Mario Joseph turned 4 today. Well, technically, he is four at 9:52 pm, the exact time he shot out of me and entered this crazy, wonderful world. When he woke this morning, he did not make a big deal about his birthday. He snuggled up next to me on the edge of the bed as he does nearly every morning I am not up already and out on a run. He even gave me the Mario “rub” this morning. One of my favorite things. He gently rubs his hand over my face and in my hair without saying a word but with all of the care and love he can muster. I feel it everywhere. Maria woke up not long after Mario scooted into bed (she had been snuggled up with me since 5 am) and, of course, she pronounced to us all in her Maria tone “IT’S MARIO’S BIRTHDAY FOLKS!” And the day began.
Maria played with Mario for a bit in her room while Jon and I recovered from the night before. We had gone down to Cincy for a pool party at Aunt Susie’s and Uncle Ken’s house. We stayed in the pool most of the day and night with the kids jumping to us and all of the cousins goofing around with us and the kids. Maria and Mario are spoiled beyond words down there with all of my “little” cousins (now ages 14 through 27) playing with them incessantly and paying every bit of attention to them. Maria enjoyed jumping into the pool and then planting herself on a pink raft to sunbathe. She also loved paying “mom” to Gracie who let her indulge in the fantasy for a while until Maria accidentally slipped off the edge and dunked her. Mario enjoyed swimming like a fish and planting himself under water while he pumped his water gun full of water only to pop up out of the water to soak an unlucky soul. He would kick his feet the entire time under water to keep him from sinking and when he rose up he would do the same to keep him afloat. As Jon stated, the boy is like a navy seal. He went non-stop all night long and didn’t fall asleep until we were 10 miles outside of Columbus (Maria was out within 10 miles of Cincinnati).
The aunts spoiled him with presents again this year. I purposely did not want to announce his birthday for the pool party because I did not want people to feel they had to get gifts. But I should have known these aunts of mine would have done so any way. He landed some awesome books, a spiderman dry erase board, a spiderman pez candy container, transformers, and a spiderman closet show holder with a mirror. He stared in that mirror for three minutes fixing his spiked pool hair much to everyone’s delight. Maria even scored some presents. She got some sweet books and pez container and Nerds (her favorite – she is her Aunt Sarah’s niece)! She also got time with her favorite boy cousins, Robert and Cy. It is a joy to see the kids so alive and happy with their aunts and uncles and cousins – it reminds me of the fun I had as a kid with that crazy Heile clan.
When Jon and I finally got out of bed (at a still early 7:35), Maria begged for us to give Mario his presents. She is always taking care of him. We agreed to let him open a few (he surprisingly was not begging at all to open them). She wanted him to open the Incredible Hulk I bought for him but agreed to allow Maria to give him. She also wanted to give him the toy gun we bought for him because she knew he would be so excited. She has inherited the joy I get from watching people express happiness through a beautiful card, a song, or a new toy. Mario opened his $1 spiderman book first and tossed it aside. Next present, please. I have got to train him to be more appreciative of his gifts no matter if he likes them or not. The gun came next and he liked that one a little more but still wanted the next one. It is as if he can’t assess if he truly likes a gift until he looks at them all. The hulk was the finale and it was anti-climactic. He looked at it and said “OH, the hulk. I wanted the smaller one.” Maria looked at him and said “You just broke my heart, Mario.” Mario looked at me and I had my “You should apologize” look on my face and he looked back at Maria and said “this is awesome, Ri!” And after the initial thrill of opening the presents, it was awesome because he played with the hulk and his gun all morning.
We hit Tim Horton’s after the present ceremony for Mario’s timbits. Next we headed to the river to pick out rocks to paint later in the day because we knew rain was coming. FInally, we headed to the new house to see Jason painting and run around the basement. We read Berenstein Bear s as we walked place to place in the stroller. The kids favorite is “No More TV” and “No More Junk Food.” We got home right when the rain came so they hopped in the bathtub. We finally got out the bath crayons that we had to stash for the last month as we showed our house. I thought it would be a good sign to the gods if I let them draw on the tub today because our buyer has until Wednesday to agree to purchase or to walk away and I know he is going to purchase which would mean no more showings and no more sparkling clean house every single day.
After our bath, we hit Dirty Franks for some hot dogs and viewing of all the crazy rock stars painted on the walls. After stuffing ourselves with dogs, we headed home to paint rocks and listen to music. I actually found some Children’s Tunes to play for them but after the first few songs, they said “Mom, what about putting on “Baby Got Back?” They are doomed! After rocks, we played school with Maria teaching us how to share and giving us papers to take to our parents for volunteering for the school party. I asked Mario if he liked his parents and he shook his head “yes.” Maria asked him what were the names of his parents. He smiled and answered “Mary and Jon, but I like to call them mom and dad.” What a 4-year-old doll.