Growing Pains

My friend’s daughter is graduating from high school this month and moving onto college, and I am totally tripping out.  Granted, my friend is much, MUCH older than me.  She was in the 8th grade when I was in the 6th grade, after all.  She practically raised me.

I keep thinking about what it’s going to be like for them.  How they were a family of four and now they’ll be a family of three at home.  How the younger daughter will kind of be an only child for a couple of years now.  How it will feel to move their daughter into her dorm and how hard it will be not to say, “I feel like it was just yesterday that my parents helped me move into my dorm,” over and over again.  How the graduation announcement looked nothing like the generic, gold-embossed, school-color blaring announcements of yore, but instead like this:

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It’s along the lines of a baby announcement or an engagement announcement, and coincidentally it seems this girl—this young lady—is right in between both of those milestones right now. 

And I know you’re all thinking this so I’ll just say it: Isn’t she GORGEOUS?!

Bringing it back to MrsMouthy, today was Rocco’s last day of preschool, and we all met at a park instead of the classroom.  I know that this is the day I’ll see playing before my eyes as he walks down the aisle in his cap and gown, thirteen years from now: Rocco amidst his other preschool friends, covering a dying bee with flowers so it would be happy in its last moments.  Rocco and his friends hiding in a giant tire and intermittently popping up like prairie dogs to yell, “Boo!”  The five-year-olds seeing how many kids could go down the slide at the same time.  Cole beckoning friends behind a tree so he could lay out the terms of yet another spy mission.  Rocco and his friends around a confetti-coated cake, asking their moms if they could have another piece.  Leo crying because he didn’t get a green balloon, and Rocco finding a friend who had one and trading in his own blue balloon for the green one to give his baby brother.  Leo screaming and kicking as I dragged him to the car while Rocco talked about what he was going to do the next time he and his preschool friends all get together.  Me not having the heart to tell him we this group won’t all be together again.

How do you do it?  How do you ever let your babies grow up and leave you?  How do you go on being a mom when your kids no longer need you to do most of things moms do all day?

Sometimes I think I am more afraid of my boys all graduating from high school than I am of my own death.

I remember when I headed off to college feeling a bit sad that my childhood was pretty much over and everything I knew was going to be changed somehow.  But I was so excited about what lay ahead that I don’t remember dwelling on the sadness or being paralyzed by it or anything.

I just hope that my boys’ inevitable exits from home come on gradually, and that I am not as paralyzed by the goodbye as I think I’m going to be.  I hope that, along with the anxiety and the sadness, I am also excited–  not just for my boys and the futures they have chosen, but also, somehow, for me.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Roasted butternut squash, potatoes, and sausage
Potato salad
Cookies with coconut, white chocolate chips and butterscotch chips

(Those who do not like coconut, which is all of my boys including my husband, can choke down some peach cobbler with ice cream instead.)

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Whidbey Weekend

We spent the weekend at Whidbey Island.  Our extended family has a cabin there, though some people call it a beach house and some people *ahemKEVINahem* call it camping.  Camping if, you know, camping involves staying in a fully furnished house with electricity and running water, two full bathrooms, a kitchen, a washer/dryer, beds with mattresses and bedding on them, and a bona fide record player with about 2,000 records to go along with it.

Yet Kevin insists on calling it camping, probably because he promised me one camping trip a year when we got married (I love to camp and he’s not a fan), so this gets him out of the woods.  Like, literally.

I don’t really know how to explain Whidbey weekends.  There is no cell phone reception at the cabin, no TV, and no Internet, though if you stand on the deck when the wind is blowing in just the right direction, you might receive a couple hours’ worth of texts in about ten seconds.  I guess that’s why it feels like camping to Kevin.  His definition of camping is being without cell phone reception for longer than 15 minutes.

He says, “There’s just nothing to do at Whidbey.”  I gape at him.  Nothing to do?  Nothing to do?  There’s EVERYTHING to do at Whidbey!

So just what is it we do there?

We play with the 20 mattresses in the upstairs loft. The kids jump, build forts, slide down, hide under, run all over the mattresses, and even fall asleep on the mattresses.

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There are wide open spaces and there’s also a lot of wind, so there is naturally a lot of this:

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We go to the small town near us to see a parade that features a grocery cart drill team, a pooper-scooper doing dressage behind the horses, and this plea for help from the public schools:

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Rocco watches the whole parade through his monocular.

