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

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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Morning Conversation, BC (before cappuccino)

Timothy: Top Gear is, like, my favorite show. Both the American and the British one. I want a Lamborghini. Or maybe a Bentley. Do you know how fast a dragster goes? Well, it's like 220 miles an hour, or something. A Bugatti is cool, too. Let me see your iPhone and I'll show you a picture.

Me: Look. No more talking about cars. Between football and cars ... talk about other things.

Timothy: You just say that because you don't like cars. What kind of cars do you like, anyway?

Me: Smart Cars, Fiats, and Mini Coopers.

Timothy is speechless. How uncool could his mom be?

Me: Oh, and I also like vintage Vespas.

Timothy sighs. He has a lot of work to do to catch me up to speed.

NOTE: All these photos of smart cars were taken by yours truly when we were in Italy three years ago. It became a game. When we got home Timothy and I made a poster of all the Smart Cars we saw on our trip. Also note the last one ... a Red Cross Smart Car.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Happiness is ...

a son who calls home from college yesterday ... not because he needs anything or has a question ... but just to talk and tell me about his classes.

son #2 who drives his baby brother to school, and says the morning prayers with him in the car.

son #3 who still wants me (and only me) to go over his spelling words with him.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Proud of My Golfer

Notice the photo below. After Joe plays a round of golf, he leaves his scorecard on the kitchen table so we can oooh and aaah over his golf score. It's usually there for about a week.

But this particular scorecard is special. Inside is the evidence of a glorious round in which he shot a 75.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Missing a Presence

Today we dropped off our college sophomore at Clemson University.

And it's a strange thing, because despite being home for the summer, he wasn't. During the week he worked from 6:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. as an engineering intern, every Friday night he had a group of friends over to hang out (or he went out), on weekends there were beach trips and/or camping trips, and the times when he was home ... well, he was catching up on his sleep.

Basically, he flitted in and out and, really, seemed to be gone more than he was here.

So why, then, this evening when we are here and he is at Clemson, does the house feel so empty?

Settling in at Clemson ...
and enjoying the spaciousness of duplex-living.
Love you, Nicho!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Note for Timothy

Not as good as last year's Diary of Timothy the Kid, but tomorrow Timothy will find in his desk a little something from the files of very bad poetry by Bia.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"Just shoot me now."

Those were the words I was muttering this morning as I was running around trying to get our rising senior out the door at 9 a.m. for his senior portraits.

Is it just my boys, or do all boys compare having their picture taken with torture?

“I don’t feel like doing it,” he told me last week when I mentioned the appointment. “Why do we even have senior photos, anyway?”

“Well, yearbook and graduation announcements are just two reasons that come to mind,” I replied, very patiently.

Okay. He reluctantly agreed that it was necessary for the yearbook … the key word being reluctantly.

But then, THEN I happened to mention that our photography session – which was the MINI SESSION, mind you, and the smallest package offered – also included casual photos in addition to the graduation one. Of course this meant that we had to decide on a casual outfit which, believe me, was a PAIN because his idea of casual (a Celtics t-shirt) and my idea of casual (a striped button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up) were on totally opposite ends of the spectrum. As we were digging through his closet he then dared suggest that we just skip the casual photo, to which I put my foot down. Once I managed to drag him to the photography studio for a session which included casual photos in the basic fee, then by golly he was going to have those photos taken.

I think he realized I meant business, but that didn’t stop him from groaning that an additional outfit also meant more dumb posing and more dumb smiling and … well, torture.

By the time we left the house this morning, I wasn't perspiring … I was sweating. And thinking very un-Mommy-like thoughts.

As it turned out, it was all much ado about nothing. The entire session was quick, painless, and the photographer cracked some really corny jokes which had us all laughing. So WHY did Jonathan raise such a fuss? Who knows. Even Timothy, at one point, told him to quit being dumb (score one for baby brother!).

But wow! Did Jonathan ever look good! Formal shots … handsome. Casual shots (in the striped shirt because I won that battle) … handsome.

And my eyes got watery. You know, from all those bright lights and camera flashes.

And I didn't mention yesterday's back to school shopping ...
who knew buying shoes could be so stressful?

Monday, August 4, 2014

In His Own Words

Many of you know about our family vacation tradition in which the boys send postcards to themselves as a way of keeping a travel journal. A postcard is perfect because it's a picture of what they've visited, and the limited amount of space on the back keeps the torture journaling to a minimum. The older boys have outgrown this tradition, but Timothy is the perfect age.

Today, his postcards started arriving from last week's adventures ...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Road Trip, Day Eight: The End

Five states, eight days, 2,000 miles, and we are home. Some post trip observations ....

-Best barbecue? Kansas City is known for their barbecue; in fact, as you're walking around downtown you can smell it in the air. Mid-week we had lunch at Jack Stack Barbecue and -- oh my word -- heaven on a plate. For someone who is not a fan of barbecue, I was won over. Of course, you still get better iced tea in the south, so I'm not a total traitor.

-Best weather? The ENTIRE trip. Low eighties, no humidity, and nary a rain drop.

