Leo @ 6

I really can’t stand it, but what’s a Mama to do?  Blog about it, I guess, and hope that 7 doesn’t come as quickly as 6 did.

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The boy likes to win.  And maybe he’s taken to heart his dad’s claim that the family motto is “Cheat to win” because somehow, asking for a trophy for your birthday feels like cheating.

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Until you see what the trophy is for, and then it just makes sense.

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Because this is how he starts every day

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And this is how he ends it.

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This is the boy who says he wants to be a parent when he grows up.  He’s not particular about which parent—either a mom or a dad will do; he just needs to be taking care of things that are littler than himself.

Because when you are the youngest of three, it’s not always easy to find things littler than yourself.

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He is my champion snuggler, my kitty cat who mews when he wants to be pet, the boy who spends an hour rolling around on a rug just for fun.

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He doesn’t like weekends because he misses school.  Never mind that he has spent the weekend going to birthday parties, playing video games, baking cookies, eating donuts, winning epic battles against his dad, and, of course, rolling around on the rug.

He hates being told he’s wrong, hates losing and being surprised, hates being tickled, and hates most of the food I cook.

He thinks he is the smartest, the fastest, the strongest, the funniest human in the world.  He watches an Olympic ice skater land 4 quadruple jumps and says  “I can do that.  That’s easy!”  Then he dances around the living room for ten minutes with a serious look on his face and asks if he got any reds.  (He never gets any reds.  He’s just that good.)

His favorite color is gold. But pink is way up there too.

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(I couldn’t let him do it.  But I did write a picture book in which he ends up with this jacket.)

He has hatched so many Hatchimals that we think he might be turning into one himself.

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Why yes, that’s a fitted sheet he’s wearing to dinner.  Why do you ask?

He is so excited to be six.  He’s not looking back for a second.

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But that doesn’t mean I can’t.

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Is this even the same kid?!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Pita pizzas
Lemon garlic broccoli
Fresh fruit
Sugar cookies

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Birthday Party #26

Leo turned 6 on Saturday. 

I made it through 12 years of parenting and 25 birthday parties for my kids without a single party at Chuck E. Cheese.  Until this year.  Birthday party #26.

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It’s the equivalent of the Olympic speed skater coming around the last bend in first place, then crashing, sprawling, sliding, careening and landing two inches short of the finish line. 

I almost made it guys.

But hey, at least I got a new set of glasses from the deal!

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Also, yes, I know it’s technically called Chuck E. Cheese’s but that’s just stupid so I’m just calling it Chuck E .Cheese.  I have earned that right after spending the first sunny day we’ve had in two months deep in the belly of a gray brick building with the world’s creepiest band.

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The entire point of the party boiled down to the 30 seconds Leo got to spend in the ticket tornado booth.  Here he is, shoving tickets into the most logical place he could find:

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At the end of 30 seconds, as you can imagine he had a giant load in his pants.  We all helped him empty his pants right there in the middle of Chuck E. Cheese.  Leo does not know it yet, but it was the lowest moment of his life to date.

When it was time to tip our server we took out a bunch of $1 bills and tried to get her to go into the booth herself, but she wouldn’t do it.  I guess our party package didn’t allow for that.

The only two things I made for the party (a sad nod to the glorious birthday parties of yesteryear):

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Well, technically I guess I made three things, as I take full responsibility for this creation as well:

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There is absolutely no filter or photoshopping on this photo.  He just looks like that now.

I blame the ticket tornado.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Omelets
Breakfast potatoes
Fruit
Chocolate cake

It’s Definitely February

It’s been a week-ish, so I guess I should blog?  Without the kids around so much, it’s kind of weird to me that this blog is becoming less about them and more about me.  I am not nearly as entertaining.

So I’m still “not writing a book.”  I spend several hours a day “not writing a book,” a couple hours a day reading books, and the rest of my time is spent volunteering or exercising or cooking or scrapbooking.  It’s not a bad way to spend a day, except for the judgy voice in my head that is always finding something to harp on me about regarding my current activity.

But seriously, the boys have to be more entertaining than all that? 

