The Creepy Tea

So when Vincenzo was younger, he used to get out of bed to pee when he wasn’t fully awake.  He’d mumble some things that were close enough to words that you felt you should understand them, but you didn’t.  He’d go to the bathroom and come out, still with those creepy-doll-on-your-grandma’s-shelf eyes and go back to bed.  We called it The Creepy Pee.

Today’s blog is not about that.  Today’s blog is the tale of an incident on a dark night not too long ago called The Creepy Tea.

Kevin was out of town that night.  Normally I sleep with a meat mallet near my bed when he’s gone, for safety.  Kevin thinks I’m crazy.  I told him if I hear a noise in the house, I can either freeze in bed, unarmed and vulnerable, or I can get my meat mallet and go investigate.

However, I forgot the meat mallet that night and was too lazy to go get it.  I texted Kevin that instead, if a robber came in I would smash one of the ceramic birds in our room over his head, then use a shard to cut his throat.  Confident with my security system, I went to bed.

Around midnight, I awoke to hear a beep…beep…beep…coming from the kitchen.  I lay there, hoping it would go away and wishing I had brought a meat mallet to bed because I really like those ceramic birds.  But the beeping continued.  Beep…beep…beep…

It didn’t sound menacing.  It sounded nothing like the giant crash that had issued from the boys’ room an hour earlier and which I had decided to ignore. So I grabbed a pillow, figuring I wouldn’t have the heart to smash a Jonathan Adler bird anyway, and walked boldly into the kitchen, tensed and ready with my pillow.

And there stood Vincenzo, in front of the microwave, repeatedly pushing a button while staring vacantly ahead with glassy, blank eyes.

I cautiously approached.  “Vincenzo?”  He turned his glassy doll eyes on me.  “Hello?” I asked.

He smiled, as if in a dream.  Then he stopped smiling.  “Wait.  What am I doing here?”  We both looked at the counter and saw a steaming cup of mint tea sitting there.  “Oh.  I guess I’m making tea.”  He promptly sat down and drank his mug of mint tea like a boy who had no idea how close he just came to having a ceramic bird smashed over his head.

I went back to bed and tried not to think of unseeing, unfeeling dolls with glassy eyes, vacantly drinking cups of mint tea at my kitchen table.

Forget the birds.  I’m sleeping next to  the meat mallet tonight.

Tuna melts
Roasted red pepper and tomato soup
Roasted vegetables
Chocolate chip cookies

Royal Rumblings

The Royal Rumble happened last night.  I assume you all put your lives on hold to watch it for all 5 hours, plus the 2-hour pre-show, but just in case you are lucky enough to have no idea what the Royal Rumble even is, I will tell you.  It’s a WWE event (for those who don’t know what that is, you are also very lucky) where one person starts in the ring, then every 90 seconds a new person comes in until 30 wrestlers have been called.  Wrestlers are out when they’re flipped over the top ring and both feet touch the floor.

So.  We had a bunch of Vincenzo’s over to watch it.  Actually, we only had 3 of Vincenzo’s friends over but they have all gotten so big, it feels like a lot of kids and our furniture seems suddenly like toy furniture.  The women Rumbled first and there were, as always, many shenanigans.  Zalena Vega didn’t go into the ring on her turn; she hid underneath it until a leprechaun named Hornswaggle chased her out.  One wrestler was thrown over the rope, kept her feet off the ground, then hand-walked her way back into the ring.  The Ravishing Russian Lana had been fake injured in an earlier match and limped down the aisle very slowly, which is a dirty move because the later you get into the ring the better chance you have.  Then Becky went in the ring instead of her…and won the whole thing.

The boys got totally into it, yelling at the TV and at each other and at the TV again.  I spent the evening cooking food, refilling drinks, and cleaning up dishes while everyone yelled, “OH MAN’ and, “NO SHE DIDN’T!”  It was all good fun until one of the boys started calling the wrestlers the B word and yelling, “STRIPPER!”, at which point the collective voice of all females past and present stood up and stopped the party.  It was my turn to yell.  “Can we all stop calling women those names?  It’s demoralizing and degrading.  Girls are people too!  We wear pants!  We run for president!  When we get thrown out of the ring, we handwalk our way back in and keep fighting!  I shaved my chin last week!” Then I went back to cooking and refilling and cleaning, and it wasn’t until the next day that I realized how mad I was about it all.  Discussions were had.  E-mails were sent.  Young boys were given lessons on women’s lib.  Peace and order has been restored.  Women everywhere can return to making $.70 to every man’s dollar and being being underrepresented in government and not being given promotions we deserve.

