Apple Doesn’t Fall Far…

Leo brought home a summer bucket list he made at school, and now I’m not feeling so bad about mine.


It reads: “I win two coloring contests, become a billionaire, go to Disneyland, and win America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

Good luck, little guy.  Good luck.

Grilled salmon
Wild rice & tangerine salad
Fresh fruit
Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate ganache



Summer is mere days away so as always I am 100% excited and 100% anxious, which makes me 200% crazy.  And excited!  And antsy!  And nervous!

The excited part of me can’t wait for beaches and museums, bikes piled up on our front yard, shady afternoons under the deck, sunny evenings on top of our deck, hikes and popsicle trucks and messy crafts that make me wonder why I  let the kids do crafts ever.  I’m desperate for long afternoons reading books to the boys in every available couch, fort, secret hideout, grassy patch, artificial turf, hammock, lap, and bed available at our house.

The anxious part of me is all questions.  When am I going to work out?  What about writing?  What if I try to write so much it ruins summer?  What if I am so busy summering it ruins writing?  How can we have long, lazy summer days and adventurous, action-packed ones at the same time?  What if we’re don’t spend enough long afternoons reading everywhere?  What if summer is TOO SHORT AGAIN?!

If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know I always make a summer bucket list.  I decided not to last year, then ended up making two fabulously color coded ones.  This year I decided not to fight the list.  I’ll just keep it simple.  Ten things, tops.

My plan did not work.  The list is twice as long as last year’s.  So now I invite you to close up your computer and resume to rest of your day. 

Please do not read the rest of this blog.  It will just cause you to break out in hives and run around the house from room to room yelling, “THERE’S NOT ENOUGH TIME!” to no one in particular.

Summer List 2018

Make popsicles
MOHAI museum
Houghton Beach—tons!
Bellevue Park
Sammamish State Park
Grasslawn Park
Make popsicles
Water balloon fights
Sand art
Leaf rubbings
Name monsters
Spin art
Pacific Science Center
Capilano with Kevin
Mt. Rainier
Whidbey Island
Read absolutely everywhere
Maker’s space at library
Evergreen State Fair
Ballard Locks/visit Kevin
Bike trail to frozen treats
Rocco’s perfect day
Leo’s perfect day
Vincenzo’s perfect day
Remlinger Farms
Play tennis with boys
Tile printings
Circuit kit
Rock tumbling
Organize boys’ rooms
Redesign firetruck room with boys
Scavenger hunts
Barbecues with EVERYONE
Storm game
Bus to Pike Place
Visit Silverdale
Carillon Woods
Crossroads water park
Play in tent in yard
Lemonade stand
Underground tour
Peter Kirk pool
Science experiment day


Jap chae
Egg flower soup
Summer fruit!!!!
Sticky brittle (damn you, humidity!)

Little Funnies

Just a few funnies:

1. This is how hard-core they are at my kid’s school. 


What kind of messed up version of beer pong is this?

2. Me to Leo: Did you sleep like a log last night?
Leo: No; I slept like a ball!

3. Leo: How many years until my birthday?

4. A conversation from making gravy with the boys:

Rocco: How do you know if there’s enough salt?
Me: You taste it and see if it makes your mouth sing.
Leo: I’ll turn the music off.
Me: Why?
Leo: So we can hear if the gravy is singing.

5. My nephew, at the pool: “MOM, COME INTO THE WATER.  I WANT TO MOTORBOAT!”

Chicken in mole
Something green

Memorial Day ‘18

Forget words.  I’m phoning it in today (a little trick I learned from my oldest son) and posting some pictures. 

These are from Memorial Day, which never felt like an actual holiday until we started going to a parade in a little island town near an air force base.


In my town, when you go to a parade you wake up at 5AM to rope off a place for chairs, go home to sleep for an hour, then drive to the parade two hours ahead of time because otherwise you might as well park in Canada and walk down. 

In this little town, you wander over to the parade 15 minutes after it’s supposed to start and you sit down wherever you like and you comment on the copious amount of elbow room.  It’s a thing of beauty.


As is this quilted Beetle.


What is there not to love about a town that honors their Leos along with their veterans?


We were proud to have a Leo in our own party.


(He’s the one with a bag on his head.)

Enough with the funny!  Here’s the pretty.















(Okay, so the last one’s kind of funny.  Though Grammy didn’t know why I kept laughing at this jacket she pulled out of the closet at the cabin, circa 1982.)

Crisped brown rice with steak and eggs
Sugar snap peas

Mother’s Day

A little late, I know.  All the adorable breakfasts-in-bed and handmade cards with misspellings have already been posted everywhere but here.  Will you accept late work?  Life’s been busy!

Here is Rocco, not exactly sure how to spell “happy” and thus trying to cover all the bases.


Leo describes me as being luving, caring, runny, sweet, and zuper.


He likes that I read to him, as illustrated by this picture:


(Notice our unique family trait of having legs that connect to our necks.)  Apparently I have him on a leash?  Or maybe the word I’m saying, which he tells me is BLAH, is traveling straight into his ear?

Here we are again, and you can see that by now our bodies have grown in—or at least we have disguised the problem with long, shapeless shirts–but we’re still waiting on those arms.


I don’t know why the next little thing pictured here made me so happy. 


Maybe because it showed up in the shower three days after Mother’s Day.  Maybe it’s because he didn’t have enough R’s and O’s and had to improvise.  Maybe it’s because I remember that shower he took, when I kept knocking on the door, saying, “ROCCO, YOU’RE TAKING TOO LONG IN THERE!”

