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

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

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Upon Simplifying Christmas

A few years ago we invited Sr. Gaudiosa (a nun from Tanzania) to spend the Christmas holidays with us (her visit involved a Christmas miracle). Admittedly, I was nervous about this. While she had stayed with us before, this would be her first time experiencing an American Christmas and in light of her humble origins and vow of poverty, I was concerned that all of it--the packages and bows, parties and lights--would seem too much.

When she walked into our family room she oohed and awed over our Christmas tree. She spent a long time looking at each and every ornament. She especially appreciated the homemade ones--Timothy's thumbprint reindeer and the boys' Popsicle stick nativities. And watching that beautiful, spiritual nun marvel at stuff which (when you think about it) only comes out once a year put things in perspective for me on how I would henceforth celebrate and decorate for the holidays.

As someone who is always extolling the virtues of simplicity, as someone who is always simplifying meal planning, schedules, closets, and wardrobes, it wasn't until Sr. Gaudiosa's visit that I thought to simplify Christmas.

Now, don't get me wrong. I really LOVE to decorate for the holidays, I like to see other homes decked out in mistletoe and holly, and I thrive on all the confusion and chaos and parties, but for me I had to find a balance between a Biltmore Christmas (with its jeweled ornaments and elaborate gingerbread houses) and a Bethlehem Christmas (with its stable and lowly manger).

And here are two things that helped me ...

1- Bringing it Home

Sr. Gauidosa inspired me to be honest with myself. Was I decorating for others, or was I trying to create a welcoming environment for my family and friends during the holidays? Were my decorations used to impress, or were they meant to reflect the season? Was I approaching the holidays with the idea that more is better, or that less is best? 

So that's when I began to simplify our Christmas. I donated most of my vintage Santas (I kept four), consolidated all our Christmas books into one basket, and gave away all our elaborate tree skirts (opting instead to use  canvas drop cloth from Lowe's). I decided not to put up Christmas trees in rooms we don't use (dining room, front office), but to concentrate the decorations in the kitchen and family room--the heart of our home. In fact, the Christmas tree which straddles both rooms is the main light source during the holidays, and it makes the area intimate and cozy. 

In time I began to see the difference in preparing a house for the holidays, versus preparing a home for the holidays. 

2- Decorating with purpose

Here's another thing I had to learn: I do NOT need to put up ALL my decorations every year. 

Shocking, I know, but very true. 

This really is where the idea of less is best really is best, and it did wonders in relieving a lot of the stress and chaos in preparing for the holidays. So instead of setting up several nativities, I set up ONE in a meaningful way. Instead of a row of Santas on our bookshelves, I center one next to a poinsettia. I decorate the top of our piano with either some Christmas houses OR poinsettias and a Christmas cross, but not with both. 

I try to use only what truly memorable or important to the family. When I asked our boys what was their favorite way we prepare our home for the holidays, they mentioned two things: their little trees on their nightstands (best nightlights ever) and the front window wreaths and lights (the boys love coming home after dark to see the windows lit up). They also like their stockings, but couldn't remember how the mantel was decorated from year to year. 

That's it--bringing the preparations home, and doing so with purpose. I realize this might not work for everyone, but it's what works for me and my peace of mind during the holidays. 

Finally, near the end of Sr. Gaudiosa's visit with us, it snowed. Earlier that day Joe and the boys had traveled to Florida for a bowl game, so it was just the two of us. With the snow gently falling outside we sat in front of a roaring fire to watch The Sound of Music (Sister's all-time favorite movie), after which she told me the story of the only time she rebelled as a nun. And sitting next to her on the couch, both of us bundled up in blankets, I experienced the most complete sense of peace and well-being. That moment, with its quiet simplicity and friendship and love, was Christmas nestled in that stable in Bethlehem.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Making a (Snarky) Point

The day after Thanksgiving I asked Timothy to do a small chore and his dramatic response was totally disproportionate to the task.

The exaggeration was off the charts. It just wasn't fair (his words). The weight of the world was on his shoulders, especially because all his friends were playing Rocket League and he had to--oh the horrors!--empty the dishwasher. I listened to him for half a second until I had a very Grinch-like, but deliciously snarky response.

