Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda

Rocco has been at camp this week, which has made things very quiet at home.  I have broken up zero fights between the boys, which is nice, but the excitement levels around here are hovering around nil.  I always thought the family revolved around me, but turns out it really revolves around Rocco.

Anyway, here’s the letter I wrote him today at camp.  It will catch you up to speed on summer hap’s.

Hey Rocco!  How’s your day going?  Have you reclaimed your status as the gaga ball Jesus yet?

Our day is pretty normal so far.  We took donuts to great grandpa, who asked if the kids are out of school yet (12 times), asked if they’re building any new homes in the area (15 times) and tried to give you $5 twice (we only took it once though).  Poor Grandpa!  He’s forgetful, but at least he seems happy.  Our game of Go Fish got a little out of control this week.  Grandpa thought he was playing poker so he and Vincenzo were trying to get a good poker hand while the rest of us played Go Fish and eventually just resorted to stealing cards from each other’s piles.  Surprisingly, Leo did not have a meltdown.

Except then at home, we were watching the World Cup and all the players were faking injuries and rolling on the ground, and I realized something.  Leo can do that!  I asked him to roll around on the carpet, pretending he had a hurt leg.  He did it instantly.  It was incredible!  It was convincing!  We started laughing, and then he got really mad and rolled around more furiously and gave us the stink face and said his leg really did hurt and it wasn’t funny.  So there you have it: a brilliant soccer star in the making.

Right now Dad and Aunt Jeanette are trying to fix the wobbly toilet.  They could really use your help!  They keep watching YouTube videos, then going back to the toilet and hammering things.  Then they come out again and say things like, “Turns out the pipe is cracked and we’re sure it’s been cracked a very long time and definitely did not get cracked in the last five minutes.”  Very suspicious.  I’m a little nervous because the last video they watched involved lighting the thing on fire.  I’m going to go make sure our fire extinguisher is still working!

Love you and think of you always,

Mom

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Picnic @ park—sammiches, chips, fruit/veggies, chocolate chippers

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Yellowstone: the Inappropriate Version

Actually, this post isn’t about Yellowstone.  It’s about the Grand Tetons which, my younger sister informed us, loosely translates to “Big Tits.”

It was an accurate name for the mountains, if not very imaginative.

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We stood there in awe of the mountains while Kevin explained an app he was thinking about designing where the Grand Tetons are sitting there all mountainous and  majestic and then you touch them and they go “all jubbly.”

We were not worthy of this view.

That night when we went to the ranger talk and Ranger Garett held up a pair of moose antlers and said, “This is a particularly big rack,” can you blame our entire row for busting out laughing?

And can you blame us again when, at the end of the talk, Ranger Garrett wanted to show us the beaver he kept in a cage?

And yet again, when we rode across Jenny Lake and waved to all the people riding the Beaver Dick Leigh boat?

When someone goes and names a mountain range after a big set of “jubblies,” that’s just the way things go.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Tomato soup
Green beans

Yellowstone: the Pretty Version

Hey, does anyone think it’s weird that I’ve posted three entries about Yellowstone and zero pictures of Old Faithful?  I mean, maybe we didn’t even go to Yellowstone.  Maybe I just walked around the yard and took some pictures of my family and am just MESSING with you all.  Right?

So here.  Proof that we went and stood in front of some things at Yellowstone National Park & the Grand Tetons.

Standing in front of the other-wordly Mammoth Falls:

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Standing in front of an amazing waterfall at Artist’s Point:

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Standing in front of the majestic Grand Tetons:

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Standing in front of the stunning Fountain Paint Pot:

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We didn’t always stand in front of the park’s magnificent features.

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Sometimes we sat.

Okay, okay, sometimes we stood back and gawked and took pictures without any of us in them at all.  Here are a few of my faves, with minimal captions.

Artist Paint Pot (or maybe some other spring; I can’t remember anymore), sans selfie:

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Mammoth park was happy to see us:

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Fun fact: The original Star Trek used Mammoth Park as the setting for Spock’s home planet of Vulcan!

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The Grand Prismatic, which Kevin kept calling the Grand Spasmatic, in honor of our youngest son:

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Artist’s Point:

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And…it’s a boy!

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If you look closely enough at this pic, you’ll see a mother moose and her baby at the side of the river. For once, I’m not being sarcastic—they’re really there!

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I’m kind of a flora geek and took more pictures of flowers than I did of my own kids on this trip.  I’ll try to post just one of my flora pix.

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Well, maybe just one more.

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Oops, my hand must have slipped, because here’s another.

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Marmot!!

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On our way to the Tetons.  The only thing missing from this picture is a random kid standing on the side of the road saying, “Zoom zoom.”

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Hidden Falls on Jenny Lake hike:

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A kid who got in the way of some flower I was taking a picture of:

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And because we are getting toward the end of the post and I see you are nervous I’m going to forget to put in that picture of Old Faithful…

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What?  It’s true!

Okay, okay.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
IDK!  Maybe curry & pad thai?  Hot dogs on the fire pit?  Maybe we’ll go out?  Maybe we’ll order in?

Yellowstone: Funny Pix Version

After a day of marmots, moose, bears, wolves, bison, and pronghorns, I saw Vincenzo standing at the window of our cabin, looking out.

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Me: See a cool animal?
V: No.  But I can almost get wi-fi if I hold my phone up to the window here.

