Keep Easter With You…

Okay, I did get some nice, non-shifty-eyed photos from Easter, too, so I thought I’d throw some your way.

On our way to church Rocco looked at the parking lot strewn with plastic eggs for later and said, “It’s not really an Easter egg hunt, right?  It’s more of an Easter egg grab.”  Mr. Literal strikes again.


This is how a rock star collects eggs.


(She looked a little less excited when she opened her eggs later to find nothing but fruit flavored tootsie rolls and some costume jewelry sized for adult fingers.)

The sun peeked out for the first time in months at the end of the egg grab.  Some dealt with it better than others.


Dying eggs: which “kid” looks a little too excited here?



Seriously, it looks like he dyed and went to heaven.

*pause for laughter*

And the real deal: Easter morning, with eggs actually hidden and filled with dove chocolates, Cadbury eggs, jelly beans, the works!


Then Easter turned into an impromptu photo shoot for my littlest niece, Shelby.  I forgot how fun it is to take pictures of two-year-olds!


I’d like to give a special thanks to Grammy’s dog, Rasta, for donating the doggy slobber that made the ball shine so beautifully in those pictures.

On Sunday afternoon the kids all went for a drive, of course.


My dad always has some new kind of toy at these things, and this year it was two of these virtual reality goggles.  They were fun to try out, but it was even more fun for everyone in the room watching the goons wearing them and randomly jerking their heads around like a couple of robot chickens.


Bleep blorp you probably had to be there.

And to end, just a lovely picture of my niece sittin’ pretty.


I miss you already, Easter 2016!

Ham & chicken crepes (another traditional post-Easter meal, in an attempt to use up some of the ham)
Salad with apples, gorgonzola, and candied pecans
Triple chocolate mousse

Easter Report

The problem with trying to photograph children during an Easter egg hunt: shifty eyes:


And another problem:


That’s a bunch of shifty-eyed, photo bombing kids I’ve got there.  (That bottom picture is one of my favorites and is definitely going in the scrapbook.)

Easter was too fun to try to summarize this year.  All five of “us kids” went to my parents’ house with all ten of their grandkids, and I haven’t laughed so hard since I sat down and read a year’s worth of my own blog.  Ha!

I will share a couple of my favorite memories, though, like on Saturday when we dyed eggs and most of us were finished within 2 to 10 minutes of beginning, but Vincenzo and his uncle spent over an hour dying three specially chosen eggs, dipping them in every color, scratching some of the dye off, mixing colors, and creating brand new colors that would probably be named “brownarrhea” and “blomit.”


Seriously, they decorated these eggs for so long they were no longer safe for consumption—they were very room temp.  Fortunately, we found someone who was happy to take them in.


My other favorite was on Easter afternoon, when Leo was in the living room showing Kevin and Uncle Mark how he can show a “fast ten” by holding up two hands’ worth of fingers super fast.  I thought I heard Kevin tell Leo he could teach him how to do a fast eleven, and sure enough on the way home, Leo piped up from the backseat: “Want to see my fast eleven?  But first I’m going to have to take my pants off…”

I snapped this little gem on Easter evening, after a long weekend of hunting and gathering candy from all over yards, houses, and church parking lots.


He is risen…and now he is lying down in a pile of chocolate, hard-boiled eggs, and plastic grass, and he’s not feeling so great.

My favorite entrée of the year and the one everyone else hates the most:
Baked potatoes and creamed eggs.  YUUUUMMMM!
Roasted broccoli
Fruit salad

His Royal Highness

Vincenzo won “Principal for a Day” at his school, so we hit up the Goodwill for a royal blue velvet suit jacket, dug his one shirt with buttons out of his closet, set him on our front steps and voila!


Principal Vincenzo.  He didn’t have many plans as principal; a random free recess for one class or another, some reading time for himself, and the request that people refer to him as Your Royal Highness for the day.  He’s a simple man.