"You know," I said very sweetly. "Vacation means something different for you than it does for me. When you're on vacation you are enjoying the free time that comes with an absence from school. Dad is enjoying the free time that comes with not having to go to work. Your brothers are enjoying the freedom from work and college. But with everyone home, vacation for me means doing exactly the same stuff I always do ... except MORE OF IT."

Timothy emptied the dishwasher without another word.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Stupid, Fun Thanksgiving Game

Meet Alfredo, the star of a wild and zany game we purchased a few years ago for a fun Thanksgiving game that could involve everyone, young and old.

Alfredo spins around on top of a plate of spaghetti, and to play the game you have to use the fork catapults to launch spaghetti and meatballs. You get points if your meatball lands on Alfredo's plates, apron or hat (all made of velcro), but you get  A LOT of points if the meatball lands on his mustache.

It's a fun game, but inevitably Alfredo gets ignored. 

It's much more fun to launch those spaghetti and meatballs at one another. 

And you get a SUPER BUNCH of points if you hit your brother.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Bought it, I did

In Publix I was, when a Yoda I spied. 

Called my name, he did, so I resisted not. How could I, hmm?  (Also a Darth Vader, there was. But him I wanted not.)

It was the two feet tall Christmas Yoda I needed, so bought him I did. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Life Lately: Bringing Thanksgiving

This year our Thanksgiving plans have changed. While we had intended to drive to Virginia Beach to spend Thanksgiving with Joe's family, we are instead heading to Little Rock. Nicholas is still not feeling well (an endoscopy this past Friday revealed an inflamed stomach and esophagus), and since he wasn't up to traveling home with such a short turn around time, we decided to bring Thanksgiving to him.

So, this past weekend I made lists and shopped at THREE stores (Costco, Lidl, Publix) because there is no way I'm going to a grocery store in Little Rock the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving.

I have two cardboard boxes filled with everything I need for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm also bringing food for several meals--pork tenderloin and polenta, chicken and dumplings, roast beef and oven potatoes--because I plan to cook nourishing, homemade meals that will hopefully aid Nicholas in his recovery. Some of it we will eat together, some of it I will leave in his freezer.

Our trusty minivan (220,000 miles!) will be packed with the four of us, along with winter coats, suitcases, and boxes of food. There will also be a bookcase strapped to the luggage rack. Over the (Mississippi) River and through the (Ozark) woods to Nicholas' apartment we go!

And we're excited! Having recently spent five days with Nicholas (And God Sent Three Strangers), I know how cozy and comfortable his apartment is. We don't have any big plans other than to enjoy our time together. We will eat, watch football (the guys), read (me), and play board games. I will cook, and the aroma of roasting turkey will permeate the apartment. After eating we'll go for a walk, or drive around to see Christmas lights. When we come back we'll have a slice of cherry or pumpkin pie.

And like we always do, when we gather around the table we will continue the tradition of our family's Thanksgiving prayer.

Because we have much to be thankful for.

Obrigado Senhor

Thank you, Lord, for my healthy limbs, when so many are crippled,
For my perfect eyes, when so many are without light,
For this voice that sings, when so many are mute,
For these hands that work, when so many have to beg.
It is wonderful, Lord, to have a home to return to,
When there are so many who don't know where to go.
It is wonderful, Lord, to laugh, love, dream,
When so many cry, hate, and die before being born.
It is wonderful, Lord, to have so little to ask,
And so much to be thankful for.

{This prayer was written by a Lino Villacha, a poet in Brazil who suffered from leprosy. He corresponded with our family through Sandro Nottegar, a physician and missionary who was the husband of my mother's best friend. Sandro passed away suddenly in 1986, and as of this time he has achieved the title of venerable in the process of beatification and canonization in the Catholic Church.}

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Life Lately: Really, Really

~1~ As seen at Lidl. 

Really, really bad idea.  

~2~ Book Club

really, really good book
really, really good discussion
really, really good Pinot Grigio (from the Veneto region in Italy)

~3~ When your class is studying genetics 
and the Biology teacher requests you bring in a family photo. 

