Posts Tagged ‘Family’

I really wish I could have been in Florida today, not because it’s cold here but because today was Grandparents Day at Finley’s school.  The kids dictated notes to their grandparents which were then typed by their teacher.   The letters were read aloud in class today. I am so, so, happy to have received this video today of all days! 

This is the BEST Valentine ever!  Finley Ray has my heart, there’s no denying it.  

Finley Ray

Finley Ray


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After a Sunday afternoon  parade of friends and family stopping by to see the new baby, life settled down a bit and Belle (Chiara’s nanny and household helper) and I made Eggplant Parmesan.  After dinner and baths (see photo) and thankfully bedtime for the girls, I sat myself down to watch all my favorite Sunday night TV shows;  Amazing Race, The Good Wife and The Mentalist.  I had to miss Masters of Sex and Homeland because they don’t have Showtime.  What does this have to do with the title of the blog? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

YES Daddy has a bathing suit on!

YES Daddy has a bathing suit on!

Day 1:  Up at 7am (ungodly hour) and the girls have to be dressed, fed and Finley starts school at 8am, Francesca at 8:15am.  Who’s driving them?  Me? What? I drive a Rav4 and a vintage Metropolitan (tiny) and they want me to drive a Tahoe!? Are you kidding me?  I am terrified of that car (and I use that term loosely since it is like a truck), not to mention I am now in Boynton Beach and uh, you want me to drive where?  Tom said he’ll ride shotgun and direct me and then we can get Starbucks.  A deal and I will learn how to use a GPS.

The rest of the day seems to just sail by, the nanny had the day off and the girls wouldn’t be back till 3pm. More friends dropped by and we heated up lots of leftovers for everyone for lunch.  What could possibly happen?  Well….when I was cleaning up I noticed a small square white ring on the dark wood table in the furnished rental house!   Nobody was around so I tried mayonnaise – didn’t work.  I tried furniture polish – didn’t work.  Google said mix ashes with water and rub gently BUT no one smokes here!  I tried vegetable oil-didn’t work.  I made a paste of salt and water and it darkened a bit. Google said  baking soda and water but I couldn’t find any in the house!  Who doesn’t have a box of baking soda in their house? or their  refrigerator??  The mark is darker but still there so I’m going to try to work on it again today.  Thankfully she doesn’t read my blog so she won’t know I did it and right now Fletcher is taking up all her time and energy, Whew!

I tried to master the Rainbow Loom;  You know the toy that 5 years olds can work – I couldn’t  get it right, perhaps you have to be 5 years old.  My first bracelet had a loop hanging, my second one didn’t quite come together so I gave up for a while anyway. Time to pick up ‘Cesca  and I was on my own – well that is me and Siri.

Dinner was later than usual and the girls were a bit on the wild side.  The many throw pillows from the couches seem to make their own version of a yellow brick road.  Foreshadowing!!  Tia called and Finley wanted to do FaceTime with her and I guess she had to pee too!  AND THEN, she came back into the living room and uttered seven words every parent dreads to hear; “I dropped your phone in the toilet”  OMG, OMG, OMG the iPhone5!?!?  Horror!  I have to hand it to Chiara, she was calm, she did not scream and she did not faint.  QUICK to the computer, what does Google say to do?  The phone was patted dry and immersed in a bed of rice, sealed in a plastic bag in less than 2 minutes!  Time to make a novena to St. Jude because seriously I think this is one of those impossibles! 

St. Jude Patron Saint of Things Impossible

St. Jude Patron Saint of Lost Causes and Things Despaired Of

Bedtime proved to be challenging; who wants another book read, who doesn’t want their water in a paper cup but rather must have a BIG glass, then the other also has to have a BIG glass, who needs to go downstairs to see Mommy – you’re getting the picture.  15 minutes later, Frankie is out of bed and coming down the stairs BECAUSE I made the mistake of telling her Mommy would come upstairs and then I never told Mommy.

I finally went to bed myself after trying once again to master the rubber band loom.  I did manage to produce what I thought was a pretty cool creation.  Sometime while it was still dark,  I heard Frankie calling out for Mommy.  Ay yi yi, I surely did not went get up, but I did.  I trekked up the stairs only to find Frankie with her father who was trying to convince her that now is really not the time to play.  I could not go back to sleep!  So I’m writing this under the influence of a very large Grande Americano – caffeine is a wonder drug!


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My very Irish friend sent an email to me the other day containing a satirical list of things, events and people that constituted The Life of an Italian Child.  MMmmmm interesting.  I’ve seen lists like this before and they are usually a caricature and over-the-top picture of Italian life and culture.  This one had its fair share of absurdities and legendary myths BUT…as we all know, every satire is based in truths and facts.  

