Christmas Happened!

Want to see what Christmas morning looks like in a house of three boys?



Weapons, weapons, weapons, of every kind. 

I had thought it was kind of sweet a couple weeks ago when Vincenzo was writing his letter to Santa and asked, “Mom, how do you spell ‘rhino?’”  I thought he wanted to add to his stuffie collection.  But actually, this is the kind of rhino Vincenzo wanted.


(If you squint hard enough, you’ll see the word “RHINO” on this…this…whatever it is.  Missile launcher?  Gatling gun?  NWMD?

I remember when I was pregnant with Vincenzo and had just found out I was having a boy.  I went for a walk around my neighborhood and saw two boys running around their yard with Nerf guns, making machine gun sounds and looking like miniature terrorists.  I had a moment of panic.  Was this my future?  Violence and bloody deaths imagined and acted out all over my peaceful garden and house?  Was the soundtrack of my life going to be ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch and drdrdrdrdrdrdrdr and BBBBBRRRRRRKKKBOOOOOM?!

Fortunately, by the time I got home I had had a revelation.  I told Kevin what I had seen and then said, “It’s okay, though, because our son won’t be into pretending to shoot people.  Not every boy loves that kind of thing, right?”

Fast forward ten years and…


Much of Christmas day 2015 was spent with five kids manning the Rhino contraption at one of the living room while one cousin stood on the other side of the room with a Rubbermaid tub over his head, being pummeled with bullets.

And you know what?  I thought it was the most hilarious thing they had come up with in a long time.  I laughed so hard I forgot to take a picture, and that’s saying a lot for me.

So at least part of that revelation I had when I was pregnant was correct; it is okay. 

Our sons are no different than the ones I saw playing in that yard eleven years ago.  I’m just not scared of the bang bang games anymore; I understand that it is my boys’ version of playing house.  They’re just imagining, pretending to be someone they’re not.  In fact, this game is even better than playing house because no one gets stuck being the baby every time.

People end up pretend maimed, dead, blown into another dimension, and sometimes real injuries incur along with the imaginary, and the house is always loud and our umbrella stand is now filled with weapons instead of umbrellas…but at least no one has to be the friggin’ baby AGAIN.

And when all this is going on, our house somehow feels like the happiest place in the world.

Fried eggs
Cheese & fruit
Peppermint snowball cookies

No, It’s Not What You’re Hoping For

Okay, I planned on showing you pictures of the house. We had the house keepers over and everything was all put away and shiny, and I even took a bunch of pictures to post. But then…I sent my phone through the washing machine and all the pictures are gone, and now our house is in its usual state of chaos with everything from the mess of gingerbread houses to a giant guinea pig compound in the middle of the living room, leaking hay and bedding all over the floors. (We’re babysitting the guinea pigs while their owners get married in Thailand.)


So…it’s all about Leo today. Actually, it’s all about Leo all day, every day, because he is currently the loudest Beto, which is kind of crazy for any of you who have met Rocco.


He is Leo.  Hear him roar.

He’s also really into monsters. He drew some for you to see but was a bit disappointed with them because, he told me, “They look more like dinosaurs.”


I must not have had my glasses on because they looked more like scribbles to me, but I know better than to say as much to Leo.  He has unusually sharp teeth.

Leo is in the “why” stage, but it’s very different from Rocco’s, where the why’s came fast and furious and were never ending. Leo’s why’s come sporadically and take him by surprise. He’ll be playing with Hot Wheels then look up and say, “Why are there only rainbows when it rains?” and just as I finish with my explanation of the color spectrum and the refraction of light, he says, “Look, there is a car on my head!” And there is, indeed, a car on his head. Then a day will pass and he’ll be reading a Splat the Cat book then look up and say, “What is AM and PM?” and then while I explain the history of time and give him an introductory lesson to Latin roots, he yells, “P is for Penelope!” I think the why’s kind of hit him like vomit does, where it’s coming…it’s coming…you can’t ignore it…then BOOM it’s out and thank goodness for that!

My favorite “why” got yelled angrily from the backseat of the car one day. “Why is it taking so long for myself to grow up?!”

Maybe that’s why he’s so into walking on stilts lately—or, as Leo calls them, “skilts.”  He came down the hallway this morning like this and said, “Look, Mom! I’m so high!”


High on skilts, that boy is.

