Tag Archives: kids

Spooky Halloween Soup!

30 Oct

Leaves are falling, the sweet smell of burning wood is making its way up chimneys and wafting throughout the neighborhood, the kids are all hopped up on sugar from the 17 parties they have attended while dressed up as giant hot dogs: yup, must be Halloween time.

Along with Halloween comes the beginning of soup season. Soup season is a frame of time that runs concurrently between the months of October and March. Not that soup can’t be enjoyed outside of soup season, but it seriously helps.

Why not make some chicken noodle soup and add a special little touch for Halloween: spooky cutout dumplings.

Start with a basic broth. I boiled a few chicken breasts in a pot with bouillon, carrots and onions. Next add some noodles. Barilla makes these cool little noodles like the kind you find in those little Mrs. Grass chicken soup boxes.

Next make the dumplings. I put 6 eggs, 3 cups of flour, salt, and some Italian seasoning into a food processor and mixed using the dough hook. Add flour until you get a piece of dough you can easily roll out. You don’t need a food processor for this step, but it definitely helps.

After you make the dumpling dough, roll it out onto a floured surface (to about 1/4 inch thickness).

Next, you’ll need some miniature cookie cutters. These cutters are also used to cut decorative pieces for pie crusts. I used ghosts for this particular soup. If you don’t have cutters, you can cut a few out by hand, but it’s not going to be easy.

After you cut a bunch of ghouls out, put them into the boiling soup.

We also put the “extra” dumplings parts into the soup (the large “holey” pieces left over from cutting out the little dumpling shapes) and pull them out to eat separately. My kids especially love to eat these pieces (see below).

Let the dumplings boil for about 2 minutes; they’ll be done when they float to the top of the soup.

The kids really enjoyed helping to make the little ghost cutouts and they loved to eat the finished soup. This “spooky” soup would be a nice dish to serve at a little Halloween get together for friends and family or a meal for the kids before trick-or-treating.

Enjoy your spooky Halloween soup!

{why i can’t have nice things} including (possibly) my kids’ fingers

31 Aug

“A weekly, or as close as I can get to weekly, ritual (who am I kidding that I think I can do this every week). Some photos – with or without tons of explanation – capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. A moment that makes me remember why exactly it is that I can’t have nice things (but someday will).”

**A twisted step-cousin twice-removed of www.soulemama.com‘s {this moment}.


Hi! This is my new electric pencil sharpener, a fun new back-to-school “gift” I recently bought for my kids. (manual sharpeners are sooo 1st grade.)


She's a beauty, ain't she?

As you might see if you’ve got an eye for these sort of things, It’s an X-ACTO brand. It’s also missing the shaving receptacle cover (3 days into ownership–not bad). The other morning, I walked into the kitchen, froze, and then gasped with horror. There, there at the breakfast table was one of my older kids gently guiding my 3-year-old’s fingertip into the sharpening tube (or whatever the hell it’s called).

X-ACTLY where it should not be.

No fingers were lost/maimed in the making of this post, but I see a Group W Bench in one of these kids’ future.


The author re-enacting the events of the breakfast incident.

Staycation: 2011

30 Aug

Every year, I am forced to take a “vacation” during the third week of August. Daycare is closed for the youngest that week and all summer programs for the older boys have finished. It’s an odd paradigm for working parents, this forced vacation, but a common one. I seldom plan a real, live “go away” vacation. Going anywhere with three kids aged 8 and under is neither appealing to me, nor feasible for many reasons–but that’s for another post. So, the third week of August is devoted to me and the kids and our week-long local adventures and distractions undertaken from basecamp (read: home). Here are some outtakes from the week taken from my field journal (read: scraps of paper and previous facebook posts).

Pyramid of cuteness and destruction.

Field report: Monday.

First day of “staycation” with all the boys. West Deer, PA. Carmen found a fossil in the front yard, Paul broke my antique framed print of a girl and her dog that I’ve had since I was little, I made homemade stuffed crust pizza, and Anthony got caught in a mouse trap (the glue kind). Overall, a moderate success.

Homemade Pizza: Boom.

Field report: Tuesday.

Second day of “staycation” with all the boys. West Deer, PA. Tired. Carmen caught a huge, angry snapping turtle (I commandeered the line, totally froze and had no idea what to do, and promptly (and kind of thankfully) lost it), Paul didn’t break anything, I lost one of the last four fly fishing flies that I had of my father’s, and when I asked Anthony what time it was on his Spiderman watch, he said “27.” When asked again, “banana.” Overall, a moderate success.

Seriously scary snapping turtle.

Field report: Wednesday.

Third day of “staycation” with all the boys. West Deer, PA. Disgruntled; losing good humor and motivation. Almost had fisticuffs with the crazy lady in the vet waiting room who repeatedly called Gunner fat. Stopped at Sheetz on the way home and the kids insisted on “accidentally” mispronouncing it “Shitz” the remainder of the day. Welcomed home the in-laws from their 3 week trip to Greece and hometown in Italy; got lots of swag. Not dead. Overall, a moderate success.