Vincenzo, being in middle school and not having teachers to save his little butt, did not have anything to present me on Mother’s Day.  I told him it was okay; laying guilt trips on at my children is one of my joys on Mother’s Day, and he made that possible.  But at 8:30 that night, my phone rang.  It was Vincenzo, calling from his bedroom to wish me a happy Mother’s Day. 

Kevin’s not big on holidays, so there were no flowers, no breakfast in bed, no gifts to unwrap.  He tells me I’m not his mom, after all.  (Although, I point out, he doesn’t do anything for his own mom either.  I take care of that for him.)

But whatever.  In the end, I got the one thing I really wanted for Mother’s Day: a bunch of misspelled words and a kid literally phoning it in, which together made for a pretty good blog post.

That’s all I really wanted.

Eating on the run tonight—who knows where we’ll land?

Sale of the Half Century

My parents had a garage sale and I feel bad because the old me would have taken a bunch of picture and put together a hilarious blog post about it.  Instead I took just one picture.  This blog used to be the only creative outlet for all my words, but now that I’m writing so much for my novel and picture books, the blog keeps on drawing the short stick.

Oh, the picture?  Sure.  But it’s only going to make you wish I had taken more.


I don’t know how my parents survived in their house 50 years without getting murdered by this doll!

Anyway, my parents (ahem*DAD*ahem) had fifty years of stuff built up—50 years of well-intentioned Christmas  gifts, lost garden tools, ropes, chains, doorknobs from every door we ever owned, cassette players, tubing, piping, flashing, VCR players, DVD players, garbage cans used as storage bins, storage bins used as garbage cans, murderous dolls.  There were bikes and trikes and unicycles, a sticky rubber chicken, fishing nets, and windshield wiper fluid.  A mind boggling amount of windshield wiper fluid.

It was 50 years of good deals.  50 years of coupon clipping, bargaining, lining up outside the store the day of the sale.  And I’m sure this wasn’t the first garage sale for many of these items.

Here’s what it was like growing up.   Maybe I’d be  doing a project and realized I needed something but the stores were all closed.  I’d knock on  my dad’s office door.  “Dad?  Is there any chance you have an adjustable channel wall mount floor guide roller?”  I always asked with quavering doubt, because what were the chances?  Dad would jump up from his chair, disappear behind the door, then come back with five unopened packages of adjustable channel wall mount floor guide rollers.  "Which one do you want?”

Yesterday, my parents’ yard was full of people happily clutching their new treasures (what a bargain!),  walking to their cars that would drive the stuff to their own garages.  And it felt good to see those piles of stuff go.  It was like everything there was getting a new life, being brought into the sun. 

But it also felt kind of sad to see it go.  My dad has always done all of this for us, for his family.  He bought every last nail there with the intention to make our house, our yard, our cars, our lives a little bit nicer.  And he did.  When the rest of us were heading up to bed, my dad was in the barn fixing and building and apparently refilling windshield wiper fluid, Elvis Presley crooning about hound dogs through my open window.  It was a lovely way to fall asleep.

There was comfort in being surrounded by all that stuff.  In knowing that my dad was collecting it all and dreaming of a better life.

The thing is, we’re there.  He has that life he always dreamed of.  His five children and eleven grandchildren have that life he always dreamed of.  Yes, there will still be small repairs and tweaks to make, but no overhaul of life.  No need for 20 shovels.  Just one.  Maybe to plant a rosebush by the front door.

So it was a happy day and a sad day and a day to look at all my dad collected and all he gave away and to know that it was all done for us.  I am so blessed to be my father’s daughter.

Now, Dad, would you mind stopping by when you get the chance?  I think I’m running low on windshield wiper fluid…

There’s no time to cook anymore!  Do pita pizzas count as cooking?!

Angelo’s Tenth Birthday

It was Angelo’s birthday yesterday.  When I told the boys it was coming up, Rocco said, “YES!  I love those days!”  It made my heart sing.  He also asked if he could bring cupcakes into his classroom to celebrate, but I honestly don’t think that’s the reason he was so excited.

We always spend Angelo’s birthday eating at Kidd Valley and throwing flower petals into the lake where his ashes rest.  Some years it is raining sideways and we toss the petals then high tail it off the dock.  Some years, like this one, we toss the petals and watch the flowers floating there and I think about Angelo’s ashes and wonder how far they floated, wonder where they are now. 

Afterwards, we paused a moment to take a family photo.


Then we went to the beach and the boys dug out a giant castle (they are into building inverted sand castles, which go down into the sand instead of rising up).  Their castle had all the usuals: stairs, pantries, a sink, secret rooms, a throne, and Rocco also added a funeral room for Baby Angelo.  I love how he cares for the memory of this brother that he never knew—he, like me, seems to know that it’s up to us to keep Angelo alive.

The evening was golden.  We all got milkshakes that we drank long after the straws started making rude noises.  We made up burger related jokes, like “Why is the fast food restaurant rated R?”  (Because the chicken strips!)  We dug in the sand, eek’d at the cold water, played lava monster, made futile attempts to get all the sand off our feet before putting our shoes back on.  Kevin and I found a quiet moment to remember what it was like, that day we found out our baby was not going to be with us long.

Angelo does not show up in that family photo we took.  And yet, that family photo exists because of him.  That’s how it’s always been with Angelo: he is always here, silently handing us treasure after treasure.  Sometimes I feel him living quietly inside me, like a diamond pendant that’s slipped below my shirt.  Sometimes, like yesterday, I feel him living everywhere outside of me, turning the world into one where flowers drift by on top of a sun-dappled lake.  Always, I am thankful to have been the home for such a beautiful soul.

I love you, Sweet Baby.  Happy tenth birthday.

Soccer field dinner–
Mason jars with pesto, bowtie pasta, peas, and tuna