Riddle Me This

Blog posts are harder to write than they used to be.  I mean, it’s not like the old days where a blog post would just walk in and sit down at dinner with us and all I had to do was hit “publish.”  When my kids were younger, there were much more incidents involving flying underwear, untimely pantslessness, and kids asking their aunties if they want to see what’s in their pants.  (All those links are totally worth clicking on.)

These days, if you haven’t noticed, I have to think about what I’m going to blog about.  Then, after thinking, I have to write things down.  Those things are WORDS, and they can be a real pain in the neck.

So it felt like a huge gift when Rocco came home from school on Friday and presented me with his weekly letter.


In case you didn’t bring your bifocals with you, the important part of the letter is a riddle Rocco wrote.

Here is a solid riddle.  My solid is soft, warm, and tan.  Can you guess it?

First thing that you picture is…


Of course, I was very proud that Rocco’s sense of humor is at least on a junior high level.  He’s so advanced.

Rocco’s riddle reminded me of my own favorite riddle, which goes like this:

What’s brown and sticky?

If you can’t think of an answer, scroll to the bottom of this old Mrs. Mouthy post.

Mac ‘n cheese
Chicken quesadilla
Steamed broccoli & cauliflower
Fresh broccoli & cauliflower

P.S.  The true answer to Rocco’s riddle is “The Snuggie,” and the one to mine is “A stick.”  We’re not as gross as you think.


Wow, so my voice was completely MIA for five whole days last week, and let me tell you it gets tough going through the world with only the words you can convey are “yes,” “no,” “I don’t know,” and “F— you.”  Poor Kevin got flipped off more than I’d like to admit last week.

Anyway, how about an update on the boys this week?

Vincenzo:  “V”


We don’t see much of him lately.  He’s either with his friends or bugging us to get a phone so that he can text his friends when he’s not with them.  (Yes, he is the only fifth grader on the planet of the Earth who does not have his own phone.)  I mean, he is gone so much he even has his own germ biome separate from the rest of us—we’ll all be sitting around with colds and sore throats, and Vincenzo will be in the bathroom puking his guts out. 

As little as we see V, we see even less of his sweatshirts and jackets, which he leaves around the school and town like calling cards.  Everywhere we go, people come out of their houses and lean out of cars to return a sweatshirt of his they found.  I’ve got a plan now, though—we are going to buy him sweatshirts that are nearly impossible to lose.


Vincenzo lives in the moment and doesn’t overthink things.  He has zero opinions about anything, from what he wants to eat to who he wants to have over to play.  “I don’t know, Mom—I definitely want to have someone over, but you pick who.” 

Two things I’ll never understand about V: how he loves Toxic Waste candies and how he loves jumping from hot water into cold then back to hot again.  (Pictured below was a lay in the snow after a soak in the hot tub.)


At 4.5 feet tall and 70 pounds, he is one of the shortest, skinniest kids in his class, but he can still wrestle a 100-pound friend to the ground before returning to the couch to reread Ender’s Game for the nth time.

He is a favorite of his younger cousins because, well because he never really outgrew his early childhood.


And at 4.5 feet tall and 70 pounds soaking wet, maybe he never will.

Rocco Taco:


Rocco has come down with the same affliction that struck Vincenzo about five years back: an obsession with books.  He now gets in trouble just as much as V for reading when he shouldn’t be.  During read aloud with my boys last night I caught Rocco hiding under the covers, reading his own book while listening to the one I was reading.  Incorrigible child!


Rcocco is a do-first-think-later kind of kid and one who loves nothing more than a good argument.  You tell him to brush his teeth then put on pajamas and get into bed and he instead lays out a five minute explanation of how it wouldn’t matter if he brushed teeth first or put on pajamas first, so really he could do either, and you snap at him, “JUST GET READY FOR BED ALREADY!”  Ten minutes later you see him walk out of his room wearing swim clothes and reading a book.  We have yell at Rocco a bit more than we like.  He doesn’t mind the yelling, which drives us crazy. 


(Here he is with his leprechaun trap.  I can hear Pinterest weeping.)

Like Vincenzo, Rocco lives in the moment and doesn’t hold grudges.  Last year some kid got expelled for trying to choke Rocco; this year Rocco loves to play with that kid at recess.

Rocco is resilient.  He is more likely to get mad instead of sad.  He thinks his older brother is a superhero, and he giggles his way through movies at the theater.  He’ll make you so mad you want to throw him off the deck, then he’ll pat your arm and say, “It’s okay, Mom.  Don’t be mad.”


I just love this kid.

Leo.  Leo, Leo, Leo. 


