Maggie’s Georgia wedding!

The kids were pumped up on Thursday morning with the thought of getting out of school early and being able to skip school entirely on Friday. They had Maggie to thank for their school skipping glee; she decided to have her wedding in the hills of Georgia. 

We mapquested the route: 8 hours of joy. We looked up flights but they were pricey so we opted to take the car and enjoy a family road trip. We got ten movies from the library and a few books; packed up a ton of snacks; threw in two blankets and pillow pets; and filled up some water bottles before we left around noon. The kids had their earphones on and a movie playing before we pulled on the highway.

  

They glanced up for a few seconds to take in the Cincinnati skyline and to peak down at the Ohio River. Ri also got excited to see the “Welcome to Kentucky” sign. I swore there was a sweet truck stop along I-75 that had a glass bridge going over the highway but we never found it. Instead, we stopped at a Love’s. I could go nuts in truck stops with all the random weird gifts they have stocked up. These hats were magnificent.

 

  

 And this doll looks like it’s straight out of the Chucky movies…

 

A can of Pringles and a bag of Doritos later, we were back on the road. We were supposed to stay in a Marriott in Lexington for the night but we were making good time and we would have had five hours to the lodge in Georgia the next morning so we decided to head to Corbin, Kentucky to stay the night. All we needed was a pool – and the Fairfield Inn had one. I could swim five strokes between one end and the other but who cares?! It’s a pool. And it had a hot tub, which made Mario ecstatic. 

   

   

I gave the kids a scenario and they took turns acting out how they world react as they jumped in the pool: we had winning the lottery, being chased by a bear, meeting the Queen of England, celebrating your birthday with a giant cake, you name it, we covered it. 

We decided on Cracker Barrel to eat dinner. Mario wanted McDonald’s. But he liked the peg game at Cracker Barrel, and the grilled cheese sandwich, so he stopped complaining.  

   

 

We filled up on DQ after dinner and hit the sack. The kids woke up at 7 am (even with the dark curtains in the room)so what else to do but throw on our suits for a morning dip. The pool didn’t open until 9 am but who could say no to these two munchballs?! Then we got treated to the Farfield Inn breakfast buffet – pancakes and eggs and muffins and fruit loops! 

And leg 2 of the trip began. GPS took us for quite the detour through a ten mile stretch of dirt roads with steep overhangs. But, there was a beautiful creek that ran through the woods and even some waterfalls. The kids turned off their movie to take in the scenery, which made me very happy. Ri tried to snap some pictures but they didn’t do the scene justice.

  

We arrived at our destination right on time after getting a bit lost and catching up with Julie and Ann. The cabins were huge and laid right on the bank of the river. The river reminded me of the river in the movie A River Runs Through It (if only Brad Pitt was fly fishing in it). Rocks laid throughout it with the water gliding over them. Geese standing atop the tallest rocks looking over at us suspiciously. The cabins had three floors – each with a lounge area and spacious bedroom. Our third floor bedroom had a loft, too. The kids loved this treat. After we checked out our space, we headed over to Julie’s cabin and yapped it up with the cousins and aunts and uncles as they arrived. Ri and Mario hadn’t seen the Glamp boys in years and I knew they’d love hanging with them. Maria and Mario became attached to all three of them within an hour.

   

 

Mario found out our cabin had a hot tub and rushed over to jump in it. Ri was close behind. The life, I’ll tell you.   

 

Soon after we arrived, Sarah and Jorge arrived with Ms. Elena. Elena didn’t know what to think with all those Heile ladies swooping her up and whisking her away from her mama! Poor Sarah didn’t know what to do either!  I’m telling you, those Heile gals will pat Elena’s butt and bounce her up and down and Elena will forget about her mama in no time. 

  

We all got caught up on our rides down – everyone having their own story about taking back roads, getting lost, fighting with the attendant at the front gate about access to our cabin. But we soon forgot our irritations and took in the beauty of the place and the time away from our regular routines. 

By the time everyone pulled in, it was time to leave to head to the barbecue at the lodge where Maggie was marrying Michael. It was an hour drive to the Lodge – the 15 minutes getting out of our development and the 15 minutes heading back toMaggie’s lodge were insane. Winding drives and steep curves. Thank god Jon drove. Ri and Mario drove with Aunt Jane and Cy and Olivia. Mario kept trying to pull his tooth out to gross out Olivia. 

  

The Lodge was quaint with an overlook down to the pastures where horses roamed. And the sunsets both nights were gorgeous. Of course, Jon and I failed to get a family picture because I was too busy yapping it up. Mario played basketball with a teenage boy and Ri chatted with her cousins. She attached herself to Gabe’s hip through the night – God love him. 

