Friday, November 28, 2014

Thank You



Have you ever written God 
thank you?

We pray and ask.
We wish and sometimes demand.
But, in the end
Do we remember to say
thank you?

We want our problems solved.
That's all there is to it.
But, do we remember to say 
thank you
when our problems are resolved?

We pray for forgiveness
We pray for healing
But, is there a prayer just to say
thank you?

For all the little blessings
we take for granted each day -
For all the times we have asked
And received - yet forgotten,
We should say
Thank You - God!

© Natalie Orobello

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Anniversary


I have written you poems
I have written you stories
I have filled hundreds of cards
Expressing my love and devotion

Yet

Have I told you how much I trust you
That I have never doubted your love,
That you are my rock and anchor
My friend when I had none?

Have I ever told you
How handsome you are
And never, ever have I wished to be
With anyone other than you?

You are my definition of love 
Our children have learned of love 
by watching how love stems from
trust, honesty, loyalty, and friendship.

They know there is such a thing as love at first sight
I have told them of our first meeting

And 

Every time I share our story
I fall in love with you again and again.
© Natala Orobello

Monday, November 24, 2014

On Being a Grandparent

When our first grandaughter was due, I went out and bought several books on how to be a great grandmother. There were chapters on ways to bond and ways to interact as they get older. The day she came home, I smiled for twelve hours straight, so much so that I had a tremendous headache that night from smiling too much. I was lucky enough that my daughter in law and son are so wonderful. They let me hold her to my heart's content, except of course when she needed to be fed.

I did help with the housework, laundry, dusting, sweeping, etc. but I was welcomed to change the baby and bond with her, which was so very special. I watched her sleep and remember thinking that my heart would burst for the love of her. What I learned in those early months and first few years is that children don't really want to be entertained. They want to be loved, and of that I had plenty.

Mike and I try to do as much as we can with our grandchildren. We take them to the park, to the beach, to the theater, etc. and we plan many fun activities with them, but the most important aspect of our time together is that we are together. They know without asking that we love them and that we will protect them from any harm. They know that we want to spoil them, yet we want them to be kind and respectful.

Being a good or great grandparent doesn't mean giving grandchildren everything they ask for (even though we want to), it means spending time with them to read, talk, whisper, and tell stories. It's about being together with love.
© Natala Orobello

Friday, November 21, 2014

Divorce



I've never walked alone
I don't know if I can.

It frightens me -
that dark, cold hall.

To confront a crowd
of unknown faces
I don't want to explain
who I am
what I'm about
No questions, please.

Right now - I'm no one
I have no ideals
no dreams
no past
or future
I'm only living in the present
I can't be any more.
                        © Natalaie Orobello

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Triangle of Hope


As an educator for over thirty years, I have listened to our citizens blame teachers, principals, and superintendents for the decline of American education. I have yet to hear about the parents and the students. The only way education is going to work is if every single aspect of the triangle works together. Only then, will our education system succeed.

Imagine this: Students come to school well fed and prepared to learn. They are neither hungry nor tired. They have parents who ask about homework, what book they’re reading, what math problems they’re working on and what they did in Science lab. They have parents who make sure all homework is complete, game time is limited, and their child gets some time outdoors. They have parents who flock to back to school night and parent/teacher conference. Imagine that the students are excited about education because they have learned from an early age that education is crucial in order to do well and be successful.

For years, I tried to involve parents in my students’ education. I voluntarily set up meetings, so parents could meet counselors, teachers, and administrators. I sent out hundreds of invitations. Three or four parents would show up.

I am frustrated about teachers being graded and administrators being graded. I want parents to be graded. There, I’ve said it. I’ve held my tongue for too long. I’m tired of being politically correct.
Teachers and administrators think, eat, and breathe education. We attend conferences, seminars, and workshops to improve ourselves. Even when I offered to have workshops for parents, no one came. Work? Yes, we all work. We all have someplace to be or someplace we would rather be. But, as parents our children should come first.

