Easter 2014

I love that M&M still want to color Easter eggs. I love that they see magic in a dull white egg popping with color after being lifted from a cup. I love that Mario couldn’t wait to get my attention every twenty seconds in order to show me the newest color he produced on his egg. I love that Ri experiments by placing her egg in every color until it forms a dull brown and instead of getting mad, she just tries again and then lays down and places two dull ones on her eyes like some new age hippy.

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I love these moments together simply absorbing the joys of creating a magnificent yellow egg and a glittering purple one. No worries about finishing homework or responding to email – simply appreciating the beauty of bright pastels. I am going to miss these moments when the kids grow up and no longer have any desire to color eggs with their mom. Instead, they will be out with friends and waking up at noon. But alas, I need to stay in the moment so back to Easter weekend.
We woke Saturday morning to head down Grandview hill to the Easter Egg hunt. There were little, sweet babes dressed up in pastels standing in awe of the live Easter Bunny. I remember Ri and Mario at age 3 and 1 pointing at the Bunny and pulling me over to see him. I remember how excited they were to find eggs and cookies (yes, Grandview puts out sleeves of Oreos) scattered around the park. They still have the excitement in finding eggs – not so much in the Bunny. But I still made them take a picture…
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They have their friends there now and they “hang” with them pre-hunt over pictures with mom.
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It’s a different joy I feel at this age seeing them wrestle and giggle with friends. I’m glad they are establishing friendships and experiencing all the emotions that come with them.
They are both loyal and caring to their friends; they even distributed their Oreos to them (that’s the ultimate sign of friendship at this age).
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We spent an hour at the park after the hunt watching the kids play around and talk to friends. When we finally hit the road, it was the usual combination. Ri and Sophie scootered home with me and Mario drove home with Rick and the boys. Sophie and Ri scootered home with Zach who Ri has known since kindergarten. It’s hilarious to see the boy/girl dynamic at play. Little flirting here, little jabbing there. A lot different then kindergarten.
After we had eaten a majority of the Easter candy at the hunt, we decided it would be best to top it off with some Jeni’s ice cream. Mistake.
Jeni’s is so rich – two dips of that combined with Reese’s and chocolate bunnies led to serious stomach aches. We sat on the bench for a while before walking home.

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We burned off some of the chocolate playing ultimate frisbee. Ri is really good at it. She’s always picked up on the adventure, off-the-beaten path sports. Mario is good, too but Ri has the hand flick down pat.
We woke Sunday morning to two kids at the end of the bed urging us to get up.
“Let’s see if the Easter Bunny came!” As I stated earlier, I do love this age but sometimes it’s annoying at 6:45 am…. Jon and I got up and headed down with them. I had hid the eggs in the house since the kids are too old for Jon to be able to hold them at bay while I go down in the morning to hide them outside. This year, I put $5 and a few $1 bills in the eggs because Mario is much more into money than candy. They hunted the eggs down within four minutes and then sat on the couch looking through their baskets.
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Rocco even scored a rawhide from the Bunny.
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You’d think we would have learned from our mistake at Jeni’s but we didn’t. Ri and I made chocolate chip waffles for breakfast to add to our chocolate feast. Then we got our fine Easter clothes on (shorts and t-shirts) and headed to Laura’s house, which used to be Grandma Heile’s house, which used to be where I hunted eggs when I was a girl. However, I never had the chance at a $5 egg like Ri and Mario and Grace and Dakota have now. It’s a big rivalry every year – who will get the $5 egg. Grace held the honors last year so we were ready to take over this year. We didn’t disappoint – Mario got it. And was very excited.
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Ri rocked out an Aunt Laura tank top and wig for the hunt. She’s always up for a twist. And it wouldn’t be a Heile Easter without some volleyball. It used to be softball but a few years back it switched over to volleyball and there are some good players in our family. Of course, Robert and Cy have the height advantage but we all hold our own. Even Ri and Mario like to get in the game. Ri just likes to talk smack but Mario wants the ball to come to him so he can hit it.
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I always leave these Heile parties without a voice and exhausted, and that’s not a bad thing. I love this crew to the moon and back: my aunts and uncles helped raise me and I helped raise all these cousins of mine who are now 20 something’s and full of Heile energy.
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On the drive home, I felt full of joy…and chocolate Easter eggs.

