Little Things

I am too busy playing in the sun to blog lately, but I found this draft from about two months ago.  So here’s your friggin’ bone.

Things I don’t want to forget from today:

1.  Vincenzo waking up from nap and emerging not from his bedroom but from the coat closet, looking rather disheveled and sporting a hook instead of his left arm.

2.  Rocco signing “all done” for the first time.  It looks like he’s doing the hula dance with his tiny arms.

3.  Vincenzo trying to get out of nap time by telling me I’m skinny.

4.  Rocco, who is usually too busy crawling and exploring to be held at all anymore, slumping cozily into me while I sang him songs after dinner

5.  Vincenzo and I singing “Eye of the Tiger” while making cookies

6.  Vincenzo and I singing “Eye of the Toaster” while eating breakfast (“It’s the eye of the toaster it’s the thrill of the bread rising up from the heat–now it’s browner…”)

Pizza (there’s going to be a  lot of that lately—I’m in search of the perfect homemade crust)
Roasted prosciutto-wrapped figs stuffed with blue cheese

Happy birthday, Baby Rocco!

How did he go from this…


to this…


…so quickly?  He changed from pure, still serenity to pure, hilarious motion in one year’s time, and he has been a pure joy every step of the way. 

We’ve changed too.  We’re more tired, for starters.  We’re more likely to opt for an evening in than going out or even having people over.  We often have to split up instead of sticking together due to the boys’ different schedules.  We stopped worrying about what Vincenzo lost when his brother was born and are instead excited about what he gained.  We laugh even more than we did before Rocco was born.

Here’s something I wrote when we were still enjoying Rocco’s newness at the hospital.  I was hopped up on new-mom hormones at the time, so my apologies.

We’re living in that time where you measure the baby’s age not by months or days, but in hours.  In minutes.  The time where you look at your spouse and recall what you were doing yesterday at this hour, and it is both remarkable and mundane in relation.  Where you look out the window at cars and people going by and it seems like a movie because inside your room time has stopped and other places have ceased to exist.  We’re living in that time where you wonder about the people who pop in and out of your room, having ordinary days that will be followed by ordinary evenings while your own day is so extraordinary that you feel you are being born for the very first time yourself.  Everything that was old is new again.

It is just my husband, newborn Rocco, and me in here, and something else that has settled on us that I can’t explain.  I’m afraid to leave the hospital because I know we will leave this place and time behind.  But I am also excited to put this new baby in all the places of my life and see how he fits; to see what needs tweaking and what feels just right as it is.  I’m eager to live in the moment for this baby instead of wishing for tomorrow or yesterday.  Because that is the only chance I have of making time feel like something I can handle.

I want my tiny baby forever.  And I want him big.  And I want every second in between.  I want even the spaces in between the seconds.

And in this moment, at least in this moment, I know I have them all.


Happy birthday, Rocco.  You will always be my baby.

Pepperoni pizza
Pear, caramelized onion, and gorgonzola pizza
Heirloom tomatoes in balsamic vinagrette
Salad with pear and craisins

What’s REALLY cookin’ 2nite

A typical morning conversation:
Kevin: Vincenzo, your goatmeal is ready!
Vincenzo?  You mean my oatmeal?
Kevin: Yeah.  I was just kidding.

I hear you all groaning.  But while we’re on the topic of food, I thought I’d give you a glimpse of what my son is actually eating while my husband and I have prosciutto wrapped figs stuffed with blue cheese and balsamic-marinated vegetable sandwiches with goat cheese and tequila-soaked sorbets.

This sandwich I like to call The Bachelor, as its only fillings are mustard and ketchup…and lots of ‘em!


Last week Vincenzo asked for some kind of snack that looks like two boats held together with peanut butter and a LifeSaver in the water.  I know it was just a ploy to get an extra LifeSaver, but I felt for it, hook and line.  Hee hee.


This is a regular on our menu, called Vite-a-Cake: a pancake with a dollop of whipped cream and a Flintstone vitamin on top.  Again his idea, not mine.  I have no idea why it appears the whipped cream is pooping on the pancake.  ??


Have I posted this one before?  These are all the ingredients for the Lunchwich—the sandwich that sustained my child for a good six months of his life.  (My husband was even reduced to eating one in his lunch after making fun of a sandwich I crafted for him the day before.)  Peanut butter, jelly, cheese, mustard, and pickle relish.  It tastes even worse than it sounds, if you can believe it.