   

   

Maggie gave Sarah and I a piece of Grandma Heile’s veil stitched on a blue satin cloth. Laura stitched the veil piece on for each of us girl cousins. Such a sweet gift to receive. I thought of Grandma on the way home – how she always smiled and laughed at these events. I remember her laughing hard with Jon at our wedding; he could always get her going. 

The photographer asked for Julie and her siblings to get together for a picture with Maggie and Michael. I started to walk over to get in the picture and Ann said “siblings only Mary Grace.” I thought back to the time when I was maybe five or six years old and it was grandma and grandpa’s wedding anniversary celebration. Somebody wanted a picture of the siblings and I tried to get in it. Someone called me to get out of the picture. I cried and cried because I wanted to be in the picture with everyone. After all, I felt like I was a sibling since I hung out with grandma and grandpa so much and Ann and I were like sisters. Grandpa picked me up after the first picture and I got in the second. I felt relieved that I was a part of the family that I loved so much. I was nearly as close to these aunts and uncles of mine as I was to my mom and dad, and I’m sure I felt relief and joy to be included as one of the Heile clan in the Heile family picture.

   

  

However, I didn’t put up a fit for the picture with Maggie and all the aunts and uncles. I was content to be in the cousin picture (be with the youngins’)! We had to do the obligatory silly face for the last picture.

   

 

I’ve watched all these cousins grow from babies to 20 something’s and they all somehow turned out alright! No one has landed in jail or been involved in some social media scandal so I’m impressed. They really  are all fascinating young people in their own unique way and I was grateful to have some time to talk with each of them during the trip. 

On Saturday, the kids woke up at the break of dawn but they were too busy with their cousins and Elena to worry about waking us up. Hallelujah. That is, until the Glamp boys mentioned fishing. Then we had to get up and get Mario and Jon ready to go. I took a run/walk on the dirt roads looking down at the river and up at the green leaves on the trees (when we arrived back to Columbus there was finally green to be seen). 

Cy, Olivia and Lia joined me on a second hike through the woods. Cy is our nutritionist giving us tips on the heartiest foods. Lia got me up to speed on the newest restaurants in Columbus and the beauty of Match.com. And I got them to give me 20 push ups half way through our hike!

   

 

When we came back, I helped Ri get a mean game of Yahtzee together with Aunt Susie and Uncle Joe and Aunt Christina. I told them the winner got $5. Ri won beating out Aunt Susie with one extra Yahtzee! She still hasn’t tried to collect from me…. 

  

Mario returned without a fish in hand but happy that he got to go out. Beckett caught one that Mario described to us. The kids wanted to canoe in the river but we all agreed it was a bit too much for us to handle. So we decided the kids could put on their suits and wade. But before I could get down there with them, I see Ri waist deep with Sarah!

   

They climbed onto a rock in the middle of the river so Mario and I were bound to meet them. Except those darn rocks at the bottom of the river hurt like a mother when you stepped on them. Jagged, pointy things and you couldn’t see them to know when they were coming. My feet hurt like heck. Mario got  terrified of falling in the water and was freezing. But he couldn’t quite get himself to turn around. The competitor in him wanted to make it to the rock where Ri stood. And with a little assistance from me and Sarah, he did.

   

 

And then something happened I never thought I’d see. Aunt Ann, in her white pants and translucent top, got in the river and waded over to us. Yes, indeed, I was mighty impressed.

  

Jon and the cousins were rooting her on as they stood on the shore and the rest of the crew cheered from the deck at the lodge.  But then we had to return to land, and I dreaded it on behalf of Mario. He was genuinely nervous. Aunt Ann didn’t help the situation at all as she was the first to head back and get caught in the rapids. She slipped on a rock and tried to get her balance but the current took her and she fell – entire body up to her neck – in the river. I couldn’t breathe I was laughing so hard as I climbed over the rocks to save her. Uncle Joe, our firefighter, waded out to help. Those white pants suffered but we got her back to shore. Mario was next. And then Sarah and Ri made their way back as if walking on air. Ri stayed in the water for another fifteen minutes as we dried off. She could live in the Arctic in shorts and a tank top. I cannot understand her tolerance to cold!

By the time we all got out and laughed at all our falls and scrapes, it was time to get ready for the big wedding. Aunt Ann curled Ri’s hair and Jon did Mario’s (too precious watching Jon brush and gel Mario’s bangs!). Jon happily drove his hunting partner Steve and Ri and I drove in the shuttle buses. Ri sat with Aunt Ann and took selfies while Amanda and Lia and I tried to keep Elena entertained.

 

  

  

We arrived again at the lodge a little shaken from the twists and turns but ready to party Heile-style! Ri was excited to see Maggie walk down the aisle and Mario got an aisle seat to watch the flower girls walk down together (he will never admit it but we know it’s true). Maggie and Michael stood in front of all of us and gave their vows to one another (a great moment was when Michael began his vows with “I, Maggie, take you…”. Maggie burst out laughing as did all of us guests sitting on the lawn. Precious mistake. And thank god he got us laughing early because it was all tears after that moment. Michael crying. His dad crying. The officiant, Michael’s uncle, crying. My goodness. The reading was beautiful. Michael and Maggie’s hand-written vows were tender-hearted. I was sitting next to my cousin Tiffanie and we couldn’t stop wiping our eyes. 

