Chillin’ with the family


I made the mistake of coming home Saturday morning.

I usually take a long run and hit the gym on Saturday mornings but yesterday I took a short run and only lifted for a brief time so I could hit yoga at 9:30. I ran home to get my bike to ride downtown to class. When I turned the corner of the driveway to head to the garage, I saw Maria and Mario. And they saw me.

“Mom’s home! Mom, will you play soccer? Will you ride bikes?”

“Guys, I am heading to yoga but will be back in an hour and we can do all of those things.”

“Not fair, mom. You took a run and now you have to stay home.”

When I continued to get my bike, they both boycotted me. “Don’t talk to her, Mario,” Maria demanded. I biked away with the both of them staring me down. When I got home, they were camped out on the floor under their blanket fort watching Tom & Jerry.

“Hi guys.”

“Hi mom!” It’s as if nothing had occurred an hour earlier. Gotta love kids.

We dragged Mario out in his pj bottoms to the grocery to get icing to decorate brownies for the family get together at Jon’s niece’s house. Nothin’ like having your four year old kid in the grocery cart with only his Sponge Bob pj pants on – no shoes or shirt – eating a lunchable snack from the deli meat aisle. Hey, I gotta pick my battles, and this wasn’t one of them.

We came home and decorated brownies and then took off for Sherri’s house. All of Jon’s brothers were in attendance – a feat that only happens a couple times a year since they live in different states. Poor Josh and Peter and Matthew and Morgan. As older kids, they get all of the fondling and torment of the younger kids. Maria and Alana and Emi were teasing Josh and Peter incessantly. But being the good sports, they hung in there with them (it probably helps that they only have to deal with it a couple times a year!).

And it was comical that the little girl who copped a serious attitude when I went to yoga had no desire for me to be within 10 feet of her at Sherri’s house. Mario was almost as bad except that he wanted to wrestle later in the day and no one would agree except good ol’ mom.

Maria loves being around her girl cousins, and I welcome them all into her lives. She adores Emi who is always running out to greet her and Mario when they come over. She is the organizer of all activities and makes sure everyone has what they need to participate. Maria also enjoys Eli who is much more reserved and introverted but will lie on her bed with Ri for hours answering Maria’s questions. They are the big sisters Maria never had. Then there is Dagmawit who could be Maria’s twin. She is assertive and bold like Ri and they both have strong, muscular bodies. I wish Dag (as Maria calls her) lived closer but she gives us a reason to head to Savannah. Alana is a staple in Maria’s life since she lives close by and her and Ri are so close in age. They were excited all afternoon at Sherri’s house because they knew they were heading to Patty’s house for a few days (Patty calls them the Bickerson Twins because of the way they bicker with each other when they stay with her). And finally there is Morgan, Amy’s daughter, and Asma, Zach’s daughter. who we rarely see because Morgan lives in Savannah and Asma lived out of town until recently. They both blend right into Maria’s life when they are around though because they are Maria’s family and to Maria, that’s all she needs to know to welcome them into her circle.

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Jon and I enjoy these family get-togethers because the kids go off and play and we can chat with adults. We got to catch up with Kevin and Margie about life with Dagmawit. They told us how Dag wanted to be a swim coach (since she is so good in the water) and the adult coaches allowed her. Before they could turn around, she was directing kids around the pool. When a parent picked up his child, she stopped him and said “Your child had a good practice today.” Love it! I told you Ri and her were twins. We also got to laugh at Micah’s antics and talk to Amy, Sherri’s sister who is my fellow runner in Savannah. Jon chatted with Debbie and Michael about Peter’s college and work. It was a pleasant Ionno gathering full of delicious food, much laughter, and good chats.

When we came home, Mario questioned where why Ri wasn’t with us. We told him Grandma’s house and he got so angry. “That’s not fair!” We explained to him that he’s gone to Grandma’s a lot more often than Ri. It didn’t matter to him. Grandma is a hot commodity and he needed to voice his displeasure. I calmed him down by watching a Ben Ten with him on the couch. He curled up on my lap and I scratched his back. Within fifteen minutes, he was snoozing away. It took me back to his baby days when I’d lay with him and watch him sleep – his tiny lips barely open and his sweet breath sending out the most wonderful, calming smell ever.

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