Snow Days

Okay, the truth is that the snow was crazy amounts of fun.  Well, the first four days of it were, and since then we’ve all just been staring out the windows as the snow veerrrry slowly melts, like a guest who has overstayed their welcome and who has royally messed up the place.

But before that, it was like the mountains had come down from their lofty place in the sky to grace us with their presence.

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Normally when it snows in Seattle we feel equal parts excited and anxious.  Excited because it snowed!  It really snowed!  Anxious because we have three hours to play in it before it melts away and we’re back to a gray world, like, snow?  What snow?  This time was different because it kept snowing and snowing and snowing and no matter how many times we sledded down the hills, there was never a moment of panic that any minute now the snow would disappear and we’d be sitting ridiculously on our sleds in the middle of a soggy, grassy hill.

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Around here, everyone is their best self on a snow day.  Neighbors shovel each other’s driveways.  People leave sleds by their doors with signs saying, “Borrow me!”  Those with four-wheel drive text everyone within five miles to see if they need anything from the store.  You set food on the picnic table for the same creatures you normally shoo off the picnic table.

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There’s something about a snow day that makes really bad ideas seem like good ones.  Like the time Kevin laid on an inner tube, then I put an inner tube on top of him and laid on that one and we went down the hill like a club sandwich.  Or how Kevin kept filling a Rubbermaid tub with snow to build walls halfway down the hill and kids would aim straight for them, hoping for a good crash.  Or the game the boys invented where ten kids lined up on their sleds at the top of the hill, two kids were it, and everyone else tried to crash into them and knock them off their sleds.  Normally, all of those would be the worst ideas ever.  But on a snow day, they are brilliant, and we laughed and laughed in between the annoying bouts of crying.

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I love that snow days make it okay to play hooky and not take the blame for it.  You shrug.  “It was the snow,” and everyone agrees.  It wasn’t our fault; it was the snow.

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And so, to summarize:

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I heart snow days.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Gnocchi in tomato broth
Ham
Strawberries ‘n cream
Cherry charlottes with vanilla ice cream

Captain’s Log, Day 3

It’s day three of Snowmageddon.  Morale is so low I have started using that word.    Water rations are also low.  The soda stream ran out of carbonation and we have to drink flat bath water.  The goldfish were “too chewy” for the kids and someone looted all the marshmallows from our box of Lucky Charms.  We ran out of Oreo cookies.  I will try to make my own today, but no one is holding out hope.  We had to cancel Leo’s birthday party, and to make things fair we went ahead and canceled all birthday parties for the year.  I haven’t seen the children since they caught me watching YouTube videos about cutting hair.  I’m writing this blog post on our last roll of toilet paper.  I don’t know how long it will be before it is discovered and all these words will be flushed away.

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(Vincenzo smiles bravely while Leo screams in terror and Rocco eats lunch.)

Someone’s coming. G2G

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Unlucky Charms
Nothing Like the Real Thing Oreos

It’s Doing WHAT Outside??!

I live in Seattle, and in case you haven’t heard, it snowed here.  I know, I know!  Get down off the table—this is a thing that really happened!

I refuse to use that word where you combine snow + armageddon to get a word that is trying too hard and that I heard one brony at the gym saying to another brony at the gym, stripping away the word’s last chance at being taken seriously.

Some primal instinct set into everyone around here and we all kept going to the store to buy things.  Tuna!  I only have one can of tuna!  I’m going out!  My two minute drive to the store suddenly became a 40 minute drive.  Bananas were the first thing to go.  You could get plantains, but they are the Cousin Eddy of the banana world and  everyone kept walking past them, trying not to make eye contact.  I filled my cart with all the staples: butter, sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, eggs, cream, and these:

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The checkout lines stretched halfway down the aisles and everyone kept remembering things they forgot  and running back to get them, only to find someone had toed their cart a few spots back.  One guy made it all the way up to the cashier before he remembered the hollandaise sauce.  He wouldn’t leave his cart.  He called the manager on his cell phone.  “Hollandaise sauce!  I need some Hollandaise!”  At the last second, the manager came running up to the checkout with the store’s probably last jar of Hollandaise.  We erupted in cheers.  We cried.  We shook is hands.