He went through a rabid phase in his fours and we kept hoping it would pass and it finally did…only to give way to an even more rabid, ferile, and screamy phase. We’ve been saying, “This too shall pass” for over two years now.

He’s very sweet when his brothers aren’t around, and his teachers cannot say enough about what a wonderful boy he is, but then Rocco asks Leo to please pass the butter and Leo screams, “DON’T TALK TO ME, ROCCO!  I DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SAY THAT!”  Then he slides down his chair like a melting popsicle and ends up in a puddle at Kevin’s feet.  We get out some towels, mop him up, prop him back on his chair, and ask if he would like anymore grapes.  “WAAAAAAAHHHH!”  And he melts onto the floor again. 


But when it’s just me and Leo, he is all hops and snuggles, playing baseball with battle axes and beach balls, baking cookies, trying on various facewear, then curling up in bed with me and listening to me read Narnia books, dragon books, picture books, tax returns–absolutely anything that has words in it.  He’s not picky.


Leo loves when his older brothers need help with something that he is able to do, like fetch silverware or put their coats away.  Fortunately, his older brothers have not caught on and taken advantage of Leo’s over-eagerness to prove his Bigness.

In conclusion, I apologize on Leo’s behalf if you have tried to tickle him or teas him in the past year or hug him or ask him how his day was.  He probably yelled, “ENNNNNHHH!” or perhaps bit one of your fingers off.  What he meant to say was, “I’m kind of going through some stuff right now, but with Mom’s gentle guidance I’m sure I will grow up to be a calm, reasonable, well-adjusted adult without any residual self esteem issues from having been born  the “baby” of the family.”


I have such a soft spot for this guy.  He’s my little buddy, and I know he would murder me in my sleep if he knew this, but when I kiss his puffy cheeks I still get a baby fix.  This one is always going to be my baby.

Cornbread taco bake
Cinnamon roasted squash
Fresh vegetables
Chocolate almond bundt cake

Worst. Cold. Ever.

Ugh, last Thursday I got this really bad sore throat and that mucous-lung feeling that got worse on Friday, worser on Saturday, worser than that on Sunday and so on, and today is Wednesday.  I’ve had colds many times over the course of having this blog, but never before has a cold warranted an entire post dedicated just to it.

At some point on the weekend, the cold yanked the voice right out of my throat and left me speechless.  I wake up each morning and see if today’s the day my voice come back.  I say, “Good morning, Kevin!”  All he hears is the sound an air mattress makes when you sit on it it to get the air out.

Laryngitis is tricky to deal with when you’re a mom.  The kids come tattling to me about who said what and what punishments should be doled out, and I can only answer with a nod of my head, a shake of my head, or a shrug of my shoulders.

Leo: Mom, Rocco got mad at me when I told him to let me use the stool because he told me I was parenting him, but that’s not parenting.
Me: [shrug shoulders]
Leo: Did you hear me, Mom?  Rocco got mad at me when I told him to let me use the stool because he told me I was parenting him, but that’s not parenting.
Me: [shrugs shoulders]
Leo: [repeats message, then gives up and returns to bathroom to yell at Rocco]

It’s super frustrating.

And if you’re wondering why I don’t just whisper—surely I can still whisper—you are right, I can.  But it is actually more painful than trying to use my voice, and it is worse for your throat to try to whisper than to talk.  (Look it up!)  I type messages to Kevin and the older boys, but otherwise I am virtually unable to communicate with them.

The worst thing about this cold, though, is that it seems to be inside out.  Instead of all the yucky stuff running out through my nose, it’s running down the back of my throat, and it’s not the nice, smooth kind of mucous, either.  It’s chunky.  I know this because on several occasions I have not been able to push the stuff down my throat into my stomach and it has landed in my mouth, along with the urge to throw up.  I will spare you any further details.

Sleeping?  Oh, forget about sleeping!  There is too much mucous management at night and coughing spells.  It’s like I have two days instead of a day and a night.  There’s the day-day where I take care of other people, cooking, cleaning, prepping, packing, shrugging, hugging, nodding, kissing goodnight.  Then there’s the night-day where I read books, take baths, drink tea with buckets of honey in it, eat buttered toast, meditate, and periodically try to fall asleep.  I know day-night has turned to day-day when instead of taking a third bath, I start cooking breakfast.

Friends, neighbors, and strangers have all been very sweet and helpful.  They’ve given me lots of  throat sprays, cough drops, prescription mouth washes, home remedies, and advice.  One familiar cashier even busted into full ASL with me, signing, “Do you want help out today?”  Like laryngitis comes with the side effect of automatic fluency in ASL.  I just smiled and signed, “Milk” back at her, as that’s the only sign I remember from my boys’ babyhood. 

