Harvest Time

So you know how Kevin donated bone marrow several years back?  I always knew my husband was very easy to get along with, and it’s true right to the middle of his bones—he has been the match for not one, not two, not three, but four people in need so far.  The first one he donated via PBSC; the second and third did not opt for a transplant in the end; the fourth did—or more accurately is, and Kevin is scheduled to donate in October.

The brochure mentions that just because you are on the donor list doesn’t mean you have to donate.  Of course, it casually explains, the person in need will die if you don’t.  The recipient this time is a 13-year-old boy, so…

Because the patient is a child this time, Kevin can’t do the PBSC procedure; he’s got to do the ol’ “crack your hip open” way.  It’s not really like that; they just stick a needle into his hip, but he likes to say they’re going to crack his hip open.  Actually, after looking at the picture he prefers to say they’re going to stick a needle into his “upper butt” area.  I think he is the reason the donors are kept anonymous.

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I read that if Kevin doesn’t get put under general anesthesia for the procedure, he’ll get a spinal or an epidural.  I helpfully offered to lend him my hypnobabies CD’s instead, in case he wants to try without an epidural for a more natural, drug-free bone marrow extraction experience.

All joking aside, I am in awe of my husband, who has donated over 5 gallons of blood in his life; who was in quite a lot of pain the first time he donated bone marrow; who donated plasma last year and got so sick I almost took him to urgent care; who didn’t hesitate to say yes again to discomfort, pain, and the unknown in order to save another life.

Also, he wants to be called Captain Awesome on my blog from now on, and even though it will cause me my own discomfort and pain to do so, I’m going to say he earned it.  Captain Awesome, thanks for being so damn compatible.

And now I invite you to all reread the title of this post and appreciate its ingenuity.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Spaghetti & meatballs
Fruits & vegetables
Blackberry pie with the burned parts of the crust picked off in disgust

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Times Are A-Changin’

The boys start school in two weeks and I alternate between being super excited for everything I’ll finally be able to do and being terrified that I’ll be completely at a loss as to what to do.  I alternate between these two gripping emotions 100 times a day—100 times an hour—and it’s exhausting! 

As always, I have a list.  A gigantic list that grows and swells and molts out of its old skin into new, bigger skin every couple of days.  It includes everything from the fun (reading a whole book!) to the painful (laser hair removal) to the mundane (vacuuming the car) to the ridiculous (training for an Olympic sport—any Olympic sport!).  There are dozens of other things on the list, and that just covers the first week the kids are back.

Everyone tells me it’s not as much time as I think it’s going to be.  The time will fly by.  I won’t know where it’s gone.  Funny, that’s the same thing they said when I had babies.  I hate that they were right.

On top of my fun list are all the regular daily activities of cooking big, managing the kids’ schedules, volunteering in classrooms, cleaning house, gardening, exercising, PTSA commitments, planning vacations, blogging, etc.

With all these plans and ideas, with all these lists, I am nothing if not prepared for the start of school.  I feel like I’m all geared up for a hike, I’ve got my hiking boots on, got my topographic map in my hand, I’m strapped up to my giant backpack—and I’m just standing here by the door for a hike that starts in two weeks.  I don’t want to miss any of these last days of summer with my boys by looking too far ahead, but I don’t want what’s ahead to catch me unprepared.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Fridge scraps

The Return of the Children

The children returned to us.  It went like this: Rocco talked nonstop on the hour and a half drive back from camp, telling us everything from how many times they served sausage at breakfast (twice!)  (actually three times but one time the sausage was spicy so he only took one bite of one piece that day!) to which kid was most guilty of peeing on the floor right next to the toilet instead of in the toilet (it wasn’t him!) (he might have had just one drop, or like, two drops miss, but not a whole lot like that other kid did!).

Rocco was very excited about his purchases from the gift shop.  He told us he bought a “flesh bag,” which worried me and Kevin.  We cast each other a look that said Should we be sending our child to a camp that sells bags made out of flesh?  But fortunately…

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Mesh bag.  He meant mesh.

That evening we got Vincenzo back and the boy barely had enough energy left to open his mouth to speak.  It was an act of cruelty that we made him stay up long enough to eat dinner.  I was genuinely concerned because I had sent off a goofy, bouncy boy to camp and gotten back a sullen, surly pre-teen.  He’s never done well when he’s short on sleep, and V was really hurting.  Fortunately we administered a strong dose of video games the next day and he bounced right back to himself.

Rocco’s funny how he tells stories.  He mentioned early on in the drive that once he did well in a game of gaga ball.  Later, he mentioned that there were 30 kids playing that time.  Still later, he said he won that one round of gaga ball.  And later, this came out:

Rocco: They gave me a nickname after that round I won.
Us: Oh?  What nickname was that?  Rocco: Jesus.
Us: They called you Jesus?!
Rocco:  Yep.  Jesus or sometimes Baby Jesus.