Many on the list made me smile and reminisce of days long gone by.  I remembered so many incidents from my childhood that reminded me that I always knew I was Italian.  So I thought I would share most of these remembrances with my readers and If you’re not Italian, some of these things may seem a little strange.    BUT… if you are, this is a nice reflection back to the way things used to be…  In some cases I’ve added my own footnotes – well after all, it IS my blog!

Per tutta mia famiglia e gli amici, ti amo oggi, domani e sempre

1. You have at least one relative who wore a black dress every day for an entire year after a funeral. (well maybe not a whole year)

2. Every Sunday afternoon of your childhood was spent visiting your grandparents and extended family. (I lived in another state from my grandparents but I think my cousins did experience this to some degree)

Making Meatballs

Making Meatballs

3. You’ve experienced the phenomena of 150 people fitting into 50 square feet of yard during a family cookout.  

4. You thought killing the pig each year and having salami, capacollo, pancetta and prosciutto hanging out to dry from your shed ceiling was absolutely normal. (Wow, that’s really Italian!) (not me but my Dad…although there was one year…)

5. You ate pasta for dinner at least three times a week, and every Sunday. (at least twice for sure)

6. . You grew up thinking no fruit or vegetable had a fixed price and the price of everything was negotiable through haggling. (oh yes, when Grandma visited)

7. You were as tall as your grandmother by the age of seven. (if not seven, then certainly by ten)

I can smell the garlic

I can smell the garlic

8. You thought everyone’s last name ended in a vowel. (well most of our friends and all the relatives)

9. Your mom’s main hobby was cleaning. (my Italian mother-in-law definitely)

10.You were surprised to find out that wine was actually sold in stores. (not quite but homemade was always available)

11. You never ate meat on Fridays. (It was always Pasta e Fagioli or Alio d’ollio)

12. You thought Catholic was the only religion in the world. (I still have my doubts about those others lol)

Sneaking a meatball from the pot

Sneaking a meatball from the pot

13. You were beaten regularly with a wooden spoon or broom. (my father said Grandma used a wooden spoon on him)

14. You can understand Italian but you can’t speak it.

15. You have at least one relative who came over on the boat. (my Grandfather)

16. All of your uncles fought in a World War.

17. You have at least six male relatives named Tony, Frank, Joe or Louie.


18.  You have relatives who aren’t really your relatives. (I had a few)

19. . You have relatives you don’t speak to. 

20. You drank wine before you were a teenager. (Does dandelion wine count?)

21. You grew up in a house with a yard that didn’t have one patch of dirt that didn’t have a flower or a vegetable growing out of it

22. Your grandparents’ furniture was as comfortable as sitting on plastic.   Wait….You were sitting on plastic. (and your thighs stuck to the seat)

22. You thought that yelling was normal. (it still holds true in my house)

Mama Mia, Spaghetti and Meaballs

Mama Mia, Spaghetti and Meaballs

23. You thought sugared almonds, full sit-down meals, and the Tarantella were found at all weddings. (never went to one that didn’t have the works)

24. You thought everyone got pinched on the cheeks and had money stuffed in their pockets by their relatives. (Oh boy, when Aunt Susie visited!)

25. Your mother is overly protective of the males in the family no matter what their age. (Italian mothers and Jewish mothers)

26. There was a crucifix in every room of your house.(well not in every room, just most)

27. . You couldn’t date a boy without getting approval from your father. (Oh, and he had to be Italian.) (definitely true)

28. You called pasta “macaroni”. (with gravy)

29. Every condition, ailment, misfortune, memory loss and accident was attributed to the fact that you didn’t eat something.

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This is the day that many bloggers extoll the virtues of their Dads.  I am no exception.  I thought I would go back and re-read the blog I wrote last year to honor my Daddy -YES, even as a middle-aged woman, my father was still Daddy to me.

I read the 2011 blog and decided I couldn’t do any better this year.  I have many days when I miss my Dad dearly.  He was such a forceful presence in my life and I always leaned on him, looked to him for answers, asked him for help and of course argued with him.  We may have been cut from the same cloth but we sure didn’t agree on everything.

This one’s for you Dad again!

Dad in 2006


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Cover of "Daddy's Little Girl"

Cover of Daddy's Little Girl

Thank You!

I have so much to thank you for and I know I’ve said it before, this day, this Father’s Day, I feel the need to say it again.  And this time it’s going to be harder because I don’t know if you can hear me and I don’t have an address where to send this letter.  Of course, I can always fall back on my Catholic upbringing and hope and assume you are in heaven and in that case, you must be with Mom too.

But this day is about you;  As an only child who lost her mother when I was 9, you played a bigger than life role in my life.  All little girls adore their fathers, I was certainly no exception and for those few years when you had to be both Mommy and Daddy, you were my whole world.  I wanted to be Daddy’s Little Girl forever.

