We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Sunday, January 6, 2013


            The Epiphany - now we know.  Tonio came out of CCD class this morning, Angie and I were there to greet him.  He had a big smile on his face.  "How it go?"  "Great!" he exclaimed, with his usual Kim-ish cheer.  We told him that we were going to take him to breakfast.
      "Uh, Viro's is closed today...where will we go?"  he asked,  a small shadow of doubt/concern crossed his little face.  "Jerry Bob's!"  Angie told him.  His smile returned in an instant, a glow of anticipation..."Yay!", as if Angie had told him we were going to Disneyland!!

             It was a good Mass, I always like the story of how the three wise men came to find Jesus and came to 'know' who he was, and have that moment of clarity (an epiphany!)...Tonio seemed to have one of those during CCD...on the way to the car, he told me that they had an assignment today, to think about someone in their life who gives you a good example and shows you how to follow Jesus.  There were to write them a thank you note, explaining ways he or she has helped you. 
            Tonio explained that Mama and I were who helped him follow Jesus.  I was intrigued...me?  I wasn't sure how, but, more importantly, I wanted to hear how he thought Kim still helped him, right now, follow Jesus.  "Mama helped me to believe.  I know that she believed.  I know that she is in Heaven, helping me."  I told him how Mama had looked me in the eyes and told me, as she gripped my wrist, hard, so as to have my full attention, that she knew where she was going.  I only had to look into her eyes to know...Of course, I always believed whatever she told me, but, this time was different - I didn't just believe because it was Kim telling me - it was as if I could see, too, through her eyes...so deep...Epiphany.  I told him about my dream the other night, where Kim called me on my cell, to tell me she was doing fine - and I could hear/see the beauty she was calling me from...

             Like everything else, breaks seem to go faster and faster!  We did not accomplish a whole lot during the bambini's vacation, trading around a persistent cold coupled with unnaturally chilly weather (we need to move somewhere warmer!).
            But, these guys did have some down time to play video games - Tonio glued to his new Sklanders, Cody to Black Ops, Autumn bouncing back and forth and sometimes just finding games on the computer to play.  Mixed in with a little t.v. - Cody and I enjoyed 'That's My Boy' with Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg (with hilarious appearances by Vanilla Ice and Todd Bridges!), while Aut and Tonio stuck with Spongebob (except for a brief dalliance with South Park, which, to their protests, I had to squash!  Although, one of the episodes I caught, was about Scientology and had Tom Cruise going crazy in it - pretty funny!).

             Christmas at Angie's had to be the high point, but, we found some time to get to the movies - seeing Monsters Inc in 3D (Thanks for the Fandango gift cards Mary and Ami!!!!).

                  LOVE those three D glasses!  Breanna wanted us to save them all for her Papa (Mark), who had gotten Angie a 60" 3D t.v. for their anniversary - so thoughtful!!  Monsters Inc has always been one of our favorites - Kim used to like to call Aut 'Boo' - when this movie first came out, Kim sometimes put Aut's hair in pig tails and she thought Aut resembled Boo a little in looks and personality.

               A growing phenomenon seems to be hamburger joints.  We have no less than 135 different chains now.  McD's, In and Out, Five Guys and Some Monkeys, Zinburger, Culvers, Sonic...to name a couple.  And Autumn noticed an alarming amount of them serve something called 'custard'.  She does not think that sounds at all appetizing.
              We like burgers, so like the fact that we have choices!  After enjoying a day at the movies, we had the pleasure of joining up with Mary, Emilio and Brinley for Freddy's burgers!  The adults went for the double burgers - and we all found the burgers worthy of repeat visits - Tonio, throwing the proverbial curve and choosing a hot dog, but, said it was one of the best!  Brinley decided that the french fries were the best, and when she got done with hers, joined Breanna and Autumn to help them finish theirs!

Those fries are the perfect size for Brinley and oh so tasty!

                                                         A new favorite burger joint!

               Another milestone that I reached - I watched a football game.  It may have been the first football game that I have watched from start to finish, sans bambini, in 15 years!  Emilio happens to be a Bengals fan.  Perhaps one of the only ones in Tucson, and certainly one of the only Bengals fans that I have ever met.  They made the playoffs and Mary and Emilio invited us over to watch the game, versus the Houston Texans with a couple of Emilio's buddies.
               I should have gotten a few photos of the fan gear the Montes' sported!  Emilo even had black and orange Nikes!  Brinley looked so cute in her 'My First Bengals T' outfit and even Mary had a Bengals t-shirt with some bling on it - I am constantly amazed at how the producers of fan gear continue to innovate on the selection of clothing - especially for ladies - wish they had as much back in the day, Kimmy would have loved sporting some of the new styles!! 
                As the game started, Mary took Brinley, Tonio and Aut with her to go play with Ami's kids, the Bunchkins - Hunter, Colton and Ethan.
                The Montes' were most ready to root on the Bengals and I felt bad that I didn't wear some of the black and orange that I own (Philadelphia Flyers and Baltimore Orioles gear)!  They also had a great spread of tortillas, guacamole, cheese dips, popcorn, and shrimp - but, Emilio saved the best for later - his signature burgers!
               Irony or coincidence that I just mentioned that I love a good burger?  Whichever, Emilio grilled some of the largest burgers I've ever had, perfectly seasoned and topped with fresh avocado, sliced jalapeno, cheese and ketchup!  I needed to be rolled outta there.
              His friend and business partner (look me up if you need any auto, life, renter's insurance and I'll give you their number!) and I had some things in common:  Fans of football teams with only 4 victories - Tony likes the Raiders, me the Eagles.  He is also a fan of the Flyers (not that there is any NHL going on right now), Sixers and Phillies.  Tony brought along some Dos Equis, one of my favorite beverages.  I've always enjoyed have a lime with my Mexican beers, and sometimes add a little salt, as is customer here in Tucson - but Tony introduced me to placing a saladito in the beer, in addition to the lime - adding a salty flavor, with a hint of chili.  A new favorite!

