Tender Mario moves

I woke up the other morning to a horrible cough. This happens to me more often as I get older. I can’t catch my breath and as I try to take a deep inhale, I cough worse. Anyway, my coughing woke Mario up from his sleep (he had had a nightmare earlier in the evening and we allowed him to sleep in our bed). It was a good thing it did because it was 7 AM and a school day. Mario jumped out of bed to head into our bathroom to take a shower. I heard him turn on the water faucet, and opened one eye when I felt him standing next to me a second later. He whispered “here mom, take a drink.” It was such a tender gesture from him. I grabbed the cup and watched him head back into the bathroom.

I came home from work a few days ago and Mario popped up from the downstairs. He gave me a big hug and told me he did the dishes. I looked in the sink and sure enough, they were all washed and placed haphazardly in the plastic drainer on the left side of the sink. After Mario washes bowls, he places them right side up so the water remains in them. It drives me crazy but I won’t complain since he took the initiative to do the dishes in the first place.

We finally got to Dick’s Sporting Goods this weekend to get Mario a new pair of gym shoes. He is definitely his mother’s child when it comes to his love for gym shoes. His Adidas were completely worn down with a hole in the toe and huge rip in the heel lining. He eyed quite a few basketball shoes before he chose his black and gold LeBrons (he knew I could not say no to anything LeBron-related). After he got his shoes from the salesman, he led me over to the women’s running shoe area. He was set on getting me a pair as well. I told him that I was good to go and we were just there to get him shoes. But, he was adamant that he wanted me to be able to experience the joy of getting a new pair of shoes as well.

On Saturday morning, I was lifting weights at the gym when I saw Mario’s number pop up. I answered the phone and he asked where I was. I told him I was at the gym, and he told me that he would walk to Stauf’s with me when I got home. The offer to walk to Stauf’s with me is equivalent to an offer to give me $25K. I would take the walk and time at Stauf’s over cash any day.

Mario and I walked to school together last week. I dropped him off to the basketball game. We talked about his favorite songs and about his plan to watch a movie a week this Summer with his buddies. As we talked and walked, he reached for my hand and held as we continued our stroll down the street. No big gesture on his part – just a gentle embrace of his left hand with my right as he continued his conversation with me.

We were eating dinner the other night – Jon and Mario and I (Maria was at dance club) – and out of nowhere Mario blurted out “I have the best mom – she plays basketball with me and always has fun.” Then he continued to eat his pasta and talk about roller skating in gym class.

Monkey man

Mario wanted to go to the park badly yesterday. He has been missing his buddies down the street this Summer; they have been staying at a cabin in Hocking Hills most of Summer break. Last year, they were inseparable so he’s not quite sure what to do with himself this Summer. However, he surely knows what to do when I’m around. Beg me to take a bike ride or go to the park. He doesn’t have to beg long, however, because he knows I’m game if the activity involves being outdoors. 

We walked up to the park; actually, I walked and Mario rode his electric scooter – his prized possession. He told me he wanted to do Parkour. Ok, I thought. I’m game for some exercise. 

Oh my.

I knew Mario was a monkey but didn’t realize how much strength it takes to perform some of the activities he does effortlessly. For example, scaling up a fireman’s pole. You need some arm strength to scale that bad boy. We did it three times in a row and I thought death was upon me. Then we did those darn monkey bars. They have always been the death of me since I was little. They hurt my shoulders but they kill my hands. Mario got such a kick out of me crying about how much my hands hurt; he couldn’t imagine how they could hurt so badly since his didn’t hurt at all. 

I finally understand Jon’s complaints to me when I make him walk miles and miles – it doesn’t bother me so why should it bother him? 

I finally had to call it quits on the monkey bars (after going across about 20 times) because I had a blood blister on one hand and two nasty pussed-up blisters on the other. 


Mario agreed to cease activity on the monkey bars but we had to do jump ups on to the slide before we called it a day. He has quite a career in exercise training if he wants to go down that path but I think half his clientele will quit before they have to climb those bars along side him. His inner monkey is too much to handle. 

Why I’m in shape

Even though I run and lift weights and do yoga, that is not what keeps me in shape. These three keep me in shape.

The pup goes nuts in the house if I don’t take him on at least two runs a day. This is a sign that the run was long enough.

As for Ri and Mario, they require a different energy. They are not so much into running outdoors as they are into indoor play. It is this type of play that is ten times more tiring than my Rocco runs.
Our first game was an obstacle course created by Ri. We had to toss a football ten times. If it dropped before you hit ten passes you had to start again. Then you had to hold a sticky pad and throw a ball to one another ten times without dropping it. After you did that, you had to connect the sticky pad with your teammate’s sticky pad and jump on separate chairs. Then you jump off the chairs and climb under the table together and then run into the family room to find the hidden potato. There were three different teams: Maria and I; Mario and I; and Mario and Ri. The person not playing kept time. It took Ri 15 minutes to explain the rules to us. After playing that game several times, we moved onto a board game, Life. Life has changed since I was little. I don’t remember “Action” cards. Each time you land on a blank space you pick up an Action card. This takes the game from a sitting game to a moving game because the Action cards require you to “show off your dance moves” or “walk the catwalk.” Seriously, what happened to spinning the wheel and moving your car?

After an hour of Life, we moved onto body jumping. Yea. You lie down on your stomach on the bed. Then you get covered with blankets and pillows. Then someone jumps on top of you. What fun!


Finally, we ended the night of “games” with a tickling bout. Basically, Ri and I tickling Mario who loves the torture. Oh, and a piggy back ride for each kid to their respective rooms to get in their pjs. No gym could offer a class as good.

