Promotion Finale

I feel kind of weird blogging about Vincenzo three times in a row without even mentioning my other sons, but unapologetically, I move forward.

First of all, I would like to present Vincenzo Steven Beto, Fifth Grade Graduate!


Guys, guys, a little less applause, okay?  Sheesh, it’s just the fifth grade.

His class had a little ceremony on Thursday morning.  You know how they always stick the weird, tall kids in the back row?


A lot of real weirdos in the bunch.

No, really, those are life-sized cut-outs the kids made of themselves to decorate the gym.  Vincenzo’s was very realistic—it’s the one in the blue suit coat, gold Converse, and khaki shorts, hung a little lower than the others. 


I jest, I jest.  His is the anemic looking one to his left that doesn’t have any hair or lips.


Well, you can’t always have it all.

During the ceremony, kids got up and read a paragraph they wrote predicting their life twenty five years from now.  Let me just say, there are going to be a lot of disappointed young adults in 2031 who find themselves not playing in the NBA, not playing for the Sounders, not performing brain surgery, not starring in movies, and not “chillin in their mansions in LA” with their maltese puppies named Coco.

Vincenzo’s speech made me proud.  Mostly it made me laugh, but that’s probably why it made me proud.  If you have 30 seconds to spare, you can watch it here:

Like I said, there are going to be a lot of disappointed young adults in 25 years.

Teriyaki chicken
Fresh fruit
Salad of some sort

Feeling Phoney

After years of being begged to, whined at, cajoled, and finally beaten down, Kevin and I finally decided to get Vincenzo a phone. His argument of “Every single other fifth grader in the world has a phone but me” was the one that finally convinced us.

We the fifth grade promotion as an excuse to get him one, but you know me.  I couldn’t just give Vincenzo a phone-sized wrapped gift and call it good; I had to take him on an emotional journey to get his phone.  So I bought a personal fan, emptied out the box, stuck the phone in, and wrapped it up


Then I wrote this message in his card:

For your gift, we thought it was time to get you a personal electronic device.  I’m sure it will make summer even better, and it will definitely increase your “cool” factor.  You’re welcome!  Love—Your Biggest Fans

Then I wrapped the box in paper covered with giant question marks and thought about how excited Vincenzo would be when he read the card, then how crushed he would be to find out the personal electronic device was a fan, but how he’d try to must some excitement about being the owner of a personal fan, then how his hope would rise when we told him he should open the box and take the fan out right away, and finally how he’d break through the atmosphere into space when he discovered the phone inside.

(A+ for transition words, Mrs. Mouthy!)

So here’s Vincenzo, opening a gift that he really hopes is this one thing he’s been asking for his entire life but is afraid to say out loud in case it’s not:


And here he is one second later.


What??!  Where’s the disappointment?!  I have clearly been messing with my boys too often and for too long.  Vincenzo skipped right over the Disappointed and the Recovery stages.  Instead, he went straight to the This is Definitely Not a Fan  phase–which isn’t even one of the phases!

Vincenzo did make me feel a little better when he pulled out the phone and said he couldn’t believe how small his new personal fan was.

And now, it’s official: every fifth grader in the entire world has a phone. 

They say money can’t buy happiness, but money can buy phones and phones, well…


You know.  They don’t keep you cool, but I guess they’re okay.

Going out again.  Must be summer!


My kid is graduating today.  Not high school graduating or anything, but still, this feels pretty serious.

Here he is on the first day of kindergarten, which I blogged about when it happened just last week.


Here he is holding that same bear today.


Okay, that’s not the same bear, and in fact that’s a lion, but metaphorically speaking, it’s the same bear.

Vincenzo has had a very low-key, low-drama six years at elementary school.  I don’t have a whole lot of major things to recount—just the regular stuff that happens to kids during those years.  He learned to read, he lost almost all his teeth, he grew new ones, he learned to ride a bike, he played sports, he won some awards, he didn’t win others, he made friends, he grew a number of inches.  All normal stuff.

I still can’t believe it, that he’s leaving the womb that we call elementary school and jumping into the public swimming pool that we call middle school.  I mean, I still don’t feel comfortable with him crossing the street by himself, and here I am sending him to a school chock full of dangers, like hormones and drugs and *gasp*—self organization.  I used to teach junior high, so I know how tough it can be for the kids whose work spaces look like this in the fifth grade:


(For once, a picture I didn’t have to stage even a tiny bit!)

