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….

Weekend busy

Ri and Mario spent the entire weekend in sleepovers with their friends. Friday night, Ri and Mario headed up to the football game tailgate with Jon. They arrive an hour early to party it up with the rest of the parents parked in the lot by the field. Ri chatted it up with Jon’s friends and ate the unending line of dips while Mario threw the football with his buddies. 


I made it up in the second half (after letting go of the week’s work and taking my pup for a walk in the woods). When I arrived, Ri and Evelyn were already asking for a sleepover. Mario and Zach had already gotten approval from their dads for one at Zach’s house. I agreed and we decided to leave the game to head to Choclate Cafe for a late night snack. As I cleaned up the kitchen, the girls primped up for the Cafe. I had no clue that’s what they were doing and when they came down, I was caught by surprise. They really need to not dress up because they look like high schoolers and it makes me cringe! 


We enjoyed caramel truffles and milkshakes at 10 pm. Meanwhile, the boys played some serious x box at Zach’s house. 

On Saturday, the girls humored me and walked to Stauf’s for breakfast. We sat outside with Rocco and played cards while eating our yummy muffins. Then we hit Target for dress shopping – the girls’ favorite activity. The boys went, too, in order to sucker me into buying them face masks for their Nerf battles. Mario brought up his previous two eye scratches and that’s all it took. I bought them. Ri found a dress after trying on three of them. Ev wanted her to get one with polka dots but RI’s style is much more subdued – plain black. 


After Target, I took Ri to get her hair conditioned. A week ago, she mixed coconut oil and baking powder in her hair and it felt like hay. It looked awful and you couldn’t get a brush through it. She didn’t seem to care but it drove me nuts. It took two washes to get it clean but it finally looked normal again.

The girls had a b-day party on Saturday afternoon, and the boys wanted to hang out our house since we’ve got all the “bad food.” I agreed to take them for the night and our friends would take the girls. The boys begged me to take them to Get Air like I took the girls one evening a while back. But Zach is still recovering from a concussion so we couldn’t do trampolines. They decided on Galaxy Games and Golf for a round of putt-putt and some gym play. Little did they know that I am quite the putt-putter. I amazed them with my hole-in-one. Actually, I heard Mario whisper to Zach “my mom is really good.” Precious. 


We walked inside after their crushing defeat and right in front of us was a claw machine – Mario’s addiction! He begged for coins to play. Again, sucker mom. It doesn’t help that I love those dang claw machines, too. Mario, of course, immediately won a stuffed animal and a ball. It took Zach a few more tries but he nabbed an animal and a ball, too. In trying to get an animal, he nearly got a stuffed animal chicken. Mario was set on winning it because I was dumb enough to whisper “oh, I would have loved that chicken!” He’s gonna spend all his money on his dates trying to win them stuffed animals. He kept trying and trying but the chicken kept winning. I finally stepped in and asked if I could try it. I clawed the chicken and a random teddy bear – won two in one try! Can you sense my excitement still?! The boys were amazed again….


I had to put a stop on the claw games much to their dismay. They would have spent a fortune there if they could. We moved on to the gym, which was full of kids. I read my book and ate my snacks while looking up at Mario here and there when he shouted at me. 

We stopped at McDonald’s on the way home for some delicious dinner and then turned on the Buckeyes game when we got home. They made their way to the reclining sofa and commented on every play of the game. Jon got home shortly after us and we all watched the game together. Mario fell asleep around 10 but Zach hung in with us until the end. 

The next morning the boys and I walked to Stauf’s (two days in a row!). We ate bagels while playing cards and watching the marathoners. Heaven. Then we topped off the sleepover by heading to the woods for a Nerf gun battle. Rocco refused to leave Mario’s side. Alana and Patty were at the house when we returned. 

Alana and Ri loved working the concession stand at Mario’s football game. They each made some cash from it. 


Meanwhile, Mario and his teammates suffered their first loss of the season. They played hard with two of their stars out with injuries. I’ve never seen so many crying boys after the game. But they have next week to recover. 


