Bugs, cousins and grandmas

Mario got the horrid bug first. He woke up on Wednesday morning complaining that he felt like he was going to throw up. We’ve all been fighting colds so we told him it was just mucus build-up. Within five minutes of dismissing his complaint, he was violently throwing up in our bathroom. His whole body trembled as if an alien possessed him. He cried and begged to not throw up anymore. If there are two people who hate to throw up, it’s Jon and Mario. So guess who got it next? Yep, Big Jon. Poor things. Mario wanted me by his side for the entire day holding his hand and rubbing his back. I willfully obliged. Jon wanted left alone with good reason. They both got over the crux of it within 24-48 hours, thank god.

I woke up Saturday morning feeling funny and ended up in bed all day. I didn’t have as bad of symptoms and with lots of sleep, I think I have dodged the worst of it as I write this on Sunday afternoon.

Mario had his buddy Quinn over while I was held up in bed. Those two played Skylanders for three hours – only taking breaks to eat Mac-n-cheese and wrestle. Quinn is a dream playmate for Mario.


Later that night, Quinn’s folks took Mario for dinner and a movie. Jon and I were so bummed not being able to take advantage of a night out alone with me still ill and Jon recovering. Instead we sat in the family room and watched National Geographic and felt like we were 85.

Meanwhile, Maria was having the time of her life at Grandma and Grandpa Ionno’s house with her cousin Alana. I am so glad Patty took them for the weekend because they are seeing less and less of each other as they get older. They are making their own friends which is great but I don’t want them to lose sight of each other. This is a little taste of the dress-up party happening up north…


Maria’s tough self never got the bug. She was fine leaving her family in the infested house and escaping to her grandma’s house. She got treated to Tim Horton’s (a girl’s morning out on Saturday) and to spaghetti and meatballs and to Grandma’s fine attire and shoes!


Jon’s reaction was priceless when he opened this picture Maria sent him.

“Holy cra-!”

My sentiments exactly. Sweatpants and sweatshirts for that girl from now on.

High Heels Only, Ma’am

Maria had two wishes for the start of her birthday.  The first was for me to not workout on the morning of her birthday so I could do her hair.  Piece of cake (she never lets me touch her hair so I was charged up about that one).

The second wish was for me to wear high heels when I walked into her school to drop her off.  Not such a piece of cake. 

“Mom, please wear high heels on my birthday. All the other moms wear fancy clothes and high heels.  None of them wear fancy clothes and gym shoes like you do, mom.  It’s embarrasing.”

Maria chatting with her friends at schoolYeah – I plainly see the start of the “embarassing mom syndrome” shining through her new 7-year old self.  I would never have imagined that I could embarass Maria by simply wearing gym shoes with my work outfits (now I know how to scare her!).  But then again this is the girl who finds my laugh embarrasing because it’s too loud (although she fails to see how loud her voice can boom when she wants it to).   

So, I stepped into my high heel shoes today and walked into Maria’s school.  My feet ached just from the half of a block that we walked (Maria had chosen my most stylish but least comfortable heels for me to wear).  Maria held her head up high as we passed her friends.  She pointed out my shoes to certain girlfriends who looked like they would be impressed with such a shoe selection.  I quickly changed into my gym shoes when I left her school, and when I came home tonight in my work outfit and gym shoes, Maria let out a deep sigh.

“Mom, what happened to the high heels I gave you this morning?!”

I felt like a teenager again being questioned about the rest of the $20 bill I received to get a $5 lunch. 

“My feet were killing me, Ri,” I responded.

“You have to get used to heels, mom. But I will let you wear flats to dinner tonight.”

She does love me….

Beauty Queens

Maria has a favorite little girlfriend at school named Janira.  She had been begging all weekend to have a play date with her on Sunday but time slipped away from us so I decided to surprise her and pick her and Janira up from Kids Club on Monday afternoon. 

Mairo and his beloved computerPoor Mario.  He went with me to pick the girls up and he asked while we opened the doors to the school “Why can’t I have a play date with Blakey?” Blake used to live three houses down from us at our old house and Mario loved him because he was always outside playing sports.  But Blake is 7 years old and is interested in boys his age much more than he is interested in a four-year old.  I explain to him that Blake may be busy with boys his age, and he just looks at me like I am speaking a foreign language (who wouldn’t want to play with me, mom?!).  I ask him if he wants to invite over boys from his preschool, like Ben or Grant.  His response is “Ben smells funny and Grant is too small.”  The most picky four-year old (or any year-old for that matter) I have met.  However, he quickly replaced his frown with a smile as soon as I told him he could play on my computer a while since Maria wanted alone time with Janira. 

Janira and Maria taking an ice cream sundae breakJanira’s mom is a make-up consultant.  She always looks impeccable.  Janira shares her mom’s love for make-up and fashion.  And Maria loves that about her.  Maria is enamored with Janira’s mom’s fashion sense – her tight jeans, her high heels, her jewelry (she begged me to wear high heels when I came to her school to read a book last week). When Janira and Maria get together, it is all beauty, all the time.  They are either playing barbies or painting nails or applying way too heavy of make-up.  One of their favorite activities when they are at our house is to do my make-up and paint my nails and dress me.  Janira’s mom would never let them touch her so I am the fall-back.  Maria knows I will do it if she just begs for 2.5 seconds.  When she gets older, she better remember this torture I went through for her.  Ok, so maybe it’s not that bad but I can think of a few other activities I would enjoy a bit better…. 

