Christmess

Wow, it’s tough to know where to begin about Christmas.  It was big and messy and overwhelming, and because of that this blog post is going to be big and messy and overwhelming, too.  Is there any other way to do it?  (Seriously, if you know how to have a neat, tidy little Christmas please send me tips.)

Christmas morning started with our traditional breakfast sausage, where Rocco demonstrated both his drive for efficiency and his love of sausage in a new eating technique:

After breakfast we all emptied our stockings and applied our new chapsticks, sampled our new chocolates, wound up our new wind-up toys, and tried on our new t-shirts.

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I guess Santa was trying to make up for any damage Kevin did by wearing this shirt around all year.

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I can barely remember the time when that shirt was funny.

I dug a rainbow-tape-pooping unicorn out of my stocking and it fell instantly in love with the Handicorn that Kevin pulled out of his stocking.

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So much for marrying your opposite.

The kids emptied their stockings, unwrapped all their gifts and sat there amidst all their new stuff, wondering vaguely where the floor went, when Rocco looked at me sadly and said, “Mom, I don’t think Santa came last night.” 

After two months of buying small but thoughtful gifts for him and imagining how excited he would be about each one, then topping it off with the #1 item from his Christmas list (a giant Lego set), who can blame me for strangling him just a little bit right then?

P.S. Here’s what it looks like on Christmas morning when Santa DOESN’T COME to our house.

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Leo, on the other hand, was the other end of the spectrum.  Here’s how happy the chapstick alone made him.

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Actually, that might just be a chapstick thing.  He was ho-hum about the friggin’ cotton candy maker Santa had left him below his stocking.

(He came around when we fired it up a few days later.)

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Vincenzo opened half his stocking, found a book in it, and had to be continually reminded to open his stocking after that.

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His new hat helped him focus.

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My favorite moment of Christmas, though, I’m not sure if I can explain properly.  It started a few weeks ago when my mom sent out a group text to “us kids.”  We adult children have always done Santa Bags for each other, filling each other’s Santa Bags with gifts under $10.  My mom sent out a text  saying she wasn’t going to organize them this year, though.  The text looked something like this:

I keep forgetting to let everyone know I’m not organizing Center Biggs this year.”

We have been laughing about Center Biggs ever since, saying Christmas wouldn’t be the same without ol’ Biggs, calling Mom/Dad’s house and asking for Mr. Biggs, walking in on Christmas day and saying how different it felt without Center Biggs here. So it was only fitting that for Christmas I ordered her something very special to remember our dear Center Biggs by.

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Of course, by the time Christmas had rolled around my  mom had sent out another text to my SIL in which she mistexted, “White goes with everythong,” which kind of took the pressure off of Center Biggs to be the primary source of humor.  I told my SIL I thought it was sweet my mom is passing on some of her motherly advice to her DIL.  And my mom is very lucky that this mistext was sent out too soon to Christmas for anyone to run out to Victoria’s Secret for a last-minute Grammy gift.  Granny panties ain’t what they used to be.

You know, I should have made this whole post about my mom, because just after we were laughing about white going with everythong for the fourth time, my nephew came in with a broken pitcher and an apology to Grammy.

Ari: Grammy, I’m sorry I broke your pitcher when I threw a pillow and it hit it.
Grammy: Oh, that’s not a big deal, Ari.  I didn’t ever use that pitcher.  It was nothing special to me at all.  I think I’m even glad you broke it.
Me, gaping: Mother!  I gave you that pitcher!  That was a gift from me!

As Grammy tried to assure me she actually did have some kind of relationship with the pitcher and it wasn’t as unloved as she had made it out to be, my brother had to go and mention that  he was the one who gave me the pitcher in the first place.  Everyone looked at me. 

Everyone: Is that true? 
Me: [Looks down shamefully]
Mark: For your wedding!

I guess I had it coming, after making Grammy the butt of so many jokes.  This one’s on me, Grammy.  Merry friggin’ Christmas.

The day passed way too quickly for how long it had been anticipated, sung about, and planned for, and suddenly it was dinnertime.  We had watched the National Lampoons with my boys on Christmas Eve, which may have been a mistake because when my dad asked who wanted to say grace before dinner, Rocco said, “I do!”  We all looked expectantly at him.  “Grace!” he said, and I piped up in my best old-man’s voice, “The BLESSING!”  That is why Kevin and I were snickering during the whole prayer.  My mom says we are a couple of eleven-year-olds trapped in adult bodies, and we can’t argue with her.

There it is, my big and messy Christmas post.  I’m sad it’s over (Christmas, not this post), but then again there’s only so long you can listen to the same 10 songs and watch the same 3 movies over and over again before even you admit that it’s time to move on.

