Musings of an Italian-American Catholic wife, mother, and writer

Musings of an Italian-American Catholic wife, mother, and writer

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bad Math Mojo

"I'm really worried about the math test I took today," Timothy says as he sits at the kitchen counter for his afternoon snack.


"Why?" I ask. "You got an 'A' on the last one."


"That's the problem!" he wails. "Here's what always happens: I do very bad on the first test of the quarter but then make an 'A' on the rest of them. That's what always works. But this time I started all wrong! THIS time I made an 'A' right away, which means I'm going to do badly on the rest!"


"What? You would have rather done poorly on last week's test?" I ask.


"Exactly!" he says.


My head is spinning because I'm trying to think like him.


"Oh, you're in trouble," I tell him as I hand him a glass of milk. "No doubt."


And if things couldn't get any worse, later that evening he checks RENWEB and discovers he made a 100% on the test. So now, in-the-world-according-to-Timothy, he's REALLY doomed.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Shopping Not Shopping

I spent the morning furniture hunting for Nicholas who, after graduating, will be starting a new job. (Yes! to employment!)


I was working with a list: nightstand, coffee table, end table, bookcase, lamps, and a desk.


For several hours I shopped, scribbled some notes and took a few photos, but in the end I came home only with these:




They're the real deal, too!




And since Nicholas doesn't drink coffee, I guess I'll just have to keep them.


Sorry, Nicho. It was meant to be. ;-)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Around the bend


All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.
~Indian proverb


Whatever I can do, my sister and brother can do better.

When I was in the sixth grade I got a guitar. I studied chords, practiced rhythms, and for two years took lessons. After I married I even played in a folk choir. Both my siblings picked up the guitar much later in life, and they had a natural talent: while in med school, my brother was in a band (Sulcus Groove) and in 2004 they were even featured in a 12 Bands of Christmas cd; my sister not only plays, but she has a good voice, too, which is something I do not have. Today she is in charge of the music at her church.

Then, even though I attended a medical magnet school, went on a 10-day mission trip to Haiti, and always thought I'd do something in the medical field, I lost my way after high school. Nothing traumatic, I just didn't know what I wanted to do. Today my brother is the doctor in the family.

And then there is this: despite the fact that I am a writer, that I sometimes have my work featured in the guest column of our local newspaper, and that I even had some freelance work published, it is my brother and sister who have published books. My sister has written two books on careers in Library Science (Straight from the Stacks, Working in the Virtual Stacks), and she and my brother collaborated on a book entitled, Answers to the Health Questions People Ask in Libraries.

You can find all these books on Amazon dot com.

I'm not being modest, or self-deprecating; I am simply learning to be honest with myself. For a long time now I have realized that, while I seem to be good at many things, I am not great at any one thing.

Does that make me mediocre? No, and the reason I can say so with all honesty is that I am always trying and learning new things. I am full of ideas and, who knows, maybe that one thing I can be great at is still out there.

Somewhere.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Buon Compleanno, Roma



Today the Eternal City celebrates its 2,770th birthday. Auguri, Roma! I have been there four times, but there is still so much to see, do, and experience. I keep a running list on what I plan to do on my next visit so, Roma, a presto (until then)!


And in case you don't have anything else to do this weekend other than read about Rome, here are some links of my adventures in Rome over the years.


1- The first time I visited Rome, go here.


2- Here's the time I attended the Angelus Blessing with Pope Francis along with 22 women who traveled with me to Rome.


3- Yes, I lost my temper in Rome. You can read about it here.


4- From Caravaggio to Reality. Planning a Girls' trip to Italy. Read all about it here.


5- McDonald's in Rome? In which I speak about the Slow Food Movement in Italy. Go here for an excerpt.


6- In which I share some Pope stories.


7- God, Michelangelo, and light sabers. Read about my art lesson here.


8- St. Peter's Square, after dark. A story about the light in the Pope's window.


9- How to parallel park in Rome. See the photo here.




Unbeknownst to me, my friend took that photo of me as I was listening to
Pope Francis' Angelus Blessing. It's not a particularly flattering photo, but
it's real. I'm smiling, but also crying, and reflected in my sunglasses is the
window where the Pope was speaking.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Piano Lessons with Mr. Jeff



If children were not introduced to music at an early age,
I believe that something fundamental is actually being taken from them.
~Luciano Pavarotti


When Nicholas and Jonathan were in grade school they took piano lessons.


