Jon and I have not spent a weekend together in our new home. I was in Italy for the first two weekends and Jon was in Colorado for the third and what was supposed to be the fourth. However, he is such a good shot that he got his elk early and decided to head back on Wednesday so that he arrived back at the house on late Friday night. The original plan was that he would arrive home on Saturday late afternoon. Based on that plan, I had agreed to go to Marietta with Jon’s mom and dad, Maria and Mario, and Maria’s and Mario’s cousins, Alana and Giovanni. Patty and I are very similar in nature – we both talk a lot, are boisterous, and enjoy taking too much on! So, when Patty found out that Marietta had a Zombie Night on Saturday night, she figured why not round up the kids, go to the event and spend the night at a hotel. I liked the idea right away.
Of course, Jon got home on Friday night, which put a little damper in the plans since he was hoping to have us home with him for the weekend but I think he quickly got over any melancholy with the thought of having the house to himself for 24 hours. Patty arrived at the house around 11 am on Saturday and after shuffling kids and clothes and stuffed animals around, we were headed East to Marietta, Ohio where Patty grew up along the Ohio River. We arrived to the hotel after two and a half hours of Tom & Jerry and “the word game” where I give the girls a word and they need to write it in a sentence. Alana loved the game so much – she would craft a sentence quickly and then patiently wait for Maria and when they both recited their sentence, she would immediately beg for another word. Maria, on the other hand, played the game four or five times, and then finally said “Mom, you are acting like we are in school!” The girl needs her down time.
The girls decided they wanted to sleep with me and the boys would sleep with Patty and Joe. We threw our clothes in the rooms and decided it was time for a swim. I love seeing the kids’ faces light up when you tell them that we can go swimming. Swimming in a hotel pool is like heaven for them and they get so excited and slap-happy whenever they know they are able to go. The only downside with this pool was that it did not have a hot tub for Mario. I was glad of this fact because I do not like him going in them (I know kids should not be in really hot ones – we have had mild ones in the past) and if I was not around, he would want to sit in one for an hour. Luckily, this hotel had a fairly warm pool so Mario was not purple when he came out. Patty and Joe went to Patty’s sister’s house to start the food while I took the kids to the pool. Mild chaos in the pool area but nothing I can’t handle; I don’t know how parents have four kids willingly though. I played around with the kids for a while and then let them play together (I am really trying to get Maria and Mario to play by themselves or with each other and not rely on me). Mario is so funny in the water – he goes like a madman swimming and splashing and jumping – and then he just completely peters out and wants to leave right away. The others just play around, lounge on the side, splash a bit, and could stay there all day.
After the pool, we headed over to Patty’s sisters’ house, Aunt Mae (Mario loves Aunt Mae because that is the name of Peter Parker’s aunt). She lives right on the river and her house also ended up being the center stage for the zombie contest. The stage set up right outside of her house so we got to see zombies parading the street all night long. Patty and I were not sure whether the kids had to dress as zombies or whether they could enter the contest in their other costumes since we had never experienced a zombie fest before but it ends up they would have looked very out-of-place as an angel, a groovy 70s girl, a pirate and a transformer (unless they would have put fake blood all over them and tore their clothes up). Everyone dressed up in some zombie fashion. Alana begged to put fake blood on her and ragged clothes. Patty drew red lipstick on all of their faces but we could not find any old clothes that fit. Maria immediately asked to have the lipstick taken off. “It looks really dumb, mom.” When Alana started dragging her foot down the street and tucking her arm into her shirt in order to look more like a zombie, Maria rolled her eyes at me and whispered “we look dumb trying to act like zombies when we don’t have real costumes.” That is a huge difference between Maria and Alana: Alana very much acts like a 6-year-old girl – playful and silly whereas Maria very much acts like a 40-year-old executive woman – serious and direct.
Dinner reminded me of my Grandma Heile’s house. We had pulled beef, cole slaw, baked beans, green beans and cookies. People also brought chips and brownies and cupcakes. This is a very bad scenario for Maria and me. We both like to graze at these “buffet” like events. And graze Maria did. She ate two meatball sandwiches, beef, baked beans, chips, cookies and cupcakes. By 7:30 she was complaining of a hurt tummy and asking to lay down. She was knocked out at 8 pm. I took the remaining crew out to the stage to dance to lots of 80’s music. They were hysterical dancing. Mario acted like he had a microphone in his hand and he sang made-up words to the songs. Alana danced like she was on Dancing with the Stars, and Giovanni went from one side of the stage to the next hopping and bouncing. They loved looking at all of the costumes. There was one girl who had claws for hands with really long fingernails. THey intrigued Mario who kept swearing to me that they were her real hands. I should have known when he had me look at her for the tenth time that he would have nightmares about them that night….
We finally called it a night at 9:30 pm and left for the hotel. Maria never quite got out of her slumber and Mario was pretty tired when we got into bed (Alana was going to sleep with us but decided last-minute she couldn’t bear to be without Grandma). We watched one show and fell asleep for about an hour before Maria woke up with a belly ache and Mario woke up with the claws in his head. It was a restless night. But the morning brought a buffet breakfast downstairs in the hotel and we got our energy back in us for another round of swimming (Maria and I paced ourselves with a half of a waffle, cereal, and hash browns).
This swimming episode was a little more chaotic because I got under water with them, threw them, and let them play “beauty shop” with my hair (much pulling and water splashing). But, what our trips for if not to hear the laughter of children happy to be able to do whatever they want to the adult in the water?! We swam for nearly an hour and half and then forced ourselves out to get showers and head back to Mae’s. It was a splendid day outside at 64 degrees and the leaves changing colors to vibrant reds and yellows and oranges. The kids and I did another walk over the bridge to the other side of the river and got sticks to pretend we were fishing off the dock (we had taken a walk on Saturday, too, which was so wonderful up until the time that Mario looked at me with that “I just pooped” look on his face and we had to do an emergency throw away of his undies as well as a poop under the bridge). The kids found a platform to climb, also, and they acted out a play about a girl who wants a car and her mom refuses to get her one. Hilarious.
We hit the road back to Columbus around 3 pm – close to four hours after I thought we would take off. But it was well worth it between the zombies, hanging out with family we rarely see, watching the kids enjoy the hotel and the pool, spending time with Patty and maybe best of all, taking in the beauty of Marietta’s changing leaves and old bridges and wide river. I felt ready to move and walk and hike with the gorgeous outdoors. When we got home tonight, Mario begged me to sleep with him. I gave in and rubber his back and Maria’s legs for a while. At one point, I mentioned that I wished we were back in Marietta. Mario shot up and said “Why, mom?” I answered that I liked waking up to no schedule, seeing the river, hanging out with grandma and grandpa and all of the kids. He looked at me quizzically and then responded “But why would you like Marietta – there aren’t any pigs or baby monkies?” He knows those are my favorite animals but to put those two together cracked me and Maria up. A good way to end the weekend.