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

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

Friday, August 31, 2012

Life Lately: Oreos at Mass, Synchronized Swimming, Frizz Reduction

1. Oreos at Mass: Fridays are when the third graders attend Mass, so today Joe and I decided to go and surprise our little guy. He sat sandwiched between us, and after communion he whispers, "They must have mixed oreos with the host because that's what it tasted like."

I didn't even know how to respond to that one.

2. Games at Mass: Every Sunday, after communion is over, our two oldest sons (a sophomore and a senior) do this thing: they pick up the hymnal, open it at random, and then wait until the hymn is announced to see who was closest. This involves whispering, grinning, flipping pages, and (sometimes) a fist pump.

They're being goofy, and I should probably say something, but it's something the two of them share so I leave them alone.

3. Frizz Reduction: Most of you know about my hair which has this teeny tendency to frizz when it's humid (which, living in the south, is pretty much all the time). I've discovered a product that helps. Mind you, it doesn't solve the problem, but it helps ... kinda sorta.

Kinda sorta is good enough for me.



4. Ten Pounds and Counting. Enough said.

5. Laugh Out Loud Funny.



6.  Suddenly I'm Popular. With our eldest up to his eyebrows in college applications, he has a new found appreciation for his mom, the writer. I am the Proofreading Queen, the Topic Sentence Guru, and the Idea Lady.

7. When I'm 80, I hope I'm Having this Much Fun.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

La Nonna Moderna ... in her own words

So, in Monday's post I poked fun at my mom, the "modern" Nonna.  She immediately wrote a long comment, but accidentally deleted it when she tried to submit it.

So then she emailed me her response and wanted me to post it in the comment section.

But I thought it deserved its own post. So here's my Mom, la Nonna Moderna, in her own words ...

Ma-va-la'!!! Modern nonna....How can anyone accuse me of becoming a modern nonna? Have you all forgotten the struggle and confusion that I face when I am confronted with all of these modern gadgets ? I thought that the purpose of modern tecnology was to make life easier, not a nightmare!!!!

Take the cell phone for example. My old one was so easy to use: when it rang I just lifted the top and begin to speak. That's it. Basta. Now I have a new one. I liked it from the beginning because it has a modern, pretty fuscia color and I was promised that I could do sooooo many things with it.

But there is a problem....my fingers don't seem to be quick enough or gentle enough to do anything with it. Just trying to make a phone call is a disaster. First I have to push a button on the side of the gadget. Then I am ordered to slide the finger up the surface to unlock it and to find the picture of a green telephone. But the picture of the green telephone slides up too fast and disappears. So I try to slide the finger down searching for the little green phone, but a number of strange icons appear and I don't know what to do. With great frustration I push a couple of buttons (sometimes this helps) but all of a sudden all colors disappear and a strange message in black and white fills the screen with the words "Are you sure you want to do this?" .

Mamma Mia!!!! I need every other Sunday off to concentrate on my new telephone.....
Nonna and Nonno with all nine of their grandchildren
November 2011

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Wall Report

Every day I pick up our little guy from school, and every day I ask the same question, "So, how was your day?"

And every day Timothy begins by saying, "Okay."

Then there is a dramatic pause because what he is about to tell me is huge. Monuemental. Earth shattering.  

I am about to get ... The Wall Report.

The wall is where students go when they have misbehaved in class. And because you're on the wall during recess, when everyone else is running around with clear consciences, it's considered to be a painful experience.

So, every day I hear about who was on the wall, for how long, and why. It's a veritable soap opera at our Catholic school. Why, just last week (the first full week of school, mind you) someone was on the wall the entire recess. That was worthy of a Wall Report which lasted the entire drive home.

Now, lest you think our little guy is immune, he's not. Last Friday he was on the wall for five minutes.

Whew. Five minutes I can handle. If it had been for the entire recess ... then I'd be worried.



Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday's Letter: Nonna's "Modern" Tradition

This summer I started a tradition of writing a weekly email to my sister and brother. Although we see each other several times a year and speak regularly on the phone, this was my way of saying that life may be busy, but not too busy for them. They are, after all, my sister and brother.

Dear Ua and David,

Yesterday, being Sunday, was all about church and lunch with i nonni.

Lunch is an established tradition by now, one which Mom started many years ago when she suggested that we eat together every Sunday. I was all for it; after all,  some of our best childhood memories involve il pranzo around Nonna's table.

"Good, it will be a beautiful tradition," says Mom, when I agreed. "We'll take turns, one Sunday at our house, then the next Sunday at your house."

I stared at her.

I had been sandbagged. Hoodwinked. Bamboozled.

"But NONNA used to cook every Sunday!" I protested. "THAT was the tradition! Lunch at NONNA'S ... which is now YOU!"

"Well," says Mom, very pragmatically. "I am a modern Nonna."

And so, just like that, a new and "modern" tradition began.

Yesterday was my Sunday. I may have been tricked into this, but it's actually worked out fine, mainly because I don't even feel guilty anymore when Mom goes all out with her meals, and I ... well, sometimes I don't. Like yesterday: Italian Muffuletta , tomato/cucumber salad, asiago and sun-dried tomato potato chips, and torta di mele served with espresso. That's it. I assembled the muffuletta in two seconds, threw everything else on the table, and ... finito! At least that was better than the time I ordered Little Caesar's.

What can I say? Sometimes I don't feel like cooking.

And if Mom can be "modern" ... well, so can I.

Too bad you guys don't live closer because then we could ALL take turns.

That's it for today, except that, just like I predicted, Timothy had his first-back-to-school-reality-hits-meltdown on Thursday evening. He was tired, he was hungry, school was dumb, and he was not going to eat the green peas because everyone knows green peas are gross. Sheesh. Early bedtime that night.