"So, this is your father?" she asks, pointing to Joe. "You look like him."
"And these must be your brothers, " she says, pointing to Nicholas and Jonathan. 
And then she points to me. "And this must be your sister?"

I really, really like his Biology teacher. 

~4~ Fall inspiration

I really, really like this color combination.
(from @agelessstyle on Instagram)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Girl in Black Wears Blue

ONCE UPON A TIME I was walking through a department store between seasons (when winter merchandise is almost gone and spring merchandise is just starting to trickle in) when I spied this blue fitted wool coat on a clearance rack. It was the ONLY coat. The original price was a little over $200. I hadn't planned to buy a coat, but between the clearance markdown, a one-day sale, and a coupon it was marked down to ... wait for it ... $14. How could I resist? The fact is, I couldn't. THE END.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Speak to Me Sunday: To Our Veterans

Once upon a time my parents took us--my sister, brother, and me--to the movie theater. I don't remember the title of the film, but I do remember this: when the National Anthem played my father stood up in attention, and we all followed his lead. We were the only ones in the theater to stand, each one of us with our hand over our heart. I remember feeling a little exposed--I was, after all, a young teenager burdened with all that teenage angst--but mostly what I remember feeling was pride. Pride for my dad, for our country, and for the fact we were the only ones in the movie theater to stand during the National Anthem ...

Our sons love to hear stories of their Nonno when he was in the Military -- stories like his grueling training as one of the oldest guys in OCS (Officer Candidate School); how he met my Mom while stationed in Verona and courted her; the time he forcibly removed a fellow (drunken) officer who was being offensive to a woman at a dinner party; or the stories (some of them truly frightening) of when he served at the Demilitarized Zone in Pamunjon, Korea when tensions between the North and South Korea were at an all time high.

Then there was the unbelievable coincidence of being interviewed and photographed by an Italian journalist sent to do a story on the tensions in Korea, with the feature article subsequently published in Italy (with photos of him and extensive quotes) to the incredible joy and pride of our Italian relatives (my Nonna carried the magazine with her and showed it to everyone).

And our boys are very impressed that he can still tap out messages in Morse Code.

We love you, Dad.
We love you, Nonno.
We're all very proud of you.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Boring Bia (or, The Girl with the Sister Named Ua)

This post is an ode to sisters because is there anything better in the world? Supportive, creative, and funny (with just a hint of sarcasm) ...

Friday, November 9, 2018

It's All About Giving Thanks

Last night members of our local Italian American Club celebrated their annual Thanksgiving dinner. It was a lovely evening in which we celebrated the American part of our Italian-American heritage. Here's an article I wrote a few years ago on this very topic ... 

It's All About Giving Thanks
by Maria Novajosky, Guest Columnist

*published in the Columbia County News-Times, November 23, 2015
(delivered with Sunday's Augusta Chronicle)

            It doesn’t take much more than a holiday and a meal for our Italian-American family to gather in celebration, and Thanksgiving is no exception. People often ask if our Thanksgiving meal in any way reflects our Italian background, and while the immediate answer is yes (for with an Italian mother anything involving food reflects our Italian heritage), the answer is also no because Thanksgiving is the one holiday my mother uses to celebrate all things American, an opportunity to pay homage to a land which welcomed her with open arms.

            My mother came to this country as a young bride on the arm of my father, a soldier in the U.S. military; she was only 20 years old and determined to embrace this new life. She took language classes, became fluent in English, learned to drive, and volunteered for the American Red Cross. When my parents lived in Washington D.C. during the racial unrest of the sixties, my mother studied American history to understand what was happening.

            When she was 32 years old she stood before a judge in Savannah, GA and was sworn in as an American citizen. She had her picture taken under the American flag, and her nationality would henceforth be hyphenated, a bridge between the words Italian and American, between the country she was from and the country in which she now lived.

            Those two words also meant my sister, brother, and I got the best of both worlds. We spoke Italian with our Nonna and English at home; we ate gelato in Venice and an ice cream cone in Disney World; we explored the hills of Tuscany and the streets of Manhattan; and while holidays in our family were a beautiful blend of both cultures, there were some things quintessentially American that my mother embraced – and the traditional Thanksgiving meal was one of them.

