Thursday, September 30, 2010

on tuesday morning. . .

The rain splattered tears on the kitchen window. . . Sad to see summer really ending, and the leaves blanketing our backyard playground. I could feel every moment. And something quiet reminded me to take it all in. . . breathe the seconds passing on kite tails in the blowing wind. . . Feel the slowness of the starting day. . . And it just felt cozy. . .

I peeked out Jack's window at the dark sky, and woke him with whispers about Harry Potter. And then tiptoed to Luke's room. . . Good morning, my love. He is slow to wake because he coughed half the night with our shared headcold.

Breakfast and chatter. Watching Arthur on PBS. Making lunches.
Making noise.
Watching Ethan (who has finished his breakfast bottle), turn and slide out of his chair.
He crawls slowly to the fridge to munch on refrigerator letters and unused bubble wands.
Watching his boys (those big brothers)intently.
Waiting for the craziness to begin.

Making the most of the minutes before school calls them away. Playing Ants in the Pants with Luke on the kitchen floor. Reading a few pages from Harry Potter with Jack.

And raincoats.
And backpacks, Lunch boxes.

Sitting on the front porch watching for the school bus down the hill. We play I Spy. And talk about the world. Luke runs to the puddle in the sand and talks of sailing a boat after school. I look at his dirty knees and sandy shoes. So Luke. And I smile.

A rumble up the hill.
Promises of a good day.

And I watch until the tailights are beyond my sight.

And I walk back to the porch. Seeing the ivy growing up the side. The footprints from the boys are starting to dry and fade.
Our home. Our moments.

And I walk into the quiet.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

snapshots of my boys. . .

He wants to know why. . .

Why there are rules like don't wear hats in school. And how does not wearing a hat show respect to the flag.

He wants to know why we have technology. Why we can't live like cavemen. And keep the world a healthy, beautiful place.

He wants to know why everyone isn't free. Why they can't just say, we are free, and it be so. And if he can become president and tell all they people they are free.

He is a beautiful idealist. He sees the world full of possibilities. As people all deserving the rights and freedoms that he loves.

He has a beautiful, kind spirit. And is full of hope.

He is full of creativity. And spirit. Believes that the world should be a certain way and thinks he can will it to be so (by the shear force of his will). He sees the world a little differently. With humor and fresh eyes.

And for as many times as he makes us groan in frustration, he makes us roar with gut splitting laughter.

He designs in his mind. And builds fabulous, complicated creations. And artistic mind and temperment.
He loves a pencil. . .a pen. . .a marker. . . Loves to draw. And write. The stories he comes up with (on and off paper). Using new words he's learning at school in his writings. And numbers. Creating his own world.

He is full of love. He gives his hugs and kisses freely. . .especially to his little brother, that he loves fiercely.

He is ready for exploration. And to be big. He pulls himself up. Loves for you to hold his fingers so he can walk around. Follows the big people around the house all day long. For companionship. Wants to be up. To see the world tall.

Loves to laugh. Loves to make those big brothers of his laugh. Spits. Makes loud sounds. Just to get their attention.

Loves to push around cars. And make vrooming noises.
Wants cuddled. Grabs his own nip when he wants it, turning it just so, and putting it in himself. Finding leftover cracker bits in his chair for snackin.
Ready for the world.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

marvelling. . .

After brushing teeth, Sam grabbed Jack and I to peek at the moon outside. . . and Jupiter. . .

Luke's fascination with Moonie Moon, always has us looking upwards. . . And lately we have been looking for Venus. Sometimes Mars. They always seem to be peeking out at us up there. Exciting to know what we're looking at.

But, tonight, it was Jupiter hanging low in the sky. We woooowed in our jammies. Amazed at how clear the night was. Excited to see a new planet.

And then journey back upstairs to read Harry Potter, and give kisses goodnight.

And while I brushed my teeth, Sam grabbed me again. Quick!

He had gotten out his telescope. To peek at Jupiter up close. . .

And, to see this. . .

So bright and beautiful. The clearest we have seen in his telescope. Ever. Breathtaking.

And I had to grab Jack from his dreams so that he could marvel with us.

And then I grabbed my baby Canon. To see what I might be able to catch. Pretty cool.

Even better to just sit outside, listening to the crickets. Watching the heavens.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

he calls her "Junie Bean". . .

Last night we finished the first book. He's eagerly looking forward to beginning the second book tonight.

Monday, August 16, 2010

she's back. . .

I went upstairs into the hot attic this morning to find her. . .

It's been three years since we've heard her silly talk. . . heard about her outrageous adventures. . .

And, I think we've missed having her around.

So, I brought down a great big stack of Junie B. Jones books. . . that have been waiting for little Luke to finally turn five. . .

I first read them to my Kindergarten class. . . gracious. . . must be almost 11 years ago? I remember shaking my head at the crazy things that she did. Thinking how out of this world they were. Clearly exaggerated. . . And my Kindergartners loved them. Every year I would bring them out, starting with The Stupid, Smelly School Bus. And ending with Graduation Girl. We would read a few chapters at a time, at rest time. Getting a little further each day. Probably finishing a book in a week or so. . .

