Roller derby girl

Grandma Ionno bought roller skates at a garage sale for $2. Alana and Gio were with her at the time so they scored the skates. They brought them over to our house a couple of weeks ago to show them off. Maria begged to use Gio’s skates so she could ride with Alana. He graciously let her borrow them, and then agreed to let her buy them for $10. She loves skating. I’ll come home from work and she’ll be skating down our driveway trying to turn the corner to the sidewalk. She and Alana made up skating routines when Alana stayed with us for a few nights. One night I came home from work and cracked up at the two of them – they looked like total roller derby chicks. Maria especially with her short shorts and muscular legs, and her look of fierceness. 


There is no doubt she’d be taken in the first round of eleven year old derby draft. Mario watched her having so much fun that he begged to get a pair of roller blades. Maria begged on his behalf since she always helps him out with his pleading, and because she wanted someone to ride with when Alana went back home. Mario was not quite as smooth on his blades as Ri was on her skates. And he wasn’t quite as addicted to them as Ri. 

But he continued to give it a try, especially because he got to try it in our kitchen one night when it was raining outside. I had stalled them from going outside until I finished dishes.

“Now it’s raining, mom, and we can’t skate.”

Alas, mom comes through and pushes the table out of the way so they have some room in the kitchen to skate. The small things in life that bring joy.


They had me cracking up the way they were running into the counter and table. That is, until Mario rammed into me as I sat on the family room floor watching them. He took out my shin, which has yet to recover, with his roller blade. Ouch. He called it a night after that collision, as well as me. 

But not Ri, not our roller derby gal.

What a dad will do.

So I came up with the bright idea to use a tarp as a slip-n-slide in order to try to teach my softball girls how to slide. We placed it out on the front lawn, added dishwashing detergent, and sprayed it with the hose. I think I may have seen one actual legitimate slide by one of the girls. The rest was nonsense. But well-earned nonsense after winning their last two games.


Maria was scared half to death to slide. I don’t blame her – the bumps in the grass hurt like heck when you hit them. The other girls were running and sliding on their knees or head first though so Ri felt the need to keep up. But when she couldn’t allow herself to get down on the tarp, she got upset and cried. Jon and I kept reinforcing to her that she didn’t need to try it or if she wanted to try it, to start it slow and just place a leg down first. She kept trying but then stopping. Finally, Jon knew what to do. He told her that he’d slide if she would. Her eyes widened. She was in. She tried again and again until she finally did a half slide. We told Jon it was good enough for him to have to go through with his bet. 

And so he did.


He didn’t get too far but he did it. We all laughed hysterically, and Ri was smitten. Her dad usually would not engage in such antics but he did for her to get her to overcome her anxiety. I think she clearly understood and appreciated this very point, and as we all belly-laughed, she looked over at him and gave him a wickedly sweet smile.

Sunday Stauf’s day

   
 I mean, seriously, can these two get any cuter? I haven’t gotten a Sunday walk to Stauf’s with these munchballs in months so when they agreed to go with me yesterday, I was so excited. We had the added bonus of being able to wear shorts since it was 55 degrees out!

Ri tried a raspberry, white mocha coffee, which was gorgeously made. But much to my glee, she did not like the taste of coffee. Mario was upset that they did not have chocolate muffins but he finally agreed to try a chocolate chip coffee cake muffin and he devoured it. We played cards and laughed. Jon visited us on his way home from a coffee run and the kids shrieked with joy when they saw him walk across the street. 

Mario got tired on the walk home and asked to get on my back. He’s still my boy.

  
Ri rubbed his leg as we walked home and purred about how happy she was that he was her baby brother.  Then she attempted to kiss him. So much for the piggy back ride and the warm, touching ambiance. He jumped off my back and ran towards Ri warning that he was going to tackle her. They wrestled on the grass in front of the funeral home until I said cool it. Then they hopped up and came running after me. I dodged them though. They continued right past me, and I watched them race home to see dad. 

flash mob and chugging

I took Ri and a friend to the Grandview Hop last Saturday night. Mario spent the night with his buddy Zach another football buddy at Zach’s house. His mom texted me at 10 pm “I just walked downstairs to find all three boys in their skivvies playing Madden football.” What a sight.

Meanwhile, Ri and Henley and I sampled pork burritos and listened to the 80’s music blasting from a Young Professionals booth. Two young gals were dancing away to “Centerfold” and trying to sing the lyrics. People make fun of the 80’s yet here they are choosing that music over any other. 

