We’re one week into summer now (or 3 months and 1 week, depending on how you’re counting) and it’s…well, it’s different. Can something be as fun as always and still feel like it’s missing something? It’s weird to not start the day by texting my friends/family to see who wants to join us doing such-and-such thing at such-and-such time.

I went to print off last year’s summer bucket list, thinking I could just make a couple modifications to it. Once I deleted all the things we can’t do or I’m not comfortable doing, we were left with:

*make popsicles
*water balloon fight
*hike (but only on certain trails and only during odd hours)

Deleted from the list were swim lessons, soccer camp, overnight camp, museums, sleepovers, family vacations, Rocco’s birthday party, the 4th of July parade, BBQs, water parks, and, well, actually any park that has something fun at it, like a swing or a slide or another human being.

So with all that canceled, Kevin and I talked long and hard and finally made the decision to get a pool. And we did!  The kids wear exclusively swimwear now, there are beach towels draped on all our chairs, we have strict rules about the amount of wetness a person can be before coming in the house, and I say things to Kevin like, “Take my calls–I’ll be hanging out with the boys at the pool.”

Now, whatever you are picturing about Mrs. Mouthy lounging poolside with the boys, let me fix that for you. Here’s the kind of pool we got.

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I was disappointed to get it set up and see that the expansive real-grass lawn and cloudless, 80 degree day were not included.


I tried my hardest to take a picture of it that made the pool look as pretty as the picture on the box so I could show you it’s really all about angles, but it was an impossible task.

But still, WE HAVE A POOL!!

It’s the same shape, size, and freezing-coldness of the pool I had growing up. I have the best memories of that pool—playing shark, creating whirpools then trying to swim against them, diving into the middle again and again until the water started making a tidal wave.


(That’s me in the front! We started with this pool, then moved up to a bigger one.)

I also remember coming out shivering my little heinie off and lying down on the hot driveway to warm up, so last week I nearly died of serendipity when I looked out the window to see this.


On cloudy days when the driveway wasn’t, hot, we’d hop in the tub together, still in our swim stuff.


I have nearly died so many times this week!

While the coronavirus has been disastrous on so many levels, it has also brought some special moments to our lives, like listening to my boys splash and laugh in a backyard pool that we wouldn’t have bought if everything were normal.

And so, in answer to the question above: Can something be as fun as always and still feel like it’s missing something?




I guess, somehow, it can.

Pasta caprese
Corn on the cob
Strawberry shortcake

Father’s Day 2020

It was all about the food, partly because Kevin loves food but mostly because quarantine hasn’t left us with many other options. (Eating’s still okay, right? Can someone check to see if eating is okay in Phase 2?)

The boys made him DAD sausages for breakfast. How can you tell a DAD sausage from a regular one? Easy!


(There’s a lot of sausage in that picture, if you stop to think about it.) (Please don’t stop to think about it.)

For lunch, we surprised Kevin with a trip to Arby’s. Not that crappy RB’s knock-off stuff, either.


For dinner, we made him megetables. Marrots, specifically.  For those of you not familiar with megetables, they are a concept created (but not made) by Arby’s. The vegetarians get to have fake meat made from vegetables, but what about the carnivores? What do they ever get? So Arby’s jokingly invented the “megetable”—a vegetable made of meat. Then somebody on YouTube created a recipe and that brings us up to current time.

Here’s a picture of what we were going for.


I had to buy carrot powder to make the marrots, which, naturally, came in 5 ounce containers for $20 or 16 ounce containers for $13. I stashed the (full pound) of carrot powder in the pantry and every time I spied it there, I imagined the smile on Kevin’s face come Father’s Day.


Well that’s weird. I guess he used up all his smiles earlier?

The resemblance was so striking, I bet you can’t even pick the real carrot out of the gang!


Okay, so they look good, but how do they taste?

Mmmm—a bit like chicken.

Also, is “dry” a flavor? Aggressively dry? Because these should come with a label that reads, “Take with 8 ounces of water.”