And I remember how excited I was to read them to Jack. How I missed her silly ways. . . And how he loved reading about Junie B. Giggling. . . His first chapter book. We read a chapter or two every night. Until he couldn't take it anymore. . . And brought it downstairs one afternoon (about a week before school started) and demanded we finish it.

And we did. In one sitting.

And he carried that book around for days. Looking over and over again at the pictures. Couldn't wait to ride the school bus for himself.

So, this morning I found the Junie B. books for Luke. Excited.

He, on the other hand, was less than enthusiastic. "Let's read it later." he told me all afternoon. First, after lunch. And then after he played the Wall E game. And then, later still.

"OK, then. I'll read it to Jack," I said.


At first he hid around the side of the couch as I completed the first chapter (which was about as far as I was going to go).

He crept closer and closer to get a peek at the pictures.

"Read Jack another chapter," he said.

So, I did. By chapter three, he was up on the couch looking at the pictures. Laughing at her exploits (which sound so very familiar. . . those once "out of this world" adventures sound so very much like the adventures of our Luke. . .).

We stopped at chapter 4.

And picked up there at bedtime.

We read to chapter 7. "Just one more page," he asked. But, it's getting late, and I'm trying to get these little night owls into a routine (school starts in 2 weeks, sigh. . .).

So, he was happy to look at the pictures and make up his own story (we stopped at the point where Junie B. is hiding in the school room so she doesn't have to ride the bus home. . .I hope he's not getting any ideas. . .).

So hard to imagine that my own baby is going to Kindergarten like Junie B. Where did that time go?

But, overjoyed at the thought of revisiting an old friend in the process. . .

Thursday, August 5, 2010

he likes. . .

A slow start to the day. . .

I found him here on Thursday. . .

Lying quietly. . . And I couldn't disturb him .. . And thought of what a perfect little place for that boy. . .to just be able to wake up and peek out at the world. The woods. And wondered if maybe he was dreaming of playing at his playground. . .

So, when he smiled at me, I asked what he was watching.
He said he was watching the a squirrel play.

So very cool.

This morning, he awoke unhappily (which is not unlike him)... So, we had some water, and went to watch toons on my bed. . . just the two of us. . . And we laid there watching Max and Ruby. He would turn and look at me. Quiet. And smile. We shared frankie. And watched Max as he plotted to ride the Rocket Racer. And I was reminded of our little ride together on the bumper cars at the beach amusement park (and how we laughed. . . and bumped Jack twice). And how Jack wanted to ride them just a few years before, when he was four, and wasn't quite tall enough. . .and how very disappointed he was. . . ).

Sometimes, the quietest moments are the sweetest. . .

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

it was not my best day . . .

yesterday. . .

Waiting 20 minutes at the photolab at Walmart. Really? Not because there was a huge line, but because no one would come to the register. 20 minutes waiting with three bouncing, jumping, cart-shaking boys. And when she finally arrived, I got the oh well attitude.

One of those cart-shaking boys decided he did not want to put back a set of stickers in JoAnns. Stubborn. Defiant. Would Not Budge. And clutched to his chest in fists. And Mama told him that she was not paying for them. And if he kept them, that would be stealing and the police would take him to jail. That did it. [I'm working on my Mother of the Year award.]

And the line at the pharmacy of Giant Eagle was no better. Five of us stood there. . . eight women walked around behind the counter. . . doing this and that. . . but not making eye contact with us, the customers. I heard whispers of who is supposed to be working on register? Well, she just went on break. Really?

Don't get me started on my soap box about customer service. And how there just isn't any. And about back in the day when I worked in the grocery store. . . Eye roll. . . Groooaan. . .

Nope. That's not what this is about.

It's about the little old man I met in the cereal aisle. The one who walked one step at time. One step, then the other foot would catch up. Slow. But no complaints.

He smiled at little Ethan. Told me he was cute. And how he had five children. And that he had to work two jobs every day to make enough money to care for them. How he would be so tired in the morning. And his wife would tell him to get up so he make money for Linda (their youngest).

You can rest now, I said.

Nope. I would go back in a heartbeat, he said. I loved every minute of it. I miss those days. We would bring two carts to the grocery store with our five kids.

And it brought it all back into perspective.

These are the best days, even when they seem the worst.

And, we decided to turn a bad day into a good one. Bought some cool things from the gumball machine (Luke chose two stinkin head dice. . .imagine that). And stopped at the Dairy Queen drive through for two dilly bars and a chocolate milkshake (with chocolate ice cream and chocolate syrup).

The boys wanted to enjoy our treats at the picnic table in the back (so very cool). And little Ethan munched on a baby cookie on the quilt at our feet.

A good day.

Oh. . . and this made twenty minutes totally worthwhile. . .

Sunday, August 1, 2010

on and off the needles. . .

Friday, I finished this little hat I started last winter.

Jack wanted a "golden" hat (his favorite color: gold). I found this yarn online at Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Though the orangey-yellowy look to it gave it a golden feel.

Ever since we visited the beach, and I stopped at that cute little yarn store, I have been waiting for fall to get here . . . projects in mind . . . [because fall = cool weather = a perfect time to cuddle down on the couch with a cup of tea and a set of knitting needles].

So, we woke up Thursday to grey skies and rain-dropped windows. . . Luke and I settled down on the couch to watch some Dora (he was beginning a head cold with a fever). . . and I could no longer resist the temptation to pick up my needles.

