Angelo’s Tenth Birthday

It was Angelo’s birthday yesterday.  When I told the boys it was coming up, Rocco said, “YES!  I love those days!”  It made my heart sing.  He also asked if he could bring cupcakes into his classroom to celebrate, but I honestly don’t think that’s the reason he was so excited.

We always spend Angelo’s birthday eating at Kidd Valley and throwing flower petals into the lake where his ashes rest.  Some years it is raining sideways and we toss the petals then high tail it off the dock.  Some years, like this one, we toss the petals and watch the flowers floating there and I think about Angelo’s ashes and wonder how far they floated, wonder where they are now. 

Afterwards, we paused a moment to take a family photo.

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Then we went to the beach and the boys dug out a giant castle (they are into building inverted sand castles, which go down into the sand instead of rising up).  Their castle had all the usuals: stairs, pantries, a sink, secret rooms, a throne, and Rocco also added a funeral room for Baby Angelo.  I love how he cares for the memory of this brother that he never knew—he, like me, seems to know that it’s up to us to keep Angelo alive.

The evening was golden.  We all got milkshakes that we drank long after the straws started making rude noises.  We made up burger related jokes, like “Why is the fast food restaurant rated R?”  (Because the chicken strips!)  We dug in the sand, eek’d at the cold water, played lava monster, made futile attempts to get all the sand off our feet before putting our shoes back on.  Kevin and I found a quiet moment to remember what it was like, that day we found out our baby was not going to be with us long.

Angelo does not show up in that family photo we took.  And yet, that family photo exists because of him.  That’s how it’s always been with Angelo: he is always here, silently handing us treasure after treasure.  Sometimes I feel him living quietly inside me, like a diamond pendant that’s slipped below my shirt.  Sometimes, like yesterday, I feel him living everywhere outside of me, turning the world into one where flowers drift by on top of a sun-dappled lake.  Always, I am thankful to have been the home for such a beautiful soul.

I love you, Sweet Baby.  Happy tenth birthday.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Soccer field dinner–
Mason jars with pesto, bowtie pasta, peas, and tuna

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Keeping up with Rocco

First, a confession: I misjudged the girth of our salsa red minivan the other day. 

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I like to think of them as racing stripes. 

Now for our regular programming.

The boys all got geosphere kits in their Easter baskets this year.  Rocco ripped his open immediately and built it with Kevin’s help. 

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It really is a thing of beauty, and it lights up in about 10 different colors.

As soon as they finished, Rocco started offering to help Leo with his.  Leo resisted a couple times, then caved and let Rocco build it.  It was all misshapen and at first Rocco started to apologize, then instead changed tacks and started selling Leo on it, explaining how much cooler it was than the one dad built, and how the holes let the light out so much better. 

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Then Rocco started working on Vincenzo.  V took one look at Leo’s gimpy geosphere and said no.  Rocco kept asking, but V wouldn’t budge.  Can you blame him?

Over the weekend, we went to the grand opening of the Maker’s Space (technology gear) at the library.  It was wild—there was Lego machine that could solve a Rubik’s cube.  A 3-D printer that was making toys.  Little switches and wires that hooked up to real flowers, then you could touch the flowers to play music.  Robot cubes that followed colored lines you drew.  A computer where you could make a stop-action space odyssey.  A bona fide astronaut (Dottie) there to talk with you! 

How did the boys do?  Vincenzo spent most of his time rereading a Percy Jackson book on his phone, Leo spent a good hour staring at the 3-D printer, and Rocco dove head-first into every piece of science he could get his hands on.  He played songs on the flowers, he made a space odyssey, he programmed robots, he listened to Dottie, he built a car out of random parts and ran experiments on it.

After a few hours, V, Leo, and I were running out of steam but Rocco had a wild, hyper-energized look in his eyes.  (Below is a re-creation.  It’s nothing like the real high-on-science look he gets.)

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I have to admit, I was a little scared, looking into those eyes.

So we left him there and headed home.

(It’s okay—Kevin was working a booth there.  We didn’t totally give our second grader over to the robots.)

A few hours later, Kevin brought Rocco home.  And the first thing out of his mouth was, “Hey V, want me to build your geosphere?”

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It’s official: Rocco has worn us all down to little pencil nubs.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Mashed potatoes and creamed eggs

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Scrambled eggs and smoothies

(V is getting braces today (!!) so we’re on a no-chew diet this week.)

One Week of Sun

We’re back from our sunny week in CA.  These trips are always so hard to blog about—like I can now say “Charlie” in a high, whinnying voice and the whole family cracks up, but I can write “Charlie” here and it’s not funny at all.  I can make a comment about Dale’s legendary height or the second-floor Starbucks and my family loses it, but I put it here and…crickets.  I guess I’ll just show some photos then?

It was 80 degrees in Las Gatos so we couldn’t wait to get in the pool—except that it was full of these dorky looking kids.

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Oh right, those are ours.  I’ll never understand how my sons continue to achieve this level of uncool.

We had Easter brunch at our friends’ parents’ house, and it looked like something out of a Martha Stewart magazine.  It was surreal!

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The boys picked baskets of oranges from the orchard on the property.  Coming from one of the grayest, rainiest springs in Seattle, it felt like they were plucking the very sun out of the sky, and yet the sun shone even brighter as the day went on.

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Vincenzo ate lemons straight from the tree.  My teeth wept for his.

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Oh dear, but it is going to take all week to blog about the trip at this pace.  I’m going to speed things up. 

This week we…

went hunting

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visited the Redwoods

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Got a little tic’d

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made fun of Kevin’s mosquito bite

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churched

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saw jellies

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lost teeth

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dug deep

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dug deeper

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hugged friends

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hugged other friends

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gawked

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won a duck

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rub-a-dubbed

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surrey’d

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wife swapped

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and DNF’d

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It was a refreshing week away from the intensity of life and school and writing—a week to just be instead of do. 

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Port braised lamb shank
Lemon chicken
Rice
Spanakopita
Fresh veggies
Red eggs
Dolmas
Walnut layer cake
Baklava

Spring Breaking

Woo-hoo!  On vacation!  It has been so nice to step back from writing and just live and love life for a week.  I’ve gained a lot of perspective about what I want life to look like as a writer when I get back; hopefully I’m able to stick to it and not drive myself into the ground again.

In the meantime, I remembered I also like to take pretty pictures!  Here are a few of my boys from Easter morning at our hotel in Los Gatos

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(I didn’t tell them to be serious; they were just sick of me taking pictures by this last shot.)

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Rice bowls