What Could Go Wrong?

Warning: If your name is McStreamy, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER. There is stuff in here that will make you never come to our house again. Close the browser. Delete the browser! Go watch some kittens walking with a tiny chick instead.

Okay, now to get into it. Last week was a helluva week. Vincenzo got an ear infection, Leo got a staph infection, Kevin got a gallbladder infection, I got a yeast and bacterial  infection, the microwave broke, the fridge stopped working and the washing machine is leaking. Basically now we’re all just sitting around looking at Rocco, waiting to see what he gets. I hope it’s something good!

Let’s break some of this down.

I took the kids in for their annual check-up to find out that Vincenzo has an ear infection. We were both surprised, as he hasn’t been in any pain, so he got off easy with a prescription of ear drops. Well that’s kind of crazy I thought, because I didn’t yet know what crazy meant.

Then it was Leo’s turn. Leo’s knee got cut by a rock at Whidbey and had developed a bit of a rash, which often happens when he uses Band-aids so I didn’t think much of it. The pediatrician took one look and the mood of the room went from, “Do you eat your vegetables?” to, “THIS IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY HOW DID YOU NOT NOTICE?!” I took a closer look and realized it was more than a skin rash—it was a red, puffy, angry thing and, as the doctor explained, having an infection close to a joint can lead to sepsis very quickly. The only reason she didn’t send us to the ER is because it wasn’t causing Leo any pain, so we are giving it a round of topical antibiotics and I am trying not to think about the what-if’s.

Kevin’s gallbladder you already know about, so I won’t rehash. He feels slighted that I got two infections to his one, but he should know by now that I’m super competitive like that. #winning!

Anyway, no one wants details about my female problems, so let’s move onto the fridge, which had problems even grosser than mine.


And here is a picture of the bottom of my fridge yesterday morning.


You’re looking at an inch of standing water with two colors of mold growing on it. Let’s all be thankful McStreamy isn’t here to witness this.

I feel like the biggest idiot for not realizing sooner what was going on. I clearly remember eating a runny yogurt three weeks ago. Three weeks ago. “That’s weird,” I thought. “They must have changed their recipe.” Then there was the parmesan cheese that went bad, and the tahini that we’ve had for five years and had never gone bad before. And my iced tea wasn’t that cold anymore so I started keeping it in the downstairs fridge. There was the smell, too, which we kept blaming on things like the turkey that had gone bad, and the marinara that had gone worse, and the onion which had grown a stem, and the Reddi Whip that had gotten moldy. Reddi Whip! That’s not even food and it went bad!

But the control panel in the fridge kept saying it was 37 degrees and it  looked so believable, with its blue computery numbers. The food kept telling me, “SOMETHING IS TERRIBLY WRONG!” but the fridge kept saying, “ALL GOOD HERE!”

I am grossed out and completely shocked that we haven’t gotten sick. It’s like we’ve been setting all the things you normally put in a fridge—milk, eggs, yogurt, ham—in the pantry instead. There I was, slicing off pieces of pantry ham for my children’s sandwiches.

Fortunately,  we all survived and now instead of mold our fridge smells like bleach. Normally I would not feel good about my food smelling like bleach, but it’s been a crazy week and that’s where I am.

Wait a minute. Back up. Did I just write that I’m shocked we haven’t gotten sick? Did I not read the first half of this blog? Am I right in wondering if eating food growing above a moldy puddle for three weeks has anything to do with our recent rash of infections?

Or am I just crazy?

Kalbi flank steak
Corn pudding
Green beans with dill

The Gall!

Rocco had a slumber party on Saturday, and you know how those things go—the kids commandeer every pillow and blanket in the house, eat all the Skittles, go to bed way too late, and your husband wakes up at midnight and has to go to the ER for emergency surgery. We’ve all been there, right?


At midnight, Kevin was having a lot of chest pain, then he started sweating and vomiting. We called 911, which sent out a few fire fighters who didn’t think it was a big enough deal to call an ambulance but did think it was a big enough deal to leave seven children unattended and go to the ER. I woke Vincenzo up to tell him where we were going in case anyone needed me. He looked at us, nodded, said he was wide awake and understood, and in the morning had no recollection of the conversation. (Turns out he had taken a Nyquil because it was too hot to sleep, which led to a whole different conversation.)

At the hospital the nurse ordered an ultrasound of Kevin’s gallbladder. The sonographer measured something on the computer and labeled it “neck,” then drew an arrow at another thing and labeled it, “head,” and then I sat up straight and said, “Kevin, we still have the crib in storage, right?” The sonographer didn’t even look up, even though Kevin kept groaning and curling up into the fetal position and it was clear he was in labor.

I went home to sleep wile he waited for results. I was hoping for another boy, but the sonographer told me it was a gallbladder. The nursing staff told Kevin it was a good thing his daughter went home because he’ll be staying overnight.

Kevin  texted an hour later. Infected gall bladder. They’re taking it out tomorrow lol

The gallbladder, as everyone knows, stores bile to break down fats in the body. Like say if someone went to the movies and ate a whole thing of popcorn with extra butter, then a few pieces of Domino’s pizza, then cake and ice cream, hypothetically speaking, the gallbladder would jump into action. Kevin’s gallbladder was infected because he got a gallstone, and his body happens to make super-sized gallstones, which is just great because now he’s going to be bragging to everyone about the size of his gallstones.

