Sweet dreams are made of these (foods)

QUICKIE:  Me, after serving Vincenzo a grilled cheese sandwich: “Mmm, something smells delicious around here!”  Vincenzo: “It’s probably my pants.”
You know that whole “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” thing?  I’m living the parenthood version of it: “Don’t hate me because my parents live 20 minutes away and are incredibly awesome grandparents.”  Not only is my mom around, but also a handful of sisters and another of neighbors and another of friends who call up and ask periodically if I would like a break today (thanks Kristen!).  If I’m feeling sick or harried or lonely, I need only wave a white hankie out of the nursery window and someone shows up, usually riding a white mare and hanging from a flying umbrella. 

My mom agreed to watch Vincenzo overnight once every month, and this was the first month.  Our 24 hours as parents-of-one was, in a word, delicious.  We started out at the Cheesecake Factory for appetizers and tuxedo cheesecake and over dinner I planned out a week’s worth of meals from roasted chicken with butternut squash to eggplant parmesan to a sweet onion, apple, and cheddar tart.  We bought a Williams-Sonoma cookbook and planned even more meals: fried macaroni and cheese, penne with vodka sauce, and beef sukiyaki with noodles

Back home we caught up on TV over Godiva Chocolate Liqueur and Starbucks Creme Liqueur.  When we woke up on Saturday (at 9:00!!!) (as in four hours after 5AM!) we headed to an acclaimed breakfast place in Seattle where it was Huevos Rancheros for him and Creme Brulee French Toast for her.  I think at some point during breakfast I actually proposed to my french toast.

A couple hours later I headed over to Grammy’s to pick up Vincenzo.  And if he was eating m&m’s and candy hearts for lunch, I didn’t see it.  She could feed Vincenzo sticks of butter straight from the fridge and I wouldn’t say anything because I’m hooked on these weekend dates after just one hit.  (Besides, after everything I ate this weekend, who am I to judge?)

And if Grammy accidentally yelled, “No, Rocco, DOWN!” to Rasta the dog (and if she yelled it twice), I didn’t hear it.  We’ll rename our son Rasta and the dog can be Rocco if that’s what it takes.

Roasted chicken with butternut squash
Tomato and roasted red pepper soup
Chocolate peanut butter cookies

This apple fell VERY far from the tree.

QUICKIE: Vincenzo at dinner: “When I’m done with preschool for the year, does that mean I’ll be retired?”
Dictionary.com tells me that a ditz is a scatterbrained or eccentric person.

I would like to submit this picture to the dictionary entry.


Anyone who pairs ankle boots with underwear and a hockey jersey definitely falls into the category of “scatterbrained” or “eccentric.” 

It’s true; my son is a ditz.  (Brunettes and redheads, read that as: dumb blond).  (Blondies, read that as…wait a  minute, do you know how to read?)*

Case in point #1:
Vincenzo went to a birthday party this weekend and an adult was helping the kids wash their hands.  She was overheard saying to my son, “You mean don’t know what your own name is?”

Case in point #2:
The next day we visited Vincenzo’s potential preschool class for next year.  The teacher had him stand up and tell the class his name.  Fortunately, he did so beautifully.  Then she asked him what his baby brother’s name was and he said, “Oh, his name is Vincenzo too.” 

[I didn’t want him to look bad so I just smiled and acted like I was the cleverest mom EVER for naming both my sons “Vincenzo.”]

Case in point #3:

Vincenzo was kicking his bedroom door but (for once) not angrily.  We asked what he was doing and he said, “Trying to get into my room.  The door won’t open.”  Kevin went over and calmly turned the doorknob and opened it for him.  Vincenzo looked at the doorknob and said, “Oh!  I didn’t know that thing turned!”


Well the good news is I have officially stopped worrying about Vincenzo not being able to write his name yet.

Maple syrup-infused ketchup loaf
Pickle relish with plain mayo dipping sauce
Dijon mustard medallions with sour cream with a touch of walnut oil
Hershey’s syrup shots


*Totally uncool.  I know.

Life’s full of tough choices, ain’t it?

Last week I was one of those people who “did it all.”  I cooked, I cleaned, I signed up for classes, I signed the kids up for classes, I helped friends and family with their to-do’s, I worked out two times.  And I came to this realization: people who “do it all” have unhappy families.