The only thing that would help this post really capture the day is if it were playing  Cat’s in the Cradle on repeat, as that’s the song we had playing at our house all day.

I didn’t ask Kevin, but I think I can speak for him when I say this was the BEST Father’s Day ever.

Also, does anyone want 15.5  ounces of carrot powder?

Chicken in rice with Indian flavors
Corn chowder
Marrots (I know—I can’t believe we had leftovers either!)
3 half-eaten Arby’s sandwiches (see above parentheticals)
Paremsan broccoli
Cherry-chocolate ice cream sundaes

Phase 1.5ish

Leo, on seeing his brother’s new Lego set:

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Mom! This Lego set isn’t safe! No one is wearing masks and they’re not six feet apart!

Our city is in phase 1.5 and I’m having a hard time with it. It’s a gray area area. When the rules were “shelter in place” I knew just what that meant. In the times before quarantine, when we could go anywhere we wanted, anytime we wanted, I knew what that meant. But phase 1.5? That’s not even a real thing!

I don’t like gray. Even though I live in Seattle and gray is our official color, I don’t like gray.

Everyone’s making up their own rules. My neighbor’s daughter was crying every day because she was so lonely, so they decided to take the risk and let her see a handful of friends. My other neighbor lets her kids play with the families on her block, but only outside, and no food or drinks. I dropped something off at  another friend’s house and she was in there having lunch with a friend while their kids tumbled together on a trampoline out back. My other neighbor told me that they were the first ones in line when a restaurant opened its patio for lunch. I gasped. Behind my mask, I gasped.

I need to schedule an appointment with a sports doctor because I think I tore my calf muscle (yes, again), but maybe I won’t, because it sounds too risky. My glasses keep breaking and instead of scheduling an appointment to get new ones, I ask Kevin if he’s seen the duct tape.

I see Leo’s best friend (and really his only friend) riding bikes with a different kid, but I’m not sure we’re supposed to be doing that. I feel so sad for Leo that he’s not out there, that his friend didn’t even knock on our door. I imagine his best friend and the other kid making an irreversible bond during this time and Leo losing him, then never making another friend again and having a miserable rest of his childhood, all because I followed quarantine rules so strictly.

I don’t know why I’m following quarantine rules anymore. Is it because I’ve always been a rule follower? Because I’m good at following rules? Because I like when someone else is in charge so I don’t have to question if I’m doing the right thing ? Or is it because I’m terrified of what would happen if we got CoVid—terrified we’ll be the ones making the news as the “It’s Not Always Old People Who Die from It” headline?

Last week, three of Rocco’s friends showed up at our door and wanted to play, and I wasn’t going to sit there saying, “Sorry, we’re on quarantine,” so I let him play. He came home dripping wet and happy and said, “Today was so fun, I’m going to remember it the rest of my life.”

It about broke my heart.

So my rule, I guess, is that I’m not going to invite anyone over or but if someone shows up at the door I’ll let my kids play with them outside. And we can play pickleball at my parents’ house and eat cake in Kevin’s parents’ garage. Does that make perfect sense or does it make no sense at all? I can’t tell anymore!

I’m not as in love with quarantine as I was, but we’re still very happy like this. I’m finally getting the hang of sourdough. The boys have turned into best friends.  I know how to buy bananas so that they stretch 7 days so we can leave the house only once a week. Except for the pickle ball. And the cake.

But when someone happens to stop by or I bump into a friend at the grocery store (not literally—that’s against quarantine), I remember how happy other people make me. I love my family, but I also love other people. I love having them over. And I hate feeling left out. All the FOMO that went away during Phase I is coming back fiercer than ever.

Ah! I set out to write a funny post about quarantine and instead vomited anxiety all over the page! Let me try to salvage it by ending with funny.

This week I  e-mailed my friend in Arizona to see how they’re holding up. She wrote back:

It is boring and hot here. We are still stuck inside around here. Also, you know, *gestures around at America.*

I wrote back

I’m glad we visited you back in October because otherwise we might have to do something drastically dangerous, like get on a plane and visit you.