            She had a lot to learn, however, and it took years of trial and effort to get it right. In one of her earliest letters to her mother, she described this strange, white cooking stuff that came in a blue can (Crisco shortening); she had never eaten turkey, much less cooked one; she had never heard of sweet potatoes (why, in America even the potatoes are sweet!); and she definitely didn’t know what to think about cranberry sauce or Jell-O (all that jiggling red stuff didn't look like food at all).

            It took years of trial and effort, of studying Betty Crocker and cutting out recipes from Good Housekeeping, but today my mother has perfected the art of the Thanksgiving meal. The moist turkey, the perfect balance of brown sugar and marshmallows in the sweet potato casserole and, yes, the dish of jiggling cranberry sauce are all displayed with a sense of pride on how far she has come. Two ceramic pilgrims decorate the dining room table, and in the afternoon everyone heads outside for a family game of backyard football or softball.

            Of course, there are small concessions to our Italian heritage: we sip espressos with our pumpkin pie and have a small glass of limoncello as an after dinner digestivo. But it is an American meal celebrating an American holiday, and with a rousing Buon Appetito! three generations of our family gather at Thanksgiving to honor the American half of our Italian-American heritage.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Cappuccino and Cake

I'm coming to you in the darkness of the early morning because it's a special day.

It's a day which celebrates one of the things that is a source of daily joy for me, something which also happens to be the best  accompaniment to a good book, early morning prayer time, a rainy afternoon, and cozy chats with friends.

Today is National Cappuccino Day!

Oh, cappuccino, how I love thee! The daily ritual of firing up the espresso machine, frothing the milk, brewing an espresso, and then combining the perfect balance of thirds--1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk, 1/3 froth--keeps me grounded. It may sound melodramatic, but a cappuccino is a little smidgen of magic in an otherwise perfectly ordinary day because--and let's be realistic--although my cappuccino may be balanced, daily life can be anything but.

Which brings me to THE CAKE. The Confirmation cake I ordered for TIMOTHY, but with the words Happy Confirmation, Jonathan! (yes, the wrong son). When I shared this story, I received all sorts of helpful advice: take the cake back and have the bakery fix it, scrape off Jonathan's name and put lots of candles in the blank space, or change Timothy's confirmation name from St. Francis to St. John. Two people even offered to come over and share their professional baking skills to fix the problem.

But you know what? As I was enjoying my cappuccino the morning of Confirmation, I had an epiphany. Life is crazy. Life is wonderful. Life is funny. Life is a hodgepodge of the insane. And that cake, which had become a topic of conversation, a source of laughter, and the reason for a flurry of text messages and emails, was a metaphor for life. Our life. So it was absolutely fine--wonderful! great! fantastic!--to have a Confirmation cake with Jonathan written on top when it was Timothy's Confirmation.

In a strange, wonderful way, it made perfect sense.

So, on this National Cappuccino Day, I wish you a day filled with the zany, the wonderful, the messy, and everything in-between.

All of which pairs very nicely with a expertly frothed cappuccino.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

"And Kindle in Them the Fire of Your love"

I am so grateful for the milestones of our faith which gives us opportunities to gather, celebrate, and worship. As parents, I'm so grateful for the Sacraments of Initiation--Baptism, First Holy Communion, Confirmation--which are vehicles of grace to help our children walk and grow in the faith. I am so grateful for a loving God who teaches that true freedom is not doing what one wants, but doing the right thing. And I am thankful for family, for those who sent well wishes and for Uncle Bill who flew here to be Timothy's sponsor. 

Dear Timothy,

For your Confirmation, we wanted to give you seven books representing the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. As you read these books, we pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal his gifts so they will help you grow in your faith.

Be a gracious receiver of these gifts! St. Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out to the earth; yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now.”

Timothy, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you and watch in amazement as God works through you, with you, and in you.

Mom & Dad

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Tallying the Votes

For someone who is admittedly not a math person, this pretty much sums it up ... 

“You can either vote by voting, or vote by not voting. 
If you don’t vote, someone else’s vote counts more. It’s MATH.”