-Most scenic state? We logged over 2,000 miles on our van and, hands down, the most scenic part of the trip was through Tennessee. Mountains, valleys, lakes ... gorgeous. Not to say that Illinois and Kentucky weren't beautiful, too, but a corn field is a corn field.

-Best prediction after the fact? Timothy's fortune cookie which stated that a few extra bucks could be floating in his direction. This was ironic in light of that fact we had just toured the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, and upon exiting everyone was given a small sack of shredded money.

-Best photo? No doubt, the one I took of Timothy near the end of our two hour tour of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. My sister in law mentioned that it reminded her of Rodin's sculpture, The Thinker. Well, wouldn't you know that one of the originals of The Thinker was there at the entrance of this museum! And Lisa is right ... I can see a resemblance. I also saw a distinct resemblance with Giant Crying which we saw at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

"Boy in an Art Museum"
"Giant Crying"
"The Thinker"
And that's it. Home. Am I glad to be back? Truthfully, no. Reality bites because school starts a week from Monday and I have done absolutely nothing to prepare. No pencils or notebooks, no teacher supplies or backpacks, no school uniforms. Timothy's shorts from last year are veritable hot pants, his long pants are shorts, and his shoes are so holey they can be flip flops. I am in BIG TROUBLE. When we were in Kansas City I did think ahead and purchase Timothy one pair of blue pants at Target. Good, yes? Good, no. The only pair left was a size 14 Husky; the size 14 fits length-wise, but the husky part ... have you seen how skinny our little guy is? But this is how I look at it ... a pair of pants size 14 Husky is better than no pants at all.

Sigh. And then there is our senior who needs to have his senior photos taken, a college sophomore to take to school, a husband who will be traveling the next two out of three weeks, and ...

See? I need another vacation already.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Road Trip, Day Seven: Messing with Siri

Greetings tonight from Nashville! We decided to make this our stopping point on the way home. We booked a hotel that was near the Opryland Hotel, the Grand Old Opry and Opry Mills, figuring that we could walk around after we checked in.


What we didn’t figure on was the TAX FREE WEEKEND and the fact that the entire population of Nashville descended on this very area to take advantage of those back to school specials.


Talk about traffic. Yikes. After nine hours of driving the last thing you want is to be stuck in traffic. Our waiter at dinner tonight told us that the police actually closed the parking lot around the Grand Ole Opry because it was filled … and let me tell you, that parking lot is huge!  Luckily things calmed down after dinner and we did walk around a little.


Not much else to say except this . . . we’ve been having a little fun at Siri’s expense. You know, Siri who lives in the iPhone. Joe especially finds her annoying when we are using the GPS; in fact, he doesn’t completely trust her. There have been many times Siri is providing directions, and Joe will say that can’t be right and then does his own thing while Siri is stumbling around trying to recalculate. Siri also doesn’t like it when we stop at a rest area. She goes crazy.


At one point during our trip we stopped for lunch at Panera, and Joe slipped his iPhone in his pocket totally forgetting that the GPS was on. Then inside, as Joe was walking around, Siri’s voice emanated from his pocket telling him to run right, no left, then right again.  We found this incredibly funny.


We’re baaaad, but with these long car drives … after a while everything is funny.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Road Trip, Day Six: Good, Better, Best

Good, better, best … that’s how our morning museum experience went.


Good was the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City where the highlight was walking out with a bag of shredded money.


Better was the Kemper Contemporary Museum of Art which, being contemporary art, sparked deep, profound discussions:
~That’s just a blue square. Anyone could do that.
~Mom, come here and look. This is just so weird.
~Look at this porcupine made out of old tires.
~You mean you just sit here in this room and watch a video of a pigeon playing in the fountain? I mean, how is that even art?


Standing in front of Crying Giant
at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Best was The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art with its ionic columns, marble staircases, interior courtyard, grand galleries, and masterpieces from all over the world. Really, one of the best American art museums I’ve been to. Just wandering through the galleries, immersing myself in art and beauty, brought out my emotional side.

Stupid, I know. But it’s like a part of me that I didn’t know was dormant suddenly awakened and the feelings were so intense. Like I said, stupid, but that’s just me.


At one point we walked into a gallery and I immediately called the boys over.


“That painting across the room is done in the style of chiaroscuro,” I explained. “Chiaro means light, scuro means dark, and this style of painting is about the subtleties of light and dark. The painter Caravaggio was famous for this, and his subjects would often be highlighted by a bright light of which the source was unknown.”


I know this because Caravaggio is one of my favorite painters.


We walked over to get a closer look, and … oh my gosh! ... it was a Caravaggio! Out of a room full of paintings I zeroed in on one of my favorite artists. Evidently, this is one of only a few original works of Caravaggio in an American collection, which is why St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness is one of the museum’s most prized masterpieces.


Okay. End of art lesson. We were in there over two hours, and during that time I created my own masterpiece. It’s entitled: 

Little Boy in an Art Museum (2014), a photo by his mother.

Timothy + two hours in an art museum = art overload

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
They had to drag me out.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, we ended our day with a Sporting KC soccer game. It was our first time attending a professional soccer match, and somehow ... I mean, I could be wrong ... but I think the boys probably liked this better than the good/better/best museum experience.