Phoning It In

Hey, just me here, listening to James and the Giant Peach for the inifinith time.  My brain has turned into treacle pudding and I haven’t had an original thought since the first day Leo learned where the “play” button is on the radio, with the constant drivel in the background, so I’m just going to throw some pictures your way.

Vincenzo’s play:


Leo watching Vincenzo’s play:


Rocco trying out our new sleeping bag:


The bouquet I ordered Kevin’s grandma for her birthday:


The bouquet that was delivered to Kevin’s grandma on her birthday:

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(Pro tip: avoid ProFlowers)

Leo, asking, “Do you know where I hid the superball?”


An activity Cal found incredibly hilarious:


Kevin and I sharing a drink that matched the classiness of the Spam sliders we were eating:


Grilled chicken sausage
Grilled potatoes
Corn on the cob
Marshmallow & chocolate chip cake pops

All Dahl’d Up

I ordered a box set of the Road Dahl books on CD, read by Roald Dahl himself, for our trip to the Grand Canyon.  Of course, once there we discovered our rental car had no CD player.  How very cute of me to just assume all cars have CD players, right next to the manual windshield wiper mechanism.

Not to worry, though, we have a bona fide ghetto blaster boombox dealie here at home for all our musical needs, and Leo listens to the CD’s over and over again throughout the day. 


Well, actually, he listens to one specific CD, James and the Giant Peach, over and over again, which means I listen to the James and the Giant Peach CD over and over again.  As soon as Leo wakes up, he stumbles out of his room, presses “play” on the CD and we hear again hear how James’ parents were eaten up by a rhinoceros, we hear his aunts calling him stupid little boy; we hear Roald Dahl and his British accent pronouncing “really” like “ruhlly” on every other page; we worry about how many more years this is going to add to our eight plus years speech therapy.  James and the Giant Peach plays in its entirety anywhere between three and five times a day in our house, and I ruhlly don’t think I can take much more of it.

I used to love this book.  It was one of my favorite read alouds when I was a teacher and then when I became a mom.  Unfortunately, listening to the same book 36 times in 9 days does not do any favors for one’s love of any book.  I have listened to these stories read by Roald Dahl so much that I’m no longer enchanted by the British accent.

Our other options from the CD set are the Magic Finger, where duck-humans and human-ducks shoot each other up; The Giant Crocodile where a crocodile spends the entire book trying to eat a child alive; Fantastic Mr. Fox, which left Leo running around the house yelling, “Dang and blast!” for a week; or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is not so bad if you can overlook the one-sidedness of the characters, the enslavement of the Oompa Loompas and the way it’s totally obvious that Willy Wonka not only knows that terrible fates are about to befall a group of children, but is actually looking forward to it.

I no longer enjoy the whimsy and wildness of Roald Dahl’s books, and it feels like my childhood is over.

If only there were some sort of wriggling magic beans that some odd little man could place in the palm of my hand and instruct me to swallow in order to bring the magic back…

Polenta with roasted kale and squash, browned butter, blue cheese, & fig balsamic
Breaded lemon shrimp
Chocolate cake pops

Mother’s Day

When Rocco woke up on Mother’s Day he walked straight into my bedroom and handed me my gift.  “Here’s your Mother’s Day present, Mom!”


After I finished making a big deal about my single m&m, he gestured to his brothers’ rooms at said, “It’s from all of us.”

I held the sticky m&m in my hand and knew the indeed, it was from all of them.  I was so touched.  But not nearly as touched as that m&m was.  It was very very touched.

Leo woke up a few minutes afterward and presented his gift to me.


As soon as I opened it, Rocco took over and started explaining every detail of the candle holder that Leo had made.

Then Vincenzo presented me with his Mother’s Day gift (banana for scale).


Compared to the single m&m, this was a mountain of treasure!

Compared to Vincenzo’s candy collection from whence it came, it suddenly didn’t seem like such a generous gift.


Once Leo saw what a big deal I made over the two chocolates Vincenzo gave me, he dug deep into his own candy bin and presented me with these.