Found the pattern for this Seaman's Cap at Ravelry. Loved it. Knitted up easily (for me the beginner), and Jack loves it. Exciting.

Now, I'm plotting my next projects. . . I started a hat (green, of course) for me. I picked up the pattern in Ligonier for Jack (as the saleslady assured me it didn't look girly. . .). Didn't think it was right for him, so it's going to be mine. It has cables. . .so I'm looking to grow my skills, I guess (look out YouTube, I'll be visiting soon).

A Gryffindor scarf for my budding wizard (hopefully in time for Halloween). . . A shawl for me. . . Hats for the biggest and smallest of the Zeli boys. And maybe a scarf.

Me and my grand plans. . . I might finish the hat in time for next spring. . .

handsome. . .

This handsome man. . .

is in Pittsburgh this morning, adventure racing.

And I'm so very proud of him.

And he still looks like the day I saw him across the school cafeteria, with his shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows (something he still does to this day. . . 24 years later, gulp. . .has it been that long?).

What a lucky lady I am. Love you. . .

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

the everyday. . .ordinary. . .routine. . .

went out the window this morning.

With the usually happy little boy awakening at 6am. . .snorty. . .snuffy. . .and unable to drink his milk because it made him cough so hard his eyes were watering.

Tried snacks and juice. And nothing helped.

So he laid with his buddies to watch over him, and tried to rest.

I got one load in the wash. Two loads on the bed, half-folded. And the toiled cleaned.

And then "the big one" came to ask me why the red light was blinking with that noise.


And he led me downstairs, and I had an immediate panic attack that our home was filling with carbon monoxide (I prefer the optimistic approach, it seems). It turns out the dogs' invisible fence was going off. The battery? Oh no. It's plugged in.

My immediate thought, of course, was that Bella had dug up the lines (which she tried in the beginning, I think I remember?). But, the dogs were in the house. I peeked out the windows and didn't see anything. So. . . I thought it must be a squirrel and ventured out in my jammies.

Obviously my mother never taught me anything.

Out in the back, a boy (and when I say boy, I mean anyone under 30, because they are all starting to look alike to me. . .have you seen the I'm old post?) was digging by the gas meters. That has to be wrong on so many levels. Panicked again, I start yelling, Hey! [crazy woman in her jammies]. The boy, replete with some kind of iTechnology doesn't hear me until I tap him on his shoulder.

I explain my fence alarm dilemma and ask if he's seen a wire. And he looks at me blankly. No.


Why would you put wires by a gas meter, he asks. He, with the pick axe by the gas meter.


I asked that if he found a wire, could he please let me know.

Several hours and panicked phone calls later. . . The wires have been found [Yep. He dug them up.]. The hole is huge. And the homeowner responsible for our gateway to China is coming tonight to fix the broken wires.

Can't see the wires, can you Rusty?

Yep. Ordinary Wednesday. So much for "Let's go to the park since we have nothing to do today."

Maybe tomorrow.

Maybe. . .

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

not to be out done by. . .

Luke's new favorite game: Pop-trock-ica. [or, Poptropica. . .an online game Jack discovered in school this year.]

Luke has just discovered it (he loves to watch Jack. . .excuse me, Jaxon, play games). And Jack created him an account. They have played together for a few minutes. . . And Luke knows enough to be almost dangerous.

So, yesterday, while taking a brief break from Stinkin Head, he was playing Pop-trock-ica. He sailed a boat. He cavorted around some pirate island. He played a good 20 minutes until Mama said time's up.

Dada asked him about what he did during the day at dinner.

I saw the Diarrhea Man, Dada.

And Sam gave me the look. You know: the what the heck have you been doing all day look.

We went on to find out that one of Jack's favorite stories, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, has a character on Poptropica. So, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid's character is wandering around Poptropica advertising a new book coming out. Or, in Luke's world, the diarrhea man.


A new Zeli classic phrase is born.

you're-a stinkin head

OK. Yesterday the "routines" continued. [Although, not so much today.]

Got up. Made the bed. Had some coffee. Washed some dishes. . .ran the dishwasher. Two loads of laundry washed and folded.

And grocery shopping.

Monday is always grocery shopping.

We did the abbreviated version. Running only to Deliverance-mart and Giant Eagle. The boys love Giant Eagle. And who wouldn't when you can go and play video games while Mama shops and then get a cookie on the way out.

And, because they were soooo good, and we got done in under two hours. . . I let them get a gumball machine goodie. Their choice for 25 cents [I only had two quarters. . .and these days, everything seems to cost 50. . .hmmm....]. So, the best of the worst seemed to be giant plastic dice.

A black one for Luke. A white one for Jack. [I might say something about irony here, but I won't.]

On the way home, a new game was born.

Stinkin Head.

It seems that two crazy little boys shake giant dice cubes around in their hands. Until one of them (usually the bigger one) yells


They then call out the number in hand. Six is the most desired, winning number. However, the highest number wins. The lowest number becomes the stinkin head.

As in: You're a stinkin head!

And I heard it all the way home. All afternoon as I put away groceries. . .made dinner [por-q-pine balls on high in the crockpot]. . .and all evening [as the game got a little rowdier, and the dice were thrown across the kitchen floor].

