I’m not sure if this crazy phenomenon has come to your little corner of the world or if this whole thing is just something my own imagination made up, but there is this drink from a certain coffee store that seems to be made from the juicing of a unicorn and topped off with an edible cloud.


Of course, we are believers and had to try it, so before school one day I brought the boys to Starbucks.  Leo was very excited to try his first ever “Flappyccino.”

Here he is, drinking the pretty unicorn juice.


In an instant, he grew to be four times bigger than he used to be.


And in the next instant…


So now knows the taste of regret.

I was not the only mother there that morning, encouraging my children to drink, drink up, drink alllllllll that sugary rainbow sh**.  There were loads of us.  So now all the elementary school teachers have an answer to their question of What is UP with the kids this week? 

If you’re afraid to try it on your own, you can read this article that describes  the flavor as the color pink.  The flavor of trapper keepers and strawberry milk.  Of sour birthday cake and shame.

My own take on the unicorn “flappyccino?”  If you loved the taste of Flintstone vitamins growing up—if you ever fantasized about eating a whole bottle of Flintstone vitamins at once and finishing it off with a mouthful of Reddiwhip–then this, this is the drink for you.

Leftovers for those who didn’t hate them the first time
Sandwiches for those who did

Spotlight on MrMouthy

Kevin has gone and done something no man from his family has done in recorded history.  Not his dad, not his dad’s dad, and things get kind of complicated in the generation above that but I think we can safely assume that not his dad’s dad’s dad either. 

And what is that wild and crazy thing that Kevin did is?

He changed jobs.

Well, kind of.  He works in software and he’ll still work in software, but now his free t-shirts look like this:


And the free hats look like this.


Making a change was hard for Kevin.  His eye developed a twitch that seems fairly permanent now, but it is done.  He is no longer a Microsoftie; he is now officially a Googler.  (Actually, he’s called a “Noogler” because that’s what they call new employees at Google.  If you want to receive a hard punch in the face, try calling Kevin that next time you see him.)

My favorite part of this whole job switch was the one weekend in between jobs when my husband was technically unemployed.  We went out to dinner and I jumped up to pay the bill, saying, “You don’t have a job.  I got this one.”  I reveled in the fact that I was actually the main breadwinner of the family for two days.  Of course, it wasn’t so funny when the boys said I was rich because I am making some money nannying and then Kevin said, “Yes, boys.  Your mother makes hundreds of dollars!”

Anyway.  While switching from Microsoft to Google feels like a crazy, insane, totally risky move to Kevin, it doesn’t feel any different to those of us who still wave goodbye to him at 7 in the morning and wave hello to him at 5 in the evening and completely zone out when he tells us what he did at work that day.  We do get to stop saying we’re going to “Bing it” and then explaining to people what that means.  Now we just Google things like any other self-respecting human being.

In conclusion, if you need an explanation of what “Bing it” means, just Google it because every time you do, a five dollar bill shows up in our mailbox now.

Cheesy beef enchiladas
Brown rice
Green beans
Brownie roll-out cookies

Angelo’s birthday 2017

It’s been nine years.  Nine years.

I don’t think about him as much as I used to.  Sometimes a whole day or two goes by when I forget that I laid my dear baby boy down to rest forever.

Then something reminds me about that time of life when I carried a baby whose death taught me more about life than there even is to know.

I heard this song on NPR the other day, and suddenly it was nine years ago and the hurt was brand new again, and I cradled it in my arms because the hurt also came with all the love, the depth, and the beauty that came from loving a baby who said his goodbye before I could say mine.

Take a minute to listen to the song.  Maybe you’ll think of Angelo, but chances are that this song is about you and your own journey, your own struggles.  You will look back on that time of your life, or maybe look around you right now, and realize that no matter how hard it was or is, your life would not be as rich without having gone through it.

Thank you, Baby Angelo, for teaching me to swim.

DSC_0164-7_edited-1 copy_edited-1

And thank you to everyone who jumped in the ocean with me.

Kidd Valley—it’s tradition on Angelo’s birthday  Winking smile

Easter ‘17

Oh, so I forgot to mention—this one time, when we were at the Grand Canyon…

Just kidding.  This post will not mention the Grand Canyon at all.  At least, not anymore than it already has.  Scout’s honor.

So, after the Grand Canyon (sorry—old habit), there was this weekend when Kevin was unemployed, which I’m not going to write about today, and then there was the weekend after that,  which was Easter weekend and which happens to have been last weekend, which is what I’m going to write about today.

This year’s egg dying challenge was for Vincenzo to dye an egg to match his shirt.  Challenge accepted.


He didn’t even dye that egg—he just held it close enough to his shirt to catch the reflection.  I am pleased to report that Vincenzo has been in possession of this sweatshirt for four whole weeks now.

I brought these super cute bunny butters to my mom’s for Easter this year.


