Nothin’ Doin’

I keep forgetting to blog!  Maybe it’s because I checked my blog stats last month for the first time in a couple years, and realized that a lot of my old readers are FORGETTING TO READ my blog.  Thank you to my loyal few.  I heart you!

Anyway, not a lot going on here.  People ask me what’s new and I say “Nothing,” and that’s probably how it’s going to be for a long time.  We’re done having babies; we’re done with the house remodel; we’re just sitting around waiting around to get cancer or for one of the kids to get married so that we have a better answer to that question.  (Is that insensitive, the part about cancer?)

As I type this, Rocco is sitting at the island sorting pennies by date for a homework assignment. 

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He holds one up to me.

Rocco: Wow, this one is OLD!
Me: Yeah?  What year?
Rocco: Two thousand FIVE!

(He later finds one so old it is hard for him to think about.  1989.)

Leo comes out of his bedroom saying, “Do you like the outfit I chose?”

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(I put this here so that if any of you see him today, you know that it was not me who put this ensemble together.)

Of course, his older brother has recently been spotted wearing the outfits below, so I can see how this has led to the some style confusion.

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Leo is still sleeping on the floor every night and I knew the nesting had gotten out of control when he began actually using the mattress as a blanket.

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(No, I didn’t let him sleep under that.)

During his brother’s conference, Vincenzo spent a half an hour arranging cubes to write a message to his friend.  It reads “HI NAI.”

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Kai, we had to point out, is spelled with a “K,” not an “N.”  *hand to forehead*

Here’s how Leo waits for his brother’s bus.

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He’s holding out a stick.  I ask him, “Are you shooting things?”  “No,” he says.  “I’m fishing.” 

In the afternoon we return to the bus stop and Leo picks up his stick again.  “Are you catching fish?” I ask.  “No,” he says.  “I’m shooting things.”

And that’s a whole blog post of nothing going on.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Leftovers:
Tacos/burritos/taco salads
Bowtie pasta with alfredo sauce and smoked salmon
Krab fried rice
Peanut butter white chocolate squares

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White Weekend*

With Trump’s inauguration week pending, casting a large and gloomy shadow in front of itself, I was so glad when our friends invited us up to their cabin in the mountains for MLKJR weekend.  Up there in the woods, surrounded by woodland creatures who had never heard of Trump or any other president, with the falling snow providing its surround sound of quietude, it felt like some things—some of the very best things, in fact—will not change come Friday at 12AM. 

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As we drove up the mountain, first we came to some patches of frost, then a couple small piles of snow, then trees wearing the lightest coat of snow.  Our excitement grew and grew until we arrived at our friends’ cabin (more of a personal lodge, really), where there were two feet of snow and endless sledding paths.  We were in a different world, I wanted to live in the weekend forever.

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On the drive home, my emotions went in reverse, and those same trees with the light coating of snow that made me excited on the way up now made me melancholy, marking the end rather than the beginning of our escape.  But not that melancholy, because I was sitting in the car with head and heart full of memories of cold and thrilling outdoor moments followed by warm and cozy indoor moments.

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As I sit here blogging to the persistent rain outside, I know that somewhere not too far away, the same clouds that are dumping raining on our house are sprinkling snow on another.  The gray world outside my house is connected to a snowy white world conjured up from the best kind of magic.

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Enough of all that, though.  Mostly the weekend was fun and funny and the opposite of whatever it is that’s happening in our country this week.  Like when Kevin wanted to get a picture of me and Rocco on a sled and I jokingly asked Rocco how my hair looked.  It went like this.

Me: How does my hair look?
Rocco: Gray.
Me: Seriously?  You’re seriously going to go there?  Okay then, Leo, how do you think my hair looks?
Leo: Good!
Me: That’s more like it!
Leo: Because you’re wearing a hat.

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Clearly, these boys are not nearly as sweet as they look.

And now…moar pictures!!!

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Some of those sled rides were wild and out of control, and the paths were riddled with trees, and it is actually a pretty good metaphor for how I feel about this week.  I’m sitting on a sled and I don’t have much control over it, and I just hope there’s a chance to bail before we hit that tree.

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Am I being overly dramatic?

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Omelet-wrapped poblano potato quesadillas
Cumin black beans
Fresh fruit/vegetables
Candy cane cheesecake

*Wow, I was just about to publish this when I realized how inappropriate that title is to describe a MLKJR weekend.  I should probably change that.  But then, it’s pretty appropriate for Trump’s inauguration, so maybe I should just leave it?

Happy 2017!

Okay, it feels kind of weird to go from an “I’m so bummed out” post to a “Yay, party!” post, but then again, borderline manic depressive writer here.  This is just my life.

I used to hate New Year’s with a passion.  I felt like New Year’s was something mean that the world did to me to show me that a) I am not a fun party girl, b) I don’t even like drinking very much, c) I hate staying up past 9:30PM, and d) Christmas is undeniably over

Fortunately, about ten years ago I realized my friend, McStreamy, also hated New Year’s, so we decided to have an “I Hate New Year’s Parties” on New Year’s Eve.  We had quiet conversations, we drank very lightly, we ate lovely food, and we ended the party at 8.  We’ve gotten together every year since then, sometimes with a bigger crowd and sometimes with a smaller one, but I realized after sending the guests home at 8:01 last Saturday night that, and this is shocking, I love New Year’s.  I do!  I use it as an excuse to cook something I would never cook on my own, make an over-the-top dessert, and spend a few hours with some of my favorite people in the world.