On the other hand, I can totally believe that Vincenzo is taking the next step forward.  I have been through all the stages of a parent watching their kid go through elementary school.  There was the new parent excitement of signing up for every possible committee, being enchanted with the class parties that I of course organized, getting the giggles at parent orientations because surely I was too young to be here, inviting all his friends’ families over for dinner so we could get to know them better.  Flash forward six years and here is the parent who only signs up for committees when the teacher sends out that e-mail saying, “HEY NO ONE SIGNED UP FOR ANYTHING, WTF GUYS.”  I’m the parent sitting in the back of parent orientation,  feeling way too grown up to have to sit through another one of these.  I have become the parent who doesn’t get the point of attending class parties anymore as the kids are just sitting there watching a movie, and I can’t remember the name of the friends’ house my son is at today but I’m pretty sure it starts with an "E.”  Or an “S.”

Still, I was born the sentimental type and I can so easily bring myself back to that morning when V carried his giant teddy bear to school, got lost and almost didn’t make it to his classroom at all, then flashed me the “thumb’s up” sign once an aide rescued him and delivered him to his very first day of public education.

When I tucked Vincenzo in bed last night, I asked him how he was doing and if he was feeling any emotions.  He said, “What kind of emotions?  Why?  Did something happen that’s supposed to make me feel emotional?


Like I said, six years of elementary school and nothing’s changed.

Going out!

Sleeping like a Baby

Okay, I know it’s crazy, but ever since I wrote that insomnia post, I’ve been sleeping like a baby.  Not an older, cries-all-night baby but a brand new, sleeps-through-anything, newborn baby.

And speaking of newborn babies…


Meet Cal’s baby brother, George.


I know what you would say if you were looking at these pictures over my shoulder, so I’ll say it for you: Look at that HAIR! 

I feel so blessed to have been allowed to share and steal these beautifully sacred moments from this loveliest of families.  Every member of this family just radiates joy, and it feels good to stand near them and soak up some of that joy.  They’re very generous with it.

Baby George and his family live literally right next door to me—I mean, I can see their house as I’m writing this—and it is taking all my strength to not head over right now, knock on the door, and demand to hold their little baby.  It’s a good thing I’m not wearing pants, because that’s probably the only thing stopping me right now.

But tomorrow is another day, and I’ve got a pair of pants all laid out for myself, and I can’t wait for morning to come.

Oven-fried chicken
Potato, pear, and Tillamook cheese soup
Fresh bread
Chocolate chip cookies

Insomnia Sucks

Okay, I’m going to write an unapologetically long blog post, so long that you might fall asleep reading it, which would be a rudely ironic thing to do because this post is about this huge thing in my life called INSOMNIA.

Insomnia sucks. It is this awful thing that I deal with on a daily basis. It used to be that I’d go a few months sleeping great, then I’d have 4 to 6 weeks of insomnia, then a few months of blissful restful nights. That doesn’t happen anymore. Now I have long spells where I don’t sleep well followed by long spells where I sleep even worse, and it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. I guess I know it’s a worse week when I stub my toe and instead of just yelling out a swear word and moving on, I find myself curled up in the fetal position on my bathroom floor, sobbing and saying, “I want a new life.”

Each night I go to bed I tell myself, “Tonight is going to be one of those nights when I sleep great.” Then I lay down and put on some hypnotherapy. Sometimes I fall right asleep, only to wake up every hour, on the hour until about 2AM when I’ve put myself back to sleep four times already, I’m exhausted, and I just can’t do it again.

Sometimes I fall asleep beautifully, but for some reason I always have some stupid nightmare at about 2AM that results in my body being flooded with adrenaline that leaves me more ready to run a 400-meter-dash more easily than I could fall back to sleep.

Sometimes it takes me an hour of listening to hypnotherapy/soothing music and finally I’m about to drift off to sleep when, for some reason, my brain sits bolt upright inside my skull and says, WELL THAT’S ENOUGH OF THAT! Then I don’t even feel tired, so I have to get up and read or watch a show until my eyes actually start bleeding, and only then will my brain is all HEY, U NEVER ACTUALLY WENT TO SLEEP, BRO! By then I’m finally able to fall asleep, but as it’s 2 or 3 in the morning it is too late to get a full night of rest.

Most hours of the night are a torturous series of flipping from one end of the bed to the other, laying absolutely still for hours at a time but nothing happening, listening to hypnotherapy, putting on relaxing music, doing self-meditation, moving to the couch, moving back to the bed, reading books, and/or watching something from the nature channel. By the time morning comes, I am no longer cheerfully optimistic about getting a good night’s sleep. I am Mr. Hyde, and the first person to look at me sideways is really gonna get it.