The minute I set them on the table, Kevin couldn’t help himself.


Mom told me to that her salt and pepper shakers were absolutely terrified. 


The one on the right is so scared it’s actually vomiting.

After breakfast we went out for the egg hunt.  Egg hunting made Leo a little derpy.


“Derp, derp, derpity derp derp.”


Vincenzo was too grown up and mature for the egg hunt this year.


Just kidding!


Rocco wore his stained old coat the whole time so in retribution I will only post one picture of him.


After the egg hunt we all took our turns getting our annual family pix.  I think my brother’s family has outgrown him.  (He’s the guy lurking in the back.)


Next year he’s going to have to kneel down in front.

Lucky for me, long as ladies’ heels keep getting higher, I’ll never have to kneel in front.


Happy week after Easter, everyone!

Wild rice gratin

Grand Canyon VI—Oh No She Di’int!

Oh yes I did…one more post.  You thought I was done but BOOYAH I might NEVER  be done.

On vacation, Leo was happy to see that everywhere we went, fries were on the menu.  It’s all he ate for his first four straight meals, plus all of his meals after that.


I mean, he ate so much deep fried food, his neck actually disappeared.


I should probably take him into the pediatrician to have his cholesterol checked.

He’s not the only one whose eating habits went out the door, though.  At the beginning of the trip I would tell the boys at breakfast, “Make sure you have a serving of fruit in between your servings of waffles.”  By the end of the trip I was saying, “Just make sure that at least one of your ice cream scoops is a fruit-flavored one.”

While waiting for a ranger talk at the Grand Canyon, Leo worked on his Junior Ranger book.  I loved this page where he got to draw in one of the sights he saw at the Grand Canyon.


It’s a railing.  (Technically it was something he felt more than saw, as all the railings were at the exact height of his forehead.)  If there had been a second box to fill in, no doubt Leo would have drawn a few butts and crotches as well.

After we got back from our week of traveling, of seeing new parts of the world and different climates, of pink Jeep tours and daring escapes from hotel rooms, of visiting cousins and friends, and of eating our body weight in fries, someone asked Leo, “So what was your favorite part of vacation?”

You know what that stinker said?

“Playing video games.”

What a freaking turd.

Okay, now I am really, really done writing about the Grand Canyon.  I actually do have other blog posts lined up, waiting to go, so don’t lose hope, dear readers, don’t lose hope.

French dip sandwiches
Fruit & veggies
Chocolate chip cookies

Grand Canyon V: The Final Post. For Now.

Here it is, the final post about our vacation.  At least, I think it’s the final one.  It might just be that from here on out this blog just rehashes that one time we got on a plane and actually went somewhere.

After the Grand Canyon we drove northish and eastish to Las Vegas to visit my sister and her family.  Las Vegas is a  place where springtime actually feels and looks like springtime, which felt like a magic trick to those of us living under a perpetually gray sky.

We spent our mornings lazing about and spent our afternoons playing with my sister’s kids.  Kevin was on Leo duty mostly, so I played Uno with my niece, Shelby.  Then I took her swimming with the boys.  Afterwards, I read stories to her until she completely konked out.


Then when she went back home and my sister asked her what she did all day, what did she say? “I played with Uncle Kevin!”

It must be so easy to be an uncle.

Hopefully this is the first and last picture posted to the Internet of Shelby passed out in an inflatable on the floor of a Vegas hotel.


She wasn’t the only one of us to pass out in Vegas, though.


These guys are going to be a lot of fun in college.

Sharon told us a hilarious story of the time Shelby wanted to go potty on the basketball court at the park and ended up being football-carried out of the park by her dad while screaming, “I want to go potty in public!  I want to go potty in public!”

Minutes after hearing that story, we passed this sign in one of the hotels.


Which brings up a philosophical question: Does the whole “What happens in Vegas” rule apply to people who actually live there?

Anyway, our hotel gave us little reason to leave it—it came with its own movie theater, bowling alley, arcade, swimming pool, workout room, and also a spa just to remind us that we are on a family vacation with kids who want to go bowling so hahaha NOPE


The real reason I’m here today, though, is to toss you some pretty, shiny pictures of my almost-three-year-old niece and my littlest nephew.


Altogether now: “AWWWWWW.”

Why can’t vacation days be every day?

Vietnamese caramel pork
Steamed broccoli

Grand Canyon Part V of I Know, Right?!

I had been wanting to visit the Grand Canyon for years, but I always had young babies or was in the middle of a house remodel, and during that time every single friend of mine—I swear, every single one—went to the Grand Canyon for their own spring breaks.  I saw so many pictures of my friends standing in front of the Grand Canyon, it felt almost unreal to get a few of my own.




