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Sunblock, Funblock

June 29, 2015

It’s day 12 of summer vacation and all our play dough has gone missing.  There are empty canisters strewn everywhere.

Also, I have discovered I really like packing.  I like it a stupid amount! I love finding something that I never use and watching the bags to give to Goodwill fill up.  I like taking a bunch of mismatched junk, wrapping it in paper, sticking it in a box, and in the end having a perfect cube of kitchen stuff, neatly labeled and stacked.  Wall-E, I get you!  I like knowing that every box I pack now is going to make it easier to move once we get the green light from our GC.

But that’s not what I really want to blog about today.  What I really want to blog about today is putting sunblock on kids.  I’ve written you a user’s guide with nine easy, illustrated steps.

Step one: Summon optimism

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Step two: Look behind you

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Step three: Get rid of the scrunch

(I am not talented enough to draw this—all my attempts looked like racist renditions of Native Americans–but it involves Rocco scrunching up his face so tightly that I can’t put the sunblock on it.)

Step four: Grow extendable arms

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Optional: Wonder how your child ends up facing away from you every.single.time.

Step five: Reach extendable arms downward

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(I didn’t mean to make Rocco look like a perv down there, but I am really crappy at drawing.  He’s probably just looking at some crumbs on the floor or something.)

Step seven: Brace yourself for whining, tell your kid no he can’t just stay inside all day, and also: skin cancer.

*Picture not available.  Just run your fingers down a chalkboard for a simulation.

Step eight: Oops!

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Step nine: Gain a new understanding of artwork

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I mean, I guess it’s better than a few years back when all six steps involved either me, my child, or both of us crying.

And now I have managed to spend my morning drawing pictures on and taking photos of sticky notes.

Oh well.  At least I didn’t spend my morning looking at pictures of sticky notes that someone else took photos of.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:

Quinoa with black beans, corn, cilantro, lime, tomatoes, and avocado
Fresh fruit

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Stop it, Summer!

June 26, 2015

Every year I am excited for summer to come to give us a break from the rat race of the school year.  Then summer hits and I am knocked off my feet because somehow it makes the school year seem like a leisurely walk around the block compared to summer’s pace.  I mean, holy popsicle sticks, Batman!  Somebody needs to do something.

The day starts like this:

Me: Okay, boys, we have a much more relaxing day today.  All we have is swim lessons at 12 and speech therapy at 2.
Leo: Your phone just went “bing bing,” Mom.

I go to my phone and find a message from Vincenzo’s friend’s mom asking for a play date.  As I’m texting back, another bing bing and another, “Your phone just went ‘bing bing,’ Mom.”  It’s another playdate request.  I start to respond to that one when, bing bing…and so on.

My phone then goes “bing bing” all day long as Vincenzo and Rocco get invited to the pool, to people’s houses, to the beach, to the park, to a different pool, to sleepovers, to other people’s houses.  I spend my day texting back that we can come, or we can’t come but maybe the other kid could come here, or we can’t come now but we can come at 3:15, or we can’t come but maybe your kid could meet us at this other kid’s house, or not today but maybe Wednesday, and somehow no matter how I work it, I end up with eight kids sleeping in the basement that night.

I have to admit, I love it…but it is also driving me insane.

Each morning starts with me cleaning up last night’s dishes that didn’t fit in the dishwasher, making breakfast, cleaning up breakfast, making lunches, filling up water bottles and packing backpacks for our day out, lathering sunblock on kids, packing swimsuits and towels, loading stuff and kids in the car, and texting the boys’ friends’ moms.

Each evening ends with me cleaning up the day’s dishes, cleaning and putting away the lunch containers, emptying waterbottles, emptying backpacks, showering the kids to get the sunblock off, hanging swimsuits and towels to dry, unloading the car, and texting the boys’ friends’ moms.

I told Vincenzo I feel like his personal secretary this summer, and then I asked him if I could have a day off.  But before he could answer…bing bing!