All the fun is gone from life when I don’t sleep well. I am irritated with my husband, I find my kids to be substandard, my to-do list is to overwhelming to even look at, I don’t smile or laugh, and I’m sure I will never amount to anything more than what I am right now: a tired, past-her-prime homemaker with an attitude problem. I’m like a whiny teenager who doesn’t want to go to the gym, who doesn’t want to take out the garbage, who doesn’t feel like folding laundry. My body goes on autopilot, driving the kids around and distributing foodstuffs until finally, finally there’s enough break in my schedule to take a nap.

Oh, those naps. How I live for those naps. A 45-minute nap makes all the difference in my day, the difference between being Angry Zombie Mom and Flowery, Sing-songy Mom. Waking up from those naps, suddenly my kids are brilliant, my husband is the love of my life, I can’t wait to get started on that to-do list, I smile at strangers, and I think I’m going to even start writing that novel finally.

I’ve been to the doctor, a sleep psychologist, and a sleep clinic–nothing is physically wrong with me. My oxygen levels are at 100%. My sleep problems are purely mental. I’ve tried peppermint oil under the nose, a cup of cherry juice before sleeping, melatonin, baths before bedtime. I have tried cutting out screen time before going to sleep, I’ve tried going to bed earlier, I’ve tried staying up later. Anything I try is about as effective as putting out a fire by trying to cry on it.

I don’t know what to do about this insomnia thing, other than to just keep plowing through it. It’s like living with a chronic illness, I imagine. I feel like I have a personality disorder. It’s this crappy thing that I have to deal with, and I don’t really have any good reason for having written it all out here other than sometimes, you just gotta let it all out.

Maybe now I’ll have a good night of sleep?

Spice-rubbed chicken
Brown rice
Black beans
Salad with lettuce and stuff in it
Strawberry-rhubarb tart with whipped cream

Phoning It In

Hey, just me here, listening to James and the Giant Peach for the inifinith time.  My brain has turned into treacle pudding and I haven’t had an original thought since the first day Leo learned where the “play” button is on the radio, with the constant drivel in the background, so I’m just going to throw some pictures your way.

Vincenzo’s play:


Leo watching Vincenzo’s play:


Rocco trying out our new sleeping bag:


The bouquet I ordered Kevin’s grandma for her birthday:


The bouquet that was delivered to Kevin’s grandma on her birthday:

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(Pro tip: avoid ProFlowers)

Leo, asking, “Do you know where I hid the superball?”


An activity Cal found incredibly hilarious:


Kevin and I sharing a drink that matched the classiness of the Spam sliders we were eating:


Grilled chicken sausage
Grilled potatoes
Corn on the cob
Marshmallow & chocolate chip cake pops

All Dahl’d Up

I ordered a box set of the Road Dahl books on CD, read by Roald Dahl himself, for our trip to the Grand Canyon.  Of course, once there we discovered our rental car had no CD player.  How very cute of me to just assume all cars have CD players, right next to the manual windshield wiper mechanism.

Not to worry, though, we have a bona fide ghetto blaster boombox dealie here at home for all our musical needs, and Leo listens to the CD’s over and over again throughout the day. 


Well, actually, he listens to one specific CD, James and the Giant Peach, over and over again, which means I listen to the James and the Giant Peach CD over and over again.  As soon as Leo wakes up, he stumbles out of his room, presses “play” on the CD and we hear again hear how James’ parents were eaten up by a rhinoceros, we hear his aunts calling him stupid little boy; we hear Roald Dahl and his British accent pronouncing “really” like “ruhlly” on every other page; we worry about how many more years this is going to add to our eight plus years speech therapy.  James and the Giant Peach plays in its entirety anywhere between three and five times a day in our house, and I ruhlly don’t think I can take much more of it.

I used to love this book.  It was one of my favorite read alouds when I was a teacher and then when I became a mom.  Unfortunately, listening to the same book 36 times in 9 days does not do any favors for one’s love of any book.  I have listened to these stories read by Roald Dahl so much that I’m no longer enchanted by the British accent.

Our other options from the CD set are the Magic Finger, where duck-humans and human-ducks shoot each other up; The Giant Crocodile where a crocodile spends the entire book trying to eat a child alive; Fantastic Mr. Fox, which left Leo running around the house yelling, “Dang and blast!” for a week; or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is not so bad if you can overlook the one-sidedness of the characters, the enslavement of the Oompa Loompas and the way it’s totally obvious that Willy Wonka not only knows that terrible fates are about to befall a group of children, but is actually looking forward to it.

I no longer enjoy the whimsy and wildness of Roald Dahl’s books, and it feels like my childhood is over.

If only there were some sort of wriggling magic beans that some odd little man could place in the palm of my hand and instruct me to swallow in order to bring the magic back…

Polenta with roasted kale and squash, browned butter, blue cheese, & fig balsamic
Breaded lemon shrimp
Chocolate cake pops