So there you have it – another non-stop weekend with friends and parties galore. It’s a new kind of busy from the days of toddler-hood but I love it all the same.

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. 

Putting up the tree

I can’t believe we got our Christmas tree up the Sunday after Thanksgiving. That is a record for us procrastinating folks.

Sundays have been deemed “mom-not-allowed-to-run” days by the kids. Sunday morning, Mario hopped on our bed with a huge smile on his face and announced “mom, no running today!” Maria jolted into our room 30 seconds later and we all laid together (thank god for a king size bed). These moments are some of the best. Inevitably, Mario will say something that makes us laugh hysterically and Ri will follow up with some witty response. Then there’s lots of hugging and squeezing … and wrestling. It all makes me so pleased.

After Jon had enough of Mario’s jackknifes into his side, he got up to get his coffee. The kids and I decided to head to Stauf’s for breakfast (actually I begged and they gave in). I made them both walk with me rather than scooter or bike. Lots of whining at first but then they realized that it wasn’t so bad, especially when you play 20 questions. The kids picked a bar table and chairs for us to sit at Stauf’s. We got our bagels and cream cheese (all three of us got the same Black Russian bagel but three different cream cheeses) and started in on Go Fish. Mario whooped on us. Usually it’s Ri. We moved on to War and when Mario started killing us in that, we had to shut it down (Ms. Maria gets a bit competitive nowadays). 

   

 On our walk home, we played Pac Man on the brick enclosure in front of the real estate office. It was all fun and games until Mario tripped into the middle of the flower bed and fell on a Thanksgiving wire ornament. Ri and Mario died laughing while I reoriented the ornament. 

About two blocks from home, Ri announced “we should put up the Christmas tree!” Mario agreed. We’d never put up the tree this early but we had nothing planned for the day so I thought we better crank it out. We use the tree my Grandma Menkedick gave us when Ri was  a baby. She used it for years before handing it down to us. It is about eight feet tall and looks kinda real…. The kids love putting the branches on and could not fathom a “real” tree. 

Mario lost interest as we started on the ornaments. Ri tried to entice him by putting on Christmas music. It helped for a bit. He just wanted to find the pickle ornament. He loves to hide that ornament every year and dare people to find it. Ri got out some old, precious ornaments that I had bought my grandma in the 1970s. We found some of Jon’s when he was little, too. The kids loved to hear stories of our childhood.  

I see all these pictures of friends’ trees – they are so organized with matching gold ornaments and icicles sprinkled throughout the fir. Our tree is a hodge podge of randomness. An old 1970s ornament alongside a handmade paper ornament along side a plastic M&M guy alongside a plastic dog. But I wouldn’t change it at all. 

It was Ri’s turn to place the “blue star” on the tree. It is more like a North Star compass- every year we talk about getting new tree topper and every year we fail to do so. Mario begged to put it on instead of Ri but for once Ri didn’t give in to him.    

He didn’t get upset though (he really is getting so much better at letting things go)  and we all posed for a picture by dad. Rocco even joined us (after his tail knocked over two ornaments – a warning Jon had given us three seconds prior to it happening).

 After Jon took the picture, we begged him to get in one with us. It took the kids’ longing eyes to convince him (he has no problem saying no to me!). Of course, none of them turned out Christmas card worthy but at least he’s in one. I keep telling him he will appreciate that I made him get in these pictures when he’s old and can’t remember these times – these pictures will help him out….

  

So here’s to Christmas 2015 and a holiday filled with family and laughter and gratitude for those who have left us – Grandma would have just adored our little tree.

Mario time

We’ve only had Mario all week with Maria gone to camp (how is she at a six day overnight camp already?!). We promised him dinner of his choice and where do you think we went two nights? Skyline. After night two, Jon and I swore we would not head back there for at least six months. It’s so good when you’re eating it, but then….

