My husband Antonio just left to return to Italy, so he can spend the holidays with his mother and sisters. As I sit alone in our bed, I am reflecting on the beautiful moments we shared in the last month. One of the best was our day at the Statue of Liberty (See “Statue of Liberty” photo album). Just seeing her chiseled face has me feeling proud to be an American. My visits to the Statue and nearby Ellis Island always have me in awe of my ancestors, who came to the United States to give me a better life. My paternal grandparents were in their fifties when they brough my father, who was 13 at the time, and some of the others to the United States. Can you imagine uprooting your life and moving to a whole other country at 50? I can’t. I’m forever grateful for the sacrifices they made — and the Statue says it all for me.
My husband Antonio and I have been celebrating our first wedding anniversary for months. On the anniversary of our actual Italian wedding, which took place on Oct. 2, 2008, my husband surprised me with a night in an Italian castle. Then, he came here to the United States and on the anniversary of our vow renewal, which took place on Nov. 29, 2008, we ate the buffet brunch at Villa Amalfi, where we held our American reception and ate the second coming of our vow renewal cake. (See photos of the brunch and cake in the “Vow Renewal Anniversary 2009” photo album.) Finally, just last week, we took a trip to Disney World, my anniversary gift to Antonio and celebrated at many fine Disney restaurants (more scoop on that in upcoming blogs). We don’t even need the holidays to come this year; We’ve done enough celebrating for a lifetime. For tips on how to throw your own vow renewal ceremony, visit About.com’s Newlyweds site.
Last year, when my cousin Fausto visited us from Italy, my Uncle Gino gave him the book Dirty Italian (Ulysses Press, 2006) as a gift. Fausto learned how to say completely vulgar phrases that I would never repeat, at least not in this blog. Uncle Gino found Fausto’s pronounciation and interest in this book downright hilarious — and he started buying copies of the book by the truck load. He now hands them out to all our Italian visitors. Over Thanksgiving weekend, Ludovica and Antonio happily received their copies. Now, they have English translations for telling a woman her breasts look like perfect melons or a man that he should f__ off. I guess I used one of those phrases in this blog — oops! You read it correctly. They even brought their copies of the book to show their teachers and friends at Berlitz, where they’ve been studying English. I’m so proud! Note the sarcasm. Way to go Uncle Gino!
Last week, my husband Antonio and I prepared a Thanksgiving meal for the ages. It was the first time ever that we hosted a holiday — and it was the Super Bowl of American holidays. Still, I think we pulled it off successfully. It helped that two of our guests were Italians, and Thanksgiving isn’t their holiday. If you don’t know what Thanksgiving is supposed to be, you can’t really gripe about it, right?
Seriously, we had a blast, and I wrote all about the prep in the About.com Newlyweds blog. You can also join us at our Thanksgiving table by visiting the “Our First Thanksgiving” photo album. I hope your holiday was as wonderful as ours.
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with all things New Jersey. I guess after having spent five months in Italy, I’m longing for a little bit of my home. That’s part of the reason I suggested taking Antonio and his friend Ludovica, who is staying with us while she studies English in New York, down the shore to Point Pleasant Beach on a Saturday afternoon in November. The other reason was that the weather was particularly warm until very recently here on the East Coast. (See the “Down the Shore” photo album for photos from our day.) We looked for sea shells — and found a ton of them, did a little shopping at the Jenkinson’s Aquarium gift shop, and took a stroll in the town of Point Pleasant. All in all, it was the perfect day down the shore.
The song Jersey Girl (which, in true Jersey Girl fashion, I’m listening to Bruce Springsteen sing as I write this) tells the entire story. “Cause down the shore everything’s all right, you and your baby on a Saturday night. You know all my dreams come true when I’m walking down the street with you.” My husband is one lucky man to have found an Italian Jersey girl who brings him down the shore on a Saturday night! A lucky, lucky man!
Whenever Antonio comes to the United States, he loves to feast on lobster. While the delicious shellfish that has meat as hearty as a steak is expensive in the States, it’s out of reach in Ischia. It costs hundreds of dollars to get one small lobster dish in Ischia. There is another shellfish, astice, that is similar to the lobster and more reasonably priced in Ischia. But it too is still pretty expensive. We almost always indulge in lobster at least once when Antonio is home in the States. This time around my cousin Fran cooked us up lobster stuffed with rice and more lobster. It was creamy and delicious. (Although stuffed lobster is a more advanced recipe, you can get tips for learning how to make basic recipes at the About.com Newlyweds site that I run.) There was so much of it that we ate lobster for days. I was afraid that Antonio was going to grow lobster claws.