These boys really know how to spoil a girl.  Next year I’m hoping for a couple gummy bears they dig out of their coat pockets, still warm.

All in all, it was a lovely day full of surprises and in the end the boys gave me the best gift of all: something to blog about.

Harissa marinated steaks
Roasted asparagus
Squash with brown sugar & cinnamon

Vincenzo’s Theatrical Debut

Vincenzo signed up for the school play this year.  He could have signed up last year but wasn’t interested until he saw pictures of the pizza party that happens after all is said and done, so he went and enlisted.

Vincenzo approaches acting much like he approaches sports.  He hangs in the back, not doing anything fancy; just doing his job and staying on task.  Then every once in awhile he does something surprisingly well that makes you think, Wow, that kid’s got potential!  And then he fades to the back again, quietly but adequately returning his job of supporting the star players.


He has been so excited about the play, and anyone who knows Vincenzo knows that excitement is something usually reserved for Christmas morning and video games.  He is my mellow, chill little dude.  But the play.  The play!  It ate up all of his video game time for six weeks straight and Vincenzo never even noticed.  He just woke up, thought about which day of the week it was, and if it was a play practice day gave a little, “Yippee!”

I loved waking him up today, the morning of the play’s opening night.  His eyes fluttered into focus and he whispered, almost to himself, “It’s the day of the play.”

His character, Pepperjack the Mouse, has 16 lines.  During one of the rehearsals, Vincenzo counted the lines in the play (783), did some math, and figured out that he has .02% of the lines.  This did not stop him from poring over the script for hours, filling it with notes to himself about inflection and blocking, and practicing his lines endlessly, hoping he would be able to convey to the audience in just 16 lines that his mouse is a country boy.  He is the true embodiment of the saying that there are no small parts, only small actors.

I had to laugh because Vincenzo is actually one of the physically smallest actors on stage, and he tends to stand behind the crowd so that all we see is his arms sticking out from behind someone else’s body, but oh, how we clapped for those arms.

(I’ve labeled some of my favorite arm shots of his in the following pictures.)


His face almost got in the last picture.  That was a close call.

I wrote Vincenzo a card telling him that we have been proud of him since the very first time we held him, and today we are even prouder than ever.

Then I told him, as I helped him get in costume, that when I held Baby Vincenzo in my arms and imagined our future together, I have to admit I never imagined applying a thick layer of eyeliner to his beautiful blue eyes.*

Tonight, after the play, I gave him a beautifully wrapped gift that happened to be a piece of stinky cheese because it seemed more practical than flowers and was more suitable for a mouse.

He knew exactly what it meant.

It meant that I love him to that giant cheeseball in the sky…and back.

We are all over the map for this one, each of us eating at different times, locations, and states of being

*For the fact checkers: his eyes started out blue.  They’re green now.

Funnies 5.17

1.  Leo, looking at tulips in the yard: It’s so funny that they named these two-lips!
Leo, later looking at rhododendrons in the yard: They should have named these ones three-lips!

2. I texted this actual picture of Leo to my mom the other day, saying, “Leo just got stung by a bee.  Do you think I should take him to the doctor?”


(It’s grapes in his cheeks and sun in his eyes.) 

(My mom no longer falls for my antics.)

3. Rocco: What are the golden years?
Me: It’s when you’re older and you’ve stopped working and are just enjoying life.
Rocco: I know how you can have more golden years. 
Me: How’s that?
Rocco: Just never get a job, and then it can always be the golden years!

4. We visited Kevin’s new office building.  Is it just me or does it look like Leo wants to sell you drugs?


5. I was giving Kevin instructions on how to make dinner, help the kids with homework, and get them ready for bed since I was heading out.  I looked over to see if he was following.


I just don’t feel like he listens to me anymore.

6. Driving the carpool home from Vincenzo’s play practice, I was explaining the order in which we’d drop off the boys:

Me: …and we’ll drop Tucker off last.  I always save the best for last.
Tucker: That’s me, I’m the best!
Me: Actually, Vincenzo is technically the last, so I guess he’s the best.
Alex: Oh, that’s what parents always say.
Me: What, that their kid is the best?
Alex: No, that Vincenzo is the best.

