Proud mama

There are those moments as a parent that your heart sinks into the heels of your feet and you wish you could reverse time and start again. Such a moment happened yesterday at the Pinewood Derby with Mario. He was so excited about his first Pinewood Derby race. Peepaw and he built his race car the weekend before the race and he swore that it would win, at least in his Den (he thought he may come in second or third overall). Jon and I were equally excited for him but kept telling him that no matter what happened it would be a fun time.  However, those words typically fall on deaf ears with Mario. As many times as he shakes his head ok, we know he is thinking about victory. 

Mario sat at the end of the race track with his buddies. He was laughing and having a good time. His car was in the first heat. He pointed out his car to his friends. The race started. His car trailed immediately. It came in last. He sunk into his chair. His eyes watered. He would not look over at me or Jon. We stood to the side watching him. He kept watching the next races. His car was in a few more and came in last or close to last each time. He continued to sit in his chair, at times on the verge of tears and at other times just quiet. He didn’t push his chair to the side and run off. He wasn’t rude to his friends winning beside him. 

That would likely have been his response a year ago. He stood up about 20 minutes later and walked over to us.

“Can we go home?” His eyes were watery.

I walked out to the hall with him and talked to him about rooting his buddies on for the remainder of the race. I told him how proud I was that he was not getting angry or running away. I could sense that he appreciated the recognition from me and Jon and he decided to stay (buying him a Mountain Dew helped out, too). He sat down again with his friends and, within 20 minutes, was laughing with them. He ended up having a great time despite the fact he lost. 



As a mom, these moments lift me high into the heavens and reinforce Jon and I are doing something right. It is awesome to see your kid mature and be able to process his emotions. And I was glad to witness the entire event unfold and watch each step Mario took of that process.

Ri also impressed me yesterday. 

Ri just started soccer this year. Several of her friends play on a higher skilled team because they’ve been playing for a while. But a few friends played on Kiwanis with her this past Fall, which is the only reason she joined. Those friends, she learned on Saturday morning, we’re heading to the more skilled league. Of course, she overheard these friends talking about it right before her game and she started bawling. She told me she did not want to play anymore. She felt left out. She couldn’t go on the field. And so on. I took her aside and explained this was her first year playing. She just needed to try her best and keep practicing and eventually she would move up. I wiped her tears and sent her onto the field. She ran over to where her team was standing.

She played hard. She ran more than ever. She dribbled and kicked better than ever. After the game, she ran up to me and shouted that her coach wanted to see me. Her coach asked her to join the team. Ri was elated. We talked the entire way home about how working hard and sticking with something – no matter how upset you may be- is worth it. We also talked about commitment. I told her this new team would require more effort on her part. Coaches would be more intense. Her team would expect her to know plays. She kept repeating “I know, mom.” She told me she’d give it her all. 

Proud mama.



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Go, go, go, go. 

This is my default mantra. I have invested in many a self-help book to help me stay, stay, stay, stay but they have not worked. I’m hoping this year may at least bring one “stay”. Plantar fasciitis and a hamstring sprain will likely assist with this goal. 

And I wonder why Ri can’t sit still for too long … except to play barbies. She fidgets when she reads a book, which she really despises doing at this age. She chows down her food and is ready to move away from the table within ten minutes of the start of dinner. And Mario is even worse. He can’t wait until the commercials so he can wrestle with me until the show resumes.  And if we can get three bites of food in him before he pops up out of his chair to run around, it’s a miracle. 

“You did too much with them when they were little. It’s no wonder they always want to move.” I hear this from numerous friends and family. And I ponder “hmmm, should I have stayed home and read more to them on the weekends? Should I have not trekked over to Pittsburgh with them and showed them all over the city in a 48 hour period? Should I have made them have an obligatory hour rest period in their rooms? Should I have not walked down to the river with them every Sunday and trucked rocks home for us to paint all day? Should I have made them sit in the grocery store cart rather than let them roam the aisles and explore?

Ri and Mario headed to Boy Scout camp last weekend. My neighbor graciously took them on Friday night and I met up with them on Saturday. When I arrived in the morning, Ri was playing with two other girls and Mario was playing ping pong with a gang of boys. My friend approached me as I trekked through the door; she couldn’t stop raving about M&M. 

“They are so polite and listen to me more than my own kids! And they had a blast with all the other kids – they didn’t cry or get sad about you not being here at all!” 

She proceeded to tell me how they had no fear; they both hopped on their sleds and zoomed down the hills; helped prep for dinner; took on challenges in ping pong; and engaged with everyone. As we were talking, Mario jumped in front of me and gave me a hug. Then he was off for more ping pong. I didn’t see Ri until I took my bags into the girls dorm room. She was jumping back and forth on the bunk beds giggling with her friends. She was the ring leader. 

After a few rounds of s’mores late into the evening, I laid myself down in my bottom bunk bed. I stared up at Ri sleeping caddy corner from me. Her head was inches from the edge of the bed and there were no guard rails. I leapt out of bed and scooched her body all the way over to the wall. I laid back down and chuckled. Here I am worried half to death about her falling from the top bunk yet I allow her to run free at the grocery store and barrel down the steep neighborhood hill on her scooter. 