I know I’ve put the Waffoodle on before, but it’s always a fun one: waffle a la noodles, black cherries, and whipped cream


The last one is mostly fun just for its name: the Electicified Ice Cream Man [sic].  One scoop of rainbow sherbet, one scoop of lemon sorbet, and a sprinkling of lime peel.


Some of the other names Vincenzo has come up with for his food inventions include: The Punisher; The Too Tall Bunny Snack; Shooter to the Bang Bang; and Ting Tong Pudding.  I have no idea how my son comes up with this stuff and frankly, we’re not even sure the kid has taste buds.  I don’t think I’ll be sending any of these in to Family Fun magazine though.

I give up.  What?!

Meet the Grandparents

You know that Great Grandma and Great Grandpa I wrote about a couple weeks ago?  The ones who think Dunkin’ Donuts are the salt of the earth and who would take baths in them if only they could find a way to make the donuts come out of their faucets?

I want to tell you about the very first time I met them.  I had been dating my future husband for about six months when he took me to Chicago to introduce me to the family at Christmas.  Most of the week was spent prepping me for how to act when I met Grandma and Grandpa.  Here’s what I remember from the training session:

1.  G.Grandma will make a huge bin of lasagna that she and only she is authorized to dish up.  When she asks you how much you want, tell her a tiny bit.  This will earn you a piece the size of a small Volkswagen.  (No one’s ever asked for a big piece, and you better not be the first one to do so.)

2.  G.Grandma will show you her house.  Do not let your eyes linger on any one item for too long.  Do not compliment any of her stuff.  If you do, expect to receive it in the mail next week, wrapped in copious amounts of The Enquirer and Star magazines.

3.  Expect to open a lot of gifts.  A lot of gifts.  What’s inside the package does not matter—it’s the quantity.  It is common for one person to receive the left hand from a set of rubber gloves and another person to receive the right hand from the set of rubber gloves.  One year, for example they had bought a lot of gifts for Wendy but apparently not as many for Kevin.  They individually wrapped rolls of toilet paper for Keivn to even out the sides.

Finally the big day came.  I felt like a boxer coming out of my corner when I entered the grandparents’ house.  I was primed.  I was ready.  I showed her with my fingers how small of a piece of lasagna I wanted, and I smartly kept a little corner of the piece on my plate so she couldn’t ask me for seconds (and also because there wasn’t even any room left in my espohagus for that last bite).  I acted equally excited about the one Ove-glove I got as the box of Exclamation perfume.  I kept myself in “shifty eye mode” the entire time, especially when she showed me her room of Beanie Babies and the throw blanket with a picture of—wait, Grandma, is that Stone Cold Steve Austin on that throw blanket?!!   Oh shit.

Still, I was feeling like a champion as we were packing up all the gifts to go when Grandma pulled me into the kitchen.  Alone.  For reasons still beyond me, no one tried to stop this from happening.  In the kitchen, Grandma set two porcelain frogs on the table. 


She pointed to them and said, “Now, Rachel, you’re a teacher.  I’m just wondering if you know how to tell the difference between a girl frog and a boy frog?”  As if this question had been bothering her for eighty years and now that she finally had a teacher in her grasp, she was going to get herself an answer.

I looked at her blankly.  She got the tiniest hint of a grin on her face, turned the frogs over, and said, “Oh, I guess that’s how you tell.”


A week later I got the porcelain frogs in the mail. 

And the Stone Cold Steve Austin blanket.

I am counting the days until Vincenzo gets his first girlfriend.

Going out!

I scream, you scream…

Nothin’ more than a few pictures today.  Once summer hits (somewhere toward the end of July), I’m all brawn and no brains. 


I have never seen anyone eat ice cream with as much attitude as Abby here.



This picture makes me cry, it’s so sweet.  See their hands?


And kids eating ice cream always reminds me of my favorite Eddie Murphy stand-up skit from days of yore.  Enjoy.

BTW, I sound and talk pretty much exactly the same as Eddie Murphy.

