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One Summer Day

July 22, 2016

Pardon my crassness, dear readers, but summer has got me by the balls! I think I write a post around this time each summer saying what a messy, fast-paced, exhausting, hectic, whirlwind summer we’re having and summarize by saying how I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t think I’ve ever written about all the things that go on behind the scenes, though—all the prep and cleaning it takes to make the messy magic of summer happen. So I picked a random day this week, which was Wednesday, to write down not only what we officially did that day but also what it took to get us doing it. The prep for Wednesday began on Tuesday, so that’s where we’re starting.

Tuesday:

8PM: Baked a batch of lemon shortbread bars to share with some friends on Wednesday; baked the tart base for the White Balsamic Fruit Tart for tomorrow (we’re having friends over for dinner)

9PM: Cleaned up the kitchen, started the dishwasher, threw the boys’ wet clothes from their squirt gun fight into the dryer, and went to bed.

Wednesday:

6:30AM: Woke up, unloaded dryer and dishwasher, started packing up for our day. Watered pots on deck. Made sandwiches for the 5 boys for later (V’s friend spent the night and Fruit Bat is spending his days with us this week), cut up fruit, loaded water bottles and cups.

7:30AM: Vincenzo woke up. Helped him make waffles for the crew, who ate breakfast whenever they stumbled into the kitchen. Packed a set of dry clothes for each of the boys, made sure we had towels, goggles, sunblock, and all the beachy things in the car.

8AM: Fruit Bat arrived. The boys played while I put together a potato salad for the evening (did I mention we’re having friends over?)

9AM: Had the kids get into their swim stuff and lined them up for sunblock. Got Leo’s speech therapy binder, packed snacks for the boys to have at speech, packed lemon shortbread for the staff and my waiting room friend, and had the boys all get a book or activity to do in the waiting room.

9:30AM: Loaded everyone into the car and went to the beach with some good friends.

9:31AM: Made the mistake of asking the boys to count off. Tried to maintain sanity the whole carride as the boys yelled out random numbers. “NINE! NINE! NINE! INFINITY! INFINITY! ONE THOUSAND! TEN KAJILLION! INFINITY! ONE THOUSAND! ONE THOUSAND! FIVE! TEN KAJILLION! FIVE! FIVE!” (Imagine all those words written on top of each other though, and repeated 200-300 times.)

9:35: Arrived at the beach and spent a glorious two hours chatting with my friend while our kids dug holes and swam.

11:30AM: Ate sandy sandwiches, bought ice cream from the shop there, then cleaned up the boys as much as they cleaned up at that point.

12:30PM: Dropped V’s friend off at his house and took the remaining 4 boys to Leo’s speech appointment.

2PM: Headed back home.

2:30PM: Got Leo down for a nap. The other boys played with clay on the deck while I began the process of gathering up sandy clothes/towels and throwing them in the wash, unpacking coolers, unloading and putting away uneaten food from the beach picnic, etc.

3:30PM: Did a little party prep for Rocco’s birthday (it’s on Sunday!)

4:15PM: Delivered cookies to neighbor

4:30PM: Finished the fruit tart, cooked bacon, made crispy fried onions for the burgers

5:00PM: McStreamy picked up Fruit Bat

5:05PM: Double checked my text messages and realized I never actually sent the text to invite our friends to dinner. Cursed myself up and down, then called them and breathed a sigh of relief that they could come after all

5:15PM: Kevin came home and made hamburger patties. I set up a fruit platter and set the table, cleaned, started up dishwasher, etc.

5:30PM: Wrapped Rocco’s birthday present, finished up the favors for his party

6PM: Friends arrived for dinner. Party was on again!

8PM: Unloaded dishwasher, loaded it up again and started it, then hand washed the big dishes. Unloaded dryer and reloaded the swimming bags for the next day.

8:30PM: Put the boys to bed,

9PM: Watched TV with Kevin

9:30 PM: Went to bed myself.

I know so much of that sound mundane—the cooking, the cleaning, the packing, the loading, then doing all of that in reverse—eating, making messes, unpacking, reloading—but those happen to be some of my favorite things to do. Sometimes I still feel like I’m just playing house, only unlike my childhood, I get to be the mom instead of the baby. (I was always very small for my size.) And I really, really love being the mom.

That was one day out of the summer, and not a particularly busy one at that. And what a day it was, stuffed with friends and family, rife with with sticky hands and faces, with wet towels, sandy feet and bottoms, dirty dishes, overflowing with life and laughter, and interspersed with just enough quiet moments stuck in between the loud ones to make it all okay.

Only it was better than okay—it was perfect. Messes and all.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Nothing!  Going out with the boys after their swim lessons.

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Wild Ponies

July 16, 2016

I took the boys to Remlinger Farms yesterday, which is more amusement park than farm, but kids these days don’t really know the difference, do they?

See?  Farm.

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No wait—amusement park.

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It was an overcast day and the “farm” wasn’t too crowded, so there were essentially no lines and Vincenzo got to ride the canoes as many times in a row as he wanted.  (Yes, he exceeds the weight limit by a significant amount.)

