Update on Me

This is a very depressing sounding post, so if you were looking for laughs today, sorry.  Instead you get to hear a SAHM who has everything she could dream of complain about how crappy it all is.  Today I am going to write about writing.

I wrote a ton from October to Christmas, and I was feeling like the Michael Jordan of picture books there for awhile, but then I lost my mojo and now I’m feeling like a firework that almost but never quite went off.  It’s been a mentally and emotionally exhausting few months, trying to write.  I wrote about 2 dozen picture books and almost all of a rough draft novel.  I hate the novel.  I like some of my picture books.  So I guess it wasn’t a total bust, but I have been depressed the past couple weeks, and I don’t want to blame writing but it’s hard not to.  I could blame the rain that just won’t go away; could blame January; could blame Christmas for walking out on our family; could blame my borderline manic-depressive personality.  I don’t know why I feel like crying all the time, but I know I’ve been here many times before in life and because of that I also know it won’t last forever.  Still, it’s impossible to see the other side of things from this side of the wall.  So I’m just sitting here, waiting for enough rain to fall that eventually I can swim over the wall to whatever is on the other side.  It’s probably just going to be a lot more rain, though.  That’s what it feels like when you’re here.

My boys, of course, are my bright spot in every day.  They heard me tell my mom that I quit writing last weekend, and their little faces were so sad.  They said, “But we love your stories!”  They started giving me idea for new stories, like the family that only wanted to eat fro-yo, and the family who wanted to play video games but their controllers were all out of batteries.  So I sat down with them and we wrote their stories and read them and laughed, and then I buried the stories in a folder deep, deep in my computer and sat on the couch, looking at the rain outside.

I snapped at Rocco and Leo the other day (I do that when I’m down) and sent him to their rooms, and instead they went to the same room and worked together to make me a Lego toast holder as an apology.  I heard Rocco tell Leo, “I just need you to find 105 of this kind of piece,” and I heard Leo readily agree.)

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I am a car that ran out of gas, and they are the crew that showed up to push me to the side of the road and make me a piece of toast.

Wow, this is depressing.  And this is why I can’t write now.  It’s like if Eeyore tried to write books.  So I’m just going to wait here on the side of the road until something changes and I can get back on the road.

Until then…

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Pork medallions in cream sauce with apples
Salad with pecans, apples, craisins, gorgonzola
Pudding cake

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Leo’s Birthday List

I now present to you, without further ado, Leo’s birthday wish list.

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Now, of course, we have honed in specifically on his request for a “TrophY!”  We are 100% going to get him one so that we can spend the rest of our lives making fun of him for the time asked for a trophy for his birthday.  The best part of all this is that we get to decide what the trophy is for.  Here are our top choices for what to have engraved on the trophy:

1.  Lifetime Achievement in Breathing

2. Beto of the Year
(Bonus: regiftable!)

3. Best Angry Face
(He would make the BIGGEST angry face for this)

4. Leo’s Big-Ass Trophy

5. YOLO!

As we have not decided anything yet, please feel free to leave your own suggestion in the comments section.  It’s too good an opportunity to pass up.

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(In case you were wondering about the last thing on his list, it’s “Easter decorations for Mom!”  He knows I love decorating for the holidays, so he asked me what holiday I don’t have many decorations for and added it to the list.)

(The "Jewelry!” is for him, though.)

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Pesto meatball cannelloni
Green beans with garlic, cilantro, and cashews
Great Harvest bread
Lemon meringue pie

Mountain Men (and One Girl)

Last weekend we banded together with three other families for a weekend in the mountains, for a crew totaling 8 adults, 11 boys, and 1 girl. 

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Before you get too worried about the lone girl, though, you should know that the gender lines were at time a bit blurry.  Several of the boys had longer hair than the girl, plus there were these two:

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(Leo in his pink snow pants)

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(Vincenzo in his hat with braids, reading about chocolate facials)

It was not a weekend for anyone watching their carbs.

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After a few rough calculations, we estimated everyone needed to eat 1-1/2 loaves of bread over the course of two days.

Other calculations we did included how many boys and/or pandas can fit on a single sled.

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The numbers were crunched again and again.

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Which resulted in the crunching of some sleds as well.

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There were hopeful beginnings…

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and there were some disastrous ends.

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The indoorsy types were in board game heaven all weekend.

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As were the Vikings fans.

