There’s No Busy Like School Busy

Holy Cheeseballs, things have gotten crazy since V started full-time school. Here’s how Tuesday went, for example:

6:45: I am awoken by Rocco at the end of the bed, naked from the waist down, asking me to wipe him.  Goooooood morning.

7:00: Everyone else is awake.  I make French Toast for the boys, pack lunch for Kevin and V, nurse Leo, get myself plus two boys plus one baby dressed, and help V with his homework we didn’t finish the night before; give the breakfast dishes a dirty look as we head out the door

8:10: Drive to bus stop

8:20: Drop Leo off with his aunt

8:45: Drive Rocco to school; stay a couple hours to help class make pear crisp

11:00: Pick up Leo, nurse him, then pick Rocco up from school

12:15: Lunch at home; play trains with Rocco; Leo naps

1:30: Put Rocco down for nap; try to clean up breakfast dishes; end up hanging out with Leo instead

3:30: Wake up Rocco, walk to bus stop to pick up V

4:00: Leo is fussy so I try to put him down for a nap; he keeps fussing.  Realize I don’t think I’ve nursed him since 11.  Nurse him, nap him. 

4:15: The babysitter comes.  I get a quick run in, then shower, then make dinner (macaroni and cheese, summer squash, and edamame)

6:00: Dinner is a little cramped, as the breakfast dishes are still there and no one feels like cleaning them up

6:30: I run errands while Kevin plays with kids.  One of them gets bathed; if I remember which two didn’t I will try to bathe them tomorrow

7:30: I return to a house of meltdowns and a frazzled husband and do damage control while trying to get kids into bed.  Assure the husband that he is an amazing father (which he is) and the meltdowns are not his fault (they’re not.)  (Have you met our son, Rocco?)

8:15: Kids are down.  K and I watch TV until we can’t stay awake anymore, which is 8:45.

8:45: Sleep, sweet sleep

8:55: Leo wakes up to nurse.  And thus begins another day.

I love almost everything I do during the days—this day, for example, there was time to dance with Leo and cover him with love, to snuggle with Rocco and a big pile of train books, to stop at Starbucks for myself, to run, to sit and chat with Vincenzo about his day, to laugh with Kevin about things the kids said during the day, to admire the sunset over the lake.  And while not every day is this busy (I definitely wouldn’t be blogging if they were), looking at my calendar for the week often ends with Kevin standing over me with the vial of smelling salts.

I remember when Vincenzo was newborn and we suddenly went from full nights of sleep to small snatches of sleep and I kept waiting for Saturday to come so I could catch up on all the sleep I missed.  Then Saturday came and it was just like all the other days and I realized that as parents you never catch up on sleep.  It is as gone.  Somewhere in space there is a black hole absolutely BRIMMING with parents’ lost sleep.  Someday I would like to grab my blanket and go in search of that black hole.

Since school started a few weeks ago I’ve been waiting for things to settle down so we can get back to normal life–lingering dinners with friends; spontaneous play dates; library visits and trips to the zoo; stopping by the beach for an odd hour or two; seeing the extended family on a weekly basis.

As I was going to sleep last night (for the first time) I realized that it is not going to slow down. Just like we will never get back all that lost sleep, we will also never return to a simpler schedule with the three boys—not, that is, until the kids are grown and gone.

And as I’m not exactly looking forward to that, I am going to do my best to just hang on to this roller coaster, to not be anxious when it starts going up, and to occasionally throw my hands in the air and yell, “WOOO-HOOOOOO!”

Hot dogs and hamburgers
Potato, green bean, and dill salad
Green salad (thanks, M!)

*Actually last night’s dinner; just never got around to posting this

**Making this dinner in September is the chef’s equivalent to wearing white pants past Labor Day
Blueberry-Peach Trifle

I Hate Our Basement

When friends come over to our split level house they say, “It must be so nice to have a basement to throw all the toys in so you can have adult space upstairs!” 

Then they go upstairs and they say, “Oh.”

