Hardest husband to buy for

Do any of you have a spouse who tells you they don’t want anything for Christmas this year?  That they already have it all?

Yeah, I have one of those too.  You think your spouse is the hardest person ever to buy for?  I’ll give you second hardest, but not THE hardest person to buy for.  Mine owns that title.

In all twelve years of knowing him, there has only been one year that I knew just what to get Kevin.  It was when he was playing Rock Band with his BILs every week so I decided to buy him wireless guitars.  The only problem was I needed to ask him a question about them before ordering and when I did he said, “You know, I don’t really want the wireless guitars.”

The very next week he ordered himself a set of wireless guitars for rock band.

Last year I got him a pair of footed pajamas that he returned the next week.  Then guess what he bought himself this fall?  A PAIR OF FOOTED PAJAMAS.

Even Santa has struggled.  Kevin has gotten themed stockings for the past few years.  One year it was Puma themed, then zombie themed, and last year (my favorite) was teenage girl themed, but even these have all bombed.*  I just cleaned out the cloffice last weekend and ended up with a whole box of stocking stuffers from the past, all unopened, that I had to bring to Goodwill.

Maybe this year Santa will get smart and just fill his stocking with a big check written to Goodwill.

Me on the other hand?  I am SO much better to buy gifts for. I understand how hard it can be to buy your loved one gifts so I stop buying stuff for myself mid-September.   My coffee pot broke a month ago and instead of buying a new one I have been drinking instant coffee and will do so until December 25 when I get a new coffee pot for Christmas.  I am also using a pair of holey rubber gloves to wash dishes and have not bought new light bulbs for the kitchen when they burned out this fall.

It’s not just me, either—I stop buying stuff for the kids as well.  Vincenzo’s backpack has holes in it and school work keeps falling out of it, and I figure the worse it gets and the more valuable items he loses, the more joy there will be on his face come Christmas morn’ when he finds a brand new backpack under the tree.  It’s true!

Some people would call me lazy.  But the reality is that I am the better person in this marriage.  I can actually give my husband a list and that he can purchase things from and these things will make me very happy on Christmas morning.  I am anticipating that morning when I turn on the lights in the kitchen and they go on (!!), then I make myself my first cup of real coffee in months and afterwards I wash the pot without scalding my hands.  And I will turn to Kevin and tell him he got me the greatest gifts ever.  I am allowing my husband to bring me that happiness rather than buy the things myself and making myself happy.

See what a good and generous person I am?

But noooo, not Kevin.  His jeans got a hole in them so last weekend he went to the mall and came home with a whole BAG of jeans he bought himself.  He bought toothbrushes for himself when he ran out, too.  And soap!  A huge bottle of soap!  And when the light in his car went on warning him that his tires were dangerously old he went straight to the dealer and got new ones.  Seriously!

So when I asked Kevin what he wanted for Christmas this year he predictably told me he can’t think of a single thing.

I’m sure you all agree with me now when I tell you that my husband doesn’t want anything for Christmas this year because he is a selfish jerk.

But I love him anyway.

Hot dogs
Cougar Gold mac ‘n cheese**

*Except the Justin Bieber duct tape.  That has been well used.
**Thanks for the can of cheese, C.  That was the greatest gift anyone has ever left on my doorstep!

A post for Andrea

Hope you get your smile on—it’s all about Rocco today.  Winking smile

1. Sunday morning:

Rocco: Dad, I want my orange train that’s in my room but Vincenzo’s still sleeping in there.
K: You can go in there as long as you’re quiet.
R: Oh!  Okay!
Rocco heads into bedroom

2. This next conversation happened after we drove by a sign similar to this one:


Rocco: Mom, what does B-O-W-L spell? 
Me: Bowl
Rocco: Then they must sell a lot of bowls there!

3.  This conversation came from the next picture:


Rocco: Look, Mom.  The time is J:1J!

(He also saw Vincenzo’s name on a paper and told me, “Vincenzo is spelled V-I-N-C-6-N-Z-0.”

4. Rocco, eating lemon gelato: Sometimes eating makes you sad.
Me: It makes you sad?
R: Yeah, like when you’re eating something really yummy and then it’s all gone.

5.  Rocco, trying his best to look nice for Christmas photos:


Coffee encrusted beef tenderloin
Horseradish mashed potatoes
Coconut crème brulee with caramelized pineapple

Thanksgiving Placecards

The leaves they’ve been a-fallin’, and lately when I go for a walk through all their glorious colors and shapes it gives me the same feeling as walking into a candy store when I was a kid.  I can’t just let these gorgeous gems go to waste when I have a whole cupboard of glue and mod podge and Sharpies at home!  Here’s what we did with a bunch of them this year, and if you collect some this weekend you could make the same for your Thanksgiving holiday.


1.  Collect a bunch of small leaves.  Press between sheets of newspaper or paper towels and weight down with heavy books for about two weeks.


