How Big is Six?

August 27, 2015

Hey Rocco, how long does it take to get to the moon? What is space junk made of? What kind of train is the fastest in the world? How do you put out a forest fire? Can we take a ferry to Chelan? Are neon lights vegetarian?


I ask you these questions because you know the answer to all of them. They are questions you have asked and then intently listened to the answers on, read books about, watched videos about, then told everyone you know about.


Someone once told me, “Every kid is a genius until they enter kindergarten.” Kindergarten starts for you in a few days and I don’t care what someone once told me or what anyone might tell me this next year—I know beyond a doubt that you really are a genius. You better be, or I would like back all the hundreds of hours I have spent trying to answer your questions for you, HA.


On your birthday this conversation happened:


Great Uncle: What came first, the chicken or the egg?
Vincenzo: Chicken!
Just as I had almost convinced Vincenzo that the egg actually came first (planning on convincing him otherwise once he agreed to that), Rocco, who I’d like to remind you turned SIX that day, piped up.
Rocco: Well really it’s a big circle. A chicken lays an egg and then that chicken dies sometime but the egg hatches into a new chick, and then that chick grows up to a chicken that lays eggs. It just keeps going.
Me: But wait—how did the first chicken get there to lay an egg?
Rocco: It exolbs!
Me: What?
Rocco: It exolbs—like, another animal changed and then changed and then changed again and eventually it was a chicken.
Me: You mean evolution?
Rocco: Yeah, evolution.
Me: So you’re telling me that something like an armadillo changed into a chicken?
Rocco: Yes, [smiling] only probably not an armadillo.



Now I’d like to hear that one guy tell me again that you are not a genius.*


Generous Rocco, you are always ready to give some or all of what you have to a friend or an older brother. Not to your younger brother, but frankly and though I’ll never say it out loud, I completely understand. Leo loves to piss you off, and all it takes is one pinky finger poke to get you screaming. I say a hundred times a day, “Just ignore,” but you seems physically incapable of ignoring. Poke. SCREAM. Poke. LOUDER SCREAM. Poke. LOUDER LONGER THIS-IS-FOR-YOUR-EARS-MOM SCREAM.


So I don’t exactly blame you when you hold up a piece of candy from your private stash and ask, “Who would like one of these?” and then when Leo says, “Me!” you suddenly remembers very clearly how to ignore.


Still, Rocco, you are kind, you are giving, you are playful. You’ll spend ten minutes building a tower that some kid will come knock over and you just quietly pick up a block and start building it all over again.** Then you’ll gently push the tower over to your friend and ask, “Would you like to crash it?” Of course, your friend would, and you laugh as you watch your tower fall and your friend’s face fill with the happiness that you put there.


Rocco, Rocco Taco. I have purposely not taught you to read or write since we kept you out of kindergarten until you turned 6. I wanted kindergarten to have something big to offer you. But, Rocco, you have gone and taught yourself to read and write over this past year, despite me. At dinner you say, “Please pass the C-H-K-N,” and, “After dinner can we play V-I-D-E-G-A-M-S?” You are so confident your spelling is correct, yet you are undaunted whenever you want to know if you’ve spelled something correctly and I tell you “no.” Like a true scientist, you are not afraid of making mistakes; you just look at mistakes as opportunities to learn. That, I know, is something I never taught you because it is something I have not learned myself. (Reference: last week’s apology post.)



You know how to laugh at yourself. You are not afraid of making mistakes. You are hungrier for knowledge even then you are hungry for another helping of macaroni and cheese. If I tell you I can’t fix your train, we’ll just have to wait for Daddy, you get a screwdriver and do it yourself. You are positive you can read Japanese. When you get hurt, you cry a bit but you don’t want to be crying, and so you find something funny instead until you start laughing. When someone else gets hurt you ask, “Want me to beat myself up?” You jump at the opportunity to make others feel better, to offer candy to your friends, money to the homeless, a hug and kiss to your mom when she says she’s having a bad day. You have a fix for everything, Rocco.



