Vincenzo and his cape of many colors

Remember our fearless superhero, the Cheetard? 


He was last seen wearing this.


Go ahead.  Zoom in.  Read the writing on the shirt that says, “Grandpa’s Favorite Fishing Princess.”  This was clearly a superhero completely comfortable with his own masculinity.

Since this last sighting of Super Cheetard he seems to have vanished into thin air.  Poof.  ZAP!  Pow.  Gone.  What has happened to our valiant hero?  Was he finally captured by the Smelly Fox?  Did his powers fade when his mom washed his cape?   And more importantly, who is this guy that’s hanging around our house now?



Another superhero apparently comfortable with his own masculinity, it appears.  (Yes, those are rainbow stripes.)

But will the Cheetard return to reclaim his legend?  Or will his place in Superhero City remain shrouded in mystery for all of eternity? 

Stay tuned…


Biscuits & gravy
Fruit pizza

Really good book for really good (or bad) moms

Okay, other moms, have you seen this book yet?

I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood


This is a book you NEED to read…at least if you’re anything like me.  It was written by two women who interviewed over 100 other moms to get the real, honest truth about motherhood.  They begin the book with, “If you’re sitting down and reading this, then you must not be having the worst day ever.  Or maybe you are.”  It goes on to tell you such wisdoms as “A boner in the back is not foreplay.”

Each chapter includes a checklist or to, such as: “For you to feel like a good mom, which of the following do you need to do?”  This particular checklist includes these options among others:

____Bake homemade cakes for each child’s birthday
____Raise your voice only if someone’s on fire
____Teach your children to swim, read, and tie their own shoes before kindergarten

The book is perfect for any mom who is competitive/comparative with other women.  I will now admit to you that I am extremely competitive/comparative with other women.  If I know you, I compete with you. 

Not to worry—you always win. 

Your kids are all independent swimmers who play floor hockey and take piano lessons on weeknights and they take ski lessons on the weekends.  They hit the library every week where they check out books they can read on their own; they pick up their toys because it gives them great joy to do so; and they make cards to deliver to the elderly in nursing homes because they thought to do so all on their own. 

As for you, you stay at home full time but also work full time and you are completely happy with both.  You do your hair and make-up every morning; you plan romantic weekend getaways with your husband; and you give regularly to UNICEF.

I lose.

But!  Reading this book made me feel like I’m not the only loser out there. 

That didn’t come out right.

*ahem*  Reading this book made me feel like there is no competition.  We all feel like a good mom sometimes and we all feel like a bad mom sometimes.  And maybe with a bit of practice, we can feel like good moms more than we feel like bad moms.

As a disclaimer, the book gets kind condescending in places, especially if you really do love motherhood, but at least in those places I feel like I win. 

In a completely noncompetitive, noncomparative way, of course.

And now, because I have not finished reading the book and being reformed yet, I am off to work on Rocco’s scrapbook while cooking dinner from scratch and signing Vincenzo up for soccer classes since we couldn’t find floor hockey classes.

Salmon croquettes
Fried eggs
Buttered toast

Beach cabin pictures

We spent a day at my family’s beach cabin this weekend and I played around with a telephoto lens for the first time.  Please excuse the plethora of pictures and the sporadic comments that follow.









This is the last thing many of us have seen before getting shot:



Thought Rocco’s hair was original?  His Grammy says you have another thing coming:

065 IMG_8288

“Look Mom!  My Christmas sweater finally fits me!”



The funniest thing this guy said all weekend was when the ferry came just as we drove up and he said, “Look!  Our ferry godmother is here!”  I’m sorry I felt compelled to share that with the world.


Lemon ricotta crepes with blueberry sauce


I don’t know if I’ve written much about my !%&#@! FRUSTRATION that even though I’m a trained teacher, I can’t teach my son to to write his name.  I have tried fun pens; fun crayons; letter-shaped cookies; letter shaped crackers; a magnet board; a white board; writing it on the chalkboard that expands an ENTIRE WALL of the playroom.

We have made up songs with his name (do you know how hard it is to sing “There was a farmer who had a dog and Vincenzo was his name-o?”); played games where I scramble his name letters and he unscrambles them; I have purposely misspelled his name to see if he’ll correct me.  I have tried to get him to write letters in sand and in salt and in pudding and in everything but his own FECES but still the kid resists. 

All this I have done in a very backgroundy kind of way, careful not to breathe down his neck or appear frustrated in front of him or HEAVEN FORBID give him any helpful hints along the way.  (I did that once.  I now have a prosthetic head.)  But anytime I ask any kind of question a teacher or psychologist might ask a kid, the Mommy Teacher Alarm gets tripped and Vincenzo tells me he doesn’t want to play.  Then I wait a week or a month, depending on how severe his adverse reaction was, before trying a new game.

So yesterday when we were filling out a form that needed Vincenzo’s name I asked him (as I have done so many times before) to spell his name so I could write it.  And he said, “V-I-N-C-E-N-Z-O,” clear as day.  Clear as the first time he ever signed “milk.”  It’s not exactly writing his name, but it’s a start.