I am so glad that these pictures, these memories, these experiences, are now part of the fabric of my boys’ lives.  These pictures reflect some of moments they’ll look back on and say, “Oh, remember that time when…”  It’s kind of crazy how, as parents, we can actually make those moments happen, isn’t it?

After years of dreaming about this trip,  I was kind of worried we’d have a Steve Martin Grand Canyon experience where we finally make it there, take one glance, then ask, “Mkay…now what?”

But we didn’t.  We looked and wondered and wowed, then looked and wondered and wowed some more, and when it was finally time to leave, we talked about all the things we’d like to do the second time we come to the Grand Canyon.

The next National Park I’d like to visit is Yellowstone, so after we got back from vacation I fired up the ol’ Internet to start researching, but my mind kept drifting back to the Grand Canyon, and I gently closed the computer up. 

I just want to hold onto these Grand Canyon memories like you hold a baby for awhile—to strap them to my chest like a little newborn and look down at them whenever the weather is too gray or the service is too slow or the soccer games are too long.  I’m not ready to shove a bunch of new memories on top of them, so for now I will just sit here and see if I can squeeze one last blog post out of the trip and think of how, for one week, I got to see a part of the world that was so brand new to me it felt like being a child again, full of wonder.

The word “wonderful” has got to be one of the most misused words in our vocabulary.

Tuna melts
Easter petit fours

Grand Canyon Part 4 of Yes I’m Still Blogging About This

[Insert your own eloquent and spunky introduction here.  Then continue reading.]

We flew into Phoenix on a Wednesday, and since we were stuck in traffic, Renee said she’d hack into the ADOT to get all the lights changed to green for us.


WTF, Renee?  (She blamed it on the fact that she is not only legally blind, but she is color blind as well.  Some people are such whiners.)

We met up at Fuddruckers for burgers and shakes, then the light turned green and we were off to our next city.  Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.

The next day was sunny and 70.  We drove north to the Montezuma Castle, which we found out was not a castle at all but more like an ancient apartment complex.


It really should have been named the Montezuma Projects, and we kept pressing the lock button on our car keys, just to be sure.

We hopped back on the freeway and until we hit Sedona, where we dropped our bags then headed to Slide Rock State Park.  It was a little too cold for my boys to jump in, but they loved climbing around the rocks.


Rocco: Is this the Grand Canyon, Mom?


Me: If you have to ask if it’s the Grand Canyon then no, it’s not the Grand Canyon.



Vincenzo discovered two wet, abandoned socks that he pulled to higher ground.  Here he is, moments after the sock rescue.  Just an ordinary boy doing extraordinary things.  (The socks can be seen on a rock behind him, gazing with admiration upon the young hero.)


Rocco found the raging waters of Oak Creek to be…inspiring.


Fun fact: In the summers, sometimes Slide Rock Park has so many visitors it gets closed due to high bacterial levels!

Please note that Leo’s legs had stopped working in the following picture.


The next morning was 30 degrees and a little snowy.


My boys are either catching snowflakes in their mouths or eating an energy vortex.  In Sedona, it’s hard to tell.

Oak Creek ran behind the hotel, and my boys did what they always do when they are near water…


…they built a dam.  I swear, they must have been beavers in their past life.  They spent a whole hour trying to dam up this little piece of the river.  Zoom out to see how many fudgsicles the river gave about their little dam.


Rocco must have been feeling competitive because he saw Vincenzo’s wet socks from the previous day and raised him one pair of crusty men’s underwear.


That afternoon we took a Pink Jeep Tour through the red rocks of Sedona, and while Kevin looked like he had some regrets on the ride, the boys sat in the back saying, “WHEE!  WHEE!  WHEE!” all the way. 


Sadly, we didn’t capture a WHEE moment here, but I felt like the moment needed a picture.

We stopped at a lookout point to get a photo taken and to “water” the “his and hers juniper bushes.”


Our jeep driver, Mike, knew absolutely everything about everything we passed by.  Of course, it was hard for him to share this info with us because any time he started to drop some knowledge on us, Rocco would take over and give us his explanation of the landscape, then Vincenzo would interrupt to tell Rocco he doesn’t know snot about snot, then Leo would interrupt with some random rehash of the last video game he played.  Fortunately, Mike thought all this was hilarious.  And now we know that the reason the rocks are red is because the sun bakes them and Rocco I don’t think that’s true and one time in angry birds I got so many all with one explosion it was like BAM! BAM!  BAMBAMBAM!

So those were days .5, 1.5, and 2.5 of our trip. 

Pita pizzas

Grand Canyon Part 3 of I Don’t Know…maybe 20?

Okay, so we all had our fun reading about Vincenzo’s defining moment on our Grand Canyon/Vegas trip, so it’s only fair that I throw everyone else under the bus here, too.  We all had our moments on our vacation.