Vincenzo continues to underestimate his workload at school and to my horror is completely comfortable with a B- he got on his report card. 

V: Mom, that’s still a really good grade!
Me: Get behind me Satan!

He joined math Olympiad and the wrestling team which really should be a joint class anyway, right?  I’m just saying kids from each of those classes could probably really stand to take the other one.  V spent an hour taking notes on the Greek Olympics last night and when he came out of his room, he had 4 lines of notes.  2 of them were the addresses he got 2 actual lines of notes from.  Then he cried when I tried to help him take more notes.  So, you know, he’s driving me A LITTLE BIT CRAZY and it’s getting harder to hide it from him.

Rocco is still an intense little kid who has learned that mom gets upset when he constantly asks, “What can I do to earn video game time?” but that Mom looks pleased when he asks, “What can I do to help?”  And then after he helps cook or clean or fix things, I enjoy watching him squirm, trying his hardest not to ask, “How much time did that earn?”  It looks a lot like a pee-pee dance without the crotch grabbing.  “Just go play,” I finally tell him. 

Leo is three days short of being a 6-year-old.  he’s still pretty snuggly, only now he looks like one of those giant dogs trying to sit on its owner’s lap.  He’s long and angular and has a loose tooth that made his mama cry.  He is a constant stream of unintelligible words all having something to do with the latest game of Minecraft he played, but fortunately he has stopped needing me to say “M-hm” every once in awhile; he just talks and talks and assumes I am hanging on every word. 

“Right, Mom?” 
“What?  Oh.  M-hm.”

Aw, look—he does still need me!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Twice baked potatoes
Salad

On Quitting

Wow, so I just realized how bad it looks to have my last post front and center on my blog on this, the week I started sending a couple things out to agents.  I can just see a potential agent clicking on my blog handle, thinking, “Oh goody, let’s see what kind of an able, confident, healthy-minded person this lady is,” then pulling up all that blarghity blargh.

So here I am, Potential Agent, showing you hey, I’m okay!

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Because the thing is, when I quit writing, I really quit.  I did.  I gave it up.  But this naughty little part of my brain slunk away and sneak-wrote two more picture books and the beginnings of a novel that is the kind of novel I’ve always wished I could write.  When the rest of me read it, I laughed, I cried, I felt things, and then I remembered that the novel I wrote in the fall once did that for me as well.  It could be that my mom and my husband and my therapist are right when they say, “You are too critical of yourself!”  They point out I am never good enough for Me.

And yesterday, my dear friend read my blog and then she called me up to quote myself to me.  She said that a few weeks ago, I told her that writing is hard.  It is so much harder to write than it is not to write.  But I told her that I was doing it because it is turning me into the person I’ve always wanted to be.

As critical as I might be of myself, I have never doubted that I have the very greatest friends in the world.  Thank you so much, Kristen, for reminding me of who I want to be.

Yes, writing is hard.  And beautiful.  And impossible to quit.  The first thing I did when I quit writing was to start a document called “I Quit,” and that’s where the beginnings of that beautiful little book slipped out.  Oops.

All this quitting has made me realize something: I don’t have to write, but I need to write.

But for the record, I quit.  It has been so much easier to write ever since I quit.  And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go not write a book about a rainbow in a very bad mood.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Things from the frozen foods department, including fish sticks, tater tots, and probably a lot of ice cream. 

Wait—did I quit cooking, too?

Update on Me

This is a very depressing sounding post, so if you were looking for laughs today, sorry.  Instead you get to hear a SAHM who has everything she could dream of complain about how crappy it all is.  Today I am going to write about writing.

I wrote a ton from October to Christmas, and I was feeling like the Michael Jordan of picture books there for awhile, but then I lost my mojo and now I’m feeling like a firework that almost but never quite went off.  It’s been a mentally and emotionally exhausting few months, trying to write.  I wrote about 2 dozen picture books and almost all of a rough draft novel.  I hate the novel.  I like some of my picture books.  So I guess it wasn’t a total bust, but I have been depressed the past couple weeks, and I don’t want to blame writing but it’s hard not to.  I could blame the rain that just won’t go away; could blame January; could blame Christmas for walking out on our family; could blame my borderline manic-depressive personality.  I don’t know why I feel like crying all the time, but I know I’ve been here many times before in life and because of that I also know it won’t last forever.  Still, it’s impossible to see the other side of things from this side of the wall.  So I’m just sitting here, waiting for enough rain to fall that eventually I can swim over the wall to whatever is on the other side.  It’s probably just going to be a lot more rain, though.  That’s what it feels like when you’re here.