Every year I set out a bunch of board games but every year we are talking and laughing so much that 8:00 comes way too quickly and we never even need board games to bring the fun.  We are already having it! 

This year, my neighbors brought the entertainment.  It was their one-year-old son, who ended up with his pants halfway down his legs and spent an hour throwing his arms in the air when we yelled, “Raise the roof!”  He’d laugh, we’d laugh, he’d try to walk, he’d fall down, we’d laugh, he’d laugh, he’d stand up, we’d yell, “Raise the roof!”

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Many, many roofs were raised that night.

This year’s spread included a giant hunk of prime rib, smoked gouda mashed potatoes, a pear and gorgonzola salad, baked brie with pepper jelly, crusty bread, cheesy bread, and for dessert…

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…a triple chocolate peppermint mousse trifle covered in chocolate leaves.  I’m all about the show stoppers.

For entertainment, the boys made their own New Year’s crackers.  (The present kind of cracker, not the kind you eat or the kind that  was white and owned slaves.)  They were super fun to make!  First we went to the bathroom regularly for two months and wiped consistently until we had about 8 TP tubes.  Then the boys made various Lego creations like cars, houses, and dragons.  They dissembled them, stuck the Legos for each creation into a tube and  labeled each tube.  Finally, we wrapped them up in a way that doesn’t make you think “Did I remember to wash my hands?” when you see them.

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Guests each chose a tube and did their best to make whatever the tube told them to make. 

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It was fun for the boys to see how differently others made the Legos from how they were originally constructed, but like a dunce I did not take any “before” pictures.  Here’s the “after” though.

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That little collection of misfit robots, houses with car doors, and cars with house doors made for a lot of laughs. 

At around 8 we decided it was time to ring in 2017, so Kevin found a free New Year’s countdown on-line.  It was comically generic, with messages on it saying things like “Insert company name here,” but we counted down nonetheless because, after all, it was 8:00.

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The funniest part came when we got down to 0 though.

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Well, I did mention it was free, didn’t I?!

Happy 2017, everyone.  Heck, have a happy 2016 as well.

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I heart New Year’s.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Orecchiete with chicken sausage and broccoli
Fresh vegetables

Goodbye, Christmas

Kevin is back at work after the holidays, the boys are back at school, and I miss my family.

Back when I was a teacher, I always had the hardest time going back to school after Christmas break.  I knew that once the kids walked into the classroom my post-holiday blues would fade and I’d move on, but that was the problem—I didn’t want to move on.  I didn’t want the previous days of my family all packed into one room, laughing and teasing each other, to fade into memories.  But they had to and they did the minute my students came in the classroom and we all looked to each other for help in moving on from something most of us didn’t want to move on from.

As a stay-at-home mom I haven’t gotten that feeling after the holiday break.  Until now.  I don’t know what’s different this year; maybe it’s because Kevin actually took two weeks off of work, which he’s never done before.  Maybe it’s because the boys are old enough to do the things I remember doing over my winter breaks—OD’ing on board games, playing basketball with the neighbors, watching movies together, spending afternoons sprawled around the house reading books.  Maybe it’s because of all the afternoons we spent trying out new recipes together, making chocolate chip brioche pretzels and Korean pancakes and popcorn cookies.  Maybe it’s because I know that this feeling of “it’s all over” is just a tiny piece of what I’ll feel next year, when Leo goes to kindergarten and my days of parenting little ones are over.  Maybe it’s because I am borderline manic-depressive and December is always one huge, manic month of bliss for me, which means that  January is always pay-back time.

I am sitting here in a sparkling clean house, staring out at a blue sky and snow-covered mountains above beautiful Lake Washington.  I have a cup of my favorite coffee in front of me.  The kitchen is putting out smells of roasted squash and toasted pumpkin seeds.  I am doing one of the things I love to do most (blogging, if it’s not obvious), and I can’t wait for everything else that’ I’m going to do today and this week.  This month.  This year!  And yet, I feel like I am mourning the death of another holiday  season.  I hum a few lines of “White Christmas” and Christmas 2016 flutters its eyelids a bit, but that’s all I get out of it.  It’s time to put on some other music, I guess.

Right now I feel both blissed out from all the holiday joy and at the same time bummed out that we can’t live in that world of carols and nogs forever.  I’m sitting on the middle of a teeter totter, trying to inch my way toward the side that’s up instead of slipping to the bottom as I usually do in January.

I’m hopeful, as I am every year, that this time I won’t have to pay for all the happiness I spent in December.  Maybe this January will be different.

I reach out my hand tentatively toward 2017 and hope that it is taken gently.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Spaghetti squash tacos
Steamed broccoli
Triple chocolate peppermint trifle