Lattes and swings

Sundays can be rough for me. I know I have to get up early the next morning, start a new work week, make sure the kids get homework done, take them to practices, make lunches … but they become much more tolerable when I can start them with a Stauf’s coffee and scone with my babies. 

Of course, we all enjoy different modes of transportation to Staufs: Maria roller skates, I walk, and Mario bikes. Ri talked about a trip to California and how excited she’d be to visit the Kardashidans’ house. Mario wants to hit Hollywood with the hopes of being spotted as the next heartthrob movie star. Always interesting conversations heading to Staufs. 


At Stauf’s, Mario decided that he wanted to try a latte. The boy wants to be 25 years old so badly. I decided to allow him to try it with the thought that he would inevitably hate it and then I could drink it. It was a piece of art when it was delivered to us. Maria had to Instagram it.


Maria got her everything bagel and onion cream cheese, Mario got his black Russian bagel with cream cheese, and I got my yummy chocolate chip scone. We decided to play the political question game that Stauf’s houses in a game cabinet. The first question was “what foods best embody America?” Without hesitation, Maria shouted “hamburgers and fries!” Mario went with hot dogs and apple pie. The next question was “describe a holiday you’d create.” Maria said that she’d create a “giving” holiday in June that would be exactly six months after Christmas. It would be a holiday where everybody would give to the poor and the needy and not take any gifts themselves. Sweet. Mario pondered the question for a bit and then decided that he would go with the “after Super Bowl holiday.” He was looking out for his immediate interest.

After Stauf’s, we hit the old church park we used to go to all the time. We even managed to still be able to all go down the enclosed slide together.


But the most fun was the swings. Mario started a jumping contest. He had me give him an underdog push and when he got as high as he could, he’d jump off – sometimes on his feet and sometimes on his side and sometimes in a roll. Ri was nervous but then did her typical Ri move – she swung her arms and stood tall and pronounced “if Mario can do it then I can do it!” And she did (although she did land on her side the first time but quickly shook off the pain).


We spent nearly an hour trying to choreograph a simultaneous jump. This is as good as we got.


Not bad, heh?!

The sun was shining as we walked home, and I couldn’t have been happier. Now, to just keep this feeling later in the evening when Sunday evening blues creep in….

Monkey man

Mario wanted to go to the park badly yesterday. He has been missing his buddies down the street this Summer; they have been staying at a cabin in Hocking Hills most of Summer break. Last year, they were inseparable so he’s not quite sure what to do with himself this Summer. However, he surely knows what to do when I’m around. Beg me to take a bike ride or go to the park. He doesn’t have to beg long, however, because he knows I’m game if the activity involves being outdoors. 

We walked up to the park; actually, I walked and Mario rode his electric scooter – his prized possession. He told me he wanted to do Parkour. Ok, I thought. I’m game for some exercise. 

Oh my.

I knew Mario was a monkey but didn’t realize how much strength it takes to perform some of the activities he does effortlessly. For example, scaling up a fireman’s pole. You need some arm strength to scale that bad boy. We did it three times in a row and I thought death was upon me. Then we did those darn monkey bars. They have always been the death of me since I was little. They hurt my shoulders but they kill my hands. Mario got such a kick out of me crying about how much my hands hurt; he couldn’t imagine how they could hurt so badly since his didn’t hurt at all. 

I finally understand Jon’s complaints to me when I make him walk miles and miles – it doesn’t bother me so why should it bother him? 

I finally had to call it quits on the monkey bars (after going across about 20 times) because I had a blood blister on one hand and two nasty pussed-up blisters on the other. 

   
 

Mario agreed to cease activity on the monkey bars but we had to do jump ups on to the slide before we called it a day. He has quite a career in exercise training if he wants to go down that path but I think half his clientele will quit before they have to climb those bars along side him. His inner monkey is too much to handle. 

Old Man Winter

These days grow longer and longer. It is flippin’ freezing outside; you know it’s been a rough ride when you see the temperature will be 16 degrees and you are excited.  I can’t drag the kids outside with me in the evening to walk Rocco because I would be accused of child endangerment.  I can barely head out there with Rocco for more than fifteen minutes.  My poor toes have steadily remained purple through the days.  All I can say is that sweet Spring cannot get here soon enough.  I will embrace it and not let go.  I will not complain when we have 90 degree, humid weather this Summer.  Just get me out of this frozen tundra.