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Kings Island 2013

I don’t know who was more excited about my brother and sister and brother-in-law coming in town – me or Maria and Mario. We had planned a Kings Island trip for a Monday hoping it would be less crowded. Sar and Jorge got in town on Sunday afternoon and we met them in my office so that I could hang Jorge’s photos that he framed for me. They look awesome.

Maria and Mario glued themselves onto Sar and Jorge from that point on insisting to ride home with them. I am as good as gone once those two come around. Jorge became a Candy Land whiz playing game after game with Mario.

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Meanwhile, Ri enjoyed some adult talk with Sarah, Jack, and me. This is her version of heaven.

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We woke up at 7:15 on Monday morning and got prepared for a day at KI! A mandatory Stauf’s run was in order and then we were off down I-71.

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We played the “Conversation” game that Ri loves. It consists of a deck of cards that contain questions about love, passions, secrets…. We learned a lot about each other on the way down (I.e., Jorge has jumped through a hoop of fire and Jack would love a night with Lindsay Lohan). We arrived at KI at exactly 10 am and the lot was already filled with people and cars. Amazing. We skipped towards the front gate energized to take on the roller coasters. We figured we’d better hit the Beast right in the beginning to avoid a long line. It took us ten minutes to get through the line. Ri didn’t hesitate to get in the seat with Sarah. I could not believe it. Mario seemed fine with the fact that he was too short to ride and I was fine standing back with him.

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It was Jorge’s first time on a roller coaster and although he was nervous as hell, he stood strong for Ri. I love this before and after shot of Ri and Sar.

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Ri was rather shaken after the four minute ride. Her stomach hurt for two hours afterwards. Poor girl. I think back and realize she was probably scared too death but wanted to impress her Aunt Sarah so stayed calm and quiet. I was proud of her intrepid spirit.
The kids and I headed to Kiddy Land after the Beast to let Ri’s stomach calm down. We went on a miniature ride where it shoots you up about 100 feet and back down. That was a thrill to Mario and me but I think Ri thought it was lame after the Beast experience. Ri and I begged Mario to ride the Log Floom. Last year, he freaked out because his shoes and shirt got a little wet so we were prepared this time. I brought his flip-flops and bathing suit. He changed on the steps leading to the canoe while Ri and I surrounded him. Luckily, he’s not shy. He ended up loving it this year. Next, we headed to the haunted house; the line was ridiculously long for it only being 11 am. The kids waited patiently but Mario was done waiting in lines after that ride. We rode the bumper cars and posed with some characters and went to meet Sarah, Jack and Jorge at the Vortex (Jorge’s favorite roller coaster!).

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We hit LaRosas for lunch knowing we would hit Skyline for dinner. Grandma M. would be so proud of us chowing at all the local eateries.

After lunch we went up the Eiffel Tower because Mario really wanted “to see the whole world.”

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While up on the Tower, I asked Ri if she wanted to go on the Racer with me. She agreed to do it because I promised her the hill was tiny compared to the Beast. I could tell she was a bit hesitant but she got into line with me and Sar and Jack while Mario strolled around with Jorge (and fell asleep for a few minutes). I think I was more nervous than Ri to get on the coaster.

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There are two different types of people on coasters – the “hold everything in” types and the “let it all out” types. Maria is the former and Sarah and I are the latter. I could barely talk after the ride. Sarah had hilarious pictures of Ri holding her breath with her cheeks puffed out like mini balloons. But we made it through alive and just a little shaken.
We headed to the water park next but stopped at the White Water Canyon first. We stood in line for a half hour with Sar worried about her shoes getting soaked for most of that time only to be told that Mario was an inch too short to ride the ride. Sar and I laid into the teenage girl worker but she held her ground. So all of us boycotted the ride in solidarity with Mario (who was mad as heck at the rules and the girl worker). Maria, always the positive one, chimed in as we walked away, “at least Aunt Sarah’s shoes will stay dry.”

We paid $12 for a locker at the water park – what a deal… and had high hopes for some water fun. It ended up bring a bit of a disappointment but we still had our laughs.

