Maria getting ready for her baptism. © Photo by Francesca Di Meglio
Amanda (r.) shows off her bouquet and cousin Nina (l.) at her Confirmation dinner. © Photo by Francesca Di Meglio
From the begging of this summer, my family has been celebrating milestones with its young people. Two of the biggest events we recognized were my niece Maria’s baptism (for photos, visit the “Maria’s Baptism” photo album) in May and my cousin Amanda’s confirmation in June (for photos, visit the “Amanda’s Confirmation” photo album). Both Maria and Amanda made us proud as they conducted themselves beautifully during these important religious moments in their lives.
I guess family has been on my mind because lots of my stories have focused on relatives, too. For the Our Paesani column that I write for ItaliansRus.com and Las Vegas’ La Voce newspaper, I covered “20 Signs Your Italian Man is a Mamma’s Boy,” “Stuff Our Italian Fathers Say,” and “Italian Family Feuds.” Obviously, those of you who know me can be certain that I drew on my own personal experiences – and family – to write these stories. And I even make a funny in the first two. I guess I’m not as serious as you thought!
The box was more fun than the gifts apparently. © Photo by Francesca Di Meglio
Last week, we celebrated my niece Maria’s first birthday. As is usually the case, Maria had a fever and was not nearly as interested in the festivities as us adults. Still, there were some unforgettable moments, such as when she climbed into one of the gift boxes and tried to eat the foam peanuts rather than play with the toy inside and the cupcakes that were adorned with her adorable face (which Zia Francesca proudly made for her). You can see the cupcakes and more at the “Maria Turns 1” photo album.
Hair dresser Francesca takes our criticism for some funny looking 'dos. © Photo by Laura Porraro
Girl’s night is a necessity when you need to blow off some steam. Little girls are just as good as big ones when you need to put aside stress — which usually is a result of the men in your life — and have a little fun. After the worst trip I’ve ever had to my family’s native Ischia (lots of drama and work and little time for rest), I was itching for a girl’s night. And my nieces — Francesca, Laura, and Giulia — were up for an old-fashioned pajama party. (To see photos from our slumber party, visit the Girl’s Night 2010 photo album.) We pigged out on pizza and chips, did each other’s hair and nails, poked fun (just see the hair-do’s above), and we even slept a bit. In the morning, I made a big American breakfast, with eggs Benedict, pancakes, ricotta pancakes, and even pancetta (instead of bacon) on the menu. In the end, I had a lovely pedicure, soft hands, and a little less stress than before. Grazie mille a Francesca, Laura, e Giulia!
Maria Regina is sticking her tongue out at you. © Photo by Nonna Regina
Yesterday was a long and wonderful day. Finally, after months and months of waiting, Maria Regina joined our family. The daughter of my brother John and his wife Jaci, Maria was born at 7 lbs. 10 oz. and 21 in. long. I haven’t met her in person yet. (Antonio, papa’, and I just arrived in Florida last night and spent two hours driving around trying to find the hospital only to keep ending up back at the airport. We cursed like sailors at each other until we just went to our home in Kissimmee and gave up. We’ll meet Maria in just a little while.) I did, however, speak with my new niece on the phone last night, and she yelled at me, too. Apparently, she was hoping we would get to the hospital, but she proved that she already fits right into the family. Seriously, she’s a bundle of joy — and she’ll be a great addition to our crew. To see more pictures, visit, “Maria Regina” photo album.
My Italian nieces get a kick out of making muffins in our Italian kitchen. © Photo by Francesca Di Meglio
From the moment I arrived in Ischia five months ago, my nieces Francesca and Giulia Buono and Laura Porraro have been keeping a calendar. During the week, I work — even if I’m home with them — I’m working. They know that they’re not supposed to come visit me while I’m working unless one of the adults sends them with a message. Sometimes, they come anyway. As a result, I have developed ways to keep working and keep them busy. While I’m working, they are allowed to pull out their box, which thanks to my mom, is filled with goodies for making pictures and homemade cards or they can read.
On the weekends, however, they know that I don’t have to work and they can come to my room whenever they’d like. Usually, I try to come up with special things to do on the weekends. Recently, we made Halloween decorations for my room. Another time, they made videos of themselves singing. Once, we made muffins. It was really the most fun we’ve ever had — until they started fighting and their moms had to break it up. Before the war broke out, we managed to make one batch of chocolate chip muffins and another of banana muffins. Delicious and delightful fun!
My nieces made their favorite chocolate chip muffins with a little help from Zia Checca as they call me. © Photo by Francesca Di Meglio
(l. to r.) Francesca and Giulia Buono and Laura Porraro have an all-American pajama party in Italy. © Photo by Francesca Di Meglio
Italian kids have a fascination with all things American. They watch the Disney channel and Cartoon Network and see all of the wonder of American pop culture. They are particularly fascinated by the concepts of American high schools and the teen scene. One of the traditions my Italian nieces, Francesca and Giulia Buono and Laura Porraro, noticed most of all was the pajama party concept. After they asked a million questions about pajama parties and heard that my sister and I had hosted one for our cousin Nina in the United States, they wanted me to host one for them, too. I happily obliged.
We ate popcorn and played Trivial Pursuit Disney (in Italian, of course) and Sorry Express. I filmed them as they pretended to rescue their stuffed animals and played vets in our kitchen. And then I let them put on lip gloss and do their hair while I gave them manicures and pedicures replete with hand and foot soaking, a moisturizing treatment (note the gloves in the photo), and white nail polish. They fell asleep around midnight while watching Never Been Kissed starring Drew Barrymore in English. The next morning, I made them pancakes and scrambled eggs, and we drank orange juice as if we were in the United States. It’s a great way for girls in any country to celebrate — and I’m sure they’ll remember the pajama party for years to come. You can read all about our cultural exchanges in the bi-weekly “Our Paesani” column on ItaliansRus.com.