, we found ourselves in Fr. Bob's line. I had never met this Fransiscan priest, but my parents knew him well. I also knew he was very spiritual so I figured he was what my family needed.

But as luck would have it, his was also the slowest line.

The line next to us, Fr. Tom's line, was moving along quite briskly. But not us. We shuffled, sighed, leaned against the wall, and considered jumping lines.

But we were meant to be in that line because we were meant to go to Fr. Bob.

One by one we entered that room and spent a few, quiet, soul searching minutes with this gentle soul.

And one by one we exited . . . spiritually whole again.

Once we were back in the van, before my husband even started the engine, everyone was hugging, and apologizing, and laughing, and crying, and rejoicing.

We went on to have a wonderful Advent season, and to this day I am grateful to Fr. Bob for showing us how to be a family again.

(Thanks to Laura over at Catholic Teacher Musings for hosting this tribute to honor Vocations Sunday.)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

2009 Video: May Feelings II

Do you have goosebumps? Just perfect for May, the month of Mary. You can see the video from 2008 here. Muchas gracias, Juan Varela!