Snowballs!

Vincenzo and his friends spent a couple hours sledding unchaperoned yesterday. He came back and said he had a great time and mumbled something about how they had built a snow man. “Fun!” I said. An hour later, I got a text from V’s friend’s Mom.

Her: Did you see what they built?
Me: No. Why?
Her:

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I call it simply “Snowballs.”

Please note: my son is not in this picture and said he had no part of building the Snowballs. Good, I said. Someone needed to be on lookout, as this was built on a CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY CAMPUS.

I showed the picture to my mom, who needed an explanation and who then said, “Well, they must have had a ball building it.” She didn’t understand why I started cracking up, so I needed to explain that to her, too. (This is the same Mom who named our cat “Kinky” because the cat had a crooked tail and Mom didn’t know kinky could mean anything else.)

Well, anyway, at least we can all agree that yesterday’s snow day had a happy ending.

(Mom, DON’T CALL  if you need an explanation on that one.)

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Apricot chickpea soup
Roasted cauliflower
Chocolate lava cakes

80% Chance that it will Snow 100%

What is the matter with our city? I checked the weather last night and this message popped up:

WINTER STORM WARNING! 2 TO 4 INCHES OF HEAVY SNOWFALL PREDICTED!

Give yourself a second to take all that in.

Below it was an hour-by-hour prediction of snowfall for the night, ranging from 30% to 80%, and below that was stated 100% CHANCE OF SNOWFALL TONIGHT.

We’re not too good at weather around here, or math either. And as you can see by that sentence, I guess we’re not too good at grammar neither.

But in the end we did get 2” of HEAVY SNOWFALL and school was canceled, probably for the rest of the month.

But oops, looks like we’re not all that good at putting on snow clothes, either.

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Fortunately, it was an easy problem to fix.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Beef stroganov
Buttered broccoli
Fruity Pebble Cupcakes

New Year’s 2020

So New Year’s Eve happened and once again I did not spend it on the top floor of the tallest building in the biggest city, dripping with diamonds, my hair in  a complicated up-do, eating gougeres with A-list celebs, realizing I am desperately in love with Kevin at 11:59, and kissing him like our futures depended on it at 12:00.

No, I did not do any of that. Instead I  spent it on the top floor of a split-level house in a smallish city, eating mashed potatoes with a bunch of amped-up kids, realizing I forgot to change out of my sweatpants at 8:30 and kicking everyone out of the house at 8:31. Yes, it was our We Hate New Year’s party. This year’s party included 10 pounds of prime rib, three dozen vindictive sparklers, candy cane ice cream a la child labor, and our traditional New Year’s crackers.

For those who don’t know about the New Year’s crackers, after Christmas we all make Lego creations, then take them apart and put the pieces in TP tubes, write the name of the thing on the outside, and wrap them up all pretty. On New Year’s Eve guests open the crackers and build whatever the tube says, instructions not included.

Every year I feel so environmentally responsible, making the crackers with our old TP tubes and wrapping paper scraps. I take garbage and turn it into something fun and pretty. I’m doing  my part to save the planet! Of course, I don’t feel that so so much the next day when I throw away all the wrapping paper scraps and TP tubes. I didn’t save the planet after all. I just avoided throwing away some junk for a couple months.

This year things started out light and humorous, as usual:

Unicorn throne

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Fully posable Egyptian

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Tesla truck (rock not included)

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The Springfield Tire Fire

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Guy who stepped on a Lego

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Then Kevin got involved and things got dark. Super dark. He called this first one “The French Revolution.”

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This one is elegantly named “Electric Chair.”

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I’m not even going to include “Jar Jar Binks’ Last Days” because it’s culturally insensitive and is also too graphic to post here.

Actually, the “Guy who Stepped on a Lego” should probably be included with this second set of crackers.

Anyway, to counteract some of Kevin’s dark creations, I built a candy shop.

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But by then the darkness had spread.

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I called it Candy Shop Stick-Up because Sticky Situation at the Candy Shop wouldn’t fit on the TP tube.