Boy fun. Who else could create Stinkin Head?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

and tonight. . .

After an Ethan bath. . .

And getting Jack into his bath.

And running downstairs for a baby bottle.

I ran upstairs to find that he had rolled over for the first time onto his belly.

Trying to get into Jack's room. Into all new toys.

On the move, I tell you.

All too soon.

routine. . .

There's something to be said for routine.

Today we stayed home. For the first time in a long time. No plans. Nothing to do. It was just routine.

After a week of packing and preparing for vacation. And then a week gone on vacation. Only to come back and immediately start a full week of Bible School (evening. . . 2.5 hours each night. . .travelling 40 minutes to and from total).

Today was nothing.

But laundry. And dishes in the dishwasher and in the sink. Sitting at the dining room table (among the Legos), after breakfast, having coffee and reading the Sunday paper. And making a menu for next week. Clipping coupons. Sorting more laundry. Watching a movie together [Where the Wild Things Are]. Taking a walk with the dogs. Sitting outside and just talking. Eating popsicles. Giving the boys baths. Putting out fresh towels for the week. Reading stories before bedtime.

A day of perfect nothing.

And it felt great.

And loving it.

Somehow, the tedium of day after day makes routine stale. But, after weeks of absolutely no routine. Running unscheduled. Willy nilly. Routine is a welcome change.

Looking forward to a week full of it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

old. . .

I feel it. . .

When I wake up in the middle of the night and my arm is asleep under me. And my bones creak when I wake up in the morning.

When Luke tells Jack that he is "going to be an old man" on his 8th birthday (and if he's old at 8, what does that mean when I'm 40?).

And when I see the "boy" in front of me at the baseball game texting someone at the speed of light. Thumbs a-flyin. Paragraphs of thumb-sputtering text. In seconds, I tell you. I was awestruck. Especially when it takes me three tries and 20 minutes to send a sentence of four or five words.

Old, I tell you.

And what does this "<3" mean?

I see it all over online. In emails. (And on the scoreboard at the baseball game????). My brain tells me it has to be some kind of "math thing". Which also isn't "my thing". But I know I'm wrong. Because saying "less than three" all the time just doesn't make sense.

I'm old. Technology is passing me by. . .

"In my youth," I laughed when my mom couldn't figure out how to program our VCR to record her soap operas to watch when she came home from work in the evening (Tivo was still a twinkle in some baby's eye at that point).

And here I am. Old. Text-o-logically illiterate.

Sam and I laugh that the boys are going to be rolling their eyes and groaning when we can't figure out how to use our "new-fangled" transporter to come visit them in our old age.

I guess "old age" has arrived a little sooner than I anticipated.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


. . .makes my kitchen a mess.

. . .makes me happy. I feel closer to my Great Grandma Smith when I'm baking something in the kitchen.

So, yesterday my father-in-law gave me some zucchini from his garden. He's been giving me these for years, and I always have good intentions to make something from them . . . and don't. So, today, I made sure that I used them [even though we're still up to our knees in vacation bits].

A few years ago, I was at my friend Kathy's house for a Mom's Club something-or-other. She always bakes the best goodies. . . and, that day was no exception. She had this yummy chocolate bread. And I loved it, and wanted the recipe. I was [horrified] surprised to find out it was made from zucchini (as vegetables are not my best friend). Zucchini? Really? That big green thing from the garden?

So, I took the recipe, and it sat in my recipe book. Maybe that's why I never made anything with those zucchini's my -in-laws gave me. . .

So, today I conquered my fear and got to work before I could think too much about it.

Luke helped me out in the kitchen (he's a great helper). . . Pouring in the zucchini and mixing it up. Mixing up the dry ingredients and pouring them into the wet (I have big hopes my boys will enjoy cooking as much as I do).

Anyway. . . It baked for an hour, and smelled yummy.

And tasted yummy. . . Jack and I could hardly wait to taste it after it came out of the oven. And, let me tell you, warm bread (any flavor) is the best.

Jack, however, does not know it's "zucchini" bread. He fears all things vegetable (as much as his Mama, poor thing). So, when he asked me what that green thing was in his bread, I told him it must have been the flour all clumped up (bad Mama). [Because I know he won't eat it once I tell him the truth.]

Results: a success. I shared with the neighbors and my in-laws (because something that good has to be shared). I have one zucchini left, so I'm wondering if I can grate it and [freeze] save it for later in the season (doesn't it sound perfect for a cool fall afternoon?).

Friday, July 2, 2010

tonight, we caught

77 lightning bugs.

They all crowded together in the pretzel jar.

Working together. Running to catch them from dusk. . . until they seemed to flash and then disappear in the darkness. . .

Luke said he caught a King with a crown.

Jack caught the smallest baby near the raspberry bush.

Ethan was too tired and wanted to go up on the big bed. . . maybe next year. . .

Laughing. . . calling numbers. . . Amazed we could catch so many. . .

Will remember this night always. . .

Thursday, July 1, 2010

tonight. . .

Luke and Ethan. . . Bella and Max. . . and I went walking. Luke wanted so much to walk Bella. And he ran ahead with her trotting happily beside him [Max was not so happy to be left behind, but it was ok]. . .