  

And then the officiant announced them husband and wife. And the hoot hoot began on the Heile side! We were ready to party! Aunt Terrie and I hollered at the wedding party down the aisle and started to dance. And it wasn’t long until the rest of the Heile brood was shaking it up with us. 

We did stop for a few minutes to listen to Uncle Terrance give a prayer before dinner. It was another amazing job by Terrance – not leaving a dry eye in the crowd and reminding us all to remember our loved ones who were no longer with us but were surely watching over us with happy hearts and appreciate family and friends who we got to share a beautiful evening with all night. 

  

Then the toasts and more tears while listening to Julie and Michael’s sister and dad. 

   

 

Ann managed to get a few pictures here and there, thank goodness, so I have some memories of my sweet children and hubby all dressed up, but the rest of the night was filled with singing and dancing and partying it up. 

   

               

Even Steve with his healing back got out there to dance with Jane. Aunts Julie, Terrie, Christina and Ann were grooving it out jumping in the middle of the circle to show off their moves. And of course all my cousins were showing off their stuff. Ri and I kept up with them – I couldn’t believe Ri. She jammed it out with those girl cousins and Maggie’s friends. She also partied it up with her Grandma Lolo!

   

  

 At one point, Maggie’s friends were dancing to “Shake it up” and they were acting like they were bouncing a basketball and shooting it. Ri and I got in on the act and Ri pretend-bounced it and shot it to Maggie’s friend, Bree. Then Mario got in the game and stole the ball from Bree, dribbled it in and out of his legs five times and dunked it as one of Maggie’s friends held her arms out in a circle. It was hilarious. He loved it and wanted to continue the fake hooping all night. Ri swore she was gonna go until midnight and ride the bus home with Ann but at about 9:30 she asked the time. When I told her, she looked worried. She asked again at 9:45 as we danced around with Lia and Amanda. And then I found her here at 10 pm.

  

Jon took Ri home and the first shuttle left shortly thereafter but Mario and I stayed. I danced a little more with my Heile ladies and Mario stood around with Gracie and the two other flower girls. One of the girls lost her necklace earlier in the night and Mario spent an hour trying to find it for her (Grandma Lolo helped out, too, even crawling under the deck to look – God love her)! Mario wanted to be the hero.

Mario hit his breaking point around 11. He begged to leave but we had no shuttle. He broke down in fatigue and slept on my shoulder the entire way home when the shuttle eventually came. Uncle Ken had us cracking up the entire way home. And don’t even get me started about Ken and the front gates not opening! That scene was even more hilarious than Ann in the river!

I woke up Sunday morning with no voice. Completely gone. And my middle toe purple and as wide as my big toe due to my river walking. What a mess. But so worth it to spend time with this Heile clan. Uncle Joe made breakfast and we sat around in the lodge giving each other grief and laughing about all the antics from the night before. Oh, and of course, loving on Hoss, the Glamp’s sweet pup. 

  

Mario and Mario joked around with those cousins one last time and I chatted and played around with those aunts of mine a few more times before we hit the road. 

   

   

And then we were off on our epic drive home – waiting in two hour traffic jams while eating Spicy Doritos and Pringles and chocolate bars. Nothing like gas station meals all day. And I believe the kids lost all brain capacity for school this week due to the non-stop movie watching.

   

     

But all I had to do was keep taking myself back to that wedding night and all the joy and frivolity and laughter experienced by me and my family. Well worth a long road trip home and a tummy ache. 

 

  

Boy Scout Camp

I don’t have a twenty-year old body anymore. Here I was doggin’ on my girlfriend who swore she would never sleep on the ground in a tent.
“You’re a wuss. Sleeping on the ground is wonderful – being one with nature. Just pitch a tent and snuggle in your sleeping bag….”
There was no convincing her.
After Saturday night in a three-person tent with Ri and Mario, I’m starting to be swayed over to her side.
I thought I’d be fine with just a foam pad. I made fun of my girlfriend who drug out a twin mattress from the lodge and placed it in her tent. But damn if I didn’t want to pull one out in the middle of the night as I tossed and turned next to Ri and Mario. They were perfectly sound asleep – with no foam pad. To be a kid.
I woke up with quite the headache and my back felt like little trolls had stomped on it all night. But thank goodness for the drip coffee – sharp and black at 6 in the morning. All the parents looked bleary-eyed and in serious need of more sleep. I wasn’t in it alone. Meanwhile, the kids jumped around like those tiny plastic toys on springs that hop high in the sky when you press them on a flat surface.