That night at dinner we had spaghetti and I noticed Vincenzo twirling the noodles on his fork and eating them in an incredibly civilized manner.  We did not need to change his shirt afterwards.  We did not need to crawl around under the table picking up noodles and scrubbing the sauce off the carpet after dinner.  Vincenzo did not look like a zombie who had just visited the brain buffet.  I don’t even know where he learned to eat spaghetti like that (Kevin and I still look like zombies after we eat spaghetti)!

I knew I’d be proud and relieved when Vincenzo learned how to spell his name (and twirl spaghetti, apparently), but I didn’t expect to feel a bit of…what is this?  Sadness? 

Yes, a bit of that too.  It’s that whole my-baby-is-gone-but-look-at-this-awesome-kid thing again.

As for teaching Vincenzo to write his name, I’m thinking we’ll just change the written representation of “Vincenzo” to “X.”  That way at least he’ll be able to sign his own college applications.

(Changing things up this week!  Under normal circumstances this section would be filled with “cocoa puffs” and “Luna bars” but as Kevin started his parental leave, we get to sit down to breakfast together for a few weeks.  Mmmmmmmmm!)

Butterscotch french toast panini with grilled pears
Tully’s drip

Advice for new moms

This was part of my gift to McStreamy.  If you have any other advice, add it in the comments!

Advice from a mom of two who knows significantly less now than she did before

1. The only person who wants to hear your baby’s age in weeks is the pediatrician. To everyone else, it’s simply, “4 months.”

2. Do not change diapers between the hours of 9PM and 5AM unless you can actually see poop oozing out of the diaper somewhere. Your baby will be fine.

3. Hold your baby.

4. Stash binkies, diapers, and wet wipes everywhere—in the glove compartment, in your purse, at Grandma’s house. You will think you are a genius when you are having a diaper or binky emergency and remember they are there.  Then you will remember it’s really me that’s the genius because I told you to stock them.

5. If baby gets out of his swaddle, it’s not because “he wants to be out.” It’s just because you suck at swaddling. Add this advice to anything else you’ve read:
     a. Pin his arms down at his sides
     b. Use two blankets (double wrap)

6. If anyone tells you that you’re spoiling the baby by feeding him too often or picking him up too much, look the baby firmly in the eye and say, “No, you can’t have a pony.” Look back at the person who thought you were spoiling him and say, “There, that ought to fix it.” Then pick your baby up and feed him.

7. Hold your baby.

8. Take lots of pictures of your newborn with your hands next to his head, your hands next to his hands, and your hands next to his feet—you’ll love seeing how tiny he started out. (Having your hands in the picture is a good relative-size indicator.)

9. Skip the baby shoes—unless they’re Robeez. I’ve seen moms who somehow get shoes to stay on their babies’ feet, but none of them have ever told me the secret.

10. If you do learn how to make shoes stay on your baby’s feet, call me.

11. Sleep is going to become a very big deal for you. Read a bunch of books about how to get baby to sleep through the night, then put them away and do what works for you. If you all get more sleep by just nursing him, go for it. If you are going to FRIGGIN’ SHOOT SOMEBODY if you have to get up and nurse one more time, then close the door to the nursery and let the baby cry it out. Never discuss sleep strategies between the hours of 1AM and 5AM; start out the night knowing your plan and try to stick to it. If you do choose to let your baby cry it out, I’ve found it’s best to spend those nights watching TV or reading or doing anything other than trying to sleep. It’s impossible to sleep if your baby cries, then stops for a few seconds, then starts, then gets loud, then stops for a minute, then starts again…

12. Hold your baby.

13. Whenever you get together with other moms-of-babies, be sure to tell them all the latest accomplishments your baby has made and have your baby demonstrate all these accomplishments in front of the other moms. Unless, of course, you want to be friends with them.

14. Never buy anything at Gymboree or The Children’s Place for full price. There will be a 20% off coupon in the mail next week.

15. Hold your baby.

16. It’s okay to skip Santa pictures and the porcelain handprints and the bronzed shoes if you think they’re tacky. Not that I think they’re tacky or anything…

17. If you are having a rough time with baby (and you will have rough times with the baby), repeat to yourself, “This too shall pass.” Have the nursery wallpapered with phrase.

18. Hold your baby.

McStreamy is spawning!

And I couldn’t be happier for my friend who was never going to have kids lest she spawn a child who accidentally destroys the universe.  (He may, but you have to admit we kind of deserve it.)

I hosted the baby shower last weekend—the best kind of baby shower where I bring all the mess to her house then leave her and her bulging-bellied, swollen-ankled, verge-of-puking self to clean it all up.  The favors and decoration all came from a cute little store called Lovers, as it was a penis-themed shower since they’re having a boy.  I tried to get Kevin to strip for entertainment but he’s trying to cut back on that kind of stuff.  He said just bringing his own penis to the party was festive enough.

