Get Out!

I’m baffled by my boys’ resistance to going outside. It’s not that they resist it so much (with me as their mom, they know resistance is futile) but when I send them out, they keep sticking their heads in the door saying, “Is an hour up yet?” They haven’t figured out yet that I add five minutes every time they ask that. *evil laugh*

Fortunately for me, every night after dinner we play a game of Monopoly Deal and the winner gets to make one decision, and fortunately for me, last night I won. My decision was that everyone go outside for 30 minutes.

“But we already spent an hour outside today!”

Oh boy. They were about to have some regrets.

Me: When I grew up,I spent an hour inside every day.
All the boys: What did you do outside all day?
Me: What did we do? What did we do? We played cops and robbers. We decorated our bikes and put on synchronized bike shows for our parents. We made tee-pees out of old sheets and sticks. We’d throw balls on the roof and catch them when they rolled down. We packed ourselves picnic lunches. We divided our yard into a battlefield and had plum wars with each other…

(10 minute
Rocco (who was the only one whose eyes were looking brighter instead of duller by the end of my little speech): That sounds fun! Wanna play cops and robbers, Mom?
Me, patting his head: Oh Rocco, the whole reason I had more than one kid is so I wouldn’t have to play with them anymore. Now go outside. Go for a walk or something!
Vincenzo: But Menchies is closed and you won’t let me go to 7-11. There’s nowhere to walk to!

They could hear me suck in my breath all the way down at 7-11 because of course, where I grew up, it didn’t matter if the stores were closed because THERE WEREN’T ANY CLOSE ENOUGH TO WALK TO. If we wanted to walk to a store, we’d get out all the canned goods from the kitchen cupboards, set them on tree stumps, and pretend we were walking to the store!

It sounds like I’m making this all up, but I’m not. It is so unsettling when your memories start sounding like hyperbole.

So. I sent everyone outside and started pruning the peonies because I’ve apparently become a Mom in a 1950s sitcom, and eventually the kids were so bored they asked if they could help. 10 minutes later they were in the middle of a huge flower war, throwing flower stalks at each other until it looked like either a wedding or a funeral had marched across our driveway.

I stood there watching with a giant smile on my face because this, THIS  was exactly what I was talking about.

I’m thinking about stacking the deck in Monopoly Deal tonight.

Finally, something I said to the boys SUNK IN! We have communed! They get it now!

At least, that’s how I felt until over ice cream cones later, Vincenzo announced, “When I grow up, I’m only going to make my kids play outside for 15 minutes. Then when they complain, I’ll say, “When I was your age, I had to stay out a whole hour!”

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Ginger soy salmon burgers
Asparagus with dill
Salad
7-layer bars

Whidbey’d

We spent Memorial Day at our family’s Whidbey beach house. We still kept to ourselves; we just did it in a different living room. Normally the beach house runneth over with cousins, aunties, uncles, and grandparents, so it was a little weird for it to be quiet and for each of us to have a bed to ourselves.

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Or—er—pool table.

Normally we don’t have Internet access (or even cell phone access) at the cabin, but over quarantine we sprung for WiFi. I have mixed feelings about it. One of the magical things about the cabin is the lack of on-line stuff, which forces us to play board games and read books and pull out a random assortment of ancient racquets and balls and challenge each other to a game of EverySport.

But now there was some of this mixed in.

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(One can only assume the are watching a V-8 commercial.)

I made it feel okay by making a rule that we could only play archaic games from the 80s—ones I used to pay on the Commodore 64. Choplifter, Moon Patrol, Spy Hunter and Paperboy, to name a few.

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The graphics might not be quite what they are today, but the sound effects are way rad. Pew! Pew! Pew! Kkboom! Sproing! Srpoing! 100% satisfying.

Kevin and I took a looksee in the garage, which I blogged about years back. To update, the wood paneling got installed in the garage but the 1,000 pinkish carpet squares (actually not mentioned in previous blog) are still stacked in the middle of it, taking up the space of a mid-sized SUV. We were excited to find a box of masks laying on the shelves, unopened. A gold mine in The After times!

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We tried them on right away.

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Well.

Leo held this sea star for about 20 seconds, then spent the next two days talking about how he held a sea star for about 20 seconds.

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Vincenzo found a coconut on the beach, which Kevin dubbed Captain Whidbey’s Nut.

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The boys spent a good deal of their time building driftwood forts on the beach. This guy showed up to help.

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Our Savior!

Usually I’m the photographer of the family, but for some reason Kevin really wanted to take a picture of me on this bluff.

