Tag Archives: italian

On raising a bilingual baby: Our Mommyhood


Yesterday Our Mommyhood published my post on our little Italian-American family culture; hear my take on raising a bilingual baby.


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Love this duck

How adorable is this vintage ceramic duck? My mom brought it for me when she was here was visiting last month. It was my grandma’s and I love it.  It’s perfect to hold butter, so I keep it next to the toaster. It brightens up the stainless steel toaster.

Well, actually, I was keeping it next to my toaster, until my Bimby arrived!  Now I have my KitchenAid, toaster, and Bimby lined up like little kitchen soldiers. And the duck’s new place is currently next to the Bimby.  I’m still getting used to having so much on that one counter. I may have to rearrange. We’ll see.

So, “What is a Bimby?” you ask.  It is the most amazing kitchen appliance in the whole world.  My mother-in-law swears by it; and she sent it to me.  The Bimby can cook just about anything, from cappucini to pasta alla breschamella.   It came with this giant cookbook, and I can’t wait to start experimenting. But I’ll have to wait until my power transformer arrives.  This appliance isn’t for sale in the U.S., so it requires a transformer.  It turns out none of the stores in Ames carry 220/110v power transformers so I had to order one from Amazon.  It should be here in a few days.  And I can’t wait!


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Pasta e fagioli

Last year, I published my quick and easy delicious recipe for my Pasta al Pomodoro, which is a staple in our household.   Another simple, delicious Italian recipe that I make regularly at home is Pasta e Fagioli.  Usually I serve pasta as our first course to be followed by salad, a meat dish or cheese, vegetable, and fruit. But this dish is pretty hearty, so I usually serve only a simple tomato and spinach salad as the second course.

(1) Over medium heat, cover the bottom of a medium-sized  pot in extra-virgin olive oil.  (2) Add 5 small whole cherry tomatoes.  (3) Sprinkle in about 2 teaspoons of organic sea salt.  (4)  Add 3-4 cloves of fresh crushed garlic.  (5) Sprinkle in a pinch of fresh rosemary, and squish the cherry tomatoes so they open in the sauce.  (6) Once heated, add one jar or one can of white cannellini beans.  (7) As this heats up, add 2 1/2 can-fulls of scalding hot water.  (8) Allow to boil for approximately 25 minutes, until beans are soft and open.  (9) Add 3/4 package of penne. (10) Cook pasta in the sauce until pasta is done al dente.  (11) Serve with freshly grated white pepper.

Bon appetito!


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On Italian Grannies: Our Mommyhood

Ciao tutti! Today I’ve published on article on Our Mommyhood. Please drop by to read it and share your thoughts…

And! I’m now a ‘Staff Writer’ at Our Mommyhood!  So excited! Stay tuned for more fun articles.


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Today Paolo turned one year old. It is really impossible to believe that my tiny baby is nearing toddlerhood.

We celebrated his birthday with a big festa italiana on Saturday. I rented a pavilion in a local park, adorned it with Italian-style garb, and served up Italian fare to our 50 or so guests   It was a warm, gorgeous autumn day.  Here are a few action shots:

And here we are helping Paolo blow out his birthday candle tonight at our little family celebration:


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Co-sleeping (still)

Despite our attempts to have Paolo sleep on his own, he is still in our bed. It seems that, in the battle of wills, he has won.  He pitches a fit when we go anywhere NEAR his crib and REFUSES to sleep. Yes, REFUSES to sleep in his crib.

(And we are not taking light fussing or 15 minutes of crying. He has declared ALL OUT WAR on his crib by SCREAMING at the top of his lungs.)

So, the Pack-N-Play is back up in our room, and sometimes Paolo will sleep in it. But mostly, he prefers to stay nestled between Giuseppe and I.

It’s not that I mind co-sleeping. In fact, I really like it.  Giuseppe and I both love having our little schnuggly man near us at night. And it is so much easier when Paolo fusses at night. I don’t have to get up and rock him and/or walk him around until he falls asleep. He just snuggles up and dozes right off….

But I just think that Paolo needs to know how to sleep in his own bed, especially at nap time.  Nap time is definitely safest in the crib, as he can’t roll out of it or crawl off…

I’m also reluctant to respond to Paolo’s battle cry when we are leaving for Italy in two weeks and then his world will be turned upside down for an entire month. Is it really worth the hassle and the trauma?  I may just give up completely until we get home and lay down new ground rules when we return.

Also, to be honest, as it turns out, I’m not the type of mamma who can let my baby cry it out. I’ve given this “sleep training” a solid week, and it is just not working. (Well, not a consecutive week.)  And it feels so wrong.  I spoke with my pediatrician about it and he said that I shouldn’t let Paolo cry it out until I feel emotionally ready.  (He joked that the real cure is to have baby #2 so that I don’t worry so much about Paolo.  But it’s a little bit early for that…) He also informed me that it is important to have Paolo in his own crib by the time his is 18 months old, or we will have a family bed until P is about five years old. Which means will still have a little time left to schnuggle.