So this week I am trying to choose between activities/projects rather than do them all.  Here are some of those things I have had to chose between lately:

1. Going to the bathroom or picking Vincenzo up on time from preschool

2.  Intervening in Vincenzo’s temper tantrum after he took his clothes off and rammed his naked body into all the kitchen cupboards or pretending like I didn’t see it (so that I wouldn’t have to clean it)

3.  Flossing or not because having that extra 60 seconds of sleep sounded really, really good

4.  Plucking my right eyebrow or my left eyebrow, as there wasn’t time for both

5.  Investigating the noise I heard from the Panic Room (I’m always convinced we’re going to leave a door unlocked one day and someone will move in there and we won’t know it until we move out one day) or tossing a Hershey Kiss in there and telling Vincenzo it had his name on it

6.  Washing the full load of poop out of Vincenzo’s favorite pair of underwear or throwing them away and hoping for the best

7.  Reclaiming Vincenzo’s balloon from a 2-year-old whose Dad stood aside saying, “Ooh, good luck with that—he loves balloons” or letting the 2-year-old keep it and dealing myself with a screaming 4-year-old for the rest of the night

8.  Modeling good eating habits by sitting down at the table and eating lunch with Vincenzo or wolfing down a couple Luna Bars so I could write a blog post during lunch

9.  Scrapbooking or paying a conjugal visit to my husband*

10.  Holding Rocco or…or…nothing.  Him I just held.

I guess not all of life’s choices are tough.

This question is REALLY STARTING TO BUG ME lately! [I hope that sounded like George Costanza when you read it]









Another reason to visit Japan—or not

A good friend just became a Great Friend when she forwarded me this e-mail about a current fashion trend in Japan.

“These are not see-through skirts; they are skirts with prints on them to make it look like panties are visible.”







It’s totally believable, coming from a country that sells schoolgirls’ dirty panties in vending machines, but before you run out and buy such a skirt, I should tell you that Snopes says these see-through skirts don’t exist.  The above pictures are just digitally-altered. 

Snopes also wants everyone to know that Santa Claus is really your parents. 

Snopes is such a buzzkill.

Potato rosti


I have all these little snippets waiting in line to be turned into full-blown blog posts, but the touchy-looking desk clerk is making me uncomfortable so I think I’ll just cut my losses and write them down, short and non-thematic as they are.

1.  We live on a PLANET we call EARTH.  We have a STAR we call SUN.  We have a MOON we call…MOON.  Seriously, like couldn’t we have come up with something better?  It’s like getting a dog and saying, “Let’s name it…DOG.”

2.  GIRL visited this week.  Her defining moment was when she asked, “Do you know how long it is until my next birthday?” then whispered excitedly, “It’s only three years away!”

3.  On the tail of his weekend as a cheetah-leopard, Vincenzo was remembering the little green men who hid gold all over our house last St. Patrick’s Day.  He asked, “But Mom, are they really called leopardchauns?”

4.  This is a comment I made on someone else’s blog; I’ve spent four years trying to put it into words.  Every day I am so blown away at the power and grace and love of the mother-child connection.  Then I think of all the billions of people in the world and the trillions of people in the world’s past and I wonder how something that is so commonplace and widespread can be so unbelievably profound.

5.  I started to write a reflection on the past 10 years around New Year’s but never finished.  Here’s how far I got:

1.  Fall in love and get married.  I considered myself unmarriable (I still kind of do).
2.  Get my master’s degree.  It just kind of fell in my lap
2.  Have a baby boy just two years into married life.  It makes me think of our wedding a shotgun wedding. 
3.  Hold my second baby boy’s lifeless body in my arms and know what it feels like to love and hurt at the same time
4.  Hold another baby boy a year later and realize I had never before known what hope meant
5.  Write a novel and half of a second one
7.  Pluck hair off my chin…and upper lip…and neck…

Zeek’s pizza.  I’m beginning to feel like a farse.

Paranoia is not my middle name.

It’s more like my first.

I mean, I’m so paranoid about blog readers developing an unhealthy obsession for me that I fill my blog with pictures of some whitey and her kids even though I’m really a childless Namibian man who excels at pooktre art.  I’ve said too much already.

So last week when this beige Honda with a lady decked out in fluorescent teal (a color for the clinically insane) pulled into our driveway, then backed out and drove a few houses down, did the same at a neighbor’s house four doors down, and kept doing this in a completely random matter, I went into full SQUIRREL mode.

