Down Again

Can you believe it?  Sick again!  I’m so cold, so very cold…then I’m so wretchedly hot, then as soon as I cool down my teeth start chattering again.  I want to wear extra layers to help with the teeth chattering but my skin is so hyper sensitive that I don’t want to move an inch. 

I don’t know if that’s worse or the body aches are worse.  I can’t stand up too long because I get dizzy and feel like I’m going to faint, but when I lay down all my bones feel like they’re ____

On top of all this, my stomach won’t stop churning and gurgling and I’m kinda scared to see what all this churning and gurgling is going to produce at some point.

Blargh.  This is totally bumming out the Christmasing streak I had been on, shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking, mailing.  Instead I have watched more episodes of Seinfeld than I had seen in my life and…well, that’s actually the only thing I’ve done in the past 24 hours.

Rocco saw me lying on the couch watching TV when he got home from school yesterday and guess who woke up with an upset tummy today?  I didn’t really believe him, but he is as stubborn as you-know-what and wouldn’t back down, so here we are at home, him asking for a second PB&J and Sprite and can he play another round of video games?  And is it okay if he has some Halloween candy?

He’s no Ferris Beuller, this kid.

Ugh.  Food is GRODY.

Wash Your Hands After Reading This

Wow, so Thanksgiving hit us like a truck, with each of us taking our turns being sick.  Kevin was the unluckiest of all, dressed and ready to go to Thanksgiving lunch when suddenly he looked at me with that look and said, “I have to stay home…”

We’ve had a week of dealing with bodily fluids, from one kid puking just five steps outside the door to his school to one coming out of the bathroom and saying, “The weirdest thing just happened.  Throw up just came out of my bottom!” 

We had to cancel our Thanksgiving dessert/appetizer party, which left me at home with 4 dozen cannoli, 6 dozen homemade truffles, 2 dozen mini pumpkin pies, and a sweet potato pie with gingersnap crust.  If anyone wants a plateful of dessert with a side of germs, please feel free to stop by!*

To quote a song I’ve heard way too many times in the past two days, It’s the holiday season so whoop-di-do, we’ve all got the flu…

At least, that’s the way it sounds in our house.

Chicken and dumplings
Salad with roasted peppers, garbanzos, feta cheese, and pepitas
All you can eat dessert buffet

*The desserts are actually germ-free, as I made them well after I had the flu, and I sanitized everything and myself a dozen times while baking each of them.

Mostly Back

Things are feeling kind of normalish since the election finally, which is…well, I don’t want to say good, so I’ll just leave it at well…

I still have this dark sense of foreboding lurking underneath all my other emotions, and I guess that discomfort is a good thing.  That and my “not normal” sticky note will hopefully remind me on a daily basis that we all can be better.  We all need to be better.

Anyway, things are well… enough for me to blog about what I love blogging about most: my ridiculous boys.  Today’s spotlight is on Leo.  I know the blog is a little lopsided in his favor these days, but I barely see V and R lately, and when I do they’re usually doing homework or begging for video game time.  I will spare you all the whining.

When Leo wakes up in the morning, I usually hear a soft pat-pat-pat-pat, a “hoo hoo” or two, then a bunch of pillow adjusting, and then there is this:


Except the morning after Halloween.  The morning after Halloween, Leo came out of his bedroom looking like this:


When I left Leo at preschool last week, he looked like this:


Preschool brass knuckles.  Very tough.

Leo has a best friend, William, and it’s so sweet how they take care of each other.  William always wears the green cape with a hood and carries around a black purse.  Leo always wears the rainbow cape and accessorizes with a lot of gem rings.  If William gets there first, he gets the rainbow cape and rings for Leo and waits for him at the door.  If Leo gets there first, he gets the green cape and black purse for William and waits for him at the door. 


They make a cute couple.


Then they sit in front of the mirror and shove in front of each other, saying, “You should look at me!”  “No, you should look at me!”  “No, look at me!” 


I think the classroom is going to need a bigger mirror.

When not at school (or begging to play video games), my boys been making beaded utensils for the holidays.  I think I found the most inefficient elf of the bunch.


I caught him taking selfies on my phone the other day.  Is four too young for a Facebook account?



We ran the Turkey Trot this weekend.  Leo’s layered look got a little out of control.


He was one stuffed-looking turkey!  My favorite moment of the run was after Rocco and I had doubled back on the course and we came upon Kevin/Leo, who had turned around at the one mile mark.  Leo saw us coming and his eyes popped open and he screamed to Kevin, “RUN!!!!”  The person running next to us laughed, and I explained, “Brothers.”

When I tuck Leo into bed each night, we talk about our highs and lows for the day.  I almost always say my high was napping next to him in my bed.  Then he tells me that that was his low of the day.


I’ve never known anyone to be so mistaken.

Saltines and Sprite*

*I woke up violently ill in the middle of the night, and let me tell you if I had seen that coming at dinnertime I definitely would not have ordered a pizza covered in jalapenos and buffalo sauce.  Blargh.