It is a fun, frantic, laughter-filled, busy, exhausting summer…and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Here’s hoping I have a tight enough grip to hang on until September!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Heading to the boys’ friends’ house for dinner—I’m bringing a strawberry raspberry Jell-o pie.

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FINALLY

June 24, 2015

Have I mentioned yet that we’ve been planning a remodel of our upstairs/foyer all year?  I’ve been calling it the remodel-that-will-never-happen because the planning process has taken forever.  It actually started two years ago when we met with an architect we liked who talked us out of starting right then because Leo was still so little, and then we went to hire him a year later but he couldn’t take the job, but then he could take the job, and by then it was December and that put our project four months behind before it even started. 

The good thing about the process being slow is that we have had lots of time to choose appliances, cabinets, hardware, lighting, tile, etc., then find better options and rechoose appliances, cabinets, hardware, lighting, tile, etc., then find other options and still think that our choices are the best ones for us.

Still, I have been a bit of a pessimist for the past twelve months.

I told Kevin the other day that we’ve pretty much done all the planning and all I really want to do now is catch up on scrapbooking since I won’t be able to keep up with it during the remodeling.  On Monday, I finished my last scrapbook page then went upstairs to sit on the couch and wait for something else to come up, and ten minutes later…ding dong!  It was our general contractor, saying it is time to start moving out.  Seriously!  I am not exaggerating for the sake of my blog—it happened just like that!

In an instant, the twelve months we spent planning designing and picking out in order for me to not be stressed out at the last minute meant nothing.  Insta-stress set in.  Fortunately the stress is tempered with a good dose of excitement plus the a large delivery of subway tile and hardwood flooring, so I don’t mind it.

Kevin made a run to the hardware store last night for some packing boxes and came back with four medium boxes plus five small ones.  It was friggin’ adorable–like when my three-year-old tries to fill up the swimming pool with a sippy cup.  I filled those boxes up before he even had time to plug his car in and then unplug it to run back to the store for more boxes.

Anyway, my blog is probably going to be spotty at best this summer.  There may be a lot of pictures with no explanations.  I may just copy and paste the same one about me being too busy to blog over and over again.  I may accidentally pack my computer in “END OF HALLWAY CUPBOARD” box and not be able to blog until October.

But then, I’ve been known to be a pessimist before.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Oh dear Lord, we still have to eat?!

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STILL TOO BUSY

June 16, 2015

We had a McStreamy over for dinner tonight and I started talking about how busy I am lately. 

Take tomorrow, I told her.  I wake the boys up early to go to speech at 8, then drop Vincenzo off at school, then bring the younger two back home where my parents will meet us.  They’ll take the boys to their weekly park play date with friends while I go get a massage.  Then I come home, gather the boys up again, say goodbye to my parents, and take Rocco and Leo to their speech appointment.  From there we pick up the babysitter so he can watch the younger guys while I go for a run and also somehow pick up Vincenzo from a birthday party he’s going to after school.  Then I’ve got to get dinner on the table for the family early because they go to martial arts while I am meet up with some of the other moms at a restaurant.

I should mention that McStreamy works full time and has a child in daycare and doesn’t have any grandparents within driving distance for babysitting, and by the time I finished talking, I had crawled under the table to gnaw on my foot in shame. 

I came back out  explaining that the massage wasn’t just for the fun of it…it’s to break up scar tissue in my leg and it hurts and I usually end up bruised from it.  I tried to explain that I might not even get to run tomorrow because I might be so tired I need to take a nap instead.  I told her that I didn’t really want to go out with the girls, but I haven’t had time for ME for the past five years and…

As you can see, I had run out of foot to shove in my mouth by then so I just put my head down on the table and laughed and laughed at myself and my massage-filled, babysitter-laden, friend-meeting life.

And lucky for me, McStreamy is the kind of friend who could just throw her head back and laugh and laugh with me.