The girls came to get me for my appointment, and I headed upstairs with them to the Janira and Maria Beauty Store.  They described to me the different lotions they make themselves out of peppermint and vanilla and strawberry.  They detail the color of the lipstick they will apply and the numerous shades of eyeshadow that match my eyes.  Maria informs me that “Mary Kay” loves their products.  They are simply pros.  Even Katy Perry can’t stay away.  They put on three applications of lipstick, four shades of eyeshadow, blush, concealor, lotions, perfume.  They love spraying hair spray all over my hair using at least half of a bottle on my mane.  But I abide with the hope that I am nurturing their creative spirits (and Janira hooks me up with really good make-up when I get old and she owns her make-up studio (Maria will visit her when she is on the road between corporate engagements).  ALl in all, I must love Ri completely to let her do this to me:

Putting on my "fish" face for Mario while I sport my sweet hair and make-up



Toys R Us – Yoda

We woke today to slushy streets but thankfully, not a lot of ice.  I was able to manage a run (although my calves are sore from flexing them in order to avoid slipping in the slush), which makes all the difference in my day.  Everything gleamed throughout the neighborhood due to the fresh white snow on the ground.  My footsteps made the first marks of the day. 

Mario in his jeep

When I got home, the kids were outside with Jon shoveling the sidewalk.  Jon knows how to put them to work and they love it.  My stomach twisted up a bit when I drove up and saw them outside.  A good twist – a feeling of warmth and gratitude in having such a wonderful hubby and kids.  I like when that feeling creeps up on me.  The kids and I went inside and began our Saturday cleaning, which is still like pulling teeth.  Once we get the music started and begin picking up, the whining wears off but until then it was as if we told them they had to go work in the mines. 

We started with Mario’s room because Mario had a little accident in the middle of the night.  He came into our bedroom around 5 am to get his sleeping bag. I thought he had just woken up and wanted to use it but I should not have been so naive.  He must have changed out of his pants and dried himself off because the towel was in the middle of the hall and his pants were by the steps.  At least he didn’t call on Jon or me to do that for him like he used to a year ago. 

Maria being driven by her chauffeur in her Escalade

After cleaning, I made them work on their workbooks for 15 minutes.  Mario loves showing me how he can trace his letters; Maria loves trying to get an “A+” on each workbook page.  After they finished that task, we headed off to Toys R Us. I still have a $25 gift card that Maria got for her birthday about 2 years ago (it’s probably worth about $!0 now) and I told her she could get something little in honor of a great report card.  Mario earned himself a small toy, too, for helping to clean his room and finishing his ABCs (should I have dinged him for peeing in his bed!). 

When we first walked in Toys R Us, the kids’ mouths dropped at the massive amount of toys and games and movies and candy throughout the store.  At first, I thought about how amazing it must be to walk through the store as a kid – every toy you can imagine floating around the aisles for you to view.  I soon changed that thought and decided that Toys R Us is hell for kids because of all of the toys floating around and their desire to have every single one of them.  Maria went from wanting a Leapster game to a Barbie to a stuffed dog to a penguin to a ….  Mario was surprisingly not as crazed about the toys.  He planted himself in the toy cars aisle testing out the jeeps and four wheelers.  He also eyed the skateboards.   

Katy Perry in the making?

You tend to tune out the crying in Toys R Us because it is so prevalent.  Kids begging their parents for toys and upon hearing “no”, falling on the ground in pure distress.  Maria and Mario did not go there, thank goodness, because they know better.  Maria is well aware that she has a lot of “things” and if I tell her “no” on one more “thing” she typically takes it in stride and moves on.  That being said, after going through a lot of “no’s” with me, Maria found a Barbie “head” – one of those decapitated creatures with long blond hair that kids can braid and comb.  The thing was marked down 70% from Christmas so it was a steal.  I cracked up that she chose this toy as she absolutely detests to brush her own hair or get it brushed by anyone else.  She also detests anyone braiding her hair.  Maybe this toy will help her move towards that direction for once in her life. 

Mario got a set of army guys – those little green, plastic figures.  It came with a tank and truck, too.  All for $5.  Love that deal.  We also looked for Yoda.  I have loved Yoda for years and had an awesome little plastic figurine back in college (why wasn’t I more careful with stuff back then?).  I got another one as Fitness Director at the YMCA but lost him in one of my moves from Cincy to Columbus to Cincy to Columbus.  They had every Star Wars figurine except Yoda at Toys R Us.  I was so mad.  Sweet Maria who always takes care of me told me this story: “Mom, when I was at Target one day, a man asked someone where Yoga was in the toy aisle and that person said “Who’s Yoga?” Can you believe that someone doesn’t know who Yoda is?!”  She always tries to get me in a better mood.  And if there was a Yoda in the store, I am quite sure she would have bought it for me with her toy money. 