Mario has been the BEST son this week. I wish I could say it’s just because he decided to turn over a new leaf and not argue when it’s time for bed or time to do homework. But no, it’s not that. He has been an angel child because he wants an electric scooter and he keeps hoping that if he is excellent for us, we will get him one. 

He took out the trash, got his own water, cleaned up his mess, fed Rocco, took Rocco on a walk, went straight to bed. You name it. Everything that used to be a fight or end up in whining tirades, is simple now. It really has been a beautiful yet strange week. 

He’s also been Mr. Independent wanting to ride to the library by himself and read books. Whether he does that or not, I’m not sure. But I did follow him up there one evening and couldn’t find him anywhere. Sure enough, he was in a study room reading his Wings of Dragons book. Impressive. He had his blue sports bag on the table in which he carried his book. When we left, he tossed his bag over each shoulder and hopped on his bike. He looked 13. It seems everyday he grows another inch. 

   
 

We’ve been biking together every night, which he loves. I used to refuse to bike and only walk along side of him. But I do enjoy biking with him because he loves it so much and it’s much more relaxing to be by his side and able to talk. We biked to Stauf’s last night for a bagel dinner. He beat me at Crazy Eights four times in a row and won $6 off of me. He was stoked about that. We biked home talking about that electric scooter again. 

“Mom, I’ve been so good. Don’t I deserve a scooter now?” 

I told him I was concerned about what he’d be like once we got the scooter. Would he go back to complaining at bedtime and whining about cleaning his room?

An emphatic “no” shot from his mouth as if he knew that would be my question. He shot those pacific blue eyes my way and I knew he had me. But I didn’t let him know. I just reiterated that dad and I would talk about the scooter knowing full well we would end up getting it for him as an early birthday present. How could I resist this sweet biking partner of mine?

   
 

These days.

My ideal day is waking early for a morning workout and coming home to take a walk to Stauf’s with Ri and Mario. I love it because we are all present in the moment. We notice the cardinal tucked in the mid section of a bush. We squeal at the bunny darting out of a flower bed. We touch the needles of the pine tree in the alley and I reminisce to them about when they were babies and I placed their finger on a needle and yelped “ouch” and they smiled at me in delight. 

The kids still get excited to scope out a table at the coffee shoppe. They recently added high tables and bar stools to the shoppe so I knew they’d go for those. Mario steps up on the lower rung of the chair and lifts himself into the seat. Maria gets water for us all. I order bagels and a coffee. We sit at the table and play War and crazy eights (with Grandma Menkedick’s cards from 1963). When I win at the war between Mario and me, Ri laughs because I get one of Mario’s aces out of it. Mario reluctantly hands it over. This is the one place that the both of them remain in good spirits while playing a card game – must be the chill atmosphere.

  

It takes a lot for me to relax – as Jon says “you never stop.” But I can sit in that coffee shoppe with these kids for hours and have no desire to move. There must be some relaxer drug in those bagels.

Maria’s stomach was hurting her after she finished her bagel and chai tea latte – she spent a long time in the bathroom. I went to check on her after Mario and I thought she may have passed out. There she was looking miserable and holding her tummy. My girl likes to go at it in life – no matter if it’s partying at the pool or eating a bagel smothered in cream cheese. 

So what do I have her do to recover?

Bike to the river with Mario and me. I figured she needed to move that food out of her system so she needed to move her body in order to accomplish that. It would be worse for her to go home and lay down. Right?!

So there she was biking next to me looking miserable. Mario was up ahead biking away in his own little world, loving the freedom he had. We arrived at our old stomping grounds shortly after we departed. It seemed to take such a longer time when I had them both in the double stroller (hmmm, wonder why? maybe the 100 pounds I had to push slowed me down). Ri immediately went to lay on a big rock to rest her tummy. Sweet girl.