There have been some highlights to the last few weeks – thank goodness for these kids and their activities; they force us to get out when we would be hibernating.

On February 11, Maria had her first play.  She played Susan B. Anthony and had IMG_0601a whoppin’ three lines.  But she rocked it – she was one of the few kids who you could hear (thanks, Heile family).  She got on line and found a colonial costume to wear for the show and a hilarious white wig.  Grandma Ionno, Grandma Lolo and Aunt Sarah, Jorge and Elena showed up to see her in action.  She did not seem nervous as she waited for the IMG_0606play to begin; rather, she ran around with her friends and laughed.  She was annoyed with me and Grandma trying to get pictures of her.  She was nervous about one thing – that Elena would start wailing during the performance.  Elena tried to do that but Sarah swopped her out the back doors before she could get a good one out.  We cheered hard IMG_0617 IMG_0615 IMG_0623for her after the performance; she shot us a quick glance but focused all her energy on Luka (Bethany brought him to see the show).  Afterwards, we took the actress to Barley’s for her much loved ribs and beans.

On February 13, the kids celebrated Valentine’s Day at their schools.  Ri took in tattoos and Mario took in Sponge Bob.  I had bought them mustaches on a stick that said “I mustahce you as a Valentine.”  They were adorable.  Both Maria and Mario were appalled at the the thought of giving IMG_0647 IMG_0651them to the respective opposite sex.  “That would be so embarrassing mom!”  So back to Target we went for the tattoos and SpongeBob cards.  Boring.  Ri got ice cream sundaes at her party; she did not care that I did not come.  On the other hand, Mario begged me to attend his, which I happily did.  You can’t walk away from those parties with a sour attitude.  The kids are too dang cute and so excited about making heart-shaped towers and paper flowers.

On February 14, Ri had a pool party for her friend Janira at Westerville pool.  IMG_0669 IMG_0677 IMG_0683They stayed there from 12:30 until 5.  She got pizza and ice cream and cake and non-stop pool action.  When I came to get them at 4 pm, they begged to stay for another hour.  They all tried to jump in an inner tube together without tipping over, which failed every time.  But they had a blast and it was great to be in a heated pool area and see bathing suits!

On February 17, Ri had her skate party with 10 friends.  Mario got to attend, also IMG_0713 IMG_0716 IMG_0719 IMG_0730 IMG_0732(Ri let him use one of her friend passes for one of his friends).  The moms may have had more fun than the kids….  I was happy to see many of the moms head out on the rink with me.  The girls all did a great job skating and falling.  No broken bones.  Ri greeted all of the girls as they trickled in at different times – she is a good host.  Mario tried to help Rohan skate but it was not easy.  So the two of them ended up playing games the entire time.  Mario was not disappointed about that.

On February 19 and 20, the kids got off school due to the extremely cold temperatures.  Bums.  They were so psyched up.  On Thursday, Bethany took them to Galaxy Games and Golf from 3 pm until 9 pm.  They played tag and hide-n-seek and Mario won 1000 tickets.  He was so pumped up.  On Friday, Mario feigned illness to stay home with Jon and Bethany and Ri went to COSI.  Not bad for two days off of school.

On February 21, we got seven inches of snow!  The world turned white and Rocco couldn’t get enough of it.  I am surprised his nose did not freeze off as much as he dug into the snow with it.  Ri and I took him on a walk up to IMG_0747Grandview Grind and he leapt with joy, literally, throughout the entire walk. We visited Ri’s friend and their new pup and Rocco found a playmate.  They played great together.  Ri ended up staying at Anna’s house while I walked Rocco home.  The neighbors were making a giant snowman in the front yard.  I walked in the door and told Mario we had to go sledding.  There is a small hill by his school that I knew was open.  He shook his head no and told me he didn’t feel like it.  I kept prodding him until he finally got on his jeans and sweatshirt.  He had to wear his Cabella’s overalls and coat since we don’t have any snow pants that fit him.  He was all stressed out about how he would look.

“No one else will be wearing this, mom.  I will look stupid!”

