The Blues get Whited Out

The post-Christmas blues got postponed this year because the day after Christmas, it snowed!!! Snow is best summed up in pictures, so here they are.

A good idea:

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A bad idea:

A big snowball:

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A bigger snowball:

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Something that went according to plan!

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Something that didn’t:

A few more pictures from a very happy week:

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Smoked brisket
Coleslaw
Mashed potatoes
Onion rings
Peppermint snowball cookies

Christmas Takes a Turn

For my family’s white elephant gift exchange this year, I was confident we’d have the best gift there.

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Whatever could it be? A pony? A donkey? A unicorn?

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No! It was a giant pinwheel!

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But one thing it wasn’t was the best white elephant gift of the year. My SIL won that contest, and as I’m the one who ended up with the nightmare of a gift, I’m the one who most definitely lost.

So, with no further ado, let me introduce you to Smokey Sue.

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Smokey Sue hails from the public school where my SIL teaches. In times of yore, it was used in classrooms to teach kids not to smoke when pregnant. “Smokey Sue smokes for two!”

As horrified as I was to unwrap her, I feel she needs a bit more unwrapping.

Here is her thinning yarn hair.

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Her is her grayish mouth hole for putting a cigarette in.

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Here is the pump that makes her smoke.

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Here’s what happens when you light her up.

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Here is the dead wrinkled fetus.

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And here is one you can buy $194 on Etsy.

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Any questions?

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Beef stroganov
Garlic broccoli
One bazillion Christmas cookies

Scrappy Do

Finished another scrapbook! I put these pictures here because my scrapbooks are kind of like the Arc of the Covenant in Indiana Jones, neatly labeled and stored in the bowels of Hangar 51. If not for this blog post, they might never be seen again. Here are a few of my faves:

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If anyone wants to see the full set, knock yourselves out.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Omelet-wrapped quesadillas
Roasted cauliflower
Hard dough bread (which is actually super soft!)
Jamaican black cake

All I Want for Christmas

My kids don’t want anything for Christmas, and it’s ruining my Christmas.

Leo, even though he stopped believing in Santa this year, very much believes in waking up and finding that one exact perfect thing under the tree. The problem is, there is no one exact perfect thing he can think of. He’s as stumped as to what he wants for Christmas as we are.

Puzzles? Nah. Board games? Nope. Arts and crafts? Hates them. Books? We already own them all. Clothes? Doesn’t care about them. Toys? Not into them. Sports? Just soccer, and we already have 82 soccer balls. Personal claw machine? Laser tag? Cotton candy machine? Already freaking have them.

All the people in my family are hard to buy for—except Rocco, who will take just about anything. He is currently my favorite child. But even he doesn’t have anything specific on his list; just a general guideline of “lots of pieces.”

“If not toys, then how about clothes?” you ask. Unfortunately, my boys don’t care what they look like, they don’t care what other people think they look like, and they especially don’t care what their mom thinks they look like, even though she has said much on the issue.

Still, I decided I might treat them to a new set of athletic clothes. Something bright! Something fun! Something different! I scoured all stores everywhere to find that the only options are solid color shirts with a gigantic logo on them and solid color shorts with a slightly smaller gigantic logo on them. Once I eliminated all the colors that don’t hide stains or don’t look good with their red shorts (orange, purple, green, and slightly different red), that left two choices: gray or black.

Sigh.

Somewhere in the world there’s a National Geographic with a picture of me on the cover, holding a gray shirt and a black one, with the caption: In some places, women struggle to buy Christmas gifts for their kids because they already own everything. A lady picks up the magazine as she stands in the check-out line, shakes her head and says, “I wish we could do something to help,” and the cashier says, “It really makes you count your blessings, don’t it?”

I wish I didn’t feel the need to get the kids anything, but Leo is still just nine years old and it’s his first year of not believing, and I don’t want him to wake up to nothing but a note saying Welcome to the real world, kid and a pack of cigarettes. Even kids who don’t want anything don’t want nothing for Christmas.

And so I will continue to scour. I will rack my brain. I will keep trying different search phrases like Christmas gift 9-year-old boy and trendy gift 2021 and WHAT’S WRONG WITH MY KIDS?! I will be brave and relentless, I will persevere, until I find that one perfect thing that will make Leo believe, just for a moment, that magic still exists.

And I will have a happy Christmas.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Berbere spice meatballs (thanks for the recipe, MIL!)
Jasmine rice
Cauliflower with papperdelle, mint, and pepitas
Pineapple upside down cake

Christmas Tree Hunt

No, the hills are not on fire; this is just what it looks like when you live inside a cloud.

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We don’t dream of white Christmases here. We dream of wet ones, because we don’t like to be disappointed.

