So this horse walks into a bar…

My bloggy photography friend at Living and Loving Every Minute Of It takes gorgeous pictures of her daughter, of the world, of everything that crosses her path, and I was captivated by her picture of a horse last week.  (The quality got diminished here so you’ll have to visit her blog to see how truly beautiful it is.)


So captivated was I by this picture of a young horse that I decided to try my own hand at photographing a horse.


How’d I do?

Actually, I didn’t even take this picture.  It’s my husband, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, and neither should the fact that this is how he showed up to his review at work this year.  You know—the review where his boss tells him how his performance measures up and if he gets a raise or if it’s time to, well, send him to the glue factory.  Fortunately even the glue factory wouldn’t take him this year.

Remember the good old days when he showed up to his review wearing more appropriate attire, such as the bushy-tailed squirrel costume?


Life used to be so simple.

Of Blackberries and Wormholes

The time of year has arrived when I get obsessed with picking all the blackberries growing along the sides of roads or in parks or along the train tracks behind our house.  This year I’ve been a bit too sick to pick many myself so I keep sending my family out to pick them for me.  I can’t help it—there are thousands of them outside my door and they don’t cost a single cent!  We’ve picked at least $100 worth this year, and if you walked by $100 growing on bushes, even if it came in little $.03 pouches, don’t you think you might stop and join the fun?  Just a little?

For some reason this year’s blackberries are a bit wormier than usual, though, and after picking them I end up spending a lot of time plucking tiny, colorless worms off the blackberries so that I don’t have to label my blackberry jam as “high in protein.”*


So anyway, this weekend I was picking over the blackberries while  talking to my older sister on the phone.  She was laughing about my blog post that mentioned the wheat and the weevils and saying it was actually only one weevil but we had to check the whole bag just in case.  I was saying how I didn’t even know it was weevils we were picking out; Mom and Dad just told us to look for the “black grains of wheat.”  We laughed again about absurd the whole situation was.

At that moment my sister and I both realized that just that afternoon,  I had made my husband and five-year-old son walk along the train tracks behind our house where we sometimes see coyotes, in 80 degree heat, for an hour to pick blackberries because they’re FREE, absolutely FREE!  And now I was standing in the kitchen picking little worms out of buckets of blackberries because I don’t care how wormy they are, our family is going to eat EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM, DAMMIT!

You know that moment when you realize you’ve turned into your own mother or father?

Yeah.  Me too.

*And yes, I do find it ironic that I can pick worms off of blackberries for an hour yet I can’t cook dinner for my family because it makes me puke.

Maternity Monday: That Stinks

The little details I miss when I’m pregnant:

1.  Chocolate: you might as well try to offer me dog poop.  I find chocolate entirely repulsive now.

2.  Water: Completely averse to drinking it when I’m pregnant.

3.  Coffee: See water

4. Brushing my teeth at night.  It makes me throw up, which kind of defeats the purpose of brushing them.

5.  My husband: I can’t handle the smells of sleeping right next to someone in bed so he sleeps on the couch at night.  (And you thought chivalry was dead.)  Sometimes I can’t sleep in the bed anyway so I kick him off the couch at 2AM and he makes some comment about, “Oh…was the bed too comfortable for you?” as he stumbles to the bedroom.  He has now started referring to the couch as the bed and the bed as the couch.

6.  Medium-cellulited thighs: Now mine are heavily cellulited.

Blech.  Valentine’s Day has never felt farther away. 

Team Mouthy

You know how all the previous generations of Americans have wanted their children to have a better life than they had?  I don’t know.  I grew up in a family of five kids on a modest one-salary income.  There wasn’t a lot of extra money.  Clothes got recycled until they actually disintegrated; our vacations always involved a tent and a minimum of 20 hours in the car; instead of pulling over for ice cream cones we’d pull over for a carton of ice cream and five plastic spoons.  To save money one year, we even picked weevils out of wheat grains and ground our own wheat for flour.  True story.  The point is, my parents  made do and I honestly don’t think we even noticed.  Our bread was weevil-free, just like the rest of America’s.

I do want my children to have it better than I did, but it’s not about any of that.  I actually miss the simplicity and adventure of living frugally (though once I discovered Steve Madden shoes I realized there was no going back for me).  I miss the feeling of saving up for something we really wanted and how much we cherished the gifts we received.  My kids don’t know what that feels like.  I don’t think they’ll have it better in life just because they have more clothes or nicer cars than I did growing up.

