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

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

Friday, March 27, 2015

Joe wants to go to the mall. Huh?!

Last night Joe announced that he needed to go to the mall.

STOP. Joe never wants to go to the mall. Never, ever. He HATES the mall. In his mind the mall should have been one of Dante's circles of Hell. But he had a Dick's Sporting Goods gift card and decided that Friday, his day off, would be the perfect time to use it.

Who was I to argue? I was not letting this golden opportunity slip by.

So after the boys left for school this morning, we got ready to go to the mall. I was ridiculously excited ... which is a little pathetic, I know, but it was a date! And not just any date ... a MALL date. Like we were in high school, or something! For the occasion I even straightened my hair and wore TWO coats of mascara.

We got to the mall shortly after it opened, and after coordinating our cell phones so we could meet later, he headed for Dick's to purchase some golf stuff while I headed to Macy's with a fistful of coupons.

Fifteen minutes later he calls and asks me if I'm done.

"Done with what?" I asked, a little breathlessly because I was trying on jeans. "Aren't you at Dick's?"

"I'm done. I got a golf hat, a golf glove, and a dozen golf balls," he replied. "Do you want me to drive around and pick you up at Macy's?"

Fifteen minutes. He purchased all that in fifteen minutes and he was done. Finito.

Evidently his idea of a mall outing was not my idea of a mall outing. At all. Not even close. And because it was 10:20 it wasn't like we could go and have lunch, either.

But all was not lost. On the way to meet him I quickly ran into JCPenny with a $10 coupon that was expiring tomorrow (the kind with no minimum purchase required!) and five minutes later I had a brand new pair of earrings that, after the sale, special promotion and my $10 coupon, cost me $1.30.

And I wore them all the way home.

He may not be a mall-kind-of-guy,
but he is a watch-a-movie-on-a-rainy-afternoon kind of guy  ...
and that is just fine with me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Like Sands through the Hourglass ...

"Hey Mom," says our little guy. "There's a rumor going around that Susie Q has a crush on me."

As he's talking to me he's breaking the no-balls-in-the-house rule by bouncing a basketball in the kitchen, but I ignore this rule infraction in light of the fact that I am getting the scoop on playground gossip. Soap operas are wimpy in comparison to the high drama that occurs on the school playground, so I'm all ears.

"Is this the same Susie Q who always tattles on you?" I ask. "The one who you think is so bossy?"

"Yup," he replies, bouncing the basketball AND popping an Oreo into his mouth.

"Well, you know, sometimes when a girl likes a boy she will pretend the exact opposite," I explain. "In fact, she may even go out of her way to either ignore him or be especially rude to him."

He thinks about this. It's deep stuff. Complicated.

"Well, she must definitely have a crush on me then," he says. "That's really gross."

But he's grinning from ear to ear, so I know that he doesn't think it's gross at all. He grabs another cookie, makes me SWEAR not to tell his brothers, and he and his basketball head out the back door.

Like I said ... playground drama.

And so are the Days of our Lives.

Friday, March 20, 2015

When something is too good to be true ... sometimes it IS true!

A few months ago I visited a new web site which offers custom dresses for women. Basically, after selecting one of five suggested dress silhouettes, you are taken through a step-by-step process in which you can select the neckline, sleeve length, skirt style, and fabric of your dress. The fabric colors they suggest complement your hair, skin and eye coloring, all of which you provide during a preliminary questionnaire (along with bust, height, waist, and hip measurements).

The site is very user-friendly, and their Look Book offers some pretty suggestions. I enjoyed creating a dress but didn't order anything because HOLY MOLY was it expensive! So I exited the site and never went back.

Then today I get an interesting email. A representative from the site contacted me explaining that in their effort to fully launch and promote the site, and because they are trying to get women to try this new process of ordering custom made clothes, they were offering me a FREE dress ... I would only have to pay shipping and handling.

I was excited, then suspicious. Free? As in totally free? No hidden costs or taxes? No exorbitant shipping and handling fees? I even called Joe over and asked his advice. I then decided to contact the company, and they not only verified the offer, but provided an estimate of the shipping and handling cost.

This was the real deal.

So this morning I spent an hour selecting my dress silhouette (tailored with princess seams), the neckline (open neck), the skirt (A-line), and the sleeves (I opted for sleeveless). In selecting the fabric I almost, ALMOST picked black. But I could just hear my Jiminy Cricket sister yelling in my ear, so I compromised and selected a fabric with a tiny black and white swirly pattern (a fine Italian matte stretch, medium weight with easy drape and stretch).

It's a simple dress, with clean lines, and it will be custom made for me in New York City's garment district. And here is the most unbelievable part. On the site, the dress retails for $500 (custom made clothing in NYC = EXPENSIVE), but after I entered my special promotion code my total was only $15. Well, $14.50 to be exact.