Which is good news. At least for now.


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Festa italiana

A little over a week ago, my brother Zack called me with the great news that he purchased tickets to fly out here to IOWA for Paolo’s first birthday.  Which is super exciting.

This also brought to my attention how quickly Paolo’s first birthday is actually approaching.  We leave for Italia in three weeks, where we will stay for a month.  (I am not sure I can aptly communicate just how excited I am for this trip; I miss Napoli every single day.)  Then, on our way back home, we are stopping in Baltimore for about five days.  When we land back in Iowa, Zack arrives that week to celebrate Paolo’s birthday.  So, I have to order all of my supplies, send out invitations, and plan menus and playlists before we leave for Italia.

Luckily, I came up with a fitting theme: una festa italiana.  I have reserved a giant pavilion, started designing the invites, ordered some supplies, and I have planned the menu.  (And I will be able to purchase food and wine in Italy to ship here for the event! It’s perfect timing, really.) We have also set aside soccer/rugby/bocce balls to provide activities other than drinking wine for our guests. I love a great party, and my baby’s first birthday is an incredibly momentous occasion that I cannot wait to celebrate.  And we really couldn’t be luckier to be in a place where we have so many relatives living near by. I really hope everyone will be able to attend.

(Dear Mains in Iowa: I will have the invites out in the mail in the next few weeks! I look forward to receiving your RSVP! xo)


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As most of you have probably already read, last week I did a guest post exchange with one of my blogisphere friends, Liz, of a belle, a bean & a chicago dog. I thought I would re-post my article from her site today.  I started this blog as a cyber scrap book of sorts and I think that this post definitely belongs in the book.


A big part of my life the past few years has been the state-hopping Craig and I have been doing.  But believe it or not, I happen to have a bloggy friend, Brook, who is even MORE of a gypsy than me.

It is in the spirit of relocation that Brook and I are guest posting on each other’s blogs today!  Brook also happens to be the first guest writer I’ve had the honor of hosting!

Please welcome the lovely Brook, and make sure to relocate over to her place to check out my guest post, A Baby For Every State!


Greeting, BB&CD readers!  My name is Brook Dell’Anna and I write at baby&sofia.  I “met” Liz a few months ago when I started to read her hilarious blog.  We since have become blogisphere friends and have bonded over our shared experience of moving about the country.

My parents both hail from the Great Midwest. My mother was born and raised in Minnesota; my father is from Iowa.  They met at a small Catholic university in Iowa.  Not too much longer after that, they were married and I was born.  Not too much longer after that, my parents made the decision that they were ready to leave the Great Midwest.

It was the mid-1980s and the economy was not doing so hot.  After weighing all post-college opportunities, my dad decided to try out his sea legs and joined the Navy.  We moved across the country to New England, where Dad completed Officer Candidate School while Mom and I learned our way around Newport, Rhode Island.  It’s funny how I can still vividly remember the gorgeous trees that turned into the most brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red that autumn.

From Newport, we moved all over the country for my Dad’s career.  We traveled up and down the East Coast, then hopped over to Hawaii, then back to the Mainland to live on the West Coast for awhile before returning back East. I ended up going to college in Maryland, and while I was in college, my family moved to Italy. Which was spectacular.  (Did I mention that is where I met my amazing husband?) Joining the Navy ended up being one of the best things that my Dad ever did for our family.

When I was in college, I realized that I have gypsy blood. I think now that it must be genetic.  My parents are still always looking for their next adventure; after Italy, they moved back to Hawaii, and are now planning the next chapter in their lives.  They are usually on the move, looking for a new, exciting experience to add to the history of their lives.

As an adult, I have lead a “Navy” lifestyle without ever actually joining.  During college, I spent as much time as I could in Europe, passing summer and winter vacations there and taking a semester to study in Rome. Ten days after graduation, with my Political Science degree in hand, I was back in southern Italy ready to take it all in.  I loved every minute of the chaos that is Naples and fell deeply in love with my Italian soon-to-be-hubby.

Living in Naples provided a unique set of challenges for me. I am, by nature, very adaptable; but I am also very opinionated. So I was open to Italian culture; I sincerely love both the language and the culture, and dedicated myself to absorb as much as possible. Which I did; I speak Italian fluently and am pretty well-versed in the intricacies of Italian life.   I mean, heck, I married a Neopolitan man.  You don’t get much more traditional than that.  I, however, also held onto my opinions.  Which was tricky.  I loved shopping at the local markets, teaching in an Italian school, and spending time with my in-laws. But I still held onto my personal belief system and sometimes projected it on those around me.  It is funny, though, because while I was there, I felt so strongly about holding onto my American values. Now that I am back in the States, I realized that I really did adopt an European outlook, and have managed to blend both the American and Italian influences in my life.  (As in I cook three fresh meals every day, but cannot make it to the market each day. Costo remains an important part of my life.)