Mario loved Boy Scout camp. He loved pitching a tent. He loved hanging with his guy friends. He loved running around in the woods. Maria loved it, too. She killed it in the beebee gun activity. She was like a sharp shooter – rarely missing the target.

20141001-165852.jpg
I asked her if she’d help her dad out in hunting turkeys and she quickly responded that she would not kill an animal with a gun – she just liked shooting at cans. Those turkeys are lucky.
Mario loved finding gems and fishing, of course. He has got quite the fishing bug in him. The fish were not biting but he refused to leave until the volunteers closed the area.
>

20141001-170156.jpg

20141001-170208.jpg
After the activities, we dragged all of our camping gear out of the car and found a spot amidst the other tents. We did not get a spot right next to Quinn but I was proud of Mario for not throwing a fit. It didn’t matter anyway because all of the boys were running around and jumping in and out of all the tents.
The evening was a lot of fun. The boys played football; Maria learned how to knit with another mom and acted as babysitter to a boy scout’s little sister (she loved that)! I got to talk with some fun parents and soak up a gorgeous night.
>

20141002-104726.jpg

20141002-104747.jpg

20141002-104808.jpg

20141002-104821.jpg
After the wood fire ceremony, the scout leaders sent everyone to bed and surprisingly, Ri and Mario went straight into their sleeping bags. One great thing about Boy Scouts is that Mario actually listens and abides by the words of his scout leaders. They were both asleep by 9:30. I figured I better get to bed, too, knowing I’d be up off and on through the night. As confirmed above, good thinking on my part.
We woke up to omelets in a bag. Sounds rather unappetizing but they were actually quite good. Liquid eggs, cheese, veggies all thrown in a ziplock bag and heated in boiling water. What I learned at Boy Scout camp (I also learned that ketchup crystallizes when heated so it’s better to write kids’ names on foil with ketchup rather than marker when making their food over the fire because it won’t melt away their names – love these little tricks)! Of course, Mario was repulsed at the omelet in a bag so he proceeded to eat only the muffins and cinnamon rolls – until he got scolded politely by one if the leaders that no one could eat the muffins until the omelets were made. But not even the scout leaders scared him – he grabbed one more when he thought no one was looking – he will break any rules for sugar.
.

20141004-132744.jpg
My girl and I devoured the omelets and the rolls and the muffins. We will try anything.
So glad we decided to go on the trip and so excited about future camping with my sweet Boy Scout.
>

20141004-133520.jpg

Weekend round-up

We got treated to a visit from Aunt Jane, Uncle Steve, Robert and Laura on Saturday morning. They came up to see Mario’s football game. We took Rocco to the vet at 9 am to hear that he was looking good and then rushed to Tim Horton’s to get lucky timbits for Mario to eat pre-game. The line inside and out was ridiculously long so Jon took me and the kids home and drove to another Tim Horton’s while we changed. The ovens at that Tim Horton’s were down so there were no donuts. You would have thought Mario was just told he would never be able to walk again. He lost it. Flailing everywhere. Bawling.

Once he calmed down, I told him we could get some magical donuts at BP and a cereal bar. Maybe they would work even better to allow him to score touchdowns. We stopped for them and got on the highway at 10:15 – his game started at 10:30. The highway we needed was closed. We spent the next 20 minutes trying to find an alternate route that wasn’t busy. I was irked because Jane and Steve had come to see the game and we were late. Jon was irked because I was irked. The kids, luckily, were oblivious listening to Radio Disney on their headphones. I was telling myself the whole way that I cannot control the situation; stay calm; breathe. I eventually convinced myself when we were two minutes away.

It was great having Jane and Steve and Robert and Laura at the game – they completely got into it jumping up and down and yelling for Mario as he ran for a touchdown.
I had ice cream with them later and reminisced about the good ol’ days when I rode in the trunk of the station wagon with no seat belts and played in the deep water with no life vest!

20130917-101014.jpg
When we got home, Jon swept Mario away to Big Mario’s and Aunt Vickie’s house to fish and go four-wheeling. Mario’s dream come true. He got treated like royalty between cookies and pasta and a coyote skin that Big Mario had treated just for him. He couldn’t wait to show it off when he got home Sunday night.

20130917-101339.jpg
Meanwhile, Ri and I got her present ready for her sleepover at the Hyatt. Yeah, a hotel sleepover. The birthday party detail continues to be raised up notches. Pretty soon you will be expected to rent out a ballroom and boy band for an eighth birthday party.

20130917-101638.jpg
After I dropped Ri off at 4:00, I had the night to myself. I got a massage at 4:30 and then spent the rest of the night with little dude.