This Is Not Normal

I’m still not feeling like myself, after last week’s election.  I’m actually kind of surprised everyone else seems to be fine now—I’m surprised when I pass people in the store, they’re talking about their workouts or what they’re cooking for Thanksgiving or what their dog did yesterday that was so cute, and not every conversation is about what the fact that America just imploded.

I’m not sure what I expected, and I know we can’t be in calamity mode all the time, but lately it feels weird to ask someone, “Hey, how’s it going!”  And it feels weird when that person answers back, “I’m great!  How are you?”

I feel like we should have a new set of greetings where instead, you say, “Hey, I’m really freaking out.  How are you?  And the person answers: “Yup.  I am majorly depressed and anxious.”   Then you stand there passing a paper bag back and forth, hyperventilating together.

Like many people, I had thoughts of moving to Canada after the election.  I entertained the thought enough to wonder if it is a real possibility for our family and if so, what it would look like.  Then I thought about how my one of my biggest concerns about Trump’s presidency is the irreversible damage some of his policies are going to have on our world’s climate, and I realized that moving to Canada will not fix that problem for me or anyone else on this planet.  I was overcome with a feeling of being trapped.  I am trapped here on Earth with Donald Trump.

Vincenzo suggested I move to Nars instead, but I am worried it’s not far enough away.

“Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver had a good post-election episode that made me laugh and also made me know what I need to do next.  First of all, I have to say it was such a relief to laugh about the election because for awhile there, even the funniest people in America were too shocked, stunned, and upset to know how to lighten the mood.  Comedy is my barometer of the nation’s health.

Anyway, John Oliver warned that things are going to feel “normal” pretty soon, and he wanted to remind us that whatever happened over the last few months was not normal.  In fact, he said we should write that on a sticky note and post it somewhere we will see it often so that we remember over the next presidential term that this is not normal.


I am afraid of forgetting, so I actually did post a note for myself.  It feels a bit like I’m in the movie Inception, and the sticky note is my spinning top.  It is something I can glance at to tell me that yes, I am in the correct reality so I shouldn’t go jump out of a skyscraper to get back to the right one.

The other thing John Oliver did was to list several of the government agencies that are going to wither under the Trump administration and which will need our financial and vocal support during his presidency.  There are many causes to pick from, as Trump threatened so many of our nation’s core values (or what I thought were our core values, up until a week ago).  You can check out the list and links donation links on this page.  Out of these, the one that calls the loudest to me is the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), so we are going to donate regularly to that group.

Since the election I have filled up several grocery carts with food to donate in a feeble attempt to put some good out there to undo what feels like a lot of bad.  It doesn’t feel like enough though.  So this week I have made an attempt to smile at everyone I make eye contact with, even though I really don’t feel like smiling much yet.  Trump has stirred up the part of people that makes them suspicious of each other and distrusting of differences.  He has built up the feeling that people who don’t look like us or act like us or believe like us are “others.”  We need to counteract that by inviting others in and minimizing our differences.  We need to replace the word “others” with “also us.” The solution to that is completely free and nearly effortless and easy to do hundreds of times a day: to smile at everyone you can.

The group who was taking up the whole sidewalk when I was running this morning—instead of acting irritated as I buzzed by them, I smiled and waved at them.  They smiled and waved back.  The two ladies standing outside the library with their “Free Bible Literature” who I always avoid making eye contact with—I smiled at them too.  They smiled and told me they liked my boots.  The Hispanic construction workers I passed by and the tired looking mom in the waiting room and the old lady whose dog was making a trip wire across the sidewalk with its leash–I smiled at all of them, and they all smiled back, and it felt again like this little thing I can do as an individual might counteract some of the negativity we have all been basting in. 

I will be back to my funny, snarky, charming self one of these days, but I’m just not there yet.  I feel I have to tell people I am not okay, and this is not okay, loudly and often until I know enough people are with me that we are going to be okay.

Until then…


French onion soup
Gratin Dauphinoise
Spinach salad with roasted butternut squash, goat cheese, and pepitas
Apple pie

The Morning After

I woke up the same way many of you did: to instant anxiety, depression, and despair.  It has stayed with me all day and will likely stay with me for a long time, but I remind myself that it will not always be this way.  The first thought I have in the morning will not always be, “This is the beginning of the end of the world.” 

For now, though, it is.  And it sucks.

The sky was dripping all morning in a way that looked just like it was crying.  From the looks on the faces of people I saw going about their lives, they had been, too.

It feels hopeless right now.  It feels like hatred, fear, and paranoia have won.  It feels like our nation got thrown back 50 years to a time when differences between people were something to be feared instead of celebrated.  It feels like love got shoved down to the sidewalk and its lunch money stolen.  I walked past it, lying there battered on the ground, and I said, “I’ve got to do something to help.”  I can’t fix our nation’s political problems or calm everyone’s anxiety (if I did, let me tell you I’d start with my own) but I can still do good in the world.  Today—these days—we are going to need that more than ever.