Their teacher -- Mr. Jeff -- recently moved to Augusta and was looking for piano students; truthfully, the only reason we decided to go with him was simply because he came to our house. This was huge for me. Timothy was less than a year old, so I cannot tell you what a blessing it was to not have to take the boys to a piano lesson but have the piano lesson come to them.


Mr. Jeff was the most untraditional piano teacher you can imagine. Prior to arriving in Augusta he had worked as the organist for the Atlanta Thrashers when Atlanta had a professional hockey team, so needless to say he was loud, fun, and had a dramatic flair. The boys loved him.


Once a week he arrived shortly after dinner and would spend the first half hour with Nicholas, and then Jonathan. He used a music theory book to go over basics, and even assigned a little homework, but he never taught the boys any of the silly songs in the book; instead, he took a music theory lesson and applied it to music by Billy Joel, or to theme song from Charlie Brown or Star Wars. He always assigned each boy a different song, so for that one hour while I loaded the dishwasher, and while Timothy crawled everywhere (including near the piano), and with Mr. Jeff sometimes improvising a duet, we had a virtual concert coming from our dining room. We enjoyed having him in our home, and he always left with some dinner leftovers or a plate of cookies I had baked that afternoon.


But then, sadly, Mr. Jeff moved to Florida and the piano lessons stopped. We tried two different piano teachers after he left, but neither one was Mr. Jeff so the boys lost interest.


Little did I know that those piano lessons with Mr. Jeff would one day come full circle.


Years later, when Nicholas was a junior in high school, he asked for an electric guitar for Christmas and taught himself how to play. He had music sheets everywhere. Before he went off to college he purchased an acoustic guitar and, again, he learned on his own, lugging the guitar on camping trips or beach outings with his college friends. During this, his last semester at Clemson, he needed to take an elective so he signed up for a piano class.


Jonathan was in 7th grade when he requested an electric keyboard for Christmas. I was thrilled because he always had a natural rhythm on the piano. In high school he purchased music books from 2nd & Charles, downloaded songs from the internet, and practiced constantly. This past December he upgraded to a better quality keyboard, one with more keys, and practices every day after and between classes. He occasionally sends me a text video of him playing a new song.


Finally, there is Timothy. Other than crawling around Mr. Jeff's ankles during those piano lessons, Timothy never experienced his unorthodox teaching style. We tried traditional piano lessons for one year (plus a summer), but abandoned them after they started to feel like a forced march. Like his brothers, however, Timothy came back to music on his own. Last week he came home from school and asked if he could play my guitar. A few days later he downloaded a Pokémon score from the internet (Littleroot Town Duet) and taught himself how to play the first two lines on the piano.


And I love that there is music in our house, that those early lessons were a springboard for learning later, when they wanted to return to it. Now, when all the boys are home, music is drifting from the rec room, down the stairs from their bedrooms, and even from the very same piano where they sat with Mr. Jeff so many years ago.


Jonathan, teaching Timothy

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hopping Smart

Boy is that Easter Bunny generous.


Here is what kind of candy the EB brought: Swedish Fish, Starburst jelly beans, Nerds, Kit Kats, M&M's, and Sour Patch Kids.


Here's what kind of candy the EB did NOT bring: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate covered raisins, Haribo Gummi bears, tootsie rolls, or anything milk chocolate.


In other words, Easter baskets didn't contain anything the EB would particularly be interested in eating herself.


The EB has recently lost five pounds and wasn't going to be tempted.


So not only is the EB generous, she is also smart ;-)



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Holy Week: Tuesday

Wait for it -- the last stanza -- something to think about.

The Conquerors
~Harry Kemp

I saw the Conquerors riding by
With cruel lip and faces wan;
Musing on kingdoms sacked and burned
There rode the Mongol Genghis Khan;

And Alexander, like a God,
Who sought to weld the world in one:
And Caesar with his laurel wreath;

And leading, like a star the van,
Heedless of upstretched arm and groan, Inscrutable
Napoleon went
Dreaming of empire and alone ...