You have some things to work on, too. Your voice is always cranked up to 11. You cheat in Battleship. Sometimes the Ramona Quimby books are too scary for you and you have to cover your ears. When you think I am not listening, you are not quite as sweet and cooperative with Vincenzo as you’d like me to think you are. You can really dig your heels in and when you do the rest of us might as well all go home. Your persistence and your confidence can sometimes get in your way.

















But still.


My wish for you, Rocco, is that you never come across a problem too big for you to fix. That you never feel you know everything you need to know. That you always throw your whole heart in, as you always have, and that you find yourself always surrounded by people who are ready to receive your heart and all the wonderful, beautiful mind-numbing questions that it brings with it.


On one hand, I can’t believe you are six. On the other, it never really seems like you were a baby. You were always ready to be more, to know more, to do more, and more importantly to do it yourself, and you are still exactly the same today.



I love you, Rocket Man, and I am so proud of you. Keep reaching as far as you can, because if anyone can reach beyond the edges of our universe, it’s G-U-N-A, gonna be you.




*I hope you all feel the same way about your children, too—I don’t mean to sound pretentious, only to show how we all believe our children are geniuses, and we are all correct.

**As long as that kid isn’t Leo


Oh Forget It

August 22, 2015

Okay, guys I goofed.  You know that one post I wrote about Grammy forgetting things at our house?  Well the other day I drove off from my brother’s house without my laptop and didn’t realize it until we were on the ferry, so my parents saved me by picking it up and bringing it home for me…but their kindness came at a price.  My mom told me that, in exchange for her charity, I must now write a blog about my absent-mindedness and give her a public apology for making fun of her.

I’m not very good at this…I don’t have much experience with apologies because I really just never have anything to apologize for, but I will do my best.

My first instinct was to be sarcastic and write about some things from my past that I’ve forgotten, or at least tried to forget–like the time my mom left me at school and drove my siblings halfway home before remembering I was still sitting there on the playground, all alone and abandoned, like the blue Camry she would one day leave abandoned at my house, thirty years down the road.  Or the time my parents let me ride home in our VW van with the door open, me sitting on the edge of it there with my legs dangling over the edge, and then I fell out and slid a good distance down the road and broke my arm in two places.  Oh, how I have tried to forget that. 

But no, no, that is mean-spirited of me and unfair, and so I will go ahead and make a list now of all the things that I have forgotten at other people’s houses over the course of my life.

1.  My laptop, at my brother’s house
2.  …
3.  ??

Gosh, all I can remember forgetting is that darn laptop.  You’re right, Mom, I really am absent-minded.  It’s even worse than I originally thought.  Wow, this is bad.  I mean, surely there has to be something else I’ve forgotten, right?

Now what else was it I was supposed to do in this blog post?  Write about my own absent-mindedness and…what else?

Oh well.  I’m sure it will come back to me sometime.

Well, thanks anyway for bringing me this laptop, Mom, so I could write this blog post for you and we can be all squared away on the whole absent-minded business.

I think there’s an expression people use in times like this.  “The apple doesn’t fall far…”

Oh shoot, there I go forgetting again.  Mom, perhaps you can remind me how that saying ends?

Biscuits & gravy
Strawberry jell-o pie


Vacation Staycation

August 15, 2015

Today was supposed to be the day we leave for our family vacation to Chelan where we rent a house and all siblings, their families, and my parents stay for a week.  Instead, I woke up to e-mails from everyone about wildfires in Chelan, questioning the safety of the drive.

It was a, “Huh.  Well…” kind of feeling.  A few phone calls, a little on-line research, and a mutual decision to delay our vacation for a day or so (or possibly cancel it, the way things went in Chelan today).  We tempered our disappointment with a trip to the zoo, and while the rest of this blog has nothing to do with Chelan or the zoo, somehow it also has everything to do with Chelan or the zoo.  Please note, code names are used in the following text.