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We take a lot of walks.  We wade through tide pools and dare each other to touch sea anemones and pick up hermit crabs.  I hoist my kids up on the same giant rock that I used to sit on and get my picture taken when I was their age.

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We set up rock-selling stores on the beach and sell rocks to each other, using other rocks as payment.  It’s a terrible business plan, but somehow it works…until Rocco and Vincenzo get in a fight about whether the price of “one one” means “eleven” or “one dollar and one cent,” and we have to stop playing the game.*

We look at the a big rock covered with curly, purple seaweed and wonder if the hundreds of other rocks are jealous of its full head of hair. 

We see a rock that is only half covered with seaweed and wonder if its hair is just coming in or if it’s starting to go bald.

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Leo and his cousin find a blue marker upstairs and have a blast drawing all over the walls.  The adults then have a blast scrubbing blue marker off the upstairs walls. 

We play “Would you Rather” and watch the grandparents squirm when we ask them questions like, “Would you rather always sneeeze out of your bottom or fart out of your mouth?”  We laugh at Kevin, who would rather be able to make and press waffles using his armpits than be able to microwave food with his eyes.

Grammy takes pictures of crabs mating and says, “For your blog!” even though I never said I wanted to put a picture of mating crabs on my blog.

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We eat Pirate Booty with every meal.

We let the kids make pets out of tent caterpillars while we stand around talking about whether to exterminate them via blow torch or pesticides.

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We peek in at the kids brushing their teeth to see their cousin standing near them, peeing into the empty bathtub. 

We sit on the couches downstairs after the kids go to sleep upstairs, whispering to each other so as not to wake the kids and we end up whisper-laughing so hysterically that our stomachs are sore the next day.

So now here I am at the bottom of my post, and looking back at my summary of the weekend I’m starting to think that’’ Kevin is right: there’s really nothing to do at Whidbey.

It’s just that that is exactly why it is one of my favorite places to be.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Chicken noodle soup with vegetable dumplings
Potato salad
Donut nectarines
Iced tea
Peach cobbler a la mode

*That wasn’t my favorite fight during the game, though.  My favorite was when Vincenzo disappeared for a few minutes then came back carrying a very big rock that Rocco immediately tried to sell to Vincenzo, saying, “This one is very expensive.  It took me a loooooong time to get it.”  Vincenzo didn’t take it very well.

Just a Day…

I just haven’t had time to write a proper blog post lately.  I haven’t had time for much of anything between coaching soccer, volunteering for during and after school events, shuttling kids to sports and…okay, I could fill up an entire blog post with the mundane details of my schedule but BLARGH.

Anyway.  I blog because otherwise I’m worried there will come a day when I’ll say, “Hey, did all of this stuff I keep talking about actually happen or was it all just a really long, bizarre, beautiful dream?”  Blogging isn’t my most accurate form of journaling, though, as it is also written for an audience (that’s you!) who I’d really like to make laugh.

Awhile back I started up a weekly journal where I just write stream of consciousness about my day—little moments and scenes I want to remember, or ones I know I’ll forget.  It’s not necessarily funny, it doesn’t have a point or message, it just…is.  Since I don’t have time to write something shiny for you today, it’s what you’re getting.  And so, with no further ado…