IMG_0774This boy is more concerned about his looks than I ever have been.  Jon and I reassured him that he would be fine.  If someone laughed, he should ignore them.  Each person is unique.  I don’t think he so much agreed with us than he just wanted to shut us up so he threw on his boots and headed to the car.  It was IMG_0779 IMG_0775 IMG_0767funny because Ri showed up with her friend, Anna to sled an hour after we arrived and she had on a huge pair of brown bib overalls that did not fit her at all but she could have cared less. They all had a blast going down the hill, engaging in a massive snow ball fight, and making a ramp to jump over.

It was so beautiful today because although we had seven inches of snow it was 33 degrees so you could go outside without your face freezing off.  Tomorrow the high is 23 degrees and I think it starts to plummet even worse Monday on.  I keep telling the kiddos to have dreams about Spring flowers and birds chirping and open windows with a warm breeze wafting in, and maybe that will help move old Man Winter along.

But we’d be amiss if we did not thank Old Man Winter for giving us the snow to play in today.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting it in

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It was 60 degrees when I got home from work last night. There was no way these kids were getting out of going for a walk with me. The whining about it being too cold to go outside began a couple of weeks ago right alongside the daylight savings’ time change. I feel their pain. It’s hard for me to push myself back out the door when I get home and it’s pitch black outside. My heart tells me to throw on my pjs and be done. But my mind tells me to take the dog out, get some cold air, enjoy the darkness and calm.
But this tug-o-war of the body and mind did not have to occur last night because it was warm outside. Like the beginning of Spring after a Winter frost. Delightful.
I offered to take two friends with us but everyone they called was being responsible and doing homework. So it was just us. I compromised and agreed to Jeni’s if they ate a good dinner.
I love walking with my two babes. They are hysterical and darling and observant. Mario acted like he was running into the telephone posts to make Ri laugh. Ri pointed out all the Christmas decor in the windows and how strange that was when we haven’t even had Thanksgiving.
“Get used to it, girlie.” I told her.
We were the only ones in Jeni’s and we had a sample fest. Mario cracks me up with his staple choice – wild berry lavender. I wish he’d choose chocolate because he never finishes his and I am not a fan of lavender. Ri, on the other hand, always goes for the chocolate and peanut butter scoops – my favorites…but she eats all of hers! Mario got his first and sat at the bar. When we went to sit by him, he shooed us away.
“I want to sit by myself, guys.”
He’s been starting this new independent phase where he wants to order on his own, sit on his own, do everything on his own. I won’t complain.
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After Jeni’s, they begged to go to the park. It was 7:15 and a responsible mom would have denied such a request. They still needed to read and take a bath and get to bed at a reasonable time with school in the morning. But I’m not a responsible mom when it comes to the last few gorgeous 60 degree nights of the season. We need to slurp it up while we can. And so the park we went. I chased them around, they slid down slides and I gave them some wild, twisted underdogs. Mario was scared to twist his swing chains around and then be pushed high in the air to untangle; but after watching Ri do it over and over, he tried it. Pure glee.
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They did a good job enjoying the evening with me. When we got home I asked them “wasn’t I right? Wasn’t it awesome getting outside?”
They both looked at each other and then back at me and shrugged their shoulders. They artfully dodged the question by wrestling around on the floor for the next five minutes.
Yea, they were not going to admit that mom was right. But I know….>

Ahh, woods

We found Rocco’s heaven last night. The creek at Park of the Roses. I rounded up the kids (including the Markles) and Rocco and we headed to the Park at 6 pm last night. My girlfriend thinks I’m crazy to head back out after a long workday but I find it refreshing. I need the outdoors after meetings all day. And it was darling to see Rocco splashing through the creek just as happy as could be. The kids had a blast, too because they were able to get in the creek with their clothes and shoes on. They really went nuts and dunked their heads under water, which they all found exhilarating.


