Hearing Things

Kevin and I keep hearing things Vincenzo never said, like, “I have Wednesday off work,” and “I filled out the paperwork for volunteering,” and “I already ate dinner.” When we realize he did not, in fact, have Wednesday off or fill out the paperwork for volunteering or eat dinner, we get: “I never said that!”

Yesterday I approached him. “You know, it’s funny, but both Dad and I keep thinking we heard things that you never said.

He didn’t even look up from his phone. “They say hearing is the first thing to go with old age.”

Something else we thought we heard him say: “I got in a little accident but no one is hurt and there was no damage.” (The next day he asked for our insurance information to pay for damages to the other car.)

Another fun thing he said: “I almost killed someone on my way home from work but we both stopped in time. Don’t worry; it was the kid’s fault.”

And: “The headlights on the car aren’t working, so I drove home with the parking lights on. Everyone kept flashing their brights at me.”

I really need to get my hearing checked before I hear anything else.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Soba noodle salad with chicken
8 sugar snap peas from our garden (!!)
7 raspberries from our bushes (!!)
Chocolate decadence cake with strawberry sauce

So Much Nothing

We’re still quarantining from our little COVID stint, so I have essentially nothing to do…and there still aren’t enough hours in the day to do it. Gardening, cooking, baking, cleaning desks out, blogging, writing, scrapbooking, playing board games, nagging Vincenzo, watching movies, sorting Legos, reading, working out (in the backyard). I don’t even have time for pinball, we’re that busy! I’m worried that at some point Rocco and Leo will realize no one is coughing anymore and ask to go to the beach and I am going.to.EXPLODE.

Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that yet, as the boys couldn’t think of a single thing to put on our summer fun list. I made one for them instead.

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I’ve never seen them run for the pencil drawer so fast.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Pasta primavera
Cherries
Mix ‘n match ice cream sandwiches

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

Kids at Play

Last week was an exciting but busy one, with Rocco and Leo being in plays over the weekend. Leo played Smee in Peter Pan and Rocco played Trinculo in The Tempest, Disney Cruise Version, as his play director is the creative sort.

A few weeks after rehearsals started, Leo began asking about what bouquet I was going to make him. He gave me a lot of suggestions and asked so many questions about it, I grew suspicious it’s the only reason he signed up for the play. He had big expectations after the Twinkie minion bouquet I made Rocco last year. It was a lot of pressure! Fortunately, I managed to pull it off.

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In Rocco’s play, most of the lines were true to Shakespeare’s work, but every once in a while a line was altered to have the name of a candy in it to work in some of the Disney Cruise stuff, so I made Rocco a bouquet of all the candies mentioned. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of it until he and his friends took literally one bite out of all the candy.

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This was the first time any of my boys had a role not added in to uphold the “no cuts” policy (you may remember Vincenzo as the left front wheel in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, or as a member of the on-stage audience whose role it was to have occasional facial expressions in Mid Summer Night’s Dream).

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Rocco is in the penguin costume, as I’m sure Shakespeare intended.

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Leo is the one grinning as his throat’s about to be slit.

He had to put on a few pounds to play the part.

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Leo was so proud of his big role. He identified as Smee so much that for the past month it’s been all “Aye aye cap’n” and “Ahoy, mateys!” at home. He actually practiced the songs and dances on his own and learned how to play his solo, I’m a Little Teapot, on the piano, even though he hates playing piano.

His excitement was so contagious, even wearing a mask didn’t prevent me from catching it. I’ve never done more than the minimum duty for plays, chaperoning the required rehearsal and signing up for a committee that requires the least amount of work. This time, with my boys having bigger roles, and specifically with Leo having a role big enough to have its own understudy—well, I couldn’t help myself. There I was, showing up to practices I wasn’t chaperoning, coaching my kid on the way home from rehearsals, making my own adjustments to his costume, and having the music director send me a copy of his mini solo so we could practice at home. I did everything short of spray-tanning him.

The month and a half of practices flew by. Opening night happened. Closing night followed. The boys took their final bow, collected their bouquets, then went home and picked up life where it left off six weeks ago.

Well, almost everyone.

