Friday, September 30, 2016

Antonio turns 21!

A very happy birthday to my very baby brother! And I mean that in the best way possible since I am 17 years OLDER than him!!! 

But just a few pictures, of the hundreds upon hundreds I have of my baby brother growing up. Can't believe he's finally legal to drink and he enjoyed his first drink last night. wink, wink!

Love you Antonio.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

This little thing called LIFE

That family of four above was my family of four for a very long time. 17 years to be exact. We lived in Italy, lived in Maryland, went on ski trips, took long drives all over Italy, spent time with my dad's family in Pittsburgh, spent a lot of time with my mom's family in Mesagne, went to Disneyland and took on the typical day-to-day activities of a family of, work, pets, sports and all the other millions of things you take for granted in your family life. But it was just us, the four of us. And then something happened. My parents sat Scott and I down to talk on April 1, 1995 to tell us that my mom was pregnant. I was in 11th grade and Scott in 8th grade and naturally had more important things to do than listen to our parents talk nonsense. I mean, they couldn't be pregnant, right? That's not possible.

Wasn't it just going to be Scott and I as brother and sister forever. It had just been us for years, playing together, fighting together, being a brother and sister. Together. But this wonderful, crazy thing called life had other plans for us. We weren't going to be just the two of us in this world for much longer...

September 30 I got a call from my dad pretty late at night saying that I had a baby brother. I told him that I knew but I didn't know where he was right then and there. I thought he was referring to Scott. Like I said, it was late at night and I had been sleeping. But no, my dad was excitedly telling me about my NEW baby brother. My mom had been on bed rest in the hospital for some time with this pregnancy and born 2 months early we introduced the world to preemie Antonio Patrizio. He was tiny weighing just around 5lbs and so fragile. He was in NICU for a bit but eventually put on his weight and came home to join our family. We were now a family of five.

And man, did Antonio add to our little family of four. Well, for starters he's by far taller than any of us so there's that. He turned Scott and I into REALLY big sister and big brother seeing how I am 17 years older then Antonio and Scott 14 years older. We had baby toys around the house, saw my mom nursing him, had to remember to hold his hand in the parking lots and on occasion we babysat him for my parents. Children birthday parties were a thing again in our house. He came to visit me when I went away to college, he was the ring bearer in my wedding and a groomsman in Scott's wedding. He is the godfather to Sofia and Chase and an amazing uncle to Olivia, Mason, Mario and Gabriella.

He has added a lot but most importantly I think his presence reminds us that anything can happen. You can be going about your life, not being able to truly predict what's around every corner and then it happens. Life hands you something and you take it and run with it because there's no looking back, no rewind button. No do-overs, no time-outs. You take it, embrace it and grow.

You go from a family of four to a family of five and you create a new life. All together.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Coconut Sugar Lip Scrub

We're coming up on that time of year again when leaves fall, temperatures drop and lips get dry. My girls and I use this very easy do-it-yourself lib scrub throughout the year but especially during the Fall and Winter.

2 Tbsp organic coconut oil
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Mix both ingredients very well in a separate glass bowl and then scoop into a separate glass jar with lid for use whenever you need it. I bought these amber jars on Amazon and they are great. They're small but don't let size fool you, you only need a very small amount each time you use the lip scrub.

When you go to use it, I dip my ring finger into the jar and get a small amount out. Rub on lips in circular motion and then rinse off. Tastes good too!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Tortoreto Alto, Abruzzo

While we were in Abruzzo this past summer, we spent an evening in the medieval town of Tortoreto Alto. We had dinner with a view of the valley below, strolled the cobblestone streets, enjoyed a small fair and town celebration and of course, I took pictures.

In the picture above, the Gran Sasso can be seen in the distance and is a staple image for most of Abruzzo as they span a good bit of area. Much of Abruzzo looks like that picture to me, a quilt fanned out over the hills, speckled with homes, towns and farms.

There isn't much that I don't try to photograph, especially when in Italy. I think it's all rather magnificent no matter how worn, battered or typical it may look.

A mostly red bricked up wall that is crumbling and under construction or a simple door knocker against a faded blue door...

A flowering potted plant added to a stone windowsill is breathtaking to me...

The elaborate doors on some of the houses were really incredible. Being a Leo, I particularly loved this door knocker.  My future door knocker.

You might be thinking if you've seen one weathered door against a stone wall, you've seen it all and there's no need for more. But that just isn't true. Each stone wall, each door, each town has it's own story that has it's own worth to be absorbed and captured.

The kids loved visiting a town they had never been to before and appreciated it even more once they found out it was considered medieval. The girls love hearing about how these towns we visit in Italy have been around for hundreds upon hundreds of years. Most have their own castles, statues depicting battles fought, fairs to celebrate the town and it's inhabitants and so much history that it's always worth another visit to learn more.