Maybe he needs some Avengers light-up sneakers like Ethan's.

Hugs, kisses, and all that jazz,
Bia

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Today

Today I purchased a book of selected poems by Robert Frost.

Now close the windows and hush all the fields;
  If the trees must, let them silently toss;
No bird is singing now, and if there is,
  Be it my loss.

I remember, as a little girl, I liked to find poetry in words.  I would come across a single word, or a phrase, and listen for the music and rhythm. Chattanooga Choo Choo, for example. I’d say the words over and over again, listening to the sounds which, the faster you said them, made you sound like a train.

I was fascinated how a single word would be so perfect that you couldn’t imagine any other in its place. Mr. Mistoffelees, for example. When I saw Cats at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, I thought that
T. S. Eliot was brilliant when he chose Mr. Mistoffelees as the name for the original conjuring cat: He can pick any card from a pack,/ He is equally cunning with dice;/ He is always deceiving you into believing/ that he’s only hunting for mice.  Mr. Mistoffelees … really, how perfectly perfect.
 
One day I tried to explain to my boys how a single word can be poetic. To illustrate, I used the Italian word for blue, azzurro. Listen how the word just rolls off your tongue. Doesn’t it just sound like the color of an ocean wave lapping along the shore? To compare, I offered them the French word for the same color, bleu, which (to me) sounds like someone is gagging. To be clear, there is poetry in both words, but azzurro would be the color of the ocean along the Amalfi Coast, whereas bleu would be the color of the bubble gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe.

In college, I took a class on poetry. The textbook we used was The Norton Anthology of Poetry, and I lugged that thing with me everywhere for an entire semester. It was a challenging class, and I loved every minute of it. I can still hear the professor as he read to us, his voice soaring and plummeting and dancing to the poetry of the words. It was musical, it was magical.

Today I purchased a book of selected poems by Robert Frost.

And there has been poetry in my day.

It will be long ere the marshes resume,
  It will be long ere the earliest bird:
So close the windows and not hear the wind,
  But see all wind-stirred.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Not Sure How to React

"Mom," says Timothy. "I need to wear deodorant."

I look at him. He's just three days into third grade.

"Deodorant," I say. "Why do you need deodorant?"

"Because," he says, with a grin that is all boy. "After recess my armpits were so slippery. It was like water."

To be grossed out, or amused? That is the eternal question for a Mom of boys.

He lifts up his skinny arm to show me his armpit, and I go with amused.

AND a big, sloppy kiss.
Chesapeake Bay, MD
Summer 2011

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bia, the Olympian


I have Olympic fever.
For someone who seldom watches television, I have been glued to the set since Friday's Opening Ceremony. Whether it's the winter or the summer Olympics, I love watching every sport, hearing every human interest story, and crying over every awards ceremony.
AND I so want to be an Olympic athlete.

Am I too old? NONSENSE! I just need to pick the right sport.
Like archery ... doesn't matter how old you are, precision is precision. And there is nothing wrong with my eyesight.
Anyone out there want to train me in archery? I'm dedicated, smart, determined, and I am willing to work hard. I will make you chicken and polenta every weekend.
And it would make a GREAT human interest story: La Dolce Vita Mom of Three Sons Defies Odds, Makes U.S. Olympic Team.
Any interested trainers and sponsors can e-mail me. Time is of the essence. I have four years to get ready and time starts ... now.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty

Yesterday I wrote about our summer of college campus tours, all of which have been fun, informative, and have shown our son a future bright with opportunities. It was our way to showcase the great big world out there, and to have our son see himself as a vibrant part of it.

I realize this may sound idealistic, perhaps even naïve, but knowing what is out there is a great place to start. It’s great to have choices (they are gifts!) but we also know choices eventually whittle down until, ultimately, decisions need to be made.  
This, then, is the nitty gritty part of life in which we ponder, weigh, compare, analyze, formulate, calculate, and question. So, while we want our son to reach for the stars, we also want to teach him the practical aspects on how to navigate in order to get there. And there are so many things to take into consideration.
First and foremost, finances. Our son has a good life. He lives in a nice house, he goes to a private school, he has traveled to Europe, and he has a loving, supportive family. But part of being a good steward of God’s gifts is not taking anything for granted, and my husband and I are not going to just hand him four years wrapped up with a nice, neat bow; rather, he is very involved in the financial aspects of his college education. He knows we will help (a lot), but he also knows that there is the entire family to consider and that he has another brother who is just two years behind.
Location is another consideration. How far away is too far away, and how close is too close? We laugh about this sometime, and on bad days Joe and I think, Alaska is good. We also have to consider that fact that Georgia offers the Hope Scholarship (tuition is mostly covered if a certain grade point average is maintained), and while this is a huge incentive for choosing to stay in-state, it’s just that, an incentive, and not a done deal.
Then there is gut instinct, that visceral reaction which should never be ignored.  There have been campus visits in which, right away, we just didn’t feel it. It wasn’t something specific, just a feeling. On the flip side, we knew we were on to something when we heard our son say, “I can see myself going here.”
Oh, there is more to decide and consider. We could go on and on about student loans, meal plans, early admission … ay, ay, ay.
On our dining room table is a huge black box with hanging files containing scholarship information, application deadlines, essay prompts, and test scores. The nitty gritty in all its glory. We look at the box, and yes, each of those files is calling for a decision to be made, but here’s the thing: we don’t need to make all the decisions at once.
Know what, then see where.
Decide where, and then work on the how.
And through it all we pray, which helps the nitty gritty not seem so … nitty gritty.