I wish I could step out my back door and be in the woods. But, as Jon regularly informs me, that would mean giving up city life. I don’t know that I’m ready to give up on my walks to Stauf’s or the pizza shoppe. I guess I will have to be happy with the mini-woods, Tarpy, a quarter mile away; and Park of the Roses only 15 minutes away. There is something about nature that just makes it all good. I came home revived and enjoyed watching the kids and a Rocco appreciate the water and rocks and thrills of the woods. The Wendy’s Frosty afterwards didn’t hurt either.
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Mother’s Day Sheet Cake

Maria knows her mother very, very well. She knows her mom does not want jewelry for Mother’s Day. Or flowers. Or heaven forbid, dinner at a fancy restaurant. No, she knows her mom salivates and gets giddy over sheet cake, especially sheet cake from Giant Eagle. So, she asked Jon to take her on Friday night, before he left for England, to Giant Eagle so she could order a cake for her sweet-toothed mama.
She took two pictures – one of her as a baby and one of Mario. She asked that they print them on the cake. When they asked the size, she said “the biggest one.” So Jon agreed to a half sheet cake that serves 35-40 people. Yeah, that’s what I need. Ri made up some excuse about why we needed to pick up the cake on Saturday (for her school function) so I wouldn’t know it was for me.
Saturday rolled around and for some crazy reason I thought having my niece and nephew over as well as two neighbor boys would be a good idea (I always have these bright ideas when Jon is away). I worked in the yard while the kids played and all was good. But 5:00 pm rolled around and Ri came screaming “we have to get the cake I ordered mom!” So we piled in all 6 kids (thank god Jon left his truck) and took off for Giant Eagle. They were screaming at people out the window and singing songs and having a whooping good time up to Giant Eagle. When we got out of the truck, I put on my stern face and told them they had “to act right” in the store (I also bribed them with a donut if they were good). We hit the card section first to find mother’s day cards. The girls picked out sentimental ones dripping with love and flowers. The boys picked up a birthday card that contained boobs jiggling back and forth when you opened it. Lovely.
I quickly moved them over to the bakery and got the cake. Then we walked over to the park. There were puddles galore due to the rain all morning. I should have seen trouble coming. Gio soaked himself and kicked water on Mario. You know how Mario gets when he gets wet outside of his control. Pissed. He splashed back and it was war. But it turned into a hysterical war with the boys laughing and playing and squeezing mud in their palms. The small delights of being a kid. Not caring about getting muddy and dirty and soaked. But after a while, I started to fret that my lax parenting style may not be the same as my brother-in-law’s or my neighbor’s so I rounded up the crew and we headed back to the car. They hooted and howled and I tried to stay calm but the nerves were frazzling a bit after I took them to Walgreens to pick up pictures. Why do I try to run 5 errands with six kids?! We made it to the truck without me hitting or screaming at anyone – in fact, they had me in stitches with the shirts Ri and Alana created.