Then all perished from the earth
As fleeting shadows from a glass,
And, conquering down the centuries,
Came Christ, the Swordless, on an ass ...



Friday, March 31, 2017

Joe's t-shirt isn't Joe's anymore

I interrupt my Masters prep to go pick up Timothy from school. I am wearing Joe's oversized Adidas t-shirt with black leggings.






"You look skinny in that shirt," he tells me when he gets in the car.


And I was like . . .


#really? #theshirtisnowmine #notjoesshirtanymore



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I heart books


You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.  
~ C.S. Lewis




Sunday, March 26, 2017

Life Lately: The Washington Review (art & basketball, the photo rule, who we saw, and what I wore)

With Nicholas graduating from Clemson in May, this past week was his last spring break. And since Jonathan's spring break was the same week, and since Joe was traveling to Washington D.C. on business, we decided to pull Timothy out of school and make a family trip of it. Four days in our Nation's capital . . .
~1~ Something for Everyone

As parents we know that vacations are a way to build lasting memories, but when there are so many varied interests in one family it takes a little juggling to make sure everyone is happy; as a result, we've learned that, at some point, everyone gets the chance to make a decision when we're on vacation, whether it's picking where to eat or what to visit next.


For this trip we collectively agreed to visit The White House Visitor Center and then walk to the White House to take photos (something we didn't do in our 2007 visit), and we knew we would meet our nephew/cousin for lunch in Chinatown (he works at the U.S. Mint), but after that our itinerary included a combination of "must-sees" and everyone's top choice:


Joe: Since this was a business trip for him and would therefore be gone during the day, he organized a nighttime activity by scoring tickets to a Washington Wizards basketball game.
Me: Tour of the U. S. Capitol (This was my baby; I contacted our congressman, I scheduled the tour) Nicholas: National Museum of Art (West Wing only as he was not interested in the East Wing's modern art)
Jonathan: National Museum of American History and/or National Museum of Natural History
Timothy: National Air and Space Museum


Something for everyone: two museums, a basketball game,
an art gallery, and a U.S. Capitol tour




~2~ Getting Around

We Metro-ed everywhere. Ironically, during our stay we read two articles in the Washington Post lamenting all the problems with the city's Metro system, but we found it to be wonderfully convenient. Basically we arrived at our hotel, parked the van, and never moved it again. Our hotel was two blocks from a Metro station, so Joe took the train to his meetings and we took the trains everywhere else. Admittedly there is an initial learning curve (What direction does this train go? Is this the right platform?) but after that first day we could maneuver through the system like a pro.


Riding the Washington Metro




~3~ The Hill in Capitol Hill

Fun fact: the U. S. Capitol sits on a hill. And we know this because on the day of our scheduled tour we walked from the National Air and Space Museum and climbed UP the hill to get to the Cannon House (the oldest congressional office building). The Cannon House is exactly one block beyond and one block over from the Capitol, so it was even more up.


Once we went through security at the Cannon House, we went up flour flights of stairs. To be sure there was an elevator, but it was a rather official looking one and it was being used by rather official looking people and we weren't sure if we qualified as being official enough. (We found out later that we were official after all.) Basically, with all that climbing we arrived to Representative Rick Allen's office hot, sweaty, parched, and generally disheveled, but in total awe of everything.


Many thanks to Representative Rick Allen and his staff
for their wonderful hospitality




~4~ The Highlight


There are basically two ways to schedule a tour of the U.S. Capitol: book online, or contact your congressman's office and request a tour. I decided write our congressman, Representative Rick Allen, and received a response the very next day with a date and time for our tour, instructions on how to get to his office, and a city map.


The tour was, without a doubt, the highlight of our trip.


We arrived not knowing what to expect, so everything that happened was a delightful surprise: the welcome from his staff, the offers of bottles of water, the official photograph around Rick Allen's desk (it should arrive by mail any day), the passes to the Visitor's Gallery for the 115th Congress, and a private tour of the Capitol.


Unfortunately, we didn't get to meet Rick Allen because Congress was in session and he had just left his office, but at one point during our tour we had to step aside to let Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pass. He was THIS close; I was so awe-struck I forgot to take a photo.