So when I picked up the boys from school, I took them to the store and told them to fill up the cart with all the non-perishables it could hold, and we will donate the whole cartload to a local charity.*


It wasn’t much, but it was something.  Even though I feel powerless, I am not powerless to still send up a spark of light.  No matter who is running this country, there will always be a chance for we, the people, to spread love instead of fear and to share what we have instead of cutting the rest of the world off from it.  We will be here to pick Love up off the ground and get it going again, as it has done so many times for us.

Go do something good today.  Then go do it again the next day.  Then do it every day for the rest of your life.

Because forget about making America great again.  We need to make America good again.

Potato leek soup (leftover)
Sticky balsamic glazed pork chops
Salad with apples, pecans, and blue cheese

*You caught me.  The ice cream was for us because today felt like a day to eat gigantic bowls of ice cream drenched in chocolate syrup.

Still scrappin’

I spend an insane amount of my days neck deep in patterned paper, double-sided tape, brads, scallop die cuts, sticker letters, washi tape, and embellishments.  Yes, I am one of the nearly extinct scrapbookers still left in this world, and I treat scrapbooking like a job.  Kevin goes to work, I get the kids to school, then I head to the basement, a.k.a. “the coal mines,” to see what magic I can make out of a bunch of paper scraps and family photos.  At times I wish I could stop it all together so I could have more time to exercise, to get together with friends, to “surf the net,” or whatever it is modern folk do these days.  But then I swish the paper cutter down a piece of chartruse chevron paper and it makes the most beautiful, straight line, and I lay that paper atop a navy blue one, and I swoon.  I love colors, I love shapes, I love sticking things together and making gigantic messes, then cleaning them all up at the end of a page and starting all over again.

Each page I make takes a minimum of three hours, I figure.  (I’m too chicken to figure out how much each one costs!)  I have to choose the photos to use, edit them, browse catalogues and Pinterest for layout ideas, choose the right one, resize the photos, order the photos, receive the photos in the mail and black out for a day or so, chop the photos to size, try to make them work with the paper I have on hand, go to the craft store to pick out more papers, letters, and stickers, then go home and actually make the page.  It’s grueling and time consuming, but I feel so fulfilled by it.  Each page is a poem to me—an ode to a particular moment of life I never want to forget, and I get to choose exactly how I want to remember it.

The sad thing is, I’m the  only one who ever looks at the scrapbooks.  I had a special built-in cabinet made in our living room to house the scrapbooks, hoping the kids would pull them off and look through them every once in awhile, but alas.  I am the only one who ever pores over my labors of love.

But today, that changes.  Today, I am posting pictures of my most recent scrapbook here for you, lucky you, to view!  I just hate keeping all these hours of work and love to myself, so here you are—enjoy if you want to or just close your browser and go watch the election coverage.  This eye candy might make for a nice break from the promise of certain doom and destruction, though.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITESmile with tongue out:
Potato leek soup
Pepperoni pull-apart rolls
Salad with persimmon and blue cheese
Election day palmiers

Rain, rain

It has been one of the grayist falls I remember, so just to get us out of the gray for a couple minutes I am going to just throw some colorful pictures at you.  Leo and I go on field trips every Friday, and if the Friday pictured below were a paint chip it would be called Gray Again.”  The trees put on such a show, though, that we felt like were were living in a fire-colored world, if only for a morning.  It was all I needed to feel warm inside again.










I heart Fridays.

Linguini with clams
Crusty bread
Roasted sweet potatoes
Fresh vegetables

Happy Yesterday!

Here’s a scene from last week’s pumpkin carving.  it’s hard to tell which one is Leo and which is the pumpkin, right? (Psst, Leo is the “S” on the left.)


Then he wanted me to carve an “O.”


He was definitely sure this was what he wanted his pumpkin to look like, much to the puzzlement and amusement of his brothers.  Finally on Halloween night he was able to explain to me that he was trying to write $1.00 so that people would think they had to pay money to visit our house and he would be rich.  Instead, people showed up at our house and took all our candy.  So…

Over in the fifth grade, most of the boys decided they were too cool to wear costumes.  Vincenzo noted this about his peers, then went out and got the most ridiculous costume he could find.


He’s Picachu, not a banana with ears.


All we needed for Rocco’s costume was a handful of safety pins and Vincenzo’s costume from last year:


And for Leo’s, a pair of black socks to make his last-year’s costume look like it wasn’t three inches too short.


I don’t usually dress up for Halloween, which caused Leo a lot of anxiety.  He finally got me when he said, “But Mom, you could be something byootiful!”  I told him I prefer scary and then he told me I can be anything I want to be.  It was very touching.  I tried to capture both in a zombie bride costume, but I just don’t do makeup.


Everyone kept saying it was a beautiful costume, and I’d pout and say I wanted to be scary, so then they’d tell me in a placating voice that oh yes, I was very scary indeed.

Screw all of them.  I have photoshop.


But come on, this is a little scary, right?



Chicken sausage stew in pumpkin bowls
Salad with apples, craisins, & candied pecans
Gobs and gobs of candy