Recently, I worked on a story about St. Patrick for Las Vegas’ La Voce and ItaliansRus.com, both publications for Itaian Americans. In my research, I learned that St. Patrick has ties to Roma. You can read all about it in the story, “St. Patrick is a Paesano.” In the meantime, enjoy the photo of my hubby (above), who is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day as I write this. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all! Irish – and Italian – eyes are smiling on you.
There was no way my parents, Zio Antonio, and I (Zia Francesca) would miss 8-month-old Maria’s first Christmas. Although we can’t be with her on Dec. 25, we threw a Christmas bash like no other six days ahead of schedule at Zia Rosaria’s pad in Florida. Zio Antonio and I spent the week having Maria warm up to us – both literally and figuratively — as we forced her and her parents to tour Disney World in the freezing temperatures (I mean even the Disney topiaries were covered in white blankets).
We learned a few things on this trip, among them that Maria looks so cute you could just eat her up whenever she wears any fuzzy outfits that have ears to make her look like a bunny and that she has quite a sense of humor, not to mention a huge appetite. There is also no question that she is related to us. Her belly tells the whole story. The kid can eat, and even when she shouldn’t eat, she does. The other day she ate a chunk of garlic off the floor where her papa’ had been cooking, and she didn’t even wince. But her mother confirms that she was stinky for pretty much the entire day. If she had cleaned the floor with a little bleach after the garlic, she might have smelled like her older zii.
Maria’s role models? Bella and Shilo, the family dogs, which might be why she thinks it’s natural to eat off the floor, sleep on a big cushion or even a tile in the middle of Zia Rosaria’s living room, and she begs for scraps from the table. Although I gest, she does have one helluva time getting into mischief with the dogs. They are her best friends for now, and she is especially cute with Shilo, who lets her pull his tail, jump on him, and chew toys and books with him.
The only way Maria could love them more is if they could feed her. That’s what she likes about all of us, I think. We overindulged her desire to eat more and more tiny morsels of apples, peaches, potatoes, pancakes, chicken, waffles, and yogurt. As a result, the child who never spits up or vomits threw up on us twice. All our fault! I’m actually honored she threw up on me.
Highlights of our time with Maria include Nonno Pasquale demanding that Tigger, who Maria followed all over the room with her eyes while at breakfast at 1900 Park Fare in Disney’s Grand Floridian, come to say hello to us and take a picture immediately, Maria and Donald Duck having matching sombreros in EPCOT’s Mexico pavillion, and the moments she shared with Babbo Natale (Santa Claus), who might have secretly been her Nonno Pasquale, and his reindeer, who might have been Nonna Regina. My personal best memory, however, was Maria curling up under my arm and falling asleep. So sweet!
To enjoy more photos of Nonno Pasquale as Babbo Natale and Maria with all the characters (and some of the rest of us, too), then check out “Maria’s 1st Christmas” photo album. Buon Natale a tutti!
The hubby is back in the United States with his green card in hand (almost, because it should be arriving via mail very soon). My parents gave him his very own barbecue grill as a gift in honor of his little piece of Americana. And a little chill in the air isn’t stopping him from grilling like it’s the fourth of July. In fact, just this afternoon he threw tuna steak and swordfish on the grill for lunch.
The very first day he was home, he picked up one of the huge pumpkins on our porch and started cutting it up. It was a major undertaking. I’m still sweeping up pumpkin seeds that fell under the kitchen counter and island, and he worked on this project more than a week ago. We also lost a J.A. Henckels knife in the process. Antonio stuck the knife into the pumpkin and when he pulled it out, he had only half a blade in his hand. The rest was jammed into the meat of the pumpkin. The company guarantees the knives for a lifetime, so we sent it back. We’ll see what happens. Regardless, after grilling the pumpkin Antonio bathed it in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and hot pepper. Can you say delishooos like an Italian trying to speak English? Well, Antonio can and did and so did I. Happy grilling to all and to all a good night!
