Vincenzo’s Theatrical Debut

Vincenzo signed up for the school play this year.  He could have signed up last year but wasn’t interested until he saw pictures of the pizza party that happens after all is said and done, so he went and enlisted.

Vincenzo approaches acting much like he approaches sports.  He hangs in the back, not doing anything fancy; just doing his job and staying on task.  Then every once in awhile he does something surprisingly well that makes you think, Wow, that kid’s got potential!  And then he fades to the back again, quietly but adequately returning his job of supporting the star players.

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He has been so excited about the play, and anyone who knows Vincenzo knows that excitement is something usually reserved for Christmas morning and video games.  He is my mellow, chill little dude.  But the play.  The play!  It ate up all of his video game time for six weeks straight and Vincenzo never even noticed.  He just woke up, thought about which day of the week it was, and if it was a play practice day gave a little, “Yippee!”

I loved waking him up today, the morning of the play’s opening night.  His eyes fluttered into focus and he whispered, almost to himself, “It’s the day of the play.”

His character, Pepperjack the Mouse, has 16 lines.  During one of the rehearsals, Vincenzo counted the lines in the play (783), did some math, and figured out that he has .02% of the lines.  This did not stop him from poring over the script for hours, filling it with notes to himself about inflection and blocking, and practicing his lines endlessly, hoping he would be able to convey to the audience in just 16 lines that his mouse is a country boy.  He is the true embodiment of the saying that there are no small parts, only small actors.

I had to laugh because Vincenzo is actually one of the physically smallest actors on stage, and he tends to stand behind the crowd so that all we see is his arms sticking out from behind someone else’s body, but oh, how we clapped for those arms.

(I’ve labeled some of my favorite arm shots of his in the following pictures.)

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His face almost got in the last picture.  That was a close call.

I wrote Vincenzo a card telling him that we have been proud of him since the very first time we held him, and today we are even prouder than ever.

Then I told him, as I helped him get in costume, that when I held Baby Vincenzo in my arms and imagined our future together, I have to admit I never imagined applying a thick layer of eyeliner to his beautiful blue eyes.*

Tonight, after the play, I gave him a beautifully wrapped gift that happened to be a piece of stinky cheese because it seemed more practical than flowers and was more suitable for a mouse.

He knew exactly what it meant.

It meant that I love him to that giant cheeseball in the sky…and back.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
We are all over the map for this one, each of us eating at different times, locations, and states of being

*For the fact checkers: his eyes started out blue.  They’re green now.

Funnies 5.17

1.  Leo, looking at tulips in the yard: It’s so funny that they named these two-lips!
Leo, later looking at rhododendrons in the yard: They should have named these ones three-lips!

2. I texted this actual picture of Leo to my mom the other day, saying, “Leo just got stung by a bee.  Do you think I should take him to the doctor?”

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(It’s grapes in his cheeks and sun in his eyes.) 

(My mom no longer falls for my antics.)

3. Rocco: What are the golden years?
Me: It’s when you’re older and you’ve stopped working and are just enjoying life.
Rocco: I know how you can have more golden years. 
Me: How’s that?
Rocco: Just never get a job, and then it can always be the golden years!

4. We visited Kevin’s new office building.  Is it just me or does it look like Leo wants to sell you drugs?

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5. I was giving Kevin instructions on how to make dinner, help the kids with homework, and get them ready for bed since I was heading out.  I looked over to see if he was following.

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I just don’t feel like he listens to me anymore.

6. Driving the carpool home from Vincenzo’s play practice, I was explaining the order in which we’d drop off the boys:

Me: …and we’ll drop Tucker off last.  I always save the best for last.
Tucker: That’s me, I’m the best!
Me: Actually, Vincenzo is technically the last, so I guess he’s the best.
Alex: Oh, that’s what parents always say.
Me: What, that their kid is the best?
Alex: No, that Vincenzo is the best.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Spaghetti & meatballs
French bread
Kale, cherry, and pepita salad
Broccoli
Ice cream

(Thanks for cooking it, Mom, and sorry I didn’t leave you a ruler to measure the 2” of water in the pot.)

Busy

Wednesdays used to be my crazy-busy, run-myself-into-the ground days that I had to mentally prepare for.  Now Wednesdays are my calm, relaxing days that I look forward to.  Ironically, the Wednesday schedule didn’t change in the least; it’s just that all the other days did, and we are all being whipped around by the seat of our pants from hour to hour.

