FU too

Sorry if today’s post is disjointed or doesn’t make sense at all.  I’ve actually been writing a lot lately—not blog stuff, but picture books and novels.  Not good picture books and novels, but certainly word-filled books and novels.  Thus, I’ve kind of used up all my words this week.   I dragged this blog up from my drafts folder just so I had something to give you all.

Situation A:

I texted Vincenzo the other day that he left his lunch in the fridge at home.  He texted back not to worry because he was having a big bowl of FU for lunch.  A big bowl of F.U.?  I thought that was a pretty metal response for a quiet, skinny middle schooler, and I could feel my respect for him bump up a notch.

But then when he got home from school I had him describe his lunch to me, and his description looked like this:


Not very metal after all.

Situation B:

I was talking to Vincenzo and his friend about A Modest Proposal (you know, that essay about how we can solve both overpopulation and starvation by eating children) and they got the point of it quite quickly.

Alex, imagining the future: Mmm, something smells delicious.
Me: It’s Vincenzo!
Alex:  Are you sure he’s safe to eat?
Me: It’s okay, I washed his hands before dinner.
Alex: Oh look, Vincenzo’s already at the table.  Or—er—on the table!
Me:  Yes, and this is his little sister, Breakfast, his brother, Thanksgiving Dinner, and “Light Snack,” the baby!

It was frightening how easily that conversation came to all of us.

Situation C:

Me: Thanks for cleaning the griddle!
Kevin: No prob.  I always follow through.
Me: Yes.  Three days after I ask, you always follow through.
K, leaning in: Don’t I get a kiss?
Me: Yep.   
K: I’m still waiting…
Me: Yep.  Just three days left until you get that kiss…

Scalloped potatoes
Turkey kielbasa
Lemon garlic green beans


(Anti) Bullying Day

So I got my first ever call home from the principal a couple weeks ago.  It was on anti-bullying day, when all the kids had worn orange in support of non bully types, and that day the principal called and said something like this:

“…still figuring out details…got kicked in the privates…making calls to other parents…a little confused…have a great day!” 

Leo’s teacher called with a different message about the incident that had only a little bit of overlap and made the whole thing seem like  a gigantic, real-life game of operator where on one end someone says, “Leo got kicked in the beans,” and on the other end it comes out as, “I like your new jeans.”

It’s actually kind of a sweet and sad story that I pulled out of the boys that afternoon.  Apparently there’s this group of kindergarten boys that had been chasing Rocco at recesses for a week, even though he told them he didn’t want to play chase.  He had tried ignoring them, walking away, and telling a playground teacher, but the boys still chased him and then would tackle him and rough him up a bit.  In a kindergarten kind of way. 

So on anti-bullying day, like all the other days, that gang of kindergarteners  chased Rocco and tackled him and was crawling all over him.  But then, out of the dust and smoke, a hero rose and came to Rocco’s rescue.  It was his little brother, Leo. 

“Get off my brudder!” he told the gang.  “He doesn’t like that!”  The boys ignored him, so Leo tried pulling one of them off and that’s when he got kicked.  Right in the orange shorts.

I know I should be feeling Mama Bear about this whole thing and I am a little, but mostly I am just touched by the whole brother-sticking-up-for-brother thing, especially because it was little Leo standing up for his bigger brother.  It gets me right in the feels, you know?  My boys have a love-hate-hate relationship at home and I’ve always assumed that if one of them saw the other getting it, they might just casually walk off in the other direction, or even join in.  I am so moved by Leo’s act of bravery on his brother’s behalf.

So that’s where we’re at.  Phone calls were made and the chasing stopped, though I’m told that yesterday it started up again.  This time, Rocco is prepared though—he and his friends have a plan that involves flanking, distraction, and a very fast sprint to the playground teachers.

I know it’s been a bit rough for Rocco, but I also look at everything that’s happening at recess and think how he is learning some of his biggest lessons in school out there.  Lessons about loyalty, bravery, self-advocacy, and brotherhood.  And if all this chasing doesn’t settle down soon, he’s going to get to see a Mama Bear in action.