Is it okay to look back over my shoulder while I’m moving on?

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Ham and chicken crepes
Sweet and sour broccoli Ramen salad

Believers

Vincenzo, like I said, is growing up.  I think.  Or maybe he’s not.  Vincenzo may or may not be growing up.

This Tuesday, two big little things happened in his life.  One was that I let him ride his bike somewhere without me.  His friend Alex, who lives a couple blocks away, wanted to ride down to the school to play basketball and when V asked me if he could go I heard myself saying, “Well…I guess so?” 

He does have 11 years of me by his side, saying, “Stop, look, and listen.  No, really look this time.  Now tell me everything you hear right now.  Wait, look again.  Any cars?  No?  Okay, now we can cross.”

I was going for a walk anyway, so I decided to walk Vincenzo up to Alex’s house, and that’s where the second growing up thing happened.

I decided to have “the talk” with V.

You know, about Santa.

V is 11.  He’s in the fifth grade.  My parents told me about Santa in the second grade and it was crushing.  I am still traumatized by the news even to this day—that everything magical is not real.

I wasn’t sure whether or not V still believed in Santa.  He’s said a thing or two to me that made me think he knew and was playing along, but I couldn’t tell.  This is the boy who spends 95% of his free time reading books about dragons and wizards, magical eggs and mythical worlds, so I don’t think there’s a hard line between reality and fantasy for him anyway.

So on the way to Alex’s house, I said, “Vincenzo, about Santa…” 

He looked at me with his green owl eyes and said, “About Santa…”

I tried again.  “About Santa…” 

He repeated, “About Santa…”

I said, “I’ve heard you and your friends talking about whether or not Santa is real.  What are your thoughts on the matter?”

Vincenzo told me the same thing I’ve heard him tell his friends: “I have no opinion on it.”  I tried to get him to expand, but he remained completely opinionless.

So I threw my hands up in the air and did a little dance like I had just done something wonderful.  I wished I had a handful of glitter to toss and I sung out, “It’s me, Vincenzo!  I’m Santa Claus!!” 

He didn’t have much reaction.  I couldn’t physically see his soul being crushed or his world breaking apart.  He just listened to me babble for a couple minutes on the topic, then said, “I wonder what Alex and I are going to do today?”

Then I realized there was something really important I still needed to tell Vincenzo.  I said, “Vincenzo, about Santa…,” then I dropped to a whisper, “You can still believe in him if you want to.”

By then we were at Alex’s house, so V waved goodbye to me, hopped on his bike, and the two of them rode off down the street.

I stood on the street, feeling my own world break apart a little, but not in a scary way.  It was just a small “poof,” like when someone blows all the seeds off a dandelion in one breath.

Poof, make a wish, pedal down the street, turn the corner, wait–mama loves you.

I went on my walk, questioning whether I should have told V at all or let him go on believing.  I have a whole other blog post to write about my friend Holly, who never stopped believing in Santa even as an adult, and it was the most beautiful thing in the world.  But Holly is gone now and I don’t think I can pull it off without her.  I thought I’d feel relieved when I had told Vincenzo, but instead I just felt…weird.

Vincenzo came home later that evening.  I was just sitting down to help Leo write his letter to Santa.  Vincenzo saw us there and sat down next to us, helping himself to a piece of paper.

“I think I’ll write a letter to Santa, too.”

He still believes.

Poof.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Fettucini carbonara
Balsamic glazed pearl onions
Anticipation, adrenaline, and excitement

Winter Break Woo Hoo!

I’ve had a *little* extra time with the boys lately, which means we have had many more bloggable moments than usual.  Here are a few of my faves from this week.

First of all, Leo has something he wants to say to you all.

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What he wants to say is, “Look what I found under the bed!”  I’m going to have to remember that one.

Secondly, if you’ll remember, my oldest son has such an obsession with books it’s more like an affliction that has led to him reading in some very strange places.  I realized this winter break that whatever Vincenzo is suffering from, Rocco has it, too.

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Later, Rocco read the cover of Vincenzo’s school notebook and said, “So Vincenzo is getting ready for college already.”

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It wasn’t a joke—his humor’s not that advanced yet.

We decorated cookies.  Here was Leo’s.

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He didn’t just dump a jar of sprinkles on it, either—he methodically put them on pinch by pinch.  I told him to pick up the cookie and he searched around in the sprinkles for a bit then cried, “But I can’t find my cookie!”

Then there was the day I was teaching Rocco how to play the piano and I noticed Leo had finally stopped saying, “What should I do now?”  I turned around to find the activity with which he had busied himself.

