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.
What a week we have had. It was full of disaster and drama. On Saturday night, we were ordering Chinese take out and waiting for my friends to arrive. The next thing we know, there’s a leak streaming down the wall in our hallway. And moments later, the lights went out. My friends called to tell us the police turned them away from the highway, and they were forced to return home.
We were without electricity from Saturday until Tuesday. The house felt like a giant ice cube. We had to take turns dragging buckets of water out of the basement. We were lucky to have very little damage to the floor in the basement. The water was turned off for two days, too. Needless to say, we have a new appreciation for the little things – brushing your teeth with water, a hot shower, and a light for reading. Of course, I’m ever more grateful for television. Oh how I love you fair TV! If you’d like to check out all the damage from the last two storms New Jersey has faced, visit the photo albums “Blizzard of 2010” and “Noreaster of 2010“. The blizzard with its heavy snow paved the way for all these trees to come crashing down during the noreaster. Now, I feel as though it was all a terrible nightmare.
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 –
One of the highlights of our weekend was going to lunch with cousins Fran, William, Little William, and Phillip for sushi at Robongi in Hoboken. Antonio and I never eat sushi, but Little William loves this place, so we couldn’t say no. We’re glad we went. Antonio devoured the sushi and sashimi and everything else that arrived at the table. I stuck with the chicken teriyaki and dumplings, which are my favorite and were divine. The best part was hanging out with the kids, however. William and Phillip were cuter than ever (To see pictures of their adorableness, you can visit the “Sushi Fun” photo album.)
We can’t thank Fran, William, Little William, and Phillip enough for offering us lunch and introducing us to a new restaurant that I’m sure we’ll visit again.
My husband’s romantic gesture in the snow yesterday inspired today’s blog on the About.com Newlyweds site. Check out the Newlyweds blog and leave a comment about what you plan to do to lift the spirits of someone you love today. You can learn how to write a love letter to boot. Make sure to express your love in a meaningful way as often as possible. I know I’m grateful that Antonio makes me feel loved all the time — even when the snow isn’t falling.
Today, my younger brother Mr. John turned 30. This is a milestone for the whole family because it is a sign that we’re all really getting up there in years. But it’s also an excuse to celebrate life — what we’ve experienced and what’s still to come. Mr. John and his wife, for example, are expecting their first child in early April. Just today we celebrated the birthdays of of our cousin Amy, cousins Antonio and Tommasina, and Big Fran, whose birthdays who all fall during this time of year. And the world continues to turn. Happy birthday to Mr. John and all our friends and family celebrating birthdays and life’s special moments. (For more photos of Mr. John, visit many of the photo albums on this site and especially the latest one from our most recent stay in Florida.)
Whenever Antonio and I have a craving for Buffalo wings, mini burgers, and some skee ball, we head to Dave & Buster’s. (For photos of our latest trip to the restaurant/arcade/carnival, visit the “Big Snake at Dave & Buster’s” photo album.) It’s definitely one of our favorite date nights. He always beats me at the video games, and I always beat him at the basketball shots. (I know, I know, he is so tall, he should beat me, but I know how to use the backboard to make my shots land in the net!) We both indulge in the Deal or No Deal game together. When we brought Serpentone to Dave & Buster’s, I actually landed 1,000 tickets on the big fish “Reel It In” game. It’s pure luck, and luck was the lady that night.
My husband and I always seem to be entertaining people, especially when we are at our home in the United States. Whenever friends come from Italy, we cook, clean, and visit New York way more than usual. It’s worth it because we usually have a whole lot of fun ourselves. Although we sometimes get on each other’s nerves in the kitchen. We both have our own way of doing things, and we usually end up cooking two different menus. Recently, we had our friends Francesco Serpentone, Domenico, and Titti, along with a few other Italian guests, join us for dinner — and my father did the cooking while I was working and Antonio was with everyone at the Statue of Liberty. I just took care of setting a lovely table, the salad, antipasto, and dessert. Papa did the rest. We made a pretty great team. You can join us at the table by visiting the “Dinner with the Big Snake” photo album.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I want to give a shout out to New York. I’m a proud New Jerseyan, but living so close to Manhattan (just 15 minutes over the GWB, which is literally in my backyard), I have developed a fondness for the Empire State, too. Two weeks ago, I brought our friend Francesco Serpentone (Big Snake), our friend Ludovica, and my husband Antonio to the Empire State Building. Looking up at the top of the building from the ground has one feeling as tiny as a bug. It inspires and motivates you to keep growing. Looking down at all the buildings and beauty below, you feel like pushing hard to find success, to be a part of that business underneath you. To get through today, in fact, I might have to hum Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind“. I love New York for its wonder and its ability to push people to change themselves for the better or the worst. I’m choosing the better. I hope all of you will do the same. Perhaps, my picture of a sparkling Chrysler Building amid Manhattan’s bright skyline will get you started. (To see more pictures of our day in New York, please visit the “Big Snake Comes to America” photo album.)