              What, exactly is a saladito?  Here's what Wikipedia will tell you:

Saladitos are dried, salted plums, which can also be sweetened with sugar and anise or coated in chili and lime.
They are considered a candy in Mexico, though they originate from China. In Mandarin, the name for saladitos is "Suan-Mei", literally "sour plum". A common way to eat them is to take a few and stuff them into an orange or lemon, sucking the salted juice and allowing the saladito to rehydrate from the juice. Once all the juice is drunk, you eat the saladitos and discard the pits. A common misconception is that saladitos and chamoy are the same thing; saladitos are made from dried plums and chamoy are made from dried apricots.
Some eat the saladito without any fruit, and discard the pit, while others rinse the saladito with water, and then eat it plain.
On some occasions, to spice up drinks, a few saladitos are put at the bottom of drinks like Sprite, or Ginger Ale or beer. Once the saladito is placed in the soda, bubbles will begin to rise immediately. The saladito adds a new and different flavor to the drink. In Taiwan, a popular plum drink is made by soaking several saladitos in a pitcher of water until the plum re hydrates and flavors the water.

               I told Emilio and Tony about our introduction to saladitos - after our first walk up A mountain for cancer back in '95, a lady approached us and asked if we needed to rehydrate "This will help!" she assured us with a winning smile.  I popped on in my mouth, liking the saltiness, and bit into it, nearly breaking my molars on the plum pit hidden within!  Kim was doing the same thing at the same time - she looked at me, with a grimace, spit it out and said something cute/hilarious and vindictive about 'getting' that lady who duped us with saladitos!!  Of course, once we understood what they were, we both came to enjoy them!
             Angie typically has them in cut fruit for her Easter celebration - the fruit takes on their flavor and is incredible!!

             Even thought the Bengals lost their game, it was still a great time...as I was driving to round up the little ones, having missed them, but knowing they were in good hands and having a great time, I realized it was about the second time in two years that I'd been without the kids, except when I was at work or they were at school...
            ...arriving at Ami's, the triplets were excited to show me their new bikes that Santa had brought them (well, Colton and Ethan were!), taking me off to the garage where they proudly, and with so much expression, stood next to their Spiderman bikes!  Then, they both grew quiet, almost reverent, both touching the white and purple bike in between theirs "This is Hunter's" they said, gazing at her bike as if it was the most beautiful thing in the world!  "It's beautiful."  I told them, breaking their spell - they were glad I saw the beauty and raced back inside (but not before we turned out the lights, screamed, turned them back on.  Then off again, screamed, turned them back on - a couple of times). Hunter, Tonio and Autumn were melted into the couch - apparently Mary had drugged them with lasagna!  Brinley had caught an second wind, chasing Ethan around the couch...They all had a fun day - Autumn and Tonio told me about how well the triplets can ride their bikes - they started their day over at Mary and Ami's mom, Debi's, house watching them ride in the cul de sac, before heading over to Ami's.  They enjoyed their time with Brinley and the triplets!

          After the Epiphany Mass and breakfast with Angie - we got down to business!  Time to prepare for getting the bambini back to school - plus a full work schedule for me.  Tonio and I literally spent the rest of the day cooking!
          Lookit - we are using all four burners (I lamented the burner constraints and Tonio right away said "we should turn some of this counter top into more burners!")

We have rice going in the first pot on the left, marinara sauce in the 'nice pot' right behind it, some chicken in the small pot, right hand corner and in the 'big pan', stir fried veggies!
Chef Tonio keeps it all going!!
It was a busy day, cooking, cleaning, packing lunches - mourning Viro's closing on Sunday's...and wondering how Rosa and Vito chose to spend their day ("We should show up in their drive way" Angie told me after church - that would have been hilarious - if we brought a couple of chairs and just sat out front...)...and looking back on the two weeks the bambini were off - it was a nice time, we got to spend a lot of it together and with friends and family (we missed the Barrio's family, who spent time in El Paso - prayin' for their safe return to Tucson!)...
Another coincidence...my sister, Lauren, texted me, as I was writing this Epiphany post, asking me to shed a little light on the Epiphany...impressed with my explanation (except,  perhaps with why the Wisemen might have been slightly delayed in finding Jesus ; ) ) and also with me letting her know yesterday, 1/5, was St. Neumann's feast day - her husband, Jason, did his graduate work at Neumann in Philadelphia (St. Neumann was Bishop of Philly back in the 1850's), Laur proclaimed that I should be a Deacon!  Now that gave me a good laugh!!  I told her I was nearly done writing the Epiphany post and asked if I could quote her..."Of course!"...
And there you have it.  A nice Christmas season for the bambini, punctuated by the Epiphany!!
Thanks for all of you who participate in bringing smiles their way (not even the cold and wind could melt those smiles!)...and, as always, thank you for reading....