We stumbled upon the art project of Leo’s dreams when we decorated gingerbread houses a couple weeks ago. He got to use all of his favorite foods, and he decorated his every day for a week. Can you tell which one is Leo’s?


Seriously, I have to get Kevin’s help to lift that thing up!


One of Leo’s favorite activities lately is to approach Vincenzo, who is usually found quietly reading on the couch, and hit him repeatedly with a sword. Vincenzo ignores for a little while, then gently play-fights back with Leo, who screams bloody murder then comes and tattles on Vincenzo to me. It’s a really fun game. Come over and play it sometime!

Leo takes his pants off a lot, saying, “My legs are warm.” Or, “I’m going to take my pants off just for the fun of it.” Then he’ll say his hands are cold so he’ll put on a pair of mittens because and then race down the hallway in underwear and gloves, asking me if I have a pair of gloves so I can race, too. Whenever I can find my gloves I join in.


We’ve started calling him “Mittens.”

At church this week the preacher guy was talking about how life is a story, so don’t get stuck in a sentence. Kevin turned to me and said, “The sentence Leo’s stuck in is, “Wheeeeeeee!”

And if you ask me, wheeeeeeee is not a bad place to be stuck.


His next nickname might have to be Wheee-o.



Papas Dauphinoise
Cold ham
Salad with apples, blue cheese, craisins, and candied pecans
Peppermint bark

Wait—I still have kids?!

This week a dear and old-but-not-that-old friend who I haven’t talked with in a couple years asked me how the kids were doing.  You kind of thought they just disappeared when the remodel started, right?  Nah, they’re still around.  And today’s post, sorry to disappoint, does not include pictures of the house but instead it is my response back to my old-but-not-that-old friend who REALLY SHOULD START BLOGGING AGAIN but instead has left me out here in the cold, blogging all alone.

Anyway, back to the kids.  I have three of them, in case you forgot.  Here is my letter to the former writer of MommyBlogYay (the Yay is silent):

We are good but I am super busy with the moving back in thing, and I am not a fun mom anymore.  I am a mom who dusts and unpacks and tells kids NOT NOW CAN’T YOU SEE I AM DUSTING?!  I miss the old me, and I hope she comes back once the dust settles. 

No!  No dust settling!  Once we are settled is what I meant.  There will be no further settling of dust.

Let’s take it from the top.  Vincenzo is, as you noticed, way too big for my liking.  He has suddenly gotten very embarrassed about me seeing him in his underwear and he doesn’t try to have conversations with me while I’m peeing anymore, so I guess I am done raising him for now.  Of course, he still has to ask for help opening Ziploc bags (I point him in Rocco’s direction for assistance) and today I asked him to make a piece of toast for Leo and he came out of the pantry after a five minute search for the bread, then took a piece from the bag and put it on Leo’s plate and didn’t notice that he still hadn’t made the toast.  But he’s reading on a 12th grade level, so there’s that. 


The number one thing he gets in trouble for at school and at home is reading when he should be doing other things, which makes you say awwwww, but which makes me say ARRRGHH.  He’ll be reading a book and getting ready for basketball at the same time, then shows up at basketball practice wearing flip flops.  He’s also obsessed with playing video games, and the obsession is enough to make me want to fake a power outage at our house every afternoon.  We don’t let him play much, and as a result I am seeing some early signs of emo setting in.


Vincenzo has a big stack of unopened Lego sets, ant farms, science, kits, etc. from his birthday in September that he hasn’t played with, either because he has been too busy or because he likes to save everything and not use it up at once.  Either way, I’m considering just wrapping those up for Christmas and giving them to him again.

Rocco is still all talk and questions and opinions, and if I ask him to do something he’ll have a better idea about how to do it, only his better idea is really bad and usually activates my firm-lecture-about-following-directions mode.  Then again, Kevin has actually started preferring Rocco’s help to mine for things like plumbing jobs because, quite frankly, Rocco is a better help than I am.  He is sweet and generous and will give you the piece of candy out of his lunch if you even just glance at it, unless you’re Leo.  If you’re Leo, you will not get the candy. 


Rocco got a ton of Legos for his 6th birthday in the summer and he opened them all and built them by himself in two days.  He keeps asking if he can open Vincenzo’s Legos now.  He had a girlfriend at school but now she says she’s allergic to him and never wants to play with him again, so he was feeling pretty down about it.  When I was in the kindergarten room last week I saw his ex hanging all over a kid named “M,” and some other kid was saying, "Why don’t you love “C” anymore?" so good Lord, I had to teach Rocco what the word "loose" means.