We had dinner at a restaurant that specializes in pizza and arrosticini (beef on a stick) which Mario truly enjoyed...always helps to add that the majority of towns we visit are going to have something delicious for your little foodies.

And most always, flowers to be picked too.

And views for the photog mama.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Benvenuti ad Alba Adriatica

The day after the festival in Mesagne, we left on a five-hour car ride to spend a week in Alba Adriatica in Abruzzo with Anthony's mom, sister, nephew and niece. A week of fun in the sun, biking in the evening down lungomare, afternoon naps, pizza, gelato, pizza, gelato, get the picture.

I got into a lovely routine each morning to rise before the others and head to the beach for a walk, some pictures and then breakfast...all on my own. It was lovely. One of my favorite things are the quotes found on some brand of sugar packets at the bars.

"Ogni giorno e un giorno in piu per amare, un giorno in piu per sognare, un giorno in piu per vivere"
Padre Pio

Every day is a day to love more, dream more, live more. Everything sounds better in Italian. 

In the evenings, the kids became accustomed to bike rides, gelato and going to the rides. I got used to a light drink on the balcony and the moon rising over the Adriatic.

These kids are beyond fortunate for their experience each summer in Italy. So happy they enjoy it and one another too!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Morning at Linvilla Orchards

My little man and I spent a great morning at Livilla Orchards today. Officially Fall, but having some warmer weather this morning, it was fun to feed the animals, watch the tractors go into the fields, play at the playground and of course, enjoy the Farmer's Market.

He loves talking to the animals. "My name is Mario, what are you doing?" Future pick-up line perhaps.

The wooden playground equipment is always a good time for the kids but especially Mario on this visit since he loves all things trucks lately. Firetrucks, tractors, monster trucks, buses, etc. Basically anything that is big and is loud is his thing.

My smiley little guy.

We went through the maze together and he held my hand the entire way and kept asking "where we going mama?" Hopefully I didn't traumatize him from going through future mazes with me since I love them.

Some typical Linvilla and pumpkin season is upon us!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Finding beauty in the most unlikely places

Walking through Mesagne's centro storico one blazing hot afternoon, I came upon a crack in the wall. Seeing how centro storico is one of the oldest parts of town, there was nothing terribly impressive about this crack considering I saw many others along my walk, but this time I decided to stop to see what I could see. No bigger than a milk carton, but the opening allowed me enough space to see into what now is and allow me to envision what might have been.

A floor rotted away, walls broken and crumbling and some trash littered about the space. But what I really saw was an old brown door that led to a bright opening, covered in a magnificent array of green shrubs. That same door sheltered a living space for someone that may have loved living there. Living in this perfect part of town with this door off their room that led up some old stone steps to a sun drenched haven. Their sun drenched haven.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

if photos could speak...

Santa Maria al Bagno, 21 Giugno 1964 

I brought back a handful of family pictures from my parent's this past weekend and am beginning the process of scanning and savoring. Some have no information as to where and when, while others have so much. Such as this one of my nonna and nonno at a coastal town in Puglia, not far from Mesagne in 1964.

Knowing that information and seeing this image I can structure my own story to the day...The 21st was a Sunday, two days after my Nonna's birthday on the 19th, and they both must have had the day off from work.  My nonna worked in the farms and my nonno worked at the train station in Mesagne and back then you didn't work on Sundays in Italy. You simply enjoyed the day however you saw fit. I don't know who took their picture, but I'd like to think they laughed out loud at the spontaneous posing.

I love their carefree smiles, her windswept hair and of course, her leg draped over his shoulder. My nonna was a feisty one. My nonno was a smoker and you can see his cigarette dangling in between his fingers on his left hand. His outfit was a very typical selection for him and featured in many pictures that we have of him. The town, Santa Maria al Bagno, is located on the Ionian Sea, where while you can't appreciate it from this particular picture, but the waters are a perfect crystal blue.

It's definitely going to be a day trip for me on my next visit to Puglia to try and locate this very spot. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Downtown Annapolis

The kids and I enjoyed a night with my parents this past weekend that also allowed me some time to myself to get out and take some pictures in one of my favorite American cities...Annapolis, Maryland. The perfect-sized seaport town for walking, taking in the boutiques, restaurants and of course, the sailing life. And you don't need to be a veteran sailor to enjoy this town either, I've never sailed and I love the atmosphere.

The quaint architecture, the curbside decor, all the patriotic love...Annapolis has a lot to offer in the way of photography subjects. 

Not certain what this flowering bush was, but it smelled delightful.

If I had my own shop, you'd better believe there would be a quote-a-day going on outside for passersby reading pleasure. 

And you can't visit Annapolis without stopping into Kilwin's. Well, you could not go but that would be a huge mistake as there is something for everyone in the way of delicious sweets. The girls were very excited to see me carrying a bag in hand when I returned.

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