  

Meanwhile, Mario was in heaven. He loved looking at the different rocks and throwing them in the river. As we tried to skip a few, he said to me “I remember coming here in the stroller with you and Ri and eating my timbits.” The kid doesn’t remember much so I was excited to hear that he remembered our river trips. We searched for unique rocks after Ri rested a bit. Mario would find one and run over to show Ri and me. He found one with a fossil in it that he thought was cool. They both discovered round, smooth ones that they decided to paint for Emma on her first day of babysitting them. We watched the tiny birds fly in and out of their hive nests situated in the corners of the bridge overpass. Pure delight. These are the moments to slurp up and recall when you’re having an annoying day.

   
   

Ri started to peter out on us after a while so we called it a day and headed down the bike trail to home. Ri was my trooper riding her bike with a tummy ache. She wanted Jon to pick her up badly but I told her she could make it. I’m quite sure she was cursing me in her head but she did it and with each small feat like that, I’m convinced she’s gained another layer of grit. Mario was like a teenager biking far ahead of us but stopping at every stop light and waiting for a green light. He likes that independence. 

Maria looked at me when we pulled into the driveway. “Are you proud of me, mom?” “Absolutely”, I told her. 

I walked inside the house and Mario was guzzling water. “Hey, mom”, he said flatly sounding just like a teenage boy. 

Please let me not forget these days.

Lockets, hash browns and pigs

I managed to get in a lunch with my girl and a zoo trip with my boy last week. I canceled another lunch with a girlfriend in order to surprise Ri because I felt so bad about how we started our day. I had come home from running in the early morning and Ri was standing in the kitchen bawling. I asked her what was the matter and she told me she lost her locket that she had gotten for her birthday a week earlier. At first, I was calm and told her to search her backpack. We talked about where it could have been lost. I thought she’d find it in her backpack so that soothed my emotions. When she didn’t, I proceeded to get a bit angry in my tone telling her she had to be more careful with things. Ok, maybe telling isn’t the correct verb. More like yelling. She bawled harder and ran upstairs. Ugh.

While she was crying to Jon, I found the locket in the pocket of her backpack. I called her downstairs and gave it to her. Then I hugged her. Then I told her I was sorry for raising my voice. Then I told her that I have to work on not getting so upset. Then I took a deep breath. She finally stopped crying and gained some composure before heading off to school, and I gained a big guilty chip on my shoulder the rest of the morning.

  
So I biked over to her school and surprised her for lunch. We walked to Stauf’s and got a bagel and hash browns. And we had a most enjoyable talk about what she wanted to do this Summer and what she’s liked most about fourth grade. As we walked back to school, I apologized again for getting upset with her. I explained there was a better way for me to teach her about taking greater care of things and that I didn’t want to raise my voice like I did. She did her Ri thing – flicked me in the arm and laughed and said it was ok – wanting to move onto a new topic. But I hope she got where I was coming from and values the open communication between us. We held hands on the way in to school (not long before that ends) and i gave her a gentle flick as she walked to class. The guilty chip fell off my shoulder as I biked back into work. 

  

The next day, I headed to the zoo with Mario. Jon took the first shift and I took the second. Mario was so excited to have Jon go with him; he was mildly happy to have me. Dad is the prized possession for sure. When I arrived, they were walking towards the cheetahs. Mario gave Jon a huge hug goodbye and told him he loved him – I can never get enough of that action. Then we raced towards the cheetahs. But we’d get about 500 feet and then have to stop to play (5 first grade boys – what else did I expect). 

  
We finally arrived at the African zone only to have ten kids walk by us yelling “you just missed the cheetah run!”  Ok, great, thanks. I wanted to pelt them in the head. Luckily, our boys were unphased. We still got to see the giraffes and hang out in a safari tent.

   
   

But best of all, Mario tracked down some pigs for me to see in the farm area. Big ol’ heifers laying around and snorting. Mario was so excited to find them for me.

  
Such a doll when he wants to be. We walked back to the front of the zoo to meet up with his class. Mario was charged up because they got to ride in a Coach bus since the yellow buses never came to pick them up. “It even has a bathroom in it” he exclaimed as I gave him a hug goodbye. Good reminder to me – appreciate the simple things in life.