Anyway, he sent me the text and I texted back some prayer hand emojis and a gif of the game Operation, which is my way of saying, “I love you, I hope you’re not in pain, and please don’t die because the thermostat is flashing an error message and I’ll never figure it out on my own.”

Kevin’s dad spent the day with him at the hospital while I finished up the slumber party and scrolled through gall bladder gifs (of which there are a surprising amount). I barely had time to send them though because Kevin was home by 1, explaining how they put mini scissors through one hole in his abdomen, a mini camera into another, and then they pulled the gall bladder out through his belly button. I patted his knee and pretended to believe it all, as you do when young children or drunk people tell you crazy things their friends said that they believe are definitely true.

Since he was home I cut off his his tags.



Did he make finger quotes when he said his name? Did he say it sarcastically? Did they think he was really a young Rodney Dangerfield?

PXL_20210726_192523242.PORTRAIT copyactor-rodney-dangerfield-96394_large

(Kevin the one on the right.)


Before driving off, his dad told me that “Kevin” (if that even is his name) is not allowed to shower for a couple days. As soon as I tucked him in bed, he started asking for a sponge bath. I don’t know if he’s going to get one, but I do know I’m not letting him go to slumber parties anytime soon.

Some people just can’t handle them.

Southwest chicken salad
That’s it.
Nothing else.
Just a couple lines of writing to
make it look like there’s more.

My Ears Are Still Ringing

The Whidbey trip of last weekend was one of epic proportions. I let each of the boys bring a friend this time. You already know what my boys look like; here are their friends:

Oliver, playing a full-sized violin:


Cole—Rocco’s brother from another mother, and the only person I know who can squeeze more words into a minute than Rocco can:


Ian and Harley (Leo got a BOGO deal, as he chose twins for his friend).


Harley is the one flashing a “loser” sign and Ian is the apparent loser.

On the way up, the boys did the math: two adults to seven boys.


What that mostly meant was that we lost track of the times we said, “Chew and swallow before you talk!” Like, we lost count by the end of our first meal. It also meant every car ride and meal sounded like this.

I love being a boy mom. I truly do. But wouldn’t it be nice to hear the kids have a conversation in the back of the car? An actual conversation, maybe about the scenery, or feelings, or the Kardashians. Just anything! But alas, the boys do not have conversations. They have verbal peeing contests, like this:

Question: Can you count to 10 without saying the number 10?
Answer: (5 minutes of shouting numbers and yelling of the word, “NOPE!”)

Statement: My friend has a 16-foot deep pool.
Discussion: (10 minutes of competitive pool depth comparisons)

Statement: I figured out how to build a house out of bedrock in Minecraft.
Discussion: (conversation was indecipherable, but excessively loud and passionate)

The biggest problem with these “conversations” is that they start with an iffy-sounding statement and they end nowhere. The kids get trapped inside and the only possible way out is by me saying, “Enough,” then yelling, “ENOUGH,” then adding, “ENOUGH! ENOUGH!”

The only time the competitive sentence yelling ceased was after the arcade, when instead, the car filled with chewing and slurping sounds as the boys dumped packages of sour grape heads into their mouth. It was enough to make me want to ask if anyone can count to two billion without saying the words “two” or “billion.”

Oh right! The arcade! In the dozens and dozens of times I’ve been to the cabin, I had never been to the arcade. I want a redo on those other dozens and dozens of times.

As soon as you drive past the 60s-era sign, you feel like you’ve walked on the set of a movie that takes place in some charming small town frozen in time. A Jack-and-Diane town.


(Picture shamelessly lifted from Internet.)

It smells like popcorn and red vines, they’re piping oldies outside—real oldies, not 80s oldies—and people show up for the drive-in movie three hours early to throw footballs around and swap jelly recipes or whatever.

We didn’t stay for the drive-in, but the sky put on a pretty good show of its own. For free!


The arcade had basketball Connect Four, giant Pac-Man, and an even gianter version of this:



Pushing the giant water-filled giant was every bit as satisfying as you’d imagine it would be.

Cole and Rocco rode the go-karts.


Cole came in first place.


Rocco came in safest place.


Meanwhile, inside the arcade, Kevin beat the giant water ring game…


…and Ian discovered his favorite element on the periodic table.


(This is the same kid who, when told he needed to have something green with his dinner, chose Ginger Ale.)


But the arcade, of course, was not the reason we go to Whidbey. We go to Whidbey to get away from screens. We go for the beach time!



We go for the beach time!


Vincenzo and Oliver decided to build a driftwood fort.


Things got kind of out of hand.


They built a house, no big deal. The house had a hanging shelf,


another hanging shelf,


a rock garden,


a couch,


and a table and chairs, where the boys could often be found whittling driftwood pencils or making rock art.



Here’s the virtual tour that we’ll be listing on Redfin soon.

