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…)!

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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Serenades

I asked Mario to sing me a quick song for Valentine’s Day last week after I sang one to him on our drive home. The only way he’d agree to sing me a song is if I’d stop singing to him (neither child appreciates my voice).

And this is why I will never refuse a request from the kids to jump in bed and snuggle.

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When we picked up Maria, I did the same thing – sang her a Valentine’s ballad. She, too, agreed to sing me a song if I stopped crooning. We went from sweet, innocent Mario to sultry, Lady Gaga Maria.

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Weekend wrap-up

Big Mario, as we affectionally call our Italian cousin, celebrated his 60th birthday last night with a surprise party at a restaurant near his home in Dover. Jon, the kids and I drove to Dover yesterday at 3 pm in order to be there by 5 and avoid ruining the surprise by pulling in at 5:30 with Big Mario. I was feeling a little “puny” (as Patty calls it) on the way out but the birthday sheet cake boosted my spirits. Ri enjoyed dipping her fried chicken in ranch dressing. Mario enjoyed crooning with Larry, Mario’s friend and the singer for the evening.

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Mario was truly surprised and grateful. He went around hugging family and friends. All of his kids made it to the party, which I’m sure meant a lot to him. Jon and I always crack up at Big Mario and how much he wants his kids to stay around him. He would have them all live in his house with him and Vickie if he had his way. On the other hand, Jon and I are dreaming of the day M&M go off to college…. Ha.

Mario was fascinated with Larry’s singing set-up and just stood next to him most of the party. Larry let him sing at one point and Mario chose “Gangum Style.” A little different than Moon River. Maria sat with some older women and listened to them gossip. Her favorite activity at these events. I can just see her gabbing away when she’s 60 years old as she sips her coffee and eats her pie.

We got home at 9:30 and I went straight to bed with M&M. Usually I can sleep off these funks. I felt a tad better this morning. We stayed in and made pancakes and eggs. Ri and I had to improvise on the chocolate chips for the pancakes since Mario ate the rest of the baking chips. We cut up Hershey Kisses into small pieces and added them. Not bad.

Mario saw a dinosaur exhibit at the Convention Center on tv so we decided to give that a whirl. They advertised bouncey houses and dino digs and mining areas. It was $16 admission but I figured we’d be there a good chunk of the day. Maria brought Janira so $50+ dollars later we were looking at mechanical dinosaurs. And that’s all we were doing. It was the biggest rip-off. They had a quarter of the area cornered off with mechanical dinos and the rest was a few bouncey houses and dino digs. The problem was that you had to pay another $20 per kid to play in those areas. Unfrickenbelievable. I was so irritated. So, in the end, I paid over $50 to see ten dinosaurs. We were there less than 30 minutes.

The other parents walking out with me were just as pissed. And I felt for a lot of them who told me they saved up to come only to have their money wasted on nothing. I complained to the people taking money about the false advertising but that was like talking to air. Whatever, I made myself let it go but those dino promoters will get theirs someday.

Ri and Janira had begged to sit in the massage chairs prior to the dino exhibit and I had said no. When we left, that was our only saving grace. Mario treated the girls to a massage ($1 each) and they were in heaven thanking him over and over again.

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So, what to do at noon on a winter Sunday? I tried to get them to head to Barnes and Noble but they wanted a bouncey house. The only place I could think of was Galaxy Games and Golf. They were game. I think half of Columbus was there with us and it didn’t help my headache at all but the kids did expend some serious energy. Somehow that still doesn’t tend to equate with an early bed time, however.

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And now, a pizza, cookie and coke later, we are heading home for some relaxation and some Spa Science in the tub. I’m hoping that Ri can create an elixir to take all my winter cold aches away, and make my stomach feel better after that delicious meal at Galaxy Games and Golf.

Playing his sax

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A picture taken by my brother-in-law of my little brother playing the sax at my folks’ farm on New Year’s Eve.

I love everything about this picture. It makes me want to get M and M into music lessons. I wish I would have stuck with piano when I was younger but sports beat it out. Why can’t we create a button that allows you to see into your future when you’re a teenager and realize what a gift it would be to play a musical instrument?

Maria took lessons with Uncle Jack for a bit but Jack got too busy and she wasn’t that into it. My girlfriend recently told me that she requires her kids to practice one musical instrument and play one sport. I like the idea….

Little do Ri and Mario know what they are in for based on this one captivating, magical picture!

Playing the Steps

Ri found this video on my Facebook as she perused through all of my friends’ posts. She called Mario and I in the room to watch it with her and we all thought about putting that on our steps. As Ri pointed out, there’s just one problem: when I sneak out at 6:30 am to run, Mario will hear me for sure as I tip-toe down the steps.

Not a bad way to wake up though!

Alpine Ghost fever

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Jon and I got an evening to ourselves thanks to Meg and dad. We ate incredibly royal food at Hyde Park (au gratin potatoes are ridiculously good) and then I felt a little crazy and decided to make a night of it by going out to a campus bar to watch my extremely talented little brother play in his band Alpine Ghost. His musical talent floors me. How did he get so much and me so little?! I should have stuck with piano at age 9….

I recorded this video –

– for Mario to watch tomorrow because he loves screaming the lyrics like his Uncle Jack!