20130917-101817.jpg
I was like this with Cy, too. I would make big plans in my head to go to the movies or the coffee shop to read but then Cy would look out the window at me and I’d turn around and spend the evening with him. So Rocco and I enjoyed the evening together with a walk to Pet People that took two hours with all the stops we had to make (between sniffing, laying down, and people petting) and watched a Sarah Polley documentary (which was quite good). We hit the sack at 10:15 pm and started all over at 6:30 am.
Maria texted me from her friend’s mom’s phone at 9:30 am asking me to pick her up. One of her friends had called her “heavy” and not let her participate in a game. Ugh, girls. But Ri is such an old soul and was able to process that her friend was probably mad about something else that had happened at the party and took it out on Ri. Pretty impressive intuition for an 8 year old.

She wanted time with her mama anyway – we took Rocco for a walk, bought a pooper scooper and a toaster at Target (she loved that I combined these two things in one sentence), and got a pedicure!

20130917-120433.jpg

20130917-120447.jpg
As the night wore on, and Rocco got in his chew stage (Maria’s friend came over to apologize and Rocco accidentally caught her little brother with those sharp puppy teeth while chasing him), I started to get testy. I made Ri get on Xtra Math and she complained. Then, once on, she did poorly. She was not answering simple subtraction quick enough and I let my end of day fatigue take over.
“Come on Ri, you have to get these more quickly. This is why you have to do Xtra Math everyday. You aren’t getting simple problems right.”
She started crying as I peered over her shoulder and watched her every move. I let out a sigh when she missed another and she jolted up and ran upstairs crying and yelling “you are the worst mom ever!”
I sat on the kitchen chair staring at the computer. I definitely could have handled this better. I know how much Ri hates pressure and stress so why did I stand over her shoulder? Yea, I know why….

I called her back down to finish Xtra Math, which she did. Then I swung her legs around to meet mine, looked her straight in the eyes (those beautiful blue eyes) and told her I loved her more than anything. I also apologized for putting undue pressure on her. She reached out and hugged me and apologized, too. We both decided that the fight warranted an ice cream cone so we headed off to UDF for double dip peanut butter ‘n’ chip.

And we both concurred that ice cream solves all problems.

Summer vacation 2013

We packed our bags and headed to West Virginia last Wednesday. They say that a procrastinator should never marry another procrastinator or nothing gets done. Jon and I are both procrastinators so a summer vacation never got scheduled. We found ourselves near mid-July without any plans. I just happened to be on a conference call at work and a flashing ad came up for Oglebay Resort in W. Virginia.

“Paddle boats, fishing, putt-putt, swimming, zoo, and more!”

The ad enticed me between the kids activities and the short distance (2.5 hours away). Pretty soon I was on the website looking up rooms. I remembered my grandma talking about this place and I faintly remember another older relative (was it Grandpa Bill?) talking about it, too. I remembered this because the website was geared towards 65+ year olds and the rooms looked like ones decorated by my grandma – big florals and gawdy colors and maroon carpets that looked like they were straight out of my grandma’s retirement home.

I called a few other resorts but they were booked. I debated with Jon whether to do it or not and after listening to me him and haw for 30 minutes, he demanded I just go for it. So I did. Wednesday through Saturday. A short trip. Even if it was unbearable it was only two full days.

Ri played with her barbies on the way there while Mario watched Ben Ten. We held our breath under the West Virginia bridge. We commented on the old school restaurants off the exit – Perkins! Hardee’s! Long John Silvers!
As soon as we pulled into Oglebay, we spotted deer grazing on the hills. The kids went nuts pointing them out. The land sloped up and down and was peppered with pines and oaks and deer and a random groundhog. It was quite serene and poetic. Jon and I glanced at each other and raised our eyes silently saying “hmmm, maybe it won’t be so bad.”

We got our room keys and had the requisite talk with the kids about fighting over who opens the door. “We take turns back and forth, got it?” They shook their heads with excitement not getting anything. The room was huge. We had a living room and side kitchen and bath and a bedroom suite with a large bath and two queen beds. The kids mouths dropped for an entire five minutes and they dragged us all over the rooms to show us every detail. The living room couch pulled out into a bed which they believed to be a piece of heaven brought to Earth. “We can watch tv all night and fall asleep out here alone!” Jon and I were so excited we booked another night so we stayed until Sunday.

We checked out Schenk Pond and did some paddle boating and fishing (Ri and I boated and Mario fished all by himself, god love him).

20130722-201902.jpg

20130722-201919.jpg

20130722-201939.jpg

After paddle boats and the Aqua Cycle, Ri and I joined Mario on the bank. Within ten minutes, he had a fish. Luckily, a teenage boy helped us unhook him. Mario wanted to throw it back in the water but got scared so Ri took control. Thank god for big sisters.

20130722-202221.jpg

20130722-202237.jpg

After pleading with Mario to stop fishing to no avail, we finally had to bribe him with the pool. We threw on our suits and headed to the rather small indoor pool. Over the four days, however, it grew on us. One plus was that it was heated. Another plus was that you could jump off the side, which led to lots of cool cannonballs and dives.