Back home, I ordered the boys to fill up a bathtub of water.  Whenever they’re thirsty I send them to the bathroom.  Vincenzo asked if he could have infinite cinnamon rolls for breakfast this morning.  I yelled at him, “IT’S SNOWING!  IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T LOOKED OUTSIDE IT’S SNOWING!  WE’RE ON CINNAMON ROLL RATIONS!”  I’ve hidden the fish food in case things come down to it.  We’ll eat the goldfish first  and if it is still snowing, we’ll move onto the fish food.  I think we can hold out until 5PM tonight before things get that bad though.

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This is what the end of the world looks like.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Raspberries (3 each)
Hard tack (1 each)
My leather purse (free for all)
Bath water (1 cup each)

When He Leaves

Everything breaks when Kevin leaves.  Or maybe it breaks all the time, but I only notice it when Kevin leaves.  Like I go to open my pull-out cabinet in the basement and the shelves collapse on each other.  I go to close a drawer in the pantry and it decides Not Today, It’s Not Closing.  A kid comes out of the bathroom and says the toilet’s wobbly.  Is it supposed to be wobbly?  My I-phone—and this happens the very minute he leaves—my I-phone starts telling me it hasn’t been backed up in two weeks, and it tells me this every freaking time I turn it on for the entirety of Kevin’s absence, just in case I wanted to be reminded every fifteen minutes for three days. Lightbulbs burn out.  Lightbulbs in places I can’t reach, no matter how many safety violations I break trying to get up that high.  The dishwasher starts caking the insides of our mugs with pieces of old food that stick like barnacles and it is better for everyone’s mental and physical health if I just throw the mugs away rather than grind my nails down to nothing trying to clean them out.  Our 7th grader breaks over and over again, and whenever I try to fix him I end up breaking him more.  The clicky button that makes the grill turn on stops working because yes, I am trying to grill in January, but instead I end up microwaving in January and there are no grill marks on our pathetic, bloated hot dogs.   NO GRILL MARKS!  The garbage disposal starts smelling like sour, moldy jalapeno peppers, probably because I put sour moldy jalapeno peppers in it, and the smell won’t go away no matter what I do and now we’ll probably have to move to a new house.  I decide to watch a show on TV and the volume is at full blast and no matter how many buttons on how many remotes, phones, tablets, and laser guns I push, it won’t stop until I finally push one button that makes the screen spin its head around a bunch of times, spew out a plague of locusts, and go permanently black.

Then Kevin finally comes home and asks how my week was.  I smile as big as a crocodile and say it was great.  How was yours?  I say this because I don’t want to dump all this on him the minute he comes home.  I want to tell him I love him and I missed him, not because everything is broken but because he has such a charming personality and  captivating eyes and clean fingernails.  But he knows, he knows.  He looks around and sees the empty mug cupboard, the dimly lit kitchen, the remotes that look as though they’ve been to war and back, the sign on the bathroom door saying NOPE, the gaping pantry doors, the salty, sulky seventh grader staring daggers at me, the Everything’s Fine Why Would You Even Ask That look in my eyes, and he knows.

So his face gets this look that the alpha males get on the nature shows when they know their thing is a sure deal, and he smiles and looks at me with those captivating eyes and I tell him the truth. 

“I missed you.”

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
African peanut soup (store bought WUT??!)
Chicken chili (store bought I know!  Whose blog even is this?!”
Fresh bread

The Creepy Tea

So when Vincenzo was younger, he used to get out of bed to pee when he wasn’t fully awake.  He’d mumble some things that were close enough to words that you felt you should understand them, but you didn’t.  He’d go to the bathroom and come out, still with those creepy-doll-on-your-grandma’s-shelf eyes and go back to bed.  We called it The Creepy Pee.

Today’s blog is not about that.  Today’s blog is the tale of an incident on a dark night not too long ago called The Creepy Tea.

Kevin was out of town that night.  Normally I sleep with a meat mallet near my bed when he’s gone, for safety.  Kevin thinks I’m crazy.  I told him if I hear a noise in the house, I can either freeze in bed, unarmed and vulnerable, or I can get my meat mallet and go investigate.

