Gone Camping

My sisters and I took our boys camping this weekend.  The car was so packed I had to throw out any dead weight, and that included Kevin who, in true computer nerd fashion, is allergic to everything outdoors and who doesn’t understand why people go camping in an era when houses have been invented.  So he stayed home and, I assume, sat near one of the vents in the house staring at a wall until we all came home.

Still, I tried to make it seem like Kevin was camping with us by making comments he would have made if he were there.  He likes to pick on Jnet because she’s a vegetarian, so when we were all eating hot dogs around the campfire and Jnet instead was eating a cucumber and hummus bun, I offered to pick her some grass to go along with it.  And when I went to put away the tofu dogs she had brought I asked if it was okay to put them in the same bag as the real hot dogs.  She said it was and I said, “Okay.  I thought you might be worried the tofu dogs would touch the real hot dogs and accidentally pick up some flavor.”  And when Jnet was assembling a plate of food on the ground and my other sister, Michelle, said, “What are you doing down on the ground?!” I explained that this is just how vegetarians eat—they graze like that.

Kevin can be so insensitive, can’t he?

We camped on Bainbridge Island and the boys spent 80% of their waking hours on the beach.  They made a shop and started up some kind of a bartering system and basically played “Economics” all weekend.

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Not to brag, but this was my contribution to the store.  It’s called the Rainbow Collection.  You probably can’t afford it.

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Aunt Shel bought the boys all their own planes to decorate, complete with stickers and all.

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As you can see, not all the boys are equally gifted in following directions.

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The kids logged enough hours flying these planes to earn at least a temporary pilot’s license!

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I don’t know how to explain the goggles, so just go with it.  Many of our campfire stories ended with a goggle-clad ghost coming back to haunt the Fay Bainbridge State Campground, though.

The weekend was chock full of laughs and memories, blue heron watching, dead batteries, tent swapping, tire swinging, last minutes sprints to the ferry, injured feet, song singing, eagle sightings, ranger talks, instant coffee, S’mores eating, and splurging on fifty-cent, three-minute showers.

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All in all, we had a wheelie good time.  Ba-dum-bum.

But as wonderful as it was to spend a weekend adventuring, nothing beats the feeling of coming home.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Tequila lime flank steak
Pasta carbonara
Roasted asparagus with balsamic and lemon
Millionaire’s bars

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Someone’s Eight

Spoiler alert: it’s Rocco! 

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It’s hard to shrink Rocco back down to a baby in my mind because he never really wanted to be a baby.  He wanted to build and create, to make and do, and he just wasn’t into all the regular baby stuff.  He was more into studying the fan spinning on the ceiling than playing pat-a-cake with me.  I remember him playing with trains before he could walk and getting so frustrated because his little baby body couldn’t make the trains do what his brain had in mind for them. 

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  Baby Rocco had places to go.

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Now Rocco is bigger and finally his body has caught up with that gigantic brain of his, and he is often seen with a screwdriver or a pile of blocks or a shovel in his hands, building the latest thing he dreamt up. 

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Yesterday I went out to lunch with some friends and when I came back, he had built this.

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Rocco already understands how the world works in ways I’ll never be able to.  On his birthday he wanted to go to the Ballard Locks to watch the ships come through.  Afterwards we hit up the visitor’s center, where we tried to make the model of the locks work but it was broken.  A couple other adults tried and came to the same conclusion.  Five minutes later, Rocco came up to me saying, “I fixed it, Mom.”  Because of course he had.

That same persistence and Rocco’s There’s-Got-To-Be-Another-Way mentality works so beautifully for him in engineering situations but it gets him in trouble at other times.  I tell him to put on his swim clothes and get in the car.  He says he’ll just wear these clothes because he doesn’t plan to get wet.  I tell him to was his face before bed and he tells me he’ll just wash the one area that is dirty.  I tell him to brush his teeth because his morning breath is hard to be around and he says, “I’ll just move over here instead.”  I say what I say to him 100 times a day: Follow directions.  But unless you’re a robot waiting to be built, following directions isn’t really his thing.

He’s loved math and numbers for a long time.  There was a period in his life when all he wanted was for me to count to 100 out loud over and over again, so I never wondered whether or not he’d love math.  What’s new this year is how often I find him like this:

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He read the first Harry Potter last year, then skipped to the fifth.  He explained that he wanted to read the fifth because looked like a bigger challenge.  In case you need a visual on that, the fifth book is the one on top:

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In case you didn’t know, Rocco knows all the answers to everything.  Sometimes it might seem he doesn’t know something, like why an owl’s ears are asymmetrical, so you explain it to him and then he says, “I was just going to say that!” 

Okay, so maybe he doesn’t know all the answers, but he definitely thinks he does.  He at least has all the confidence.

Rocco will steal the blanket off your bed and when you ask for it back, he will try to convince you it was his blanket to begin with.  He’ll come out of his bedroom wearing a pink shirt, green shorts, fluorescent yellow socks, and teal shoes and you tell him his clothes don’t look good together.  He’ll launch into a courtroom worthy speech about why they do.

I never knew how much persistence can look like stubbornness until I had Rocco.

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Rocco’s generosity is endless.  If a friend lays eyes on his candy collection he’ll offer them anything he wants.  Then he’ll ask Vincenzo if he wants anything and he’ll dig up a bag of banana Runts and bring them to me because he knows they’re my favorite.  Then Leo will ask if he can have a piece and Rocco says, “No.  Eat your own candy.”

Okay, so maybe his generosity isn’t completely endless; there’s the Leo Clause.  The two are still working some things out, but I have hope.