Unfortunately my cold just looks at all the medicines and throat sprays sideways and says, “Pffffffft.”  It’s here, it’s got my voice, and it’s not going away until it’s good and ready.

Damn, it feels good to blog though.  The cold can take my vocal cords, but it will never take my fingertips!  (Oh Lord, it can’t, can it?  Because this one most definitely would if it could!)

Here is what I’ve learned from this wretched cold and from not being able to speak for three days and counting.

1.  The human body is a disgusting creation with some serious design flaws.

2.  When Mom’s body is present but her voice isn’t, for a couple days the kids will be miserable to each other.  Then they kind of clue in and start running the machine all on their own and you’re proud of them but of course, you can’t tell them.

3.  There should be a universal sign for “Laryngitis” that everyone knows so that, when you hand the barrista a piece of paper that says “Laryngitis.  Tall vanilla latte pls!” people don’t think you are trying to rob the Starbucks.

4.  Physical comedy is much harder to pull off than verbal comedy

5.  I need my voice more than it needs me.

I’d like to end with this quote and this picture today, which I am dedicating to My Voice.

If you love something, let it go.  If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever.  If it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be.    –Author Unknown


Ricotta gnocchi
Salad with apples, pecans, & blue cheese
Rainbow Jell-o

Baby on Loan

My neighbor’s sweet baby boy, Cal, had been getting sick a ton at day care so she decided  to take me up on my frequent offer of, “Want to give your baby to me?” 

Two days a week I get to hang out with this guy, and three days a week he goes to my sister’s.


The first couple days were kind of weird, when I’d be at the grocery store where everyone knows me and they’d look at the baby in my grocery cart and ask suspiciously, “Where’d you get the baby?”


“Ennnnh,” I’d say. “Don’t worry about it.”

It’s fun, having a baby in the house again to snuggle with and have conversations like, “Ai bai bai bai bai,” and, “Bizsha bizsha ibzsha bizsha.” 

Plus, babies happen to be my favorite thing to photograph.  My own kids have outgrown the phase where they look adorable doing everything (now they just look ridiculous and awkward), so now I get to measure my days again by the pictures I take.


Valentine’s Day was worth a million bucks.  Winking smile

This guy is so easy to watch, I feel like I should be paying to hang out with him instead of the other way around!

I’ll end with a few scenes from the week and the acclimation of Cal to the MrsMouthy household.

Learning the ins and outs of swordplay:


Bird watching and the Beto tradition of pantslessness:


Finger painting (he wasn’t sure he liked it all that much, and once he licked his fingers he knew he definitely did not like it):


Sending his mama a kiss:


Babies.  I’ve got one around again, and I didn’t have to be pregnant or lose a single night of sleep, and I am so thankful to have this guy and his parents living right next door to me!

Grilled grouper with gazpacho salsa
Rice pilaf
Buttered green beans
Toffee chip brownies

Just Yesterday

Fellow moms, I just want to prepare you for a day that is coming up in your future, or perhaps to empathize with a day from your past. 

There is going to be a day when some parent committee asks you to submit a baby photo of your child for the graduation ceremony slideshow, and you are going to spend hours perusing baby photos of your child and feeling so confused. 

“A baby picture for a graduation slideshow?” you’ll ponder.  “But I just took these pictures last month!” 

You must have taken them just last month because you remember everything about the day that photo was taken—how he wouldn’t stay still, how his arms and legs moved of their own accord and he looked like he was landing airplanes, how you giggled at seeing your son with a Ms. Piggy hairdo, how the cat stepped over him afterwards like he were a piece of laundry, how he got fussy so you picked him up and he rooted around your shoulder hopefully yet futilely.

You remember what the grass smelled like, how his giggle sounded, how he rolled and rolled around the lawn, how his dimple kept winking up at you and the sun, how you picked him up afterwards and squeezed his chubby thighs and rubbed his soft cheek against yours and whispered, “You’ll always be my baby, right?”

You remember how he smelled like a new day, how his skin felt like silk on yours, how his giggle spilled out of him like a brook, how he looked at you like he was in love, how your heart felt swollen for years until it had finally adjusted to the size of love that this baby stuffed in there.


And here you are, perusing pictures as if this all happened some other lifetime ago.

Then you look through more recent photos to find a picture of your child from today because the parent committee needs one of those, too, and you stick the two photos  next to each other in an e-mail like all those years in between are just a blink.


There they are in that e-mail, not even room for an exclamation point in between.

Yesterday.  Yesteryear.  You are all mixed up in my head, swirling like a sky full of clouds, and your song is so loud I can’t even hear Today.

Roasted red pepper & tomato soup
Green beans with dill
Oatmeal raisin cookies