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Anyway, now I’m back home, being half Mom, half teacher, half author (we’re studying fractions this week) and feeling like I’m not doing any of them really well. Only now, when the kids yell up, “Mom! The website isn’t working!” I just go all glassy-eyed and remember that for one weekend, at least, it didn’t matter if the gol-darn website wasn’t working.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Panak Paneer
Basmati Rice
Roast cauliflower with Indian spices
Hair of the Dog cake

Talent Show

The boys’ school had a virtual talent show and so I present to you a magic act, brought to you by my boys and the Coronavirus. The lighting is almost as bad as the singing, but the punch line is worth it.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Salmon chowder (which, Rocco informed me at dinner, is his third favorite chowder, which led us to ask Google how many kinds of chowder there are, which she responded to by telling us about eight different kind of showers, which led us to all pick our favorite kind of shower. Kevin’s is electric. Mine is wedding.)
Whole wheat no-knead bread
Golden kiwi
Chocolate cake and ice cream

Getting What You Asked For

Kevin meets with his Google team on Zoom every day at 11. The only thing I’ve heard them talk about is what they’re eating for lunch, which is to say the only thing I’ve heard them talk about is Arby’s. Except for the lone vegan on his team, everyone else has been ordering Arby’s regularly which is why, after every meeting, Kevin asks me in a whiny voice, “Why can’t we ever get Arby’s?” I explain to him again about the Coronavirus, using very simplistic language.

Kevin: But all my friends are doing it.
Me: If all your friends licked the handle of a grocery cart, would you lick one too?
Kevin: Does it taste like Arby’s?

Since quarantine, we’ve only eaten food that I’ve scrubbed clean and/or cooked, except on Angelo’s birthday (burgers and shakes for Angelo, removed from their wrappers with gloved hands and put on clean dishes before eating). I told Kevin if we’re going to risk extra human contact for some take out, it’s not going to be Arby’s.

But later, I felt bad. Kevin looked so sad and lonely during the Zoom meetings. So I relented.

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When I married Kevin, I never dreamed my new initials would be called on for such an important and topical use some day.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Pasta primavera
Whole wheat crusty bread
Mango
Chocolate sandwich cookies

Not Ready

The quarantine here is being lifted, phase by phase. This week we can go fishing, hunting, and golfing. And guess who feels bad about not going, fishing, hunting, and golfing this week? That’s right. Me.

The other day during read aloud, the word “hermit” came up. The boys wanted to know what a hermit was. I had no problem describing one.

I’m not ready. I know I’m supposed to miss things more than I miss them. I’m supposed to miss GNO’s and soccer games, date nights and vacations, restaurants and nail salons…but I don’t. Even things I really love, like having people over for dinner and going to family gatherings—I don’t miss them like I’m supposed to.

Sometimes I can’t even bring myself to tune into a Zoom meeting with friends because the boys and I are playing our 100th game of Monopoly Deal for the day (which, by the way, is 100 times better than actual Monopoly), or we’re yelling at each other and setting things on fire in Overcooked, or we’re watching Teen Titans Go together and it’s a really good episode. I’d rather keep doing that, even though it’s the exact same thing we were doing the day before…and the day before that…and the day before that…

I’m supposed to be tired of cooking, but I’m not. In fact, I’m finally doing the right amount of cooking.  Apple pastry for breakfast, baked potatoes with creamed eggs for lunch, Pad Thai for dinner and Boston cream pie for dessert. Somewhere during the day I’ll also toss in a loaf of bread for the week and maybe some crackers made from our sourdough discard. This spring, we have eaten exactly zero dinners out of mason jars, squeezed between two soccer fields in the rain. Zero!

With the quarantine starting to phase out, I’m catching glimpses of the gigantic to-do list on the other side. It’s not like we’re going to say, “We really learned something there. Let’s keep life simple from now on.” Nope. It will all come back: the overladen schedule, birthday parties, sports, dividing and conquering, evenings too busy to play a game together, weekends gone to birthday parties, family obligations, church, date nights, girls’ nights, sleepovers, and soccer games. The expectation that I should have spent xx hours a day writing and I should have xx pages to show for it. (During quarantine, if I get any writing done it’s a, “Yay! Bonus!” kind of feel.)  School dances, science fairs, orthodontist and dentist and doctor appointments. Bagged lunches, rushed mornings. Therapy appointments, PT, and root canals. That’s what waits me on the other side.

The thing is, except for the doctor appointments and root canal,  I love all the stuff in that paragraph.  I signed up for it all! But now that I’ve seen how life can be without all that, it’s going to be hard to go back.

We spent a whole day this week defending baby robins from a murder of crows. We go for family walks around the neighborhood now, stopping to chat with other families who, it turns out, have been living right next to us all this time. The boys make up games in the backyard and come in laughing about how Vincenzo won because he got the Golden Sneek.