At least, I think she was laughing with me. 

Frankly, I was just too busy to notice.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Miso chicken
Teriyaki chicken
Spoonbread
Fresh fruit
Strawberry shortcakes

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Today. Meh.

June 8, 2015

It’s 80 degrees lately and bright and sunny and the weather couldn’t be better…and yet I kind of feel depressed.  Or maybe overwhelmed.  It’s weird to feel gloomy on a sunny day. 

Sometimes I just feel like I’m tired of playing, I guess.  I’m tired of pretending not to know where my kids are hiding, tired of pretending that they actually tagged me, tired of spending three times as long setting up art and science projects as we spend doing them.

Today was a glorious day that I felt blah about, so I decided to write it down because that’s what I do when I feel up or down or sideways or inside out.  I write, and then I feel a little more upright.

Starting around 2:00…

We do a science experiment and I get cranky with Rocco for not following directions.  In the end the experiment didn’t work.  I reread the instructions and discover that Rocco wasn’t the only one not following directions.

We play a game of “Hide the Chipmunk” outside and I pretend to fall asleep when Rocco hides the chipmunk.  The boys think this is so funny that I am then required to do this every single time anyone hides the chipmunk, and I know then that I will be required to do this forever and always whenever we play this game.

Rocco brings a pinecone inside and asks for a bucket of water to put it in and also wants to know where he can set it for a year or two because he’s doing a science experiment.

About once an hour all day Rocco asks me for a milk cap because he thinks it will fix the inflatable pool that lost a cap, even though I keep telling him a milk cap will not work and we just need to wait for the actual cap to be delivered.

We pick Vincenzo up from the bus stop and he asks if he can do yard work to earn Minecraft time.  I ask him if he’s done his homework; he hasn’t.

Rocco runs inside with a new idea to get the pool going: he’s holding his shoe up and he says he just needs this and some duct tape.  I tell him no.  He asks for a milk cap.

Vincenzo asks if he can do 15 minutes of piano practice so he can earn Minecraft time.  I ask him if he’s done his homework; still no.

I look on the deck to see Leo rolling around in the deflated swimming pool, talking to himself.  He gets up, sticks a stick into the boards of the deck, and jumps over it a few times, then goes back to roll around in the pool.

Rocco comes up with an elaborate plan involving cardboard that will get the pool working.  I tell him we just need to wait 24 more hours for the cap to come.

Vincenzo finishes his snack and asks if he can practice the piano to earn Minecraft time.  I ask him if he’s done his homework yet.  Nope.

I cook dinner to increasingly panicked cries of, “Wipe my bum!  WIPE MY BUM!”

The boys do martial arts while I work out, which makes me feel a bit less moody, which is good, as the whole ride home is dominated by a strong display of survival-of-the-fittest over a box of Nilla wafers.

Once the Nilla wafers are gone, Rocco starts talking about the milk cap again.  I tell him that I just realized he is the main character of my favorite joke—the one about the duck and the grapes.  You know the one, right?  If not, you can read it here.

At home Rocco wants a snack but won’t tell me what he wants. He just insists that I surprise him.  I bring him a tray that has sardines, a whole onion, tahini sauce, a raw potato, and a stick of butter on it.  He says, “Well, I guess I have to try everything…” and he good naturedly takes a bit of everything on the tray while we laugh at the faces he makes.

We pile into my bed for a bit of some Shel Silverstein poems, and for the first time that day I feel like my emotions match the moment.  Reading to my boys is my nirvana.

It’s time for the kids to go to bed but Vincenzo is scared because there’s a spider under the bed.  We investigate to find out it’s just a piece of lint.

I tell Rocco and Vincenzo, “Goodnight, sleep tight…don’t let the lint bugs bite.”  Rocco’s double in size as he asks, “What are lint bugs?”  I close the door, leaving Vincenzo to decide which direction to go with it. 