Rocco is the kind of person who cannot help himself from opening every drawer and cabinet in a new place.  He was super excited to find one of the drawers in the cabin contained a book.

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Nothing like a little light reading before bedtime.

Here is Leo at a ranger presentation, sticking his hand in an otter pelt and making it dance around.

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It got us all wondering: in some alternate universe, is an otter pup sticking his hand into a human skin and making it dance around?

Kevin’s parents wanted to know how the kids were enjoying the trip.  Kevin sent them this photo and text:

Here’s a picture of Rocco playing outside.  He eats a lot more raw meat than we remember, but he seems happy!

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At the Grizzly Bear & Wildlife Center we read about wolf #13—a calm and passive seeming male who researchers thought was lower ranking until he mated with wolf #14, a dominant female.  Kevin turned to me and said, “I think I’m a number 13.” 

The #13 kept following him around all week.

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14 always was my lucky number. 

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Looks like it’s Number Thirteen’s lucky number, too. 

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Corn & risotto stuffed poblanos
Grilled chicken
Lemon garlic beans

Yellowstone: City Boy Version

Anyone who has met my husband knows that he is allergic to the world, so planning a trip to Yellowstone was akin to planning a slow and painful death for him.  In fact, I originally planned the trip without him.  I figured it would save him a lot of whining and complaining and making comments about how much more comfortable it is sleeping on the ground than in a bed.  But then I heard him telling our friends that he couldn’t believe his family was planning a vacation and not inviting him. 

The next day, Kevin received an E-vite to his family vacation.  He never accepted, but he did show up.

Inviting Kevin along changed things.  We could no longer road trip because he would spend the whole ride pointing out all the airplanes passing us and trying to find a flight attendant button in the minivan so he could get an extra pillow.

We could no longer camp because of the whole “this ground is so comfortable” line of comments.

We were going to have to leave the showering bucket at home because Kevin would tell everyone at any party afterwards how his wife once showered in a bucket.  True story.

So we booked a house in the woods outside Yellowstone for four nights and a cabin for two nights in the Tetons.  Kevin’s skin would get all rashy every time we said the word “cabin” in planning for the trip but it cleared up when we told him there was a flat-screen TV in every room and the best wi-fi on the face of the earth.  A little lie never hurt anyone, right?

Then, suddenly, the kids were out of school and we were flying above all those road-tripping cars and a couple hours later we were watching the elk mow the lawn at Mammoth Falls. 

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Kevin was doing really well, minus the comments about “potato wi-fi” and also the constant reporting of how many bars he had on his cell phone. 

“Zero.  I have zero bars.” 

I handed him couple of Lara bars.  “There.  Now you have two.  Did I mention there are also X-boxes in all the rooms at the Tetons?”

Poor guy.  He didn’t know any better.

After four nights at Yellowstone and innumerable comments about the potato wi-fi, we were on our way to the Tetons.  Kevin was doing fine, except for the giant welts where he got mosquito bites because his skin can’t be cool about it and just get a little bump like the rest of us.  We were playing those murder mystery games.  You know the ones—There’s a man who is dead on a stump and it’s wet all around him.  What happened? 

I was feeling pretty good about things.  “There are actually two X-boxes in every room,” I said, just to give Kevin an extra boost.  But I think he was onto me because the next murder mystery he threw out there went like this: There is a man dead in a cabin at the Grand Tetons and he’s holding a cell phone in his hands.

It only took us five questions to guess it.

Does he have any bars?

Are there any potatoes in the room?

Does his face look like this?  Surprised smile 

Is he happier now that he’s dead? 

Does he have a good life insurance policy?  (This question being from me, of course.)

I’m not sure how to end this post.  Do I write a eulogy for the man who died in the cabin?  An ode to potato wi-fi?  Should I tell you to look under your seat for a free X-box?

Or do I just post a picture of some random guy pretending to be excited about his family vacation?

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Computer nerds.  You can’t take them anywhere.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Salad with chicken, raspberries, candied pecans, and blue cheese
Fresh fruit & vegetables
Ricotta gnocchi

Yellowstone

You know when you dive into a pool and swim underwater as far as you can until you can’t possibly swim another stroke and you come up gasping for air, not sure at all of where the walls are or whether you can touch or if you’re still alive and you and you can’t even open your eyes to figure it out because of all the chlorine? That’s what summer has felt like so far. I dove in last week and have popped up in some other week and I’m not sure if it’s the beginning or the middle or the end, or what those words even mean anymore. Like, I can do the math and see that the kids have been out of school for 10 days, but I have been to another planet for most of that time and am not sure how long a day is anymore. Yellowstone is, after all, a different planet.  Maybe it has that effect on everyone.

I won’t do the math to figure out how many days are left of summer because no number could be big enough for me to be okay with. 

Gah!  Now I have to take a big, messy, hilarious, other-worldly, mind-bending, life changing vacation and turn it into a neat little blog post?

I give up.  I can’t do it. 

I’m just going to do it quick.  Don’t blink because here it comes now, my Yellowstone blog post:

I left. Saw some cool stuff. Came back.

There.  That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Oh, you want a photo too?

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And that’s a rap.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Can someone remind me how to turn the stove on?!

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.

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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.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Grilled salmon
Wild rice & tangerine salad
Fresh fruit
Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate ganache