Wednesday, May 17, 2006


This morning in my sixth grade class, the students had just gotten back their newly-developed class photos and were passing them out. I took a look at them, all smiles, and noticed that one of the students--Riccardo the tall (okay, so not so tall, but you should see how short the OTHER Riccardo is!)--was wearing a Chicago Cubs t-shirt.

"You like the Cubs?" I asked.

"I really DID do my homework--I just left it at home." Riccardo responded in Italian.

"NO," I said, guessing he had misunderstood (and beginning to wonder about the homework). "Chicago Cubs!" I said.

"Ah, yes. Them. Yes, I like them."

"You like baseball!?!" I yelped. I guess I am surprised every time someone here likes baseball, or even knows a team, but it was neater still that he liked the Cubs. "I live quite close to Chicago!" I said excitedly.

"Uh huh," Riccardo said. He smiled. I smiled. He adjusted his glasses. That was that.

I started the lesson, had them talk about how often they brush their teeth (lets just say it's not that often) and then make up little telephone conversations and, before I knew it, class was over. I was gathering up my stuff, getting ready to go to the next class, when there was Riccardo again--the tall one--tapping on my shoulder.

"I have a ball of white socks." he said, proudly.

I looked at him, my eyebrows raised. Was he trying to make some sort of joke? "A what? Are you kidding?"

"No." Now he seemed confused. He repeated himself louder this time. "I've got a ball of white socks!" He smiled, beaming. I could just imagine him, holding a big ball of tied up socks, ready to throw it at me. Was this some sort of threat?

"White socks," I responded. White socks. Oh! This was the Chicago Cubs kid. He meant he had a ball of White Sox! A White Sox baseball! I began to laugh. He looked slightly hurt.

"No, it's really funny because, well, socks, White Sox, like white socks, I thought you meant..." I tried to show him my socks--which were black. He cocked his head to the side, looking at me as if I were the crazy one. I stopped laughing and pulled myself together. "Ah. Baseball. The White Sox. I see. How neat!" I nodded.

He smiled some more and adjusted his glasses. I said goodbye and grabbed my stuff.

And that was that.


Manic Monday

the birthday boy with his wife (me), at our niece Valentina's 1st communion

May is a festive month for us: our anniversary, Antonello's birthday, lots of friends and family's birthdays--my uncle Hop, my boss Paul, our friends Jodi and Ray--and, this year, plenty of big events like our niece's first communion and Antonello's cousin's ordination into the priesthood. As you can imagine, we've been keeping busy. Monday was Antonello's birthday, and it was bound to be a full day.

I went into town early to work--I had one lesson at the middle school, and, as always, these lessons tend to be cancelled at the last minute. This one was no exception. I was walking toward the middle school, past the main piazza, when I noticed some students going by. First it was the 8th grade class. I waved and walked on. Then some seventh grade students walked by--another class--and I waved again. Then, the sixth grade class--the lesson I was about to teach--walked by. I stopped in my tracks. What was going on?

Two seconds later, I saw the teacher (I am a lettrice, which means that, on my lesson days, I'm a guest teacher, so I always have the regular English teacher present). There had been a mix up, a last minute theatre outing, and no one had called me. I decided to let it slide. It was my husband's birthday, I only had 4 more hours of class at the middle school before summer break, and I didn't feel like arguing. Instead, I used my newly acquired 'free time' to pick up some last minute ingredients for the cheesecake that Antonello had requested for his birthday.

There was no way I was going to get this cheesecake done today (Antonello and I had already discussed the fact that this cake was going to take some time to complete), but I needed to get started anyway. On my list was heavy whipping cream, and I searched up and down the dairy aisle for something resembling whipping cream with no luck. About to give up, I spotted a packet of those tiny little coffee creamer containers. Hmmm. Didn't seem quite right, but for a packet of 12, it only cost 40 cents. What the heck. I decided to get it--as a back up plan.

Back home, I got to work on baking some cookies (hey, if he couldn't have cake on his birthday, perhaps cookies were the next best thing?), and started on lunch, too. By lunchtime, the smell of fried eggplant and tzaziki sauce intermingled with the aroma of baked chocolate and raisin oatmeal cookies coming from the oven. What a strange birthday lunch!

That afternoon was busy too. I had three and a half hours of lessons (non-cancelled, this time), then I had to get a few more birthday things and get home and wrap presents. I frantically spent the last hour before Antonello got home dashing between tying up bows and cooking up dinner, wrapping my presents for him and those from my parents (they had sent Antonello's gifts back to Italy with me). When I set out everything on the coffee table in the living room before his arrival, there were so many gifts that it felt festive--Christmas-like. I went back to cooking, happily munching on oatmeal cookies and listening to my ipod--waiting for the birthday boy to come home.

That evening, Antonello unwrapped his presents, ate dinner, and relaxed. It was just what we needed--a night off. With everything as busy and hectic as it's been lately, spending the evening in made sense. We watched 2 hours of Antonello's new favorite TV show--Lost--and entertained impromptu guests, our friends Giampaolo and Luciana. In the middle of it all, my parents called to wish Antonello a happy birthday, and it all seemed just right: friends chatting in the living room, my parents on the phone with Antonello, gift wrap from just-opened presents piled up on the coffee table. The evening of staying in, a quiet birthday celebration at home, was the perfect antidote to another busy Monday, and a busy month of May.

Buon compleanno, Antonello! Tanti, tanti auguri!


Sunday, May 14, 2006

mum's the word

Before I head off to bed--for this, with Sunday's first communion lunch and Saturday's priest ordination dinner, has been one of the busier weekends in recent memory--I didn't want to forget:

Happy Mother's Day, mamma! I love you and miss you, and I'll talk to you tomorrow! Also, Happy Mother's Day to Antonello's mom, Lina! Thank you both for all you mean to me and Antonello. Thank you for being such great mothers. We love you very much.

Happy Mother's Day to all other moms too! Buona festa della mamma!

Now, I will gladly doze off. Tomorrow is a busy day too! (Cake baking for Antonello's birthday and work, work, work!)


More blog entries to come soon: I FINALLY want to share the photos Corrie and I have from L'Aquila (I know, it's been over a month now--sorry!), and I'd like to post about this past weekend's busy events! But now, as I said--off to bed! Good night!