After Naples, my husband and I moved to sunny southern California.  Which we love love loved.  The breezy, sun-shiny days that we spent strolling along the ocean were simply picturesque.  While we worked longer hours, we still managed to enjoy every moment of the sun and the ocean.

After about two years of California bliss, we decided to move yet again.  In March of this year, Giuseppe was offered a position at Iowa State University, so off we went.  The movers came and went, and then our road trip began. Giuseppe, five-month-old Paolo, and I drove across the country to our new home.  It was actually an amazing trip. We stopped in Arizona, at the Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, Denver, and Omaha. It was the Great American Road Trip for Italian hub-a-lub.  He loved it.

So, here we are, modern-day gypsies.  I was raised a gypsy, but my husband definitely was not. We’ll call him the gypsy-convert. Most of his family live within 20 minutes of each other, and moving to say, a neighboring city, is a very big deal.  (So you can imagine their surprise when we hopped over “the pond” and then over to the Pacific coast of America.)  While I do one day envision myself setting down in one place and growing some serious roots, I enjoy every moment of our gypsy adventure. I guess I can thank my parents for that.  Hopefully, Paolo will feel the same way one day.

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This morning I was putting together my grocery shopping list. And I was getting excited (maybe I was really hungry, not sure). For awhile, grocery shopping was a challenge, but it’s gotten much better. Paolo loves to be in the front baby carrier and look around the store while I do my shopping. And he has become such a little flirt. (Takes after his papa’.)  He smiles and coos at anyone that will look at him.  I love that he is so social and engaging; this is such a fun age.

As I was putting together my grocery list, I realized that I was really looking forward to my trip to Trader Joe’s today. This got me thinking about my relationship to shopping.  Some days I love it, some days I hate it. But mostly I love it. Shopping can be so much fun.  Especially finding great deals. I get so excited when I come home with an excellent find, who doesn’t?  I can get a shopping high from finding a fabulous deal on onesies for my baby or buying our dog food with a great coupon sent in the mail.  (Lamb and rice Science Diet is the only thing that goes into Sofia’s doggie dish.  Vet’s orders.)  Mostly, I am a frugalista. (What a great word; did Target or TJ Maxx invent that one? I can’t remember.)  But there are a few items that I will never, ever skimp on.  I would rather go without; every woman knows these five item deserve a good splurge.

Face cream. Shiseido is the best, hands down.

Handbags. Italian ones only, thank you.  (Side note, I have not bought a purse in two years….Oh I how miss Italy and their sales and outlets and markets….)

Hairdryers.  I prefer the Paul Mitchell ionic travel size.  It’s half the size of the giant salon one and works just as great. (Did I mention it was HALF the price?)  And it doesn’t sound like a lawnmower.

Along that same vein, I think that one’s stylist is very important.  I hate it when my hair is funky.  (Which happened for the entire first year in California.  My stylist is just now getting things back in order. THANK GOODNESS).  I would love to put up a photo my stylist, but I should probably ask him first.

And, lastly, organic food items.  I try to buy just about everything organic and all-natural. We don’t do much processed food in our house. We don’t even have a microwave.  (Since we got married, actually, we’ve never had one. Or needed/missed it.)  I get a lot from Trader Joe’s, Mother’s Market, and Vons has actually stepped up their selection of USDA organic items.

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Bilingual baby

Italian is, in my opinion, one of the most gorgeous languages alive today.  It is so expressive and so romantic.  (Giuseppe did not speak English when we met and started dating; all of his “wooing” was done in Italian. I LOVED it. Obviously. )  When listening to someone speaking Italian, it is easy to hear the musical quality of the cadence of the language.  We have, of course, elected to raise our children to be truly bilingual: Giuseppe will speak exclusively in Italian to the children and I in English.  Because we live in the U.S. and there will be the constant exposure to English, Italian will be spoken in our home when we are together as a family.  (Side note on my use of the word ‘children’; right now we have one baby, and do plan to have a few more in the coming years. But not just yet.)

Back to our bilingual baby.  This little Napoletano definitely prefers Italiano to English.  If he hears us speaking in Italian, he looks up at us, ready to jump right into the conversation.  (Which he usually does, cooing and squealing away.)  He still responds to me when I speak to him in English, but this little guy has an obvious preference to his papa’s native tongue.  I think it has to be the musicality of the language that attracts his attention, and I hope he continues to love this language as much I do.

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