When I planned the trip, I imagined the boys spendings hours a day swimming at the pool while I lay on a chair, reading a self-help book in the shade of my sunhat. The pool was colder than the boys liked, so I spent significantly less time than I wanted lying poolside.



I spent a lot more time than I imagined being caught up in a ridiculous, raucous, random mess of boys and noise. In the end, the trip was better than I ever could have imagined, and my happiness cup runneth over.

But my energy cup runneth dry.

Chicken satay
Coconut rice
Roasted broccoli
Peach cobbler a la mode

Our Marriage is Old Enough to Vote

We celebrated our 18th anniversary with dinner at a monastery-turned recovery center-turned rec center-turned hotel and restaurant at St. Edward’s Park.

I thought it would keep our marriage fresh if I went to dinner naked.


Just kidding. I wasn’t naked. I wore eyelid tape!


Why did I not discover such a wondrous thing until my 45th year?


Okay, okay, I wasn’t naked.


I wore a dress and proper foot attire, which is more than I can say for Kevin. (He hates dresses.)

Eighteen years is the porcelain anniversary, which means I can finally buy Kevin the porcelain box he’s been pining for.


I never knew he had such a thing for lemons!

Chicken curry
Jasmine rice
Fresh vegetables
Chocolate macarons


When we booked a house at Leavenworth last fall, we didn’t stop to ask ourselves, “Will the temperature be above 110 degrees in July?” We also didn’t stop to ask ourselves, “Does the house have AC?” The answer to the first question, you probably know, is yes. And the answer to the second, you probably guessed, is no.

The trip was incredibly awesome anyway—all my siblings, parents, and nieces/nephews (21 of us!) in a house with a pool on a river in the mountains. There’s so much that could have gone wrong, but instead there were so many things that went right.

Except the things that went wrong.

Like the pool water being so murky we couldn’t see our feet.


(Where even are their legs?)

And the deck that dealt out splinters like dollar bills at a strip club.


We had to open a 24-7 ER for splinter removal.

And the mosquitoes. The MOSQUITOES! The river was a breeding ground for them. By the time we walked the little path to the river, we were weak from blood loss. To sit and enjoy the view was certain death.


Do not be fooled by the serenity of this picture. There are a zillion bloodthirsty little buggers hiding in those bushes.

They didn’t just keep to the river either. In the morning we’d look out the windows and a dozen mosquitoes would be bumping into the window, asking, “You guys open yet?”

But really, the point is, so much went right on our trip.

Like discovering a meat-only vending machine.


And like when we passed my dad coming up the drive and asked if he had any Grey Poupon and he handed this over.


(Tru-ish story: Dad drove two hours home and then two hours back to get that mustard out of his fridge. There was about an inch of mustard in the container.)


An there was Kevin, exerting his dominance over everyone smaller than him in the pool and insisting they call him Uncle Scupper.



Uncle Scupper and the Missus:


The vacation weekend made it feel like old times, when pandemics existed only in movies and masks were something you wore at Halloween.  Pictured below: Leo and Shelby blowing into both ends of a water noodle, signaling the official end of quarantine.


The kids fell into a glorious routine of swimming, Dungeons and Dragons, screen time, Legos, pool, Dungeons and Dragons, screen time, Legos, pool…you could feel the world spinning as you watched them go round and round.



They also spent a good deal of time looking for Waldo…


and playing games…


and trying to eat their ice cream cones fast enough.


Our final night there, my dad brought a water balloon launcher.



My brother & co provided the targets.


Needless to say, there were shenanigans and the targets ended up thoroughly soaked.

This has been a tricky trip to blog. There were too many inside jokes, too many gruesome pictures of splinter operations, too many moments that were meant for just being inside of and can’t be blogged about. I’ve spent about 5 hours on this post trying to write it all out but the moments lose all their funny. It’s driving me crazy not to be able to write them out! So here are some pictures that may or may not spark a funny yet un-writable memory for you.


Bucket hat:


They said they were just doing their job, but the timing of this log removal felt personal to those of us there.




My brother, spraying the children with pesticides to get a good photo:PXL_20210630_020333532.PORTRAIT

Random tiny babies:PXL_20210630_234902679.PORTRAIT






Nothing! Maybe we’ll walk to the taco truck?

Fourth of July ‘21

It’s weird because it seems quarantine is over—barely anyone’s wearing masks, parties are back on, and I stopped individually hand-washing the grapes—and yet all the Fourth of July activities were still canceled. It’s like our city is suffering from a bad quarantine hangover.

We managed to piece together a version of the events on our own, though admittedly the parade looked a bit sad.


I know!  Not a single advertisement for the local car dealership or that one Really Big, Loud Truck you’re not sure why is in the parade. Not one piece of street-warmed taffy to be had.

But the fireworks show was pretty good. It started with this…


escalated into that…


…then went straight to the grand finale.


It was a wild 90 seconds of fun!

At some point in the day, it stopped feeling like the Fourth of July and started feeling like The Fifth or Twenty Second, or Any Random Day of July.


But Any Random Day of July is still better than Any Random day of January, February, March, and a whole lot of other months, so we’ll take it.


Wishing you all a happy Random Day of July!

Asian meatball lettuce wraps
Lemony kale salad
Magic bars