Trip highlight: tour of the U.S. Capitol




~5~ Cruel and Unusual

That's what Timothy thought when we spent an afternoon at the National Museum of Art (which was Nicholas' choice). Why? Because just last month he endured an entire rainy Saturday afternoon following me around the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and two art museums within one month ... oh, the horrors!

But wait, it gets even more dire. On the day we had lunch in Chinatown, we discovered that our metro stop was right next to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery and ... well, we were right there anyway ... and there's nothing like seizing the opportunity ... so we decided to enter.

THREE art museums within one month, two within the same week. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? (Timothy's words)

In the end,  I caved. Oh, we still wandered through the museum, but I gave Timothy my iPhone and let him catch Pokémon to his heart's content. There's nothing like finding a Pokémon next to a painting by Edward Hopper or Georgia O'Keefe. And there's nothing like an art museum to inspire a little sarcasm ...

Art brings out the sarcasm in you-know-who.
Me: This is beautiful. It's not a triptych, would they call it a panel series?
Timothy: How about a comic strip?

Three art museums in a month. Oh, the horrors.


~6~ Freedom in a Cross-Body Bag

It's taken me a while, but I've learned this all-important rule of life: if you carry a big purse everyone will ask you to hold their stuff -- water bottle, jacket, sunscreen, sunglasses, snacks -- you name it. When you're a mom with young children this is the norm, but now that everyone is older and self-sufficient I like being hands-free with my Coach cross-body messenger bag. It's the perfect size for a wallet, iPhone, compact, lip gloss, sunglasses, map, and a tin of Altoids. That's it. That's all I need for a day of sightseeing, and now everyone carries their own water bottle and manages their own jackets.

Hands free with my Coach cross body messenger bag



~7~ These Shoes are Made for Walking


Any time you visit a large city -- think Rome, New York, Washington D.C. -- be prepared to walk. A lot. A city block is longer than you realize, metro stairs can go on forever, art galleries and museums are sprawling; in other words, we walked miles. And lots of them.

My point? Wear comfortable shoes. While I can wear boots for an afternoon walking around the High Museum of Art, they wouldn't work for city walking. But I didn't want to totally sacrifice fashion for function, so before the trip I invested in a pair of Fit Flop Sporty-Pop X Lizard-Print Sneakers in a pretty blush, the it color for spring. Not only were they super flexible, ultra-lightweight and sooooo comfortable, but for sneakers they were pretty darn cute.

See? This is why I lag behind.
#sneakymom

What I wore for walking around


~8~ One Picture a Day

Here's a conundrum: I like to take photos, but Nicholas and Jonathan don't like to pose for photos. So before our trip I set one rule: I was entitled to one photo of them a day, with no complaining or eye rolling. Which is how I got this photo where they are both smiling. It was a good rule.

They're posing! They're smiling!
#onephotoaday


~9~ Final Word

There was a lot going on in Washington D.C. while we were there: FBI Director James Comey was testifying at the Capitol, confirmation hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch were going on at the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress was voting on the health care bill, and President Trump made a couple of visits to the Capitol. 

Which is why I have to end with this: I absolutely love Washington D.C.

The architecture, the art, the history, our government ... it's all there. And politics aside, just being in our Nation's Capitol is a reminder of how we are all parts of the whole. It's exciting, humbling, and so inspiring.

I love Washington D.C. and can't wait to go back!





Sunday, March 19, 2017

Life Lately: Football for Females, Dante's Hell, and other stuff (the mundane and perfectly ordinary in 7 +1 quick takes)

~1~ Spring cleaning

When you rent your house for the Masters Golf Tournament, spring cleaning is taken up a notch. Go ahead, take a look at the photos, feel free to ooh and aah, but then read the disclosure statement below.



kitchen cabinet


spice drawer


linen closet


~2~ DISCLOSURE STATEMENT


Please know that the neatness pictured above lasts about a month, after which everything falls into disarray. Notice the following photos. Then next spring I start all over again; in other words, I'm living in Dante's 4th Circle of Hell when he references the myth of Sisyphus who was forced to roll a large boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down again for all eternity. Yup, that's me: doing the same things over and over and over again.


Legos, legos
everywhere.

See those shelves?
Exactly.


Not to sound overly dramatic, but ....


