A Blink of an Eye

The other day, I was standing outside of Stauf’s talking to an older woman while Mario petted and loved on her puggle (half pug/half beagle). The woman’s 20-something son walked out of Stauf’s and she looked at him and then at Mario.

“Enjoy your time with your son because pretty soon he will look like my son. The years go by with a blink of the eye.”

If I’ve gained any wisdom in these parenting years, it is too more fully take in and appreciate these days with my young kids. They are at the perfect ages: smart and inquisitive and able to engage in full conversations but still wanting hugs and to hold hands as you walk down the street. 

The last two weekends, I have gotten full-on M&M time, and it has put me in such a good mood for back-to-work Mondays. They are both hilarious in their own right with their completely unique senses of humor and takes on life. And they get along pretty daggone well most of the time. 

Last weekend, we took a walk with Rocco to  Edison Park. He flipped out with the kids on the swings. He bites at their ankles as if he doesn’t understand they are part of their bodies. We were relegated to the jungle gym and non-swing activities so he’d stay calm. Ri came up with an obstacle course thanks to her Coach Amy, who had created a similar course for Ri’s soccer team during practice. Ri and Mario had me time them each time they ran it – each one wanting to beat the other’s newest time. 


After the park, we drove to the garden shop to buy flowers for our front door planters and seeds for the kids to plant flowers of their choosing. Mario found a Venus fly trap plant and was totally enamored with it. Ri found a dainty cactus in a pink artistic pot. It was a perfect day for gardening. I let the kids off on their own to plant their seeds while I mowed for the first time in 2017. God only knows if the kids planted the seeds far enough in the ground or far enough a part. We will find out in May, I guess. I promised them a pedicure if they helped me garden so when they were done, they begged me to go. I asked them for 20 more minutes so they decided to have a water fight in the meantime. The first water fight of the year, too!


We had to hit the doggie day spa after the water fight because Rocco rubbed his entire drenched body through the dirt lining our flower beds. 


After cleaning up the two kids and the dog, we finally made it to the salon. On the way there, Mario told me I need a new car (he tells me this every time we get in the car). I explained to him that my car is perfectly fine. He then informed me he’s getting a Lamborghini when he is 16. Yea, ok. Maria tries to talk sense into him, too, but it’s no use. He swears he’s gonna have the best of everything. I told him he better invent something that gives him millions or get in the NBA. He looks at me like “duh, not a problem. I got it.” 

Of course, with his love of luxury, he thoroughly enjoyed his pedicure. Ri and I kept looking over at him cracking up because he was fully relaxed in his massage chair reading his magazine and enjoying the foot scrub. He went for gold nail polish as well (which totally reminded me of Dennis Rodman), but he quickly asked the woman to remove it after she put it on. 


After the pedicure, we went home to roller skate and roller blade down the hills. Ri was smooth as always while Mario jerked and fell on his blades. But he kept trying. He loved the hills once he could take off his blades and use his electric scooter. He’d fly down the hill and then watch for cars so Ri could skate down. She flew, too, but I had a bit fewer heart palpitations after the Pittsburgh hill craziness. 



We wrapped up the evening watching a couple of episodes of blackish, and called it a night. 

Yesterday, it was much colder than last Saturday. Therefore, no gardening was in order. However, we did get another trip to Edison in with Rocco.


 Then we decided on a trip to Worthington pool. I used to take the kids there when they were toddlers. The memories came flooding in as we entered the pool area and I saw the baby slide. Mario was always nervous to go down it. Now, he was Mr. Cool unable to remember ever being scared of that slide. He and Ri went on the big slide and we all braved the cyclone pool where they used to get sucked in and it would take all my might to pull them out. Now, they handled it with ease and didn’t need my assistance. Although they still wanted me by their side to experience it with them. I remember when they were younger and they’d pull on me every second in the pool. They wanted me to constantly play with them or watch them or catch them. Exhausting. I’d think about how great it would be when they’d play in their own. But yesterday, I let myself enjoy their constant need for my presence. I soaked up every breakdance Mario asked me to watch. I waved at Ri and clapped as she did her trick off the slide. As Ri states, I was being mind-ful rather than mind-full. 

After some Air Hockey and Sun Chips, we left for home. 