We headed to school early to get a picture with the school’s actual principal:


Well, at least one of them looks the part!

Huevos rancheros

The Package

Leo likes to play a game where he wraps up in a blanket and yells, “There’s a package!”  I come over and make some guesses about what’s in the package.  I might say, “Oh, I hope it’s that three-foot-long sub sandwich I just ordered…I’m soooo hungry!”  Then I open the package and try to eat him while he yells, “No!  It’s a Leo!”


It’s not always a sandwich, though.  Sometimes I might guess he’s a bunny rabbit who thinks he’s a dog and I’ll ask him if he’d prefer carrots or dog biscuits for his snack.  Or maybe I’ll guess that that he’s the new mattress I ordered, or a punching bag that I am very excited to try out.  A new jacket that screams every time you try to wear it, a Tickle Me Elmo that screams instead of laughing when you tickle it, a beach ball that screams when you try to throw it…you get the idea.

Sometimes when I hear the “There’s a package!” call I yell down the hall to Kevin, “Hey, did you order anything?”  “Nope,” he yells back.  I tell him we must have gotten the neighbor’s package again so Kevin comes and tries to take the package over to the neighbor’s house, but the package opens itself and yells out that it’s a Leo.  It seems the game always ends with yelling.  In fact, yelling pretty much signals the end of anything in our house—board games, bath time, pooping, dinnertime, you name it.  But that’s beside the point.

Anyway, yesterday when a package showed up on our couch wrapped up in a snuggie, I went over there hoping the package was a snuggie because I could really use a nap.  I was so excited–it was a snuggie, but there was also a Leo inside.  Who would have thought?  I said, “Wow, a new Leo!  We already have one, but I guess we can keep this one in case the first one ever breaks.”  He tried to tell me he was the first Leo.  I told him no, no, I’m sure the first Leo is downstairs collecting all our pillows and bringing them upstairs so that he can avoid walking in the lava. 


I told the new Leo he should go down and look for the other Leo because he was really going to like our first Leo.  He told me again that it was him, our only Leo, but he didn’t sound as confident this time.  I told him that the first Leo would be easy to find—he was also wearing a blue shirt, red underwear, and sporting a “third lip” from licking his upper lip too much.


That got him, the sucker.  Leo actually went downstairs and spent a good amount of time looking for himself.

And that, my friends, is how it’s DONE.

Fried chicken
Mac ‘n cheese
Lemon asparagus
Sugar cookies

Spinning the Bean Wheel

I’ve been trying to cook less meat lately, not because meat isn’t delicious but mainly because of all I keep reading about how our affinity for eating cows is destroying the planet.  I also know I could never personally kill an animal and eat it; I’d learn to eat grass before I would do that, so maybe it’s time to step it up on the leafy greens scene.

I usually cook at least one vegetarian dinner a week and the rest have some kind of meat in them, but I’d like to reverse it and cook mostly vegetarian with one meat dish a week.  I have lots of recipes and ideas for vegetarian dishes, but they have been met with a lukewarm response from three of the boys living here.  Kevin isn’t picky, God bless him.

There are plenty of vegetarian dishes the boys will eat, namely all those that involve pasta, cream sauces, and cheese, with the occasional white tortilla thrown in.  I have tried whole wheat, oh how I have tried to sneak it in, but their Wholesome Goodness alarms go off and they go to bed hungry those nights.

I decided that if we are going to get serious about this, my boys are going to have to learn to like beans.  Beans are going to get them the iron and protein they’ll be missing from meat, plus fiber.  Sounds like a beany good time.  To get us started down Bean Road, I decided we needed some kind of a game, so behold: The Bean Wheel.


We played this game last Sunday, kind of making up the rules as we went.  Each person got to spin and they had to try the bean they landed on.  Everyone else could try it if they wanted but that was optional.  We kept track of who tried which bean.

The boys were excited to play the game, so I hid my surprise and we started spinning and sampling. 


(We made a makeshift spinner using a pencil and a paperclip.)


