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

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Contingency Plans

Timothy: If I go to confession on Christmas Eve, will that clear me with Santa, too?

And I'm not sure what to think of this question. Is he ...

a. Planning to misbehave?
b. Clever?
c. Confused?

And then there's this ... why wait until Christmas Eve to confess? Is he worried about confessing too early and then having to account for his behavior during the period up until Christmas Eve? And why is he thinking about this now, in November?

Questions, questions ...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

You Got Mail (Just Not the Kind You Want)

Yesterday afternoon Jonathan gets the mail, and as he's walking back down the driveway yells, "Hey Timothy, you got some mail!"

Timothy is beside himself with excitement. A letter? An early Christmas card? A package?

"I got mail!" he yells.

He runs up the driveway to meet Jonathan, who hands him this ...


Don't ask me why we get the Barbie Holiday Gift Guide, because I couldn't tell you. Weird, I know.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Modern Fairy Tale

Once upon a time (last week) a family had a working television and a broken DVD player.

This was a problem because the lady of the house (me) needed a DVD player for all her exercise videos. So the man of the house (Joe) ran to Best Buy, purchased a new DVD player, and returned home to install it.

Things were going smoothly until there was a little crash.

Actually, it was a HUGE crash because a television falling upside down onto the floor makes a lot of noise.

The situation had flip-flopped -- gone topsy-turvy! The family now had a working DVD player ... and a broken television.

Huh. Go figure. The lady of the house (me, again) still couldn't access her videos, and the boys (big and little) couldn't use the Wii (which, according to them, was a monumental problem). As for the man of the house, he was secretly happy because he had been wanting a flat screen television for the longest time.

So the man of the house (who may or may not have accidentally on purpose bumped the television) ran out again, this time to Costco, and purchased a new one.

Now the family had a working television and a working DVD player at the same time.

And everyone lived happily ever after.

The End.


"Mom! Look what Dad did!"

Timothy was given free reign to study, pull apart, and dismantle.

The Wii is up and running.
Also the DVD player.
No photos of me working out, though.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Life Lately: Cappuccino lipstick, day trips, and overnight ones, too (in 7 quick takes)

~1~ I am wired that way

I am not making this up. Last week I was rummaging through my makeup samples and came across a full tube of lipstick. Now, I am not a lipstick kind of gal, preferring instead tinted lip balm. But this Ulta lipstick had a pretty neutral color and I so decided to give it a try.

After a week of using (and liking) it, this morning for the first time I turned it over to see what it was called.

And would you believe ... really, this is so true ... that it was called cappuccino???

There you have it. If I'm not drinking a cappuccino, then I am wearing it.

~2~ I was wearing lipstick because ...

I had a date with my husband. And how do I know he loves me? This morning he volunteered (really, no coercion on my part) to accompany me to Christmas Made in the South. For those of you non-locals, this once-a-year event takes place in our Civic Center and features arts and craft vendors from all over the southeast. Picture, if you will, my husband wandering around here:

Make no mistake about it, people, that's true love. I think Joe was one of only TWO members of the male species I saw wandering among the booths featuring wreaths, Christmas ornaments, pottery, wooden signs, jewelry, and clothes.

He was a good sport. Of course, all the free sample of cinnamon pecans, hot chocolate, apple cider, and fudge kept him happy.

~3~ And who doesn't like wandering through Costco?

After exploring all the vendors at the Civic Center, we walked around downtown, had lunch at Giuseppe's, and wandered up and down the aisles of Costco where they were even giving out free samples of coffee (not in itty bitty cups, mind you, but full sized ones). Whoa. We bought some apples and some muffins.

~4~ The reason I purchased the giant Costco muffins ...

Wait. I should clarify. These are giant muffins, but GARGANTUAN muffins. Anyway, I selected a package containing half a dozen apple crumb muffins, but upon checking out the cashier said the price included TWO packages, and so I went back and got another half dozen chocolate muffins.

The muffins are a breakfast treat for our day trip to Charleston tomorrow.

~5~ I [heart] day trips.

Really, one of my favorite things to do is pick a place and make a day of it. Nothing complicated. Just a day out of town, driving, exploring, and returning in the evening tired but very content. Tomorrow we're exploring Charleston.

~6~ But overnight trips are fun, too.

Especially if it's an all girl one. In early December my mom, my sister and I are going on an overnight trip to Asheville, NC to take a candlelight tour of the Biltmore House. If you want to get in the Christmas spirit, visit the Biltmore House during the holidays.

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Chrstmscndlght 564-christmasentrance 850x563

~7~ And finally,
a friendly reminder
because it will be here before you know it ...

Advent, that is. The first Sunday of Advent is December 1, which this year means you will still be eating turkey leftovers when it's time to light that first candle. So, be prepared. Pull out that wreath. Plan ahead, because the Advent wreath is a beautiful faith tradition. There is beauty and solemnity in the lighting of a candle, and when we gather as a family around our Advent wreath to pray, we become part of a ritual as old as time itself.

Advent wreath 2012
Advent wreath 2010

My all-time favorite Advent "wreath" made with a piece of wood from
a corncrib and some rusty mattress coils.