There is something I want for them, though.  The thing is, despite all the adventures and experiences and homemade fruit leather we had growing up, my siblings and I really did not get along.  We played together a little and fought together a lot.  We loved each other dearly then and we still do now, but it just never felt like we were all on the same team.  Maybe that’s how it is in families.  I don’t know.  But that’s what I want to be better for my kids: for them to cheer each other on, to be playmates, to lean on each other, to crack each other up, to confide in each other, to plot against their parents together.  I want everyone in our family to be holding onto the bat when a spit ball comes our way.

The thing is, there’s only so much control we have as parents.  Kids are born with their own personalities, and Rocco’s and Vincenzo’s are very different.  One of them is a rule-following, room-monitor, intellectual type; the other is a rule-testing, do-it-when-they’re-not-looking, physical comedy type.  I see them pushing each other’s buttons already, despite my best efforts.   Again, maybe that’s just how families are.  I just keep hoping for more.

So last night, when Vincenzo prayed, “Thank you, God, for Rocco because he gives me something to do when no one else can play with me,” it felt like winning the lottery.  Okay, so it wasn’t exactly a testimony of deep, undying love and devotion and a promise to be best friends with his brother.  But it was a start.


Sometimes I think I worry too much.

Thoughtless Thursday: Summer playdate



This is part of my friends’ back yard.  Their whole house looks like a northwest lodge (it was featured in a local magazine last year) and I always feel like I should leave a tip after I visit, it’s that nice.


These boys, who usually spend 100% of their time shooting each other and bad guys, spontaneously busted into a game of Go Fish.  Maybe your kids do things like this all the time but I think there are still pieces of my jaw scattered on the floor near them.



Wee had seefood for dinner, hee hee.


Rocco is seen here setting up the tent for the older boys to sleep in that night, as they were busy shooting each other and bad guys.  He kept saying, “Me helping.  Me good helper.”  Then he had such a colossal meltdown we had to leave before it was finished.



And here is Vincenzo, shooting his mother (I was later informed) with a poisoned crossbow arrow.


Summer, maybe I’ll miss you after all.


The Kindness of September

I don’t know what’s wrong with me.  After a summer that never happened—after weeks of gray skies broken by only a handful of partly sunny afternoons; after a summer of wearing my winter fleece and wool socks five days a week; after a summer where I lit candles in the mornings to stave off the gloom—even after all that, for some reason I cannot wait for fall to be here.

I should be wishing for summer to come late, maybe for a September of sunny blue skies and days at the beach that we never got this year, but instead I’m looking forward to mornings that make you hug your arms to your chest with their crispness followed by afternoons that warm you from the top of your head down.  Even if our skies stay persistently gray, at least the fire-colored trees give the illusion of warmth that summer never delivered this year.  I can’t wait for football Sundays with my boys wrestling on the floor during the games, stopping only to stare glassy-eyed at the TV during commercial breaks.  I want the feeling of nesting that comes with our lazy autumn weekends.

I shouldn’t care about all the comfort foods of fall—apple cake and crock pot stews and homemade bread—since I am pregnant and can’t eat most of those foods without getting sick anymore, and I can’t cook any of them without being sick.  I should be dreading the fairs with all their fried food and animal smells that give me fits when I’m pregnant.  I should be hanging onto these last days of summer when I can escape smells and food by stepping outside for an hour or two instead of being confined to the indoors by darkness and cold.

But I can’t help it.  Still, I’m excited.

Maternity Monday: Lizards and snails and puppy dog tails

Newest pregnancy installment: canker sores.  Thank you, mouth, for your participation.

Ever since we started letting people know we’re pregnant, we have had an overwhelming amount of people say they’re hoping for a girl for us.  It is mind-blowing.  Kevin and I are not sitting around hoping for a girl, yet other people seem to think that’s exactly what we’re doing.  When I explain that we’re happy with whatever we get—our boys are a constant party and we love them to pieces—some of them go so far as to say, “You just don’t know what you’re missing until you have a girl.”  They talk about gender as though it’s a menu item.

