Mario time

Last weekend, Maria and Alana went to Grandma Patty’s house, which left Jon and I alone with our boy. We had such a fabulous weekend hanging out with him. It’s nice to  only have one of your children for a day or two because it allows you to give your full concentration to that child and not be pulled in different directions. When the both of them are together you don’t get that intimate conversation that you do with just one. Not as though Mario was too intimate with Jon and I about his every day activities but we were able to get some information out of him. For example, I learned that he really likes a girl in his class because she’s “super cool and funny and always nice to him.” I also learned that he always talks in front of classes during his leadership session because his co-leader is too nervous to do so. That’s my boy.

On Saturday morning, I went on my run. I promised Mario I’d be back within two hours so he and I could take Rocco to the woods. He left with Jon and they did their car ride together where they get Starbucks and breakfast. Mario was ready to go when I got home. We bundled up and got Rocco ready. We ran to the woods, and Mario decided to look for Pokémon. He spotted one but it was through the trees across the tracks and over a busy road. We decided to go for it. I kept Rocco on the leash and we traveled through the trees, across the tracks, through more trees, and over to the main strip. It was exhilarating! Mario thought it was super cool to go the Illegal” way (yes, a bit disturbing). By the time we reached the strip, the Pokémon disappeared. We both just laughed about it because the thrill was in in the journey. As we headed back to the woods, we saw a train – yet another cool moment for Mario. Rack two up for mom.

When we got home, Jon was ready to take Mario to the archery/fishing store on the south side of Columbus. I was ready to clean the house and relax a bit. But Mario wanted all of us to go to the store together. After a bit of cajoling, I agreed to head down with the boys. I am so glad I did. What an experience to watch Mario in his element. He was so excited to show me how he shot his bow. The guys at the shop were mighty impressed with his archery skills. We went back-and-forth three times to adjust the tension level on his bow – I think he just wanted to adjust it each time so that it would give him another time to practice his shot in the store. I would typically be antsy but I loved to see him having such a great time. I would’ve stayed in the store all day with him just to see the joy on that face of his as he pointed out different things. He absolutely had a blast.

When we got home, we made sandwiches and hung out until I decided to get a 15 minute neck massage at Yi’s . Mario agreed I could leave for that time. But he made me promise when I got home we’d see the new Kong movie. 

Holy crap movie prices have skyrocketed! Granted, the boys only wanted to see Kong in IMAX 3-D, so the ticket prices were a bit higher because of that. It cost nearly $50 for the three of us to go see a movie and then another $25 just for a large popcorn and drinks. Insanity! I’m just going to ask for a movie gift cards for Christmas next year. But being together and watching that movie was worth it. Mario was so excited to have us by his side. At every scary scene, he would tell me that I could hold his hand and squeeze it if I got scared. Precious. And after the movie, we went home and chilled out together: watching a few YouTube videos, drawing a little, and watching some TV before bed. All things that make Mario very happy.

Leave it to the boys in my life to get me to relax a bit and enjoy the simple pleasures of life – ya know, like shooting a bow, looking at fishing gear, watching a Kong movie, and eating buttery popcorn. Loved this day with all my heart.


We got to visit the ER for the fifth time in 12 months yesterday. Joyous. Mario went to bed on Tuesday night complaining that his lower abdomen hurt. He could not sit up without pain. If he turned to his left side, it does not hurt as bad. I felt around his lower abdomen to see if I could feel a hernia. I did not feel anything protruding so I rubbed his head and told him to try to get a good night of sleep. He brushed my hand away complaining that it really hurt and asking if he could skip school on Wednesday if it still hurt in the morning. The kid will do anything not to go to school. I left it that we would see in the am.
He woke up on Wednesday morning with the same pain. He could not sit directly up and his right side hurt to the touch. Luckily, Jon was home for the day so Mario could stay with him. Jon took him to the doctor’s office at 2:30, and called me at 3:30 to tell me that they were on their way to the emergency room. The doctor had checked out Mario and believed there was a “moderate risk” that he had appendicitis or a hernia. I met the boys in the ER at 4:30. They were still in the waiting room.