However, I forgot the meat mallet that night and was too lazy to go get it.  I texted Kevin that instead, if a robber came in I would smash one of the ceramic birds in our room over his head, then use a shard to cut his throat.  Confident with my security system, I went to bed.

Around midnight, I awoke to hear a beep…beep…beep…coming from the kitchen.  I lay there, hoping it would go away and wishing I had brought a meat mallet to bed because I really like those ceramic birds.  But the beeping continued.  Beep…beep…beep…

It didn’t sound menacing.  It sounded nothing like the giant crash that had issued from the boys’ room an hour earlier and which I had decided to ignore. So I grabbed a pillow, figuring I wouldn’t have the heart to smash a Jonathan Adler bird anyway, and walked boldly into the kitchen, tensed and ready with my pillow.

And there stood Vincenzo, in front of the microwave, repeatedly pushing a button while staring vacantly ahead with glassy, blank eyes.

I cautiously approached.  “Vincenzo?”  He turned his glassy doll eyes on me.  “Hello?” I asked.

He smiled, as if in a dream.  Then he stopped smiling.  “Wait.  What am I doing here?”  We both looked at the counter and saw a steaming cup of mint tea sitting there.  “Oh.  I guess I’m making tea.”  He promptly sat down and drank his mug of mint tea like a boy who had no idea how close he just came to having a ceramic bird smashed over his head.

I went back to bed and tried not to think of unseeing, unfeeling dolls with glassy eyes, vacantly drinking cups of mint tea at my kitchen table.

Forget the birds.  I’m sleeping next to  the meat mallet tonight.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Tuna melts
Roasted red pepper and tomato soup
Roasted vegetables
Chocolate chip cookies

Royal Rumblings

The Royal Rumble happened last night.  I assume you all put your lives on hold to watch it for all 5 hours, plus the 2-hour pre-show, but just in case you are lucky enough to have no idea what the Royal Rumble even is, I will tell you.  It’s a WWE event (for those who don’t know what that is, you are also very lucky) where one person starts in the ring, then every 90 seconds a new person comes in until 30 wrestlers have been called.  Wrestlers are out when they’re flipped over the top ring and both feet touch the floor.

So.  We had a bunch of Vincenzo’s over to watch it.  Actually, we only had 3 of Vincenzo’s friends over but they have all gotten so big, it feels like a lot of kids and our furniture seems suddenly like toy furniture.  The women Rumbled first and there were, as always, many shenanigans.  Zalena Vega didn’t go into the ring on her turn; she hid underneath it until a leprechaun named Hornswaggle chased her out.  One wrestler was thrown over the rope, kept her feet off the ground, then hand-walked her way back into the ring.  The Ravishing Russian Lana had been fake injured in an earlier match and limped down the aisle very slowly, which is a dirty move because the later you get into the ring the better chance you have.  Then Becky went in the ring instead of her…and won the whole thing.

The boys got totally into it, yelling at the TV and at each other and at the TV again.  I spent the evening cooking food, refilling drinks, and cleaning up dishes while everyone yelled, “OH MAN’ and, “NO SHE DIDN’T!”  It was all good fun until one of the boys started calling the wrestlers the B word and yelling, “STRIPPER!”, at which point the collective voice of all females past and present stood up and stopped the party.  It was my turn to yell.  “Can we all stop calling women those names?  It’s demoralizing and degrading.  Girls are people too!  We wear pants!  We run for president!  When we get thrown out of the ring, we handwalk our way back in and keep fighting!  I shaved my chin last week!” Then I went back to cooking and refilling and cleaning, and it wasn’t until the next day that I realized how mad I was about it all.  Discussions were had.  E-mails were sent.  Young boys were given lessons on women’s lib.  Peace and order has been restored.  Women everywhere can return to making $.70 to every man’s dollar and being being underrepresented in government and not being given promotions we deserve.