Baby Effing Jesus. 

Then he added that his best friend wanted everyone to call him Lord Savage.  You know—Jesus and his best friend, Lord Savage.   I just wish I were creative enough to make some of this stuff up myself.

Vincenzo’s letter you saw already; you might have noticed his mention of how they put doors on the cabins this year, and my mom pointed out that he is probably the reason all the doors got put on cabins this year.  (Last year Vincenzo sleep walked out of the cabin in the middle of the night.  Fortunately his cabin counselor woke up and followed him out and had a very confusing time trying to understand Vincenzo’s garbled sleep talking.)  As for sending him more money, I tried my best to get more money put in his account but it was too late.  I felt badly for my little guy, who didn’t spend a penny from his account last year and probably wanted a sweatshirt or something just a couple dollars over his limit.  This is a boy who never asks for anything, so I e-mailed back and forth with the camp director until we had a plan to get V the sweatshirt once he got back home.

Turns out he just needed $1.50 so he could buy a bottle of Gatorade for the ride home because he had blown all the rest of his money on caramel ice cream.

I have to admit, Kevin and I were kind of nervous to get our boys back after a week of raising one single, solitary kitty cat child.  Heading to meet the boys felt like we were going to the hospital to be handed a set of brand new twin babies.

Within minutes of having them all back, they had done all the things that drive us crazy.  Rocco and Leo got into it with each other, Vincenzo kept dropping knowledge all over Rocco, Rocco told Vincenzo he already knew that, Rocco and Vincenzo got into it, I yelled, “STOP THIS CONVERSATION!” Rocco had a last word, Kevin yelled at Rocco, Leo started tattling that Vincenzo was playing games on his phone, I confiscated said phone.

And then Kevin and I looked at each other and just cracked up.  We all played our parts perfectly we deserved a standing ovation.  We’re just so good at being Us.

Now I’m here typing after hours* and the house has that happy cat feeling it gets when all its bedrooms are filled with sleeping boys.  The quietness once more feels like a gift instead of an abnormality.  And me–I feel like a first time mom again, scared about what tomorrow might bring but also so excited, so full of anticipation, to see what my boys are going to do next.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Steak salad with tomatoes, strawberries, & blue cheese
Leftovers

*Wrote this post last night.  Today I was too busy surviving the apocalypse to blog

Maternity Shoot @ Beach

I got to take some maternity pictures of a friend-of-a-friend the other week and thought I’d share them all with you.  I think we could all use some beauty in our lives lately.  We’ll call her “Lady P” in this post, and first up is a picture that just might bring about world peace all on its own.

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Can we all breathe a collective sigh?

I clearly had some amazing material to work with. 

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We had such a lovely photo session with plenty of laughs and a shared excitement about this joy that is about to be born into Lady P’s world—into our world–and the pictures just say it all, so I’m going to sign off here and let the photos do the rest.

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Stay tuned…newborn photos coming up soon!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Filet mignon with blue cheese butter
Corn on the cob
Roasted asparagus
Hasselhoff potatoes
Peach cobbler with whipped cream

Thanks, Mr. Postman

Hey everybody!  I got a letter from Vincenzo at camp!  My first ever letter written to me by one of my sons!  I will keep this day forever stamped on my heart!

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Oh, okay.  So he wants money.  The first ever letter my son writes to me, and he asks for money.

I am never going to let him live this down.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Red curry with yams and chickpeas
Rice
Roasted yellow beans

2 Down, 1 To Go

I shipped two of my kids off to camp on the weekend.  Vincenzo left at 5AM, leaving my in bed trying to sleep, then remembering, FLOSS!  WE DIDN’T PACK FLOSS!  And, SOCKS?  DID HE PACK ANY OF THOSE AT ALL?  And, FLOSS!  I SENT MY CHILD OFF WITHOUT ANY FLOSS!

Rocco left with a friend on Sunday morning and after he drove away I turned to Kevin and said with a sniff, “There goes Rocco, off to college.”  That’s what it felt like, him driving away all smiles and excitement, me and Kevin standing on the front porch with our empty house behind us.

Oh, right.  Leo. 

So the house wasn’t entirely empty, but going from three kids down to two feels like trading in all your children for one sweet little kitty cat—especially when the one remaining child thinks he is a kitty cat.