Take last Thursday, when Kevin got home from work long enough to put on a pair of shin guards, then was off to soccer to coach Rocco’s team, then I drove Leo to the soccer fields to watch his brothers and distribute our Tupperware dinner, then V showed up at soccer via carpool and Kevin switched fields to coach Vincenzo’s team while I entertained and fed the other two boys on the sidelines, and then I got a text asking if Kevin was going to be at the PTSA meeting that was taking place right now, thirty minutes away, and then we all went home and spent an hour doing homework, eating second dinner, doing laundry, getting ready for bed, and going to bed way too late.

Or like Friday, when the boys were home from school long enough to have a few saltines, then we were off to swim lessons, then I drove Rocco to a birthday party, then we met up with Kevin at Taco Time for a quick dinner, then I was off to Fred Meyer to stock up on groceries since Friday at 8PM was the first free hour I had had all week to do such a luxurious thing as buy groceries, then we all got home through various means and went to bed at various too-late hours.

We are not the busiest family out there.  I actually am very careful to not overschedule the boys—just one sport per season, and we keep telling Leo he’s not old enough yet.*  Plus, my kids just play rec sports.  We’re not even in the world of weekend tournaments and skills clinics and extra practices.  Yet somehow the events and commitments creep up on us and there we are, eating soggy sub sandwiches in the rain on the soccer field again and waking up after a full night of sleep saying, “I’m soooooooo tired.”

But happy.  My boys are happy, and I know that as crazy busy as these days are, they are the ones I will really miss some day.  I’ll miss playing Uno on our bucket** at soccer; I’ll miss Leo sneaking a snuggle in at Taco Time because he’s learned to take what he can get, when and where he can get it; I’ll miss the BOOYAH feeling I get from sending my kids out the door with all the gear, the snacks, and the bus passes and instructions they need for the day; I’ll miss the looks Kevin and I give each other in passing that say this is ridiculous; I’ll even miss the loads of muddy clothes thrown into the washing machine each evening, miraculously turned into mounds of clean and laundered clothes.

Still, wouldn’t it be nice if someone could come redo the whole time-space continuum so that we could spread these days out?  So that now and then I could reach back and pull up a newlywed day, when we were sitting around wondering what we should do for the weekend?  (When is the last time we ever had the luxury of asking that?!)  Or I might reach forward and pull back a day when we’re sitting in our rocking chairs, watching the busy young’uns working so hard while we cradle grandbabies on our laps.  I just feel life might be a little bit easier to swallow if it weren’t all so bunched up in places like it is now.

I know I could do things differently.  I could farm the boys out and not go to the soccer practices but instead stay home and fold that beautifully clean pile of laundry.  It’s just that this is my one time of life to experience this part of my boys’ childhoods, and I don’t want to miss any of it.  Plus, if I set up carpools and stayed at home instead, my family would very rarely be all together, and I am happiest when we are all together.

Like my boys, I love it all. I just sometimes wish there were a little less of it to love.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Torta rustica
Roasted asparagus
Steamed broccoli
Killer brownies

*I don’t count swimming as a sport; we take lessons as a safety measure since we spend so much of our summer at lakes and pools

**My SIL introduced me to the giant frosting buckets that larger supermarkets will give you for free.  I pack one full of activity books, board games, snacks, hand warmers, etc. and carry it to soccer practices.  The boys who are just waiting for brother’s practice to end pick out their games or activities and we use the tub as a table to play them on.  It’s a brilliant system, and I am forever grateful to my SIL for showing me the way!

Flappyccino

I’m not sure if this crazy phenomenon has come to your little corner of the world or if this whole thing is just something my own imagination made up, but there is this drink from a certain coffee store that seems to be made from the juicing of a unicorn and topped off with an edible cloud.

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Of course, we are believers and had to try it, so before school one day I brought the boys to Starbucks.  Leo was very excited to try his first ever “Flappyccino.”

Here he is, drinking the pretty unicorn juice.

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In an instant, he grew to be four times bigger than he used to be.

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And in the next instant…

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So now knows the taste of regret.

I was not the only mother there that morning, encouraging my children to drink, drink up, drink alllllllll that sugary rainbow sh**.  There were loads of us.  So now all the elementary school teachers have an answer to their question of What is UP with the kids this week? 

If you’re afraid to try it on your own, you can read this article that describes  the flavor as the color pink.  The flavor of trapper keepers and strawberry milk.  Of sour birthday cake and shame.

