Date night

My boys spent the night at my parents’ on Tuesday.  I have not had a night at home without the kids since before I knew the difference between BeyBlades and Ninjagos, so MAN was I ready.

I dropped the boys off at 4:30 and then panicked because I wanted to both work out and go out to dinner with Kevin, and it was already 4:30.  Then I remembered—the boys aren’t with us!  We can eat dinner at 9 at night if we want!!  So I dusted off my old rollerblades (that is not a figure of speech—I really own and still use a pair of rollerblades) and hit the trail. 

I called Kevin to tell him I was on the way and we started to tell each other about our days and then I said, “Wait!  We can’t waste all our conversation now!”  So we hung up.  There’s only so much you have to talk about when you’ve been together almost 15 years.

I’ve declared this fall “The Fall of Hometown Dates” because it’s been so long since we’ve gone on regular dates that all the restaurants in our city have changed.  The waiter came to ask for drinks and Kevin said, “I think we could order everything now,” and I told him to slow down…we don’t have kids with us!  We can order one course at a time and then wait for each one to come out! 

And while were waiting for our food we did not play any games of tic tac toe, get in a fight over the rules of I Spy, crawl under the table for any reason at all, ask to play games on each other’s phones, knock over any water glasses, or need to be taken outside to get our wiggles out.  We just sat there, sharing the conversation that we wisely did not waste in the car earlier that afternoon.

It has never felt nicer to be made to wait for food.

Back at home we got some cheap thrills speaking to each other in non-hushed voices even though it was past 9PM.  We yelled things down the hall to each other like, “HEY, CAN YOU BRING ME MY GLASSES?”  and, “WHICH ONES, THE PURPLE OR THE BLACK ONES?”  I’m not joking, it got my heart rate up, yelling to each other right outside the rooms where the kids are normally sleeping.

In the morning I woke up because I had had enough sleep.  I woke up because I had had enough sleep!  Not because any other member of my tribe had had enough sleep but because I had had enough sleep!  I can’t believe that is so exciting, but that is so exciting!!!

Then I cleaned up the house and it was incredible—as I put things away, there were not three people simultaneously dumping things out!  Things stayed where I put them!  There was no anger or frustration!  There was no despairing, no sense of hopelessness!  These past eight years I thought I hated house keeping but now that I’ve done it without children around I realized I really enjoy house keeping!  I just hate house keeping with children!

Then I went downstairs and kind of blacked out at my craft table and when I woke up, four whole scrapbook pages were finished.


Later in the morning I  went to Goodwill freely, without hiding anything or lying about what was going on in the trunk of the car while the kids were strapped, forward-facing, in their car seats.  I left without being made to feel like I had just dumped a beloved family pet along the side of the road.

By then I was hungry, so I stopped at McDonald’s and ate a greasy, fried, sugary lunch without the guilt that my children were also eating a greasy, fried, sugary lunch.  Incredible.

That was pretty much the end of my alone time.  I picked the boys up, gave hugs and kisses, put them in the car, and turned the key.  Then the masses from the back of the car came alive.   “Mom, can I have some of your McDonald’s drink?  Wait, you went to McDonald’s?  Why didn’t we get to go to McDonald’s?  Is it diet Pepsi?  I love diet Pepsi!  Leo hab some!  Leo hab some!”

Oh, Parenting.  I missed you, too.

Rocco @ Five

Rocco. Ohhhh, Rocco. Stubborn, silly, smart, sophisticated, irritating, persistent, brilliant, talkative, generous, kind, independent Rocco. He gives everything his all, from making pasta by scratch to making his older brother cry. It is always no-holds-barred with this one.


I was going to chop this blog post into two because it gets very long and wordy, but then, that’s Rocco. If we are in the car for an hour, he will talk for an hour. If we are in the car for two hours, he will talk for two. He will talk for three, four, five hours straight and the car is his favorite place to talk because no one can walk away from him.

And just what does he talk about? Mostly about the lane we’re in. He checks that this is the best lane, points out the many varied lanes that I could switch to, wonders if I’m going to change lanes, reminds me to put on my “curving signal” should I decide to change lanes.  It’s like living in The Wonder Years, Rocco being both the star and his own voice-over, only it’s the unedited version where for 59 minutes he talks about absolutely nothing and then on minute 60, just as I am about to park, he tells me he thinks he is allergic to the color beige and starts squinting all funny like and saying his eyes hurt, this car is so full of beige.  An hour of blather for 20 seconds of viewable material.