I walked to the check-in line with Mario to get a visitor badge. Mario wanted to cut in front of the three families before us but I held him back. As we stood in line, a mother approached us from behind. Her daughter was laying in a wagon. I said hello and she began to talk with me about her crazy drive to the hospital. I waved at her daughter and asked her name. The mother informed me that her daughter was diagnosed with cancer at seven weeks old. She was now almost 2 years old and cancer-free. But, she had lingering issues and that evening she couldn’t stop throwing up. The mother leaned down and pulled the covers over her daughter as she began to cough. She smiled at Mario and commented “at least she is loving the wagon ride.” 

Being a parent is rough. Seeing your child in pain and hurt is even rougher. I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been for that mother to see her child through cancer starting at seven weeks old; yet, here she was with a smile on her face and iron-clad perseverance on her sleeve. Throughout the evening, as I started to get irritated at our wait-time, I thought about that little girl and her mom. How many times have they visited the hospital in two years? How many times was the mom scared her child may die? How many times did the girl get poked with needles? I told Mario what I was thinking so that he would hopefully take some time to ponder how other children were facing tough battles and empathize with their situation. 

They called us back to the room around 5 o’clock. We sat in the room for an hour and a half before the resident doctor appeared. Poor Mario got another female doctor – he was so embarrassed at having to be checked over by a female. After looking him over, she was also concerned about appendicitis, and ordered an ultrasound. Mario started to get nervous thinking about an operation if he had appendicitis. 

What if they take out the wrong Organ when they operate?” “What if they make me lose too much blood?” 

He was really working himself up and it took all our might to calm him down. We turned on “Outrageous Science” and watched all sorts of amazing science experiments being performed. The show calmed him down a bit.

Someone eventually came to take us to the ultrasound room. Boy, did that bring back memories. I thought about being pregnant with Maria and Mario and watching their little bodies on the screen. Pure joy. 

We headed back to the room after the ultrasound and waited, and waited, and waited. We continued to watch our science program. And then, the doctor showed up. Good results. No sign of appendicitis and no sign of a hernia. She opined that it was likely a pulled abdominal muscle that was causing him the pain. Mario was at once relieved but also a little bummed out, I think. I have a feeling he was hoping to tell his friends that he would need surgery (but somehow magically without actually having to get the surgery). You can’t have it both ways, bud.

As we waited for the discharge papers, Mario asked if he could not go to school again on Thursday. I asked him what reason he had to not go to school? He responded that he needed to rest his abdominal muscles. This kid. 

I told him that if he wanted to sleep in we would take him to school late because we were getting out of the ER so late. He responded that he may just sleep in until 3 in the afternoon for the first time ever in his life. Very cute, he is. Very cute.

Happy 9th birthday, Mario!

Mario turned nine yesterday. At least, he turned nine in biological years. In Mario years, he’s 21. 

If he could break free from the confines of his parent’s house, he’d do it in a heart beat. If he could head to the bar and drink a cold one, he’d be off. If he could head to the coffee shoppe and get an espresso, he would walk there in a second. If he could bike to campus to hang out with millennials, he’d grab his helmet and take off. 

This is not to say that he doesn’t still ask me to get him water or rub his back at night. It’s not to say that when he’s chillin’ on the couch he doesn’t ask me to sit next to him and snuggle. He even still let’s me squeeze and kiss him in private (he’d die if I did it around friends). 

But he has definitely hit an independence streak. I think he may deal with us until age 16 and then pack his bags for California and take off to hang with the surfer dudes and make vlogs. But he loves  money so much that if he did move out, he’d be one of those young, hip entrepreneurs who drops out of high school but makes millions.

So, how to sum up Mario’s eighth year of life? He loves you tube. He loves watching music videos. He loves playing video games with his buddies. He loves going to football games and playing on the hill with his friends and talking with the older kids. He loves wrestling and jumping all around the house. He loves sports. He enjoys biking by himself to the library or down to school. He still craves chocolate everything. He will drop all plans to go fishing. He remains a total character. He is compassionate and sweet, and loves to make people laugh.

Some highlights from his eighth year:

1. Football games with his buddies and sideline passes with his dad.

2. Halloween trick-or-treating with his two friends (and mom not standing too close to them as they went house to house)…and a boatload of candy!