~3~ Bargain Secret

We are headed to Washington DC tomorrow and although it's the official first day of spring, the weather will not be spring-like. During our stay temperatures will hover around 50 degrees. With chances of rain.


So I decided I needed an all-weather coat. I have plenty of blazers/peacoats/overcoats, but they are not waterproof. And anything I have that's waterproof, isn't warm enough. So off to the mall I went.


Now I'm going to tell you something important: if you need a winter coat, now is a good time to buy one. I found a thin (but warm) puffer jacket, fitted, in a lovely mocha color for $10 (down from $70).


Mission accomplished, right? Nope, because then I saw a robin's egg blue knee-length coat I absolutely, categorically, emphatically did NOT need, but since it was marked down to $20 from well over $100 I decided it was meant to be. Plus, the blue reminded me of Tiffany's in NYC ...


Channeling my inner Audrey Hepburn who
told me to buy the coat I absolutely, categorically, emphatically did not need.




~4~ Take the shot


This weekend two years ago Timo met these guys ...

and made this shot.

~5~ Welcome Home

But note that when the cat went away, the mice did play. Case in point, while Nonna and Nonno were cruising Central America, we invaded their hearth and home: Joe foraged in Nonno's garage to borrow his electric hedge trimmer; I raided my mom's china closet (and linen closet AND flatware drawer) for my Bunco party; and then on the night of the actual party Joe and Timothy escaped to my parents' house where they finished all the Tootsie Rolls in the candy bowl.




~6~ Feast Day of St. Joseph

Since I was hosting our March Bunco, I decided to combine our monthly meeting with the Feast Day of St. Joseph. I was thrilled to be able to share our family's tradition with my friends, and I loved telling them all my St. Joseph stories. I heart St. Joseph.





~7~ Sounds from the laundry room

Scene: Joe and Timothy are in the laundry room replacing the lock on our back door. I am sitting on the couch listening to their voices as they work together on this project. Music to my ears.




~8~ I mean, can you imagine?

The older boys were looking through boxes in our attic when they came across some of Joe's childhood paraphernalia: trophies, a stopwatch, his high school class ring, and sports books. Lots and lots of sports books. Nicholas picked up The Encyclopedia of Football and opened it to chapter 8: Football for Females (How to Marry or Keep the Male Football Maniac). Gave us a good laugh ...

Clearly, Joe's childhood was all about sports.

The chapter does go on to explain the game.
I might have to read it ...




Sunday, March 12, 2017

One Good Deed a Day: The Wonderful Interconnectedness of Humanity

Be the stranger that leaves a mark in someone's life.


Once upon a time a stranger helped me, and when I heard he had passed away I wrote a letter to his family ...


Dear ~~~ Family,

You don’t know me and we have never met. But allow me to tell you a story …

A few years ago I drove to Columbia, SC to attend my sister’s baby shower. With me was my youngest son, who was four years old at the time.

When we left my sister’s to return home, an SUV of teens coming back from the lake entered a traffic circle at high speed and plowed into our van. The impact was shocking, and when the two vehicles finally came to a rest there were tire marks, debris, and broken glass spread over two lanes.

While my son and I were shaken, neither we nor the occupants of the SUV were injured.

When I dialed 911 and the operator requested the location, I was at a total loss; my sister’s family had recently moved to this area, and I didn’t even know the name of the street I was on. Suddenly, a driver pulled up behind me, parked, and got out of the car to see if we were okay. I handed him my cell phone, and he gave the operator all the information. Afterwards, he picked up car parts from the middle of the street (a bumper, a side view mirror, two hubcaps) and before I could thank him for his help he drove off.

It was a very hot afternoon, and as my son and I stood in the shade waiting for the police, this same man returned. He said he had noticed from our license plate that we were from out of state and thought that we could probably use this … and he handed me a bag with inside several juice boxes, several sleeves of Oreo cookies, and two Diet Cokes.

Juices boxes, Oreo cookies, Diet Cokes. Just like that I was reminded of how, even in the midst of bad things, there is also such goodness in this world.

I later learned his name was Chaz, and over the years I would mention him to demonstrate the tremendous love, healing and power that can be found in reaching out to a stranger.