Before we had kids I always imagined we’d have a kid with my ambition and Kevin’s engineering brain, a kid who could dream big and then make that dream happen.  Rocco is that kid.  I just never imagined how challenging it would sometimes be to raise a kid like this.  Rocco is a kid whose brain is bursting with thoughts and ideas that he feels compelled to act on, he doesn’t take no for an answer, and he will never admit he was wrong; he just was seeing if we knew the answer. 

But also, I also never knew how utterly amazing it would be to raise a kid like this. 

Rocco makes me proud.  He makes me frustrated, amazed, and exasperated.  But mostly, usually, almost all the time he makes me proud and in awe of all that he is and all that he does.

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Oh Baby Rocco, the places you’ll go.

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The places you’ll go.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:  
Harissa marinated top sirloin
Ricotta gnocchi
Roasted wax beans with peanuts and cilantro 
Vanilla cake

Summer Check-In

It’s mid summer and I am equal parts blissed out and worn out.  It never goes quite like I imagined it; there are not long afternoons where we sit around looking at each other, swinging lazily in the hammocks and wondering what to do.  There are fewer sleepovers and no spontaneous road trips because our schedule is like one of those toy baby bottles that just seems to fill itself up when you shake it a bit, you have no idea how.

Here’s the condensed version of the past few weeks, which feel like they’ve gone by as quickly as this blog post.  Together and/or collectively, the family has…

Visited the oddest looking puffins ever:

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Dug fancy holes:

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Got this guy glasses:

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Told this guy no.

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Almost ate this little pet my sister sent over in a head of lettuce:

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Had one day with five minutes of down time:

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Wallowed in the ocean:

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Wallowed in the sand:

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Wallowed in a gravel lot:

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Bought a floppy hat:

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Killed the ZomBoss:

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Killed the ZomBoss some more:

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Found Waldo:

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Forgot to shower:

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Invented a cookie recipe:

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Wrote down said cookie recipe, you’re welcome:

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Got wet:

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Got arrested:

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Perfected our poolside look:

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Went on a hike:

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Didn’t fall:

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And climbed anything that would stand still long enough for us to climb it:

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How can I tell summer I don’t ever want it to end when I know it’s summer that has ground me down to a little nub?

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Grilled fish tacos
Black beans
Rice
Lemon asparagus
Nanaimo ice cream bars

14th Anniversary

Today is our 14th wedding anniversary.  I think the 14th one is bee themed because today this showed up out of the blue:

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It’s times like this that I am more thankful than ever that I am still married.  As much as I’m for gender equality, spraying the hornet’s nest is definitely a man’s job.

We’re not all that bad off, though—we did spend the weekend celebrating. This year, instead of having someone come watch the kids while we went out, we sent the kids away so we could stay at home and do nothing.  It’s been an exhausting 14 years and frankly, we’re worn out.

For a weekend staying of at home doing nothing, though, we weren’t home very much.  We spend Friday doing something for Kevin and Saturday doing something for me.  Kevin’s choice:

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Shopping, eating, and drinking.

My choice:

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Hiking.

Some girl took that picture of us and spent awhile getting into just the right position to get it right.  I complimented her skillz and she shrugged and said, “It’s the younger generation—we know how to take Selfies.”

So maybe this anniversary is the Snarky Millenials anniversary.

Also, this just in:

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Who knew??!

Oh wow.  I just looked up what the 14th anniversary gift actually is, and you’ll never guess.  It’s ivory. 

Does anyone know when elephant hunting season begins?

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Orange-tamarind chicken
Brown rice
Edamame
The Cooke a la mode

Mah Boys

Summer brain drain in full effect.  Whole sentences hard.  Only pretty pictures today.

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Happy boys.  Happy me.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Kalbi flank steak
Purple potatoes with caramelized onions, and shiitake mushrooms
Buttered green beans
Cherry charlottes

First Week of Summer

One week in, and school feels like an eternity ago.  All the bigness of Vincenzo’s promotion and Leo finishing preschool seem like a tiny blip on life’s radar.  Here are some highlights from our first week:

We kicked off summer with a weekend at the beach with McStreamy & Co. 

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We almost got chased off the beach by this four-armed sea monster with backwards legs and a foot coming out of its butt.

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The things the tide can wash up!  The boys ran around the beach, picking up any creatures they dared to pick up and trying to find sink holes.

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After a whole day of that, the boys decided they needed a nap.

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Just kidding!  Nap time actually looked like this:

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Kidding again.  Naptime was just a mythical concept for us that weekend.

On the way home from the beach we stopped at another beach. 

Me: Leo, take your hand away from your mouth so I can get a good picture of you.

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Leo:

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But I always win, so here’s an actual good picture of Leo.

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Later in the week we hit up the terracotta warriors at the PSC.

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They got photobombed by that  terracotta warrior behind them.  He totally stole the spotlight, too.

While at the PSC the boys and their auntie spent a lot of time and energy on the exercise bike where you pedal until you have burned off all the calories in a soda.  That made the kids thirsty, so we went to the cafe.

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Something tells me he missed the point.

This week Rocco also completed his entire library reading chart

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Then he made a new one with his own prizes listed and had me photocopy it, just in case.

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In between all that there were hot dog roasts, swim lessons, Farmer’s Market, dinner on the beach, sleepovers, jam-making, video game playing, play dates, a whole day spent at the beach, card games, a trip to the zoo, doctor’s appointments, speech therapy, and a ton of other things that aren’t even on the summer list, which is hard to believe when you see my summer list.

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And my other summer list.

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And my third summer list.

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We might just have to take next year off of school.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Crab cakes
Prawns & bay shrimp
Pasta salad with tomatoes, cukes, and perline mozzarella
Greek rice with Feta
Fresh fruit