Aside from meeting my husband Antonio (see photo above), taking a few glorious vacations with him, and marrying him, the last 10 years in my life have not been what you’d call a dream. But two other events did make my life more meaningful — or at least more joyous. The first was joining the Juventus squad on the field (as a photographer/reporter) as it faced off against A.C. Milan for the Super Cup at Giants Stadium in 2003. Juventus, which is my favorite Italian club team, won. But it wouldn’t have mattered if it lost. I was deliriously happy to be sharing the same air as such soccer gods as Gianluigi Buffon and Paolo Maldini.
The other sweetest moment was when Italy defeated France in the 2006 World Cup. (For more celebration photos from Italy’s victory, click on “Italy’s 2006 World Cup Victory” photo album.) It was a dream come true for me to witness my favorite national team finally win (in penalties and against France no less). What made it all the more beautiful was sharing the moment with my husband (then boyfriend) Antonio. We, along with family and friends, took to the streets in my family’s native Ischia. We were full of love and happiness. I wish I could bottle up that moment forever. Indeed, my husband agrees. He already wrote me to say that this year’s games are just not the same because he is watching them in Italy while I am watching them in the United States. Still, today, Italy plays Paraguay in its first game of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. I can guarantee we’ll both be cheering so loudly for the Italians that we’ll hear each other’s tribal cries from across the ocean that divides us.
Well, the hubby — miracle of miracles — is back in Ischia, Italy, despite the volcanic ash from Iceland that has disrupted air travel to Europe. We’re not sure how he made it home because virtually no one else has been able to leave. But if anyone could find a route back to Italy in a pinch, it would be my husband.
Since he’s been gone, I’ve been remembering our date nights (which I wrote about in yesterday’s blog on the About.com Newlyweds site) and the quiet moments we shared enjoying the spring, which until today had been unusually nice and warm, in New Jersey. You can join in on the fun with the following photo albums –
Our American Garden (We took these photos moments before taking Antonio to the airport on Thursday)
Although I miss my husband something terrible, I know we’ll be reunited soon. I just have to decide when I’m going to get a ticket to Italy — and pray the volcanic ash clears out.
The heat wave in New York had me itching for summers gone by. I decided to relive some of my childhood — and share it with my husband Antonio — and one of my first stops was the Bronx Zoo. (Visit the “Bronx Zoo” photo album.) It was a magical day when the gophers were communicating with us in the Children’s Zoo (see the photo above), the baboons raced each other, the lion awoke just so we could photograph him, and the giraffes frolicked for us. Although $27 for the total experience is more than I remember paying as a kid, it was well worth it. The only downside was my sunburned face, which is still looking a bit tomato-ish.
With the exception of my mom being away in Florida with my brother, his wife, who is expecting a baby (who is now seven days late and doesn’t seem to want out) and my sister, Easter 2010 was perfect. It was the first holiday, besides Thanksgiving (which I don’t count because my Italian husband never celebrated it until he met me in 2004), that my husband and I have spent together in the six years we’ve known each other. Crazy, right? You can join in on the fun — including our lobster dinner and egg game antics — by visiting the “Easter 2010” photo album.
A fine mist of pink food coloring spray is all around me, and I just scraped the last of the vomit green icing off my plastic dining room table cover. That’s how I know Easter is upon us. Every year, we invite over the gang of kids in my family for an Easter bash that defeats all others. We decorate cookies, dye eggs, hunt for plastic eggs filled with treasure, and get downright giddy. This year, we all wore bunny ears and never stopped hoppin’. You can join in the fun by visiting the “Easter Bash 2010” photo album.
It was the first Easter party that I hosted without my mom (who is still in Florida and still awaiting the arrival of her first granddaughter there). Mamma’s cookies (she usually makes them from scratch, while I used a tube of sugar cookie dough) were missed, as was her smile. But I think we pulled off a good time nonetheless. No one seemed to eat much (or I cooked too much, depends on who you talk to), and my husband got the adults started with cocktails and finished with Bailey’s and ice cream, so it definitely was a partttttaayyy.