Tuesday, 5.19.15

Waking up tired and cranky from a rough night of sleep; Leo showing up in my bedroom buck-naked saying, “I peed in my bed;” setting him in the tub and wishing it were me soaking there instead; cleaning up last night’s dishes while making French toast, doing laundry, answering e-mails, dressing children, looking for everyone’s shoes, and packing lunches/snacks for the boys; coming out of the house for the bus stop to see Rocco putting Leo’s blue bunny helmet on him, Leo’s head lifted up trustingly; Leo screaming the entire way to the bus stop because Rocco was going faster than him (this is how it’s been on the way to the bus stop for two straight weeks); grabbing a 20-minute nap while Leo didn’t nap but at least played quietly in his room; crafting downstairs side-by-side with Leo and feeling totally annoyed whenever he needed my help; Leo later asking, “Why is your crafting taking so long?” and consoling himself with a book on the cuddle lounge by himself; me putting down my crafts to snuggle with him and read books for a half hour instead; finding a low point in my day plowing through our garbage and yard waste bins looking for a receipt (I found it!); heading into the library with my boys and an elderly lady saying, “Oh aren’t they cute?” and me seeing them through her eyes; the boys playing with the box of toys at speech therapy while I made a batch of cards; running over my foot with the cart at the grocery store and nearly crying and realizing maybe 20 minutes wasn’t long enough for a nap; Rocco asking if I needed a hug; coming home and continuing my crafting outside on the deck while Leo tried to blow bubbles over the roof and got so excited whenever he did; Vincenzo coming home and shortly after, a surprise visit by two of his best friends; the happy screams and shrieks of five boys in the bouncy house for the next half hour; dinner on the deck (this is the one week of the year when the weather is nice enough to eat outside but the wasps don’t bother us yet); Vincenzo reading a Magic Tree House book to his brothers; me going for a sprint run on the trail behind our house after dinner; pausing in the ravine on the way back inside and discovering our ten-year-old plum tree’s first ever plum (a solitary plum, but still!); being joined outside by Leo for a game of tether ball; watching Leo, who had forgotten I was there, as he blew and tossed dandelions, pulled up bushels of long grass to whack the trees with, stomped, played, and danced in the grass; coming back in to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my boys in bed while the sun turned my bedroom golden yellow; Leo asking me to sing “In the Jungle” before he went to sleep and joining in whenever he could (“a weemba way a weemba way…”); hearing giggling coming from his brothers’ room after lights out; coaching Kevin on making a white chocolate Bailey’s cheesecake because he got into a cheesecake cook-off with a coworker this week; finally finding time for a soak in the tub myself

So there you have it: the ups and downs, the busy-ness and calm, the mundane and magical, of a day in the life of MrsMouthy.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:*
Pasta primavera
Copper River Salmon (thanks, Wendy!)
Strawberries
Triple layer devil’s food cake with 7-minute frosting

*All leftovers from the weekend, hence the lack of food prep in today’s journal entry

Happy Tuesday!

I just realized I never posted pictures from our train trip to Oregon…which is great because I can’t think of a single thing to blog about today.  So here.  Have these.

The best part of our trip was the first four hours and the final four hours of our trip—that’s the part we spent on the train.  I don’t know what it is about buying special snacks and activity books for the trip and then seeing my kids eat their special snacks and do their activity books that makes me so happy, but it does.  I was happy.

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We found a caged in park in the middle of the city.  The kids didn’t even notice the lack of wood chips, though how I don’t know.

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My boys played together for a good hour and, crazy enough, no one got bit!

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Voo Doo donut line-up:

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I think they put too much voo doo in Rocco’s donut:

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I was proud of my lion pic from the zoo (Get it?  proud…pride…lions…oh never mind.)

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But for some reason I liked this picture even better than my lion pic.

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Lovers…or brothers?  It’s hard to tell.

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These guys were tired.

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So was this guy.

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More trains, this time of the inner-city sort:

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FYI, child labor laws do not apply at the Portland Children’s Museum:

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The kids spent way too much time playing with a pile of bikes on a street corner:

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Can’t get enough of dem trains:

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Some people plan their trips according to where the best golf course is.  We plan them by book stores:

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Train station time again:

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And that’s a wrap!  We’re back where we started.

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There were no Disney princeses, no theme parks, no rides, no water slides, no airplane ride, no tropical beaches, not even a swimming pool.  Someday we will go on a vacation that has one or more of those things in it but for now, this is the perfect kind of vacation for us. 

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Mexican corn cakes with pulled pork
Brown rice

Grobs

Leo, sitting at the table, asked the following question:

“Can I have some grobs?”
”What are grobs?” we asked.
”Grobs!” he said.
“Crabs?” we asked.
”No, grobs.”
”Crumbs?”
”No, GROBS!” His voice was growing desperate.
”Grabs?  Cobs?”
”GROBS!   I want grobs!  Grobs!”  By now it was angry screaming, with despair, frustration, and hatred mixed in.  In case we didn’t get that, he added, “I am very angry at you!”

We told him we were sorry, but we were all out of grobs.  We would try to get some tomorrow.  We told him maybe he would like to have some crackers instead.

Raging at us and the world, he opened the cracker drawer, stamping his feet and crying, and then suddenly he cheered up and said in the most chipper voice ever, “Oh look, we do have grobs!”  And he happily brought them to the table and started eating, like he was the normal one and the rest of us were all a bunch of senseless psychopaths.

So just for future reference:

 

 

 

(Extra spaces added for suspense)

 

 

 

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Grobs.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Fish tacos
Cumin black beans with feta
Skrims*
Lemon cake pops

*Not an actual thing.  I’m just trying to predict what Leo might ask for next.