Field report: Thursday.

Four “Funday” passes to Kennywood: $80
Playing games until the boys each won a prize: $20
Potato Patch Fries and drinks: $25
The look on your kids faces when they’re feeding their soft pretzel to ducks in the Kennywood pond: a total goddamn waste of $3.75

Trying to hurt/maim Cowboy Joe

Field report: Friday.

Details are sparse. Only things in field journal: “Thinking about going to the rodeo tonight and sitting on aluminum bleachers with chance of thunderstorms. #badideajeans?” and “Lost: Very small frog. Reward: Anthony.”

Frog that was lost sometime Friday.

Field report: Saturday.

Sums Saturday afternoon up pretty nicely.

Kim Kardashian is having her $25M nups today. Here’s *my* day in a nutshell: 1. I’m drinking Miller Light for lunch, 2. my youngest just threw a hoe at me (not a prostitute), 3. a spider was building a web *in the bill of the hat I was wearing,* 4. I just took 2 Imodiums, 5. my kitchen floor looks like a scene from M*A*S*H (seriously, who needed 14 band-aids, I didn’t even see any blood or hear screaming).
And if you ask me if I’d like to trade places with Kim for the day: absofuckinglutely.

Medical waste? We’ll never really know.

Oh, and we went to the North Washington Rodeo.  We bought tickets for $1 for chances to win a live steer, a live pig, a live colt, and a live miniature pony. “Sadly,” we did not win.

Parades and rodeos…forget it. I get all USA and misty eyed.

There is a town called Hooker, PA that you drive through to get to the rodeo. Never gets old for me.

Field report: Sunday.

We drove by a cemetery today and there were about 100 crows covering a section close to the road. It was a poignant sight to me, and  it cut a beautiful shape against the morning sky. Not macabe, just symbolic and there for the looking.

My one twin spoke up after taking in the sight, “You mean to tell me…all these birds, they’re allllll visiting dead people?”: head in the stars.

My other twin to his brother, “They are just. Eating. Worms. Duh.”: anvil of truth.


Well I think they’re both right…it’s just in how you want to look at things, what you *want* to believe.  I was a stay-at-home mom for three years. It was wonderful, and lonely, and fun, and freeing, and maddening, and a little sad. After careful thought, I made a choice to go back to a wage-earning job. My recent staycation was the first week since then that I missed staying home. Parenting is hard, and you seldom know if you are doing the right thing. Don’t worry, if you are doing your best, your kids will love you either way.

Anthony totally tangled in fishing line; confused; filthy.

Your time with your children (in any capacity) will provide a lifetime of wonderful memories for them to cherish. They will remember so many mundane details and thank you someday : head in the stars.

As long as you love them, feed them, house them, clothe them, and provide—your kids will probably (for real) not remember much of the details that you pine over, but—you will have succeeded in getting them into adulthood as functional members of society: anvil of truth.

Just try to enjoy the ride. Most importantly, relax. Seriously. Take it easy on yourself. Everything will be OK. As long as all the frogs are accounted for at the end of the day, you will have succeeded.

Back to school. Paul is probably hiding the lost frog behind his back there…

A few words for my twins, on the cusp of their 8th birthday

3 May

To my oldest boys:

I know that you have learned these things (all these wonderful things in just this week alone–in addition to so many other facts and lessons!), but I would like to record them for posterity and for others, so that they may also be so enlightened.

1. Although generally well-received, high-fives are not always an appropriate greeting to people you see at a funeral.

2. After you shared with me, “the absolute worst, worst, worst word” a person can say (at your request, by whispering it into my ear and spelling it…), and after I asked you three additional times to spell it, yes, C-U-R-T is the absolute WORST word a person can say.

3. I’ve never seen your little eyes light up so much (and with such excitement and joy!) as after you asked me the question that you’ve asked me so many times before, sitting there so cute with your pencils and notebook, “What should I draw?” Before I could answer, “a farm,” or “a cabin on a lake,” or “a bunch of dogs playing poker,” your brother said, without looking up from his book, “Trace your penis.”

I love you more than you love BB guns. But not as much as you’re gonna love your new zip-line. Rock on!

(Note: I have not delineated which twin said what, who are we kidding, I can’t even keep those kids straight.)

{why i can’t have nice things} inventory edition: the dangerous item repository

23 Mar

“A weekly, or as close as I can get to weekly, ritual (who am I kidding that I think I can do this every week). Some photos – with or without tons of explanation – capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. A moment that makes me remember why exactly it is that I can’t have nice things (but someday will).”

**A twisted step-cousin twice-removed of www.soulemama.com‘s {this moment}.


My Uncle Bill was an intrepid traveler, and (still is) a brilliant photographer. A true prodigal son, I don’t remember his absenses from my Grandma Rizzo’s house, but rather his quiet homecomings. He carried a satchel with him everywhere he went, prior to this being the norm of many men today. He recently told me that every so often, he would dump out the contents of his bag and take a photo of whatever was in there. Everything. He said this photo was almost more telling than a journal entry or any story of where he had been. I thought this was a brilliant idea. I’ve decided to use Uncle Bill’s time capture methodology in different ways. I think you should try it, too. It could be with your purse, your diaper bag, your junk drawer, your backpack, or anything that becomes a collection point for stuff. Today, I would like to use this methodology for: The Dangerous Item Repository.