Monday, November 5, 2018

Oh What a Stupid I Am

Yesterday I asked Timothy what kind of cake he would like to have for his Confirmation tonight. He  said he would love a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

Chocolate on chocolate. Okay then. I would get the cake at Publix.

As I was looking at the cake selections at Publix, Jonathan and I exchanged a series of texts. It was a text conversation, and I'm only telling you this so you can appreciate how Jonathan was on my mind.

I selected a cake, asked them to write Happy Confirmation on top, and after I finished shopping I picked up the cake and headed home.

It wasn't until later, when I was rearranging things in the refrigerator, that I noticed the cake said: 


That Jonathan, he causes trouble without even meaning to. I thought of taking the cake back so they could fix it but--and I freely admit this--I was too embarrassed. After the back-and-forth exchange I had with the nice lady in the bakery on the proper spelling of Jonathan ... how could I go back and admit I gave the wrong name? 

The fact is, I could not. 

At some point today I will  scrape off JONATHAN so the cake will say ...

HAPPY CONFIRMATION, [blank space]!

It is what it is.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Speak to Me Sunday: And God Sent Three Strangers

Usually I travel in a pack, either with my guys or with a gaggle of girlfriends. But a few weeks ago when I found myself traveling alone, I met three strangers … 

Earlier this month my husband and I were headed to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for his 35th high school reunion. We left Thursday afternoon and stopped outside Charlotte (NC) to spend the night before continuing our trip on Friday. Shortly after midnight we got a call from our son, Nicholas, who was experiencing chest pains and numbness in his left arm. While we thought he had been suffering from a stomach bug all week, these were new (and alarming) symptoms. We conferred with my brother (the family doctor), and after a flurry of phone calls it was decided that I would fly to Little Rock, and Joe would drive back home since he had to leave for Albuquerque in a few days. So at 3 a.m. we checked out of the hotel and drove to the airport where I caught the first flight out to Little Rock.

On the plane, I was tense. I knew that as were preparing for takeoff, Nicholas was checking into the Emergency Room. I knew that once airborne, I would be incommunicado for over two hours. And I was feeling alone—everything had been so hurried, worked out in the darkness of the early morning, and saying goodbye to Joe and then walking to my gate had been surreal since it usually happened the other way around.   

I dreaded the next couple of hours where I would be alone with my thoughts (and prayers).

But God had sent a distraction. Sitting next to me was a gentleman traveling with four other men—all engineers from Husqvarna who were flying back to Little Rock after visiting their facility in Charlotte. He was a good conversationalist and I welcomed the distraction. He told me about his team project—the Husqvarna robot lawn mower—and showed me a video of it in action. When he found out I worked as a writer, he didn’t ask the usual question (What do you write about?), but wanted to know about the writing process and asked for advice on how he could organize his thoughts when giving a presentation. Later, when I told him the reason for my visit to Little Rock, he shared how something similar happened to one of his children. Time passed quickly, and before I even realized it we were making our final descent into Little Rock.

“Listen,” the Husqvarna man said to me after we landed. “I know I am a stranger, and that you don’t really know me, but I want you to know that I would be more than happy to drive you to wherever your son is. It would be my pleasure.”

I was touched. I know he was being sincere, and I thanked him for it, but Nicholas had just sent a text saying he was back home so I told him I would take an Uber. When we exited the plane he stayed with me until I got my luggage and then wished me well. 

A few minutes later I was standing outside of Baggage Claim. While I have used Uber several times, this was the first time I was doing so alone and for some reason I couldn't get my app to work. I was clearly doing something wrong. Standing nearby was a college student, so I approached her and asked if she could help. She gave me her full attention. She could have easily answered my question in half a second, but she took her time to explain what I had done wrong. We chatted for a few minutes until her Uber arrived, and before she got in the car she looked at my iPhone to verify that my ride was on its way. We smile and waved to each other as she drove away.

When my Uber arrived a few minutes later, I hesitated at the sight of the big pickup truck that, while nice and shiny and clean, was decorated in camouflage—inside and out. And the driver, while not dressed in camouflage, still looked like he was ready to go deer hunting. He did not look like an Uber driver at all. Every episode of Criminal Minds or Law and Order ran through my mind (solo female + stranger + pickup truck = murder mystery), but the truck license matched the info on my app and the driver matched the photo I had been sent. Absolutely everything checked out.