And so I'm writing to you today to tell you this story. No, you don’t know me and we have never met. But once upon a time I briefly met Chaz, and although I heard today that he no longer is with us on this earth, please know that he will forever be in the corner of my heart where cherished memories are stored.

God bless,
Maria





Sunday, March 5, 2017

One Good Deed a Day: Recognize that Everyone Has a Story

Behind dirt, poverty, ignorance, addiction, race, and ethnicity is a person. Behind the grime, body odor, and dirty fingernails is a story. And everyone's story matters. Each one is important.


Sometimes, we are called to act without knowing the story.


And this is where faith comes in ...


A tourist took this photo of NYC policeman, Larry DePrimo, presenting
thermal socks and all-weather boots to a homeless man in Times Square.
Then he knelt and helped the man put them on.
You can read the entire story here.


Sometimes, Maybe is Good Enough


By: Maria Novajosky, Guest Columnist
*published in the Columbia County News-Times (October 14, 2015)

"Please, Miss, can we have some money for food?"

I had just come out of Hobby Lobby and was walking to my car when I was approached by a little girl pushing a battered umbrella stroller. With her was an elderly woman carrying a tiny infant and another younger woman; they all looked tired, poor and unkempt.

"Where do you want to eat?" I asked.

 "Anywhere," said the girl.

I was hungry, too. It was almost 1:30 and I was in a hurry to get home. I even knew exactly what I was going to have for lunch:  homemade bread, tomatoes, cheese, and a cold glass of water with a slice of lemon. Not only did I have the luxury of having fresh, healthy food available, but I had the luxury of choice. All I had to do was get in my car and in fifteen minutes I would be home. There were no worries on my part – it was all there waiting for me. 


But this little girl was worried enough to ask a stranger for help.
               
Food. Water. Shelter. Safety. Such basics in life, and yet there are many people locally who don't have these things. As we live and work in our nice city, driving home at the end of the day to relax in our homes or enjoy dinner on the back deck, it is tempting to ignore the man on the side of I-20 with a Will Work for Food sign, or a bag lady pushing a shopping cart filled with junk, or a hungry girl in a parking lot because, after all, we aren't in Africa, Indonesia, Haiti, Calcutta, or Syria.
               
To further communicate matters, life is messy. In our ongoing quest to find the perfect job, have the perfect marriage, raise perfect children, and develop perfect bodies we do not like to be reminded that, in fact, we are living in an imperfect world. We don't want to be in the position to need help, or to complicate our lives by becoming involved, or to face moral decisions of what is the right thing to do.
               
Because we aren't faced with situations like these on a daily basis, it is easy to become suspicious, fearful, and even judgmental. It’s easy to place blame at the feet of those needing help. And it’s all too easy to lose sight of the fact that everyone is so much more than what we see; that beneath the dirt, grime, hunger, mental illness, and poverty is a person with a story.
               
I didn't know that little girl's story; I didn’t know her name, her age, or where she went to school. All I knew was that she was hungry enough to ask a stranger for food. And so I gave them what they needed.
               
Was I conned?
               
Maybe I was but, then again, maybe I wasn't. The fact is I don’t know.
               
But in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? I had something that maybe they needed, and maybe was good enough for me.


Afterword: Strangely enough, of all the things I've had published this one struck a chord ... and not in a good way. I received a couple very nasty letters saying what I did enabled and perpetuated the problem. What do you think?








Tuesday, February 28, 2017

caesura

I’m taking off a little time
Just 40 days will do
To simplify, ask questions why,
To ponder and renew.
...
On Sundays I’ll stop briefly by
And share a post or two
To say hello, I’m doing well,
See you when Lent is through.

*from the files of very bad poetry by Bia



Monday, February 27, 2017

The Ride Home

This afternoon I drove Nonno's SUV to pick Timothy up from school. Within five minutes he had discovered:


1- Nonno's tic tacs,
2- Nonno's treasure trove of quarters,
3- Nonno's automatic seats that not only go up and down, but also tilt backward and forward,
4- and that Nonno doesn't listen to cool music (the radio was tuned to something called "Willie's Roadhouse" which, although terrible, is better than Nonna's car where the radio is always tuned to "Opera").



#funridehome
#whatcanwedowithallthesequarters



Timothy and Nonno in Disney World.
"I have to sleep on princess sheets?" yelled Timothy.