Spaghetti & meatballs
French bread
Kale, cherry, and pepita salad
Ice cream

(Thanks for cooking it, Mom, and sorry I didn’t leave you a ruler to measure the 2” of water in the pot.)


Wednesdays used to be my crazy-busy, run-myself-into-the ground days that I had to mentally prepare for.  Now Wednesdays are my calm, relaxing days that I look forward to.  Ironically, the Wednesday schedule didn’t change in the least; it’s just that all the other days did, and we are all being whipped around by the seat of our pants from hour to hour.

Take last Thursday, when Kevin got home from work long enough to put on a pair of shin guards, then was off to soccer to coach Rocco’s team, then I drove Leo to the soccer fields to watch his brothers and distribute our Tupperware dinner, then V showed up at soccer via carpool and Kevin switched fields to coach Vincenzo’s team while I entertained and fed the other two boys on the sidelines, and then I got a text asking if Kevin was going to be at the PTSA meeting that was taking place right now, thirty minutes away, and then we all went home and spent an hour doing homework, eating second dinner, doing laundry, getting ready for bed, and going to bed way too late.

Or like Friday, when the boys were home from school long enough to have a few saltines, then we were off to swim lessons, then I drove Rocco to a birthday party, then we met up with Kevin at Taco Time for a quick dinner, then I was off to Fred Meyer to stock up on groceries since Friday at 8PM was the first free hour I had had all week to do such a luxurious thing as buy groceries, then we all got home through various means and went to bed at various too-late hours.

We are not the busiest family out there.  I actually am very careful to not overschedule the boys—just one sport per season, and we keep telling Leo he’s not old enough yet.*  Plus, my kids just play rec sports.  We’re not even in the world of weekend tournaments and skills clinics and extra practices.  Yet somehow the events and commitments creep up on us and there we are, eating soggy sub sandwiches in the rain on the soccer field again and waking up after a full night of sleep saying, “I’m soooooooo tired.”

But happy.  My boys are happy, and I know that as crazy busy as these days are, they are the ones I will really miss some day.  I’ll miss playing Uno on our bucket** at soccer; I’ll miss Leo sneaking a snuggle in at Taco Time because he’s learned to take what he can get, when and where he can get it; I’ll miss the BOOYAH feeling I get from sending my kids out the door with all the gear, the snacks, and the bus passes and instructions they need for the day; I’ll miss the looks Kevin and I give each other in passing that say this is ridiculous; I’ll even miss the loads of muddy clothes thrown into the washing machine each evening, miraculously turned into mounds of clean and laundered clothes.

Still, wouldn’t it be nice if someone could come redo the whole time-space continuum so that we could spread these days out?  So that now and then I could reach back and pull up a newlywed day, when we were sitting around wondering what we should do for the weekend?  (When is the last time we ever had the luxury of asking that?!)  Or I might reach forward and pull back a day when we’re sitting in our rocking chairs, watching the busy young’uns working so hard while we cradle grandbabies on our laps.  I just feel life might be a little bit easier to swallow if it weren’t all so bunched up in places like it is now.

I know I could do things differently.  I could farm the boys out and not go to the soccer practices but instead stay home and fold that beautifully clean pile of laundry.  It’s just that this is my one time of life to experience this part of my boys’ childhoods, and I don’t want to miss any of it.  Plus, if I set up carpools and stayed at home instead, my family would very rarely be all together, and I am happiest when we are all together.

Like my boys, I love it all. I just sometimes wish there were a little less of it to love.

Torta rustica
Roasted asparagus
Steamed broccoli
Killer brownies

*I don’t count swimming as a sport; we take lessons as a safety measure since we spend so much of our summer at lakes and pools

**My SIL introduced me to the giant frosting buckets that larger supermarkets will give you for free.  I pack one full of activity books, board games, snacks, hand warmers, etc. and carry it to soccer practices.  The boys who are just waiting for brother’s practice to end pick out their games or activities and we use the tub as a table to play them on.  It’s a brilliant system, and I am forever grateful to my SIL for showing me the way!