San Diego ‘22

It took me a bit to get over the transition to summer, especially since it was still gray and 50 degrees when the kid came running out of the school doors…but after a week in the California sun, I’m over the hump. Summer! Yay!

We met up with our friends-that-feel-like-family in San Diego. The ages of their two boys extend down nicely from ours so that it felt like we were a happy family of five boys and their two moms and dads, enjoying the zoo and Legoland.

We saw a giraffe wearing a hat:

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a bucket flamingo (the others were standing sensibly in a small pond):

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a monkey on its mother’s back:

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a big lion:

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two smaller lions:

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and a bunch of weird looking koalas.

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There was beach time:

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pool time:

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even New York City time.

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Vincenzo discovered the art of exerting minimal energy while keeping the younger kids entertained.

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(They’re supposed to be abs, not ribs.)

Leo had a turn too, but he had eaten so many chicken nuggets in those five days that his sand body looked like this:

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Vacations are the only time he eats.

The rest of the trip is not pictured here because we either ate it, drank it, or laughed it away, and inside jokes about Sea Hats and Racing Spoons are just too hard to explain.

Now we’re back home, but the fun times are still going. Kevin, Vincenzo, and I all tested positive for COVID the next day! COVID! Yay!

We’re feeling find—just mild cold symptoms—and the “yay” is genuine, as I can now bake, lounge, read, write, and watch all the movies I want without feeling like I should be doing something else.

Yay!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Chicken and dumplings
Ice cream sandwiches

Time Warp

I ran into a young lady at my favorite clothing store yesterday and as I stood in front of the mirror checking out my backside in a pair of short shorts, she said, “Weren’t you my English teacher in junior high?” Turns out I was.

“Where has life taken you since then?” I asked.

“Well, my son just graduated from high school…”

Whaaaaaaaa?!

Yes, this person who I last saw when she was 13 and had braces is now an empty nester who snow birds with her husband in Arizona and they’re thinking of moving to Portugal, now that they don’t have kids at home. For those of you who are good at math (I stopped teaching when I had Vincenzo), you’ll realize it is her stepson, but still.

The conversation moved on to complaining about city council, the ridiculous increase in property tax, and whether the shorts made my butt look big, but the whole time all I was thinking was “!!!!!!!!!”

Time always gets whack for me at the end of the school year, thinking how fast everything’s going and how one minute it’s preschool, the next college tours, but this year I’m a little more messed up than usual. Am I young? Am I old? Are the kids growing too fast? Are they growing too slow? Do we at some point go back to the beginning and start all over again? Is time maybe less like a straight line and more like this?

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I don’t have any answers, other than that the shorts did not, in fact, make my butt look big.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Pizza and pasta
Cotton candy

Famous Last Words

My family went to our cabin on Whidbey for Memorial Day as usual. The boys built mattress forts inside, dug a WWI style trench on the beach, went to a parade in Coupeville, hiked around Deception Pass, and had an amazing time.

There was only one glitch that weekend. One tiny blip among all the lovely moments: Rocco threw up all of Friday night. We considered packing up and heading home, but  on Saturday morning he was up before anyone else, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, asking if he could go to the beach.

“It was probably just something he ate,” we said.

Boy, were we dumb.

An hour after getting back Sunday, Vincenzo said he had a stomachache. 15 minutes later, he was at the toilet. Then I got a text from my sister, saying she got it too. An hour later, both Leo and I started up. It was not a one-off kind of thing either; it was an EVERYBODY OUT kind of sickness where you threw up again and again and again and again. Fortunately, Leo and I were on a syncopated rhythm. As soon as one of us went in (blaaaaargh! flush!) the other went in (blaaaaargh! flush! ), then the first (blaaaaargh! flush! ). It was almost poetic.

Each time a new person got it, a group text went out. It was like watching major cities fall as the tanks rolled in. Jeanette’s boyfriend, then Michelle, then Luke, Ari, my dad…but all the while, Mom bravely held out. We thought she was going to make it. On Tuesday morning, her text came in. Somewhere in the distance  a lone trumpeter began playing Taps.

We sent other texts too, comparing symptoms. One end or both ends? Fever and chills or just fever? Every half hour or every two hours? I’ve never before been jealous of someone who threw up twice then had a day of fever and chills.

Once all was said and done came the daunting task of cleaning and sanitizing the bathrooms. You might think what we did is extreme…

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…but then, Norovirus is not something to be trifled with.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Ginger sweet potato soup
Teriyaki pork
Won tons
Candy shop pizza

Mrs. Mouthy’s Delights

Have you all read The Book of Delights by Ross Gay? For a year, he wrote down a delight a day, and since reading the book, I’ve been finding delights in my life, too. I don’t try to force it, but once or twice a week something will hit me in just a way that makes me put my finger in the air and announce, “Delight!” Then I go home and write it down, which is a delight all in its own.

Normally I save this kind of creative writing in hopes that someday it will get published, but I’m tired of waiting for the unknown, so I am going to put my delights here. Here, in this safe place where no one critiques or rejects or tells me it’s just not working for them. Here, on this comment-devoid blog, I will post my delights. (Though I’d love your comments!) (But only the good ones!)

With no further ado…

March 12: An elderly couple walking along the lake on a cloudy day, both in unremarkable clothing, backs bent from age and the cold, and her with a pair of the fullest, most spectacular, fuchsia-painted lips. She looked at me with her Look at Me Lips, and I felt suddenly that I knew who she was, or rather, that I knew who she is.

April 25: When I went to chop vegetables for soup on this April day, I noticed the dappled shadows of leaves playing on my counter and realized that this is a thing of spring I hadn’t noticed before. It’s something that surely has been here on my counters every spring and summer, but now that I’m aware of its seasonal show, only now does it fully exist. Now it belongs to me, this dancing of leaves upon my unchopped carrots.

May 25: Would you trust me if I said that today I delight in having a cold? A baby cold that’s naught but a stuffy nose. The first of any kind of sickness I’ve had since quarantine started two years ago. This cold, plus another bout of rainy weather, has brought with it several mid-afternoon naps without the consequence of ruining a good night’s sleep. Today I’m treating myself with extra care and gentleness. This cold has made me be a good mother to myself, and I’ll almost miss it when it’s gone.

May 29: A go-kart under construction by two boys and a girl with matching, sun-bleached hair, surprised me on my walk outside our family’s beach house today. A go-kart made of two Rubbermaid tubs, each with a car seat inside, their lids being used as running boards, all atop a dolly on its back for the wheels. The whole thing was tied to the oldest boy’s bike and the girl held a remote control, just for the idea of it. The contraption was so wildly imaginative as to be a Shel Silverstein poem. Perhaps it was their own vision, dictated to a willing dad. Perhaps it was his childhood vision finally come to life for his own kids.

While such an unhinged, wild creation could never exist along the well-planned streets of my children’s lives, it brings me joy to know that not too far away, a trio of towheaded kids are riding down a bumpy road in a two-seater, Rubbermaid, remote control go-kart.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Shredded chicken in gravy
Mashed potatoes