Maria and I traveled to Cincinnati yesterday afternoon to head to my cousin Emily’s graduation party. Mario was up at Jon’s parents’ house enjoying the tv, cookies, and wearing his pajamas all day. Before heading off to Cincy, we took a quick stroller ride up to Giant Eagle grocery store to get a card for Emily and a salad for Maria. Yeah, impressive, right? Salad!
Hmmm, salad…. You may think of peppers or broccoli, or carrots, or tomatoes. Heck, even mushrooms or sprouts. But no. When my girl wants a “salad” she wants lettuce (and typically iceberg lettuce even though I got her to agree to field greens this time (although she ate little to none); a couple of chunks of ham, cheese, and a truck-load of croutons. For dressing, an avalanche of ranch. After Giant Eagle, we were off to Cincy with the Berenstein Bears Christmas movie, popcorn, and diet pepsi. When we were 20 minutes away, Maria decided that she wanted to talk to me rather than watch the movie. We played the animal game and sang songs to one another. We picked up Grandma Lolo, and answered Maria’s questions on the way to Aunt Jane’s house. She asked our favorite memory, our worst memory, our favorite Christmas. When we turned the questions on her, she refused to answer (just like her dad!).
We were one of the first family members to arrive at Aunt Jane’s house. Emily and Laura gave some big hugs to Ri, and then Ri was off to the cookie table. I think she downed five before I put the smack-down on her. Aunt Jane’s house is much more subdued than Grandma Heile’s house so Maria did not know how to act. She is used to chaos and loudness and rough-housing. Cy and Robert came around eventually, but they were in football mode so were not engaging her as they usually do. Therefore, it meant that Maria glued onto me. She dragged me downstairs, outside, in the kitchen. Finally, Grace arrived and became a much appreciated distraction for me and Maria.
Maria adores Gracie-poo. In fact, Maria adores all babies and kids under the age of three, especially girls. She especially loves Grace because Grace is her cousin and because Grace pretty much lets Maria kiss and hug all over her without throwing a fit. She also lets Maria direct where she goes (to a limit!) around a room and Maria loves playing the mother hen role. Maria has been telling Jon and I for months that she wants to have ten or fifteen kids and I can now see that she very well could and handle it with perfection! In fact, she shows a lot more disciplinarian skills than me – the ways she raises her voice, her sternness, the way she looks at you with shame when you do something she does not approve of, the discipline she metes out…. (my cousins would say that it doesn’t take much to beat me on the disciplinarian front since I am such a softie!). But Ri also has my soft touch in her – Maria handed her camera to Grace and when Grace put it up to her face, Maria shook her head up and down and in an excited tone stated “Yes, Gracie, that is how you use a camera; you are so smart.”
After dinner (and loads of stories about drunkenness from the night before), Ri and I took a walk down the street. We took silly pictures and tried to solve mysteries. When we went back inside, Maria got to line up her aunts for a picture. She directed who stood next to who, how their hands were placed, how there heads were tilted. She has got her late Grandpa Bill embedded in her soul. After some obligatory rough-housing with the boy cousins, we packed up our cake and cookies and hit the road back to Columbus.
Once home, Ri and dad got into Wii. We learned that Ri has quite the bowler’s arm scoring quite a few spares during their game. She also loves throwing the frisbee to her cute computer pup. We finally shut her down at 10:30 and read Poison Ivy Fancy Nancy (her new favorite). After the book, she begged dad or me to put her to bed. I knew what would happen if I took her up to bed and rubbed her back. Setting my tush on that bed would send me straight to sleep and I had been wanting to get on my computer for a few nights straight with no luck. But it had been too wonderful of a Maria/mom day to say “no.” We trekked up the stairs to her room. PJs on, teeth brushed, face washed. We laid down under the covers and I kissed her goodnight.