It must have been really hard for you!  I didn’t fully realize just how hard it must have been until I was in my own adulthood.  Like all children, being totally self-centric, even as I grew up I only thought of my own pain and loss. I don’t know at what point it occurred to me just how young you were and how the burden of being a single parent must have been on you AND then it was even later before I realized the daily pain you must have felt losing the love of your life, my mother, Helen.  She was only 33 years old so I guess you were probably around the same age.   Those evenings around the supper table just you and me and the empty chair are forever ingrained in my mind while you sat and stared into some place and time not in the present.  A broken heart, a full-time job to support me, a house to take care of, a child to rear and feed and nurture. Wow Dad, you rocked!

I am ever grateful to you for the parenting and nurturing you gave me that set me on the path of the person I’ve become.  Along the way, I ‘ve made a lot of mistakes, some which you tried to talk me out of and some which I guess I had to experience in order to learn a lesson.

But this day is just not about my lamenting the loss of my dear Dad, it’s also about memories held dear and thankfulness for hundreds, no thousands of big and little things, ideas, principles, values, and fun times.

So thank you Dad for so many memories….teaching me to tie my shoes, getting me a dog, letting me sit on your lap as you read even when I was way too big to do so.  For making me kites from road maps and making them bigger than any store-bought one with long tails, and letting me take even more maps to cover my school books, for letting me be a tomboy and because you worked for J & E Stevens, bringing home the best cap guns and holsters ever.  Thank you for teaching my friends and I how to water ski, for taking me along with you to pick the first dandelions of the season by Wadsworth Falls,  for giving me a jack knife and trusting me with it.  For teaching me how to fish and taking me deep sea fishing with you, for building stilts for me and for teaching me about shooting marbles.  Thank you for finding the money to send me to St. John’s School where I received such a good basic education, that those of us who went there were all bumped up an English grade in Junior HS.  You were the one who fixed the broken zipper on my dress an hour before I was supposed to leave for a dance and you were the one who was angry at me when you found out I was smoking!  Thank you for instilling in me the joy of reading, the value and satisfaction of growing flowers and vegetables, for taking us on vacation to the beach either in Maine or Rhode Island where I learned to love the smell of the ocean and body surf the waves. 

Thank you Dad for standing by me when I made the decision to get a divorce, for getting me a calf and raising it so we could slaughter it and have beef for a year, for teaching me to drive a stick shift car and for letting me play jacks on the dining room floor even though it probably scratched it up a lot.  I have great memories of you and Susan’s Dad, Bill and us all sledding at night down Spencer Drive, and of the clam bakes, pig roasts and other block parties that I know you were the instigator and I inherited that gene and passed it on to my own daughter.

Thank  you taking me clamming with you and teaching me how to eat clams on the half shell even when I was still small enough to sit in the bushel basket where  you put the clams you found.  For being the “fix-it” Dad that you were fixing all kinds of things around my apartment and house for years and years.  For always getting me a big pumpkin at Halloween and carving the best faces!  You were so involved in making the holidays special whether it was pumpkin carving or coloring Easter eggs with me and being the Dad in the neighborhood who got all the fireworks for Fourth of July and giving me sparklers, black snakes and poppers. Thank you for letting me plaster pictures of Elvis Presley all over my bedroom door and for buying me his records and my own Hi-Fi portable record player.

Thank you keeping the memory of my mother alive and marrying my stepmother so I wouldn’t grow up motherless.  I miss you Dad – there are many times when I reach for the phone to call you and ask you something and then I remember I can’t do that anymore.  This past week, I drove to CT to see Susan and on the way I passed the Stella D’Oro Cookie Factory, where when we drove past it on our way to see Grandma, we could smell the cookies baking and I knew we were getting close to her apartment.  Well the cookie smells have been gone a long time since the factory closed the manufacturing end and just used the building as headquarters.  Two days ago, I was saddened to see a For Sale sign on the building.  Just another incident in the passage of time and a reminder of days gone by, days spent with you Dad.