I believe with all my heart that our students will do better, our schools will improve, our country will be more successful when parents realize that education is important and it does not mean merely sending their child off on the school bus. I want parents to know that they are the most vital element of the triangle and that without them, an excellent education is unlikely.

 © Natala Orobello

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spicy Hot Mussel Soup


This is a great soup for those winter months when you want to remember what summer was like. Mussel soup includes many ingredients that are comforting, filling, and appetizing. We had this soup recently and have to admit it's definitely a do over!!

Ingredients:
2 lbs. of mussels - cleaned in 1 cup of water, cooked and removed from shell (reserve liquid for soup)
1 bunch broccolini - cooked and chopped
1 bunch escarole or chicory - cooked and chopped (cook both in 4 cups of water and reserve for soup)
4 links of smoked sausage - cooked and cut into small pieces
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 red chili pepper- seeded and cut into small pieces
2 garlic cloves - peeled and diced
1/2 onion - chopped
3 medium size potatoes- cubed
2 tbl. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbl. butter
1/2 cup white wine
salt to taste
Large loaf of crispy, rustic Italian Bread or 1/4 lb. pasta

Directions:
In a deep pot, place the oil and butter. On low heat add onion and garlic, braise till tender not brown. Add chili pepper and white wine as well as the liquid from mussels and greens. Add mussels, greens, sausage, potatoes, parsley, and salt to taste.
Serve with hot, crispy, crunchy Italian bread!!! Yummmy good.

© Natala Orobello

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tears In a Bottle


God collects our tears
our sorrows and our fears
He knows each heart ache
and feels each heart break
He has seen and written it all
in His Book of joy and grief.

Never alone are you.
He walks by your side.
Though you may believe
He does not see
your grief you cannot hide.

If you wonder where He's been
If you feel He’s let you down
Remember His words of Peace
And His promise so profound.

Is it you who turned away?
Is it you who does not see?
Is it you who has misplaced peace?
Is it you, not He?
                   © Natala Orobello

Monday, November 17, 2014

Encourage Creativity



Children are creative. It’s in their natural design. They have make believe friends, live in a castle, and picnic in the den. They build tents under the bed and have pretend teas with their stuffed animals. So, creating a story with them can be fun and instructional without their knowing.

Every child develops individually, so it is important that parents and relatives understand that not every child will be ready when the adult is ready. Once the two agree that they want to do this, then the adult can begin with the concept of the story and the first line of the story. The child can add a few words or a full sentence to continue the story. I used to do this with my children on the ride to Upstate New York from Bayville, Long Island, a three hour ride.

We “wrote” short stories or poems. When we created short stories, they learned about plot, conflict, dialogue and resolution. For our car poetry recitals, they learned rhyme and rhythm. We laughed at some of the funny stories and poems we wrote, but the creativity helped pass the time and in retrospect may have helped my children become amazing poets (I think they’re amazing in everything) and writers.

I have created power point stories, on site plays, and poetry contests to promote interest in writing. Two of my grandchildren already write stories! Encourage reading and writing from an early age, and the results will be remarkable and rewarding.
© Natala Orobello

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Perfect Match





I look into my daughters' eyes and I see you
I listen to their laughs and I hear you
I admire their love and understanding for music and I admire you
I'm watching my girls grow up and I 'm thankful you are raising them

A husband couldn't ask for a more beautiful wife
A father couldn't ask for a more patient and loving mother,
A friend couldn't ask for a more supportive and caring friend
I couldn't ask for a more perfect match for my children and myself
© Frank Orobello

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Article: Playing the Blaming Game


Playing the blaming game is so darn easy. If we’re Republicans, we can blame the president for being involved in the Middle East, for health care, for the economy, for education, etc. If we’re Democrats we might want to blame congressmen and senators and if we don’t know what we are we blame everyone. It’s great blaming others; this way we don’t have to look at ourselves.

One can take this scenario and create an analogy within our families. If we like the way we ended up we take full credit, but if we have emotional hang ups or psychological problems, well then it’s all mom’s fault or dad was a really pain in the butt. We take the credit for the positive and hand out the blame for the negative. Again, it’s much easier that way.