I’m sitting at home, looking at the fridge where last week hung an intense, color-coded schedule, feeling a bit empty. I don’t want to go back to normal life! I want the songs and dances, the spotlight, the applause, the bouquets. I want my little monkeys to dance again! Here I am on the couch, feeling like a bride the day after her wedding.

*slaps left cheek*
*slaps right cheek*

Okay. Reality check. My boys were in plays. They had a fabulous time, they loved their roles and their bouquets, and when the plays were done they happily moved onto the next thing. That’s all a mother could hope for.

That, plus a stage, a musical director, an ensemble, a spotlight, and an audience…

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Brown sugar glazed salmon
Roasted potatoes
Parmesan broccoli

Random Haps

It’s been a while since I blogged, so let me get you all caught up:

Mother’s Day was not a bust after all. Vincenzo purchased one of the cards from student market (for the mere price of an empty Milkita wrapper) and surprised me by actually signing the inside of it!! Leo even made me some coupons:

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There was a coupon for a million dollars in the mix…but it expired in November of the year 1100.

That day we also visited Kevin’s parents, who had us build a kayak in their bedroom, then my parents’, where Poppy juggled flaming torches on the lawn. You know—normal Mother’s Day stuff.

For a thank you card, Kevin’s mom sent us a 3-D paper kayak with a print-out of her head inside it. Unfortunately, Kevin tossed it before I could get a picture, but I do have this other equally fabulous thank-you card she sent for something earlier in the year.

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Other haps from the past couple weeks:

The excitement over Vincenzo getting his license and going places on his own has dimmed. Yesterday, an hour before dinner, I caught him sneaking out to the car. He was going to Wendy’s to get a snack, but he promised he’d still be hungry dinner. His “snack” was a double cheeseburger, a cheeseburger, fries, and a soda. He did not eat dinner. Too much snacking, apparently.

This morning I found a giant stack of old assignments in Rocco’s backpack. Most were done with minimal work—just an incomplete sentence or two where the teacher had left a paragraph-amount of room. Then I came to Rocco’s “Delete 3rd Children” campaign, which he poured a lot of effort into.

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Looks like I’ll be helping Leo start a “Delete 2nd Children” campaign this weekend.

And finally, in a rare of act of Doing Something Different, we visited our dear friends in St. Louis. We went to their daughter’s softball game, played around at the City Museum, and snuggled with their cats. Basically, we cheated on our own kids.  But actually, the whole weekend felt like a date, especially the part where we threw axes.

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(Kevin’s weapon of choice was the balloon pump.)

Thank you to everyone who hung out with our own kids while we were gone. Thank you especially to my mom, who followed the detailed directions I left to bring Rocco to a birthday party a whole day early.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Honey sesame chicken
Rice
Edamame
Chocolate chip cookies

To Market We Go

Leo wanted to do student market with the family again, which made us all groan, but he was so excited for it that we had no choice but to comply. Plus, we’re all a little afraid of him.

Leo sold perler beads, turns at the claw machine, and his least favorite Halloween candies.

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Rocco sold a variety of goods from the Asian market:

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Vincenzo sold a single Milkita.

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He said he’d raffle it off. He didn’t print tickets or anything because that would have taken effort, so he said he’d keep track of them in his head.

I forgot to take a picture, but Kevin set out a bunch of cups of popcorn and sold scooter rides (which is a topic for a different post).

As for me?

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Mother’s Day gifts.

And because I’m not totally evil I also sold ice cream Drumsticks.

At noon sharp, Market opened and the shenanigans began. Rocco traded Vincenzo a mochi ice cream for four Milkita tickets. Leo tried to buy a popcorn from Kevin. Kevin said the popcorn was just for him, but if Leo would like a scooter ride he had several available. Kevin bought 50 chances at the claw machine and won several Milkitas. Vincenzo offered me 5 Milkita tickets for a drumstick but I no-deal’ed him until he got up to 4 million. Rocco realized his four raffle tickets were now worth nothing and immediately invented Scamcoin, then offered 5 million Scamcoin for a drumstick. Thusly, the trading continued until there was a fairly even distribution of Minisoft ice cream cones between the five of us.