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Over the weekend, bruises were earned, blood was shed, bread was eaten, board games were beaten, but not once did the boys get in a fight that we needed to break up.  They were actually quite sweet, playing and taking care of each other.  Sweet but loud crazy and energetic and sometimes bloody.

Here’s the whole lot of us, minus the photographer.  (What a sucker!)

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But if I had to pick one picture to summarize our weekend with 8 adults, 11 boys, and one girl, it would have to be this one.

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I think we all need a vacation!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Tilapia with citrus bagna cauda
Cumin black beans
Lemony green beans
Lemon meringue pie

Scrappin’

Hey everybody!  I just finished my scrapbook for last year and while I am too shy to put it in your hands if you walk through my front door, I am not too shy to shove it in your face here, on my blog.  At least 2 of you will be into it (you know who you are, A and C!).

I apologize that a couple of these pictures are so blurry they will make your eyes bleed.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Ceviche halibut tacos
Rice
Steamed broccoli
White chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies

The Funnies

1. Rocco, coloring a picture for his book report: “Good thing I got my sharpie out.  I forgot to do her boobs.”

(At least that’s what I heard.  When I went to inspect the picture later, I realized he had said boots, not boobs.  But I like boobs better.)

2. I made halibut cheeks for the first time the other night.  Vincenzo stopped with his fork halfway to his mouth to ask, “Wait—what end of the halibut are these cheeks from?”

3. I was volunteering in kindergarten and was given this game to play with the kindies:

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I’m sure my mom won’t know what’s funny about these “nonsense words,” but some of you will, and you will appreciate it when I call this game “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

After hearing all the sweet kindergarten voices reading that first word over and over again, I’m going to need an extra therapy session this week.

P.S. Mom, DO NOT LOOK IT UP.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Ceviche halibut tacos
Rice
Chocolate chip cookies

Christmas, Final Thoughts

This Christmas was a little more special than usual because it was the last one we’ll spend at my parents’ house.  It’s the house they built and moved into 48 years ago, when my brother was just months old.

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As we stood in the kitchen for the dinner prayer, my mom got choked up and then all the rest of us got choked up.  The kitchen was so crammed with all of us “kids” and our own kids, and in a flash, I saw myself when I was Vincenzo’s size and Rocco’s size and Leo’s size, standing in the kitchen saying a prayer together before a big meal, celebrating whatever holiday was on hand.  I all our past selves there in a mash-up of 70s, 80s, and 90s, and I saw us all standing there in real time.  The kitchen was suddenly even more packed than it actually was, our past and present selves all linking hands and saying a prayer to bless every minute that brought us to this current one.  It is so hard to think of leaving these walls that held us all together, then let us go—this house that gracefully welcomes us back home whenever we turn up the drive, whether we’ve been gone for an hour or a year.

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This house we are leaving heard so much over the years.  It listened to our arguments, to our family game nights, to our clumsy clanking on the piano.  It listened to babies crying and giggling and to the bleep blurp of 80s video games.  It heard us say I love you and I hate you. It heard us whisper our prayers to its ceilings at night, and it heard the secrets we told our friends behind closed doors.  It patiently listened to long phone conversations about nothing at all.  It heard us sing happy birthday again and again until we disappeared one by one, and then it listened as we returned with little babies of our own, adding their own cries and giggles to the mix, adding even more rounds of happy birthday to its soundtrack.

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I’m sure this blog post isn’t doing anything to help my parents handle their emotions as they prepare to say goodbye, but our little house deserves its place on this blog.  My childhood was beautiful and the scent of homemade bread followed me everywhere, but my childhood was also challenging and sometimes I had to escape from it.  But home was always home, and there was always love to be found.

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My parents will be moving to another house they have built (or have had built, more accurately) in the same town.  They will fill it with the same photos, the same china dishes, the same people, and the same smell of baking bread.  We will say our prayer in a different kitchen of this different house, and we will be amazed at how similar it all feels.

But we will always feel a loyalty and love for the house that helped us to become the family we are today.

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I have to say, I did not start out planning to write about this today.  But it’s here now so it must have needed to be here.  Maybe after all these years of being listened to, I have finally learned to listen, and today our house needed to be heard.

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Goodbye, big little house.  And thank you.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Pan-fried chicken
Stuffing
Baked potatoes
Green beans with lemon and garlic
Chocolate chip cake with passion fruit filling, chocolate espresso crumb, and mocha frosting