Tinkerbell

Maria nailed Tinkerbell. It was as if Tink swept into Maria’s body one evening as Maria slept. Maria fully brought out Tink’s feistiness and orneriness. She was magnificent.

When she learned of the play in December of last year, she wanted to be Peter Pan or Wendy so badly. Those were the two roles that she knew would be able to fly during production. She asked me to call one of the directors from the December play and see if she would coach her. She agreed to meet with her on two different occasions before auditions at the end of January. She prepared Ri on how to present herself at the audition, how to memorize her lines, and how to give life to them. Thank god she did because it gave Ri the confidence needed to rock her audition. She auditioned knowing that she would not get the roles of Peter Pan or Wendy. They had announced that you had to be under 100 pounds for those roles. My muscular girl would not make the cut.

We got a call back the night she had a sleepover with a few friends. I was going to wait to tell her about getting the Tinkerbell role until after her friends left the next morning. At about midnight, she came running into our bedroom asking if I had heard what role she had gotten. Two of her girlfriends spending the night had received calls from their parents telling them what roles they had gotten. So, I was forced to tell her. She was so psyched.

I did not go to any of her rehearsals. She did not want me at any of them. This, from the girl who was too nervous to audition two years ago and stood by my side until her brother auditioned and brought up the nerve in her to go for it (at that time, they simply had to sing “Row Row Row Your Boat). She likes that the rehearsals and shows are her time to shine. She does not want to be overshadowed or have the disruption of chatty parents (me) or little brothers. She definitely held her own with all of those actors and actresses. The few times I did go backstage to pick her up, she was jabbering away with her fellow cast members who I had never met. She loves that. She is completely comfortable making new friends. And they all love her. Who doesn’t though? Everyone Jon and I meet talk about how down-to-earth and kind Maria is to everyone she meets.

She worked her butt off the week of the play going downtown at 5 PM every night and not returning home until 10:30 or later. She was excited on opening night. Patty, Meg, I and Alana came to watch her. Her voice was a little raspy but she hung in there. She got home that evening and her ankle was bruised and swollen from jumping off the bed in these little flat shoes she had to wear. She drank 3 cups of hot tea to help soothe her throat.

She had her last soccer game on Saturday afternoon. I thought she may want to skip it, which I was against, but instead, she was all in. She is dedicated to her team. We all went to Easton to watch her and when we got home, Sarah and Elena arrived. She played with Elena until her ride picked her up to go to the show. Sarah, Elena, Jon, and my dad went to see her Saturday show. I stayed behind, much to my dislike, with Mario, who felt sick. He had a fever and we figured it was strep throat due to a couple of his buddies who had it the week before. He was bummed out, too, because he had wanted to see Maria in the play. Jon reported that she did fabulous. She spent the night with her three girlfriends who were in the show with her. I went over to the girlfriend’s house to hang out with some moms until midnight. The girls were still up when I left. I was a little worried about how she would feel for Sunday show but she deserved to have a little fun after a week of craziness.

She arrived home on Sunday morning at 8 AM. She had gotten up at her friend’s house and asked the dad to drive her back home so she could be with Elena. Ri roller skated and Elena biked up to Stauf’s for breakfast. Then we hit the park. We did not arrive home until 11 AM. My mom had arrived at that time. We went to the basement for a dance party while my mom gave Sarah a massage. An hour later, Maria had to leave us again to head to her last show. My mom and I arrived 30 minutes early and the line was already out the door. They had sold out of tickets. Luckily, I was able to get my mom a seat. Elena and I played at the park across the street. We met up with my mom at intermission and we were lucky to have somebody leave and give us their seat. I was so happy to see the second half of the play. Maria got a rousing round of applause at the end of the show with some people even standing up. The cutest thing was when we were getting pictures with my mom and a little girl came up to her to ask if she could get her picture with Tinkerbell.

Absolutely adorable.

And Maria was as sweet as sugar giving her a hug and turning around for the camera to pose for a picture. She’s a natural.