Just kidding, I didn’t do that.  But everything else is true.

Leo hasn’t bitten anyone in a couple months, so we’re feeling pretty good about him.  Of course, the only person he ever bit was Rocco, which may explain the candy thing.  He is a spaz and every time I look at him he is spazzing out.  Running down the hallway with a sheet to see if he can fly; flinging foam letters at the bathtub walls until they eventually all stick; staggering down the hall with five Nerf swords to attack one of his brothers; taking his pants off “just for the fun of it;” sitting on the toilet in a public bathroom and shouting, "Plop!  Plop" each time he lets one fall.  I call him my "random number generator." 

(“Hey Leo, stand over here by this sign…”)

He is the fightiest of the Betos, but he can only give it out and can’t take anything.  Kevin loves to stick him on the ceiling and say he’s stapled there, but Leo screams, "TOO HIGH!" and is truly terrified so we have to staple him to the walls instead now. 


Maybe because he’s my third or maybe because he’s Leo I just don’t get very academic and teacherly with him; we just have fun and mess around all day and I periodically worry that there is nothing in his brain but cheesy smiles and imaginary staple guns, and I just hope someone somewhere teaches him that B is not for Bapple, as I have been telling him.*


So that’s it.  That’s us right now.  Kevin and I are exactly the same, only more tired and cranky.  We were on the computer yesterday and I saw a picture of him from just before the remodel started and I said, "Oh…you looked so young then!"  He had to agree.


Pizza, and I didn’t cook it

*Throughout the day he randomly yells, “A IS FOR APPLE!” and then I add the part about B being for bapple and c being for capple and so on.  It works until we get to the letter L, when he laughs and says, “No, L is for lamp!” 

Moved In!!

We’re back home!  It is as glorious as I was hoping for, and every time I’m in the kitchen I’m singing or humming or giving the kids a song and dance number using just pots and pans.  It’s nice because now when I’m in the kitchen I’m also in the dining room and living room, as we have no interior walls anymore.  It’s like living in a giant,  insulated, beautiful cardboard box, and I love it!

The house is not finished yet; I estimate that about half of our entire remodel time and cost has gone to trim, as day in and day out various people come to trim and paint trim and then add more trim and paint more trim.  Instead of trimming the tree this year, I guess we are trimming the house.  *courtesy laugh*

I’m not going to give you the full on pictures yet because the place is a disaster and, like I said, it definitely needs more trim before it is picture worthy.  There are a couple sneak peaks here today, though.

The first thing I moved in was all my kitchen stuff because I was so worried about it all fitting in a new space, especially since we lost some storage space to windows and wall removals.  I fretted, I fussed, I had a temper tantrum when my giant tubs of flour, sugar, and chocolate chips wouldn’t fit in a single drawer in the kitchen.  (We opted for drawers instead of cabinets almost everywhere.)  I snapped at Kevin that whole day, stressed out because we have half the drawers we had before.  Our spice cupboard got reduced to dollhouse sized.  I ripped out all my hair and most of Kevin’s trying to make things fit in the new kitchen and finally, thanks to some dark magic we were able to cast on the pantry, I fit everything into the space we have.  It felt like when you’ve spent weeks working on a puzzle and you finally snap in those last three pieces, and voila!

And then that night we Kevin was putting dishes away and he opened a drawer and said, “Hey, you know you still have an empty drawer here, right?”


?????!!!!!  I think that is the first time that sentence has ever been uttered in any language, anywhere.  Can you believe my luck, or my stupidity, or whatever it’s called?  Dumb luck?!

Anyway, Kevin asked me what I wanted to put in that drawer and I said, “Let’s make that entire, deep-spaced drawer something ridiculous.  I want to feel eccentric, like drawer space means nothing to me.  I know!  These silly straws have been driving me crazy.  Here!”


Now I have what every American housewife dreams of: a gigantic drawer full of silly straws.

Anyway, I really should get back to dusting now.  I dusted everything last week, but apparently half of that dust went straight up in the air and has resettled on every last thing in the house, so I’m back to square one.

But first—a sneak peek  via the first pillow fort built in our “new” house:


Chicken stir fry