All that being settled, this morning Leo said, “Let’s play Royal Rumble!”  The rule was: stay on the shag rug.  Leo started, Kevin went in, Rocco went in, then I started down the hallway.  Halfway there, I fell down in agonizing pain and rolled around grabbing my knee and moaning.  Rocco and Leo were genuinely concerned.  They made their way to the very edge of the carpet and stood there like with big, concerned eyes and asked if I was okay or if I was faking it.  I alternately cried out and laughed, and eventually the boys couldn’t stand seeing me in pain anymore and urgently rushed to my side, at which point I stood up, miraculously healed, and yelled, “YOU LOSE!  I WIN!  NANA NANA BOO BO STICK YOUR HEAD IN DOO DOO SUCKAS!” 

But wow, did that feel bad.  Their concern was so genuine, their want to make me better so strong, and I’ll forever remember the worried looks on their faces as I writhed in pain.  I now know my boys would save me from the jaws of a lion, should I find myself in such a position.  So I let them back on the carpet, apologized, and they promptly kicked me off the carpet and declared themselves the winners.

You know, I’m not so sure about that “jaws of the lion” thing after all.  Those dirty rats!  They somehow planned this whole thing!  They abused my motherly love!  They trod on my sense of right and wrong!  I declare a rematch!  I was robbed of the title that was rightly mine!

The next Royal Rumble is only 364 days away.  I’ve already cleared my schedule.  Watch out, 2020, I’M COMING FOR YOU!

Apricot chicken
Mac ‘n cheese
Parmesan broccoli
Lemon bars

Sweet Baby UGH

I try to keep this blog humorous, but I also want to keep it real, so can I take a minute here to be completely exasperated?  Let me start by saying, “Ugggggghhhhh.”  It’s Leo’s taglineTM but today I’m going to apply it to his older brother.


This guy here. Sweet Baby D. I wish I could shrink him back to that happy, laughing little cutie pie who never missed assignments or forgot to turn assignments in or only half did assignments or did assignments but wrote all his answers in 2-word “sentences” or who couldn’t do the science lab because he didn’t wear pants to school or who doesn’t have any idea why he got an F on a group project or who claims that everyone in class did badly, so I should be totally cool with his D+.

Maybe this is why he nicknamed himself “D” as a toddler. We called him Sweet Baby D, and now he is very good at getting D’s. If only he had nicknamed himself A, or even B-. I would love to have a Baby B- at this point.

It’s crazy frustrating. I volley back and forth between thinking he’s super lazy to thinking he has a learning disorder, some sort of Missing Executive Functioning Syndrome. MEFS. Is that at thing? That sounds like a thing. Kevin says there’s nothing wrong with Vincenzo; he’s just a 13-year-old boy going through some growing pains.

We make charts. We meet with his teachers and guidance counselor. Promises are made. New strategies are put in place. Charts are made charty-er. The next day I get a new notification: VINCENZO BETO IS MISSING 5 ASSIGNMENTS.”

I hate that when Vincenzo comes home, there is a struggle for me to get information out of him while he says as little as possible about his day. The info he gives us is so minimalist and doesn’t make sense and has big holes in it.  Kevin and I have had to become the forensic scientists of conversation.

His teachers say, “Vincenzo’s my go-to guy in class. He’s the one who always has his hand up! He’s the one with all the answers!” They say he’s a good student and a kind person. I show them his grades and everyone says, “Well, that’s weird.”

I think he wants to do well; he just doesn’t want to do well as much as I want him to do well.  That’s is different from saying he doesn’t want to do as well as I want him to. But since you mentioned it, let me say that if I had gotten his grades in middle school, I would have been going to school early and staying late to get them fixed. Of course, I showed up early to school and stayed late if I ever got so much as an A- in class. I tell this to Kevin, and he says, “And look how happy and well-adjusted you turned out.” I say, “Thank you. My therapists think so, too.” (Because now I have three of them, not counting my physical therapist or massage therapist.)

I’m not here to ask for advice. We’re already doing everything we can, and if his grades don’t get better by the end of the quarter, I’m going to look into getting him evaluated for a learning disorder. What I’d love to hear from you is, “Oh, my kid did that in middle school too, and then he totally snapped out of it and got into Harvard and is now a brain surgeon who writes best selling novels and digs wells in Africa in his free time.”

That’s not too much to ask for, is it?

Cornbread taco bake
Garlicky lemony green beans
Cinnamon nutella snowball cookies

Not Quite Right

1. Rocco, reading this bottle of salt:


Mom, what does LODIZED mean?

2. Jnet: Vincenzo, I got you a book about introverts.  Do you know what an introvert is?
V: Yes.  It’s very bad.
Jnet: It’s not bad to be an introvert!
Me: Honey, it’s totally okay to be an introvert!  
V: Oh.  I thought it was really bad.
Me: Wait—what do you think introvert means?
V: Like…a pedofile?

(And there we were, telling him it was totally okay to be one.)

3. Rocco helped put together this puzzle:


He kept pronouncing Hostess like hostas and referring to Little Debbies as Little Derbies.  We corrected him about 100 times, then just gave up and bought him a box of Little Derbies.

4. One of Rocco’s thank you notes:


Fish ‘n chips
Something green
Peppermint snowballs