We all needed to shower before going to the Escape Room that Ri recommended for our evening adventure. I was hesitant about it and was hoping they may want to do it without me. But they wanted us all to enjoy. I had no idea what to expect – I was picturing the zombie-type escape room where you are scared too death constantly. Thank god it was nothing like that. It was a 1920’s set-up in a Speakeasy, and we had to find all the clues to get out before the police arrived. We had a blast. We were in the room with four others – early 20 somethings – who were great with Ri and Mario. 

We had 60 minutes to try and escape. We got three hints. It was intense. Every time we’d get exhausted, someone would pull through and find a clue to help us progress. We were so close to escaping – probably needed 3 more minutes. Mario was bummed we didn’t escape but felt better when the owner said a majority of folks don’t escape. 


We were pretty beat after that escapade so we decided on Subway and home to watch The Middle. Ri was nearly passed out by the end of the show and Mario and I weren’t far behind. 

And with a blink of an eye, I woke up to Rocco jumping on the bed and Ri yelling “time to get up and get to Stauf’s!” Another blink, and she will be driving to Stauf’s from her own apartment and Mario will be pulling up to the curb in his Lamborghini. 

I’m soaking it all in now before I blink again.

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. 

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….>

All in a Sunday morning

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7 am.
Ten years ago it would have floated by without notice or care. My pillow under me, Jon by my side, maybe a dream wrapping up in my rested head. Today, the house is bustling with kids’ footsteps up and down the steps, laptops chiming hello, and a pup barreling onto the bed for morning kisses.
Jon rescued me Sunday morning and escorted Rocco downstairs with the kids. That lasted ten minutes before we heard the charge of Rocco through the hall, up the stairs, and to our room. I lazily climbed out of bed, got dressed and lumbered down the steps with Rocco pushing his nose into my leg right behind me. The kids were on the couch playing Animal Jam on the computers. I gave them the “I am not happy you are on a computer and not taking care of a Rocco” look and they both closed the computer tops and pronounced “we want to take a walk with you!”
Ri got her scooter. I got the stroller for Mario in case he got tired of walking (the BOB is still our tried-and-true even though Mario is almost seven years old). We got Rocco and headed to the woods. We walked into a chirping, vibrant forest and I was elated to have my babies with me to experience such early morning goodness. They immediately dashed to the climbing tree and Rocco immediately whined and cried as they climbed the tree. He gets whacked out every time they scale it and watches them intensely until they are back on ground.

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Mario and Ri went to their second favorite tree that leans way over to the side. They love to climb it. Mario decided he was going to jump off of it rather than have me help him down. All I heard as I walked out of the meadow with Rocco was “MOM!” Ri was helping him up and he was holding his back. Great, he’s broken his vertebrae. But he shook it off for try no. 2. Here’s how that try went:
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Mario jumped.
Mario feigned death.
Ri laughed hysterically.
Lovely.
We picked him up and they both went up the tree for one last hurrah before leaving for Stauf’s.
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On the way out of the woods, Mario complained that his back hurt. Maria exclaimed “I’ll carry you little buddy!” He hopped on her back and the hysterics began. Rocco chewed on Mario’s shoe and Ri tumbled every other second. What cuties.
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We walked up to Giant Eagle and the kids went in while I held Rocco (who again whined like a baby when they left). I gave them my Visa (they are so independent) and they got a bag of grapes (they had to eat a handful before a donut) and two donuts. Stauf’s was trumped by GE donuts.
Next we headed to the church park. Mario freaked about Rocco climbing the jungle gym set. He worries like heck about that dog. He was nervous about him getting lost at Park of the Roses, too. He doesn’t worry about jumping from a tree but he worries about his pup. And Rocco worries just as much about him. Mario began to swing and Rocco dashed over and jumped on the swing as Mario swung up. Mario got scratched good. I yelled at Rocco and he came to his side immediately. “It’s ok, mom. He didn’t mean it.” He has his back.
We left the park and talked about zombies and softball pitching on the walk home. Ri promised Mario she’d take care of him as his nurse when we got home because he banged his knee at the park. I carried him upstairs to his bed and she brought band-aids and the computer to him. She fetched him water and listened to him talk about his animals on Animal Jam.
Meanwhile, I went down to sit on the deck with Jon and play gin rummy. He whooped on me but I enjoyed just hanging out with him in the shade of the trees.
Pretty nice Sunday, I must say. And all of this before 10:30 am!>

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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