20130722-202529.jpg

20130722-202544.jpg
The kids begged for room service after the pool. They loved the idea of getting food served in our room and eating it while watching Spongebob. Ahh, the vacation life!
Every morning we had to drag Mario to breakfast – he wanted room service for every meal. Meanwhile, you had to strap Ri down for a few minutes in bed or she would have thrown on a pair of shorts and bee-lined for the breakfast buffet as soon as she opened her eyes. She has her mom’s and great-grandma’s love for buffets (Grandma Menkedick used to love to bear witness to Ri’s excitement over the Season’s buffet bar). She is a total carb lover. Her plate always included two types of muffins, a cinnamon roll, biscuit and waffle (she was stacking up her energy for the day). Mario’s plate was the same every day. Cinnamon rolls. And maybe a slice or two of bacon. And that’s it.

On Thursday, we took the trolley to the Oglebay Zoo. Yes, it has a zoo…. with zebras. It was a tiny area with about ten different animals scattered around. It also had dinosaurs that would roar at you as you passed. The kids are finally at an age where they understand they aren’t real but they still had fun with them (thanks to me pretending to be scared too death). The lorikeets were the biggest hit since they drank nectar from cups M&M were holding.

20130723-113300.jpg

20130723-113319.jpg

20130723-113338.jpg

20130723-113347.jpg

20130723-113623.jpg
The best part of the zoo trip was eating popcorn while we rode the train around the zoo and spotted animals.

We returned to the hotel and did some more fishing and paddle boating. Maria had been longing to head into the fountain in the middle of the pond when we went paddle boating the day before but I had nixed the idea. When she pouted, I steered the boat just enough into the fountain that she got wet and I just got a drizzle. On Thursday, I decided to let her go for it and steer us right into the fountain. And she didn’t flinch. I got soaked to the bone with her. The smile on her face made my heart happy (a saying I got from Meg-pie). Jon and Mario stayed on shore trying to catch fish. Mario gets so angry and frustrated when he doesn’t catch one. There were little fish that would swim up to the bait and nibble at it until it was gone leaving none for the bigger fish. This got Mario red hot.

“Those stupid As!”

Mario heard the word “a–hole” a while ago and knows its a bad word so every once in a while when he gets super mad he yells out the “A” vowel.

We ordered room service for a second night on Thursday not wanting to head out after another long day. Pizza for Mario and burgers for Ri. Jon and I determined we were food snobs after all our nights out at Hyde Park and Mitchell’s – the hotel food just didn’t do the trick for us.

Each night, the kids and I would head to the pool for a swim nightcap. We played mean games of hot potato with our beach ball where you had to name a super hero while you threw the ball. They were exhausted by the time we got back and were fast asleep as soon as they hit the pillow to watch tv. And they slept in until 8 am! Alleluia.

On Friday, we hit the Wheeling Park pool. It had a water slide. A nice sized slide at that. The only problem was that it kept thundering and the guards would shut the pool for 20 minutes with each round of thunder. Ri wanted to call it quits bit Mario wanted to stay. What else were we gonna do? We made Ri stay, bought hotdogs and soft pretzels, and played charades. The kids put on our flip-flops. Nothin’ better.

20130723-162112.jpg

20130723-162123.jpg

20130723-162134.jpg
Finally, we were allowed back in the water. Ri and Mario jumped off the diving board (Mario dove). Mario wanted to do a flip like some kids were doing but couldn’t quite get up the nerve. The slide was a blast – it was actually fast and dumped you out into a giant wave of water. The kids loved it.

After the pool, we went to High Tea at the hotel. It sounded super fancy and Ri had been wanting to go badly. It ended up being a carafe of hot water and Lipton tea bags and a few random cookies and cinnamon bread. But that was all that was needed by Ri. She loved it. We filled up our cups, got our treats, and sat outside on the balcony. Ri actually enjoyed the tea!

20130723-165919.jpg
Mario came with us the next day and loved the cinnamon bread. He did not enjoy the tea.

20130723-170200.jpg
The kids and I took the trolley Friday evening to the mansion and the flower shop, sweet shop, and glass store. They both wanted to take pictures on my phone of random things… Ri took the fountain and wine picture (true Italian) and Mario took the butterfly ones.

20130723-170631.jpg

20130723-170647.jpg
Mario and I went to town at the sweet shop. So much chocolate we could have lived there forever. Ri liked looking at all the trinkets and the wine holders. Mario fell in love with a stuffed animal bear that sings “Will you still love me when I’m 64?” He absolutely fell head over heels for it. He played the song and stated into its eyes. He hugged it. He begged me to buy it. I couldn’t resist. My aunt Julie has a bear like this one that Mario has loved since he was little. It has a top hat and sings “My way” by Sinatra. My Grandma Heile would chuckle watching Mario stare at it as a baby.