7th grade dance

Maria mentioned going shopping for a dress for her seventh grade dance about a month and a half before the dance. Our weekends have been replete with Mario’s basketball games and Maria’s soccer games. We finally found a Sunday to shop. We decided to hit IKEA first to buy a couch we’d been wanting for six months, and then head over to the mall. But Ikea drained the entire family and none of us wanted to go to the mall, including Maria. She was willing to find a dress on the Internet rather than brave a shopping center (our type of girl). She perused the Internet off and on and reported nothing back to me. At some point, I realized we only had another week or so before her dance.

“I’m not spending $45 on shipping fees, Maria. So you need to find a dress in order for it to get here on time.” Sigh.

She found two black dresses off two different websites that I had never heard of before. She sent the sites to me and at 10 PM one evening, I got on the sites. They were ones that infiltrated you with 20 different advertisements while you were trying to check out of the site. They also wanted me to add my email address and personal information several times over. I was getting a bit concerned with the validity of the sites. But, I did not want my girl to stress out about a dress so I continued plugging away. After I completed the sales on both sites, I received email confirmations. The confirmation for the dress that Maria really wanted informed me that although they shipped within two days they may not have the dress for another couple of weeks. Are you kidding?! They did not tell me that information as I checked out, of course. The other confirmation email confirmed that it would arrive “soon.” Seriously? I spent the next hour trying to cancel my orders but had no luck. Frustrated, I searched for the dresses on Amazon. Why did I not look at that before I made the order? Amazon had the exact same dresses and I could get them in two days. I ordered them at midnight. What we do for these kids of ours.

Amazon came through, and we received the dresses two days after I ordered them. Maria loved one of them. She made a video for me trying both of them on and sent it to me while I was at work. It made my day. The dress she liked was classy. Black, off the shoulders, knee-length. Thank goodness. Jon and I are relieved not to have to worry about short, tight skirts and dresses at this period of time.

Two days before the dance, Maria, Mario, and I drove to Target to try to find black shoes. No luck. We tried two other places with no luck. We ended up back at Target. Maria pleaded for some stilettos but compromised with me on a pair of chunky heels. I bought her a little silver chain with a silver ball in the middle; I told her the ball represented the ball of energy she carried everywhere she went.

The day of the dance, Ri got her hair done at a salon. I had said no way to the request but Jon caved. He knew my horrible hair styling skills and felt bad for Maria. After her styling session, three of her girlfriends came over to eat pizza and get ready.

Maria allowed me to do her nail polish. Wrong move. I couldn’t even get that right. We had to have a girlfriend of mine reapply. She did cave in after the nail polish debacle and allow me to try her make-up. I succeeded on that front because she only wanted minimal application. I could handle that.

Next thing we knew, the girls went from Saturday morning chill wear to glamour red-carpet wear! Were these our baby girls?!

They we’re so excited to go to the dance. However, they wanted to keep their cool so they asked me to drive them around so that they would be dropped off at 6:38 instead of 6:30 when it started. Hilarious. Sure enough, there was a group of boys sitting at the picnic table when we drove by doing one of our loops. They were thinking the same thing.

I got a call at the end of the dance informing me that the girls would walk home. When they arrived, much to Maria’s dismay, her girlfriends told me that she danced with a boy. The boy being the boy that she has been friends with since she was in third grade. His nickname is Cookie and he is the sweetest boy in her class. They had video of the two of them dancing to the last song of the night. Again, hilarious. I liked that they were arms distance apart….

The night did not end for them, however. I had agreed that I would take them to a 10 PM movie. I dropped them off in their PJs. They said the movie was awful but they had a blast drinking their Icees and eating their cookie dough treats.

Mother/son dance

So, Maria had her seventh grade dance a couple of weeks ago. It was time for Mario to have to participate in a dance as well. I am sure he would’ve been fine if it was a boy/girl dance like Maria had but instead it was a dance where you had to take your mom! Yuck! All the boys acted like they could not stand the thought of having to attend this event even though I think deep down inside, they were more comfortable going with their moms then going with girls.

