Of shutter speeds and a-holes

My mom, BIL, and I took a “get to know your camera” class this weekend.  It was way beneath my BIL, way above my mom, and just right for me.  I entertained myself throughout class by periodically asking my BIL, who has a photography studio in his house, if he needed any help with what the teacher was saying. 

I brought cookies for the class, natch.  That way, anytime the professor asked me a question I could just answer with, “But I brought cookies!” 

Michael spent most of class making the rest of us look bad by making us look good (in his photos).  He also actually took notes during class, which I was too lazy to do.  But I did take an opportunity to practice manual focus on Michael’s notes:


We were asked to bring our camera manuals to class, and as BIL had both of ours, he brought them for us.


Look a little closer.  Bottom right-hand corner.

Yes, that reads “INSTRUCCIONES.”  How hard core is that to show up for an introductory photography class with your entire manual in Spanish?*

We spent the first half of class taking pictures of the carpet and wall.  It took me about five minutes to take this next shot.  I’m not being funny.


In the afternoon we moved on to aperture settings.  For those who don’t know, aperture is the size of your lens opening, which was referred to in class as “hole.”  The prof kept saying things like, “I have a huge hole,” and, “How big is your hole?”  I have no idea why  I was the only one in the classroom audibly giggling while everyone else fiddled with their holes.    Have they forgotten everything they learned in junior high?

The class was actually really good and even Michael learned something from it.  Here are a few shots from the day







Goin’ out!!

*Because I know it will bother my BIL if I don’t mention it, I should point out the Spanish manuals were not his mistake.  I will protect the identity of the person whose fault it really was.**

**It was my sister, Jnet.

Vincenzo for President

1. V: Back in the time of dinosaurs, humans hadn’t been invented yet, right?


V: I’m hot.  Can I have something to cool me down?
M: Sure…like an apple?  Or yogurt?
V: An apple.
[Takes apple]
V: Know why I chose apple, Mom?
M: Because it’s cool and crisp?
V: No…because an apple you can rub all over your body but yogurt you can’t.

3. And for his final act, a snippet from one of the epic battles between Kevin and Vincenzo.  Amidst all the swords and battle axes, the laser eyes and force fields, the fight took this turn:

K: Turn into porcupine
V: Turn into ant
K: Turn into magnifying glass
V: Turn into porcupine
K: Turn into ant
V: Step on ant


Old food that smells probably okay

Kid is growing. Iz okay.

Last week my friend with a newborn looked down at her sweet, sleeping baby girl who lay peacefully in her arms, making the tiny newborn grunts and sighs that were making all of us sigh ourselves.  She looked over at Rocco, toddling around the room like a drunkard,  signing “OPEN!  OPEN!  OPEN!” and calling the bubble machine a car.  She commented with some shock on how there’s not much separating the two, time-wise.  They’re just about a year apart, and yet they are so different that one of them is called a baby and one is called a toddler.


I remember feeling the same kind of sentimental with Rocco.  Being a second-born,* I knew what would come next.  All the peace and Zen of the newborn would give way to a loud and busy toddler.  He was a year away from not wanting the hugs, two years away from his first temper tantrum, three years away from back-talking, four years away from school…

I’d panic.  Stop it, time!  Just stop!  Let me hold my baby a little longer.


I’m on the other side of that now.  Rocco is so into his toys and his independence that the most physical contact I get from him is his little arm shoving me away when I try to carry him–accompanied by an “ENNNHH!” if I try to hug or kiss him.  He doesn’t even let me spoon feed him anymore, preferring to wage his own battles against his fork and spoon.  I can’t remember the last time he fell asleep in my arms.


Funny thing, though: it doesn’t feel sad to me now that I’m here.  True, I’d love some cuddle time, but I wouldn’t trade my 1-1/2-year-old in for the newborn.  Instead of sweet, we have cute.  Instead of peace, we have hilarity.  Instead of calm, we have the pit-pat-pit-pat of baby steps through the house all day.  And as Rocco has gained some of his independence, Kevin and I have started to regain some of our own, and man, does that feel good.

18 months ago, I loved Rocco because he was my baby.  Today I love him because he’s Rocco.  Car-obsessed, cat-chasing, food-throwing, hug-hating, tickle-loving Rocco.


Brownies and ice cream?

*Rocco is technically the third-born, but I didn’t know how to gracefully insert that up there without losing the meaning of the paragraph.

Flight Club

A friend and I took the kids to the Museum of Flight this week—or, as Rocco calls it, the Museum of “CAR!!”  I thought it would be baby heaven for Rocco, who is obsessed with anything that has moving parts or parts that look like they should move.  Once we got there I realized it was actually baby hell for him, as there were all these CARS!!! over, under, and around him, none of which he was allowed to touch.


Fortunately, there were about four flights of stairs for Rocco to go up and down and up and down and up and down so the day wasn’t a total wash.  


Vincenzo spent most of his time in front of anything that resembled any kind of computer game. 


My favorite was this screen:


I’m not sure if this is supposed to be about a “Space Maneuvering Unit” or a “Space Manuring Unit,” but either way I sure hope the guy who made this sign was not in charge of building the rocket.

After a couple hours everyone was melting down and the stairs had lost their inherent charm so we got in our horseless carriages and went home.


Fresh pasta with meaty marinara sauce
Peanut butter and jelly bars

The Key Lime Pie Incident of 2006

So back in 2001 when Kevin and I were first dating and spending all our free time casting each other withering glances and making other people uncomfortable…


…we went to Denny’s one night for pie.*  He ordered the Key Lime and, somewhere during the evening, commented, “I like this pie.  Key Lime is my favorite kind of pie.”

Everyone, take note.  I did.