10:30, en route to zoo; Shell accidentally sends a message to the whole group of us asking Mom to give The Boxer a  sewing machine part she needs.

10:33AM, en route to zoo: Kevin sends group texting stating, “Make sure to keep us all updated on the sewing machine parts whereabouts.  Like which pocket it is being carried in and when it crosses any county lines.”

10:37-10:44AM, en route to zoo: messages about the sewing machine part’s location exchanged.  Some seem questionable in their integrity.

10:38AM: It is suggested that Kevin be left in the car.

10:41AM: Kevin hopes he does get left in the car so he can nap.

11:08AM: The Boxer asks if she can nap with Kevin in the car. 

11:09AM: I accuse The Boxer of trying to sleep with my husband.

11:12-11:39AM: The Boxer sends out two texts that go unanswered.

11:40AM: The Boxer grows anxious and texts, “If we don’t hear from someone soon the sewing part cannot be kept secure.”

12:20PM at zoo:
The sewing machine part is successfully exchanged.


11:45AM to 5:15PM: A jolly good time is had at the zoo, though we just went from play area to play area, so the only animals we really saw were a bunch of young primates in their natural habitat:


5:15PM: The zoo trip officially ends and everyone heads home

6:42PM: Group message from BIL: “I have the sewing machine part.  Mhhaahhhaa”

To be continued???

Fettuccini carbonara
Cotton candy grapes
Veggies and hummus
Ice cream for anyone awake past 9, except Leo, who really should not be awake right now


Cool. Weird. Creepy.

August 5, 2015

Not much time for writing these days, but Rocco got a camera for his birthday and wanted me to look through pictures with him today.  And so I present…Rocco’s first photography exhibition.  I’ve titled it: Cool.  Weird.  Creepy.










Homemade mac ‘n cheese
Steamed broccoli with butter
A mango the size of your head


Minecraft Party II

July 29, 2015

No, you did not miss a Minecraft Party I installment this week…this is simply the second Minecraft party I’ve hosted for my boys in the past 10 months.  Rocco has always loved everything Vincenzo does, so when hid older brother had a Minecraft party last September, Rocco was sold.

Great!  I thought.  I can use some of the decorations and activities again!

Sometimes I can be so naïve.

First of all, we don’t live in a house at the present moment so we had the party off site, at a bouncy house place.  There went all the activities I planned for Vincenzo’s party.

Second, we needed to buy plates, napkins, and plastic ware and I let Rocco choose the color and he picked teal everything because, he said, teal is the most Minecrafty color there is.

For those who have never seen Minecraft before, here’s a typical screenshot of the game:


So of course none of the brown and green decorations I had made for my older, more sensible child would do.  This, Rocco told me, was going to be a diamond Minecraft party.  That is so very Rocco.

Anyway, here are the pictures from our teal, not-at-home, six-year-old’s diamond Minecraft birthday party.

The food:


(Not pictured: 6 large pizzas, circular in nature and hence not officially recognized at this party.)

And if any of you remember the buffet wall being red with a giant hand sanitizer message hovering behind the buffet…


Then you must have been in the wrong party room.

I loved these little guys:


Rocco’s brothers had conveniently gifted him with Minecraft torches for his birthday, which ended up as table decorations:


(Pay no mind to the juice box at the far right—it got in trouble and had to face the wall for a bit.)

The cake(s):


Since there were 20 kids in attendance and about as many adults, I wanted something easy to grab and go.  These were fun and stress-free!  And if that evening the kids had a hard time falling asleep, it probably had nothing to do with the scoop of espresso I threw in the brownies.  That was for the parents.

The bouncing:


The favors:


The six-year-old:


He is one big little dude, and I’ll try to write more on him in a couple days.  All I need is a year or two to try to put this kid into a nutshell.

It’s summer.  Seriously, who cooks in summer?!