A mom of one of Mario’s friends was offered a limo ride from one of her neighborhood friends. She invited A bunch of her sons friends, including Mario. I knew Mario would think it was a fun idea and be in for it, but I was a bit on the brink. What were we setting our sons up for? They get a limo for their fourth grade dance? Will it be a jet for their high school prom?!

The weeks before the dance were very different than the weeks before Maria’s dance. There was no scouring the Internet to try to find the perfect suit for the dance. There was no running to Target and five other stores to find the best shoes possible. It basically went down like this: we had to be at DK Diner at 5:30. At 5:00, I stopped vacuuming the house and told Mario I was taking a shower. Mario continued to play his video game. At 5:20, I yelled for Mario to come upstairs and get dressed. He tried on a pair of jeans and the only button-down shirt he had. He looked ridiculous. He and I are meant to live in sweatpants and T-shirts. He tried to get comfortable in the attire but after a few minutes of trying to jump around and pretend like he was throwing a dodgeball, he commented that there was no way he would be able to stay in those clothes for two hours and play. I completely understood. He changed back into Adidas sweatpants and a “nice “sports shirt. I bit the bullet and wore a pair of nice shoes with my jeans and tank top. I think I’m going to start up a mother/son event where everybody must wear gym shoes, lounge pants, and T-shirts or else you cannot get in. We got to DK a few minutes late but he grabbed a seat with all of his buddies and took down a cheeseburger and fries while I chatted it up with the moms.

We left a half hour later to head down to Mario’s friend’s house. The limo came shortly after we arrived and all of the boys went running up to it like there was a celebrity waiting inside. The boys oooohhh’d and ahhhh’d for ten minutes, and then we all settled in and began our ride around Grandview. A few of the moms brought some champagne. I played some jams. We kept asking the boys what songs they wanted to listen to but no one would chime in. Therefore, they got to hear some good 80s and 90s jams. After about 20 minutes of driving around, the boys were ready to jump out and head to the dance. They were gone as soon as the limo slowed down and all of the moms were left barreling out of the limo and walking into the dance by ourselves. And that was pretty much how the night was spent. The boys went off and played dodgeball or football games and the moms stood around and caught up (actually, it was a lot like Maria’s dance that way:)).

Mario was ready to leave after half of an hour. He just wanted to head home and watch a show on the couch with me. Precious. I was right there with him but we had promised the other moms and sons a long night so we hung in there. Eventually, Mario ended up finding things to do and running around until 8:30 when the limousine picked us back up. We headed to the chocolate café for some malts and brownies, and then the sugar-infested kids danced in the limo for the next 20 minutes. The moms, by this time, were ready to head home and put on their pjs.

Mario and I thanked his friends mom for the limousine service and hopped in our little ball though to head home. I watched him play his video game for an hour when we got home, and then he asked me to carry him to bed. Yes, I can still pick him up and carry him up the stairs for bed. I think that was my favorite part of the evening (that, and doing the chicken dance with him in the gym!).

Partyin’ in Kentucky

20120630-113251.jpg

Mario lived his dream of being a superstar last night. He danced all by himself on the dance floor with the entire wedding party and guests watching and cheering his every move. The DJ asked me Mario’s name and I told him. He went back to his stand and yelled in the microphone “Let’s hear it for Mario!” Mario turned to me in disbelief. He was charged!

The DJ challenged the guests to a dance-off with Mario and this gorgeous southern belle took him on. She kicked and punched the air like Mario, did the robot like him, and jiggled her hips. But he pulled out a cartwheel on her and she gave up and bowed down to him.

“Did I win, mom?” he asked me later in the evening. The kid never fails to find competition.

Maria, meanwhile was persevering through pain. She wore “high heels” with her dress and they were killing her feet (like all heels do!). I kept telling her to take them off but she’d reply “mom, it’s a wedding and I’m in a dress; I can’t take off my heels.” She certainly doesn’t take after her mom who wears gym shoes with her dress! It scares me that she was willing to deal with the pain of heels in order to remain in high fashion – god help us.