Over the next few years I’d remember how much my Honey Bear loved Key Lime pie and I’d make it for him.  On one such occasion, amidst the company of friends, someone else commented on how good the pie was. 

“Thanks,” I said.  “Key Lime is Kevin’s favorite.” 

Kevin nearly upset the table when he yelled, “Why do you always say that?  I’ve never said Key Lime is my favorite kind of pie!”

Well.  For any of you who know me well, you know I’m NEVER wrong.  Kevin, apparently, did not  know me that well.  He also didn’t know that I am the most strong-willed (okay, STUBBORN) person I’ve ever met.**

Ideas began being birthed.

Later in the week I served Kevin peaches that my sister and I had laboriously canned ourselves, braving the heat of the kitchen multiplied by August’ boiling heat one summer evening, as canning peaches always goes.  As I put the peaches in front of K he said, “I don’t know why you bother to can these yourself.  They taste the same as store bought.”

Ideas were cemented.

I pack Kevin’s lunch every day.  It’s a bit of sweetness I do to make up for all my sass.  The two canceled themselves out over the next two months though as every morning I lovingly packed Kevin:

1 slice of Key Lime pie
1 store bought can of peaches
1 can opener

Two months, people.  It took Kevin two months of that lunch to finally come home from work one day and announce, “I can’t do this anymore.  You were right.  You were right about everything!” 

And so it was (re)determined:  Key Lime pie is Kevin’s favorite kind of pie and my canned peaches are way better than store bought.

Oh, and Kevin learned why I am always right.

Crisped brown rice with beef, vegetables, and eggs
Almond bars (that I almost died over, they’re so good!)

*Another great story.  Remind me to tell it to you one of these days.
**Remember, this was before I had kids

Are fish colorblind?

Vincenzo is taking swimming lessons again and we love the program that caters to water-phobic kids (or, as I like to call them, weinies).  The instructors have been great, the pool is 91 degrees, and Vincenzo can get through a whole class without even messing up his surfer haircut. 

The monthly newsletter, though—that I’m not so sure about.  For example, the newsletter points out they are offering a “Stroke Class” which Kevin keeps telling me I should sign up for, huh, huh.  I, however, am more interested in listening to the “Swimming Radio Show” to see if I can learn how to do the butterfly while I’m sitting in rush hour traffic.  (Or the stroke, Kevin reminds me.  Maybe I can learn how to stroke while I’m in rush hour traffic.)

Anyway, I was a little surprised to see an article in this month’s newsletter on why black people can’t swim.  Sure, they called it the “Historical Basis on Why African Americans Don’t Swim,” but it did not escape my attention that swim classes are canceled on President’s Day yet they are not canceled on Martin Luther King Day.  I guess if black people can’t swim, they shouldn’t be taking days off.

Maybe the program (which we really do love) should change its motto from “We take the fear out of learning to swim” to “Your kid might not be able to swim but at least he’s not black.” 

But if he were, you could totally sign him up for the stroke class so he could practice his blackstroke.

And now I am going to go say ten Hail Marys for my corrupt soul.

Salmon in brandy sauce
Fresh buccatini in alfredo sauce
Steamed green beans
Orange pecan yams
Chocolate chip cookies

Thoughtful Thursday: bath time

I try not to do too many of the “Awwww My Kid is So Cute” posts, but seriously.  This kid. 

This is how Rocco hides in a game of peek-a-boo.


Then when you say, “Where did Rocco go?” he pops out like this:


Now you see him…


Now you also see him!


Here’s Rocco thinking, “We should really get this looked at.”


Here he is signing “All done.”


Here he is after signing “all done” and realizing I’m just taking pictures of him signing “all done” instead of taking him out of the bath.




5-layer raspberry white cake with brown frosting (it’s a long story)

Three questions, seeking responses

1. I sent this tub of pistachios to work with Kevin in his lunch this week and it came back untouched, presumably because cracking them open would be too taxing on his delicate hands.


So tell me:  Should I do the stubborn thing and continue to send them to work with him, the nice thing and shell the pistachios for him, or the sarcastic thing and shell the pistachios then send only the shells to work with him?*

2. The next question is simply: “Cute or Gross?”  Every winter around this time we end up with ladybugs in our master bedroom and bathroom.  We’ve never understood why until Kevin noticed this in a corner of our crown molding:


There are about 15 ladybugs visible and who knows how many underneath the molding. 

Ladybugs are cute, right?  So is this a Corner of eXtreme Cuteness in my room?  Or is it disgusting to have a corner of our room wriggling and writhing with insects and their creepy little larvae?

3.  Rocco stopped nursing early in December.  I tossed all the bottles because he drinks real milk out of real cups now.  My boobs have returned to “Snack Size Ziploc Baggie” size and shape. 

And yet, I have a freezer full of this:


You’re looking at about 30 bags of frozen breast milk.  I was not one of those moms who produced gallons of milk at a sitting.  Each of these bags took at least 20 minutes of pump time, sometimes longer.  Add in the prep and washing time and this is about 15 hours of my life.  It was worth it because this milk bought me feelings of security, of freedom, of peace of mind.

I took this milk out of the freezer for a brief photo shoot (people who blog document everything, just in case).  I planned to trash it afterwards but then had a change of heart and returned it, expired and useless though it is, to the freezer.  I just couldn’t bear to rinse 15 hours of my life down the drain.  I couldn’t throw out my feelings of security, freedom, and peace of mind with the weekly trash.

So…do any of you creative folks out there have any ideas for what I can do with 120 ounces of slightly expired, much cherished, freezer burned breast milk?

Chicken with mostarda
Fresh pasta (we love the pasta maker, Wendy!)

*One of these days remind me to tell about the last time I messed with Kevin’s lunches.  It was the last time Kevin ever tried to win an argument against me.