The last few weeks have not been all work and no play, however. Today, we’re celebrating Mother’s Day, and my own mamma deserves some serious props because she’s been taking care of me all my life (and she keeps on keepin’ on). Back on April 27, we hopped in the car with the Golden Girls (Zia Concettina and Zia Antonietta) and their dates (Zio Raffaele and Zio Vincenzo) and took a spin to the Dynasty Buffet, where we pigged out and celebrated my Papa’s birthday. Setting loose a bunch of Italians on a buffet featuring shrimp, crab, Chinese food, and carving stations takes a whole lotta’ courage.
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.
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.
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.
Animals have been capturing my attention lately. Maybe spring is in the air. Maybe it is the nurturer in me, who has been longing to have a little creature on which I can dote. Maybe it’s my sister — the zookeeper — rubbing off on me. Whatever it is, animals have been winning my heart. A couple of weeks ago, Antonio and I brought a friend from Italy to Point Pleasant, N.J., where we spent part of the day at Jenkinson’s Aquarium with the fishies and their amphibian friends. (For photos, visit the “Jenkinson’s Aquarium” photo album.)
Over the weekend, my sister Rosaria adopted herself a beagle (yes, another beagle) named Shilo. I’m already in love with the little bugger, and I haven’t even met him yet. The photos are that adorable. Last night, Antonio and I watched March of the Penguins for the first time. (I know I’m a little behind the times.) Doggone it, that was a good flick. Those penguins are so disciplined and they make such sacrifices. I was blown away and humbled. The little baby penguins were friggin adorable. That’s why I was not at all surprised at myself when I chose a photo of a mama lamb and her babies for today’s Wordless Wednesday entry on About.com’s Newlywed site. Check it out, leave a comment (or better yet share your own baby story), and drown in the cuteness of these animals.
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)
1. There’s no shame in a man — even an Italian mamma’s boy of a man — making his own bed, folding his own laundry (or dare I say, even washing it).
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.