And he turned out to be the nicest man. As he drove he pointed out interesting sites, told me local stories of this bridge or that street, and shared how he was a driver for Sysco five days a week and for Uber on the weekends. He was solicitous. Was I warm enough? He was a gentleman. Here, let me get that for you. He was gracious. Have a blessed visit with your son.  

Three complete strangers, on the same day, who turned out to be nothing but kind.

What started out as something scary turned into a blessing—five days of one-on-one time with my son where we holed up in his apartment and watched Arrested Development on Netflix, made gourmet feasts of rice and broth with Jell-O for dessert, and watched “comfort movies” such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Back to the Future. He also let me rearrange his kitchen cabinets and clean his apartment so just like that I was in MY HAPPY PLACE.

Nicholas is okay; he’s still struggling with some digestive disorder (severe upper gastrointestinal spasms were causing the chest pains and numbness), and every meal still causes discomfort, but he’s better than he was and progress in baby steps is still progress.

When I think back on that time—it was only five days!—I am amazed how God gave us what we needed to handle the unknown. When a simple phone call had us scrambling to reschedule, think fast, and make decisions on the fly, grace and strength sustained us. But mostly, I remember the strangers God sent my way--strangers who didn’t do anything extraordinary, but whose smile, conversation, concern, and friendliness grounded me, pulling me out of my worry and reminding me of God’s love and the wonderful interconnectedness of humanity.

Sadly, we live in a world in which we are wary of strangers. We see ulterior motives, hidden agendas, or even unspeakable evils lurking behind the graphic t-shirt, foreign accent, burqa, or Goth outfit. We distrust the poor, fear the homeless, and avoid the disabled. We see race, or political affiliation, or religion as a justification to build barriers.

And yet, the sad fact is that we need to be wary. We need to be aware. And on some level we need to be fearful. But then I think of the strangers I met, strangers who were good, kind and helpful, and I also know that I can’t let wariness or fear dictate basic human interaction.

That sometimes we need to be a little brave, have a little faith, and trust in the goodness of strangers.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Riddle Me This: How many pages in a book?

Would you rather read three books with 100 pages each OR one book with 300 pages?

Doesn’t matter, does it? WELL, tell that to our son who is horrified when he has to read a “gigantic book” (his words). The discussions we have on this topic will make you laugh and cry. (And let’s not even mention how this year he had to read TWO books simultaneously—Lord of the Flies in literature, and The Andromeda Strain in Biology. Evidently, in the world according to Timothy you should only have to read in literature.) (Life can be so unfair sometimes.)

“I’d rather read three books with 100 pages,” he says seriously. “That way I can read even more books.”

Okay. I’ll give him that. Score one for Timothy.

But still. This is my son who, before he even starts reading a book, first turns to the end to see how many pages it has.

Then this happened yesterday:

“You’re not getting me seven books for Confirmation, are you?” he asked, referring to our family custom of giving books representing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as Confirmation gifts. “Because if you are, make sure they’re not long ones.”

I know he was thinking of his cousin’s Confirmation last year. Thomas—an avid reader—received The Count of Monte Cristo as one of his Confirmation books. Timothy took one look at it and declared, right there in front of everyone, that at 1312 pages it was The Worst Present Ever.

“Look, in this whole wide world I’m sure there are seven books you will like to read,” I replied. “Besides, it’s a TRADITION.”

I was playing dirty. I had used the “T” word and no one argues with tradition.

Well, come Monday Timothy is going to have a heart attack when he opens his seven books to discover Unbroken (398 pages) and The Book Thief (550 pages). He is going to be truly horrified, which will make us all laugh. But here’s the thing, once he gets past the number of pages, I know he’ll like these books.

Besides, I did provide a balance with Of Mice and Men. It only has 107 pages.  

Score one for Mom.

Timothy's Seven Books

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Champions of Faith: Catholic Sports Heroes Tell Their Story by Thomas A. O' Toole
New Saint Joseph People's Prayer Book

Confirmation Stones at Alleluia Rocks