On a fairly regular basis, we have to confiscate things from our kids. Most times, these items are (relatively) benign and relegated to the top of the refrigerator or on top of our mantle. A completed Star Wars Lego winged vehicle? Sure put that on top of the fridge for safe keeping. Alexei Kovalev bobble head dolls? Yeah, better put those on the mantle before the 3-year-old rips poor Kovy’s head off. (Note: Let’s just come right out and say it: a bobble head is basically just taunting us to decapitate it.) But then, there are things taken from our children that just can’t be hidden in plain sight.

Out of fear.

This is when we utilize the Dangerous Item Repository: the top of an old  locker in our garage, right off of the kitchen.

With spring around the corner, and the hope of cleaning our garage, I’ve been thinking about these messes that accumulate. So it is with those words, that I present to you today’s {why i can’t have nice things}: things taken and hidden from my beautiful children (due to the nefarious use of items by said children):

1. A child’s golf club

2. A paint roller with dried up paint on it

3. A cap gun with caps (enclosed in Ziploc bag)

4. A lighter

5. A hose attachment

6. Enamel paint jars

7. A 3-lb weight

8. A large, prickly stick

9. A lead pipe

10. A ball-peen hammer

Now, if I could just figure out where I hid that mallet…

{why i can’t have nice things} industrial masking tape

6 Mar

“A weekly, or as close as I can get to weekly, ritual (who am I kidding that I think I can do this every week). Some photos – with or without tons of explanation – capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. A moment that makes me remember why exactly it is that I can’t have nice things (but someday will).”

**A twisted step-cousin twice-removed of www.soulemama.com‘s {this moment}.


I had a really great history professor one semester in college. He taught History of the American Revolution and he was so great, that he actually wore blazers with large, deliberate patches sewn over his elbows. And he was gloriously disheveled. This professor was a huge proponent of questioning history. Or rather, instead of reading an historian’s record of events, he advocated deliberating the significance of historical events using first person accounts and primary source materials. For example, instead of reading a recent narrative about how American Colonists were all riled up by British tyranny, he made us read The Stamp Act. This methodology really changed my way of thinking. Not just about history, but life in general. Namely, there are two sides to every story–and then, the truth.

Most recently, I believe using this primary source methodology would benefit anyone reading about parenting and childcare. Listen, parenting is difficult and completely lawless at times–no one’s going to tell you otherwise. But that’s like saying that the endocrine system is complicated. No shit. I’m not here to tell you how hard parenting is. I’m not going to tell you that it’s difficult. I’m not going to try to compare discipline to the pancreas. Or teaching proper aim into the toilet to the thyroid. I’m just going to give you pictures and first person accounts and you can form your own opinions.

Case in point: the “it’s too quiet what are they doing wrong?” scenario. There is an eerie quiet that overcomes a home some evenings, when a parent’s mind wanders and believes that a child has either a. escaped or b. is doing something very, very bad. I will tell you, the quiet is almost always due to the latter. Alright, one time Baby Anthony did escape–from his own 3rd birthday party, no less–but we found him very shortly after the jailbreak, safe and sound down by the swing set at around 9:00 p.m. in the pitch black night. Who ever thinks the BIRTHDAY BOY will run away from his party? Apparently, not us.

Last night, my husband and I were hypnotized by the evening quiet. A brief, beautiful, perfect moment of…nothing. No yelping. No hitting. No wrestling. No hollering. Nothing. And then…I tensed up. What were they doing? Oh sure, there have been textbook family nights when the quiet was actually because of a game played without biting of a participant or a partner Lego project (Sciullo & Sciullo Engineers, Inc) completed without a punch. Rare, but it has happened. One time, the twins worked together to build a Lego vessel model they designed to be used to remediate the oil spill in the Gulf. But, last night, I didn’t even hear the brrrrshh of sorting through a Lego bin. Nope, what broke the eerie quiet was the harsh, screaming sound of tape being ripped from it’s roll by the footful. And screams. And giggles. And various beating sounds.

Today’s {why i can’t have nice things} is brought to you by industrial masking tape. Oh sure, it can be used to trim out paint work, but why use it for good when it can be used for…taping your hands like boxers do and beating each other about the face.

Perhaps there will be a college course on the Sciullo boys someday, just print out this blog for some source material. Also, they asked me if I would tie them together like conjoined twins to see how those type of twins “fight.”






Pragmatic walker

27 Jan

June 4, 2010 at 2:19 pm
Me (while frying chicken; to Paul, 7 regarding Anthony, 2): “Paul, please go for a little walk around the house with Anthony while I finish dinner, OK?”
Paul: “Where’s the dog leash?”

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