All that being settled, this morning Leo said, “Let’s play Royal Rumble!”  The rule was: stay on the shag rug.  Leo started, Kevin went in, Rocco went in, then I started down the hallway.  Halfway there, I fell down in agonizing pain and rolled around grabbing my knee and moaning.  Rocco and Leo were genuinely concerned.  They made their way to the very edge of the carpet and stood there like with big, concerned eyes and asked if I was okay or if I was faking it.  I alternately cried out and laughed, and eventually the boys couldn’t stand seeing me in pain anymore and urgently rushed to my side, at which point I stood up, miraculously healed, and yelled, “YOU LOSE!  I WIN!  NANA NANA BOO BO STICK YOUR HEAD IN DOO DOO SUCKAS!” 

But wow, did that feel bad.  Their concern was so genuine, their want to make me better so strong, and I’ll forever remember the worried looks on their faces as I writhed in pain.  I now know my boys would save me from the jaws of a lion, should I find myself in such a position.  So I let them back on the carpet, apologized, and they promptly kicked me off the carpet and declared themselves the winners.

You know, I’m not so sure about that “jaws of the lion” thing after all.  Those dirty rats!  They somehow planned this whole thing!  They abused my motherly love!  They trod on my sense of right and wrong!  I declare a rematch!  I was robbed of the title that was rightly mine!

The next Royal Rumble is only 364 days away.  I’ve already cleared my schedule.  Watch out, 2020, I’M COMING FOR YOU!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Apricot chicken
Mac ‘n cheese
Parmesan broccoli
Salad
Lemon bars

Sweet Baby UGH

I try to keep this blog humorous, but I also want to keep it real, so can I take a minute here to be completely exasperated?  Let me start by saying, “Ugggggghhhhh.”  It’s Leo’s taglineTM but today I’m going to apply it to his older brother.

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This guy here. Sweet Baby D. I wish I could shrink him back to that happy, laughing little cutie pie who never missed assignments or forgot to turn assignments in or only half did assignments or did assignments but wrote all his answers in 2-word “sentences” or who couldn’t do the science lab because he didn’t wear pants to school or who doesn’t have any idea why he got an F on a group project or who claims that everyone in class did badly, so I should be totally cool with his D+.

Maybe this is why he nicknamed himself “D” as a toddler. We called him Sweet Baby D, and now he is very good at getting D’s. If only he had nicknamed himself A, or even B-. I would love to have a Baby B- at this point.

It’s crazy frustrating. I volley back and forth between thinking he’s super lazy to thinking he has a learning disorder, some sort of Missing Executive Functioning Syndrome. MEFS. Is that at thing? That sounds like a thing. Kevin says there’s nothing wrong with Vincenzo; he’s just a 13-year-old boy going through some growing pains.

We make charts. We meet with his teachers and guidance counselor. Promises are made. New strategies are put in place. Charts are made charty-er. The next day I get a new notification: VINCENZO BETO IS MISSING 5 ASSIGNMENTS.”

I hate that when Vincenzo comes home, there is a struggle for me to get information out of him while he says as little as possible about his day. The info he gives us is so minimalist and doesn’t make sense and has big holes in it.  Kevin and I have had to become the forensic scientists of conversation.

His teachers say, “Vincenzo’s my go-to guy in class. He’s the one who always has his hand up! He’s the one with all the answers!” They say he’s a good student and a kind person. I show them his grades and everyone says, “Well, that’s weird.”

I think he wants to do well; he just doesn’t want to do well as much as I want him to do well.  That’s is different from saying he doesn’t want to do as well as I want him to. But since you mentioned it, let me say that if I had gotten his grades in middle school, I would have been going to school early and staying late to get them fixed. Of course, I showed up early to school and stayed late if I ever got so much as an A- in class. I tell this to Kevin, and he says, “And look how happy and well-adjusted you turned out.” I say, “Thank you. My therapists think so, too.” (Because now I have three of them, not counting my physical therapist or massage therapist.)

I’m not here to ask for advice. We’re already doing everything we can, and if his grades don’t get better by the end of the quarter, I’m going to look into getting him evaluated for a learning disorder. What I’d love to hear from you is, “Oh, my kid did that in middle school too, and then he totally snapped out of it and got into Harvard and is now a brain surgeon who writes best selling novels and digs wells in Africa in his free time.”

That’s not too much to ask for, is it?

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Cornbread taco bake
Garlicky lemony green beans
Watermelon
Cinnamon nutella snowball cookies