As many of you know, my husband, Antonio Gerenini, returned to the United States last week — and he brought his friend Ludovica, another native of Ischia, Italy, with him. She’ll be staying with us while the two of them go off to New York to take English classes at Berlitz. Today was their first day of school. I packed them American-style brown-bag lunches that featured a ham and cheese sandwich, an apple, a banana, chips, and two little chocolates for dessert. I also made sure they each had an umbrella, notebook, and pen and pencil. They better make As.
So much has happened in the last week. When the two of them arrived last Tuesday, there was a terrible rain storm in Ischia, which caused an awful mudslide in the town of Casamicciola. At least one person was killed and others are injured. Ludovica, whose family is safe, is from Casamicciola and she was pretty emotional at getting word about the damage. In fact, a friend of hers who was also in New York studying English had to return to Ischia on Wednesday. (Our prayers are with the victims at this time, and we wish their families and friends our sympathy.)
Many people think I’m crazy for letting my husband spend his days with a pretty, single woman. But I trust them. And I did turn the debate about my “mental health” into a story for Newlyweds, and you can share your opinion on whether men and women — even married men and women — can be just friends. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say! Now, I’m off to see if hubby and Ludovica have homework yet.
I recently babysat for my little cousin William. We had a great time doing homework, watching Monsters, Inc., and eating pasta and Italian bread, a family favorite. Babysitting is a great way to decide if you would like to have a baby. It gives you an idea of what parenting really is. You get down to the nitty gritty — from convincing them to wear their socks (I lost that battle) to comforting them when they’re upset (I’m pretty good at that). For more information on how babysitting can help you decide whether to have a baby, you can read my Newlyweds blog “Babysitting As Practice for Parenting.” You can see pictures from my afternoon with William — and his brother Phillip who joined us with their mom later — in the “Adventures in Babysitting” photo album. To the right of this entry, you’ll see “Cousin William as Buzz“, a YouTube video of William’s appearance as an extra on the soap opera All My Children. Great stuff! One warning – the photos and video are so cute that you may just catch baby lust before you babysit anyone!
My family helped host two weddings — one in October 2007 and the other in October 2008 — for my brother and me respectively. As a result, we have not had a Halloween party for my little cousins since 2006. I must admit that, although the weddings were fun, I missed the Halloween party. And after five months in Italy, all I could think about was celebrating Halloween with everyone. On Friday night, we indulged in our usual hero sandwich and pizza buffet and followed it up with a murdery mystery game that had me dressed up as a pirate and the kids trying to figure out who kidnapped Ogre Francesca and murdered her friend Woody from Toy Story. Our favorite games — turning the adults into mummies and handing out bags with odds and ends from the dollar store (such as wings, wands, and mop tops for wigs) for a make-your-own-costume contest — were of course apart of the fest. The kids arrived all dressed up — and were thrilled join in the games. (For photos, visit “Halloween Party 2009” photo album.) It was like the Halloweens of yesteryear. In fact, the only flub was my attempt at making caramel apples. They turned out beautifully but they stuck to the wax paper and the trays. Next time, I will definitely use a candy thermometer and sprinkles or nuts to give them traction. Well, you live and learn. Happy Halloween to all!
When you first roll into Atlantic City, you might think you’re in some abandoned town. You might see a prostitute or two, depending on the time of day. You definitely will notice the pawn shops next to the tiny churches. I presume the folks who sell of their life’s posessions could stand to say a prayer or two.
Then, you turn a corner. Up ahead, you see the outlets — from Ralph Lauren to Coach. In the distance, you will see the lights and colors of the casinos on the Boardwalk. In fact, once you reach the Boardwalk, you forget all about that other Atlantic City. You start to give luck a chance — and take a spin on the slots. You might do some shopping. Head to the buffets and pig out. You will definitely do some people watching.
Once a year in October, you might be watching my people. A bunch of Italian Americans pack themselves into three buses that leave from northern New Jersey early on a Sunday morning and head to the Boardwalk. Every year, there’s some story. One year, my cousin Salvatore’s wallet was stolen and he couldn’t report it because the bus threatened to leave without him. Another year the bus broke down and the people on board were ushered into the woods to wait for a replacement. This year was the first one that I agreed to join the herd. (For photos of our day, visit the “Atlantic City” photo album.) Aside from one of the older ladies getting confused about which bus to get on and losing my father in the Showboat, everything went swimmingly well. Maybe I’ll join the herd again next year. We’ll see.