We came home just as the lightning bugs were coming out. . . And he caught three very quickly. We put them in the huge [plastic] pretzel jar now officially the "lightning bug jar". . . [I remember using a huge glass pickle jar when Erin and I would catch them.]

[Can it be a jar if it's plastic? . . . ]

Tonight, Sam taught Jack how to mow the lawn. . . a real "mow mow". . . and he did three big lines in the grass. . . I missed it [we were walking], but I saw his handiwork. . . and he was so proud. . .

Tonight Jack and I worked on a Lego castle. . .

Tonight, as Ethan and I lay on the big bed, he swung his arms up and down. . . Quiet. . . But so active. . . trying to fly? . . . trying to stay awake? . . . And then he would quiet. . . And I would be sure he had finally given up, and sleep had won for another evening. . . And then his little blue eyes would peek above his blankie. . . and shine. . . . and he would smile the biggest, sweetest smile. . . And then back to flying. . .

Tonight we roasted marshmallows and watched the stars. And Luke wanted to curl up in my lap. He said he was almost dreaming. And then he fell asleep like he did when he was just a baby. All curled up in my lap. Smelling sweet. And feeling so small. Mama, you're comforable. And Jack found his way to the back porch, to fall alseep on the wicker couch. . . his favorite sleeping spot. . . Dreaming of Legos I'm sure. . .

Tonight the house is quiet. All my boys are sleeping. The air is cool. And I am ready to dream of flying. . .

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

sleep over

Last week, Jack was over the moon excited to have his friend Lucas over for his first sleep over.

There was pizza (from Rocco's, of course). And chippies. With chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.

Lots and lots of legos. And some Mario on the Wii. Poptropica. And Lego videos on YouTube.

Lightsaber duels. Laughter. And staying up until 11. Sleeping in Jack's Clone Wars tent.

Pure happiness.

And, I knew the day would come when it would be Jack's turn to go. To spend the night at another home (that wasn't Nan and PapPap's). And can you ever be ready for your baby to grow?

Well, that moment caught me completely off guard yesterday morning. Lucas called and asked Jack to come over at 6ish for a sleepover.

And I gulped. And smiled. And told my sweet baby, Sure.

He packed and counted down the hours. That went by painfully slow in his seven year old world. A great opportunity to teach him how to tell time. If he wasn't dying to get out the door five minutes ago.

I went up to his bedroom to check what he had packed. Socks, underwear, clothes for tomorrow, and jammies. Legos, of course. And a squirt gun (for a water battle).

And there, on the bed sat his blue, green and Junior. And I caught my breath. Those are his buddies. The comforts he has slept with since birth. And I felt sick. My baby, growing. Confident. Ready to the world. And, I mean, that's a great thing. He should be ready. And confident.

So I asked him four different times if he had anything he needed. And he assured me he had everything. Including a head lamp for the darkness.

And the boy who cannot remember his library books for school. . .or his homework sheet on the dining room table. . .had thought of everything.

So I wrote down home and cell phone numbers and stuck them in his backpack. Assuring him he could call any time. And to call me to say goodnight. And to be a good boy. So that he could be invited back (do I really want that?).

And he promised he would be fine.

I'm going to miss you like crazy, I said as he loaded his bags into the vini man.

Oh Mama, he rolled his eyes. I'm only going to be gone one night.

I know. I can't help it.

I went back to packing diapers and lightning macqueen (for Luke). And keeping busy.

And as we loaded into the van, he looked at me and said, Mama, I'm going to miss you like crazy too.

And that made my heart smile.

We all missed him last night. Luke expecially. He said, There are only four of us. Our number five is not here. I miss Jack.

And at 1:55 am the phone rang.

Mama, I forgot the three important things I need to sleep.

I know. Can you sleep without them?


OK, then I'll be there with your buddies.

And bleary eyed, I loaded into the vini man and drove over to Lucas'. Wondering if ghosts roam the streets at this time of night. And if they might want to hitch a ride when I drove past. [Your mind does terrible things in the middle of the night when you are awakened from dreaming.]

I arrived to find they hadn't slept yet. Still laughing. Playing Legos. Jack's bag full of important items all over the floor [he had been flinging his underwear Captain Underpants style].

Having a wonderful time.

And I got to hug him goodnight.

And returned home at 3am. Assured that he was safe and having a wonderful boy time.

And that maybe he wasn't growing so big after all.

Friday, June 25, 2010

trains. . . real trains. . .

Drawing train pictures. . . and railroad crossings. . . and roads. . . images from his ABC Trains book.

Mama, can we ride a real train?


We need to get into the book. [pause]

Yeah, but I don't know how we can jump into this book. We need a magic wand to "ka-ploosh" me in there. I will go all by myself. But I need a magic wand.

Love that childhood magic. I had almost forgotten about Jack going through the same phase. Wanting to go into books. Trying to figure out the magic of getting there. Especially Peter Pan. He loved Peter Pan and wanted to fly with him most of all.

Love this.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

peas for brunch. . .



OK. The Baby Food Bible (aka Super Baby Foods. . . one of the books I clung to like a Mama Life Raft when Jack was a wee babe) advises that new foods be introduced during the first meal of the day. . . so that if the baby has an allergic reaction. . . or a gassy one. . . that it's not in the middle of the night, keeping him awake.