3. Serving Thanksgiving meal to homeless men at the Y and chatting it up with them.

4. Christmas morning opening presents – oh, the drama and anticipation!

5. A broken arm! At 11:20 pm on NYE, you ran into my friend’s dining room  holding your arm and crying that it was broken. Your friend had fell down on it as you were playing. Sure enough, it was. We sat at the hospital as the New Year was brought in laughing at you in your “high” state from the pain meds. 

6. You took care of Grandpa Ionno’s grave in Marietta.

7. You went to Feed the Streets with me and walked a mile passing out water and lunches to people in need.

8. You went hunting with your dad and “had the best day of your life!”

9. You watched OSU hockey with your buddies in a suite with tons of cookies, and met Brutus!

10. You got all dressed up for Easter and killed it on the volleyball court.

11. You went on Spring Break with the Webers and Muellers to Hocking Hills. You went fishing and hiked. I met you there two days into break and we explored together. You loved taking risks and climbing steep rock climbs.

12. You cranked baseball this year – one of the strongest players!

13. You fed a baby calf and named it after a girl at school (romantic, just like your dad).

14. You starred in your first talent show singing “We will rock you!”

15. You became enamored with ball pythons.

16. You started sporting sweet Panama Jack hats.

17. You won Elena’s heart by making her laugh with your silly antics.

18.You kayaked and fished on Lake Erie.

19. You went white-water rafting, zip lined, and completed a mud obstacle course in West Virginia!

20. You blobbed your sister!

21. You swam in the creek at Park of the Roses with your pup!

22. You won a poop emoji at the Ohio State Fair!

23. You started third grade – your last year at RLS!

24. You celebrated your birthday with a bunch of friends at Get Air and a sleepover!

Happy birthday our sweet Mario. I hope this year brings you lots of learning experiences and lots of adventures. And guess what?

We love you (you weren’t here to say it before me:)!).

Lime and Cucumber Mario

The last two weeks Mario has stayed up until at least 10 pm but most nights until 11 pm.  He has been soaking up the winter break, and until today, has had no desire to head back to school.  Jon and I are still perplexed at what changed in the matter of one day, but he was cracking us up tonight. We fought to get him to take a shower but after he did, he was transformed.

“Mom, where are my new jeans you bought me?”

“They are in your drawer.”

“Mom, can you put my belt on them for me.”

I took the belt off the pair of jeans he has worn for three days straight and placed it on the new pair.  I wondered why he was asking me to do this since I had asked him the last two days to change pants. My question was answered when he called me into his room.

He had combed his hair over to one side. He walked up to me and leaned his body into me.

“Smell me, mom.”

I sniffed and the aroma of lime and cucumber filled my nostrils. He had used my body scrub on his entire body.

“I want to smell good for my first day of school tomorrow!” He had laid out his clothes on the floor so that his shirt was on the top, boxers under it, jeans under them, and socks under the jeans.  He has never done that in his life to prepare for school.  Was this Mario or an alien abductee?

Then he proceeded to ask me for an alarm clock he could borrow.  All I had was my watch.  I brought it into him and asked him what time he wanted to wake up.

“6:30 am.”

This is the time he typically awakes anyhow but I asked him why he wanted to get up so early since he doesn’t leave for school until 8 am.

“I have to wake up, comb my hair, put on deodorant, brush my teeth, floss, rinse my mouth with mouthwash, and get dressed.  I have to smell good AND look good on my first day back to school.”

Ok, Maria has never once been concerned about such things and she is in fourth grade. This Mario man is gonna be quite the high maintenance fella’ as he gets older. I don’t think it is gonna be Maria begging for her own bathroom…!


Happy 7th birthday Mario!

Happy 7th Birthday Mario!

Of course, we started it off right with a chocolate iced donut in hand. You have adored donuts since the womb when you used to kick each time I devoured one. You get your sweet tooth honestly. And you grew up loving to stroll to Tim Horton’s on Sunday mornings and eat ten timbits.

What have you been up to over this past year?
1. You dove off the high dive like it was nobody’s business. You just walked to the end of the board and dropped off. Last year, you would rarely make it up all the steps and if you did, you’d never get to the end of the board. This year, you acted like you had been doing it for years! My brave guy.