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We stood in line for 45 minutes for a rafting ride that Sarah remembered being scared half too death of as a kid. It was quite the disappointment after the long wait (Sar was ready to head back down but we made her wait) but the kids loved it! They also loved the Lazy River but us old foegy adults were freezing! Luckily, the kids started to get cold after a couple more slides so we packed it up and hit the games. Mario had been begging to play games since we walked in the park.
They always play the water gun game because someone is bound to win. Ri purposely lost the second game after winning the first so Mario could get an animal. Ri loves the Guess your Age or Weight game so we headed over there, too. She loves for them to guess her birth month. And they were wrong again so she got a prize. Mario used his Aunt Sarah to win his prize; she knew they’d guess a really low weight for her and they did so Mario got the famous hot pepper!

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We played two more games to ensure we’d walk out with three stuffed animals each and then called it quits (with just a tad bit of begging for more games from Ri). We had to buy the key chain at the end with all of us on it for memory sake (Ri and I are sentimentalists).
By the time we left at 6:30, we were fried and starving. We headed straight to Skyline and devoured the oyster crackers and then the five-ways and coneys. It’s like we hasn’t eaten on a year.

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We barely spoke a word as we shoveled food in our mouths. It was delightful. Jack and Ri passed out within ten minutes of our trip home. Jorge and Mario watched Looney Tunes. Sar and I talked about writing and blogs and definitely having to make this an annual event.

Lovin’ the Reds 10K

On Mother’s Day, my girl cousins, Liz and Maggie came up to Columbus. Maggie recently started running and has been on a mission to get others to run. She succeeded at getting Liz to start up and they informed me that they were going to run the Reds 10K race on June 1. The race started near the stadium and ended in the stadium. In The Stadium?! How many years did I go to Reds games as a kid and dream of going on the field? Definitely a bucket list wish. But my non-committed self said “I will think it over” and went about getting dinner ready. As we sat at the table an hour later, Liz asked for my computer.

“I’m signing you and the kids up for the run because I know you won’t do it.”

She typed in my info, asked for my credit card number, and it was done. One thing about me is I don’t like to waste money. There was no way I was going to miss the run if I paid $50 for it. And so it was.

My little sis found out about it and decided she’d come in for it, too. Of course, she wanted to come in to actually race it. I was trying to avoid that piece. I get myself so worked up over these events so I just stopped racing in them years ago. But now Sarah was resurrecting that fire in my belly and I knew as much as I told myself I didn’t care about time, I’d try to win.

My mother and I engaged in much heartache for the three weeks between Mom’s Day and the race about what to do with Mario. We knew Ri would stay close to Julie during the race but were worried Mario may run off. We debated what we could do over and over until Jon finally stepped in and said that he was taking him to Mario’s house to shoot a beebee gun. Mario would prefer that over just about anything (going to Grandma Ionno’s house being the only exception).

Ri and I packed up on Friday night and headed to Cincy. We arrived to welcome arms from Gracie; she and Ri played house and baby dolls all night. Ri slept over at Aunt Julie’s house and got treated to goetta and pancakes in the morning. What a life.

Meanwhile, Sar and I got our sleep. I went to bed at 10 and woke up at 6:30 am ready to head downtown. Liz and Mag drove us and we got pumped up listening to some old school rap (those gals know how to do it).

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The Riverfront blew me away – completely different than the Riverfront I grew up with in the 80’s. Is that how you know you’re old, when you start reminiscing like that?! We all piled out of the car and took off for the porta potties before the race began.

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Sar found out that your time began when the gun was shot even though we wore chips on our shoes so we made our way to the front of the line. Sar got a heck of a start when the gun shot off and there was no catching up to her after that. We had made a pact to not feel bad if one of us ran ahead and she abided by it! I’m glad she did because it gave me additional incentive to keep my pace up and try to catch her.

I hit mile 1 at a 6:30 pace. Mile 2 at a 7 minute pace. On my way to mile 3, my mind really started to mess with me. A brief synopsis:

“You are over this ego thing. Who cares about your time?”

“Your body is gonna kill if you keep up this pace. Stop!”

“This is ridiculous. Just walk the rest of the race and stop torturing yourself.”

“Push harder. You can beat these gals in front of you.”

“Look at that guy running past me. Show him who’s boss. Catch him.”

“You only have three more miles. That is nothing. Run harder, girl!”

And so it went like a washing cycle – over and over again.