While the constant critique of my driving sometimes gets on my nerves, I have to give Rocco credit for paying attention—he can tell his grandma exactly how to get to his speech therapy across town, which exit to get off on and which level to park on. Sometimes I wish I could tell Rocco which exit he could get off on, but I know he means well. He’s just very passionate about, well, lane changes.

Yes, I used the word “irritating” to describe my beloved son, but I know it’s just those in his immediate family who sometimes feel this way. Specifically, those who often find themselves in a car with Rocco. To others Rocco is a sweet child who can focus on a task for hours on end, who loves everything boy but who reigns himself in and is gentle and caring.  He is the child who invites everyone else in, who places a board game on your lap and asks you to play it with him, even if he doesn’t know your name.  Funny, everyone seems to know his.


Rocco puts up with a lot of abuse from his baby brother, and while sometimes he yells “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!” at Leo and makes him cry, so many times he tries to be peaceable. He is always offering to help Leo put on his shoes or to sing him a song or to get him a special spoon at the table, and he continues to ask even though Leo consistently screams, “NO!” at him, just for asking.  It’s sweet…except that I’m starting to get the feeling Rocco asks just to hear his little brother scream.  I’ll have to pretend I didn’t make that realization.

Rocco is a spender—he never has a cent in his saving’s account. But he is endlessly generous with his money and possessions. Rocco chose Lucky Charms for his birthday breakfast cereal, then gave most of his to Vincenzo, who he knows loves the cereal as much as him. He saved all the lollipops from his Halloween candy for Poppy because I once mentioned that Poppy loves Tootsie Pops. Rocco would give a friend the piece of gum he was chewing if his friend asked for it. He’s just that kind of guy.

He says he wants to study crafting in college.


Rocco doesn’t want to do anything without Vincenzo, then the minute they start playing together he starts working on getting his older brother to yell at him. It usually takes about 20 seconds.


Rocco makes the most outlandish conclusions about the world, then says, “Right, Mom?” You know, like, “The bouncy house has a hole ripped in it because we’re wearing socks right, Mom?” I have no choice but to tell him he’s completely wrong. Like a scientist, though, he is not bothered by being wrong and just makes another conclusion. “Oh. Then probably a bad guy came in the middle of the night and ripped a hole in it. Right Mom?”  I throw my arms to heaven.

Rocco is still that kid who can figure something out and if he doesn’t get it on the first or second try, he’ll try a third, fourth, fifth time. The other day I sent sandwiches down to Rocco and a bunch of older kids in the playhouse. The older kids came up a few minutes later saying they were hungry and wanted lunch, and I asked, “What about the sandwiches I just sent down?” They had gotten the basket but hadn’t known what to do with the packages inside it. Just then Rocco came strolling into the kitchen, finishing up one of the sandwiches he had found in the basket, no big deal. Things just make sense to him.

On vacation this spring our toilet got plugged. While Kevin and I tried to get ahold of the front desk, Rocco pushed and poked and prodded around the toilet and came out a few minutes saying, “I fixed it for you.” And he had.


When Kevin tells the story of Rocco’s labor, he tells it this way: I went into the hospital with contractions at midnight, but it was determined I had false labor. The doctor would have sent me home but Rocco’s heart rate was a little irregular, so they put me in a bed for a couple hours. Kevin then explains that, by sheer determination, I forced that baby out of my body just a few hours later.  It’s basically the truth, too.

It’s funny how perfectly that labor story fits Rocco. He will be told he can’t do something and he will try every way possible to get around that rule until he either completes the impossible task or is given a time out–whichever comes first.

And it’s tricky. I want to raise a son who doesn’t mindlessly accept what he is told, who has to try it himself to believe it.  I want my child to forge his own path. I want him to push boundaries and question the truth.  I just don’t want him to question my boundaries and the truths I lay down.  Lord, help me.