And now that this post is on the Internet, I am no longer eligible to run for politics.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Chicken tetrazzini
Green beans
Chocolate mousse pie

Christmas Part II

Christmas came and went in the wink of an eye, as always. It was a good Christmas—it really was—but for some reason I wasn’t bursting with spirit like I usually am. Normally I’m traumatized by Christmas being over, but this year there was a bit of a, “Well, glad that’s over!” Weird, huh?

This year Rocco asked for “A Lego set with the most possible amount of pieces but within a reasonable price range.” He took one look at his gift and said, “1,850!”

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Three hours into it, Rocco said something we never thought we’d hear him say: “Sometimes, Leo, you just have to take a break from building Legos.” So he went to his room, opened a different Lego set, and worked on that for a while.

Vincenzo never could think of anything he wanted for Christmas, so we decided to get him either a $20 Subway gift card or a build-your-own-computer kit.

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Here he is, looking for a $20 Subway card.

Leo got a Nintendo Switch but wasn’t excited about it because he had no idea what it was. He just rolled around on the floor the day after Christmas, as he often does, while his brothers played with their new toys, until we explained about the switch.

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We have not seen his eyeballs since.

The surprises in my and Kevin’s stockings included a jar of marmite (him), an electric eraser (her), a bottle of  clam juice (him),  a “hurry up” toast stamp (her), and six pairs of lacy panties (him).

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(I keep telling him he needs to be more specific on his wish lists. How was Santa to know he wanted men’s underwear?)

(Also, is it weird that I’m wearing my husband’s underwear today?)

But the best thing Santa brought was an old-fashioned White Mountain hand-crank ice cream maker, just like the one I had growing up. Every December I think about asking for one, then decide it’s too expensive and ask for a fry pan instead. This year I couldn’t resist any longer. Vincenzo is practically in high school! In four years he’ll be gone and he’ll never have spent several half-hours of his life cranking a little handle the way I used to. He’ll never have huddled around an ice cream maker as someone pulled out the paddle, dripping with milkshakey candy cane ice cream, hoping to be the one to lick it clean. He’ll go to college  with no work ethic, expecting everything to be handed to him on a silver platter, and in 32 different flavors, too! I did it for him more than myself. Really.

You know how you keep imagining how perfect a moment is going to be and then the moment comes and it’s a complete disappointment?

That didn’t happen this time! The moment was exactly how I imagined it. After Christmas dinner, we set the boys up with the ice cream maker in my SIL’s basement. The minute the cranking started up and the ice started its rolling grumble, I was back on Uncle Bob’s patio in 1984, waiting for my turn to crank, feeling like half an hour was the longest unit of time in existence, but also the most exciting. When Kevin pulled the paddle out, dripping with minty ice cream, the boys were already in line with their bowls and spoons.

Why does it make me so happy to see my boys relive my own childhood?

Maybe because the more they grow and change, the more time they spend at school and with their friends, the less I know what they are thinking and feeling. But when they started turning the handle of that ice cream maker? Right then, I knew exactly what they were thinking and feeling. I was thinking and feeling it, too.

So it wasn’t all well, glad that’s over . There was also some, this is amazing. Some wish this could last forever. Some let’s do it again.

Now that I’ve written this post, I don’t know whether I’m glad Christmas is over or I’m sad to see it go. I can’t figure myself out lately!

But hey, at least I know what I’m going to do with the leftover candy canes this year.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Who knows??!

Christmas

This December Rocco and Leo kept talking about “catching” Santa, despite me telling them Santa is not a leprechaun. You don’t get any gold for catching Santa Claus, you just don’t get any presents, and neither does anyone else. They’d answer by asking for some fishing line and a box of marbles.

And then ‘twas the night before Christmas. I kissed Leo goodnight and he said he was just going to stay up for a few hours until Santa came. Me, thinking of the next two hours I would spend making all the magic happen and how much more complicated that would be if someone dumped a box of marbles down the stairs, said, “No! No! You are not staying up for Santa! Just go to sleep!” Leo agreed, but he wasn’t happy about it.

Then at 11:30, after the magic had been made and I was settling down for my long winter’s nap, I heard a cough from Leo’s room. Not just a cough—a cough that also sounded a bit like a gag. Like there was something behind that cough. Then silence. I breathed out in relief. Kids don’t get sick on Christmas Eve, after all. That’s the rules.