Leo, for example, frequently crumpled to the ground, saying his legs stopped working, and it would have been cute if he didn’t also say, “ENNNH!  ENNNNNH!” when we talked to him in this state.  He was such a pill we almost bought him this sweat suit, but the sarcasm level of buying this bordered on child abuse, so we decided against it.


Leo did his part to conserve water in the desert by skirting all opportunities to take a bath for the entire week.  By the seventh day, his hair was really more in the category of fur.


When I tried to pet brush this mess one day, it actually brushed me back.

Leo’s true defining moment came the day after Vincenzo’s, though, when he locked himself in the bathroom.


He wasn’t locked behind just one door but two doors in there, so we couldn’t even slip him a cyanide pill under the crack.  He was in too deep.  We called the maintenance guy, Kevin continued to try to talk Leo through the unlocking system, and I stood there helpfully taking pictures and thinking how I might caption them on a blog post.

Leo does love a good knock knock joke, so I’ll caption this one “Knock knock!”

The first of Rocco’s defining moment could not be captured in a picture.  If I had captured it, it would have been a three hour sound byte  of him talking nonstop to the sweet lady who had the great misfortune of sitting down next to him on the plane ride to Phoenix.  We kept trying to get him to stop, but the lady was very sweet and said she enjoyed sitting next to her chatty little companion, and thank goodness because “stop talking” is not something Rocco is programmed to do.

The best photo I captured of Rocco came on the evening he spent filling his swim shirt with air from the hot tub jets.


This photo should probably be included with all Epipens.  Does your child look like this?  If so, administer Epipen!


Picture caption: “Do you even lift?!”

Kevin’s defining moment came when he dropped us off in front of the Grand Canyon Visitor’s Center to join with Renee’s family, then he went to park.  There was no cell reception so we all waited for him…and waited…and waited…and two hours later finally decided we were just going to have to see the Grand Canyon without him.  Just at that moment he came around from the side of the building.  “Finally!” we said, “We can go see the Grand Canyon!”  He said, “What?  You haven’t seen it yet?”  Apparently he had been walking all over the trails, hogging the view all for himself while we waited in the visitor’s center for him.  Scumbag.

This picture’s caption is: “Hey Kev, will you take a selfie of us in front of the Grand Canyon?”


And my defining moment?  I guess it came during a rest stop in the Oak Creek Vista, when I found out that all my life, I’ve been doing it wrong.  (Or perhaps my defining moment came after the trip, when I actually opened Photoshop and edited a picture I took in a bathroom stall to post on my blog.)


Picture caption: “TIL.”

Chinese hot pot

Grand Canyon: Part Two of Some Amount

This past week of vacationing was so big, so full of memories and laughs and wonder, that the vacation itself made the Grand Canyon seem like a crack in the sidewalk.  I don’t know how I’m going to shrink it down to the size of a few blog posts, but lend me your foot; we’re going to try to cram this thing onto it.

Back in the dark ages, when brand new babies came complete with their own mommy blog handles, I met Renee of MommyBlogYay (the Yay is silent).  I loved everything about her, except that she was funnier than me.  I am a forgiving person, though, and thus we were still able to be friends.  Renee lives about 1,000 miles closer to the Grand Canyon than me, so last December I e-mailed her that our family was going to visit the Grand Canyon on April 1st, and wouldn’t it be awesome if her family wanted to join us?

She e-mailed that it would and that they did.  It felt like the best Christmas present ever.

We are both a little nerdy so we had fun referring to the upcoming trip as Grand Canfun and Grand Vanyon and variations thereof.  At one point, Renee even designed t-shirts for our trip but chickened out on getting them made up.


(Van Halen graphic for the VanAusdels, Beatles for the Betos.  Brilliant!)  Just knowing this design is out here on the Cloud forever now brings a smile to my heart.

Of course, we flew 1,100 miles to visit Renee and her family, we spent over 24 hours together, and we didn’t manage to take a single picture of ourselves together.

No worries, though—you guys have seen my mad Photoshop skillz before.


I see a picture like this, and I think the “Yay” shouldn’t be silent anymore.

Renee and I had a great time catching up, discussing everything from what the Jeopardy topics would have to be for us to have a chance (I’ll take Breakfast Foods for $500, Alex) to what is more amazing—the Grand Canyon or a jar of Goober, which includes both peanut butter and jelly (both made us say, “Woah!” but only one brought us nearly to tears).

Both our husbands are just oozing that cool dad vibe, but as you can see one is definitely oozing it more than the other.



Of course, neither of them is cool enough to hang with  this guy.


All these pictures really are is an excuse to show you some flat, washed out, tiny little 2×3 pictures of the world’s largest, deepest, most grandiose natural wonder, so I guess I’ll just let loose.





But you know what this spectacular view is really missing?  A bunch of people standing in front of it!





There we go.  Much improved.

Kalbi flank steak
Roasted potatoes