Until I hit mile 5 and saw 36 minutes on the digital screen. Holy cow. One more mile and I could stay under an eight minute pace. The mind games lessened and I concentrated on keeping pace with the guy in front of me. I could see the stadium ahead and then there was confusion. A lady holding a 10K sign told me to turn left onto the bridge. I didn’t think she was right but I turned. Someone yelled “no turn back!” I turned around and headed to the stadium entrance. There were a ton of people standing around and people walking in so I figured it was the end of the race. I was also amazed to be in the stadium – a place I had dreamed of standing when I was a girl. But then reality hit me, literally, as a female runner brushed by me. I looked ahead and saw the blue mat laying on the ground. Shit, the finish is up there! I bolted fifty feet and crossed over the blue sea. I made it. 45 minutes after I began.

I looked around in awe. The green field. The towering stands. Right field where I used to root on Dave Parker. And then I saw my baby sis making her way up the stadium steps.

“Sarah!”

She turned her head and we stumbled towards each other. We hugged.

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We posed for a picture.

And then we walked up the stairs talking about the hell we had just gone through. Sarah hated the last mile and was confused just like me at the finish. But she thought she got third among women based on a spectator yelling “You’re third!” as she crossed the blue sea. We found the white tent and waited for a print out of our results.

Meanwhile, Maggie called and had made it in an eight mile pace. Pretty impressive for just starting to run. Us Heile women are no joke.

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Sar was the first to get her printout. She came in 1st in her age group but it said she was 7th in females. She was bummed. How could that be? While we were contemplating that, I got my print out and saw that I was 1st in my age group! I couldn’t believe it. What a feeling of elation and pride.

We met up with Liz who ran almost the entire way (yet another Heile girl feat for just starting to run!) and their dad and sis and friend. We all gave high-fives and congrats. Then the phone rang. Julie and mom and Ri and Grace had arrived. We all hugged and laughed and took way too many pictures.

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Mags and I did some congratulatory push ups…

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while Ri performed her Strongman exercise and picked up Aunt Sarah.

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I found out Sarah won third place among women when I happened to see her name in the third place slot and confirmed it with the race worker. Her prize? To throw out the first pitch at a Reds game! So jealous! Sarah has won gift certificates, tvs, and the like but for this race she got a certificate to throw out a pitch, which would have been cool if she didn’t have to come back all the way from Pittsburgh. And what’s more hilarious is when we went up to the tent to ask what we got for winning our age division, the girl beamed at us and chirped “you get a Reds bobble head!” Sar and I about died laughing. It’s the simple joy of giving your all, I guess….

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Ri and Grace got to join in the fun, too and run the warning track. Poor Ri fell within two seconds of her run. Some six year old boy pushed her. Her little knees were scraped and one was bleeding pretty good. But she had her aunt and mom pushing her to keep going so she cranked it out. She’s got that runner in her when she needs it.

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Aunt Sarah and I were very proud when she got her medal. Gracie and the crew were up in the stands cheering Ri on as she walked up to them. What an awesome event with family. I was delirious with joy the entire day.

And to top it off, we got to go down the Fan Slide (something they never had when I was little!). Ri made me get a picture of Aunt Sarah because she found it hilarious that we went down, too.

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We drove home, put on our bathing suits, and headed to Blue Ash pool. Sar and I took turns heading to the whirlpool. That was pure heaven – I almost fell asleep three times.

Mother’s Day 2013

Top Fifteen memories from Mom’s Day 2013

1. Watching Ri and Mario fight over who gives me my gift bag.
2. Using my Garmin GPS watch from Jon and the kids and clocking eight-minute miles.
3. Making frames with Ri to give to the Crutcher ladies.
4. Getting a voice mail from Meg and dad wishing me a great day and telling me I was the best mom (after Meg, of course!).
5. Hanging out with hilarious and loud women all afternoon (Patty fit in with us Heile women perfectly).
6. Scratching a winning lottery ticket from Patty for $8!
7. Receiving a ceramic painted mushroom to place in my garden and a flower basket from mom.
8. Eating chocolate truffle that Patty made.
9. Having Liz and Mag register me for the Reds Stadium 10K on June 1 (I finally get to go on the Reds’ field – I’ve been dreaming of that since 6th grade).
10. Getting a hug from Grace-Bug.
11. Watching Patty climb a tree.
12. Experiencing Lou running away from us after Ri accidentally let go of his leash. Pure madness on Bluff Ave. as mom, me, and the five kids chased Lou through yards and the street for eight minutes of intense emotion ranging from panic (“what if he bites that other dog!”) to gut-splitting laughter (watching the kids and mom try to pounce on the leash to catch him).
13. Learning how to angle the iPhone camera to hide a double chin (thanks Mag).
14. Eating leftovers when everyone departed.
15. Walking up to Stauf’s with M & M at 8 pm to get a coffee, bagel and giant chocolate chip cookie and hear them both say I’m the best mom ever (buying the chocolate chip cookie probably helped)!