When I was a kid sometimes the power would go out, and no matter how long it was out, I was never ready when the lights came back on. I love the feeling of having to “make do.”* It fulfills that part of me that always wanted to be a pioneer woman, raising my family in the middle of nowhere, filling the days with good, hard work that, in turn, would fill me up a sense of purpose.

So can we all just agree to do less of the other stuff and more of this for a little while longer? As in, like, forever?

Because this page from my mood chart is my new favorite.

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Only I don’t think they got it right. Let me make a little adjustment…

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There.

(And all these years I thought I was an extrovert.)

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Potato leek frittata
Sourdough bread
Roasted cauliflower with parmesan
Brownies and ice cream

*I do understand that there are limits to this. All the times I’ve had to “make do” my well-being has never at stake, and I know not everyone has that same luxury during quarantine.

The Winner!

And the winner of the perler bead naming challenge is…McStreamy! She was not only the contestant with the most correct answers, she was also the most beautiful, smartest, most talented, the tallest, the shortest, and the dumbest contestant. She was the only contestant! Her answers were alarmingly correct. The only thing she messed up was the grenade (#4) and the teacup-near-a-fence (#5) which, to be fair, is pictured sideways. How she ever knew that #2 was a happy seal and #7 was a Skittle are beyond me. She most definitely should see a therapist.

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LMK what recipe you want, McStreamy. Since you entered your answers twice, you can pick two: entree, salad, or cookie.

Now for the Covid 19 update from Mrs. Mouthy’s house.

Rocco’s hair is not handling the quarantine as well as the rest of us. It has some very strong opinions about where it would like to be.

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Every time I look at him, this is what I see, which makes me laugh.

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But this is what I remember, which makes me smile.

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His hair is as strong-willed as the penguin—er, boy—whose head it sits upon.

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Never change, Rocco. Never change.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Fettuccini with lobster sauce
Garlicky green beans
Fresh fruit
Butterscotch poundcake

To Market, To Market

Leo got it in his head he wanted to do a Student Market  on Friday where we all make things and sell them to each other. We tried to reason with him. There are only 5 of us here and we all share everything; what are we possibly going to sell to each other? The more we explained, the more we logicked, the more we resisted, the more Leo insisted until we finally threw our hands up in the air. He spent many hours in his room making perler bead creations. Here’s a picture I pulled from on-line for those of you who don’t know what perler beads are.

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All week Leo’s eyes would light up as he came up with the “perfect idea” for someone in the family, then he’d dash to his room to make it. Ready to see the result of over 10 hours of work?

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They’re a little bit, what’s the word? Homogenous? Art nouveau? Bad?  There’s everything here from a happy seal for Kevin (who has started insisting everyone call him Baby Seal for some reason) to a Skittles for me (because one time I must have eaten a Skittle). They also include a ball for happy seal, an Easter basket, a ninja blade, a grenade, teacup next to a fence, and a sword.

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I know my comments section is a dark, dank, cobwebby place to go, but if you want to take a guess at which perler bead creation is which, leave it in the comments. I recommend using one of those randomizer websites to help your decision-making process. The winner will receive a recipe of their choice of my favorite entree, salad, or cookie recipe. I promise, it will be worth it!

Picking up where I left off, Rocco’s shady looking booth made it feel more like we were buying stuff from the black market instead of the student market. He baked 3 dozen cookies to sell. You know, to the 4 of us.

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Leo bought 2 dozen of them.

Vincenzo, in typical Vincenzo fashion, said, “Market? Oh, that’s today?” and then spent 2 minutes getting ready for it.

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If you zoom in, you’d see it says “Deals available!” only he spelled it “avaliable,” also in typical Vincenzo fashion.

As for me, I sold contraband.

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At the bottom, my sign says, “price: negotiable.” Spelled correctly. Not that I would point that out to anyone who has a sign taped to their shirt or anything.

I also sold one dollar bills for $2.00 (or best offer). Please note the misuse of quotation marks on my sign, in the name of authenticity.

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The boys laughed at my dollar bill booth, but they weren’t laughing so much when I sold my first one.

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At the end of market, I slashed prices by 25% and sold dollar bills for $1.50. Talk about deals avaliable!

Leo also sold sit-time in his unicorn chair. There were different packages, from just sitting in the chair with no extras (3 cents for 1 minute) to “the works” where he piled on every blanket and pillow from his room, let you hold his turtle and llama, and gave you a head and back massage (for 6 cents).

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As ridiculous at this seems, he was the only one taking this whole thing seriously.

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I guess it paid off.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Butter chicken
Basmati rice
Roasted asparagus
Cookies (if Leo’s in a sharing mood)