The problem with having a basement stuffed full of toys and trampolines and art supplies and cuddle lounges and a panic room is that the kids want to go down there all the time.  I HATE going to the basement.  It is cold and dingy and I can’t bake cookies in it.

Here are our earliest basement pictures—what we moved into.  As far as basements go, it has some good bones:




Here’s what the basement looks like today (well, technically yesterday):


So what’s your advice: do we stick with the natural wood or go white on the shelving?  I’ve always loved that the wood warms up the look of the basement, but my style is more clean-line and modern.

Should I go for something more like one of these (minus the hardwoods—we can’t do them down there)?



Or should we run with the woody look, pardon my French, and do something more like one of these?



Or do we try to do both, like this?


We’re not going all-out like we did for the bedroom because I want to continue to not care when the carpet gets spilled and/or pooped on and/or lit on fire.  What we are going to do is change the fireplace to gas and retile it (black??), plus get rid of the annoyingly huge TV to go for a flat screen above the mantle.  I don’t love TVs above mantles, but it is just the basement and I don’t think we really have a different choice.  The opposite wall doesn’t work b/c you would need a couch in front of the fireplace to watch it, and the wall to the right doesn’t work because I don’t want to always have a couch dividing the middle of the room, which doubles as a baseball field at times.

The poll lines are open; please call in.

And if any of you want to come stand in my basement and give me opinions, I will cook you any meal you heart desires.  Seriously.

Master Bedroom: Mastered

I don’t know if y’all remember, but about a year back we decided to redecorate our master bedroom.  Here’s the recap:

Here’s how our bedroom looked when we bought the house (this is the previous owner’s decorations and cat):


Since Kevin is a boy, we decided to go a different route with our first decorating attempt and our own cat (RIP, Clara):




Yes, there was a giraffe and a camel and some hanging monkeys.  I liked our happy room, but I got pregnant and depressed and needed something to think about other than puking.  So we visited The Standard.

The room isn’t 100% done yet but I don’t know if I’ll ever end up putting the final final touches on it, so I’ma gonna show you what we did.*  Before I do so, I should say for those of you who love DIY websites like Young House Love where people go to their backyards, chop down a tree, saw it into lumber, turn it into hardwood floors, and stain it with the juice of the chestnuts harvested from the very same tree, we did not do anything like that. 

Pretty much I would go into The Standard where this awesome guy named Martin would show me an expensive piece of furniture and I would say, “Hmmm…I don’t know…” and he’d say, “Well we do have something different in the back but it costs 7 times as much…” and I’d be all, “I’LL TAKE THREE!”*

Yup, that’s how we designed the room.  Except the curtains—those are Target.  And the pillows are Pier 1.

And now, the drum roll please…










Yup, that’s where the magic happens.  I love every inch of it.

Kevin would like to add, “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!”  And it’s true; I said it.

*Finishing touches include finding and framing 2 more pictures to put above the chest of drawers; getting a 3rd bird for the set atop the chest of drawers; finding a white quilt that actually fits our goofy-sized bed, and buying a funky alarm clock.  Also, the monkeys really want back in.

**For the record, I did make Kevin return the $3,000 apiece nightstands he bought just so I would stop dragging him from furniture store to furniture store.

I Heart Road Trips

We took a mini road trip yesterday to visit my brother and his family and I really love not having DVD players in our car.  Most of the really good stuff that happened doesn’t translate to blog format–it was an expression or a perfectly timed “No!” from Rocco or Leo’s constant giggling, but here’s what I got for you:

1. About halfway there Rocco started spontaneously counting to 10 in the car, but got stuck at “…two and a half…” 

2. After we had been driving for over an hour, asked, “Can we turn around and go home?  I have to go to the bafroom!”

3. We passed a train so I made up a joke:
Q: What did one train say to the other?
A: Pardon me, I just tooted.

4. Then Vincenzo made up a joke:
Q: What did one car say to the other?
A: Beep beep

5. Then I told the one that goes:
Q: Why did Sally shake the cow?
A: She wanted to have a milkshake.

6.  Which sparked an in-depth conversation about whether or not you could actually make butter from shaking a cow enough, which then turned to a conversation about what would happen if I, a lactating mother, jumped on the trampoline all afternoon…

7. When we asked Rocco how he’s doing he said, as he always does now, “AWESOME!”  Then added, “I used to always be good but now I always am always AWESOME!”  (Yes, he stole his older brother’s catch phrase.)