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Weekend Round-Up

Maria exhibited her mom’s wackiness for “Crazy Hat Day” at school by taking her straw hat she received as a gift at a birthday party and pinning a stuffed animal on top.

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If it would have been the first week of school, that would never have happened. But since she knows her classmates so well, she had no qualms about it. She is quite the party animal when she knows everyone involved.

She had one heck of a day on Friday because after Crazy Hat Day, we played Yahtzee in the evening. Mario and I have both gotten Yahtzees while playing the game and Ri always gets so dejected that she hasn’t experienced the thrill. First roll of the game, she got a Yahtzee! And with sixes! She was so charged up. I think one of the greatest milestones for kids is when they experience excitement for another instead of experiencing jealousy. This happened with Mario. He got so excited for Ri when she got her Yahtzee; he gave her a big big and yelled “good job, Ria!” About five minutes later, she rolled another one. She ran into Jon to tell him the unbelievable news. Mario didn’t exhibit quite the excitement but he didn’t whine either (big progress). Ri ended up demolishing us by over 200 points. She remains the reigning champ but a game is scheduled for tonight and I feel lucky.

On Saturday, we went to the middle school’s fun fair. They have a raffle, tons of cookies and cupcakes, games and a bouncey house. What more can kids ask for?! I always feel bad for Mario because Ri is at that age where she “meets up” with her girlfriends and runs around with them the entire time. Mario begs to bring a friend but his friends live outside of Grandview and it’s a whole big ordeal to plan a play date. I am so glad that he is starting Kindergarten next year and will meet Grandview boys to hang with on the weekends.

Sure enough, as soon as we walked in, one of Maria’s friends appeared. They walked around together for most of the time (Hailey’s mom “trailed” them without letting them know it). Ri’s at that strange age where you feel comfortable letting her run around at a closed event like this but you also don’t want to leave her completely unchaperoned. It feels strange not to have her by my side and to watch her act goofy with her girlfriends and boys in her grade.

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Meanwhile, Mario wanted me to watch him go down the bouncey house slide fifteen times over. He still stands by my side, which I won’t complain about at all. But as soon as our next door neighbors showed up, he left me and went running around with Quinn. He loved the toilet paper toss – our little hillbilly.

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He also kicked it at the dart game – got a bullseye on his first try (taking after his Uncle Greg).

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The kids located the face paint table towards the end of the day and Ri, being true to her school spirit, got a Bobcat paw. Mario, being true to his bad self, got a vicious snake.

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I could not believe it was 2 pm when we left. We stayed at that fair for three hours. I was spent. But we managed to head into my office around 5 in order for me to print off some things. We ended up on there until 7 pm. The kids loved sitting at the computer and playing. Mario was on mine and Ri was on my assistant’s. I was on my colleague’s. when I had finished my tasks, I walked into my office and found Mario watching some home-made Transformers movie where every other word was a cuss word.

“How long have you been watching this?” I asked him.

“Only a few minutes. It’s awesome.”

We had a talk about using those words and I didn’t hear any of them the rest of the weekend so hopefully we are in the clear.

My dad called Saturday night to ask if he could crash at our place after watching Jack play at a bar that night. It’s a sad day when your dad is partying til the wee hours of the night and crashing at your place (and you’ve been in bed since 10 pm)! Ri and I made pancakes for Peepaw in the morning and then followed him to Cincy to decorate Grandma Menkedick’s grave on the anniversary of her death. Ri wore all pink in her honor. It was freezing outside.

I love the few words my dad said to Ri when she told him she was freezing. “Now we can visit her grave every year and we will know that Spring is coming soon.”

Maria had to take a picture before we left.