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It’s been a long time since we’ve had just one child to care for, and I had forgotten how easy parenting used to be.  Look at the stats since Sunday:

Fights I have broken up: 0
Tattles I have listened to: 0
Brother-inflicted injuries I have patched up: 0
Sports practices driven to: 0
Questions I have answered 3 times in a row because only one child is capable of hearing me at a time: 0
Times I have yelled, “JUST STOP IT!”:  0
Load of laundry I have done: 1.  Just one!!  In three days!

Yesterday we went to Costco and we only had to listen to one child whine about it.  Last night at dinner, we could actually hear ourselves chewing! This morning I sat down and ate breakfast with Leo.  When’s the last time I sat down to do anything?  (Bathroom matters excluded.)

I’ve given no reminders!  Usually our day is full of reminders and reminders about the reminders and reminders about those reminders too, as the older two boys constantly fall into book traps.  Leo isn’t reading yet, and I’m thinking we should just keep it that way as long as possible because once the boys start reading they seem to lose their hearing and I lose my mind.

I don’t want to sound heartless.  Of course of course, I miss V and R.  I miss V’s sweet and silly smile; I miss seeing Rocco building his empire of robots that will one day rule the world.  I miss the perfect moments when all three boys are playing together like the best friends they sometimes are, and I miss the laughter times three when we watch a movie together.  I miss having a crowd to cook for, I miss us all packed into my bed for nighttime read aloud, and I miss the brilliant ideas that three little boys’ minds working together come up with in a day.

But oh man, did I need a break from all that.  It can be exhausting living amongst  such brilliance, especially when the brilliance does not apply to cleaning up, personal hygiene, self sufficiency, and solving problems in a logical, peaceful manner.  

I am going to spend the rest of this week taking full, complete breaths and petting the kitty cat.

Then, when the boys return on Sunday, I will give them a hug the size of a week and tell them how glad I am they are back. 

And by then, I’ll really mean it.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Pita pizzas
Roasted wax beans

MrsMouthy’s Quality Childcare

Sometimes McStreamy leaves her kid with us for the day.  We love these days—we call them Double Leo days because we named our kid after her kid.  That’s how much we like them.

Anyway, I just wanted to show of the kind of high quality childcare the McStreamies gets at Mrs. Mouthy’s Quality Childcare.

Yesterday the boys made weapons and armor out of our garbage.*

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Then they wanted helmets, and you know what?  I’d like to see you try to make a helmet out of a gigantic piece of black construction paper.

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Some of the kids wanted the same helmet made in white, but we told them no.  That’s the kind of thought that puts the word “quality” into Mrs. Mouthy’s Quality Day Care.

Next we went outside to pick blackberries, and when our buckets were full I had to pick just one more clump, and that clump happened to be the front door of a wasp’s nest, and these wasps were not asking any questions.  An army of them came zinging out of the bushes and launched an attack on my stomach, causing me to throw my bucket of blackberries into the air and yell “RUN!”  The boys just stood there, so I yelled, “RUN!  RUN!  RUN!” until they got the message. 

The kids in my care get such great physical exercise!

Once I deemed it was safe and there was no cartoon-sized bee swarm chasing us down, I apologized to the boys for what I was about to do next and then whipped my shirt off to make sure no more wasps were on me. 

Let’s call that moment a lesson in health ed.

(If this blog were about me and not about my fine quality childcare services, I’d mention that this was not my first  whacking-myself, shirt-removal, crazy-dance bee sting of the day.  I’d mention that there was another wasp that got me in the morning, so I thought I was cleared for the rest of the day.)

(Seven stings.  SEVEN stings, plus some weird looking spots that are maybe hives, maybe cluster stings, if that’s a thing.  Probably cluster stings.)

On the way back in we stopped at the vegetable garden to pick cucumbers (banana for scale). 

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Let’s call this lesson a continuation of health ed.

Back inside, Mr. Mouthy had gotten home and wanted to try out a juicer attachment he got for the Kitchenaid mixer.  We loaded up the blackberries, and voila!  Juice came out one end and as a bonus, blackberry turds came out the other end.  Mr. Mouthy then taught the boys the expression “pinch a loaf,” and got the boys chanting, “Pinch!  Pinch!  Pinch” as they watched the turds fall. 

The vocabulary enrichment at Mrs. Mouthy’s Quality Childcare, guys!  It’s insane!

Well, as they say, you get what you pay for and Mrs. Mouthy’s Quality Childcare costs absolutely nothing.  And they say nothing in life is free!

And now, for my Amelia Bedelia lemon meringue pie moment of the day where something actually went right, please see what’s cookin’ 2nite.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Beef satay with peanut dipping sauce
Brown rice
Sauteed squash with parmesan
Fresh bread
Blackberry spritzers

*For anyone who is stalking me and who knows that 2 of my boys are away at camp this week, I somehow ended up with up to 5 boys at my house today anyway.  I loved it!