Rocco actually tried and liked all the beans.  Go Rocco!  Vincenzo politely tried them all but I don’t think he liked many of them.  He’s too polite to admit it even now, three days after playing.  And Leo?  Here’s what his experience looked like:




We could tell a bean was particularly bad if it made his right eye close all the way while his left stayed open, slightly twitching.  I couldn’t believe how many beans he was willing to try, considering every bean he ate made his eyes do that.  Even the Feeling Hurter smoothie didn’t do that to his face!

In the end, I rewarded the kids with a kind of bean I knew they would all like:


The bean game was followed, naturally, by several fragrant hours and plenty of fart jokes, like this one:

Q: What do you call a person who never farts in private?
A: A private tutor.

Now I’ve got about eight cans of beans in my fridge to get through this week and I just discovered we’re all out of Bean-o.

Wish us luck!

Shrimp & avocado in tamarind sauce
Red beans & rice
Sliced papaya
Chocolate chip cookies

Rough Morning

Today, approximately 2 hours ago.

Rocco: Leo, can you chew with your mouth closed, like this? 
[closed mouth chewing demo]
Leo, angrily: Uhhnnn!
[puts hand on Rocco’s chair]
Rocco: LEO!  Why did you push my chair?
Vincenzo: He didn’t push your chair, he just set his hand on it.
Rocco: No he didn’t!
Vincenzo: Yes he did.
Leo: Uhhhnnn!
Rocco: LEO!  Don’t say that to me!
Vincenzo: He’s not saying it to you, he’s just saying it in general.
Rocco: No he isn’t!
Leo: I don’t like it.
Rocco: Me neither.

They went on to tell me why they didn’t like the smoothies and how thoroughly they did not like them while I told them repeatedly okay, I get the message, you know you don’t have to actually tell me you don’t like it, I can see with my own eyes that you are not drinking it.

And yet, the voicing of their displeasure continued until finally…

ME: That’s enough!  I know you don’t like the smoothies because you have told me a dozen times over the past few minutes!  I’m not making you another breakfast.  I have already made you one, plus packed your lunches, sorted through your school papers, folded your laundry, cleaned up breakfast-making dishes, and am right now on the computer setting up play dates for you.  All of this I am doing for you.  I would like to eat breakfast myself.  I’d like to take a shower.  I would like to schedule a get together with my own friends, but I spend the whole morning doing things for you, not for me, and all I hear throughout it all is how much you don’t like the smoothies I made you.  I don’t mind if you tell me you don’t like something once, but when you tell me over and over again, I can’t help it—it hurts my feelings.  I’m tired of it!  I’m UPSET!”

Vincenzo (who, you’ll notice, has not said a thing about the smoothies all morning): I’m sorry, Mom.

Rocco and Leo instantly started fighting about something else.

I took out the bead jar that we haven’t used in months and gave Rocco and Leo a red bead (which means they have not behaved well and will now have fives minutes subtracted from video game time).

Rocco started crying and told me I hurt his feelings. 

I hurt his feelings!

And he didn’t even make me a smoothie to complain about this morning!

I left the kitchen to cool down and to unload everything on Kevin.  When I came back, Leo’s place looked like this.


When I asked him about the plate he said he did it because I hurt his feelings.  And also: he doesn’t like the smoothie.  

I guess the day would have carried on in just this manner if Kevin didn’t come out and say he was hungry and did I make anything for breakfast today?


I gladly sent the boys off to school this morning, telling them, “I hope you have a good day and that nobody tries to make you a smoothie at school today.”

In conclusion, if you really want to piss off your kids, have I got a recipe for you!

3 peeled kiwifruit
3/4 cup frozen pineapple
1 cup lime yogurt
1 handful fresh spinach
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup limeade
Some amount of honey

(I’m guessing on amounts.  They can be adjusted according to how little you like your kids.)

This morning’s untouched smoothies, OH SNAP.