Saturday, February 25, 2017

Trickle Down Tickets

These are the tickets that belonged to friends of my parents.


These are the tickets my parents' friends couldn't use.


These are the tickets they gave to my parents.


These are the tickets which my parents couldn't use.


These are the tickets my parents gave to us.


Which is why, on a Friday night, Joe and I got dressed up and had somewhere to go.


Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Society, concert 5
The Delphi Trio 

Friday, February 24, 2017

One Good Deed a Day: Those in Authority

If you have the power, means or authority to make a change, do it.


Sr. Gaudiosa, a nun from Tanzania, is a sister to me in every way but blood. She is part of our family and many times we have welcomed her into our home.


Once, after spending a couple of weeks with us, we drove Sr. Gaudiosa to the airport and, as we were helping her check her luggage, the airline check-in agent said that both suitcases were overweight and she would have to pay extra. It was a pretty hefty fine.

I looked at the agent and said, "Everything, absolutely everything she owns in this world is in these two suitcases."

And I knew what I was talking about because I had helped her pack them. Inside were her habits made from thick, blue material, her sturdy black shoes, a winter coat that we had purchased for her, stationery, and some toiletries. That was it.

The agent didn't say anything, and as he continued to type on his keyboard my husband got out his wallet to pay the fine.

Except there wasn't one.

When the agent loaded the suitcases on the conveyer belt he looked up and said, "Don't worry, I took care of it. Have a safe flight, Sister."

And he smiled.



Thursday, February 23, 2017

Life Lately: the Atlanta edition in 5 quick takes

~1~ The kindness of friends: Two days prior to our Atlanta getaway last weekend, a friend offered us the use of their downtown loft apartment. Their generosity and kindness of not only giving us the keys to their place, but of also stocking the fridge with drinks and snacks made a weekend in Atlanta all the more special. They will forever hold a special place in our hearts.


A family weekend in Atlanta




~2~ The Atlanta History Center: Most boring name ever and, truthfully, if the admission ticket hadn't been part of the High Museum reciprocal program we probably wouldn't have gone. But I'm so glad we did. The 33-acre experience features award-winning exhibitions, enchanting gardens, and historic houses. While we breezed through the exhibits, we loitered on the grounds. I will definitely go back.


The Swan House at the Atlanta History Center

The Smith Family Farm at the Atlanta History Center




~3~ The High Museum: Okay, let me be honest. This was probably not the high point of the weekend for my guys, but it was for me. There is something about meandering through a museum and stopping in front of Autumn on the Seine by Claude Monet and thinking, "Oh my gosh! I'm standing in front of a Monet!" And I love it all -- European, American, modern & contemporary, and folk art. Now that I have a year membership I have a few more day trips planned (next time, though, I'll leave the guys behind and take some girlfriends). Anyone want to go with me?


The High Museum of Art




~4~ Stone Mountain: While this wasn't originally on our itinerary, we decided to at least enter the park and let Timothy see the world's largest piece of exposed granite. Of course, once we were there we just had to take the Summit Skyride to the top, an adventure which had us immediately texting photos to the older boys. Why? Well, to understand you need to know this weird fact about my family: for whatever reason, we love the 1968 movie Where Eagles Dare starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. (We watch it at least once every winter.) The movie contains an iconic scene of a Nazi and a British soldier fighting on TOP of a cable car as it ascends to Schloss Adler, a mountaintop fortress in the Alps of southern Bavaria. It's an intense scene, and so while we were riding the Summit Skyride up Stone Mountain that's what we talked about.


On the Summit Skyride at Stone Mountain ...

pretending to be Where Eagles Dare




~5~ In Timothy's words (and he thinks with his stomach): "My favorite thing about Atlanta was eating pizza at Your Pie, having a grilled cheese sandwich and minestrone at Twelve Eighty at the High Museum, and snacking on Sour Patch gummies."


(The gummies were compliments of my friend who left a HUGE box of the treats).


"I also liked exploring Stone Mountain, staying up late with you guys to watch the movie Captain Phillips, and sleeping in a Murphy bed."


"And if I had to pick what art collection I liked best
at the High Museum ...
I would have to say the European Art."