Thursday, December 29, 2016
The kids had a wonderful Christmas...lots of fun at their school Christmas program, the girls were each involved in the Christmas Eve Mass, Sofia had a reading and Olivia was an angel, and lots of family, friends and food in the festivities over the weekend. And don't forget the presents. All of this which make for very happy children. And of course, very tired children.
Settling in after the Christmas fun and I had some things planned for their week off and I decided to not do any of it. Well, the any of it that involved being outside of the house really. They got together with some friends and then basically chilled at home with their toys. Which I think at 9, 7, and 3 years old, they need just as much as I do.
The holidays are great, I do love them but I don't love when they seem to become a task rather than something I enjoy or want to do. The decorating, the buying and wrapping, the planning and scheduling and much more pile on top of one another and that pile ends up on me and weighs me down. I don't want to rush through the month but sometimes I feel like the sooner I get through it, the weight comes off and I can breathe again.
Here's to breathing easier this last week of the year and embracing the less is more policy in the future.
Saturday, December 24, 2016
I love decorating for holidays, but have realized through the years that less is more. Less to put out but still something to state it's a holiday and less to put away at the end of it. Win-Win.
A very cute and easy decoration. Affordable and a nice project for kids too. It's as simple as it looks and you don't need in the way of supplies or time. A bag of pom-poms and very thin baker's twine from your local craft store. Thread it threw with a needle and hang. Easy and adorable. Fun for the kids to do too, just supervise with the needle.
Friday, December 23, 2016
New York City for the day, the tradition continues to visit at Christmastime and what a fun day it was for the kids. Thankfully the weather wasn't as bitter cold as we have had lately but still cold enough to need to bundle up. Some stops at our must-see places like Times Square, Rockefeller Plaza and the decorated windows of the shops on 5th Avenue. This year we included a new visit - The Empire State Building. First time for my brother, the kids and myself and it was a great experience!
Waiting patiently for lunch, what a 3 year old cutie.
Can't visit at Christmastime without a stop to see the tree at Rockefeller Plaza.
The view from the 86th floor at The Empire State Building, the city that never sleeps with views of both the Freedom Tower and Liberty Island in the far distance.
And this totally happened...I was pulled into a street performance! Thankfully I didn't have to do anything but stand there but it was funny nonetheless. Talented guys making it work and entertaining bystanders in Times Square.
A visit to the Upper West Side to see Fabrizio at his job, the bakery was adorable and the cappuccino delicious. Win, win, win.
Leaving the city and enjoying the view...
Monday, December 19, 2016
Need an easy craft project for your Activity Advent Calendar or a simple gift for a teacher, nanny or neighbor? This is it. Doesn't get simpler than this when it comes to handmade and children. You don't have to have children to do this, I had fun doing one on my own.
What you'll need:
Plastic ornament bulbs - I purchased mine from Joann's for $1/each
Paint - I used what I had on hand since I always have craft paint in the house, plain or glittery works great
Mario is displaying what the cap looks like on, since that was the only way he was allowed to handle the paints PRIOR to the project. Once we had the table set up I did let him help. He did really well with it too, as I said it's very simple. Just squirt in several globs of paint, different colors look great together and swirl. Squirt and swirl. That's what they should be called, Squirt & Swirl Ornaments!
Cover opening with a napkin or your finger, if you don't mind getting paint on yourself, and shake about to coat the inside completely. I remove access paint from the ornament and allow to dry for several hours. Replace cap, add string and you're done. Quite honestly the simplest but a fun project too.
Finished project! I loved that we used glitter paint for ours this morning, they'll look pretty against the twinkling Christmas lights on the tree for our special friends.
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Mario Luca is 3. I still cannot believe sometimes that I have a son. After two girls and then 4 years after Olivia was born, out comes this rambunctious, silly and clever little human. And what a little man he's becoming too. He's inquisitive, funny, loving and adventurous. We have a lot of fun together and he loves his big sisters so much, "my girls" he calls them.
After I cooked up some of his favorite foods for dinner - baked salmon, sauteed spinach, corn and mashed potatoes - he gobbled up his dessert request which was cupcakes. I am so happy that he's a really good eater still but also enjoys his sweets. Just like his mama.
I love the way he's holding onto my hand in this picture. While I don't like to be in the photographs, I think it's so important to be present in a few pictures with your kids. I have so, so many of just the kids and try to make a point to hand the camera over to snap one up with myself with my little loves. I'm not great at taking selfies and never like the way I look in them but need to get over it so my kids know I'm not always just behind the camera.
Present time! He was so sweet opening his presents, didn't just rip through them but took his time and was genuinely happy with each of them. I always feel like 1 or two gifts is enough, especially for this young age. He received 5. He is the baby afterall. But they were well thought out gifts that he is interested in and one was a book so hooray for more reading with my little man.
Friday, December 16, 2016
From the time he wakes in the morning until he closes his sweet lashes at bedtime, he is on. Reading to him on my lap he asks questions, he tells me the colors of each car as we line them up playing on the floor, a bus or truck can not drive by my car without him having an opinion about it or having a question for me. Mommy, where is that truck going? What color is that car? Why is that man running? He is a flurry of questions, a wave of statements. One after the other.