2.  Cut some 2×3” rectangles of white paper.  Cut turkey bodies, beaks, and wattles out of paper (I used non acidic scrapbooking paper so they won’t fade over time.)  Glue onto the white rectangles to look like turkeys; draw in eyes and legs with a thin permanent marker.



3.  Press again between pieces of waxed paper and weight down with books (this helps the turkey bodies and leaves adhere together).  Leave overnight.


4.  Write each person’s name on the white cards above the turkeys.  Cut a piece of fall-colored tagboard 2.5” by 7” and fold it in half to make a 2.5 by 3.5” standing card.  Mount your turkey to the face of the card with double-sided tape.


I love these all so much!  I don’t know how they’ll hold up for next year, but they are so fun and easy to make I wouldn’t mind having the chance to make them all over again.

*It’s best to keep the placecards pressed until using them, or the turkeys will start misbehaving.  No joke.

*If any of the turkeys do start to fall off when finished, use double-sided tape to fix them up.

Happy leaf gathering!

Eventually, they all turn

He’s been called Sweet Baby Leo.  He was born so quiet and calm, so sweet and observant, so easy-going, so full of Zen.  He would sit in his car seat for hours while we went to dinner or waited through brothers’ sports practices.  He would fall asleep whenever, wherever, for however long we wanted him to.  He almost never cried.  If he ever did start crying, all he needed to calm down was a hug or a little song.  He’s been my real-life baby doll.

When I held him that first week of his life and he rested with all his soul on my chest, I breathed in his newness and I whispered to Kevin, “What if he stays sweet like this?  What if he is just quiet and calm and good-natured?”  Kevin shook his head at me and said, “He won’t.  He will turn on us like his brothers did before him.”

And, as happens from time to time, Kevin was right.  Leo has turned.  Up until a week ago he was still Baby Leo.  Baby Doll. Angel Baby.

But this week?  This week he is Screamer Dragon.  Baby No-No.  Greaser.  Scarface.  And those are the nice ones we’re calling him.  Leo has dropped 99 words from his vocabulary and is now only communicating to us through screaming and the word “no,” usually in combination.

I spent a couple minutes in the bathroom on Sunday and when I emerged I saw the aftermath of a baby plus a bottle of massage oil.  It was all over the carpets, all over the couch, all over the hardwood floors.  I went to pick Leo up and he slipped right through my hands to the ground.  That’s where Greaser came from.

On Monday we were walking in the woods and it was rough, bumpy terrain so I helpfully offered my hand to Leo.  He nearly bit it off, he was so offended, so I let him walk unassisted.  Of course, he fell, and hence Scarface was born.


(That one was a bit scary, as he was just one millimeter off from being known possibly for the rest of his life as Pirate Leo.)

Last night he drank half a bathtub of water out of this, despite a whole set of construct-a-straws floating around the tub:


(Yes, that is a nasal aspirator more commonly used for sucking snot out of your child’s  nose.)

He took the pen off a cap and then shoved the pen up each of his nostrils and rubbed it around a bit in each one.  I am kicking myself for not taking a picture.

Up until this week Leo would wake up in the mornings and pitifully, weakly call, “Mooom…Moooom…” until I came in.  Now he wakes up and yells my name with such rage I feel like I should be calling a priest to go in there, not me.  “MAHM!! MAHM!! MAHM!! MAHM!!”

I’ll hear the sound of Leo throwing toy cars at Rocco and then Rocco crying.  But as soon as I come into view Leo starts to cover Rocco with kisses and looks at me like, “Oh hi, Mom.  I was just kissing brother here because I lurvs him so much. I can’t imagine what he could possibly be crying about!  Look at my blond hair!  Lol!” 

This sudden change in personality has made old Scarface a bit unpleasant to be around this week.  It’s made me wonder if maybe he accidentally got switched with this evil twin version of himself we kept seeing at Rocco’s soccer games.



But despite the yelling, despite the screaming, despite the destroying and raging and throwing, the hitting, the disagreeing, and shoving,  despite all the evil misdoings and devious behavior—somehow, this week, I love my Baby Leo even more than ever. 

Because that first week when I held him on my chest and felt the depth and endlessness of my love for him I thought to myself how it would be impossible to love him more than I did right then.  But I also knew that somehow, inexplicably, with all my heart, I would.

photo (4)

Fontina and prosciutto mac ‘n cheese
Roasted cumin cauliflower
Orange molasses spice cookies

Three Funnies

1. Rocco: Mom, when we do painting at school, we paint on a weasel.

2. R: Can I have a paper towel please?
Me: Sure, but you mean a napkin.
R, laughing at himself: Yeah.  Paper towels are for wiping your penis!

3. Vincenzo: Mom, the Netherlanders must have gone to school for longer than we do.
Me: Why?
V: Because it says here they had bigger brains than we do.
Me: Wait—you mean Neanderthals?
V: No, Netherlanders.

(I checked.  He meant Neanderthals.)

Chicken Enchiladas

Don’t judge me.