But you know what no one would buy?

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That’s right. Not even the FREE HUG coupon. Not even after I gave them a bag of quarters and told them everything cost a quarter. (“Thanks for the quarters, Mom!”)

As Market came to a close, Vincenzo bought 100 million of his own raffle tickets, ran the raffle, and won his Milkita. He went to claim his prize only to find that someone had sneak-eaten the Milkita and left only the wrapper.

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Well, Mother’s Day might be a bust, but on the bright side, we may have ruined Market enough that Leo won’t ask for it again.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Linguini with salmon and lemon cream sauce

I’m Freeeeeee!

I think I’ve blogged about my giant hiccups before. They’re not really hiccups. Hiccups are cute but mildly annoying little things. What I get are these giant SQUAWKS that make everyone in a restaurant turn and look. They don’t feel great, either—like my throat is a squeaky toy someone keeps stepping on. They sometimes get so bad I can’t read aloud to the boys at night because my throat is just too worn out.

It wasn’t just my throat giving me problems. I was having a lot of muscle pain, too. First my calves…then hamstrings…then glutes…then hip flexors…then shoulder…then lower back. Some days I couldn’t even go for a walk, my hip flexors hurt so much. I was still able to eke out a workout at the gym, but my exercise list was shrinking by the week.

I was starting to feel like this guy:

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I left pilates with Kevin one Saturday in March. Pilates is something I do in between gym days because it’s so much easier on my body, but that day I had barely made it through the workout. I didn’t mean to, but I let out a sob. “I just feel like I’ve been beaten up.” “What hurts?” Kevin asked. “Everything.” Everything

I’ve been to regular doctors, naturopaths, and therapists. I’ve done physical therapy, had ultrasounds, X-rays, and MRI’s, an endoscopy and a colonoscopy, and tried every treatment the experts recommended except the metal detoxins footbath, but in the end they all said, “I can’t find anything wrong.” They also said they’ve never heard of someone SQUAWK like that before.

I joked that it was all in my head. I worried that it was all in my head. I knew that it definitely was not all in my head. It was hard to see so many things I love—running, exercising, playing with my kids, hiking, gardening—disappearing. It felt like my life was shrinking.

Kevin, engineer that he is, tester that he is, convinced me to do a gut intelligence test. He was so optimistic. I was so without hope. But I sent off a blood sample and stool sample anyway because Kevin is hard to say no to and because bleeding and pooping were two things I could still do.

A few weeks later the results came back (I went through Viome) and showed that I shouldn’t eat tomatoes, cucumbers, or turmeric. They also showed I should limit sugar to 1 teaspoon a day, limit my intake of fatty meat, and not drink too much caffeine, which made me skeptical. That’s not personalized advice; that’s the curriculum of a fifth grade health class!

But to make Kevin happy, I stopped eating tomatoes, cucumbers, and turmeric, throwing in peppers for good measure. Actually, I didn’t do it to make Kevin happy. I did it so that I could say, “See? I told you so. Nothing works.”

Except that…it did work. Two weeks after stopping cucumbers, turmeric, peppers, and tomatoes my hiccups all but disappeared. I sat cross-legged on the couch one afternoon. Cross-legged! Can you imagine? Feeling brave, I went for a walk. I started out in my slow, granny way but then got bolder and bolder until, unbelievably, miraculously, I was walking briskly!  The next week I tried running. Readers, I can run. I can run!!!

It feels like I’ve traded in my body for a new one. Like I reversed time. Like I tossed my crutches into the bushes and ran down the road, yelling, “I’M FREEEEEEE!”

I’ve never been happier for Kevin to be right.

Not all my problems are solved. I still have some muscle stuff going on and have to be careful. It’s become extremely difficult to eat at restaurants with my list of things I can’t eat (I also can’t do citrus, coffee, and a few other things). I’m still three inches shorter than I’d like to be. Kevin has more work to do.

But I am up and running again, all thanks to this guy. My hero.

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Maybe not the best picture?

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This guy. My hero.

WHAT’S COOKIN’  2NITE:
Subway