The Mouthies Update

A run-down on the Mouthy Family this week:

Vincenzo is still struggling with grades. I don’t want to get into it because this isn’t like when he was 3 and I could post embarrassing pictures of him but it didn’t matter because he was 3. I have to worry about self-esteem and all that now. Anyway, tears have been shed, promises made, meetings attended, efforts redoubled, baby steps stepped. I remind myself that his very first career aspiration was to work the Slurpee machine at 7-11 and that dream is still completely within reach.

Wait—I just remembered that I still can post adorably embarrassing pictures of him!


Rocco’s been a superstar lately, coming home brimming with stories and ideas from the day. He’ll sit down next to me and explain how triangulation works, then debate with himself whether or not a baby could count all the grains of sand in the world, then ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up and he listens wholeheartedly to my answer.  The other day he came up with the most marvelous invention ever. He drew it for me.


It’s the House Machine–a washer, dryer, and vacuum cleaner all in one–for people who can’t afford to buy all three. Vincenzo looked at it and said, “Give me a roll of duct tape and I’ll make you one of those this afternoon.”

Leo has been super emotional lately. Like, he’ll ask you if you know why all the cars on the ramp have to be facing that way and you’ll say, “I don’t know—I don’t see the sign,” and then he’ll lose his marbles, yelling, hitting, and ripping his shirt off because he wasn’t TALKING about a SIGN. Or he says he’s hungry and asks for snack options. I list a few. He yells, “THAT’S TOO MANY! I CAN’T THINK WHEN THERE’S THAT MANY!” So the next time I just give him a couple options. “I WANT MORE OPTIONS!” he yells. The next time I tell him to think of his own options. “I CAN’T THINK OF ANY! YOU TELL ME SOME!”  At which point we both burst into tears.

Lately it’s so hard to get the boys to do something. Video games used to be their motivator. They’d ask what they needed to do to earn time and I’d say, “Clean your room, fold laundry, do your homework, and then you can play.”  They’d jump to do it all. But lately, they ask what they need to do to earn video games, I tell them, and then they spend the rest of the day rolling around in their dirty laundry, dumping out more toys in their room, and forgetting about homework. I’ll ask them a couple more times to do their jobs. Then when it’s time to get ready for bed they say, “Wait! You forgot about video games!” And I’ll remind them of all the things they were supposed to do and they say, “But you never told me I had to do all that!”

Leo set his chick up like this and said, “Now chick has a place to rest his head.”


I get you, Chick. I get you.

I used to think I was pretty good at this whole parenting thing. Now I realize I should have picked an easier line of work. Like maybe being an air traffic controller. Or selling Slurpees.

Brown sugar glazed salmon
Roasted potatoes
Garlicky broccoli
Blackberry peach cobbler

In Which I Procrastinate Writing by Writing About Writing

Writing has become something I just do now. I mean, writing has always been something I’ve just done, but attempting to write a novel is something I just do now. I get the kids to school, go to the gym, say, “Ugh, I could be going on a long walk or reading in bed or browsing Target today but instead I’m making myself write. Ugh!” Then I set a timer for one hour and tell myself that when it bings I can go on a long walk or read in bed or browse Target. When it goes off, I’m irritated because I can’t stop typing now…things are just getting good! Or thing are going horribly, but maybe I can write my way out of it so I’m not in a bad mood when everyone comes home.

Lately, I’m having more good days than bad. It helps that my critique group has swooned over chapters that felt like battlegrounds and which seems like a kindergartener’s attempt at a self-portrait. I’ve learned that my writing will rarely be good enough for myself but that other people think it’s pretty neat. And every once in a while I write a line that is so lovely I can’t sleep. Like, “The tea kettle whistled shyly, then let out a reckless yell.” Or, “The brochure felt slick and shiny, like hope.”  Then I feel like I’m probably meant to do this.

The novel still feels like a gigantic mess and I wonder daily if I’m cut out for this, if I’ll be able to finish the novel, if I do happen to finish it, will I be able to do it again, how long this is going to take, how much money it’s going to cost, whether people will like it, what the critics will say if it gets published, how I’m going to weave so many things into it, how I’m going to find time to do the other things I want to do, like substitute teaching and relearning Spanish and meeting Kevin for lunch, what the next chapter will be, if I’m insulting or offending anyone, why I chose such a difficult topic for my first novel, etc. etc. etc.

I didn’t realize how much time writing would take up. I’m  SAHM. I’ve been wanting to go to Target for six months to get mirrors for the boys’ rooms so they don’t go to school looking like clowns, and I haven’t found the time. This is super tough for someone who lives and dies by to-do lists. It’s not natural for me to let errands go un-run. I am trying to understand that writing is a choice and that even though it means many of my dreams are on hold, writing has been a dream of mine since before all the others, and now is its time.

I do miss the days when I had babies at home. I never had to get my babies critiqued or worry that I was the only one who would ever love them, the way I have to do with my writing. I miss the days when I didn’t expect any more out of myself than what the day had to offer. As demanding as three boys can be, it’s nothing to what I demand from myself.

But even if I stopped writing, I wouldn’t get that golden time of life back. And writing, as far as I know, is the next best way to lead with my heart. To take all the pieces of life I’ve squirreled away, add a heavy dose of imagination, a passable amount of plot, a few too many commas, and watch them grow and change and become their own thing. Just like children.

Sometimes writing feels like it takes a lot out of me. Sometimes it feels like it fills me up. But Kevin says no more babies, so what’s a girl gonna do?

She gonna open her computer and push and push until all those words out come out. Then finally, hopefully, she gonna let those words walk out into the big, scary world. Just like she did with her babies.

That is my hope.

That is my slick and shiny hope.

Gnocchi with browned butter sauce
Turkey kielbasa
Garlicky green beans
Buttermilk chocolate cake