My boys, of course, are my bright spot in every day.  They heard me tell my mom that I quit writing last weekend, and their little faces were so sad.  They said, “But we love your stories!”  They started giving me idea for new stories, like the family that only wanted to eat fro-yo, and the family who wanted to play video games but their controllers were all out of batteries.  So I sat down with them and we wrote their stories and read them and laughed, and then I buried the stories in a folder deep, deep in my computer and sat on the couch, looking at the rain outside.

I snapped at Rocco and Leo the other day (I do that when I’m down) and sent him to their rooms, and instead they went to the same room and worked together to make me a Lego toast holder as an apology.  I heard Rocco tell Leo, “I just need you to find 105 of this kind of piece,” and I heard Leo readily agree.)

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I am a car that ran out of gas, and they are the crew that showed up to push me to the side of the road and make me a piece of toast.

Wow, this is depressing.  And this is why I can’t write now.  It’s like if Eeyore tried to write books.  So I’m just going to wait here on the side of the road until something changes and I can get back on the road.

Until then…

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Pork medallions in cream sauce with apples
Salad with pecans, apples, craisins, gorgonzola
Pudding cake

Leo’s Birthday List

I now present to you, without further ado, Leo’s birthday wish list.

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Now, of course, we have honed in specifically on his request for a “TrophY!”  We are 100% going to get him one so that we can spend the rest of our lives making fun of him for the time asked for a trophy for his birthday.  The best part of all this is that we get to decide what the trophy is for.  Here are our top choices for what to have engraved on the trophy:

1.  Lifetime Achievement in Breathing

2. Beto of the Year
(Bonus: regiftable!)

3. Best Angry Face
(He would make the BIGGEST angry face for this)

4. Leo’s Big-Ass Trophy

5. YOLO!

As we have not decided anything yet, please feel free to leave your own suggestion in the comments section.  It’s too good an opportunity to pass up.

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(In case you were wondering about the last thing on his list, it’s “Easter decorations for Mom!”  He knows I love decorating for the holidays, so he asked me what holiday I don’t have many decorations for and added it to the list.)

(The "Jewelry!” is for him, though.)

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Pesto meatball cannelloni
Green beans with garlic, cilantro, and cashews
Great Harvest bread
Lemon meringue pie

Mountain Men (and One Girl)

Last weekend we banded together with three other families for a weekend in the mountains, for a crew totaling 8 adults, 11 boys, and 1 girl. 

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Before you get too worried about the lone girl, though, you should know that the gender lines were at time a bit blurry.  Several of the boys had longer hair than the girl, plus there were these two:

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(Leo in his pink snow pants)

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(Vincenzo in his hat with braids, reading about chocolate facials)

It was not a weekend for anyone watching their carbs.

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After a few rough calculations, we estimated everyone needed to eat 1-1/2 loaves of bread over the course of two days.

Other calculations we did included how many boys and/or pandas can fit on a single sled.

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The numbers were crunched again and again.

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Which resulted in the crunching of some sleds as well.

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There were hopeful beginnings…

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and there were some disastrous ends.

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The indoorsy types were in board game heaven all weekend.

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As were the Vikings fans.

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Over the weekend, bruises were earned, blood was shed, bread was eaten, board games were beaten, but not once did the boys get in a fight that we needed to break up.  They were actually quite sweet, playing and taking care of each other.  Sweet but loud crazy and energetic and sometimes bloody.

Here’s the whole lot of us, minus the photographer.  (What a sucker!)

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But if I had to pick one picture to summarize our weekend with 8 adults, 11 boys, and one girl, it would have to be this one.

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I think we all need a vacation!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Tilapia with citrus bagna cauda
Cumin black beans
Lemony green beans
Lemon meringue pie