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Except there was this one ride that had a ginormous line, so of course Rocco wanted to ride that one.  It was the pony ride. 

We waited a full hour in line and then, then, after waiting an hour in line, we saw this sign.

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Death?  By pony?  Couldn’t they have warned us before the hour wait?

Anyway, death by pony sounded pretty cool, so I texted Kevin that I have a new favorite way I want to die.  Then I texted, Baby, I’m scared!  Things got even worse when I saw this sign.

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The INHERENT RISK LAW, surprise surprise, mentions death in several places.

I did my best to fight off the “flight” response I was having and I stayed put, dangerously spectating as my son was set upon this four-legged equine machine of death and terror.  Its name was Pumpkin.

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I continued to spectate, my own life hanging in the balance, while Rocco and Pumpkin were led away.  They returned 60 seconds later, one looking just as defeated and the other looking just as serious as when they began their treacherous journey.

Rocco dismounted, we left the dangerous lands of Pony Riding, and Rocco talked nonstop about how awesome that 60 seconds of his life had been for the rest of the afternoon.

I was left with a lot of questions after the pony ride warnings.  Questions like How?  and Has anyone ever…?  and Seriously?  But there was one thing I had no question about.  There is no question that I desperately need this sign for my front door.

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After putting my life on the line the way I did at the pony rides, don’t you think I earned it?

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Croque monsieurs
Spinach salad with tomatoes and shaved parmesan
Cherries
Raspberry Jell-o pie

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13 “Beautiful” Years

July 12, 2016

Just in case you didn’t get your fill of pictures of Mrs. Mouthy the other day, here’s another post full of ‘em.  I just thought it would be fun to do a Mr. and Mrs. Mouthy, Then & Now post, since yesterday was our anniversary and all.

Our house then…

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and now:

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Our hair then…

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…and now:

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Our fashion sense then:

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…and now:

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Our threshold pose then:

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…and now:

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Our Christmas then:

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…and now:

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Our selfies then:

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…and now:

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Date night then…

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…and now:

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Our family then:

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…and now:

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On one hand I am so embarrassed about how I used to dress and what I thought it meant to look goooooood, and on the other hand, I’m glad I have those pictures of myself to laugh at, and to share with you so that you can laugh at me, too.

Now stop laughing at me!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Beef enchiladas
Rice
Veggies & hummus

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Lucky Number 13

July 9, 2016

Kevin and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary this week.  “Lucky number 13!” he kept telling everyone, then he’d start crying a little. 

At dinner with the boys last week he prayed, “Lord, thank you for giving me the strength to stay married to this woman for 13 years.”  I balked for only a second before adding, “Yes, and God, please give me the patience and courage it will take to stay married to this man for another 13.”  Our boys are growing up with a very warped idea of how to express their love to someone.

We celebrated our big one-three by heading one city over to the place we got married—it’s our fallback plan when we haven’t planned anything elaborate, and I have to say it’s not bad for a fallback plan.  We stayed at Willows Lodge, in western Washington’s “wine country.”  (Yes, that’s a real thing.)

I always like to make a scrapbook page of our anniversary, so we dressed up and headed out around the premises, hoping that if we looked like we were trying to get a picture of ourselves, someone would offer to take it.  Unfortunately, no one did so we are stuck with a bunch of selfies.

Here we are in front of this really cool tree root:

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Here we are in front of a stunning patch of lavendar:

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Here we are in a lovely hidden garden on the side of the lodge:

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Oh, this was a cool one—a small Zen garden’s stone house in the middle of a pond:

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And here we are in the herb garden.  Behind us you can see one post of the gazebo where we got married.

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Seriously!  We even stopped a few times to offer to take other couples’ pictures along the way when they were struggling with selfies, but no one offered to take ours and, well, we’re just too shy to ask someone to take our picture.  (Written tongue in cheek.)

Then I found a spot where we could set the camera down and use the self-timer:

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Whatever.  So instead I decided to just get a nice shot of Kevin.  How about over there, in front of that garden with the cute little wheelbarrow?

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After 13 years, I should have expected that.

Before we left for home after our grueling 24 hour selfie-marathon, I wanted to take a picture of the view from our room, to remember it by.

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Beautiful.  But we felt that it needed a little something…

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That’s it.  Perfect!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Egg-in-the-hole
Yogurt parfaits
(i.e. I’m still too stuffed from a weekend eating things like salmon with pea pistou and parmesan cream, paprika grits, egg yolk ravioli, crème brulee, candied pecan brioche french toast, eggs benedict over crab, etc. to even think much more about food!)

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A picture is worth 1,000 words

July 6, 2016

…and some of those 1,000 words that were said during the five minutes it took to get a good Fourth of July picture of my boys are as follows:

Okay, everyone picture time!  Now sit on the stairs.  Great, only don’t point your flags at the camera.  Smile!   

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Rocco, that’s not smiling—that’s grimacing.  Look at the camera!  Okay, smile!

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Leo, at the camera.  Look at the round part of the camera, right here. 

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Rocco, don’t hold the flag in front of your face.  Lower.  Lower.  Seriously, just hold it below your face! 