Just out of the blue, something like this happens. I must have a fairy godmother lurking somewhere in my backyard.

Now if I could only find my other glass slipper ...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Women of Augusta Can Arrange it All

The Women of Augusta Can Arrange it All
by Maria Novajosky, Guest Columnist

*published in the Columbia County News-Times/Augusta Chronicle
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Are you looking for someone to clean up the local government? Purge Washington politics? Organize our new health care system?
Well, just hire any woman from Augusta who, in preparing her home to rent during Masters Week, has turned spring cleaning into an art form. But let’s clarify: there’s spring cleaning, which is the obligatory airing out of any vestiges of winter, and then there’s Masters Spring Cleaning which is a complete overhaul of everything from attic to basement, and front porch to back patio.
This is the time of year when the words I can’t, I’m cleaning for Masters are the perfectly understandable excuse for bowing out of any social obligation, and in the weeks leading up to The Great Exodus the aisles of Bed, Bath & Beyond are a meeting place for friends and neighbors who are likewise pushing shopping carts piled high with pillows, sheets, and bathroom rugs.
In January we make lists, February we gather supplies, and by March we get down to the nitty-gritty. We purge closets, drawers, and cabinets; we sort clothes and toys; and we wipe and dust baseboards, ceiling fans, walls, stair risers, and door frames.
We attack dust bunnies with a vengeance and wage a war against yellow pollen. We turn Swiffer into an action verb, wash the washing machine, vacuum the curtains, and are on a first name basis with Mr. Clean and his Magic Erasers. And just to make sure husbands and children don’t un-do what we have just done, we lock doors as we go so that by the last night the kids are camped out in the rec room and everyone is sharing one bathroom.
Even childbirth can’t stop us.
One January I informed the Texas group who always rents our home that, because our third son was due just before Masters Week, we would have to opt out that year. Our son was just seven days old when a representative from the group called and begged us to reconsider.
His soft-spoken southern accent lulled me into a semi-hypnotic state reminding me of what I am capable. I forgot about my sleep deprivation, my infant who was nursing around the clock, the baby paraphernalia scattered everywhere, a husband who was out of town on business, and the fact that I would have only one week to prepare.
I can do this! I thought. And I did.
Super Women. That’s what we are.
Sometimes an exasperated husband or a smart aleck teen will ask if all this work really matters; that if we honestly believed that anyone who comes to Augusta to attend the golf tournament will judge us if there is dust on the baseboards or if the flatware drawer is in shambles.
Well, of course we do. What a silly question.

There is something about having people come stay in our home which brings out the southern hospitality in all of us. Just because we don’t see our guests doesn’t mean we don’t treat them as guests. After all, they are staying in our home and we want them – the strangers from Texas, Michigan, and even Japan – to think well of us!
To feel welcomed!

So we put flowers on nightstands and amenity baskets in the bathrooms.
We direct husbands to pressure wash driveways and children to spread pine straw.
We place neatly stacked towels in the linen closet and a luggage rack in each bedroom. Then we hang a spring wreath on the front door and put out a new welcome mat.

Arrange, categorize, purge, orchestrate, manage, conduct, administrate, and mobilize. The women of Augusta do all this and more.
Anything else is a walk in the park.
Maria Novajosky is a freelance writer and works for Catholic Stewardship Consultants. She can be reached at


Saturday, March 14, 2015

What's a Catholic Boy to do?

Timothy had a few friends over today to celebrate his birthday.

Can anything be easier than a boy's birthday? Basketball, dodge ball, knock-out, backyard football, pizza, Gatorade ... and you're good to go.

Of course, when it came time for some ice-cream about half the crew abstained because they gave up sweets for Lent.

I was proud of them.

But they were all over the sugar free popsicles.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Hang Around.

This past weekend we took down this (Timothy's baby quilt, beautifully handmade by Joe's Aunt Caryl) ...

and hung up these.

When we remodeled Timothy's room a couple of years ago, we left the quilt hanging on the wall simply because we didn't have anything to hang in its place. But for weeks now Timothy has been wanting to decorate his walls with cars and basketballs. I guess it was time.

And although the car posters purchased for $4.50 at last year's Book Fair turned out nicely ...

I miss the teddy bears.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Boys' Night Out

This past Wednesday was my Bunco Night, and because Joe was out of town Jonathan was in charge of feeding/entertaining/watching his baby brother.

So, they went to McDonald's for dinner (Big Mac meals for both), came home and played Farkle (Timothy won), and sprawled out on the couch to watch a Hawks game on television.

Inspired by the game, they took my antique basket (which, by the way, is 30 years old and made with plantain leaves and grape vines), a wad of balled up socks (thus adhering to the "no ball in the house rule"), and while they were sitting way over here ... they practiced their shots with the basket placed way over there.

I'm thinking they had fun.

big brother still looking out for baby brother ...