My own take on the unicorn “flappyccino?”  If you loved the taste of Flintstone vitamins growing up—if you ever fantasized about eating a whole bottle of Flintstone vitamins at once and finishing it off with a mouthful of Reddiwhip–then this, this is the drink for you.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Leftovers for those who didn’t hate them the first time
Sandwiches for those who did

Spotlight on MrMouthy

Kevin has gone and done something no man from his family has done in recorded history.  Not his dad, not his dad’s dad, and things get kind of complicated in the generation above that but I think we can safely assume that not his dad’s dad’s dad either. 

And what is that wild and crazy thing that Kevin did is?

He changed jobs.

Well, kind of.  He works in software and he’ll still work in software, but now his free t-shirts look like this:

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And the free hats look like this.

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Making a change was hard for Kevin.  His eye developed a twitch that seems fairly permanent now, but it is done.  He is no longer a Microsoftie; he is now officially a Googler.  (Actually, he’s called a “Noogler” because that’s what they call new employees at Google.  If you want to receive a hard punch in the face, try calling Kevin that next time you see him.)

My favorite part of this whole job switch was the one weekend in between jobs when my husband was technically unemployed.  We went out to dinner and I jumped up to pay the bill, saying, “You don’t have a job.  I got this one.”  I reveled in the fact that I was actually the main breadwinner of the family for two days.  Of course, it wasn’t so funny when the boys said I was rich because I am making some money nannying and then Kevin said, “Yes, boys.  Your mother makes hundreds of dollars!”

Anyway.  While switching from Microsoft to Google feels like a crazy, insane, totally risky move to Kevin, it doesn’t feel any different to those of us who still wave goodbye to him at 7 in the morning and wave hello to him at 5 in the evening and completely zone out when he tells us what he did at work that day.  We do get to stop saying we’re going to “Bing it” and then explaining to people what that means.  Now we just Google things like any other self-respecting human being.

In conclusion, if you need an explanation of what “Bing it” means, just Google it because every time you do, a five dollar bill shows up in our mailbox now.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Cheesy beef enchiladas
Brown rice
Green beans
Brownie roll-out cookies

Angelo’s birthday 2017

It’s been nine years.  Nine years.

I don’t think about him as much as I used to.  Sometimes a whole day or two goes by when I forget that I laid my dear baby boy down to rest forever.

Then something reminds me about that time of life when I carried a baby whose death taught me more about life than there even is to know.

I heard this song on NPR the other day, and suddenly it was nine years ago and the hurt was brand new again, and I cradled it in my arms because the hurt also came with all the love, the depth, and the beauty that came from loving a baby who said his goodbye before I could say mine.

Take a minute to listen to the song.  Maybe you’ll think of Angelo, but chances are that this song is about you and your own journey, your own struggles.  You will look back on that time of your life, or maybe look around you right now, and realize that no matter how hard it was or is, your life would not be as rich without having gone through it.

Thank you, Baby Angelo, for teaching me to swim.

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And thank you to everyone who jumped in the ocean with me.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Kidd Valley—it’s tradition on Angelo’s birthday  Winking smile

Easter ‘17

Oh, so I forgot to mention—this one time, when we were at the Grand Canyon…

Just kidding.  This post will not mention the Grand Canyon at all.  At least, not anymore than it already has.  Scout’s honor.

So, after the Grand Canyon (sorry—old habit), there was this weekend when Kevin was unemployed, which I’m not going to write about today, and then there was the weekend after that,  which was Easter weekend and which happens to have been last weekend, which is what I’m going to write about today.

This year’s egg dying challenge was for Vincenzo to dye an egg to match his shirt.  Challenge accepted.

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He didn’t even dye that egg—he just held it close enough to his shirt to catch the reflection.  I am pleased to report that Vincenzo has been in possession of this sweatshirt for four whole weeks now.

I brought these super cute bunny butters to my mom’s for Easter this year.

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The minute I set them on the table, Kevin couldn’t help himself.

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Mom told me to that her salt and pepper shakers were absolutely terrified. 

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The one on the right is so scared it’s actually vomiting.

After breakfast we went out for the egg hunt.  Egg hunting made Leo a little derpy.

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“Derp, derp, derpity derp derp.”

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Vincenzo was too grown up and mature for the egg hunt this year.

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Just kidding!

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Rocco wore his stained old coat the whole time so in retribution I will only post one picture of him.

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After the egg hunt we all took our turns getting our annual family pix.  I think my brother’s family has outgrown him.  (He’s the guy lurking in the back.)

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Next year he’s going to have to kneel down in front.

Lucky for me, long as ladies’ heels keep getting higher, I’ll never have to kneel in front.

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Happy week after Easter, everyone!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Wild rice gratin
Fruit