Me all dressed up, my fashion designer, and the popsicle eater

After Toys R Us, I got a welcome trip to Stauf’s to eat a black russian bagel and diet coke.  I read about Newt Gingrich’s win in South Carolina (UNbelievable!!) and felt sick to my stomach so I had to switch over to reading labor and employment articles (numb my mind).  When I got home, Maria begged me to help her braid her new doll’s head of hair.  That turned in to her begging to “dress me up”, which she has begged to do for weeks, and I have declined for weeks.  It was 6:30, cold, and I knew I would not be heading out again.  So what the hay.  Within a half an hour, I had eyeliner on my eyebrows, lipstick all over the lower half of my face, blush smeared on my cheeks, and nail polish on the top halves of my fingers.  Worse than that, she dressed me in my old orange dress that is tight and short with a pair of gray high heels.  She made me throw a white skirt under the dress since it was so short (this is Maria’s signature look – a skirt under a dress).  I just don’t understand how she can look at a well-made up woman and comment on how pretty she is but then lather me with crazy make-up and think I look good?!  She proudly took me downstairs and introduced me to the boys.  Mario’s response: “Will you marry me?”  He is going to be attracted to some winners (Jon’s response was “ugh” – much more appropriate).

It’s now close to 9:30 and Jon and I look forward to a half hour alone before we both can’t keep our eyes open and fall fast asleep with the hopes of no little ones crawling into our bed.

The Relief of a Good Drop-Off and Night with Family


Sitting on our bed post ready for school

I took Mario into daycare today with Maria.  We had a pretty good morning with a healthy dose of tv, waffles, play, self dress, and more tv.  I got home from my run and the kids were already dressed so they got to watch another show while I showered.  Mario also scored a cereal bar on the way out the door since I did not know how much he ate for breakfast.  On the way to the car, we stopped and looked at Cy’s poop , which is always a source of amazement and disgust (“Mom, do you smell it?!”).  Maria was once fascinated about it but she has since “grown” out of that stage and now just rolls her eyes each time Mario points it out as if she is 13 years old dealing with her babyish 2-year-old brother.  Mario also got to open the car door himself and get in his car seat himself.  Some mornings he could care less if I help him and other mornings when I go to swoop him up into the seat, he screams and cries as if a horrific, disgusting sea monster had just grabbed him with its tentacles and taken him out to sea.  He flails his body and growls and cries “Nooooo!”  And he can never recover.  He gets so angry that he cannot let go of the emotion for a long while.  Much longer than the time it takes to daycare.  So, this was a good morning because he climbed in the seat himself.  We sang “Free to Be You and Me” all the way to school, which really put me in a pleasant mood since it brings back times of my childhood. 

We pulled into school and took our time getting out of the car (another necessity because any type of hurried behavior can set Mario over the edge, too).  I kept telling Mario about all the fun things they were going to do at school today like water play and telling time.  Maria even helped me out.  She can totally read when I need her to help me.  As we walked down the preschool hall, I chirped “everyone wants to be in Mr. Parks’ room!”  Maria looked at me and without hesitation exclaimed “I wish I could be in your classroom, Mario – that would be cool!” even though I know that she really would not want to be in that classroom.  That is my girl. 

We got some animals from Maria’s room that Mario loves to play with and took them to his room.  Finally, we waltzed down to Amanda’s room to say to his old teacher and then waltzed back to preschool.  After all of that, Mario stood in his classroom as I said goodbye and did not ball and wail and cry hysterically.  Yippee!  It only took an extra hour of time and nonstop codling.  We are set now! 

Seriously, though, I do think I would stand on my head on a bed of nails in order to see Mario happy in his preschool room.  It just makes my day so much easier.  I can get more done, my mood is up, my mind is uncluttered.   Jon has drop off duty tomorrow so hopefully it will go just as well.

The kiddies from our weekend get together where they learned how much fun the hose is to play with in this heat

We had a great night tonight with visiting brothers and sisters-in-law and nieces and nephews and cousins.  Maria’s two older cousins, Emi and Elly, are fantastic to have around because they are so good with Maria and Mario.  M&M adore them, too.  We also had Maria’s newest cousin over to the house, Dagmawit.  Jon’s brother, Kevin and his wife Margie adopted her from Ethiopia recently and it was her first time to visit us.  She is a gem of a kid.  She and Maria are very similar in personality – opinionated, direct, and strong-willed.  Maybe it has to do with their moms’ personalities! 

Mario in his dress, headband, make-up and shoes - What a trooper!

The girls dressed Mario up in girl clothes and smothered him in make-up.  Mario is the good sport through it all even modeling for us as he came outside.  Maria and Dagmawit got dolled up by Emi and Elly.  After dinner, they all threw on bathing suits and played in the baby pool with the hose.  The adults actually got to talk together for an hour without being interrupted every 15 seconds.  Very strange….

I love nights like tonight – surrounded by family, good food and drink, great conversation, laughter.  The night even ended well with Maria and Mario on my lap in the rocking chair making up stories about baby bunnies and giraffes who fall in love.  Life is good.