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Mom to the rescue


Yesterday was the official pay back day – the day we Moms get recognized for years and years of picking up, wiping up, cleaning up your toys,  planning meals, shopping for meals, driving kids to whatever, going to PTA meetings, helping with homework, cleaning the house, taking the dry cleaning in, doing the laundry,  standing on the sidelines cheering our kids on in their chosen sport, making birthday parties special, putting the new roll of toilet paper in the bathroom, taking temperatures, wiping noses, bringing tea and toast to the sick ones in bed, walking the floor in the middle of the night with the crying baby, changing our clothes 3 times a day because of spit up on our shoulders, buying the Easter candy and hiding the baskets, putting band-aids and kisses on knees and elbows, bathing and washing more than one person and not yourself, cooking dinners, making lunches, buying the sugared cereal once in a while, baking cookies and cupcakes for school parties, sitting by the pool while you have your swim lessons, taking you to the playground, filling your Christmas stocking, sending you birthday cards even though you’re in your 30’s, helping to plan a wedding, buying a wedding gown, helping you write the entrance essays for college, making French toast or pancakes for your sleep-over guests, car-pooling you and your friends to nursery school,  teaching you how to knit, sew, garden or cook, insisting you make your bed so you learn some sense of responsibility, taking you for your first real haircut, waiting for hours to use the phone while you chatter away to your friends (pre-cell phone days), reading books to you, singing lullabies when you couldn’t or wouldn’t sleep, taking you for your check-ups and consoling you with a Happy Meal when you got a shot, driving 15 miles to a special store because you only liked to wear certain corduroy pants,  wiping away your tears when you had a fight with a friend or worse – a break-up, giving you as much advice about love and life as you would listen to, making sure you were safe by calling even when you didn’t want me to, teaching you how to tie your shoes, cleaning up the vomit and accidents from your pet, buying a prom dress, telling you from the day you were born how pretty or handsome you really are and loving you till the day I die.

Now having said all that, I hope all you mothers reading this got at least a card, maybe a gift or a dinner or brunch – BECAUSE we deserve it, don’t you think?

And these THREE, only THREE  Six Word Memoirs were sent this past week, oh woe is Mom!

Mom’s – the do all, end all – Susan Celtic Lady

My wonderful mother was Auntie Mame – Gail

A mother, someone I never wanted to be – Anonymous

My mother myself, good or bad – Me

My mom is gone, not forgotten – Me

Well my theme idea didn’t fly this past week but I’m going to try again and this time in sight of the recent major political event – the assassination of Osama Bin Laden; maybe we can sum up our feelings about this in Six Words, no more, no less. Could be you’re ecstatic, disappointed, relieved, glad, sad, angry, upset or whatever…try to express it in just 6 words.

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The photo says it all…Finley is just doing what comes natural I guess…just like Mommy does.

baby nursing baby, dolly, breast feeding

Look Mommy! Just Like You!!!


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Photo showing some of the aspects of a traditi...

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It’s inevitable you know; It starts with the discussion/decision as to who is going to host the annual Thanksgiving Day dinner and then rapidly moves into the arenas of who should bring what and when should we eat.  That last particular question is the “thorn” in my side.  I grew up with having dinner in the afternoon, when I was married to my first husband we ate dinner in the afternoon and as I stated in a previous blog,  stayed at the table for the whole afternoon and evening until it was time for turkey sandwiches and more pumpkin pie!  My present husband grew up with the concept of Thanksgiving Dinner eaten in the early evening (maybe they didn’t want everyone to stay long enough for the turkey  sandwiches!).  I have kind of compromised on this point primarily because we don’t seem to have the kind of guests that like to play games and so no turkey sandwiches for them – we eat around 4pm.  This year may be different because Chiara and Tom and kids will be joining us and I think dinner time may have to be timed around naps – I don’t remember ever having that issue with my own, oh well…..

I have a list of Ten Taboo Topics you probably shouldn’t bring up during dinner.  Some of them are clearly meant for those wives (and husbands) who find themselves dining with the outlaws.

  1. Don’t discuss bodily ailments, no graphic descriptions of recent illnesses or conditions.
  2. Probably not a good time to rehash last year’s fiasco;  i.e.  when Uncle George got tipsy and fell into the dessert table  and your  sister’s  dog peed on the carpet.
  3. Try not to be passive aggressive;  Your chubby cousin is reaching for second helpings of mashed potatoes and stuffing and you mention how quickly your best friend lost all that baby weight and is now thinner than ever.
  4. The economy has been tough for everyone and even if you are the poorest of the church mice, this is not the time or place to complain about your bills, your lack of funds and loss of a job.
  5. Blended families are difficult enough, so during this occasion, refrain from mentioning how in your family your mother always did….
  6. If you and your husband are dining with both sets of parents, please don’t tell everyone how hard you two are working on getting pregnant – the visuals that appear in parent’s minds are not pretty!
  7. NO POLITICS – enough said especially in light of the midterm elections; NO POLITICS!
  8. That goes for off-color humor as well.  Tell your blue jokes to your friends, not your mom.
  9. Even if your mother/family cooked gourmet Thanksgiving dinners with everything made fresh and from scratch, don’t make comparison comments.  They will NEVER be appreciated.
  10. Religion – don’t even go there! If grace is said before the meal, just go along with the program, the host and most of the other guests don’t care if you are an atheist or a Buddhist – you’re a guest.

But you can make lots of conversation about:  weather, apolitical TV shows like Mad Men or 3rd Rock, recent vacations, funny characters from work, the delicious food, sports and if there’s some curmudgeon trying to pick a fight…mention puppies! Everybody loves puppies.

We’ll be taking a poll after Thanksgiving to find the most hilarious moment, the most awkward and the best side dish!!!

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