My cousin Fran and my hubby Antonio graciously cleaned and put all the food away while I helped the kids with their projects and snapped photos of them. Miesha graciously cleared the kid’s table between projects, so they could get down to business with a clean slate. I can’t thank everyone enough for coming. I really needed a little break from the everyday and a little fun with the gang.
Our friend Agostino d’Ambra recently traveled from Ischia, Italy to spend three weeks with us while he studied English at Berlitz in New York. (Check out the photo album “Agostino in America“.) When Agostino called to say he arrived in Ischia, he said now that he was gone, I would be getting a break. After all, I would brown bag lunch for Agostino and my husband Antonio, wash their clothes, clean the bathrooms (and the rest of the house), make all the beds — oh and work full time and cook us all dinner. Alas, however, there is no rest for weary me. My mom took off for Florida, where she is awaiting the arrival of her first granddaughter. And I’m here continuing my free cleaning service for my hubby, my father (in mamma’s absence), and myself.
I’m madly in love with my husband Antonio and totally devoted to him, and I love Agostino and our male friends who have stayed in our home. (There have been quite a few of them; my family, in fact, has been jokingly referring to our house as a hotel with all the guests we’ve recently hosted from Ischia.) And my father is the greatest man I know. But man boys — especially those with lots of sisters, who used to clean up after them — are messy. If we all lived by a few simple rules, our lives would be much easier. (Let me add that this blog is also a clever way of introducing you to the various articles I’ve recently written for the About.com Newlyweds site about spring cleaning and isn’t necessarily a reflection of anyone in particular although the guilty know who they are.) If I ever have sons (or daughters for that matter), I’m going to teach them these rules, have them write them on the blackboard 100 times, and etch them into their brain matter.
Rules for Boys (and Messy Girls)
2. If there’s still olive oil in your dish, it is not clean. You need soap and water (preferably hot) to clean a dish.
3. Always put the milk back in the fridge when you’re done with it. Don’t put back an empty milk carton. Put that in the garbage or recyclables (if you’re responsible and it is possible in your community).
4. Follow directions, as in listen when I tell you how to divide the garbage for recycling.
5. Flush the toilet. Clean the bowl, at least a bit if you leave behind anything yucky.
6. This reminds me of when my cousin was a newlywed and gave a glorious, passionate speech at Sunday lunch about tire tracks on underwear and how men should, “Wipe and look, wipe and look, wipe and look — and you’re not done until the paper comes out clean.” Sage advice indeed.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – My husband Antonio is a fanatic about using a bidet and never ever has broken any of these bathroom rules and is in fact probably cleaner than me when it comes to his throne. I’d be remiss if I led you to believe otherwise. But this is another story for another blog.)
7. More sage advice – pee in the bowl and only in the bowl, not on the floor and certainly not on the wall. Ever.
8. A couch or chair is not a closet. Pick up those clothes and put them away.
9. Odor eaters and bleach are our dear, dear friends.
Boys, even though I know you’ll never follow any of these rules, I still love you all. Just be sure to thank me when I’m done cleaning up. (My husband and his friends and my father always do.) Now, I’m off to spend my lunch hour ironing and preparing dough for tonight’s pizza dinner before returning to my desk to continue reporting my latest stories and updating my Web sites. Maybe I’ll find time to eat, too. It never ends. Never. Ever. Never.
I must apologize for having been M.I.A. lately. The Business Schools team, of which I’m apart, at Bloomberg BusinessWeek was finishing up the annual undergraduate business program rankings. And Antonio and I have yet another visitor from Italy. This time our friend Agostino, the chef at his family’s restaurant Focolare in Ischia (see “Dinner at Focolare“), is staying with us and attending Berlitz courses with Antonio, who is still practicing his English.
Now that my work has calmed a bit — just a bit — I managed to finally post photos from Ludovica’s last days in the States, just before she returned to Ischia after her three-month American adventure. Check out those photos here –