The next morning, the kids continued their sledding fun. As we ate breakfast, they asked what’s on the agenda for the rest of the day. “Nothing at all,” I report to them. I see their pupils float up towards their eyelids, deep in thought. 





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Summertime fun

The kids went to Mama Meg’s and Peepaw’s house last week. I took them out to the farm on Saturday. We brought a movie for them to watch but my video player didn’t work. Maria sighed and whispered “this is why you need a new car.” She’s been watching ads for cars during the Today show and knows the safest ones and least safest ones. Volvo was not the safest anymore, she reported. I turned off the video after my tenth try to get it working and pronounced happily “this means we can talk!” Both Ri and Mario sighed. But we ended up having a great time. We listened to the entire Free to Be You and Me CD. When “It’s alright to Cry” came on, I explained to Mario that sometimes people make fun of boys who cry and he should always feel alright to cry when he was sad. Ri chimed in “don’t you want to give the same advice to me?!” She prides herself on being like her dad and never crying. Mario requested a little Uncle Jack music after Free to Be You and Me. We jammed to some Innocent and Simple Words. Then we moved onto Ohio trivia. I know more today about presidents from Ohio and Ohio historical milestones than I ever did in the past. Ri grilled me.
The farm was wonderful as always. I took a short hike with Sarah to get an update on how she was feeling. I was just waiting for that belly to pop!
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After a yummy chicken and salad meal and some good laughs about 80’s and 90’s music with Meg and Sarah and Emily, I left to head home to Jon for a night together sans kids. Ri and Mario headed out with Peepaw to fish.
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They didn’t catch anything but they did swim at the beach until 8 pm. They are lucky they have some energetic grandparents. The next night they slept in the barn all by themselves. Mario was scared and kept trying to convince Ri that they should rethink the barn. “There are spiders in the barn, Ri.” She would not be scared. They took Rosie to sleep with them and they had a huge flashlight. I can’t believe they did it.
On Sunday, Meg and Jon drove back and forth to Zanesville twice to make sure that Ri got to partake in 30 minutes of softball pictures with our Reds team. I’m glad though because I wanted her in the picture.

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Meanwhile, Peepaw and Mario fished on the banks of the river. Mario called to tell me he caught 13 fish and they were all bigger than Peepaw’s catches (of course). He also excitedly relayed how he and Peepaw found these big rocks to fish from and how they cast their lines and waited and when one bit, how they pulled and pulled to reel it in to them. Mario will have some good memories and some well-honed skills as he gets older. Ri sat around the cabin chatting with Sarah as she cooked dinner just like another 30 year old in the room. And they christened the new corn hole game that dad and Jorge built and painted. Ri and Meg kicked some butt against the boys, I hear.
The kids returned on Tuesday in time to go to Music on the Lawn at the library. Ri thinks she’s “too old” for it but she was happy to take Luka and play the mom role.

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She also let me slip in some selfies with her.

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How long will that last?
Mario found a few boys from his class and went to town on the wrestling front. Ridiculous – wrestling with shoes off and eventually shirts off looking like little rugrats.

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And when they were worn out and sore from beating each other up, they relaxed in front of Henry’s mom’s phone to take turns playing Goat Rampage. Boys.

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The music ended and we headed home to see Jon, who brought me home a steak and scalloped potatoes from Hyde Park where he took a colleague out to dinner. It sure beat the bag of Cheetos I chowed down on at the library (the kids drank root beer floats and donuts – yes, we are the poster children for healthy eating…)!

Boys will be … Nutty

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Maria begged me to take her to lunch this week. I asked her if she wanted a friend to come along. On Sunday night, she was adamant that it should just be me and her and Mario. By Monday night, she had decided that she wanted a friend to go and no Mario. Mario had already heard that I was planning a lunch outing, however, so he rightfully demanded to be able to go too and bring a friend. It’s such a lesson in girl and boy behavior to take these kids out to lunch. Maria and her friend giggle and talk quietly. They order their lunch (which by the way is $29 at fricken’ Panera between two bowls of soup, two smoothies and two desserts – outrageous!) and sit at the outside table politely.
Then there are the boys. They throw things at the girls during the car ride to Panera. They tackle each other on the grass as we walk from the car to Panera. They refuse to tell me anything they will eat at Panera besides chocolate cookies. And they try to embarrass the girls. My god. I thankfully managed one good photo of the girls before the boys photo bombed with bunny ears above Ri’s head.
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I took the boys to Stauf’s and all they wanted to do was play fight. I tried to get them to eat a bagel but after a bite they would go back to chasing each other. Now, I could have put on my disciplinarian hat and forced the boys to sit and eat…ha. That’ll be the day. I don’t have it in me. So I tried to interest them with questions.
“If you could be a super hero who would you be?”
“Superman so I could punch someone in the face!”
Hysterical laughter.
Not exactly the thinking I wanted to generate.
“If you were an animal, what would you be?”
“A tiger so I could scratch you.”
Belly laughter.
I stopped the questions and went back to letting them wrestle.
I heard a “mom” shout up the street and saw two of my own gender walking down the street sipping on smoothies.
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Ahhh, kids I understand. As I snapped their picture, Mario and his friend blew past me calling each other “Dumb” and “Stupid” and poking one another. My girlfriend with all daughters tells me I should love the fact that my son is not at all into the drama of who likes who and petty name calling and spats, which is all she deals with in her three girls.
I’m not convinced.
But at least he counterbalances his rowdiness with kisses and snuggling in the evening. Yet, that’s when Ri starts to get her ‘tude going on. Ahh, sweet parenthood.>

SPRING!