8. We stopped at Wendy’s for dinner, and just as Kevin was bringing our food to the table Vincenzo looked up with a “bright idea” look on his face and said, “Mom, we should go to Wendy’s for dinner sometime!”  He was totally serious.

9. As we pulled up to our house Rocco saw a cloud of bugs and said, “There are so many bugs, Dad. There’s a whole school of bugs!”

10.  And finally, as I was unloading the car I walked upstairs to see this:


When I got closer, he said, “Special delivery!  It’s for yoooouuuu!”

(I asked him to look up for a picture and he said, “No—the package doesn’t have a head,” like it was the most ridiculous thing he had heard all day.")

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE (It’s baaaaack!)
Tequila Lime Chicken
Mexican Corn Cakes
Black Beans with Toasted Cumin
Apple Phyllo Strudel


I went to hang up a jacket today and found this:


Then I went to clear the breakfast dishes and found this:


I was putting away the boys’ clothes and opened the closet to find this:


I looked out at the deck to see this:


And after I took the laundry out of the dryer there was this:


People, I think we’ve got a squirrel with a nut problem.

Or we’ve got two boys with a squirrel problem.

But when you live in a house with four boys, that’s one thing you have a lot of: nuts.

And now Kevin keeps asking me if I want to see his stash.


*I think they’re technically acorns, but I just don’t have as much acorn humor in my arsenal as I do nut humor.


I went to Vincenzo’s curriculum night last night and I think I might have gotten a little out of control.

First I signed up to be on the party planning committee because I love parties.

Then I signed up to be the art docent who plans and teaches art to the class twice a month because I really love (and miss) teaching.

Then I saw an opening for “class photographer” and since I’m already taking pictures all the time anyway, I signed up.

Then a sheet came around for unspecified volunteering and that sounded intriguing so I signed up for once a week.

At Rocco’s school I am the unofficial class photographer and I am volunteering to help with the cooking lessons and also I signed up to bake cakes and cookies a couple times a month for the 60 kids at the alternative high school at the church there.  Then I noticed a kid in his class afraid to go to school there so I invited him over so he could make friends with Rocco and be less afraid.  Then I invited a new bus stop kid and his family to dinner at our house.  And I invited a girl from Rocco’s school over for a play date simply because she has one of my favorite girl names.  I invited one of Vincenzo’s best friends and his family over for dinner tonight.

I think I might be overcommitting. 

Part of me wants to do it all, to meet everyone, to bring people together, to create a tight-knit group of parents and kids for my sons to go through school with.

And part of me wants to just hang out in the backyard at home, playing with my boys on the swing set and watching Kevin move heavy objects around the yard at my whim.

And part of me wants to send the kids away for a weekend so I can garden and scrapbook, clean the house, build another tier to the vegetable garden, paint Leo’s growth chart, go for a long run, wash all the windows, spend an entire day watching football and eating guy food with Kevin on the couch.

When I get like, all tightly wound and anxious about tomorrow and wanting to do one thing while simultaneously wanting to do the thing’s opposite, my husband tells me it’s time for an appointment with my therapist. 

But when I get like this, the last thing I have is time for an appointment with my therapist!

In which case…does anyone else want to come over for dinner tonight?

Thoughtless Thursday

Sweet Baby Leo is 7 months old now and I keep telling him I couldn’t possibly love him an ounce more, but then I go to pick him up and I realize I love him even more than I did a minute ago.  When he’s not sleeping (and he sleeps a lot), he’s laughing; when he gets really tired he gets crazy giggly.  My wish for him is that he goes through life with this ability of his to laugh at it all.  My baby doll.