Except.

Except that before my breath was even all the way out came the unmistakable sound of a kid throwing up. A kid throwing up a lot. I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter and there was Leo, in his brand new Pokemon PJs, covered in blech and with more on its way. We got him to the bathroom (he didn’t stop the whole way there) and watched as every Christmas cookie he ever ate in his entire life came up and out. (More rapid than eagles, the vomit it came.)

When it was all done he stood there, pale and shaky, and asked in a wavery voice, “Does this mean I have to miss some of the Christmas parties?” I wanted to wrap my arms around him and tell him not to worry about it, but even a mother’s love gets grossed out at the sight of that much vomit, so I forewent the hugging and skipped to the “don’t worry about it” bit.  On the way to the couch, I gave him peek at the overflowing stockings but you would have thought I told him to look at a pair of old socks for all he cared. Then Kevin and I returned to Puke City to clean up. It took a whole roll of paper towels and several white board game plans to get it all cleaned. We had to put his loft bed, frame and all, into the washing machine. I mean, I know Christmas Eve is all about the birth of the Christ Child, but this was an Ungodly amount of vomit. A “we’re going to have to repaint” amount of vomit.

The Ghost of Christmas Present can be a real you-know-what.

We then sprayed the bottoms of our feet, burned our clothes, and tucked Leo in again. We went back to bed and tried not to think about Leo maybe having to miss Christmas.

A few hours later what to my wondering eyes did appear but a rosy-cheeked Leo, his happy mood back. I breathed a sigh of relief, and this time made it all the way through. It was a Christmas miracle. Tiny Tim was going to live!

We got to go to all the Christmas parties after all, thanks to an understanding set of aunties and uncles. It was Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.

But I think it’s safe to say Leo will think twice about trying to catch Santa next year.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Mexicorn Grits
Chorizo
Fruit and cheese plate

A Googling We Will Go

The Google Christmas party was last week so Kevin put on the same button-up shirt he’s been wearing since 1999 and I dressed up like a disco ball and we were off. But it turns out disco balls are out this year and giant rotating pegasus unicorns are in.

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Here is the donut wall.

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Here Kevin is recoiling after I told him to get his own donut.

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(Seriously—hundreds of donuts and he just had to go for the exact one I wanted?!)

Here is the light-up cotton candy.

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Here is a table loaded with bread.

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Here is the bread line.

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(You guys get the irony, right?)

Here is the Wedged Parm.

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Here is Kevin helping himself to a slice of the Wedged Parm.

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Here I am trying the squash.

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Whoopsie! How did that get in there?

Here are a couple of jerks who kept hogging the photo booth.

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Seriously, you two. Get a room!

I was in a funk when we got to the party but all cheered up when we left. That keeps happening to me this month. Up, down, up, down. Maybe I should get Kevin a shark head for Christmas and then I can be up all the time!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Black bean soup (thanks, Ange!)
Butternut squash soup
Crusty bread
Parmesan broccoli
Lemony shortbread triangles

Just Another Mouthy Monday

Me, to my banana-averse husband: If I were on my deathbed and with my final breath of air I said, “Kevin, my dying wish is that you eat a banana every day for the rest of your life,” what would you do?
Kevin: I would kill you before you finished the sentence.

(It’s disturbing how quickly he came up with the answer.)

Last week Rocco came out of his room and said he had a few extra minutes, so he made me something to help with my writing.

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It’s a chart showing the different genres, what to do for each one, and how to do it, and it is definitely one of the top 5 things I’ve ever gotten from one of my kids.

Also, hey look! I finished another scrapbook for my kids to avoid look through at all costs! Seriously—they’ll ask me what they can do to earn video game time and I’ll say, “You could see how many pencils you can stick up your nose or you could scrub toilets using your favorite stuffed animal or you could  look through a scrapbook,” and they’ll show up with BunBun tucked under one arm, asking for the toilet cleaner and a box of pencils.

Hopefully posting a few of my faves from 2018 won’t send you looking for a dirty toilet to clean.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Crab cakes
Lemon spaghetti
Salad