So, what’s my point? I don’t know. I think I’m looking at my own faults and finally deciding to accept my faults as my own and my successes as my own. I’m old enough. I’ve blamed my past for plenty. I had a good childhood and a crummy childhood. There’s worse and there’s better.

I think someone who has had trauma in their lives because of poor parenting issues needs counseling. Sometimes, they need years of counseling, but then it’s time to move on. Sometimes those negative elements actually helped shape the positive character traits in one’s personality. That’s good, right?

I love my kids. I think they’re the smartest and wisest people I know. My daughter, who by the way could blame me for a few problematic issues like poor body image and a sense of abandonment, has never played the blame game. She loves me unconditionally and for that I am eternally grateful. My son also loves unconditionally and claims that every experience in his life has been a lesson toward improving who he is as a husband, father, son and brother.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Home Made Memories






Times of simple joy and deep despair.
Days of poverty and wintry wealth.

Robust wine sprayed with seltzer water.
Plain pasta with fagioli and parsley. 
A piece of veal, fresh cheese, a slice of fruit
warm home made bread.

Young children scrawny and sunless pale
Suffering a battle with writhing worms.
They inhale cloves of garlic to extract
them, chocking as the worms slither out.

Laundry days at the nearby sweet ravine.
Moms squatting skillfully to wash linen sheets
Children bent to wash embroidered hankies,
Scrubbing the old white cloth with gray ash.
© Natala Orobello

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cream of Anything Soup


Creamy soups don't have to be high in calories and fat. As a matter of fact one can drastically reduce the calories by using fresh chicken stock or vegetable stock and pureeing the wet with the dry in a blender (my favorite appliance in the kitchen). I enjoy different types of creamy soups like broccoli, celery, carrot, potato, etc. You name it, you can cream it. Here's how.

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh vegetables - broccoli or celery or carrot, etc.
1 potato cut into very small pieces (potato will act as a natural starch)
2 cups vegetable broth (left over from cooking the vegetable)
1 cup chicken stock (you may not need all of it)
2 tbs. butter
1/2 onion chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook vegetables as well as potato in 2 cups of water. Be sure the vegetables are cut small. Once cooked remove the vegetables and place them as well as the reserved liquid in a blender.
In the empty pot, melt the butter and braise chopped onion. Once the onion is translucent, add it to vegetable blend and pulse till combined. Add chicken stock a little at a time ( stop if soup looks runny. You want a nice, creamy consistency)and pulse once more. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Return mixture to pot and cook till hot. Serve with croutons and a drop of sour cream. It will look pretty and taste amazing.

© Natala Orobello

Monday, November 10, 2014

Nonno & Nonna Camp


Once a year, my grandchildren come to visit for nearly a week. It’s a time we get to see them 24/7 and actively participate in their activities. I generally plan the days many months in advance, so we do not have to wonder, “What are we going to do today?” Children get bored easily, so it’s very important to have several activities scheduled per day. Normally, I have a theme like Drama week or Arts and Crafts week. This year, I’m planning Chef’s Week!! Yet, it's important even with an overall theme that many other activities are included like going to the park, beach, shopping, library, movies, etc. But, here are some examples of camp week.

Drama week began with all of us writing a play with a simple setting, some dialogue, a narrative; practice and rehearsal the next day, and collection of some props we created or collected ourselves. Finally, the big day!

Day one: we wrote the play – we decided it was going to be about a group of girls who went on a boat ride and got lost. We talked about what each girl would say and do. The youngest at the time wanted to say, “I don’t want to go!” So, we incorporated that phrase any time the older girls made a suggestion about the adventure; for example, when Olivia suggested, “Let’s go on an adventure!” Jules would say, “I don’t want to go!” If Sophie said something like, “Ok, it’s time to get on the boat,” Jules would say, “I don’t want to go!” You get the idea. That night I typed it up and had the script written and copies made for each one.

The next day, we practiced the dialogue and collected the props in between rehearsals. The setting ended up being our lanai/pool area. The raft we have became their boat, we collected sticks for the fire they were going to build on the island (off the lanai), and we bought fake fish (little ones from the Dollar Store), so they could pretend to fish and have something for their supper.