2. You learned how to play a mean Minecraft and Animal Jam computer game. I cannot get over how technology savvy you are. Your sis has assisted you with developing this talent. You can navigate the heck out of the World Wide Web and create worlds left and right on Minecraft.

3. You continued to master your fishing skills! You fished at Uncle Mario’s, Grandma Ionno’s and Peepaw’s houses and always somehow caught larger fishes than them (at least that’s your story and you’re sticking to it!).

4. You completed Kindergarten and started 1st grade! The beginning of Kindergarten was rough with lots of tears and pleas for dad and me to stay but you finished with a bang and now go to visit Mrs. Page every chance you get (you also wrote her a note at the beginning of this year that said “I miss you Mrs. Page.”). You are going into school all by yourself this year! We drop you off in front of the building, you jump out with your bookbag on your back, and wave goodbye. However, you are a little more ambivalent about school this year and would much rather stay home than head in each morning. Unfortunately, I have a feeling this may not go away in the next 12 years…


5. You have found a best buddy in Rocco. We got him two days after your 6th birthday last year and you have loved on him and wrestled him ever since. You continue to fret about him every time we let him out back without his shock collar on him. You yell at the top of your lungs “don’t let Rocco out without his collar; he may run away!” And when dad pulls up in the driveway, you stop Rocco in the yard and hold him until dad stops the car. As much as dad and I tell you to not wrestle Rocco, you can’t stop yourself. You hide under the blanket and let Rocco pull on you and hop on you and then you wrestle with him all over the family room. But you also love to cuddle with him and give him smooches.



6. You are playing tackle football! What the he–?! You look like a miniature pro in those pads. It’s strange how young you look in pictures from flag and how old you look just a year later. Not sure I dig that action….And you are no joke buddy. You love to tackle and you have taken your share of hits and popped back up smiling away. You are really loving it this year.



7. You have dissed the stroller! You are now completely embarrassed about riding in it and refuse to do it. This didn’t happen until the Summer but it was a quick transition. One day you were letting me stroller you to Giant Eagle and the next, you were hopping out of it as soon as you saw a friend walking down the street – and swearing to never go in it again. I understand why you’d be over it but it still breaks my heart that the BOB is relegated to the dump.


8. Not only did you go to your first Reds game, but you got your first professional autograph from Billy Hamilton and got a ball tossed to you from Billy Hatcher!

9. You participated in your first Boy Scout Day Camp and loved it! Dad took you a couple of days and Grandma Ionno took you for a couple and I met up with you one afternoon. Your favorite activities were shooting with a bow and arrow, fishing, and creeking. You were so excited to accomplish the different activities.


10. You got a bee bee gun and love to shoot it. You are begging for a bow and arrow from dad next…. You are a little outdoorsmen and if you could spend all day with your dad hunting, it would be an awesome day in your eyes.


But most of all what I remember about this past year is your zaniness and fierceness and curiosity and desire to make people laugh. You are an incredible kid, Mario Joseph, and you bring joy to so many people. Dad and I marvel at your grit and perseverance and at how much you’ve grown in a year’s time (you finally got to 55 pounds for football!).
I hope you continue to find humor in yourself and life in general. I hope you continue to love making people smile. I hope you continue to want to learn new things (not just computer games!). I hope you have a great school year and challenge yourself. I hope you continue to want me to read to you before bed. I hope you are grateful for all you have and share with others. I hope you get to go hunting with your dad this season. And I hope you know deep down inside how much you are loved. We are so glad that you are our son and that you grace our world every single day. Happy Birthday (and yes we ended the day with more sugar – chocolate donuts and ice cream!)!





Patty watched Mario two weeks ago and couldn’t help but write down a few “Mario-isms” as she calls his quotes. Here ya go…(my commentary to Patty’s narrative is in parenthesis).

Mario was getting dressed, picked up a shirt and said “Don’t even think of me wearing this, it is too small, I don’t know why Mom keeps packing it.” I said, well you could give it to some poor little boy to wear and he said “no, I am going to sell it.”

(Mario is quite the capitalist. He wants to sell anything in order to get money in his pocket. His latest has been to work on birdhouses (with Peepaw) to sell for $90).