If you feel like commenting, I’d love to hear your personal interpretation of quarantine rules.

Are we all okay?

Singapore noodles
Thai iced tea
Grasshopper brownie pie


In the midst of all the scariness and hurt going on in the world, I got to sneak away and do a newborn family photoshoot for my mom’s neighbor. Today I’m sharing some of the pictures with you–a moment of beauty in a time when beauty is hard to find. I’ve never gotten so many keepers from a shoot before. The lighting was just right, the Mom had chosen a fairy tale park and a goddess dress, and she and her family just new how to work it.

(Before you get too worried, I did wewar a mask and kept my distance. The close=up shots were done with a zoom lens and/or photoshop. The hardest part of this photoshoot was not getting the newborn snuggles that usually come with doing a baby photoshoot!)


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(The last picture was super challenging, as it was the end of the shoot and Baby was not happy. Her mom stuck a bottle in her mouth, pulled it out, then ran while I moved in and shot as many pictures as I could in the five seconds before she started crying again. Totally worth it. I love that Baby’s mom wanted me to leave in the milk drips on her chin.)

Pad Thai with tofu
White chocolate macadamia nut cookies

Get Out!

I’m baffled by my boys’ resistance to going outside. It’s not that they resist it so much (with me as their mom, they know resistance is futile) but when I send them out, they keep sticking their heads in the door saying, “Is an hour up yet?” They haven’t figured out yet that I add five minutes every time they ask that. *evil laugh*

Fortunately for me, every night after dinner we play a game of Monopoly Deal and the winner gets to make one decision, and fortunately for me, last night I won. My decision was that everyone go outside for 30 minutes.

“But we already spent an hour outside today!”

Oh boy. They were about to have some regrets.

Me: When I grew up,I spent an hour inside every day.
All the boys: What did you do outside all day?
Me: What did we do? What did we do? We played cops and robbers. We decorated our bikes and put on synchronized bike shows for our parents. We made tee-pees out of old sheets and sticks. We’d throw balls on the roof and catch them when they rolled down. We packed ourselves picnic lunches. We divided our yard into a battlefield and had plum wars with each other…

(10 minute
Rocco (who was the only one whose eyes were looking brighter instead of duller by the end of my little speech): That sounds fun! Wanna play cops and robbers, Mom?
Me, patting his head: Oh Rocco, the whole reason I had more than one kid is so I wouldn’t have to play with them anymore. Now go outside. Go for a walk or something!
Vincenzo: But Menchies is closed and you won’t let me go to 7-11. There’s nowhere to walk to!

They could hear me suck in my breath all the way down at 7-11 because of course, where I grew up, it didn’t matter if the stores were closed because THERE WEREN’T ANY CLOSE ENOUGH TO WALK TO. If we wanted to walk to a store, we’d get out all the canned goods from the kitchen cupboards, set them on tree stumps, and pretend we were walking to the store!

It sounds like I’m making this all up, but I’m not. It is so unsettling when your memories start sounding like hyperbole.

So. I sent everyone outside and started pruning the peonies because I’ve apparently become a Mom in a 1950s sitcom, and eventually the kids were so bored they asked if they could help. 10 minutes later they were in the middle of a huge flower war, throwing flower stalks at each other until it looked like either a wedding or a funeral had marched across our driveway.

I stood there watching with a giant smile on my face because this, THIS  was exactly what I was talking about.

I’m thinking about stacking the deck in Monopoly Deal tonight.

Finally, something I said to the boys SUNK IN! We have communed! They get it now!

At least, that’s how I felt until over ice cream cones later, Vincenzo announced, “When I grow up, I’m only going to make my kids play outside for 15 minutes. Then when they complain, I’ll say, “When I was your age, I had to stay out a whole hour!”

Ginger soy salmon burgers
Asparagus with dill
7-layer bars