So..... It's worked for Jack and Luke (well, it really doesn't matter with Luke. . . he never slept anyway. . .). So, why change now?

Ethan's first meal of the day seems to fall sometime between 9 and 10 o'clock. Which doesn't really seem to be a problem when you're having bananas. . . and pears. . . peaches. . . maybe apples. . . But now, we're moving into veggie territory. Carrots. And now, for the last three days: peas.

And as I give him spoonful after spoonful of green mushy peas. . . Which he eagerly yums right down. . . I begin to think. . . Peas. . . For brunch? Really? And can you really call 9 am brunch? I mean, that's really pushing the breakfast boundary, isn't it?

Aunt Erin assures me that it's fine.

That giving him peas for breakfast can't really be causing him irreparable harm. . .

Until he's ten, that is, and telling me that instead of pancakes, he'd like so yummy peas for breakfast.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

dinner at cafe zeli. . .

Yesterday, Nan and PapPap brought us a new picnic table. . . big and wooden. . . and perfect for the backyard.

PapPap and Sam set it up close to the "playground" (Luke's words for our playset out back. . . his personal playground). And tonight, we had dinner outside. . .

Beautiful. Listening to the birds sing. And drinking in the sunshine.

Ethan in his baby seat beside us (on top of the table), smiling. . . giggling. . . watching Luke climb up and down and slide and run and swing. That big brother is such a source of entertainment.

Noodle soup (for Jack) and chicken and rice (for the bigs) never tasted better.

Popsicles from the ice cream man for dessert.

So relaxing.

And we stayed outside. Just watching the boys play. . . Well... Just watching the boys beat the tree leaves with sticks. And sing the "stinker song". . . a lovely variation of the humming of Tchaikovsky with intermittenly musical "stinkers" (you know the kind of noises that little boys can make, with lips and teeth and cheeks full of air). . . well-timed. . . in unison. . . and a source of endless little boy laughter. Dada laughed until he couldn't breathe.
And Mama. . . poor Mama. . .

Life with boys. . .

But, a beautiful evening. Perfect family moments.

Friday, June 11, 2010

peanut butter & jelly

Jack (or Jaxon, as he prefers now) likes one kind of food and will eat it into oblivion. . . Day after day after day. For his second year, he had jelly toast for breakfast every morning with a banana. We would say, Ding! Toooast! every time it was done in the little toaster oven. Then, we moved on to peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for lunch. Then ham and cheese. Mac and cheese. Noodle soup. And now, crackers and cheese.

But, for the past few months, he has been open to trying new things. Many new things. Makes me proud. And a bit sentimental, because my boy is growing.

I haven't been grocery shopping in over a week. And the stocks are getting low. Yesterday, it was ham and cheese on an old hamburger bun (that I tried to cut off the top and bottom and disguise the fact that it was an old hamburger bun, to no avail. . . he's too smart for me now). Today, I found some leftover Pepperidge farm cinnamon and raisin bread leftover from french toast last weekend. Mmmm, now that would make a gooood peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

And, as I was making it, I remembered that little three year old boy who wanted peanut butter and jelly every afternoon for lunch. And how he would complain if the jelly or peanut butter slopped over the sides onto the crust. "I can't eat this," he would say. "Why?" I would ask. "Because it is all dirty."

Good memories.

As for today's sandwich. He declared, "This rocks." Only to eat half a sandwich. Oh, well, at least he's still up to trying new things.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I sent him to upstairs at 11:00. . .

after a beautiful evening under the stars. . .

Told him I'd be up in a moment so we could "brush teeth". . .

And here's were I found him. . .

first day of summer. . .

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

just a Tuesday night

Crowded together in the car. . .driving to see Miss Kriten for an all boys haircut night. . .making silly jokes about new hairstyles for Dada: A fauxhawk or half shaved or a puffy raccoon hat. . .

Fun times. . .

Love that we're so packed in. . . together. . . now that we have the "vinnie man", I cherish these moments of "so together-ness".

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I want to lick a chicken. . .

Tuesday happened to be grocery shopping day this week.

Not the usual day. I like to get it done on Mondays. But, after being down with the [ugh] stomach flu this weekend, the first day I could drag myself into the store was Tuesday.

With Luke and Ethan in tow.

And I could tell (as the pleads for doughnuts began in aisle one of Deliverance Mart), that it was going to be a long trip.

The pleas for doughnuts were only preceded by the pleas for french fries (at 10 am). Those pleas began again as we were leaving the store. And, weakened, I relented because it was close to lunch.

I pulled into the drive thru ready to order a large french fries, when the voice from the back seat spoke: I want to lick a chicken.

Now, let me tell you. . . .I am the one who sings all the wrong words to every song. Not because I don't know them, but because I somehow always hear the wrong words (case in point: the song What's on your mind by the Information Society. . .you know, the one from the 80s with Spock saying pure energy. . .well, for the longest time, I thought he was saying Dreck. . . Yeah, well. . . ). So, I wasn't really sure that was what I heard. . . .


I want to lick a chicken. I want to try it.