Party menu (because with me it’s always all about the food):
Salmon, leek, and dill quiche
Roasted red pepper, spinach, and feta quiche
Blue cheese and caramelized onion tart
Chicken skewers with cilantro-walnut topping
Pita triangles with garlic hummus
Crudites (because with me it’s always about making things sound fancier than they are)
Butterscotch cookies with browned butter frosting
Mocha hazelnut torte

Let me know if any of that sounds worth making and I’ll post the recipe!  (To save you some time, I’ll tell you the mocha hazelnut torte was not a winner.)

I stepped out of my snarky shoes for two minutes to write McStreamy this card.  I really am so excited for her and the mister.

I am going to try to write a card without being crass or inappropriate because the truth is there is this sweet, tiny, precious human being just inches away from this card, and he has no idea how much love is waiting for him on the other side of that belly.  He is so lucky to be born into your family.  He will be born needing nothing but love and nurturing, and you will be surprised to find you want nothing more in life than to love and nurture him.  One day he will smile and you’ll realize you love him even more, which is crazy because you already loved him with more love than there is in the world.  He’ll roll over for the first time and  you’ll want to call everyone you know.  He will laugh and you will do everything you can to hear that laugh over and over again.  He will make you laugh without trying.  Then one day he will make you laugh on purpose and you’ll realize your baby is gone, but it will be okay because you are still laughing.

Prepare to be blown away every day for the rest of your lives.  You will not be able to imagine life before kids; it won’t even be worth imagining.

Spinach salad with strawberries and oranges
Garlic herb bread
Grand Marnier cake (from baptism)

Take the cake (please, before I throw it away)

I’ve made a lot of cakes over the years.  For example:

Vincenzo’s first birthday cake:


Cake for Vincenzo’s carnival a few years ago:


For Valentine’s Day one year:


Wilton class finale:


Just for fun one day:


And everyone’s favorite:


But alas, my mad cake skills seem to have had an expiration date of “two children,” as this is how Rocco’s christening cake turned out:


It’s especially heartbreaking when you see the picture of the look I was trying to go for:

I took a ton of pictures of the cake from different angles and with different lighting, but the only way I could make it look halfway decent was to do this:


Well, at least someone was happy about the epoch cake fail.  Now this little guy isn’t feeling so lonely in my cake fail file anymore.


(Because now he has a fellow cake to watch TV with.)


Cilantro-walnut chicken skewers
Roasted red pepper and tomato soup

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Say, “Irish soda bread!”


Okay, show me your drunken Irish man!


“Um, are those glasses contagious?”


“Who cares?  They look deLICious.”




Corned beef & cabbage
Baked potatoes & fixin’s
Currant studded soda bread*
Bailey’s Cheesecake**

*I’ve just always wanted to use the term “studded” in one of my recipes
**Vincenzo informed our teenaged babysitter yesterday, “Mom made a cake and there’s LOOOOTTTTS of alcohol in it.”

Boys just wanna have fun

My bloggy friend Keiko is a mother of two boys, like myself (though technically I’ve had three boys), and she has started to get the same looks/comments from other people who lament that she doesn’t have a girl.  “You’ll just have to keep trying!” they say, like maybe the reason we don’t have girls is because we simply didn’t try hard enough to have a girl the first two times.  Some people look at us like we’re dressed to the nines in designer clothes but oh, how sad that we’re missing all of our limbs.

Would my life be any more fulfilled if one of my sons was a girl?  Absolutely not.  Would I be any happier?  No.  Would I be having more fun?  No.  Would I be richer?  Would I be more famous?  Would skinnier jeans look better on me?  No, no, and no.

I’ve started noticing that girls around Vincenzo’s age have started vying for popularity around each other.  They whisper now.  They  group off together.  You see some sitting on the sidelines, wondering how they can get in the group.  You see some hang in the group for awhile, then realize it doesn’t feel like they thought it would.  You see that one of them has been deemed queen and seems to have some kind of power, at the tender age of four.

While all this is going on, the boys are running and jumping and tousling with each other; tackling, pouncing; shouting happily.  They play in one gigantic group.  Their main goal is to see if they can make each other laugh, and if there are any social divisions around them, nobody has told them.  It is so refreshing, as a mother-of-boys, to be a part of the rough-and-tumble group this time around—to not have to relive the stress and pain of cliques for another 18 years. 

Would I take a baby girl if one fell into my lap?  In a heartbeat.  Would I take a baby boy if one fell into my lap?  In the same heartbeat.* 

I am happy with my boys.  And I’m glad Vincenzo has girl friends because girls and girlie things are so fun to take pictures of.




*As long as that heartbeat is a few years away (or maybe never).  I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of having just two kids!

Baby faux hawk!

I’m not the only one seeing this, am I?  Rocco’s hair?  We never put anything in it—just wash it then wait for it to pop up.



We used to call him Chewie.  Now people just call him Spike.  Or Ed Grimley.



Gnarly, dudes!  Catch the wave!






Which can only mean…Rocco, circa 2028:


Unless, of course…

kevin hs

(Cue the Twilight Zone music…)

Roasted yam enchiladas with smoky tomato sauce
Salted brown rice