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But hey, a few clouds and puddles can’t dampen our spirits!

Except maybe this guy.*

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He has the look on his face of someone who only uses a handsaw once a year.

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Okay, so it was wet. So my husband made his usual comments about the perfectly fine pre-cut trees at Costco. So my kids are not ones to wear flannel shirts and knit hats and stripy scarves.

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The day was not picture perfect, but you have to admit, these are pictures.

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And they’re my kind of perfect.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Pasta with chicken sausage and broccolini
Pumpkin pie

*My overheard comment of the day was when Kevin walked past a group of people who were having a tough time figuring out what to do with the tree they had cut down. “Look, there are six of us here and that guy just walked by carrying a tree by himself. I’m sure we can figure this out…”

Cool Sub

I subbed in a fifth grade classroom on Friday—one that can be quite challenging. We had a rough time together in September. I didn’t think I’d come back, but I gave them one more chance and then they Rick Rolled me IRL and I told them that was a dank meme and I only tolerate fresh memes, and since then we’ve gotten along just fine.

Still, I always feel the need to be prepared when I sub in their classroom, so I asked Vincenzo for some cool words I could say to the kids.

He said I should find a time in the day when I can say “cracked.” I wasn’t sure how to use it so I asked for an example. He said, like, if I’m playing video games and I’m popping off and my k/d ratio is high, then I can say, ‘I’m cracked.’”

I told him it was unlikely I’d be playing video games with the kids, even though I have a sweet gaming computer (which is true, and the students are obsessed with it), but maybe we’d play chess and then I could yell out, “Yeah! I’m cracked at chess!”

“No,” Vincenzo said, “you can’t be cracked at chess. There are only certain things you can be cracked at.”

I said, “Well what if I’m an egg and I’ve just been smashed on the counter?”

“That one I’m not sure about…”

I said, “What if I’m a human and I smash a dozen eggs on my forehead and it’s not even dented?”

“Yes, then you’re cracked.”

“Yeah,” I said, remembering the time I smashed a dozen eggs on my forehead. “I was so cracked.”

“No, no, no,” Vincenzo said. “Cracked is present tense.”

My brain started to implode a bit.  “So I can’t say, ‘I’m cracking it,’ or ‘When I was popping off on video games and my k/d ratio was high yesterday, I was cracked?’”

“No,” he said firmly.

“Wait, what exactly does ‘cracked’ mean?”

“Goated.”

My brain finished imploding. Without a brain, it was much easier to follow the next part of our conversation.

Vincenzo explained, “Like the word ‘cracked,’ you could never say ‘I’m goated’ or ‘I’m goating’ because it’s an acronym. It stands for Greatest of All Time. Tom Brady is the original goat.”

“Ohhhhh, so it’s GOAT, not goat.”

Vincenzo looked at me weird. He couldn’t hear the capitalization in my voice.

“Okay, this one makes sense,” I said. “So if I’m teaching a sentence diagramming and I explain the dangling preposition so well that the kids stand on their desks and cheer and some maybe even cry tears of joy, I could yell, I’m a GOAT!’”

Vincenzo shook his head. “No, let me make a correction. Tom Brady is not a GOAT, he’s the GOAT, so you can’t say, ‘I’m a GOAT,’ but you can say, ‘Tom Brady is the GOAT,’ and in all other cases, you say ‘I’m GOATed,’ but you can never say “I’m the goat.”

“Wait, so if I pop off in video games, I have to say, ‘Tom Brady is the GOAT!?”

Vincenzo face-palmed. “Maybe ‘GOAT isn’t the right word for you. Let’s try flex instead.”

I asked him a lot of questions about flexing, and here’s a summary of what I learned:

Flex is cool word to say. You can use it in any tense—past, present, future, subjunctive pluperfect etc. etc. For example, if there’s a challenging math problem you could say, “If you want to flex, you can try the challenge problem.”

If you plan to solve the problem in the future, you’d say, “I’m going to flex.”

While you’re solving the problem, you can say, “I’m flexing!”

After you’ve solved it, you can say, “I totally flexed that.”

And, of course, in the pluperfect tense* you could say, “I would have flexed that problem if Mrs. Beto hadn’t taken up all my math time talking about how cool she is.”

Flexed is…flexible. I get it.

You’re probably thinking now that MrsMouthy is cracked. She’s dropping knowledge bombs all over this blog and flexing so hard she’s totally goated.

And that, of course, is totally poggers.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Indian take-out!

Halloween 2021

We are not a thematic family. You would be hard-pressed to come up for a theme that involves a penguin, a dragon, and Bob Ross.

