Monday, September 28, 2009

The trunk

I've spent the last week cleaning the basement and clearing out the junk that we've accumulated throughout the years. As I was moving pieces of furniture, I came upon this trunk. It's always been there, buried beneath my stash of wrapping paper, gift bags, and streamers. The rusted top is disintegrating and crumbles to the touch. The delicate paper that lines the inside peels and falls away as the tiniest spider creeps across its surface. The trunk has seen better days, that's for sure. Actually, it's seen better decades. In the early 1900s, my great grandfather, Francesco DePinto, and his wife, Angelina packed their belongings into this trunk. Together with their 5 daughters and one son, they left the life they knew in Bari, Italy and crossed the Atlantic Ocean to begin a new life in America.
I have heard stories about the relatives I never had the chance to meet, but one story symbolizes the character of my great grandfather, and the character of the immigrants of his generation. When my mother was a girl and visited her grandfather, she would often find him sitting at the kitchen table, studying American history and the English language. My mother always tried to impress her grandfather, so one day she greeted him in Italian. She was proud of herself for mastering the phrase and was certain that he would also be proud. She was astonished when he pounded his fist on the table and said to her in broken English, laden with his thick Italian accent, "Madeline, how can I become an American if you speak to me in Italian?. From now on, you speak to me only in English." He wanted to succeed and provide for his family. He knew that learning English and assimilating to the American culture was an important step in reaching that goal. With hard work, determination, and the love and cooking of a wonderful wife, he did succeed and provided a wonderful life for his family.
I will never throw away the trunk, no matter how decrepit it may become. When I touch the worn spots, I feel my ancestors' hands. When I look at the sides, I don't see the holes. I see my great grandfather's hands gripping the trunk, hoisting it on to the loading dock in Bari. When I look at the top, I don't see the rust. I see my grandmother as a toddler sitting on it, her feet dangling, as she waits for her immigration papers to be checked at Ellis Island. When I open the trunk, I don't see the fading paper. I see my great grandmother hunched over, gingerly placing the family's treasured possessions inside. I hear her scolding her excited children, telling them to leave her in peace so she can pack. When I inhale the scent of the trunk, I don't smell my musty basement. The aroma that permeates the air is something entirely different. It's optimism, faith, promise, determination, yearning, and courage.

Seated in the front row, left to right:

Rose, Pasquale ,"Patsy", the only son. He died in the influenza outbreak of 1918, Francesco, Angelina, my grandmother Esther (her name was Pasque, which is Italian for Easter. When she arrived in America, there was a mix up in the paperwork and Pasque became Easter, which was misunderstood to be Esther, which is how she was known from then on), Mary

Standing in the back, left to right:

Francis, James (the husband of Theresa), Theresa

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Bye Bye Big Tooth

When Tori's baby teeth grew in, 2 of them came in fused together. We call it her "big tooth", but the dentist calls it her "special tooth." When she had a cleaning last week, she had some Xrays taken to see what was going on under there. There are 2 adult teeth, but one is coming in at an extreme angle because the big tooth has refused to loosen. The dentist suggested that it be pulled to encourage the adult tooth to straighten itself out. I took one last picture of my favorite little tooth before we went.

The procedure was amazingly quick and painless. Tori said it didn't hurt, but she could hear the roots creaking. She was a little nervous, but Jacey, who has absolutely zero pain tolerance, has had 5 teeth pulled without any problems, so Tori knew that it wouldn't be too traumatic. After all, Jacey went into shock and vomited after being stung by a jellyfish during the summer of '08. Tori was stung twice and walked it off. Anyway, here's Tori recuperating after her appointment.

The Big Tooth has been replaced by The Big Hole

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

I love this one!

Over the years, we have acquired a collection of Halloween and Thanksgiving books, thanks mainly to my now retired English teacher mother in law. The books spend the majority of the year packed away in a closet and reemerge in mid September for the upcoming holiday. Today was the day I pulled out the backpack and dumped its contents on my bed. Tori and Devin dove right in, exclaiming the same words they did at last year's unveiling - "I love this one!", "I remember this one!", "I forgot all about this one!" Just wait until we open the Christmas book backpack in November!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cancelled plans

The sun is shining, the air is warm, and her 3 sisters are in school for the day, so Devin and I planned to have a picnic lunch at the playground of her choice. We ran a few errands in the morning, then she watched TV while I packed the cooler. I went into the living room to get her ready to go, and her skin was on fire. I took her temperature and it read 103. So instead of a fun filled afternoon, I brought her pillow (changed into her favorite pillow case) and a bottle of milk and put in a DVD so she could relax on the couch.
Here she is just a few minutes later - freshly showered - after vomitting all over her pillow and herself. Her head is on a towel and she's got a puke bowl by her side, ready for action. One day of preschool-->one virus. Great start! Poor kid.
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This crowd is pleased

The girls and I have 2 food related summer traditions. When school ends in June, celebrate by eating our one and only fast food lunch of the year. When summer ends in September, we mourn by devouring the 12 scoop Crowd Pleaser sundae at Friendly's. They had been looking forward to today for a week. We settled on 2 scoops each of orange sherbet, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, cookie dough, and cookies and cream ice creams. Our toppings included hot fudge, marshmallow, butterfingers, sprinkles, Oreos, whipped cream, and cherries. I think I forgot something. The girls will remind me tomorrow. When our waiter brought the bill, he informed us that we inhaled our sundae in less then 5 minutes. Is there a better way to end summer vacation? I think not.

Here's last year's picture - the first annual end of summer pig out.

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Elder Care

Todd and I took the girls to the 99 for dinner last week and the subject of poop came up. We were reminiscing about when the girls were babies and Todd brought up a story about Tori. When she was a newborn, the changing table was a microwave cart, minus the microwave, in the kitchen. Next to the table we had a water jug like this one, which we collected spare change.

One day I was changing her diaper and she pooped. If you're familiar with breastfed babies, you know what happens when they "go". It shoots out of the body at warp speed and at amazing velocity. This is what happened on this day. It sailed over the remaining length of the changing table and landed directly in the water jug. Back to last week at the 99. The table erupted with "ewwws" and "gross", but I told them that by the time the third child is born, a Mommy can eat a fudgesicle with one hand and wipe a child's butt with the other. Nothing fazes me anymore. Todd and I jokingly asked them if they would take care of us when we're very old. Bryn said, "yes - but I wll not wipe your butt." Tori said, "I will, but I'll wear an apron, rubber gloves, and a hair net." Jacey agreed to pay for our nursing home care.