Maria found a last minute gem – a night light with horses on it. She also forced me to buy a Yoda coffee cup knowing that I never buy anything for myself. “I will pay you back $12.95 if you buy it, mom.” I told her she didn’t have to pay for it later and she reiterated “I will mom because you need souvenirs, too.” She’s always looking out for us.

20130723-173246.jpg
On Saturday, we hopped in the car to Cabela’s. It was a rainy day and Jon had allowed me to get an hour massage so I owed him one. Mario loved looking at the animals; Ri was appalled, especially at the stuffed Bobcat – her school mascot.

20130723-173522.jpg
They enjoyed the toy section (Mario checked out every gun possible and Ri gawked over Duck Dynasty memorabilia).

20130723-173705.jpg

20130723-173719.jpg
Ri ended up with a Cabela’s Barbie set with a tent and horse (I approved of that Barbie who was dressed like a cowgirl) and Mario got a walkie talkie set. They made out. We ate ourselves some Cabela’s lunch and headed back to the hotel for more fishing and boating.
The hotel had a s’mores campfire that night, which Ri enjoyed immensely. Mario just liked burning the marshmallows for me to eat and then watching the stick burn in the fire. I’m pretty sure I saw the word pyromaniac rise from the ashes as he sat on the stone bench in awe.

20130723-174144.jpg

20130723-174154.jpg

20130723-174203.jpg
We hit the game room last – we had avoided it the whole trip. It was a small little room with only a few games. Jon and I competed on Ms. PacMan and the kids drove fast cars.

20130723-174330.jpg

20130723-174338.jpgz
They also won a few super balls in honor of their mom’s childhood obsession.
We ordered room service once again and watched Jessie episodes for Ri. The kids just could not get over how awesome it was to be served food in bed while watching their shows. “This is the life” they thought as they fed their faces and then lied back on their pillows with the tv blaring.

20130723-200546.jpg
Maria gave a toast on our last morning in the hotel.

“This is a toast to Oglebay. We had some good times here fishing and swimming and being together as a family. But we must go and so we wish others as much fun as we had here.”

20130723-212652.jpg

20130723-212702.jpg
Amen sister!

Walleye and chocolate

Mario was born to be outdoors. He proved to us that he could be the Wildman’s partner the way that he caught Pikachu over the weekend (with all the pomp and circumstance that Ernie the Wildman exhibits when catching a river turtle)! The past two days he visited the farm and caught fish, including a walleye. My dad informs me that he could sit on his fishing boat for hours waiting for the big catch. He’s been talking about hunting and fishing with Jon since age 3 – I think he’s ready to go full throttle now that he’s five.

20120906-150001.jpg

Meanwhile, Maria got to stay home with Jon and me. She wasn’t too upset since I told her we’d enjoy some mother-daughter time. She loves when we get to hang out without those pesky boys. We let dad join us for dinner but then we took a bike ride through Grandview.

We picked up her friend, Lucia, and biked to Pure Imagination Chocolatier. The store just opened down the street. Can you pack on 20 pounds to my belly now and get it over with?! It is a piece of heaven in there with gelato, chocolate Oreos, chocolate coconut, chocolate turtles….I got four pieces and ate them all within 10 minutes. So much for savoring the taste!

20120906-150740.jpg

Ri and I biked home. She talked to me about her friends and I talked to her about how I used to handle difficult friends. The conversation made me happy – I’m glad she feels comfortable opening up to me. She begged me to lay with her for the second night in a row and rub her back while she fell asleep.

Gladly.

My fishermans

 

Maria and her catch

We drove to Big Mario’s and Vicki’s house last weekend and fished down on their dock.  The entire trip out to Mario’s and Vicki’s house, little Mario talked about catching a fish.  He remembers Jon telling him that the fish don’t bite when it is the middle of the afternoon because it is too hot and they stay far under the water to keep cool.  Therefore, we have to wait until dinner time to go down to the dock with our nets and poles to catch fish.  I think fishing is Mario’s favorite activity at this time in his life – it probably even beats basketball.  He just loves everything about it – putting bait on the pole, watching for a fish to bite, holding the fish in the net, measuring its size, and like every good fisherman, bragging about how big the fish was after the fact.  Maria loves to head down to the dock, too, but her tolerance level is much lower, especially after she catches one (that activity is complete – onto the next (a lot like her mom)). 

 When we got to the dock, the sun was still beaming.  Mario and Jon worked on the fishing poles and bait while Maria and I sat on the dock and looked out at the water.  I asked her “pluses” while we waited (8+2 =..; 9+4=..).  She loves to work on math problems.  Jon and Mario finished and brought Maria a fishing pole.  Within five minutes of Jon casting it, Maria caught the first fish of the evening – a huge catfish with whiskers as long as pencils.  Mario immediately wailed: “Not fair, I didn’t get one yet!”  Maria consoled him and patted him on the back telling him “Don’t  worry little brother, you will get one soon.”  Because Maria had gotten her catch, she decided to leave her pole stranded and head back to the house. 