[Ah-ha. Licking something has become synonymous with trying something in our house. And now the quick mental calucations begin. He never asks to try anything. . . And he never wants to eat anything but goldfish and cereal. . . Do I really want to waste the money on chicken he won't eat? Especially because my stomach was still feeling sour and there was no way I was eating them. . . . . But, if he wants to try them, then that has to be some sort of victory. . .] Sure! Let's get some nuggets.

And. . . Do you know what? Not only did he lick one. But he declared he liked it. [Which isn't unusual. . . he has also taken rat bites of many assorted candies, cookies, brownies, carrots, apples and strawberries, for these "delicious" and "liked" foods to end up in the trash, uneaten. . .]

Imagine my shock, when I pulled into Target's parking lot to find a nugget all gone. Poof! Disappeared.

Eaten. . .

Yeah. I think I brought home the wrong kid from Walmart.

But, that kid looks amazingly like my Luke. So, I'll keep him. [And, for the record, he ate a second nugget while we were shopping in Target.]

Friday, May 21, 2010

wise observation of the day

Luke: If I sit on a squirrel, he will break.
Because, he's made of bones.

In case you didn't know. . .

Thursday, May 20, 2010

baby food

Yesterday we started a second meal. . . Really? Already?

But he's been watching us eat, licking his little lips. And after he watched my cereal bowl. . .reaching for it with his little hands. . . Sam suggested we start a second meal. Which he happily agreed to. Yesterday: rice cereal with a dinner of bananas.

So, while shopping yesterday afternoon, I browsed the baby food aisles of Target, Walmart, and Giant Eagle. . . But I just couldn't get myself to pick up any of those cute little jars and put them in the cart.

I made Jack's baby food. He never had anything from a jar (except the meats. . .couldn't bring myself to puree those).

With Luke, I just didn't have the energy.

So, I vowed to go back "old school" this time.

However, I haven't been able to find any peaches for weeks to introduce to him. Not in season? Probably not. But, I did find some yesterday. . . Some yellow flesh peaches. So I grabbed two small ones that seemed pretty ripe. . . Along with some organic carrots, some apples, and a pear.

I let fruits sit out last night to get some extra ripening time, and then set to work making some peaches this afternoon.

Peeling. . .and cutting. . .and cooking. . .and pureeing. . .

While Ethan hung out (not very quietly) at my feet.

And all we got was enough for two meals. . . Ah, how I forgot that part. . .

And, although they were ripe, they weren't very sweet. And the poor boy made such faces while I fed it to him. Poor thing smiled at first. . . but by the end, he was gagging. . . And I couldn't bring myself to feed him any more.

And he has spent the rest of the evening spitting up. . . So much for the peaches experiment.

I might be going to for those little jars tomorrow after all.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fruined. . .

[On the way home from Walmart this afternoon. . .after a mean Mama said No to buying another Lightning McQueen. . .because today was a looking day. . .]

My day is fruined. You fruined my day, Mama.


Fruined. My day is fruined.

Oh, I ruined your day. How did I do that?

Because I wanted my Lightning McQueen. And now my day is fruined. You made it dirty and now it is fruined.

[Now I'm laughing. Couldn't hold it in.]

Stop laughing. You threw yucky on it. And now it is dirty. And it is fruined.

[Laughing harder now. Which didn't help his drama. Too funny.]

Sunday, April 18, 2010

conversations from the backseat

Lots of driving around in the Vinnie Man this week. Looking for a new bike. Grocery shopping. . . . . Other stuff (that my brain is stumbling to remember. . . ahhh, age).

Anyway. Plenty of interesting boy conversations.

Like, finding music we all like. As Sam switched stations, he came across Tracy Chapman's Fast Car. Which Luke instantly liked (which was amazing, because Luke was in such a mood that I couldn't imagine anything that would appease him). Jack, of course, did not approve. That's a farm song, he said. And Sam and I laughed (me probably more than anyone. . .farm song. . .).

Later, we took the boys through the drive-thru (after a dinner of ice cream and popcorn. . .I accept my nomination as Mama of the year. . .thank you). And asked what the boys wanted. . . Luke: fries (is there anything else?).

Jack, do you want a burger or fries?

I want two burgers. [I see our future of drive-thru's ending soon.]

Luke: Jack, that was not a choice.

Too funny. They've had me rolling all week.

new bike

We took Jack to get his new bike last night. . .and at 8 pm, he and Sam were downstairs putting the pieces together (with Shrek on the little basement tv to keep them entertained). And at 9 pm, the three boys (Luke wanted to join in the adventure) were outside trying it out under the glow of the street lamp.

It's awesome! he says. He chose a black Schwinn with orange flames. Classic looking. And very boy cool.

He was up this morning and ready to ride before breakfast.

Nothing better than a boy and his bike. . .ready for any adventure. . .


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

life is good

Jack's morning started out on the rocky road of grumpity grumpiness. . . not ready for the morning day and waking up. . . not happy with leftover cracker barrel pancakes (from Sunday morning breakfast when he loved them). . . upset because his bike blew a tire. . . and the pinnacle: spilling orange juice all over his tony hawk shirt and khaki pants (which look good together!). . .

Leading to a Mama / Jack Summit about looking to the positive. . . happiness being a choice. . . yada. . . yada . . . yada . . .