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We performed our tornado exercise at my mom’s house Sunday afternoon. We watched Lou eat a stuffed bear, ate cookies and played on the bed. Then we went to a birthday party that Grace-Bug was invited to at a gym with inflatables. Nothing like inviting yourself to someone’s birthday party (luckily we knew them). The kids went non-stop on the inflatables and begged me to join. Aunt Julie tried to teach me to sit still and make them play on their own but I couldn’t last too long. Besides, I love playing on those things! Ri, Mario and I held hands down the shark slide and Gracie even braved it. And… we even scored sheet cake! Ri and I downed two pieces each.

We ended the day with baths at Julie’s house. Maria and Gracie in one tub and Mario in his own. They smelled like baby shampoo on the way home. I miss that scent.

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Grandma Lolo gave Ri a koala bear and Mario a “hot stuff” bear (apropos) for the ride home. We stopped at BP for our chips and drinks and we were off for Columbus. When we got home, we hoped dad would surprise us and not have left for his trip. No such luck. The only silver lining was that the kids got to sleep in my bed with me ( a silver lining for the kids – not me – as I get kicked and punched all night!).

Cincy weekend

We finally made it down to Cincy two weekends ago over the MLK holiday (we talked about MLK on the trip down and what an impact he had on the civil rights movement; Maria explained to Mario how unfairly black people were treated and how MLK helped change the world so people would be nicer to each other). Sarah and Jorge ended up in town, too, because Sarah was interviewing Grandma Menkedick’s friends for a school project.

It was the normal tornado of a trip. Mom and I made big plans to take the kids and Gracie to Union Terminal for the kids museum. Maria had begged to head to the train museum and funhouse but I told her I wanted to go downtown. We got to the Terminal, spent $6 on parking, walked inside, and found a line that snaked nearly the entire one side of the Terminal. An hour and a half wait. I wanted to cry … or hot someone. Although Union Terminal is only 30 minutes from my mom’s house, it feels like hours when you have to drive down I-75. We trudged back to the car and headed back up I-75 to the train museum. The kids were not disappointed at all. Mom and I did pretty good keeping our frustration inside if us. Mario made us laugh after I said I had to pee; he pointed out an “outhouse” on the side of the road for me to use (it was a port a potty for construction workers).

The train museum provides about a half hour of train viewing (it takes all our might to get the kids to stand still to read the plaques) and a half hour of play in the jungle gym area. I think Ri and Mario are getting too old for it. But they lived vicariously through Gracie.

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The area that they really wanted to go to was the Fun House. It had the obligatory cardboard cut-out that the kids could put their faces in. Grandma Lolo situated their faces just right in the hole so they really looked like tiger trainers.

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I had been through the Fun House once before when Laura introduced us to the museum last year. It scared me too death, especially the House of Mirrors. I felt claustrophobic and trapped. It was Maria’s favorite. I warned mom about it and she was equally fearful. But the kids were full-on ready to go.

We hit the “easy” areas first. The Clown room only made you feel sick with the slanted rooms. Next we hit the curtain room, which I forgot was just as bad as the mirror house. Mom and I were hyperventilating by the time we found our way out (thanks to Ri and Mario). Then we went to the Hall of Mirrors and continued to be horrified. Way too much for us to handle. The kids laughed hysterically at mom and me running into mirrors. Finally, we agreed to the Cosmos House which was kinda cool but at the end it had two huge black cushions squeezed together mimicking a Black Hole. You had to push through them to get out. Ri was the only brave one. The rest of us went out the Exit door. Mario finally got the guts to do it if I held his hand and once he did it, he wouldn’t stop.

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Before we left, Mom braved the Hall of Mirrors one more time with Mario (quite a feat!) and I went through the Black Hole cushions. Yea, we’re tougher than we think. As a reward, we got ice cream and chips at the concession stand.

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Mom and I felt like we had been out since 6 am when we returned home. She went for margaritas with Sarah and Jorge and I went to Julie’s to hang out with Liz and Grace and M&M. We got LaRosas – I’d take LaRosas over margaritas any day. The kids play great together at these ages; Grace still let’s Maria baby her to some extent and Grace laughs her head off at Mario which he soaks up. We topped the night off with UDF ice cream and cozying up with Sar and Jorge in mom’s basement.

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The next morning we got to see Maggie and eat pecan pancakes and goetta thanks to Julie. Goetta is pure heaven and a treat not known by many people in Columbus. I grew up with it in Cincy – pork and oats all fried up . Yum! After filling our tummies, we went back to Grandma Lolo’s and she got out random small boxes and soaps for Ri to smell. This has been a tradition since Ri was born. Smelling soaps. They sit on the upstairs floor and lay them all out. Meanwhile, Mario was in search of cash. He found coins in Grandma’s jewelry case and asked her if he could have them. She said he could have a couple. He responded with “how about two handfuls?” She agreed to one handful. His right hand was spilling over with money.