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We gathered everyone in the car, buckled up, and headed to Wendy’s for kids’ meals. On the way, some guy pulled out in front of me and I braked hard. I heard a loud scream in the back. And then a wailing. Ri’s hand slammed on the cake box and caused her baby head to split in half. She was hysterical. I pulled into Wendy’s and took a look. Yep, her body was split in two. I tried to joke about it but she was devastated. “This was supposed to be a perfect cake for you, mom!” So, we got Wendy’s and headed back to Giant Eagle to beg for a re-do. I reached in to get the cake and written all over the box was “I’m sorry I ruined your cake Mom.” This was your surprise and I wanted to see you smile.” Frown faces decorated the box everywhere. Well, after tracking down the manager, Giant Eagle could do nothing else but make another cake after reading Ri’s words to me. I went back to the truck and let Ri know a new one would be made for pick-up on Sunday and she clapped in delight. By the time we got home it was close to 8 pm. We ate, took baths and showers, played, and took Gio and Alana home at 9:45. Of course, we had to play with their new hamsters for a while so we arrived back home at 10:30 pm. Ri was fast asleep but Mario was wide awake. He finally crashed at 11 along side me at 11:01.
Ri woke at 6:50 am on Sunday and begged Mario to go downstairs with her to make me breakfast. I begged her to sleep a bit longer but she was way too excited about making me breakfast. So, alas, there they were downstairs at 7 am making eggs and toast and sending Rocco upstairs to wish me a good morning by jumping right on my stomach and sitting on my neck. Happy Mom’s Day!
Ri cooked my eggs over medium – yes, she fried them on the stove without me knowing – and microwaved bread since she couldn’t work the toaster. She confirmed she let Mario no where near the stove. The eggs were perfectly fried like the cooks used to make at Perkins. We played Scavenger Hunt after breakfast (their favorite board game) and then I convinced them to walk to Stauf’s for coffee and bagels. We took the Flintstone game cards and I whooped on them the first game.
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Grandma Ionno met us at Stauf’s. She brought her French vanilla hot tea bag with her so she was a cheap date just asking for hot water. She loves that tea! Her Mother’s Day gift to me was lottery cards (my addiction) and to take the kids a few hours so I could get a massage. The best gift someone could give me after my weekend. I went to Yi’s Relaxation Station and got pounded on for 45 minutes. Heaven. I came home to find Grandma and the kids standing next to a pile of junk on the sidewalk. Mario was asking to bring home a chair and Ri wanted a lamp. Grandview had its annual city-wide garage sale on Saturday and everyone puts out their junk out on Sunday. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure and boy if Mario doesn’t live that saying to the fullest. He can’t resist anything he sees. He found a green vase at one house and questioned “why would anyone give this away? I could get $20 for it! They must be rich. Can I take it home and try to sell it?” Pathetic, that kid is ridiculous about money.
Patty left around 4 pm and the kids and I went to Giant Eagle to get my cake. It was the most beautiful creation ever!
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Ri was so excited to get it for me. She is like me with how she really thinks through gifts for people. She knows how I love my sheet cake and my kiddos.
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We brought it home and cut the first of many pieces. We decided to wait to cut through any bodies or heads until later. I wanted to cherish the pictures as long as I could. After cake, I read them a book and rubbed their backs and told them that I couldn’t ask for more awesome kids. Then I snuck downstairs and ate one more piece of heaven…with ice cream.
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6 am wake-up call

It was just me and Mario on Saturday night. We planted a few flowers and watered the lawn and hit the sack but only after a bit of a meltdown because he wanted Quinn to spend the night. They had gone to the talent show at school from 6:30 until 8:30 pm and were hoping for a sleepover. To compromise, Stephanie and I agreed they could play as “soon as they woke up in the morning.” Before we went to bed, Mario made me promise I would wake him up whenever Quinn came over in the morning. I explained to him that he would definitely be up before Quinn and he attempted to convince me that Quinn got up when it was still dark.
Mario awoke at 6:05 am on Sunday morning – the birds were chirping but the sun had not risen.
“Is Quinn here?” He asked as he popped up from the bed fully expecting that he was at the foot of the bed ready to play.
“No buddy, he is not.”
“Can I go get him at his house?”
Seriously.
I reiterated that Quinn would not get up until 8 or so – a normal hour for most children. He looked at me in disbelief but I made him lay next to me and try to go back to bed. When I opened my eyes up five minutes later believing he’d be back to sleep, he was wide awake staring at the window. “I know Quinn is up.”
There was no going back to sleep. We got up and got ready to walk to Giant Eagle for a donut; I had convinced Mario that Quinn would be awake when we got home. It was close to 7 am by the time we fed Rocco and let him out. Mario plopped in the stroller and we walked down the driveway… and who do we see at our front door? Quinn. Gotta love it. Do you think they will be getting up this early when they’re teenagers? (I will wake them up at the crack of dawn and torture them as payback). Quinn hopped in the stroller with Mario after I went in the house to get an iPad for him to use. Look at these techno-geeks rocking it out in luxury up to Giant Eagle!

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They played Minecraft and Animal Jam as I got in a little run. We stopped at the park to let out some energy. I did yoga while listening to these crazy boys act like they were commanders in a war. Quinn would act like he was shot and Mario would go run around him protecting him from bad guys. It was so sweet, in a macho boy sort of way…. Then they actually played on the swings and the slides. I gave them underdogs on the swings and they laughed hysterically as they flew up to the sky. That was sweet in a darling boy sort of way….
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We eventually made it to Giant Eagle for donuts and when we walked back into the house, it was a whopping 8:45 am. By the time lunch rolled around at noon, it felt like 8 pm. But as crazy as it sounds, I really wouldn’t have it any other way (well, actually, if we could stretch the wake up time to 7 am rather than 6 am…).
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