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Close enough.  Now say “cheeeeese!”  Leo, smile!  Everyone look at the camera, hold your flags low, and smile.  Okay, one…two…three…CHEESE! 

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A little less smiley, Leo.  Rocco, LOOK AT THE CAMERA.

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Rocco, stop hunching.  Sit up straight.  Okay, ready?  You guys are pointing your flags at the camera again.  Don’t point your flags at the camera.  Smile!  Rocco, smile! 

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Vincenzo, are you making the duck face? No duck face.  Leo!  Look here!  Boys!  Stop hitting each other with your flags!  Come on everyone, just look at the round part of the camera, hold your flags normally, stop poking each other, and smile.  Ready?

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At that point I just gave up.

I swear, if it weren’t for face swapping we wouldn’t have a single decent picture of the boys.

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(This picture never actually happened…but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!)

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Spaghetti carbonara
Spinach salad with bacon and hard-boiled eggs
Fruit

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Seabrook II

July 5, 2016

The only thing I didn’t like about our vacation was how cold and misty it was.  It was 75 degrees for the entire ride there, then as soon as we saw the Seabrook sign the temperature dropped 15 degrees and the fog came in.  It was a little like I imagine the drive to Azkaban would be, for any Potterheads out there.

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I was cold all week.  This picture of my niece really captured my inner soul.

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Fortunately, a little corner of the vacation house’s backyard had just the thing my inner soul needed.

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Once warmed up, we pretended the mist was gone and filled up a couple buckets of water balloons.  No one was safe.  Here my sister and her son innocently wave to us from the deck while below the boys discuss the best way to lob a water balloon up and nail them both.

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(We’re so good at pretending, the sky actually looks blue in that picture!)

Life’s full of tough choices, ain’t it?

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Eventually the kids had had enough of being hit by water balloons, and they started hitting back.

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When it was time to head home, we all did our part to drink up everything left in the fridge so it wouldn’t go to waste.

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Once the picture was taken, we made the picture taker do her part to drink something from the fridge.

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(For reasons hard to explain, we ended up with 13 dozen eggs to go through in our five day stay.)

That’s about all I’m able to explain from our week of crazy togetherness.  The rest of the hilarity has slipped into that alternate reality of inside jokes and is virtually nonexistent to our world, until someone from our family says, “I think Chris should draw a card…” and we all hit the floor laughing.*

Now we’re back home and I am so happy to be in my own place again with my boys to myself in our quiet house, and on the other hand I am so sad that our week of being one big, giant family sharing everything from beach towels to parenting is over.

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But as they say, you can’t jump in…

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…without getting all wet.

(Is that a saying?  It should be.)

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Going to a friend’s tonight

*That one’s for you, Michelle!

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Seabrook

July 3, 2016

Last week we went on vacation week with my whole side of the family—all four siblings, two parents, and 10.5 grandkids.  (Congrats, BoxerChick!)

My SIL wanted us to take pictures of our journey for the photo book she always makes of our family vacation.

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I realize now that my family doesn’t know how to do “normal” anymore.

We vacationed in the town of Seabrook, WA.  My BIL made the comment that the town felt a little Truman Show-ish.  Main street consisted of about five charming little stores that looked like they had been built a hundred years ago but also looked like they had been built last year.  You didn’t know if you were in a charming, antiquated town in the early 1900s…

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…or the scene of a movie set in the early 2000s.

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(Both pictures are of the same buildings/street, in case you couldn’t tell.)

Everyone you ran into greeted you like they had known you forever.  And when we went to the beach, it definitely felt like if we headed out in a boat we were going to reach the edge of the stage bubble.

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But it turns out we really enjoy being unknowing actors in someone else’s TV show, and we had a lovely week of walking to the beach, the park, the pool, the ice cream store, then waking up and doing it all again the next day.

We spent a lot of time throwing things at the kids like balls, pillows, water balloons, and their favorite: marshmallows.  Things got a little T-Rexy pretty quickly.

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Voiceover: Finally, after hours of failed attempts, the T-Rex catches its prey…

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…but the marshmallow uses its natural defenses to make a quick escape.  The mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex will have to find its dinner somewhere else tonight.

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Leo was really feelin’ it in his swim trunks.  In case any of you have ever wondered what Mr. Mouthy looks like with his shirt off, it’s pretty much just like this only much hairier:

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Always a favorite hot tub activity: using the bubbles from other people’s body oils to create your own faux facial hair:

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Halfway through the week we drove “off set” to Ocean Shores, which my nephew kept referring to as “Open Sores.”  You know..that cute little town on the Pusific ocean? 

Ha!  I should have been a dad, I am so good at Dad jokes!  And speaking of dads, my own proved a force to be reckoned with at the Go-Kart arena:

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But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, now, does it?

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That’s all for now, but once I get my hands on the pictures everyone else took I’m sure I’ll have more to make fun of.

And now, a quick word from our sponsors…

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Still deciding between…
Grilled chicken with orange tamarind glaze  -or-  Chicken noodle soup  -or-  Pasta carbonara

-with-

Salad (our garden produced six leaves of lettuce this week!!)
Brownies with caramel cheesecake swirl for dessert

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