What am I supposed to say to that?  I think that mentality shows a complete lack of depth and maturity.  Kevin and I will love our child unconditionally, regardless of his/her genetics.  Would we love our child less if he had green eyes instead of blue?  If he had nine toes instead of ten?  If he was born with a tail and webbed feet?   Absolutely not.

The thought of us having three boys is sad to these girl-wishers.  But I personally think it’s sad that they don’t have big enough hearts or minds to fathom that a family could be perfectly happy and not wish for anything more even if we have *gasp* ALL BOYS.

So we still obviously don’t know who our child is going to be, but we do know that our family will feel complete not because of anyone’s gender but because there will be five of us (plus our angel).  I just wish I could help other people understand.

In the meantime, does anyone have a good response?  Here’s all I’ve come up with so far:

Stranger:  Well, I hope you’re finally going to get a girl!
Me: And I hope you finally lose that last 20 pounds!

Stranger (female—it always is anyway): Well, I hope you’re finally going to get a girl!
Me: Go grow a penis.

Vincenzo in rare form

1. Vincenzo, to a friend: I don’t think you should share my Gatorade because I don’t want you to catch the cat allergies I have.

2. This week I taught Vincenzo to use reverse psychology on Rocco.  Now throughout the day we hear things like, “It’s okay, Rocco.  You don’t need to give me the light saber if you don’t want to.”  Rocco yells, “UH-HUH GIVE YOU LIGHT SABER!”  (which sounds like “UH-HUH GIB OO ITE HABOW!”) and promptly gives it to him.  Vincenzo has never been more powerful.

3. I’m trying to make sure Vincenzo remembers how to write his name by the time kindergarten starts, so the other day I wrote his name on a white board but left a few blank spots for him to fill in.  While he was working I went downstairs to do some laundry and when I came back, he had filled in his name then written my name (with Kevin’s help) and left a few blank spots for me to fill in.  He had also created a game for me where he drew the outlines of a bunch of fruits and vegetables and I had to guess what they were and color them in.


Now I see that the real question is: Is kindergarten ready for Vincenzo?!

Maternity Monday: Stuff breaks*

Cupid–that’s what we’re naming the baby, with his Valentine’s due date and all.  Baby Gaga would probably have been cooler but I like to pretend I’m not that trendy.

I went to Babies R Us this weekend to help a friend register for her new baby and I was kind of overwhelmed thinking about all the stuff we’re going to have to buy for our third one.  Baby stuff, it seems, has a life expectancy of 1 to 1.5 kids, as everything seems to have broken on Rocco.  Here’s a short list:

Car seat/stroller: The car seat is now expired and the stroller snapped in half one day while we were taking Rocco for a walk in it.  He has been cranky every since.

Crib: Cribs with drop-down sides have since been recalled.  I don’t know if I can bring myself to buy a new one though…is that really bad?

Bottles: We used the set we bought for Vincenzo with Rocco, as V never really took the bottle but Rocco thankfully would.  They’re loaded with BPA that has since been hit-listed and now Rocco keeps asking if he’s old enough to shave his legs.

Baby carrier: That’s our fault, though.  We got a cheap knock-off of the Bjorn way back when and it’s the equivalent of a standard belt hooked up to a cloth grocery bag, and it hurts.  We’re going Ergo this time.

Baby monitor: Ours was always kind of fuzzy but at least the police reports were interesting.  And then came the day I was outside gardening during R’s nap and couldn’t believe my luck that he was napping for three whole hours, but the baby monitor wasn’t making any noise (other than the regular fuzz) so everything must be okay, right?  When I went inside I found a red, blotchy, screaming, completely distraught baby who had not, it turns out, napped for three whole hours.  We splurged on R and bought him a new one for Christmas.

Diaper Genie: I was okay when the top snapped off of our first one—we just set it on there anyway and kept using it, and occasionally had to throw Rocco in the tub when he discovered the top would come off at his own will and he could empty all the diapers out of it.  But when the company upgraded to Diaper Genie II and stopped making the inserts for Diaper Genie I, there was nothing we could do but buy the new one.  The new one, for the record, is crap (pun intended) and now we’re going to have to buy another diaper pail.

Anyway, the Babies R Us trip was eye-opening not only in all the stuff we need to get but also in the realization that middle children really do have it rough and it’s not their mother’s fault. 

It’s Greco’s.

*I think I’ve written this post sometime before but SUCKER you read it again.