I do my best to be patient with Rocco and hope he doesn’t notice the irritated undertones of my voice here and there because I love that kid like mad, and I know I’ll never fully understand him. His brain is wired so differently than mine. I totally respect and admire him for that and can’t wait to see the path that he ends up on, with his big, marvelous brain and his generous disposition. Rocco, slathering determination on everything in life. Unfailingly optimistic and resilient. Confident. Rocco takes good care of his Mama and I know he does not mean to upset me. His brothers, yes, but his Mama—he just wants to make his Mama happy. And usually, he does.

But always, always, I love him.

With everything in my heart, I love that little man.*



*Wait, did I make it to the end of an entire post about Rocco without once writing the word “trains?”  That’s just not right.  Trains.  TRAINS!  Whew.  Better.


I have drafted so many epic blog posts this week, but drafting is the easy part—I spend more time editing than I do writing!  So to tide you over…

1. Rocco, touching my leg today: Mom, your fur feels nice!

2. I went shopping without kids the other day and got carded for the first time in a looooong time.  Is it good or bad if the cashier looks at your i.d. and says, “Wow!”

3. I guess I haven’t been the greatest driver this summer.  Lately whenever I step too hard on the gas or brakes, Leo says, “Sorry guys,” to everyone in the car on my behalf.

4. Leo calls broccoli “bwoccoweed.”  It makes me smile.

5. Rocco, as we turned the lights off and left the room last night: Vincenzo, how slanty are we sleeping tonight?

The Royal Wedding, Cousins Version

And now for all the scoop on the wedding of Rocco to his cousin, Queen Elsa (nee Princess Elsa).  I don’t want to get sued by the royal family so I am blurring Queen Elsa’s face in these photographs.  😉

Rumors of the wedding began on Sunday evening, shortly after JJ received a blue dress for her fifth birthday that transformed her into Princess Elsa.  The minute JJ became Princess Elsa she was determined to be Queen and the natural choice for her king was Rocco, being five-years-old and a boy and all.

But the commonwealth was kept waiting for this royal wedding, as the young couple wouldn’t commit to a date and kept getting distracted by all the buttons there were to push in the hot tub.  On Tuesday, August 5, it was announced they were to wed, but then Rocco said maybe tomorrow instead because, “There are all these plans in my head.”

The commonwealth hardly dared breathe.

The following day Rocco recommitted to the wedding when he heard the princess talking about the cake table and the gift table, and preparations began.

At this point it should be pointed out that some of the commonwealth started murmuring things like, “Does anyone else think this is kind of creepy?”  But it was determined that certain members of the commonwealth had their own unique histories and were in no position to deem the marriage of these two as creepy.

At noon on August 6, MrsMouthy clapped her hands together and said, “Okay, let’s get these cousins married!” 

The wedding was held on the front lawn with a poolside reception following.  MrsMouthy was chosen to perform the music: a hummed version of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” as per the groom’s request.  Vincenzo was chosen as minister.

Things started out beautifully, the bride in a blue polyester-blend dress adorned with a plastic crown and the groom in his best “VOTE 4 ME” shirt and signature cowboy boots:


Alas, at the end of the stairs the groom quite literally ran away from the wedding aisle and just kept running and running, his young bride in pursuit.


The bride gave up on him and went to the altar on her own.  By then, another young cousin had stepped in to take Rocco’s place.


Rocco eventually claimed his rightful place at the altar and gave the minister the customary punch in the gut.


The minister did a great job keeping the mood light, especially when he accidentally gave Rocco his own middle name and didn’t know what to call JJ/Jacquie/Jacqueline/Princess/Queen Elsa.  They were pronounced fake married.  Bubbles were blown.  Leftover birthday cake was served.  The commonwealth assured themselves this was positively not creepy at all and was in fact hilarious.

Then, the next day at breakfast, Queen Elsa and King Rocco were spotted walking hand in hand, Queen Elsa looking lost in a dream, one hand gently cupping her stomach.

And that’s where it got, admittedly, creepy.  Once we finished laughing as hard as we could while trying to look like we weren’t laughing at all, we had to put an end to their fake marriage and fake baby and all.  We pulled them aside and said the game was over, pretend time was up.

Everything went back to normal after that, except for JJ occasionally yelling at Rocco for abandoning her all alone with their five babies. 