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THANK YOU SPRING FOR FINALLY COMING!
Now will you stay? We were all going a little nutty the last month, especially Mom who wanted the kids outdoors but couldn’t throw them out in rainy 40 degree weather or snowstorms. But today, oh gorgeous sun and blue skies and mild weather. We couldn’t handle more than ten minutes indoors. Bike rides, the woods, yard work, trampoline – anything to soak up the rays.
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Even Rocco seemed in a better mood.
But alas, the school and work week must come and night must fall. We gathered in the babes to finish homework. I was busy helping Mario with his timeline when I called into Ri to see if she wanted corn or peas for dinner. No answer. I peaked in the family room and saw this:
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Ahh, Spring, another aspect I love about you. Kids asleep from exhaustion at 6:45 pm. >

Cake Walk 2014

Cake Walk 2014 kicked my butt. I don’t know if it was the opening and closing of the festivities or the loud band music and even louder kids, or the chocolate cake we devoured once home.
Maria went with her friend, Kathryn since she had a play date with her after school. This year she continued to step one foot closer to teenage-hood. She came to see Mario and me only a few times and it was only to ask for money and water. She hung out with one group of girls for a minute and then others the next. I likes seeing that.

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Then she found our next door neighbor who is Grandview’s baton twirler and stood with her to try to learn how to twirl. She must have stood up there for 30 minutes.
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Meanwhile, I should have left at 8:30 to head up to the event with Mario because he would have never known what time it started. I gotta take advantage of his youth while I am able. And all he wanted to do was play the kids games and all I wanted to do was try to win a cake. Guess who won?
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He played the golf game again and again. Then he moved onto the football game where the volunteer was absent. All the kindergarten boys were loving the freedom of that. Soon a volunteer showed up so we moved to the lollipop game. Such anxiety each time he pulled a sucker out to see if it had a blue tip or not. He moved to the treasure chest and scored these dandies.
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Then we hit the baseball pitch. He was allowed to stand on the line closest to the catcher but refused. He wanted to stand where the older kids had to stand. And don’t you know he got a strike on his first pitch.
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Ri kept trying to win a cake but to no avail. I finally got Mario to head down with me and try to win. After three more hole-in-one attempts, he finally followed.
There was Ri standing in line with Kathryn and Evie. She smiled when she saw me and waved (at least I still get that). Mario and I went to another line and danced to the music as the band played. The music stopped, we sat in our chairs and hoped. Unfortunately, our numbers weren’t called. Mario got livid last year when this happened but this year he brushed it off. We stayed for the band’s last tune and although we didn’t win a cake, we bought a sweet blue one in the form if a mustache that Kathryn and her mom had made. And we dug in at 10 pm when we finally got home.
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Heading to California on lemonade

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Maria and her girlfriend Anna are on a mission to California. They are thinking of all sorts of ways to raise money to play for their airline tickets. I arrived home from work to find these two out front hosting a lemonade stand. They had made yellow lemonade and pink lemonade. Maria’s pink lemonade somehow warranted a greater price – $1.50 – than Anna’s yellow lemonade which was $1.00. Anna placed herself on the sidewalk and shouted “lemonade here! Get your lemonade!” Ri giggled. She’s not as front and center as Anna; she stays behind the scenes and collects cash. I purchased a pink lemonade and their eyes stated at me as I swallowed it. “Delicious” I pronounced (even though it was rather diluted – they can’t be skimping on lemonade powder when charging $1.50!). They both smiled wide. After about fifteen minutes, they came in for Rocco. “We need something more for customers. They not only get to buy lemonade; they get to pet this sweet dog!” Little Rocco was a good sport and sat next to them while they tried to retrieve customers. Sam from down the street came down (what a doll) and taste tested both kinds. He chatted it up with them – asking questions and making comments about their sign. Maria blushed and smiled while Anna chatted away with him.
They earned $10.75 by the time I made them pack it up (they rung in Mario as their last customer but he wasn’t as gentle as I was (“this lemonade is awful!” – the girls didn’t care – they had his moolah!). Maria informed Jon and I that Anna was keeping the money because she was planning out the California trip. Jon questioned her about that choice and asked whether they should split the money instead? Maria didn’t flinch in her response: “Anna can keep it all.” A trusting soul, she is. When I put her to bed last night, she asked if they could set up shop up the street next time so they got more people to pass them. It looks like she really wants to head to California. Hey, at least she still wants me to come.
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