July 22, 2015

1. And here we see Leo, ready to go out for the day.  It was 90 degrees.


2. We went to my parents’ for Father’s Day and my mom had family pictures playing on her photo frame.  She said, “I know you—don’t sit there trying to count how many pictures there are of you and your siblings’ families.  I didn’t try to make it even, I just put in some random pictures.”  I told her with a gasp that I would never do such a thing.  Then I saw this picture board in her office that had a picture representing each of her kids’ families…except mine.  I took the liberty:


Please note the tear that is leaking from my eye as I stand there bravely smiling.

3. I keep telling Vincenzo not to use random objects for bookmarks, but yet he persists.  I find books laying around the house with things like spoons in them.  He finds books laying around like this:


4.  Usually when I go to the beach I feel very self-conscious about my short, athletic-looking legs in this city where it seems everyone is built like Taylor Swift.  The other day, however, I caught a glimpse of myself and thought, “Finally!”


5.  Vincenzo’s attempt to write down his friend’s gamer tag, which is spelled correctly but capitalized and spaced unfortunately:  WP_20150713_16_50_12_Pro

Wood-fired pizza at the farmer’s market, most likely


Moving Day

July 16, 2015

Guys, we did it!  We moved out of our house!  The remodel-that-will-never-happen is now the remodel-that-is-happening!

People keep saying, “I bet you are so excited for it to be done!”  I answer, “I’m just excited for it to begin!”  I’m sure I’ll be excited for it to be done at some point, but for now the beginning is enough to make me feel a little like a bride again.

We’re not adding much square footage to the house—just a total of about 30 feet that will buy us a foyer.  A small foyer, but a foyer nonetheless.  Now when someone sits down to put on their shoes, another person will also be able go up and down the stairs!  Or open the front door!  Maybe even both!!

No, the reason for our remodel is purely aesthetic.  We have a view of the lake but friends will visit us for a whole year before they say one day, “Hey, you have a view of the lake!”


See?  You didn’t even notice it, did you?

We are one day into our remodel, and it’s amazing the difference in the view already!

View before remodel:


View at end of day one:


Okay, okay, that’s a different view.  It’s actually the view from the condo where we’re staying, so technically it is our view at the end of day two.  I kind of feel like a jerk when people ask me if we’ll be moving into the basement for the remodel, washing our dishes in the bathroom sink, and I tell them that no, we are moving into my in-law’s vacant but fully furnished condo right on the lake, just a mile away from home and within walking distance to the boys’ school.

See?  I’m a jerk.

If it makes you feel better, I fell out of love with packing for the move by the end of our move.  We found out on Monday that we needed to be out by Wednesday, so my boxes went from being labeled by room and cupboard and drawer and spatula to, “RANDOM SH**!!!” 

I gave each of my boys a box and told them they could bring as many toys and books as they could fit in it.







He’s a bit of a minimalist.  Either that or is favorite activity is making his older brothers scream and he figured the best strategy was to bring no toys so he could take theirs instead to induce the screaming.

I did feel a tug on my heart to notice that Rocco’s box didn’t include a single train, or even a spare piece of railroad track.  *sniff*

Our general contractor brought vests and hard hats for the boys today and let them take the first crack at the wall.*  I was sorry we never found the time to paint, “TEAR DOWN THE WALL” on it, but still, it had the same feeling of liberation to it.


Vincenzo decided he needed some eye protection, so he went to the swim bag and…


Those goggles are like bad Chinese food.  They just keep coming back.

Anyway, by the end of day one…


The east and west sides of our house have been reunited, at long last!

It’s incredible how much happened in a day. In fact, I think the estimate of three months for the remodel is way off base.  At this rate, it looks like our remodel should be done in about two weeks!

I’ll start packing…

Mixed green salad with chicken, blue cheese, pecans, and raspberries
Whatever this is called:


I want to say…terrine?

*Written yesterday, published today


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