He is my good eater - we share avocados, excitedly eats his salmon and enjoys grapes and apples as much as he does chocolate and cookies. He loves the moon, he points out the stars and we say hi to the sun when it's shining the brightest. He gives the best "squeezy" hugs and tells me I'm his best friend. He asks me to count the numbers in Italian with him and asks for Giro, Giro Tondo a hundred times a day.
He will be three this weekend and he is growing so fast and so strong. Sometimes I feel like I can't keep up and he already outruns me in the yard. I think that's a sign of the times and a prelude of what's to come.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Very early Wednesday mornings in Mesagne, vendors begin setting up their tables to sell their ware at the market. Tents are hoisted to provide shade in the bright sunlight, clothes are hung, jewelry and shoes laid out and produce is brought out crate after crate in hopes of high sales.
While each part of the market fascinates and beckons me, the produce section is by far my favorite. Yes, I enjoy eating but it's much more than that. From still far enough away you can begin to hear the merchants shouting prices, each attempting to be louder than the neighboring stalls. Everything and anything your taste buds desire is laid out in front of you awaiting your arrival. The vendors dare you to come closer to inspect and sometimes offer free samples. These men, women and yes, even children, go from town to town each day, every day. They are not shy, they know their product and most importantly, they know you. They engage you, they make jokes with you, they allow you to bargain with them, they want you to like them as much as you want to like their product. Week after week they will visit Mesagne and having gained your respect and admiration, they come to value you as a returning customer, maybe even a friend.
The rich colors and overwhelming aroma coming from many of the stands sells me each time. Since I am there only in the summer now I grow very appreciative of the fruits and vegetables of this glorious season, which thankfully in Puglia there is plenty of choice.
Aside from the obvious pleasure I receive in purchasing these locally grown and delicious items, I love love love chatting with the merchants. They have always been so kind to me, laugh while I take pictures of their cheese, peppers and tomatoes and I relish in the most honest smiles radiating from their faces.
I don't really know many of these people aside from seeing them each summer and my weekly visit to the market during my time in Mesagne. But I also like to think the better of people in that they are hard working (their job is a trying one), they are proud (they work their land and sell their crops) and above all, they are friendly (very few grumpy merchants are successful).
This guy though, he's my favorite. I look forward to seeing him each year and with every visit I make to the market while in Mesagne. Always ready for conversation and a smile at my camera, I don't visit the market without stopping by his faded orange ape (farm vehicle) and chatting to him for a few minutes before buying something. He's a guy that could tell you a little something I'm sure about anything, his work, his life, the world. He's also special because he knew my Nonno.
Uhm, a life goal attained. After years of mainly photographing his ape draped in garlic, peppers and oregano, I'm allowed to sit in it. He is obviously the sweetest man for humoring me. Future life goal would be to spend a full morning with him documenting his time at the market. Baby steps.
I just love the atmosphere, I don't need to necessarily buy anything, just walking around taking it in makes me happy too.
Many find it easier to shop in the grocery stores about town, I frequent the little shop in the Grutti where our home is in town for convenience and I've known the family that owns and runs the store basically my entire life. There's even a mall on the outskirts of Mesagne that is your one stop shop for nearly everything. Yes, the ease of everything being in one spot and the air condition in the summer is appealing. You won't be contributing to the economy of Puglia though that's pretty certain and the clerk behind the counter in Auchan didn't grow those peaches.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
It's so easy to let this month slip away without even being aware of it. Here it is already basically mid-month and it came upon us in the blink of an eye. December is notorious for coming on us silently and slyly wooing us with promise of sugarplums, carols and dreams of St. Nick. Decorate the tree, a drive to see the lights, shop for gifts for good girls and boys and BAM! The month is nearly over and you haven't sung your favorite carol yet, there's fudge still to be made and you have plenty of tape, just no wrapping paper.
I want to do too much, yet get caught up in the day-to-day life already going on and forget that we're in the midst of celebrating a pretty popular holiday. I mean, Christmas is kind of a big deal. Frankly, it's too much pressure to decorate each sugar cookie, crush those candy canes for the promised bark and hang another strand of lights. There are city attractions to be seen, music to be played and stockings to be hung. Something needs to be toned down and limits must be set.
So, here's to store bought fudge, friends who bake beautiful and delicious cookies and the genius that invented the gift bag. Pop in a holiday DVD for the kids, crank up the Christmas music in the car and fa-la-la-la-la you're way into the New Year.
Friday, December 9, 2016
My little man and I spent our morning at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. Inside, away from the frigid temps and surrounded in good, local food and products AND of course...the holiday train display. I take the kids into the city every Christmas to see the Macy's Light Show as well as the train display at Reading Terminal Market, but felt a special trip with my guy was in order.
Needless to say, he really enjoyed himself. And what kid wouldn't, there's buttons to push all over the train display and we all know how much kids like to push buttons. I couldn't help but smile and had to refrain from snapping up pictures of adults giddy with the display, pressing the buttons themselves and thoroughly enjoying it.
His smile made my day.
Doesn't hurt that you're quite literally nestled into a space crammed with one food stall after another boasting hundreds of delicious eats. I, naturally, am always beckoned to the sweets.
Can't help myself. Just look how pretty they are.
Chocolate covered pretzels, fudge and licorice...thank you and don't mind if I do.
The Amish stands always lure me in too with their homemade and natural honeys, jams and pretzels. Just doing my part to encourage local shopping.