Mario holding his catch

My fisherman

As I walked her off the dock, I heard Jon yelling for me and turned around to see him trying to handle Mario’s pole and Maria’s.  There were good-sized catfish pulling on both of them.  Mario was beside himself yelling at Jon to get them out of the water.  Mario held the net with one of the catfish in it while Jon worked on getting the other free from the hook in its mouth.  Maria and I cringed while watching Jon but Mario just ate it up.  Maria told Jon “get that fish away from me.” Mario immediately chimed back “Get that fish towards me!” 

He begged Jon to let him fish some more.  After about ten more minutes, he pulled out a blue gill.  This one was more his size and he stood by it proud as a papa with his newborn son.  He begged for more but the mosquitos were biting like mad.  When we got to the house, he announced his accomplishments.  He exaggerated the size of both the catfish and the blue gill.  Everyone gave him a high-five and he slapped their palms hard with a smug little look on his face.  My little fisherman.

Happy Birthday, Little Man

Baby Mario

 Mario turned three today

It was right about the time I am writing this post that I was pushing him out with such intensity I swore that I was going to split in half on the birthing table.  Yeah, after him, I swore I would never go through the birthing process again without drugs.  

Yet, here we are today laughing hysterically as he sings “I like to Move It, Move It.  I like to Shake It, Shake It” while he lifts his right leg in the air and shakes his booty.  

Mario enjoying the heat and the pool.

 Here we are basking in the sun as Mario runs around the back yard with Maria goofing off in his new “cool pool.”

Here we are today listening to him explain how his new plastic sharp tooth dinosaur has sharp teeth but his arms are too small for his body.  

Mario playing dinosaur with Maria (roaring like the sharptooth roar!)

Here we are today smiling as we see the thrill he gets from tossing big boulders into the river and making a SPLASH! 

Mario waiting to throw his boulder in the river

Here we are today laying with him in Maria’s bed because he continues to jump out of his crib and run downstairs or in Maria’s room to play and the only way to get him down is to lay with him in Maria’s room and rub his back.  

Here we are today patiently waiting for him to get dressed and put his sock on with the line perfectly across his toes.  

Water Mario!

Here we are today playing in the pool with him and watching him go underwater for the first time this summer!

The next rock star drummer!

Here we are today cringing as he cries hysterically because he does not want to eat his breakfast but rather, he wants to eat M&Ms or brownies.  

Mario trying to cajole me for M&Ms

 Here we are today holding our ears as he bangs on the drums at the local arts festival impressing the drummer enough to be given his drumsticks.  

Here we are today hearing him beg his sister to read Pocahontas to him for the fifth time in a row. 

"Please read Pocohontas, Maria!"

Here we are today watching him cuddle up with his three-year old blue blankie and his trusted binkie.  

Here we are today amazed at how he recites his ABC’s and sings “Baby Bumblebee.” 

Here we are today anticipating Maria’s exasperation as Mario begs Maria, after five previous “tricks” to “watch one more trick, Ria.” 

Sleeping beauties

 Here we are today sighing as we go upstairs to bed and see that Mario has climbed into Maria’s bed to fall asleep. 

Here we are today pleased when Mario looks up while playing and says “I love my grandma.  I want to see her.” 

Here we are today cautious and hesitant when Mario yells “Watch mom and dad, I can fly” and leaps off the couch onto the floor.  

Here we are today shaking our heads as he strips off his clothes and runs around the house free and naked screaming “I naked everyone!” 

Mario's "girl outfit" as Maria calls it - he is a trooper, too!

 Here we are today impressed and slightly taken aback with Mario’s “new look” after a makeup session with Maria and her girl cousins.  

Here we are today commending Mario for saying “thank you” after retrieving his ball for him and chuckling with him after he divulges that “Maggie told me I needed manners.”      

Here we are today watching him swing a golf club almost as well as Tiger Woods, and hitting the ball over the fence.  

Mario and Cy

Here we are today apologizing to him after we held the neighbor baby without his permission: “You don’t hold the baby!” 

Here we are today relishing the moment he throws his arms around our necks and says “I love you to the moon and stars and to poopyhead!” 

Here we are today singing him Happy Birthday as he stares into the three candles on his brownie.  

Thinking hard about a wish!

 Here we are today telling him to make a wish and tearing up when he whispers “I wish I could go fishing.” 

To our Mario:  You, my love, continue to make us not only laugh but laugh hysterically and with such great gusto.  You are a gem to us all.  Happy 3rd Birthday, my little man! 

Here's looking at you, kid!