I will be swift and merciful and I will make sure to wear the least bright pair of shorts I have.

Roasted butternut squash


Requisite Halloween costume photo:


Bonus individual shots:

Some kind of a…raccoon, I want to say?  From Guardians of the Galaxy?


Spiro the Skylander:


And a “wiking,” i.e. a viking with a speech impediment.


I shouldn’t love Halloween as much as I do, with all its sugary craziness, but I do.  I love how Rocco’s mission in trick-or-treating was to collect all his aunt’s favorites, since she was standing back on the curb.  I love that when Rocco fell down and spilled all his candy, as he does every year, all the sixth graders got down on their hands and knees to pick it up for him.  I love that Vincenzo held little Cal’s hand for most of the time, even if it meant he missed a few houses.  I love that Leo, my sugar addict, wanted to quit early and just head home.  I love that afterwards, everyone set up their candy shops in the house and each boy felt they were getting the best deal in the trading.  There were some very strange economics happening there.

Christmas is fun and all, but if I had to pick I think I might choose Halloween.




Chicken stir-fry
Brown rice

Hidden Talent

I have no pictures of the boys carving pumpkins this year.  As the sole photographer in the family, it is hard to take pictures of yourself carving pumpkins while your boys languorously drape themselves over various pieces of furniture in the house and watch football as you carve their pumpkins for them.

Actually, that is not true.  I do have pictures of one boy carving pumpkins this year. 


This is the one boy who sat there and carved pumpkins with me while the other two played with Hot Wheels, watched football, and/or asked if they could have dessert repeatedly while I sweated it out in the kitchen, carving their pumpkins.

I am a traditionalist when it comes to carving pumpkins.  I deal in triangles, circles, and the occasional crescent moon shape.  Here are a few examples of my work, which was a team effort from the boys in the past:


This year, I asked Leo if he was feeling more triangle or circle about the eyes and he said, “I want a unicorn!”

A unicorn.

I told him I don’t think I can make a unicorn out of circles and triangles, and he said it’s easy, mom!  Just make it like this:


So I took a deep breath, fired up the Internet, picked up a knife, and Edward Scissorhanded something into his pumpkin.


Eh?  Not too bad!

Then Rocco came over, having previously ordered triangle eyes and a circle nose, which was good because making that unicorn pumpkin really took a lot out of me.  Rocco took one look at Leo’s pumpkin, reevaluated his opinion of me, and said, “I’ll take a dragon.”


Holy crap, I had no idea I could do something like that!  I didn’t enjoy it, but I did it!

I patted myself on the back, as the boys had gone back to rolling around on the carpet and thus were not available to do the patting on the back.  Then I had a moment of panic and dread, thinking of all the Halloweens spread out before me, all the pumpkins I’d be asked to carve into spiderwebs and headless horsemen scenes and staged lunar landings, and I just had to sit down for a moment to cry.

Until I looked over and saw what Vincenzo had carved into his pumpkin, all on his own:


HaHA!  Sucker.  Can’t wait ‘til next year.

Beef and vegetable chowder
French bread
Rootbeer floats, which I originally typo’d as “rootbeef floats,” which sounds like something my husband would ask for


This guy here turns 39 on Wednesday.


Yes, the fourth boy of mine that rarely makes it to the blog has a birthday.  He asked for a piecaken for his birthday because he wants a turducken for his 40th birthday and thought I should practice this year by baking a pie inside a cake for him, which I did.


We had to celebrate early because today, Tuesday, he is having elective surgery done. 

You know, the kind of elective surgery where they remove a large portion of his bone marrow, fly it to halfway across the world, and give it to an 11-year-old boy who will die if he doesn’t get it.

Can we take a second to talk about heroes here?

This guy here who looks so terrible in hats


yet so good in balls,


this squirrel here

image001 (1)

with a violent streak


this spacesuit wearing


child hat modeling


puffy haired husband of mine

kevin hs

This same guy who is on the PTSA board, who is assistant coach to one son’s soccer team and who is referee for his other son’s team, who is the sole bread winner for the family and who is also my personal foot massager—he has been my hero for a long time.