20120630-114756.jpg

We also got in some quality hotel pool and hot tub time – Maria stood on Peepaw’s shoulders in the pool and Mario acted like a fighting superhero in the hot tub jumping from side to side with his fist outstretched. We also got our money’s worth at the breakfast buffet filling up on waffles, eggs, sausage and fruit loops. Massive carbs – just what I needed for a four hour drive home.

We stopped over at Aunt Kathy’s condo before we headed home – Maria got to see the married couple before they took off to Jamaica (she’s still blushing over Miles’ comment that he’d save her a dance at the reception ( when he asked her later she was too embarrassed)). Kathy had Krispy Kreme donuts and chick-a-filet sandwiches – who can resist that action?! I felt like I was in a coma after taking those down and would have paid top dollar for a chauffeured ride home.

But thank goodness for five-hour energy drinks – I was back to normal in no time flying up I-71 to Columbus and listening to M&M interchange between begging to go back to the hotel and ask ing how much longer to home every ten minutes. I knew I should have gotten some Advil with my five-hour energy drink.

Partyin’ with potato salad

Jon took over the kitchen Sunday morning; there was no stopping the man.  When Mario and I got home from our run, we found him hunched over peeling potatoes into a glass bowl.  He had spices out, jars open, and utensils scattered.  It was quite a breath-taking (and rather attractive) sight.  Patty gave him the recipes to her potato salad and her baked beans, and he would not let anyone else see them or work on them.  Once he decides to cook, everyone else must scatter away from his kitchen space.  After tasting his potato salad, I am happy to give him all the space he needs.  He is a heck of a cook.  That is how he wowed me when we were dating – he’d bring me soup while I studied for the bar.

Maria and Mario and I cleaned rooms and the kitchen, and got ready for Gracie to come over.  Maria loves to babysit that girl but Maria is a tough bird.  Gracie does something bad and Maria says “Grace Ann Wells! You should not do that!”  She is everything I am not!  Discipline, structure….  god help her children.  Grace arrived at 1 pm, and yelled “Aunt Mary!”  She was glued to my hip the rest of the day except when she took a two-hour nap in the middle of the afternoon.  Maria read her The Fly Guy before her nap and when we all left the room, she babbled for fifteen minutes and then fell asleep.  That is a foreign occurrence for Jon and me.  We would have to rock M&M to sleep, rub their backs for 20 minutes, lay with them, you name it.  All of those hurdles before any sleep would occur.  And then, 9 times out of ten, they’d be up within a half an hour anyway.  So Grace is a piece of cake. 

While the gals napped, Mario played Ben Ten games on the computer.  He had his Cheez-Its next to his side as he intently concentrated on his next move.  His concentration allowed me to get the house decorated for Maggie Jean’s party.  Of course, I had felt that we had it all under control the night before but then inevitably, the day of, I find myself scrambling to get everything together.  Maggie, our graduate, arrived to the house at 4 pm after sitting in 90 degree heat for four hours.  Julie and Liz were with her – Liz having sat through graduation on Friday in Cincinnati.  We broke out the celebratory beer and chips and dip, and let the party begin!  Maria was instantly mesmerized with Maggie’s friends Sarah and Annie.  Mario acted silly with Maggie’s dad, Denny.  Gracie stayed on my hip the entire afternoon, which I loved.  Liz kept telling me to put her down but I just couldn’t do it.  She was so happy hanging out with me that I had to soak in the love. 

My aunt Terrie and aunt Ann arrived a little later.  They had not seen the house since we bought it.  They each brought me a house-warming gift from Pottery Barn (high-class aunts, I will say…), and gave accolades galore about the house.  So sweet.  I was so excited that they came up to Columbus because I don’t get to see them often.  Terrie is in Marietta, Georgia with her hubby and three boys and Ann is in Washington DC and Dubai with her job and beau.  When I was little, Terrie and Julie used to invite me over to their apartment on the West side of Cincy for sleep overs and I remember listening to slow sappy 70’s love songs on the radio.  Time with them was a treat – hanging with the older girls.  Ann is only a year and a half older than me (the youngest of eight) and I looked up to her like a big sis.  She was into serious heavy rock when she was in high school and I used to just sit in her room and watch her get dressed to go out as she banged her head to Motley Crue.  And now here we all were standing my kitchen as adults.   Life is strange. 