*Now, go visit Jen at Conversion Diary where she talks about a six word novel. Really? Evidently it's true.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sorting through Emotions

At the end of Mass this past Saturday our pastor announced that a priest recently assigned to our parish was placed on administrative leave due to theft of tuition payments in our parish. And just like I do whenever I need to sort out something, I write ...
A few months ago a new priest was assigned to our parish, and the first time our family met him was during confession one Saturday evening before Mass. As a family, receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation is something we do periodically; it is said that confession is good for the soul, but it also does wonders for the family. When we are out of sorts with each other, or going through a period in which the hectic pace of our schedules interferes with basic kindnesses in the home, a good confession puts us right with God, and with each other.
That evening, as we sat in line waiting our turn, I was in a bad place. Our oldest was about to leave for college, and I was having conflicting emotions about him going away. In recent weeks he had been moody and taciturn; the same son who would come up behind me and give me a hug, now spoke to us only when necessary. What was going on? Why was he being so difficult? Would he take away to college all the lessons on faith my husband and I tried to instill in him, or would he forget it all? I was also angry with him -- and by him I lumped together my son, God, and even (for no reason whatsoever) my husband. In short, I felt flawed! I made so many mistakes! I could have been so much better!

I entered that confessional a complete and total mess.
And I presented all this to our new priest. Because I was mindful of others waiting in line, I didn’t go into great detail, but he amazingly sorted through my emotions and went straight to the heart of the matter. His words swept away all the clutter until I could see clearly again. He gave me a suggestion, he said a prayer.
When I finished, I knelt in prayer in the church and, after a few minutes, my husband came out of the confessional and knelt beside me, followed by son #1, then son #2, and finally son #3. We all were filled with grace that evening.

My point in telling this story is this: As I was sitting in the stunned silence of the church this past Saturday night, I again found myself sorting through emotions. Betrayal? Yes. Disappointment? Most certainly. Sorrow? Definitely. There were some tears. But I also knew that I could not and would not judge him. Nor would I summarily dismiss him as a bad person.  There are so many levels of guilt and culpability, and add to that the fact that life is complicated  -- that humans are complicated – there is just no way we will ever be able to understand it all while we are on this earth.
Sometimes good people do bad things. I’m not talking about the kind of evil that festers and burrows deep into the soul, or the kind that smiles to the world during the day and then does terrible harm in the darkness of the night. No, what I am I’m talking about is when good people stray.

Am I condoning what this priest did? Absolutely not.  Am I defending him? No. What he did was wrong. But I am choosing not to be judgmental. I don’t know his story and I don’t know why he did what he did. The only thing I do know is one Saturday evening he was the instrument of grace for my entire family and, for now, I’ll hold on to that goodness.
Because it was there.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A word from the sidelines ...

Jonathan, Joe, and Joe's golfing buddy are sitting
in the family room watching Penn State football.
Look how I created an ambience ...

Blue and white clashes a little with autumn colors,
but I think I made it work!

THEN, the second I walked into the room ...
Penn State scored a touchdown.
Yeah, me!
Timothy, Beaver Stadium.
I made some flatbread pizza and put out this spread.

Flatbread pizza ... three different ways.
I may not like to sit and watch football ...
but I'm a good cheerleader. Yes?


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

To Love Another Person is to See the Face of God

Sharing a moment -- a laugh, a story, a compliment -- with a complete stranger reaffirms for me the wonderful interconnectedness of humanity.

Recently I was a woman on a mission. I had exactly five minutes to run into Publix, figure out what to fix for dinner, pray for a short check-out lane, jump back in the car and head to carpool line, pray that the traffic cooperates, pick up the boys, run home . . . the list went on and on. It was one of those days.

Chicken fingers, I decided. Rushing to the deli counter I got there at the same time as another man. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, but I was so busy mentally going over my to-do list that I didn't even acknowledge him.

"Who's next?" asked the Publix attendant.

I looked at the older gentleman standing next to me.

"Oh, you're prettier than I am," he said graciously. "Please, you go."

A laugh just bubbled out of me. I thanked him and placed my order of 15 chicken fingers, remembered that I was picking up my son from practice, and changed the order to 20 chicken fingers.

The man laughed.

"How do you suppose she keeps her trim figure eating all that?" he asked the Publix attendant.

Later, when I was telling this story to the family during dinner, I had to convince them that a) the man wasn't senile, and b) that he could see just fine thank-you-very-much. Oh, the teasing was all in good fun but, really, there is a visceral beauty in reaching out to others in kindness, warmth, and good-will.

Mark Twain once said that he could live for two months on a good compliment and, while I don't know about two months, I do know that my stranger's kind words certainly put a spring in my step and changed the course of the rest of my day. I slowed down, I remembered to breathe, I wasn't late for anyone or anything.

And dinner was great.

A moment with a stranger was all it took for time to stand still . . . allowing me to marvel at the interconnectedness of it all.

*Post title from the lyrics in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cozy up to Fall ...

(Invite some friends and have everyone bring a crockpot of their favorite soup ... everyone shares.)