It felt like a long day…and that was just five hours of it.  I know some parts are funny, many are happy, but the whole day just felt like one long sigh to me.  I think I am just going to read to the boys from the moment they wake up until they go to bed tomorrow.  That should be a perfect day for me.

Now, does anyone reading this happen to have an extra milk cap?

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Miso salmon
Teriyaki chicken
Potato salad with olives (thanks, Tati!)
Watermelon
Triple berry crumble with vanilla ice cream

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Going a Little Crazy Here…

June 4, 2015

Okay, people, I do not have time to blog this week.  Again!  Don’t believe me?  Here is our calendar:

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And here is Leo:

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And here is what he has to say:

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(The shirt reads DEAL WITH IT.)

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
An assortment of fridge and freezer leftovers, including but not limited to…

Pulled pork on sandwich bread
Chicken noodle soup
Shrimp scampi
Corn on the cob
Filet mignon with gorgonzola butter
A half eaten grilled cheese sandwich
One sliced jalapeno chili
Chili
Chocolate chocolate cake pops
Mini cheesecakes with strawberry topping

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Growing Pains

May 29, 2015

My friend’s daughter is graduating from high school this month and moving onto college, and I am totally tripping out.  Granted, my friend is much, MUCH older than me.  She was in the 8th grade when I was in the 6th grade, after all.  She practically raised me.

I keep thinking about what it’s going to be like for them.  How they were a family of four and now they’ll be a family of three at home.  How the younger daughter will kind of be an only child for a couple of years now.  How it will feel to move their daughter into her dorm and how hard it will be not to say, “I feel like it was just yesterday that my parents helped me move into my dorm,” over and over again.  How the graduation announcement looked nothing like the generic, gold-embossed, school-color blaring announcements of yore, but instead like this:

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It’s along the lines of a baby announcement or an engagement announcement, and coincidentally it seems this girl—this young lady—is right in between both of those milestones right now. 

And I know you’re all thinking this so I’ll just say it: Isn’t she GORGEOUS?!

Bringing it back to MrsMouthy, today was Rocco’s last day of preschool, and we all met at a park instead of the classroom.  I know that this is the day I’ll see playing before my eyes as he walks down the aisle in his cap and gown, thirteen years from now: Rocco amidst his other preschool friends, covering a dying bee with flowers so it would be happy in its last moments.  Rocco and his friends hiding in a giant tire and intermittently popping up like prairie dogs to yell, “Boo!”  The five-year-olds seeing how many kids could go down the slide at the same time.  Cole beckoning friends behind a tree so he could lay out the terms of yet another spy mission.  Rocco and his friends around a confetti-coated cake, asking their moms if they could have another piece.  Leo crying because he didn’t get a green balloon, and Rocco finding a friend who had one and trading in his own blue balloon for the green one to give his baby brother.  Leo screaming and kicking as I dragged him to the car while Rocco talked about what he was going to do the next time he and his preschool friends all get together.  Me not having the heart to tell him we this group won’t all be together again.

How do you do it?  How do you ever let your babies grow up and leave you?  How do you go on being a mom when your kids no longer need you to do most of things moms do all day?

Sometimes I think I am more afraid of my boys all graduating from high school than I am of my own death.

I remember when I headed off to college feeling a bit sad that my childhood was pretty much over and everything I knew was going to be changed somehow.  But I was so excited about what lay ahead that I don’t remember dwelling on the sadness or being paralyzed by it or anything.

I just hope that my boys’ inevitable exits from home come on gradually, and that I am not as paralyzed by the goodbye as I think I’m going to be.  I hope that, along with the anxiety and the sadness, I am also excited–  not just for my boys and the futures they have chosen, but also, somehow, for me.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Roasted butternut squash, potatoes, and sausage
Potato salad
Cookies with coconut, white chocolate chips and butterscotch chips

(Those who do not like coconut, which is all of my boys including my husband, can choke down some peach cobbler with ice cream instead.)

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