At one point in the evening, we brought out Dairy Queen cake for Maggie.  We were all joking about what to sing to her, what the cake said, etc. and I all of a sudden felt a rush of gratitude and joy for having the day with my aunts and cousins.  I just wanted to lean over the table and smooch ’em all on the lips but I figured that may not have come off as I would have planned so I just smiled at them all and lit the candle for Maggie to blow out.  After cake, Julie and Terrie helped me figure out the weeds versus plants in the garden.  I have a lot of weeds but weeds look like plants to me; in fact, I think I am prone to liking weeds more than plants and flowers.  They are tough cookies – not dying for anything and growing back even stronger than before.  There is something you have to respect in the weed.  But we pulled ’em out nonetheless.  We would have been out there all night if Jon wouldn ‘t have announced that there is poison ivy in the garden.  That blasted Ter and Jul out of the garden and into the bathroom to wash off.  I would have felt like a total heel if they had gotten poison ivy.  

The aunts left a while later – all three of them heading to Starbucks to get a coffee for the road.  Little do they know how much I think of them and appreciate their generosity in traveling up north to see me.  And Julie constantly opening her house to me and the kids when we are in Cincy.  It is a rare gift to receive.  With their departure, we just had Maggie and her friends left at the house.  Maria and Mario were in heaven – Mario danced to I’m Sexy and I Know It and played ball with the boys, and Maria brushed the boys’ hair so that they could “pick up rich girls.” I am sure they were wondering what they had done to deserve a night at our house. 

Everyone hit the road around 9:30 and the kids hit the sack pretty quickly.  I got to watch my HBO show, Girls, and eat the rest of the DQ ice cream cake.  What a great life.

Dancin’ the Night Away

Maggie came over tonight and we jammed it out to Call Me Baby.  Maggie introduced me to this song a couple of weeks ago and I can’t get it out of my head.  I sing it while heading to meetings and picking up the kids and mowing the lawn.  I just wish I could dance like any of the youngins’ in the video.  Maggie jammed out a move to try to teach me but I looked like I was having a major chest spasm. 

Dancing awayLater in the evening, we found Now 7 and Now 41 CDs in Maria’s room.  This discovery set off a round of dancing sessions with Maria and Mario (and Jon even got a wild hair when Nelly sang).  Maria is thoughtful when she dances because she is busy trying to hear what the words are to the song while she dances.  This causes her to look like she has no rhythm.  And because she has my genes, she is already one step in the hole when it comes to rhythm.  Mario, on the other hand, has some moves in him.  He could care less about the words to the song; he just moves to the beat and lets the words go as they may.  The two of them together are a hysterical live show.  At one point, Maria started jumping up and down and throwing her arms up to put bunny ears behind her own head.  Maggie and I thought we should try her move at the bar next time we went out. 

Mario aka Rico SuaveMario began to move like Rico Suave and gently hold his fingers to my mouth as he stared at me.  Jon commented that he has a career as a Chippendale.   Twenty seconds after he said that, Mario sprang out from behind the chair with his robe and shirt tore off.  Bare-chested with his pj bottoms dancing to “I’m Sexy and I know it.”  What a shame. 

Who created these two!?

From Rocks to Waltzes

One aspect of my upbringing that I most cherish is the fact that my parents gave me such a breadth of experiences and viewpoints.  My dad took inner city kids out on hikes in the Ohio forests, my mom appreciated beautiful artwork and running; my step mom harbored a passion for writing and funky music.  I am committed to providing that same breadth of experience to my kids.  

Maria and Mario debating which rocks can be thrown in the river versus taken home

Our Sunday morning began with a trip to the river to throw rocks and a jaunt to the woods to play amongst the trees and our Monday night ended with a bike ride to the dance studio to watch professional dancers waltz across the newly polished hardwood floor. 