I called my husband.  He told me to take a nap.

I called my mom.  She told me to call the police.

I went for a walk shortly after “Dutchess Teal” pulled into my driveway and once I hit the other side of the neighborhood there she was, idling in her car.  Waiting.  Watching.  I called the babysitter, had him put house into full lock-down mode, reminded him of the combination to our padded room, and gave him a mini-lesson on how to shoot a colt 45. 

By the time I got back to the house the car was gone, but by then I had imagined 1,000 kinds of evil that Dutchess Teal was about to unleash on me and my family.  When Kevin came home I begged him to give me just ONE logical explanation for why a car would pull into a driveway, sprint for another a few houses down, then switch directions and do the same at another house, all over the neighborhood.  He came up with nothing.  I didn’t sleep that night.

Yesterday afternoon I looked out my window and there she was again!  Dutchess Teal!  She and her beige Honda pulled RIGHT into my driveway, then backed up and pulled into my neighbor’s driveway. I swiftly broke a wine bottle in half, grabbed Vincenzo’s cardboard sword, charged out my front door…and promptly tripped over a newspaper on our front steps.  A freshly placed newspaper.  I looked up just in time to see Dutchess Teal lay another newspaper on the neighbor’s porch then get back into her car and continue on.

I think Joan Rivers put it best when she said something like, “Not only is my glass half empty, but what’s in it is poisoned.”

Drink up, little blog readers.  Drink up.


Date night!  (We’re not eating dates; we’re going on a date.)

Signs your son might be a superhero

Your son may be a superhero if he…

…carries a “shooter” at all times and shoots everything in sight


…and everything not in sight


…runs so fast he appears blurry to the naked eye


…wears a cape AT ALL TIMES.


has an alter-ego


…has a weakness (his is sprinkles)


hides out in a lair


…has superpowers


…has a love interest


…and a sidekick


…and has a backstory that explains his motivation for becoming a superhero (the following 2 photos of Vincenzo may shed some light)



In fact, the only thing that’s missing from this kid’s superhero persona is an arch enemy.  Because seriously, is it possible for anyone to be enemies with this superhero and his sidekick?



*That’s a rhetorical question, not a challenge, BTW.  (I’m talking to you, Lex Luther!)

More on this later…

We took the train to Portland this weekend.  This was one of the first things we saw.


Well…how’d we do?


(Vincenzo wore this cape all weekend.  He couldn’t decide between cheetah or leopard so we settled for cheetard.  My son.  The cheetard.)


(Rocco spent two hours in his stroller with his head like this.  He apparently really had to go, too.)

Husband-made burgers!
Husband-made blue cheese polenta!

Honey DoNothings

I’m taking the kids on a train down to Portland for the weekend, leaving Kevin at home to play video games and poop with the bathroom door open.  He asked if there’s anything I want him to do, and I’d like to say “no” like I did the last time I left him alone for the weekend so he can really and truly relax, but that last trip taught me something: the man needs a to-do list.  So here it is, Kevin, because I love you and our marriage:

1.  There’s this thing to the right of the sink.  It’s big and square and silverish; it kind of looks like a mini refrigerator.  It’s called a dishwasher [dish-wosh-er], and if you open it up you can put your dirty dishes right inside it!  If you would like to know what else it can do with the DISHWASHER [dish-wosh-er], call 1-800-LAZY-ASS.  Ask for me.
2.  Flush the toilet at least once a day.
3.  If the cat poops or vomits on the carpet, I’m not asking you to CLEAN IT UP or anything, but at least cover it with a nice teacup or something.
4.  Please embroider all the towels with an artsy-but-not-overdone version of our initials.

That’s it; that’s all I need you to do.  The pantry is stocked with quinoa, bulgar wheat, and acacia berries, so you should be able to pull together a few meals for yourself.

Chicken and dumplings (hey, it was a huge recipe)
Mac ‘n cheese

Next year he’ll just ask for coal

It is a week of quickies!  (For you, that is, but not for my husband.)  (He can’t even get a long-y.)  (Why do my parents have to read my blog?!)

Anyway, this has to be the best Christmas present anyone got Vincenzo this year.


It is not actually what it looks like, but to tell you would be to spoil the fun.

Chicken and dumplings
Parisian chocolate chip cookies (thanks Joe!)