And now, today, he is volunteering to be someone else’s hero as well.

This, folks, is the face of a hero.


Crockpot rotisserie chicken
Roasted potatoes
Asian broccolini
Lemon marionberry piecaken

Regular Stuff

From the kindergarten classroom this week: I was working with a group and some kids had finished early, so I got out the white boards and asked them to write any words they knew.  I looked over at one kid’s white board to see he had written this:

                     HOT ABS

Oh dear, I guess I’ll have to stop wearing my bikini to class.

We’re just plodding along at lightning speed over here.  I’m still majorly stressed about Vincenzo’s homework, which he is mildly stressed about.  I feel so bad he has almost zero free time, and as soon as he does get some free time I’m going to make him write thank-you cards for his birthday that was three weeks ago.  It’s been on his list every day since then, but he’s never made it that far down the list, poor guy.

Rocco’s troubles with the Redo Kid seem to have faded, and now he is dealing with the Whadja Get kid.  The Whadja Get kid constantly wants to know how far Rocco has made it in Reflex math (the school’s on-line math program), which has resulted in Rocco begging to stay up late to get some more problems in and asking me to wake him up early to do some more.  Poor Rocco—he’s never felt competitive with an individual before, but when it’s in his face so much, how could he not?

Leo has fully embraced life as a kindergartener and can often be seen locked in frontwards or backwards hugs with the other kids in his class.  He’s learning to read now, so if you ask him if he wants water or milk with breakfast, he’ll answer, “Mm-mm—I want M!”  He thinks he might have broken the sound barrier when he ran down the hallway last week.  Mostly importantly, he still begins every day thinking he’s a cat and wanting to be pet on my lap.  Mew!

So everything and nothing have changed.  I’ve been trying to do a little writing, so some days I think I am brilliant but most days I think I am a dolt.  I feel like an animal that needs to chew its writing arm off in order to save its whole self, and today seems like a good day for gnawing.

Plum pork loin
Roasted potatoes
Green beans with dill

Kids, like Wow

Here’s the latest from the kindergarten room.  This time it was me as reader, and I had brought in a bunch of owl books.  I had just read about how owls throw up bones and fur a couple times a day, and this discussion happened:

Me: Does anyone know what the thing that owls throw up is called?  What’s the name for it?
Kid in the blue sweatshirt: A tummy ache!

Of course, the next two answers were “poop” and “It’s my birthday on Friday,” so Tummy Ache was looking pretty good!

Over in the second grade , things have gotten a little comical, too.  Rocco loves to play kickball at recess, but there’s this one kid who calls a redo every time he gets out. He kicks up a pop fly, Rocco’s team catches it, he calls, “REDO!”  Rocco’s team grudgingly complies.

As you can imagine, Rocco is none too pleased about this.  I *might* have suggested Rocco tell his team to take a stand and not pitch it to the Redo Kid, and they did.  The Redo Kid kicked it out of bounds, he called for a redo, and the pitcher said, “No.”  This had never happened before.  There was a bit of a kerfuffle and some angry words were exchanged, but eventually the Redo Kid had to go to the back of the line.  All was well.

Until the next day.

The next day, Rocco said one of the friends on his team was having a really bad kickball day.  Every time Rocco passed him the ball, he was studying his nails or looking at the birds, and he missed every pass Rocco sent him.  After the game, he came up to Rocco and confessed that—are you ready for this?  The Redo Kid had asked him to be a double agent on the other team.

All this leaves me both giggling and shaking my head.  I was wishing I could petition Mo Willems to write a book called “DON’T LET THE PIGEON HAVE A REDO,” but as Mo can’t take requests, I had to write the darn thing myself.  Maybe someday I’ll even try to get it published.

While the Redo Kid might be a terrible kickball player, I think he’s going to have a brilliant future working for Bernie Madoff some day.

Date night! 

(Not as in we’re eating a lot of dates, but as in we’re going on a date!  Food TBD.)