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He was just standing there motionless, and he must have kept his head in the cuddle lounge too long because all week he has decided to sleep on the floor of his bedroom with his head on the vent.  (This is following a week of him refusing blankets but instead using his pillowcase like a sleeping bag.)  He says he is pretending his bed is his room and his room is his bed.

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I went to tuck him in tonight and noticed not only was Leo sleeping on the hardwood floor, but he was also lying on top of a dozen marbles.  I think it’s actually a war crime to treat people like this, isn’t it?

Also, can those feet sticking out of the blanket really belong to Leo?  I must have forgotten not to blink one day, and BLAMO he just grew up!

Vincenzo still exists, too.  I am seeing less of him over break than during the school year because he’s eleven and he’s got places to be.  I will write a post about him growing up that will get you right in the feels, but I’m not ready to write it yet.  My own feels are still feeling very tender.

Merry Christmas, one and all!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Cheeseburger soup
Roasted asparagus with parmesan
Fresh fruit
Christmas cookies

Winter Break Woo Hoo!

I’ve had a *little* extra time with the boys lately, which means we have had many more bloggable moments than usual.  Here are a few of my faves from this week.

First of all, Leo has something he wants to say to you all.

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What he wants to say is, “Look what I found under the bed!”  I’m going to have to remember that one.

Secondly, if you’ll remember, my oldest son has such an obsession with books it’s more like an affliction that has led to him reading in some very strange places.  I realized this winter break that whatever Vincenzo is suffering from, Rocco has it, too.

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But none of that explains how I found Leo the other day when I was teaching Rocco how to play the piano.

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That’s the same guy who, this week, decided to sleep on the hardwoods with his head on the vent instead of in his bed.  He said he is pretending his bed is his room and his room is his bed.

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Can those feet sticking out of the blanket really belong to Leo?  I must have forgotten not to blink one day, and BLAMO he just grew up!

Vincenzo still exists, too.  I am seeing less of him over break than during the school year because he’s eleven and he’s got places to be, you know.  I will write a post about him growing up that will get you right in the feels, but I’m not ready to write it yet.  My own feels are still recovering.

Merry Christmas, one and all!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Cheeseburger soup
Roasted asparagus with parmesan
Fresh fruit
Christmas cookies

Ready.

Gingerbread houses have been decorated.

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Other gingerbread houses have been visited.

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O Christmas tree has been felled.

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Reindeer have been spotted.

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Christmas trains have been admired.

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Gay apparel has been donned.

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Christmassey bakes have been baked.

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Terribly poor pictures of children have been taken in front of light displays.

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Christmas cookies have been delivered.

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Christmas movies have been watched.

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Laps have been sat upon (or at least near):

 

(The video’s not worth watching, but I didn’t take any regular photos.  Santa looked up at me after the boys talked with him and he said, “Two of them don’t care what they get for Christmas and one was unintelligible.”  Then he taught Vincenzo how to give a proper high five and I told him that’s all the gift Vincenzo needs for Christmas.  Then Santa snuck about 20 mini candy canes into Vincenzo’s hood for him to find later.  It was a slow day for Santa, and we loved it!)

Christmas cards have been mailed.

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And now all there is to do is…wait.  Christmas, BRING IT.

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We’re ready.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Spice-rubbed beef tenderloin
Hasselhoff potatoes
Salad (my usual)
Cranberry lime white chocolate tart

Snow Day!

We got about an inch of wet, sloppy snow last week so our school district panicked and canceled school for the day.  (This is the same school district that once canceled school because of the mere prediction of snow that never came and so we all sat around watching TV on a perfectly normal weather day, feeling sheepish for someone else’s mistake.)

Anyway, SNOW DAY!!!

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We have been promised lots of snow this year, but then we were also promised a terrific wind storm that never came and also promised that Donald Trump would never win the presidency.  I’m beginning to feel like I am in an abusive relationship with the media because despite all their broken promised, I still keep hoping…

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Snow!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Asian sirloin steak kebobs
Roasted potatoes
Fresh fruit

Little Things

Leo, coming out of his room in the morning ready for the day:

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Hour three of an all-boy play date and the basement entrance looking like this:

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Rocco, on “dress like a book character day,” telling us he wanted to dress up like Gerg. 

Me: Gerg?
Rocco: Yes, Gerg!
Me: Who or what is a Gerg?
Rocco: You know, Gerg!  From Diary of a Wimpy Kid!

 

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Ohhhhhhh.  That Gerg.

Leo, seeing if his Christmas stocking still fits:

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This shirt again:

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I’m pooped.  I’m beat.  I’m wondering why humans decided not to hibernate, because I could really use a four-month-long nap right now.  Anyone else?

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE: 
Chicken marsala
Spaghetti
Roasted asparagus
Fresh fruit
Chocolate cake & ice cream