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I tried to tell Vincenzo Bob Ross was more of a blue denim shirt guy and he certainly wasn’t a gold chain guy, but V didn’t care. He liked his look.

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He also could have called his costume “my dad as he would have been in the 70s,” as this was Kevin’s real hair in high school.

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Seriously. I married that.

Back to Halloween: we had quite the crowd for pizza and trick-or-treating.

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A couple of my favorite costumes:

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Once the pizza was eaten and the candy was trick-or-treated, the kids all went to the basement, dumped their buckets, and began the economics lesson that we call “candy trading.”

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It was like the stock market floor, with kids calling out names of candy bars and holding fingers in the air to show how many, everyone yelling at once, candy being tossed overhead, plus a healthy amount of jostling and grabbing. I missed filming most of the madness, so here is one of the milder moments:

And now Halloween is over, which leaves one question: Have you ordered your Christmas cards yet?

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Jamaican “patties”
Roasted broccoli
Spanish rice
Candy shop pizza

Small Moment

As I drove Leo to school today, my mind was chock-full of the usual stuff: reviewing the day’s schedule, trying to remember that thing I was supposed to add to the grocery list, worrying about the boys’ missing assignments, making a mental note to bug the refrigerator repair guy again, deciding if I have time to fill in for a play chaperone this afternoon, and feeling baffled that another month is nearly over.

Then I glanced at Leo sitting in the back seat and, like a kid giving a speech who has a notecard that says “smile” on it, I asked, “What’s one thing you’re looking forward to today?”

“That it’s one day closer to Halloween,” he said. He paused. “And also, I have fruit snacks for a lunch treat and a Clif bar for snack time.”

For a minute my mind stopped spinning. The world stopped spinning. I forgot all those things I was worrying about and remembered what the most important thing in the world is.

The most important thing is that Halloween is 4 school days away and 6 days in total, but really 5 because as soon as you wake up on Halloween it’s Halloween, and you don’t have to wait a 6th day. Or so I’ve been told.

And also, today there will be fruit snacks.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Breaded rockfish
Butternut squash ravioli
Green beans with dill
Cream puffs

Baby’s First Homecoming

Vincenzo went to homecoming, which is crazy, because I still have my own homecoming dress hanging in my closet, so mine couldn’t have been that long ago. And yet!

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(Doesn’t this picture have an album-cover feel? Just add guitars!)

He went with a unique group of individuals, and I absolutely love that they didn’t look like any of the other homecoming groups.

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They only lasted 30 minutes at the Covid-safe “festival,” as the two bowls of chips, one game of Mario Cart, and single beach ball didn’t have much staying power.

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(This one feels more High School Musical.)

Then their dinner plan fell apart and they ended up at QFC, browsing the deli for homecoming dinner.

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(A sweet Breakfast Club vibe here.)

So we picked them all up and brought them to our house, where we ordered Thai food and they spent the rest of the evening baking cookies, playing Overcooked, and wrestling each other in the basement.

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It was a one-of-a-kind homecoming  experience, which makes sense for this group of originals.

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I’m so happy these guys have each other to go through school with. Lucky them!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Italian wedding soup
Garlic broccoli
Sugar cookies

Sweet 16

Guess who turned Sweet 16?

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Good guess!

I tried to embarrass him with the sign but he just looked out the window when he got up and said, “Cool sign!”

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For his party we took his friends to play whirlyball, which is a combo of bumper cars, trackball, and basketball. The place was awesome! It had a roller rink feel and smelled just like 1984—popcorn, carpet, and fluorescent lights.

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The only difference was that instead of standing around comparing their stone washed jeans and talking about Corey Haim, they all stood around and did this.

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After they got their fill of whirlyball and curly fries (so many curly fries, so many, many curly fries) we went back to the house for pizza, and then the kids started spontaneously leg wrestling.

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And then arm wrestling.

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And then boxing.

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And then someone claimed he was 5’8 and no one believed him so they all took their turns at the growth charts.

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Then they wanted to go to the elementary school to play soccer in the dark, and at this point it was clear the adults were not in control and had to do whatever they said so we drove them down and Kevin stayed there in the cold, contemplating the decisions in life had led him to this moment. For three hours.

It was one wild and crazy party. Since then, half the group has bought boxing gloves and I heard them reminding each other to bring them to homecoming. And this is my quiet kid. These are the quiet friends! I can’t even think what Rocco’s 16th birthday is going to be like!

That was all a couple weeks ago, and I’ve had some time to reflect on the whole thing. So honestly, how was it, hosting a group of high schoolers for my kid’s 16th birthday?

It was a piece of cake.

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One big, messy piece of cake that just might set the house on fire.

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Happy 16th birthday, Sweet Baby D!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Costco pizza!