We met up with Doris and Kim. Ri had several important questions for them – the most important being whether they were both wearing dresses to their wedding in a few weeks. Then questions about what color their clothing would be, who would walk them down the aisle and so on…They answered all of her pressing questions as they always do. Love them. 

We walked towards Stauf’s when out of the blue, a flash mob started dancing to one of the latest pop hits. Now granted, the mob wasn’t scores of folks but it was still a flash mob! And what did Ri immediately do? 

Jump right into the mix.

   
She got her friend out there with her and they jammed through two more songs. Then she was on fire! She ran up and down the street with her friend and another girlfriend who arrived late – laughing and shouting and talking to random people. They met a woman who made art out of her condo and she invited us in to see her studio. Ri and her friends loved it. And they found adorable rings for me to purchase for them…!

  We walked back out to the party only to find a boy in Ri’s class eating ice cream with his mom. The girls had to get a picture with him before they’d leave him alone. Poor guy.  I bought the girls some Jeni’s ice cream (sugar – just what they needed) and they each got a cup of water. Maria stopped them as soon as they got out the door and yelled “let’s chug the water and the first one to chug and throw their cup down wins!” 

Seriously?! I had visions of her at age 18 in the college bar with her girlfriends. Yikes.   Maybe she will get it all out of her system now and hole herself in her dorm room to study every night when she hits college?

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. 

 

  

Target

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“Mom,I want to buy this hat so bad.”
Mario holds up a white cap with zig-zag designs on it and the word “CHILL” written across the front.
Hilarious and perfect for the Mario-man.
He pouts his rapper pout and I want to scrunch his gum ball cheeks with my hands and kiss his face.
Ri grabs a fuzzy white and black hat to throw on and pushes the lid down so you can’t see her eyes.
Humble and cool, she is.
I grab the sole one left and push my lips out like I’m gonna kiss the air.
Ri looks at me and shakes her head.
Crazy mom.
Then she yells “get a picture!”
We move together and make faces at the camera phone.
Click.

Wyman Woods opens!

Wyman Woods re-opened to a good-sized crowd – mostly parents and excited kids – on Saturday. Mario was so charged up about getting to participate in the flag ceremony as a Boy Scout. Jon took him to practice his march and stances with the other scouts in the morning. He is dead serious about his responsibilities as a Boy Scout.
The boys met Ri and I back at the house. I took the kids down to the park early because Mario had to be there 30 minutes before the grand opening ceremony to practice more. I’m telling you – serious! I parked on my parents’ old street, Glendale. It dead ends to a woods trail that leads to Wyman Woods park. I used to take the kids down that trail to the woods all the time when they were toddlers. They loved climbing the hills and looking for goodies – acorns and leaves and funky-formed rocks. It was a gorgeous Fall day and about 60 degrees outside. I was immersed with gratitude and joy as we walked down the hill together. My eyes filled up with tears and I stooped dead in my tracks.
“Look at this amazing day. Look at you amazing kids. How much you’ve grown. I just want to take this in for a minute.”
Both kids laughed at me and gave me hugs. “Now come on mom!”
The playground is awesome. Sponge-like mat around the entire area and super cool equipment. The shelter house is beautiful, too. And they served sheet cake! Whoo-hoo.

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Of course, despite all the cool new equipment, Ri still gravitated to her tried and true pine tree that she has climbed since preschool.
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Grandma Lolo used to have a heart attack watching Ri climb so high.
And after a bit on the playground, Mario gravitated to the large rock he loves at the edge of the woods. He convinced me to climb to the top and slide down the other side until you reach the edge and have to leap off. To be seven. My tailbone is still bruised.
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Mario did a wonderful job marching with the flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with his troop. He liked all eyes on him.
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After the pledge of allegiance, the scout leader dismissed the boys and in the silence between the dismissal and the first speaker, all you could hear were boys’ laughter and shouts as they ran to the playground to continue their play.
Jon and I stayed for over an hour after the dedication ceremony talking to our former neighbors and other Grandview families. The kids ran around with other kids, Mario played football with a gang of boys, and Ri scaled the climbing wall with Ally, a girl in her class.
The day could not have been better – beautiful, warm sun shining down on us; gorgeous Fall leaves surrounding us; friends in the community to chat with; and my family next to me. Oh, and of course, sheet cake.
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(Jon was there but he is not a fan of selfies!).>