Education, defined


I went to fire up my iPad and pictures of Maria smooching Big Time Rush singers popped up everywhere. Ri had told me she was working on educational sites. Yeah…. When I asked her about this, she responded with an incredulous tone:

“Mom, I learned how to work the camera and adjust my face so it was right by Carlos’ face. That’s education, if I’ve ever seen it!”

Big Time Rush is in the house!!!

My first concert with my mom was Prince in Riverfront Coliseum. I painted my face purple and found every article of purple clothes available to wear. I only remember little snippets of the evening – picking up my mom’s friend in Clifton, the grandiosity of the Coliseum, dancing my heart out, and watching Prince perform some sexy moves!

Maria’s first concert was a tad more subdued and kid-friendly (I got introduced to the ways of the world early with Prince’s music!). We saw Big Time Rush last night at Nationwide Arena with about five thousand dressed-up, screaming, heart-swept girls and their moms (half of whom were just as dressed up as their daughters). Maria and I showed up in our running shorts and t-shirts (Ri sported her homemade Big Time Rush t-shirt made by Aunt Laura – so much cooler than the t-shirts for sale).

We had awesome seats on the first level. We visited Alana up in her seats before the show. Maria wanted to sit with her, which I knew would happen, but I wanted to at least check out our seats down below. I made Maria head down with me just to check them out and told her if she wanted to head back to Alana after that, we could. When we got to our seats, we found that they were pretty close to the stage. Between that and the fact that Alana had brought a friend with her to the show (Maria has her dad in her – she likes to have her time alone with her cousin or friend and does not like intruders!), we stayed in our seats. It was worth it – we had a killer view and Logan walked up to our seats and sang a song one step away from Ri! I about had a heart attack – reliving my youth but Maria reacted in the complete opposite manner. She did not want to rush down and touch Logan. She did not want to act giddy and scream when he got near. She wanted to be, and was, completely composed. While I nudged her to shake Logan’s hand, she refused standing quietly in front of him. The girls behind us were ready to hyper-ventilate and Ri stood with perfect composure. Is it that she’s only 7? I don’t think so – I think that is deep inside her and who she is – at age 7 and 37. No screaming madly for her – she is the calm and collected one (even more than her mom!).

So, when we returned to our seats, she gave me a piece of her mind.

“Mom, you embarrassed me when you did that. Please don’t do that to me.”

Her big blue eyes stared up at me in the most genuine, heartfelt manner, and I felt two feet tall. It was the saddest moment for me because here I was thinking that she was as excited as I was! But I’m glad it happened because it solidified in my brain how much my daughter needs her space and is completely opposite to me when it comes to behavior at these events. Nonetheless, after I explained to her why I nudged her and why I was excited, she forgave me and shook off the embarrassment smiling at the thrill of having been so close to Logan.

But she stayed true to herself throughout the rest of the show staying calm and collected in her chair while screaming fans surrounded her – every once in a while she would stand up and pump her fist or shake her booty but it was far and few between. My girl is way too cool.


Broken windows and dreams

We survived the holiday weekend.  Maria’s cousin, Alana stayed with us from Saturday through Monday morning.  I love having her over because the girls get along so well.  They go up to Ri’s room and play barbies or listen to Justin Bieber or play Pet Shop in the basement.  I can actually read a little bit of a book or clean the house without having Maria at my heels asking me to play.  Alleluia.  And I love that they are so close.  I wish I would have been as close to my cousin when I was little.  They are good for each other, too.  Maria shows Alana how to be more daring and Alana shows Maria how to play something for more than three minutes.

Mario stayed at Grandma Ionno’s house on Saturday night until Sunday.  He loves himself some Grandma and Grandpa time because he is all by himself and spoiled to death.  He gets to wrestle, show-off, watch tv, and lay around in his pjs.  Not a bad life.  He did want to come home on Sunday night, however, because he knew Alana would be there.  Jon explained to him that the girls may want alone time and Mario chirped back “Alana will want to play with me because she tells me all the time how cute I am.” Oh, ok…. We gotta watch that head of his.

When he walked in, the girls showered him with hugs and love (no wonder his head is big).  They all went upstairs and played “Big Time Rush”. This game consists of Maria and Alana being themselves and Mario being one of the BTR singers.  He played James when we saw him.  He walked by us with his nose in the air as Maria and Alana fawned over him.  It seemed to come natural to him – scary.

I walked up to Stauf’s to do some reading around 5 pm.  Jon watched the kids.  I got a call around 5:45 from Jon.  “Get home now” he stated firmly.  “Mario punched his window out.” My mind leapt to blood everywhere, glass shattered all over.  Luckily, his had suffered a couple of cuts with no glass in them and the glass mostly landed on the roof.  Jon had already subjected him to the wall when I arrived home.  He held a tissue on his hand.  He looked like a mean mama-jamba.  He looked like a prize-fighter.  Jon and I are in for it.  I made him put alcohol on it so that he felt the sting – until that time, he really didn’t see any negative consequences to his behavior.  After I stung him with the alcohol, he cried and shouted “I don’t want to do that again!”  When Jon asked him why he would want to punch his window, this was his response: “I wanted to get on the news.” Oh, are we truly in trouble.

Mario showing his wounds

After that chaos, the kids fell asleep in Maria’s room; Maria and Alana in the bed and Mario on the floor in his sleeping bag and band-aid. 