And that’s where things went from creepy to real.  Because honestly, can you blame her?

Vacation Week

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the concept of blogging about our week in Chelan.  It’s just too big a thing to manage!  22 people, 7 days, 1 house.  I feel like a dog who is trying to play fetch with a basketball.  Here’s a little sumpin’-sumpin’ that I was able to bite off for you today—a juxtaposition of the beginning of our week with the end.

At the beginning of the vacation we cleared and wiped the tables before eating.  By the end of vacation we just shoved the Legos, old dishes, and dirty underwear to the middle of the tables and teetered our plates on the edges.

Table at the beginning:


Table at the end:


At the beginning of vacation we couldn’t get enough of the pool.  We did things like this…


and this…


and this!


By the end of vacation we got in the pool only occasionally, more out of obligation than anything, and we just drifted around aimlessly on floaty toys, and we felt exactly like this:


At the beginning of vacation we were coming from our homes, our bodies fueled with fruits and vegetables and whole grain breads and pastas.  By the end of vacation we were fairly bloated from unlimited Slurpees (we had our own Slurpee machine), cinnamon rolls, donuts, S’mores, cheesecake, chips, sodas, ice creams.  The kids embellished all their foods with chocolate bars; the adults with whipped cream vodka.  And just look at how this vacation food took a toll on Kevin’s body!

Kevin at the beginning:


Kevin at the end:


(He was really good about applying sunblock.)

So that’s what I got for you today.  Tomorrow maybe I’ll work on the middle part–if I can find a spare 32 hours.

I’ve Waited Tutu Long For This

We went to the toy store yesterday to buy a friend’s birthday present.  Rocco asked if I would buy him a train.  No. 

Vincenzo asked if I would buy him a marshmallow shooter.  No.

Rocco asked if I would buy him a car set.  No.

Vincenzo asked if I would buy him a rocket launcher. No.

Rocco asked if I would buy him a marble set, a suspension bridge, a crossbow, and an ant farm.  No, no, no, and extra no!

Leo asked if I would buy him a tutu.  Well…



I have been waiting eight years for one of my kids to ask me that very question.

I know this post is making the grandparents very uncomfortable, so I will tell you that the tutu stage was short-lived.  Leo wore it for ten minutes or so before deciding it was completely irritating and was inhibiting his need to wrestle Daddy, eat chocolate chip cookies and wipe his hands on his shorts, play in the dirt, go potty, and pretty much do anything except sit in one place.

But man, is it easy to take an adorable picture of your kids when they’re wearing tutus!

Missing MrsMouthy?

Oh dear Andrea, you are correct.  I had made a silent pact with myself to not blog until someone commented on my last post, and even more specifically it had to be you who commented on that post, and it had to be today, at precisely 8:32AM, or I would never blog again.  So thank you for saving Mrs. Mouthy, dear friend.

Actually, I’m on vacation in Lake Chelan with all my brothers/sisters/nieces/nephews/parents, so since 95% of my readers are currently with me there’s not much point in blogging, is there?  This one goes out to the other 5%. 

So far this week we took the dam tour, married two of the cousins to each other, participated in the zucchini races, charged people $1 every time they said the word “Troy’s,” and fed the kids donuts topped with chocolate bars for breakfast on multiple occasions.

Think I’m exaggerating?


There’s a lot of randomness throughout our days.  For example, while I’m blogging my sister is teaching half of the family to knit while the other half is attempting to launch water balloons into the neighbors’ backyard.  If you’re not vacationing with us, you’re vacationing against us.

There is a pool at the house we rent so we are in the sun and water from before-breakfast-time until after-dinner-time, and my skin is just about ready to be turned into a nice handbag.  Some members of the family have been rubbing olive oil on their skin to try to make it look more, you know, skin-like.    My lips are so chapped they wish they could walk off my face and find a cool rock to live under.  The most exciting moment of yesterday was when I changed out of my swimsuit and got to wear underwear for a couple hours.

But all in all we are having a fabulous time and I know you all want to hear about the wedding, so I will blog more on that the next time I’m wearing underwear, whenever that may be.  Until then, enjoy this sweet picture of my middle child savoring a peach on a beautiful summer evening.