While we were going near a pair of Canadian Geese’s nest where they are hatching an egg, the geese kept hissing at us and coming toward us and we kept running away. We went on the bridge which is above the nest and the geese were still mad at us for being too near them. Mario yelled to the geese, “I am a citizen of mankind, I am only trying to help you protect your egg.”

(He is insane).

While he was eating breakfast, he looked out of the sun room windows and saw a huge bird sitting on a rock at the pond. We went on the patio and the bird took flight, the wing span was enormous. Mario excitedly said, “I know what that big bird is, I saw it on WildKratts, it is a Harris hawk they will eat geese and other birds and animals.” I don’t know if that is the spelling of the bird’s name, but that is how it sounded. Anyway, later we were walking around the pond and saw some whitish bird feathers on the ground. I said maybe the Harris hawk had eaten the bird. Mario said “no, Grandma, they won’t eat anything that is white”, he took hold of the white scarf I was wearing and said, “they wouldn’t attack you, Grandma, because you are wearing this white scarf.” I asked him if he knew why they wouldn’t eat anything white and he said “will there is a legend that a white snake attacked and killed a Harris hawk and that probably is why they are afraid of white.” (I don’t know how true the legend is, but it a good story.)

(I will let him watch PBS WildKratts any time because he learns so much from that show – he tells me about animals I have never heard of in my 41 years).

I taped the inauguration of Pope Francis and while Mario was here, I would watch it (in pieces because of its length). I told Mario to look at the man at the altar and I started tell him who it was, before I could explain who it was Mario said “I know that is the Pope and he is important. In our States, the Popes wear red”. I explained to him that they were cardinals, etc. He said “okay Grandma”. He apparently had seen the election of the Pope and it stuck with him.

(When he was on the computer and the news popped up, he saw the Pope and said “Grandma really likes that man.”).

While on the I-Pad he was checking on his program/game about the Simpsons and wanted to buy some “donuts” (These “free”games are sure not “free”, they entice the kids to play and then they entice them to buy stuff to advance to the next level, in this game it is donuts) anyway, he currently had 107 donuts and wanted me to buy more. I said no, we will earn them a little at a time. Well, Mr. Impatience doesn’t want to wait so he was bargaining with me to buy the donuts. He held up his index finger on one hand and then tried to make two zeros on the other hand to make the sign of 100 and then add seven. (He was so serious and cute while trying to show me the number 107 on his fingers) and then if we buy 100 more how many he would have and then proceeded to tell me what he could get with that many donuts. Smart kid. I put him off buying them. He finally gave up on me.

(He has perseverance when it comes to money).

While running in the house, he slipped and fell forward (didn’t hurt him) but he smiled and said “I think I just cracked my donut” and laughed and laughed (so did Joe and I). What an entertainer!

(He calls his privates a range of names – lately he says “I crushed my batteries.” Interesting).

When he and Maria were here, I kept getting after them to eat healthy things (apples, and other fruit), so one day he was eating lunch and had trail bologna and cheese and I had given him some potato chips. He said he wanted more meat and cheese, but didn’t want to eat any bad stuff for two days, so didn’t eat the chips.

(He is definitely conscious of his body image. He ate a ton of cake the other night and his stomach was distended. He lifted up his shirt and said “I can’t do that again. I look horrible.”).

And there we have it. He keeps us all laughing, that kid. Thanks, Patty, for recording It all.


Money Money

Mario continues to be fixated on money. He called me into the bedroom this morning and shouted “Look, look!” Tim Horton’s had a commercial for its scratch-off tickets.

“You can win up to $50,000 or a new car!”

After it was over, he looked over at me to see my reaction. I looked amazed and said “wow, I could win a lot of money!”

He shook his head and said “no, mom, I wouldn’t go for that one. Grandma Ionno played and just won a coffee.”

He proceeded to tell me that the insurance commercial where we save $100 by switching to a new company is a lot better deal for us because then we know we’d get $100 cash.

This behavior paired with his recent request of Grandma Ionno to buy him button down shirts and a tie, make me see Wall Street in his future… or maybe, CEO of Traveler’s Insurance.