The following day we videotaped the play. It was wonderful and the girls loved every aspect of it except for Jules who really didn’t want to go, but she played along like a champ!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Who is She?




Who is that person I see?
She looks so familiar.
Is she happy? Sad?
Does she love? Hate?

Is she alone ~
or in company?

The picture is fuzzy
Her expression unclear
It does not disclose
Who she is or what she feels.

Her eyes are deep
like the stories she has not told.

Her face so young and innocent
where is she headed ~
what will her life bring?

Does the picture clear
and become more defined?
© Natalie Orobello

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Voting In these United States





Well, voting is over. Americans voted for judges, commissioners, legislature, senators, and governors. One third of Americans voted. Two thirds did not. I would love to know why.
Why is it that in a country which allows its citizens the right to choose who will lead them and represent them, only a small number vote?
I don’t know, but I sure would like to hear from those who did not vote. Are you happy with the outcome? Good.
Are you upset with the outcome? Why? 
Write to me and I will post your answer: natala1957@gmail.com
© Natala Orobello

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Split Pea Soup




This is perhaps one of my favorite soups. The best split pea soup (in my opinion) is served at Ben's Deli in Manhassett. But, I must admit Mike and I make a recipe that comes very close.

Ingredients:

2 tbl. olive oil
2 quarts of chicken stock
1 1/2 cups of split peas (soaked overnight)
1 carrot - diced
1 medium onion - chopped
1 clove garlic - crushed but left whole
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In medium size pot, place olive oil, onion and garlic and braise till translucent. Add chicken stock and peas. Add carrots when you have about one hour left. Cook till peas and carrots are tender (about two hours). When fully cooked, you may transfer ingredients into a food processor or blender to create a smooth, creamy consistency. If you prefer a more rugged soup, you may leave as is.

Serve with garlic, cheese croutons - best if you make these on your own. Use stale bread, cut into bite size pieces, place in plastic bag. In a cup pour 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon garlic, a touch of pepper, salt, grated parmesan cheese, and oregano. Mix really well before pouring into plastic bag.
Place in baking sheet and bake till golden brown.
© Natala Orobello

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Walkers



The Walkers
Be still my heart
Beating violently with
Passion for you~
This day – this moment
Filled with shadows of love
Sun streaming juices
For your sweet lips.
----
We walk
into the woods
under pretense of
Wildflowers to be plucked
But there are none to gather.
-----
Do not turn away my adored
For you are the blood
Flowing in my veins ~
Keeping me alive.
----
Do you not sense my hunger?
----
I am not a prince
Or a king upon a throne.
I am a lonely beggar
Knocking at your door.

© Natala Orobello

Monday, November 3, 2014

Technical Literacy Bandwagon


Several weeks ago my nine year old granddaughter and I were in our home library reading one of her “fun” books from her own library. The book was Dorko The Magnificent written by Andrea Beaty. Olivia would read a chapter and I would read the next. Unfortunately, the weekend came to an end, but we did not complete the book!
I had enjoyed reading the Y.A. novel and decided to borrow the book from our local library. When I got home, I read a few more chapters and then came up with a great idea. I would email Olivia with my comments on the book. Then, if she wanted to, she could respond to my comments and add her own. The next morning I emailed Olivia. The results have been better than I expected.


Olivia and I discuss characters, conflict, plot and theme. The wonderful part of all this is that she doesn’t even realize we are covering all the aspects of a novel because our conversations go something like this:
Hi Olivia, I just read a few chapters from Dorko The Magnificent, and I'm so happy to hear that his grandma is helping him with his Magic. She's a little weird, but I like her, and I think Dorko is starting to like her too. I'm at the point where he is getting ready for the magic show. I can't wait to see what happens.
Love you and keep reading - or are you done? If you are, don't tell me about the ending. I want to read it for myself.
Nonna, I finished the book .The ending is really cool. His grandma helps him, so his magic is good. I enjoyed the book! I LOVE YOU so much! Are you enjoying the book?