Ribs two ways
Lemon coleslaw (barf!)
Cheesy polenta
Coconut cream pie

Balsamic-marinated blue cheese stuffed portobellos

Here’s the portobello mushroom recipe I made last night, as Keiko requested.  Instead of parmesan I used about 5oz of blue cheese—if you make it with parmesan it’s a bit boring.  I’ve made this recipe a bunch of times and the mushrooms do fine cooked in an oven if you’re not in a grilling mood.  Be prepared to fall in love!

Mozzarella-Stuffed Grilled Portobellos with Balsamic Marinade

Fish tacos
Plain ol’ rice
Peach cobbler

5 Funny Things

1. Vincenzo and his friend were playing firefighters/police officers while having a snack.

Friend: [answering pretend phone urgently] 911, what’s your emergency?!!
Friend: Okay, we’ll be there as soon as we finish our popsicles.

2. During Spanish class I was reviewing the verb “to be.”  Specifically, I was reviewing that “soy” means “I am.”  Here’s how far my students have come in six months:
Me: [pointing to self] Soy Americana.
Sister: [pointing to self] Um…I’ll take a grande?

3.  A random conversation:

Vincenzo: Mom, did you know that flowers grow where you plant seeds?
Me: Yes.
Vincenzo: How did you know that?
Me: I’ve been around the block a few times.
Vincenzo: When?

4.  In my Spanish teaching materials we came across some stickers for labeling things in your house and I let Vincenzo go to town. 

Me: Vincenzo, why did you stick the “zero” sticker on the wall?
Vincenzo: Because there aren’t any elephants there.  [Duh!]

5.  McStreamy’s kid hit another milestone this week.  Remember how just a couple weeks ago I made fun of him for flipping himself off?  Well, behold his latest development:


I wonder if McStreamy gets all torn up about these milestones like I do—does she pine for the days her n00b would flip himself off, yet is the blow softened by her excitement and pride that he is now capable of flipping other people off?

Or is she just thankful both his eyes are looking at the same thing now?

Balsamic-marinated, blue-cheese filled portobellos
Lemon spaghettini
Sugar snap peas
Peach cobbler a la mode

Does your baby do this?

Sweet!  An all-you-can-eat buffet!


I think I’ll start with the salad.


Mmmm, you have to try the wood-fired wood.  It’s…


…hack hack cough hack…


…hair-raisingly delicious.


Red Robin (for those of us who didn’t partake in the buffet)

Seven years and feeling itchy

Kevin and I celebrated our anniversary this weekend.  Seven friggin’ years together.  Every year on our anniversary I’m shocked and disbelieving at how long we’ve been together, just like I’m shocked and disbelieving at how old my kids are on their birthdays.  If time worked the way my mind thinks it does, we’d currently be about two months married with two newborns (Vincenzo and Rocco), my parents still be watching that show “30-Something,” and I’d just be graduating from college, high school, and kindergarten.

Anyway, in honor of ourselves we spent our first overnight alone in an entire year (thanks so much, Mom and Dad!).  We headed to the lodge where we got married.  Here’s a picture from their website and whoever took it was really patient, waiting those 364 days to snap a picture on the one day of the year we get blue sky. 

As it was, the weather was gray and 60 degrees for us, which for once is what I wanted, as we spent the afternoon in the spa and getting a couples’ massage.  If the weather had been anywhere near nice, all I would have wanted to do was stand in the parking lot with my palms upwards, staring directly at the sun until I either went blind or got hit by a tourist bus.

That night we ate at the restaurant there that catered our wedding, which was so fabulous I almost feel bad for making fun of the dessert.  I’m just not sure what’s going on here.  Is it a chocolate hand-push lawn mower or something?  Is that Joe Camel’s nose on top of it?  And most importantly, what bastard ran his finger through our caramel before serving it to us?!


Arms look funny like this.


I threw caution to the wind and wore heels for the night.  I paid for it the next day, but it was totally worth it.


After dinner we sipped hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps by the glow of our shoes.


And I explained to Kevin it’s not technically a photo bomb if you’re the subject of the picture.


He punched my left eye out for saying it.  But we still managed to make the self-portrait work.


I’d now like to wish everyone on the Internets a very happy anniversary to my husband.

Cheddar burgers with balsamic onions and chipotle ketchup
Salad with cherries, gouda, and candied pecans

…or hot dogs on the beach.  Like I said, caution has been thrown to the winds.