Roller skating

I vaguely remember roller skating as a young girl. I don’t think there was a rink near my house so if it wasn’t within walking distance, I was typically out of luck. I don’t remember particularly hating or loving skating. What I remember is the strobing lights and the music. The sweet top-40 tunes streaming from the speakers and the blue and white and and red and green lights circling around the rink. I remember feeling happy and I remember feeling giddy when love songs would come on and all of us girls would stand around giggling while sneaking peeks at the boys. It was all so new and wildly strange.
All these feelings came rushing back to me as I stepped into US Skates with Ri and Mario this week. They were playing top-40 songs and the lights were strobing. Holy cow – what a blast from the past. These skating rinks have not changed in 30 years. They still play the same genre of music, have the same wood floors, the same leather skates, the same goofy employees with their serious monitoring of the roller rink like they are overseeing the Royal Palace, and the same painted cement walls to grip when you are about to fall on your face.
Ri did surprisingly well on the skates. She started slow but moved up her pace as time wore on.



Mario did good, too but he wanted to keep “moving up” in skates. They had “speed skates” for $1.50 extra and he begged for those. He tried those and swore he went faster (even though he really didn’t). Then he wanted roller blades to try out. He begged and begged for me to buy the blades after he saw a sign saying “we sell skates.”



He finally got through his head that we were not buying skates and sulked a bit but then he couldn’t resist taking one more round on the roller rink with Ri and I. As I glided along the far side of the rink and watched Ri and Mario working hard to skate and balance on the other side, I chuckled at how crazy life was: here I was at age 42 back on the rink like I never left – still loving the lights and getting down with the top-40 music, and watching my kids jam in their little heads as they rolled around and around the rink.



Pumping it up


I have further confirmation that Mario is my son. Previous confirmation: his desire to take a run first thing in the morning; his love of chocolate donuts; his hatred of driving long distances; and his crazy personality. Present confirmation: his love of a P90X workout at 8 in the morning. Nothing like watching your five-year old pump up his biceps and do V sit-ups as you get ready to head to work.

His reason for doing them: “to be the strongest boy in his Kindergarten.” I love ya, kid.


Can’t sit still but I’ll be around longer!

I have finally been vindicated with the MSNBC article out today.  My A-D-D and obsessive compulsiveness around never sitting still is going to allow me to live longer!  Maybe only by a year or two, but still.  That is two more years of enjoying UDF peanut butter-n-chip ice cream, biking on 70 degree days, and watching peach sunsets like the one we saw last night driving home from Cincy.  

I got Maria off the couch tonight and biking down to the park with me.  Mario ran around like a nutcase all day so he chose to ride with me on my bike.  I couldn’t resist him pleading to ride with me when I look at him in his little muscle shirt.  Those tiny little biceps and triceps hanging next to his side.  Eat him up.  And Maria’s little running shorts and t-shirt – she swears my attire off but little does she see how much she dresses like me. 

We moved around all night long – trying out the monkey bars and running down the huge grassy hill.  We could finally breathe since it was only 84 degrees compared to the 100 degrees it had been for the last few days.  I love these types of nights – biking to the park and spending time outdoors – I will take that over a car and sitting inside any day.  So here is to more research on the benefits of moving around a lot – I will be your test bunny!

Maggie Goes on a Diet, Seriously?

Is there really a book out there geared towards 6 year-olds going on a diet?  You betcha.  Why stop with women’s magazines that tout thin, blemish-free, flawless women or teen magazines that tout the same for young girls?  Might as well get 6 year-old girls into the mix so they can learn early what is beautiful in this society.  I could not believe my eyes when I saw the book Maggie Goes on a Diet.  A portly little girl standing in front of a mirror holding up a tiny pink dress and looking at it longingly. 

The author (male) justifies his book by stating “Maggie does want to look better. She does want to feel better and she does not want to be teased.” He argued that the book addressed “the issues that kids face today.”  But as the author of the article states, why couldn’t you show Maggie playing soccer or eating fruit versus staring at herself in the mirror while holding a size 0 pink dress in her arms?  By putting her at the mirror, you are reinforcing the notion that the reason to diet is to be able to fit in those size 0 dresses because it is only then that you are beautiful. 

This country has an obesity problem that needs to be controlled – no doubt.  Kids need to be more active and eat healthier foods.  But the reason for doing so is to be healthy so that you can run and jump and climb hills and not get diabetes.  Not to ensure that you look like the model on Cosmopolitan.  And the word diet has such a negative connotation for girls and women.  It denotes nothing related to health but rather everything related to body size and superficial beauty.  I can’t imagine a book like this being written by a woman. 

After having seen Maria go through the name-calling at her pre-school and Kindergarten, it saddens me to see this book in print.  I think there is a much better way to address being healthy.  I don’t know this author and he could have very well been trying to show how Maggie could feel better by eating better and exercising but he has a responsibility to think hard about how his words and images will be felt, especially by 6 year olds.  Maria could not understand why kids would call her “fat” or “big.”  It made her retreat from activities and feel self-conscious.  Those comments, thankfully, have stopped for the most part.  She would never talk that way about anyone else; she has learned from her experience.  She understands what it means to be healthy and why we don’t shovel food in our mouth – because when we do so we don’t feel good and its hard to move and we get tired….  We exercise in order to be able to keep in shape and move when we want to move and climb up mountains when we want to climb and ride our bike for miles when we want to do so.  

Maria is gorgeous and strong and happy, and we work hard to keep her on that path.  This book has no place on her shelf.