On Monday, we all talked about what an incredible figure Martin Luther King was and is in our society.  Both girls knew what he stood for and what he fought against.  I told Maria how we walked across the Broad Street bridge when she was one year old in order to honor him.  She couldn’t remember.  Mario knew that MLK “had a dream.” I told him how I remember going to his classroom when he was two and seeing his picture on the bulletin board.  The teachers had taught the kids about MLK’s famous “I have a dream” speech.  They then had the kids tell them what they dreamed of.  The words underneath Mario’s picture were “I dream of ‘popsicles’!” 

Thanks for giving us dreams, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happiness is hanging with a 70’s hippy and an 1800’s pirate

Happiness is hanging with a 70’s hippy girl and an 1800’s pirate…

We began our Halloween day getting up late and scurrying around trying to get outfits and breakfast and hand-made cards together.  Maria and I jumped in the car at 8:17 and made it to school at 8:20 as the bell rang.  Maria was able to devour a cereal bar in that three-minute period of time, though – my girl can do anything!  Mario drove with dad and got treated to timbits and loads of chocolate at preschool (could that be why he is running around like a mini-tornado at 10 pm?). 

Maria had her 2nd annual Halloween school party where they walk around the perimeter of the school to show off their costumes to the ogling and way-too-excited parents and friends.  I arrived just in time to see Maria walking out of the school and turning down the street.  She looked so happy.  Maria has an infectious laugh and just hearing it once a day keeps the doctor away, I believe.  I heard it as I watched her walk down the street with her girlfriends.  She spotted me soon after I pulled up and held out her hand for me to join the walk (how long will her intense desire to have her mom near her amongst friends last?!).  I walked her around the perimeter of the school taking in the sights of other scary, beautiful, funny, and cute costumed characters.  Maria wore her 70’s hippy outfit well.  She even threw on the John Lennon specs for a bit of the walk.  However, she would not do the peace sign to people as she walked by, which would have sealed the deal.  She gets very self-conscious when eyes are on her.  She is like her dad – she is much better in a small setting versus a larger one.  There was a snow princess in Maria’s class who wore lipstick and eye shadow. Maria commented about her saying “all she cares about are her clothes and make-up – I am not into that.”  Thank god my dear. 

Doris and Kim with the kids

Megan picked Maria and Mario up from school today so I could get a little work done before leaving for Halloween night.  I begged her to give them a bath since Mario’s hair looked as brittle as desert grass.  Thank god for Megan – she cranked out the bath and had them ready to roll when Jon and I got home.  We headed to our old neighbors’ house, Doris and Kim, for dinner.  They made chili and brats for the adults and hot dogs for the kids (Mario took one bite of the hot dog and exclaimed “this is the best hot dog and bun ever!”).  We miss them and their cooking!  Maria finished in record time and got her costume.  She refused to wear her John Lennon spectacles but still sported the total hippy look and would have fit in at Woodstock without a problem.  When we were getting on her costume she asked “were hippies for peace, mom?”  I answered “yes” and she smiled and responded “Good, I want peace, not war.”  John Lennon would have used her as his muse. Mario finished soon after Maria and donned his pirate costume (after taking ten minutes to situate his skull cap). 

The Halloween gang

And we were off.  Into the sprinkles of rain.  Within a block, Maria was cold and wanted to go to her friend, Zach’s house.  We headed over there and met up with Zach the Ghost and his cousins.  We walked a few houses with them but Zach was going way too fast for M&M who took their time at each house.  Both always said “thank you” and Mario added “Have a happy Halloween!”   By the third block, both kids were ready to head back to Doris and Kim’s house.  I could not believe it.  I tried to entice them by telling them we were close to Mrs. Page’s house (Maria’s old teacher who she loves) but even that didn’t work.  I felt shafted!  I specifically had two kids in order to get at least ten pounds of candy each Halloween.  How could they want to come home 25 minutes after they started?  I would always stay out until the very last light turned off at the very last house in the neighborhood.  I would dump out my candy on the family room floor and count every last piece, always making it over 100.  I would go to sleep with a massive belly ache and wake up the morning ready to dive back into the chocolate.  Now that I think back to those experiences more, maybe it’s a good thing that M&M only have a desire to go to 10 houses and gather only enough candy to skim their Halloween bags.  I should celebrate their moderation and ungreedy selves.

Chaos among the troops!

When we got back to Doris and Kim’s house, we dumped their candy (it did not even take up the whole side of the dining room table!) and found pieces that mommy would like, friends would like, and grandparents would like.  Mario went coo-coo for Skittles and Tootsie Rolls and Maria went coo-coo for Snickers.  I took down the Hershey’s bars and Reese Pieces.  Nothing better than hunting for candy and coming back to eat the kill!  We headed over to Zach’s house after eating ourselves silly and engaged in some fun-filled wrestling and madness.  It is always crazy when we head over there because Zach and Maria pick each other up and rough house like two drunk frat boys.  Mario inevitably joins in the mix while they scream at the top of their lungs.  Someone is usually hurt within five minutes, consoled, and then the chaos starts again.  My friend Amy and I become both exasperated and slap-happy with it all – thank god we have each other to get through it! 

After Zach’s, we bundled up and strolled home while I told them stories about Mario playing in the forest and Maria turning into a princess.  They love my stories, which I love to tell, except after a night of non-stop action and chocolate and screaming and insanity.  But a good mom perseveres through it (although I made it home in record strollering time). When we got home, we watched Big Time Rush Halloween together (I read recently that if you let your kids watch tv, you should watch it with them) and I asked them questions about it afterwards.  Maria looked at me in disgust “Mom, this is not school, just let us be kids!”  We turned off the lights and headed upstairs to sleep.  We snuggled under the covers together and fell asleep within 10 minutes, bellies full of chocolate and heads full of Halloween memories.