Leo @ 10

Leo’s blog post, age 10, is going to be mostly in pictures: the goofy faces and the random places I find him around the house, doing things not because they’re funny but because they feel normal to him. Like how I found him playing pinball yesterday.


And how I found him so often in the summer, when he went through his Fitted Sheet Stage.


Then, there are the intentionally funny moments.




At least, I think they’re intentional. It’s been so long since I’ve seen a natural smile that maybe this is his natural smile.

It’s not like this is a new thing. The goofiness runs deep with this one.


Man, I love this kid!

Leo is the most emotional of my kids. Fortunately his main emotion is happy. I’d say he’s about 70% happy, 20% irritated, and 10% raging mad. The happiness usually comes from punching and kicking things; the irritated bit comes from Rocco; and the raging mad part is usually at me, for helping him with homework.

In fact, he hates advice and constructive criticism of any kind. We hired a soccer coach for Leo during the off season, and the guy made the mistake of actually trying to teach him actual things. Leo kept breaking down. We went back to the drawing board and tried to find a coach who would chase him around the field with his shirt over his head, Beavis and Butthead style but couldn’t find one, so we just had to cancel.

Leo claims he doesn’t like reading, as this picture neither confirms nor denies.


He’s still in speech therapy (8 years and counting!), and one of his speech issues is that his ideas sometimes come out in a mixed-up order or missing pieces—like when you get a piece of Swiss cheese that’s more holes than cheese. I wish he’d accept my offers of help, but I might as well offer my hand to a hungry wolf.


(Those teeth are sharper than they look.)

He still has the soft, round cheeks of Baby Leo—the one who snuggled with me morning, noon, and night—only he has cut me off from all hugs, kisses, and physical affection. For me, it’s like living in a kitchen smelling of freshly baked brownies, but never getting to eat a brownie.

Leo does, however, love when I casually walk past and punch him in the stomach or kick him in the shins, so that’s what I do instead. As Leo would say, “Don’t question it.”

Don’t question this either.


Or this.


Even though he’s all grown up now, I did catch him twirling his hair like he used to when he was a baby, listening to me read stories.

I couldn’t find pictures of his knotted hair from yore, but I did stumble upon this one that has the same heart-melting effect.


Oh look! I finally found a picture where he’s smiling nicely and not trying to be funny! He’s holding up his fingers to show his age.


And there you have it: even when he’s not trying to be goofy, he’s goofy.

I know more than to tell him he’s wrong, though. Let’s just try something easier.


My baby is a whole set of antlers old.

Florentine frittata
Roasted vegetables

Leo’s Golden, Double Digit Birthday

February 10th was Leo’s golden birthday, which I made the mistake of telling him is a thing that exists. Plus, he reminded me, he’d be turning double digits. This is going to be huge!  He began talking about having a live band for his party, and a circus, and sending personal limousines to pick up his friends. They guests be given real gold chains to wear! They’ll take home diamonds for their party gifts! And keep the limousines!

I  managed to talk him down a bit. This is what he woke up to:



A golden llama pinata stuffed with gold candy is almost as wild as the other plans, right?

He also got a very special treat. Something the boys never get to have. Something that only comes once in a lifetime for them.


A store-bought cake! He went for froyo: birthday cake and Oreo flavors, with marshmallow and caramel filling. It tasted…confusing.

Then for his party, he wanted to do Minecraft. Yes! I’ve done Minecraft parties and Minecraft play dates before! I can throw a Minecraft party in my sleep! The only thing I really had to put any effort into was the cake. He wanted one made out of Rice Krispies and brownies, like the one I made before. I told him I hadn’t made one before. I just put out cut-up brownies and Rice Krispies. I showed him a picture for proof:


He kept insisting I had made a full-on cake, but whatever. I went to the Internet for ideas, and I stumbled across this picture on a blog:


Wait—what? That’s my blog!

Sheesh, guys. I’m getting old.

But my cake skills are getting better! (Leo placed the figurines. It took every ounce of self-control to stop myself from turning the pig around.)


The rest of the party took care of itself. Square food on square plates, shooting creepers in the yard, playing Minecraft, you’ve seen it all before.



Planning two birthdays for one kid was exhausting (and expensive!). I thank my lucky stars that Rocco won’t have a golden birthday until he’s 24 and Vincenzo when he’s 29. I am hoping they have other people in their lives to make their birthdays special by then. I am very much looking forward to the limousine ride.


Encyclopedia of My Life

Today I’m going to cheat and steal some words instead of writing a fresh blog post. But, as the words I’m stealing are my own, you don’t need to call the Plagiarism Police just yet.

A few years ago I first read Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life written by my spirit animal, Amy Krouse Rosenthal. It’s an encyclopedia of everyday words, plus her attempt to define and/or comment on them using her life as fodder. I started one of my own, which is now 54 pages long now (single spaced!) and which can never get published because someone else did it first.

Anyway, here are a couple entries:


A mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase in a way that gives it new meaning (Wikepedia definition 2.7.22)

The expression “When it rains, it pours” is a mondegreen. It was not coined to mean that when something bad happens, it really happens. The saying is actually a slogan created by Morton Salt in the early 1900s because their salt would pour even in rainy or humid weather. The slogan was invented alongside the Morton Salt Girl, who is holding an umbrella in the rain on Morton Salt containers.


There is no way to remove the wrapper from an English cucumber without it feeling incredibly inappropriate. It is best, when hosting a party, to remove the plastic on an English cucumber before guests have arrived.


When my oldest son was 15, he accidentally put dish soap in the dishwasher instead of dish detergent. We knew because the dishwasher started making a slightly bumpy noise and about a quart of vaguely bubbly water seeped out. It was the most anti-climactic moment of my life.


Whenever I read a middle grade book (or any book) that has a mom in it, I always imagine the mom to be ten years older than me. I imagined it when I was in my 20s and when I was in my 30s, and in my 40s. I suppose when I’m in my 70s, I’ll still imagine the book moms to be 10 years older than me.


Summer is a crisp white blouse you put on at the beginning of the day, feeling fresh, ready to conquer the world, but after a while it loses its corners, wrinkles at the places you bend the most, sticks to your back, and all you can think about is taking it off and slipping into a soft cotton shirt and sweat pants, and that is where fall comes in.


When I’m learning facts about things that deal with large numbers, like the age of Grand Canyon or how long humans have been in existence or the distance to the moon (1,000 miles? 10,000 miles?), they lose meaning to me. I can never remember if the Grand Canyon is 6 million or 6 billion years old. I’m sure the national debt is way past the trillions, but I don’t know what comes after trillion. I can’t remember if humans have been around for 1 million years, or 1 billion years, or something completely different.

I looked them up. At the time of writing this, the Grand Canyon is 1.84 million years old, humans have been around between 5 and 7 million years, the moon is 238,900 miles away, and the national debt is about $29,880.991,000. Still in the trillions.

I have proven my point. I am quite embarrassed. And I already forgot how old the Grand Canyon is.

(It makes me feel better that Vincenzo’s guess about the moon was 290,000,000. When I told him the real answer, he said I hadn’t specified which moon. When I asked Kevin how far away the moon is, he said, “Half as much as I love you.”)

(It’s first-come, first-served, so show up early!)
Twice baked potatoes
Chicken pot pie
Chicken quesadillas
Roasted broccoli
Candy cane ice cream