She then showed him a dollar coin. He wanted it. She said she’d give him a dollar bill. His response: “could you give me ten dollar bills? She replied “how about two?” He said he’d take three. She walked downstairs chuckling and commented “your son is quite the negotiator.” As we packed up our things, Mario held tight to his money and even kissed it at one point. The 2013 Gordon Gecko.

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My mom was getting on her coat and gloves to take Lou for a walk in the park so we decided to head out with her and leave from there. We needed some crisp Winter air before our two hour drive. The park looked like a scene in a fairy tale. Bright white snow balancing on the tree branches and blanketing the water in the pond. No one but us running through the woods and climbing up the ladders to the slides.

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We kissed Grandma and Lou goodbye and headed back to our Columbus home. Dad was waiting for us in order to take M&M to gymnastics. I got the duty of heading to the grocery store to pick up dinner. Man, I wish Columbus had LaRosas.

Pumpkins and pizza

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The Irons pumpkin patch cured the girlfriend blues. I hadn’t seen my Cincy gals for months due to summer camps, sports events, work functions, vacations, and moves. You name it and one of us was doing it. However, I find that if I don’t get my time with my life-long girlfriends, I start to funk out and get the girlfriend blues. I got my girlfriends in Columbus who I love but these Cincy gals are my life blood. They’ve been with me my entire life through the acne, the break-ups, the homecoming dances, the principal office, the family dramas. They know me – the real me. And damn if they don’t make me laugh and let go of worry every time I see them.

I missed Kathy in the mix – my soul sister moved to Michigan a couple of months ago and just had a baby so she couldn’t make it to our pumpkin patch outing Sunday. She’s the one I count on to talk about what the hell we’re doing in our lives – where we want to be in two years – why we’re not pursuing what we want – how we are gonna make a change! She’s also my fellow lawyer….

Even though we don’t get together every month, I love how our kids always warm up to one another after the initial thirty minute awkward mulling around. Jill’s girls are so polite and sweet, like Jill. Ericka’s daughter is confident and laid-back like Ericka. Lisa’s kids are sassy but loving like Lisa. And mine, well they are crazy and loud, like….

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Maria and Mario had to feed the llamas like they do every year (Mario isn’t scared of them even though he was bit two years ago by one and swore he’d never feed one again – distant memory now, thank goodness).

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We all laid our respective kids in the grass with the leaves surrounding them with the hopes of a Christmas card-ready picture. The other kids gave some sweet, angelic poses but this is as good as I got.

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Goofballs.

We chowed down at LaRosas after the pumpkin patch. Ri got the spaghetti and meatballs she has loved since shortly after birth and Mario and I got pizza. I wish we could get a LaRosas in Columbus but our waistlines would surely expand. Mario and Josh did their boy thing and wrestled during lunch. They created a little bond by way of throwing each other to the floor. The girls drew and gave their condolences to Ri and Emma for having to deal with those crazy boys. Us ladies chatted about work, motherhood, periods, and other random topics that get interjected in the hour that we have together without kids at our beckon call.

After LaRosas, we doled out our hugs and kisses and headed to the outlet mall for some new gym shoes (my most favorite indulgence!). We met my mom at the mall and found some sweet shoes after testing them out throughout the store.

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Mario thinks my mom buys everything when we go to the outlet mall so when we got home he pronounced to Jon “Look at the sweet shoes Grandma Lolo bought me!” We also hit Old Navy for some pants for the kids (Mario wears serious high waters and Maria’s all have holes in the butt). They each scored a bouncey ball from the 25 cent vending machine (I am a sucker for bouncey balls) and some new threads. Good life.

Mom and I got some fries while the kids played at McDonald’s play land and talked about the latest happenings in the family, and Lou, of course. She spoils that dog of hers taking him on 6 walks a day sometimes! Good life!

We gave our hugs and kisses to Grandma and made our way back to Columbus to see Jon who was driving back from his cousin’s house without any deer that he had hoped to shoot over the weekend. Oh well, looks like Chipotle for dinner this week.