Sunday morning is our donut morning. I pack up the kids in their pj’s and we stroll down to Tim Horton’s.  You know you eat at a place too much when all of the staff members know your name and what you want to eat.  Maria inevitably gets her rainbow sprinkled vanilla donut and Mario chows down on five chocolate timbits.  This Sunday we got a special treat.  There was a half marathon course running right past the Tim Horton’s.  We got to watch men and women run by us as we stuffed our faces with dough and sugar.  Nice. 

I told the kids about how much I relied on cheering by-standers when I ran my races.  That struck a chord in Maria and she started yelling “girls beat the boys” as the runners raced by.  Unfortunately, all of the runners passing by were men.  Mario, of course, had to point this fact out to her with the quip “he was not a girl, Maria, he was a boy.”  However, within two minutes of Mario’s statement, we saw a woman pass by and Maria chimed in again “Girls beat the boys!”  Mario got her back by shoving her and Maria got him back by kicking him.  Lovely.  Luckily, their attentions got diverted by a stray cat walking outside in the parking lot.  

After the donut shop, we drug our tired selves out to the stroller (watching those runners whooped us up (or maybe it was the massive sugar infiltration!))  and headed down the street to a bike path that led to the river.  

Maria being the good sport and watching Mario's 25th toss in the river

The little bank we stopped at is perfect for the kids.  Maria can pick up rocks to take home to our garden and Mario can throw a zillion rocks in the river.  I had yet another moment at the river where I thanked the stars above for giving me Maria first.  She is so good with her brother.  Mario must have said twenty times “Maria, look at this throw.”  Now most people would ignore Mario after two or three throws but Maria stops what she is doing, watches him, and exclaims “Cool Mario!” And even when she has no desire to watch him after the twentieth time, she will still throw a glance at him right when she needs to so Mario thinks that she is watching.  What a trooper. 

Maria deep in her massage (notice eyes closed and all!)

After collecting a handful of rocks, we left to head home.  On the way back, the kids decided they wanted to visit the trolls in the forest.  There is a little woods about a mile from our house (close to a home we thought of purchasing a few months ago and didn’t – slight regret) that is perfect for the kids.  They can run around in it and not get lost.  We can make up stories of trolls and fairies.  We can play hide and seek.  We can balance across fallen logs.  We can look for worms.  Mario collected acorns for the trip home and Maria asked about the trolls and where they sleep at night. Mario is a little more hesitant!

After all of that rock throwing and hiking, we needed a good massage.  Luckily, there was a masseuse on the streets of Grandview giving a “mini massage” to try to get business that day so Maria convinced me to take a load off and hit the masseuse up for a shoulder massage.  After I finished, Maria stood up out of the stroller and quipped “I am next!”  Of course, Mario could not resist if his sis got one.  So, there we are, the family massage on Grandview Avenue. 

When we got home, Jon had a surprise for me.  He was taking the kids to his cousin’s house for a fishing escapade so I could work and relax.  Ahh, the most wonderful gift I could ever receive on a Sunday afternoon.When I told Maria I was going to take her picture, she jumped off her bike and got in this pose!

Smiling Mario on his bike

On Monday night, the kids jumped on their bikes to ride up the street.  Mario is intrepid but when it comes to crossing the street, he becomes hesitant and cautious.  He stops ten feet back from the street, looks both ways, and then looks at me and says “I’m worried about cars, mommy.”  There could be a car five blocks down the street, and he will wait for it to pass before riding.  Maria gets exasperated with him. 

Hot times on Grandview Avenue

We finally made it to the top of the street and decided to go in the dance studio.  They sat on the couch and became mesmerized with an instructor and his student.  The two of them were doing a waltz around the studio.  The kids were in awe.  They got up every few minutes to try out a move they witnessed and then sat back down and continued watching.  We probably could have stayed until midnight – they just loved it.  When we left, I was fumbling around looking for my money, and when I looked up, the pose to the left is what I saw.  Maria reminds me of a female James Dean with her suave leaning pose.  Oh, how they make me smile!