Twice-baked goodness

We ended the four-day holiday with twice-baked potatoes; Jon’s and his brother, Chris’s favorite and one of Patty’s signature dishes. I am not a velveeta cheese fan and was hesitant to try one but I had put so much effort into helping Patty make them that I felt compelled. It was not a mistake. Pure yumminess.



I need to buy some stock in Nike elastic sweatpants because that’s all I will be wearing for the next two months between all of the holiday goodies.

Maria and Mario called me from the road on their way back from the farm to see when Grandma and Grandpa Ionno would be over. They had a good time at the farm with Sarah and Jorge and Mama Meg and Peepaw. Maria got in a hike with Sarah and the pups and Mario got to go hunting with Peepaw.



They also got treated to a holiday parade in Marietta. Peepaw piled ’em up in the car on Saturday and drove to Marietta to see what was happening; he had no idea that a parade was in order! Mario scored some plastic army men and a tank and Maria nabbed a ladybug pillow. Maria got to bathe Taz and love on him, too. Mandatory horse fixes when she’s out on that farm.

I got some monstrous hugs upon their return, which I soaked up like bubbles in a bubble bath. The farm (or maybe Aunt Sarah or Mama Meg) had quite the effect on Maria. She went upstairs without any prodding and took a shower, got dressed, and brought down both hers and Mario’s dirty clothes bins. She dragged them right over to the washer and threw them inside. She went back upstairs and got a hamper for the clean clothes in the dryer. All without any peep from me or Jon. Alleluia! She did ask for help with the detergent though and I walked over to get it down for her. She pointed at the Downy and said “I need that, too.” I told her she didn’t need to use that with detergent and she promptly channeled her dad directing me to get it. “We need both – Downy makes the clothes smell better.” I could practically hear Jon in her voice.

Grandma and Grandpa Ionno arrived at 2 pm and Mario promptly laid his body across Grandma and played his iPad game. When she tried to move, he cried “No, grandma!” Finally, she got to move but only to help Ri with her homework. Ri got lucky because Grandma is the master of word puzzles. They cranked the puzzle out with the help of Alana and me at the end. As soon as that was over, Ri and Alana dashed upstairs to Ri’s room never to be seen again until dinner. Mario and Gio watched tv in our room and then went outside to play frisbee and bounce on the trampoline. They referred to each other as “dude” continuously. I picture them on a cross country road trip in ten years with feet hanging out the window and music blaring.

We all watched the Browns game (Patrick was lucky the Bengals weren’t playing) and caught up on the latest. Chris and Connie arrived with pictures from their wedding. Dinner was fabulous with the twice baked potatoes quite the hit. Ri ate two and begged for a third. We talked about Jon and Patrick as kids – Patrick slapping his cheeks outside in order to stay awake on New Years Eve and win 50 cents. Jon had no trouble staying awake. It was a superb time especially with the kids eating in the other room.


After dinner, the kids helped Alana and Grandma open birthday presents. Grandma scored an iPad for her birthday – I can’t wait to see her on Facebook! I am also going to urge her to write her and Joe’s story on it because it would be an amazing memoir.


We had to end the holiday on a pumpkin pie note so we sat down at 7 pm for one (or two) last pieces of pie with lots of whipped cream. Maria showed us her “trick” which entails putting the tip of the can of whipped cream in her mouth and pressing down to fill her entire throat and mouth with whipped cream. About as impressive as her dad swallowing a whole deviled egg.

We sang happy birthday to Patty and Alana and wrapped up the night. I kept wanting to extend the days longer so that the reality of work and school could be quashed. But I woke up this morning (after falling asleep with the kids at 8:30) happy as a clam – my body filled with tenderness and appreciation for a most incredible family and a most fantastic holiday weekend.

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