Bounded off the bus in the afternoon, announcing: I should have worn my life is good shirt because I got on challenge spelling today! He's been frustrated because he's only been on it once this year. . . So, a good little boy day (is 2nd grade still little. . .because I say it is. . .).

We finished off the day with breakfast pizza for dinner (must do that more often). And a trip out for street hockey and baseball supplies (for a busy summer of boy fun activities). And a peek at new bikes for my growing but still little boy Jack.

Today is much quieter. A mountain of laundry that only a parent could fathom. Baking oatmeal raisin cookies (and making the house smell like Grandma Smith memories). And folding about 12 loads (not making that one up) of laundry while watching Fringe and drinking coffee. . .

A cozy rainy day. . .

Thursday, April 8, 2010

first bites

He's been watching us eat for about a week. . . licking his little lips. . . interested in big people food. . .

So today I put together his little highchair (opted for the chair-size model this time around). . . And tonight he had his first bowl of ricey cereal.

And he loved it! Smiles and open mouth (I seem to remember Luke crying during his first meal. . . and Jack gagging. . . ). . . wearing a sweet little I love Daddy bib.

Can't believe we're here already. He's so much fun and so interactive. . .

But my heart aches at how quickly he's growing.

Monday, April 5, 2010

and back to Monday. . .

Putting Ethan on his belly is an exercise in futility. Belly time, he laughs. He just plants his face into the floor. . .so he can't breathe. . .so I'll pick him up quickly, without any effort on his part. It's a baby conspiracy, I tell you.

But, today I realized that he has his four month appointment next week. Next week! And I know that Dr. Talamo is going to ask me if Master Ethan is holding up his head a little steadier. . .if he has rolled over yet. . . and that I will have to confess that Master Ethan refuses to hold his little head up when I put him on his belly. That he's a slacker, and pushes his little nose into the carpet so he cannot breathe. . .and I fall for it every time.

So, I put him on his belly this afternoon in front of his little singing ally-gator mirror. . .

And he held his little head up and laughed at the baby in the mirror. . .

And then rolled over!

He rolled over! [Does it count as rolling over or falling over?] So very exciting!

I cheered and laughed and clapped. And he grinned. So, I put him back on his belly to try for a second time. And, he planted his little nose in the carpet. Ahhh. . . . .

Tonight. . . I held Ethan in my lap as Jack finished his homework. Jack was reading a story (his usual Monday night homework).

And every other sentence, he would pause. . .open his mouth wide and yawn loudly [fakely]. . .and glance up at him, stiffling a grin. . . Over and over and over. Throughout the whole 50 page story (or so it seemed). Ethan laughed and laughed at his brother's antics. Such a little prankster. Must be learning new little tricks from his friends at school. [And let me tell you how hard it is to not yawn when someone in front of you is yawning a ba-jillion times.]

Good days here at the Zeli house.

Friday, April 2, 2010

a good friday

The traditional Good Friday dinner at Nan and PapPap's house. . . The making of so many good memories:

Cuddles with Great Grandma. . .

Cousins riding around in the red Jeep. . .

An Easter egg hunt. . .

But, the best part of the day (unanimously). . . was when the boys and I got into the little wagon, and Dada drove us down the big hill on the tractor. . . [Note Jack in his new Commander Cody outift that Nan got for him. . .and note that he wore it for three days straight. . .]
Blue skies. . . And a handsome driver. . .

A beautiful day.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

my little april fools

masters of disguise. . .

all we need around here to have fun, is paper, some scissors, and tape (mostly duct tape. . .but tonight it was scotch). . .

my little secret agents on secret missions. . .

[which mostly involved running around the house in circles talking in funny voices. . .]

fun times. . .

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


[He knocks at the door. . .]

Mama, I saw a merrfle.

A Merffle?

And it tried to look at me and sbloink me.



Well, they might look at you, but they won't sbloink you.

They just like to look all around?

Yep. They want to see what they can see.

Oh. Okay!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kindergarten Transition Night

We took Luke to visit his Kindergarten teachers tonight. . . Can it really be that time for him already?

Our first chance to see the school renovations (beautiful). . . And he loved it. . .

He spent the night searching for alphabet letters. . . Dancing to music with scarves and balloons and ribbons. . . Hearing stories. . . And playing with shapes.

That tiny little boy is growing up. Has a real eye for design and patterning. Loves music. And letters. And writing his name. And drawing houses. (Today he drew Zeli house. . .and after seeing his friend Will from Preschool, drew Will's house. . .which could possibly be a barn, since he lives on a farm. . .with three cats. . .three dogs. . .and a zebra. . .we're told. . .).

Love that four year old boy. . .

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ethan McZeli

Our smiling and giggling Irish babe.

the leprechaun

Jack and Luke created leprechaun traps at the end of last week. . .in anticipation of St. Patrick's Day. . .in the hopes of catching that elusive little guy. Jack gathered precious Lego boxes. . .and cut a whole in the top in front of a cup full of "gold" (colored bits of gold paper).

And apparently, he stopped by early this morning for a visit. . .leaving a trail of sparkly shamrocks from the door into the dining room. And although he spotted "the trap", he must have jumped right back out again. . . But he did leave chocolate gold coins and sparkly shamrock stickers. . .

Before school, Jack made his beloved Junior his own leprechaun hat. . .

Loving these moments. . .