Party Girl

I do believe that if Ri could spend every weekend at a friend’s house, she’d do it. She would not long to be home with us or cry for Jon or me in the middle of the night. She is a party gal.

She had to go to the Ox a Roast festival on the opening night – Thursday. She completely forgot that it was her brother’s birthday. I called the mom she was with over and over with no luck and then finally drove down to get her. And I see the two of them “hanging out” with plastic cups of lemonade (can we keep that beverage in those cups at age 18, please?). They were giggling and running around and loving life. I will give Ri credit – when I reminded her it was Mario’s birthday, she felt bad and wanted to run home. She continued to party it up for Mario’s birthday – getting all of his gifts lined up for him and singing as he opened them. >


She stole a big ol’ hug from Mario after he opened her present and demanded a smooch from him.

She made sure we placed seven candles in his chocolate donuts (she wanted to give him seven donuts) and brought him in to sing to him.


She got invited to a sleepover at Anna’s house on Friday night. Anna was under the weather a bit so they stayed home and skipped the Ox Roast. I texted Anna’s mom on Saturday to see how things were and she informed me that Ri didn’t want to come home. Lovely. Eventually, Anna and Ri came to our house and begged to go to the Ox Roast. I packed us up and we headed down for a wild and crazy night.
Mario ran around trying to find Quinn. He’s at the age where I don’t quite need to watch over his every move but I also am not comfortable just letting him go on his own all night. Ri, on the other hand, is at the age where the thought of me walking with her absolutely makes her quiver in embarrassment. I am slowly coming around to the idea that she can walk around on her own as long as it is a small area and I am present somewhere in that small area (it also took a couple of weeks to feel comfortable about her walking up the street alone to meet friends to walk to school – ugh!). So Ri and Anna took off on their own while I kept an eye on Mario.
And what’s the first thing he did? Win a goldfish. Petco has got to love the Ox Roast because every kid wins a fish and therefore needs a tank and food and accessories. Mario showed his fish off and then moved on to the rides. He found Quinn and rode a few with him.

He loves the wheel at the end of the Wacky House because he can run with all his might and not go anywhere. He thinks it’s hilarious. The guy running the House thought Mario was hilarious and let him stay in it for a long time.

As he was running nowhere, Anna came rushing over to me screaming “Maria’s in the dunk tank!” Huh? I didn’t even know there was one. I grabbed her hand and ran over to the tank. There Ri was – all in pink, arms crossed, ready to get dunked.

A couple of boys from her grade tried to get her (Will and Danny) but the quarterback of the football team achieved success. She loved it and got right back in line to do it again. Party animal.


Mario wanted to dunk her so badly and got her on his first try.

He then moved into line with Ri. Now, Mario loves to party, too but he hates getting wet. This is the kid who flipped out when his shorts got wet on the log flume at Kings Island. But he kept swearing to me that he’d be fine. He eventually got up on the seat and waited to be dunked.

I believe the quarterback got him, too. As soon as he walked over to me afterwards, I saw him soaked and shivering.
“Mom, I wish I could reverse time and have listened to you.”
That is a rare admission and I soaked it up. I called Jon to come get him as we continued to watch Ri and her girlfriends get dunked over and over again.

I eventually made Ri and Anna leave with me at 9 pm since Jon was at home watching the football game and I wanted to relax a bit with him. They sulked for a second but then dragged their feet to the car. Ri partied it up for a bit when we got home while Mario conked out on the couch immediately (that running to nowhere wore him out). Ri passed out after a bit on the chair.
The next morning, she came into my bedroom a bit bleary-eyed and stood next to me.
“Mom, can we go to the new MarketPlace and get some muffins. I need food in my stomach.”
Spoken like a true party girl. >

Labor Day Chaos

I am feeling this past weekend as I turn off my watch alarm clock that I purposefully set even later this morning with the hopes I’d climb out of bed and take a run. But the magnetic power of Ri on my right side and Mario on my left and Jon on the far right (thank god for king sized beds) drew me closer to the sheets and farther from my running shoes.

In my twenties, this would have happened because of a night of partying: shots devoured, beer guzzled, and feet moving to the beat. Now this happens because of traveling all over the state with kids in tow visiting relatives, swimming, playing, and stopping at McDonald’s for rest room breaks every thirty minutes. It’s exhausting. But we’ll worth it.

Mario rocked out his football game on Saturday with two touchdowns and two pulled flags. He was a superstar. Jon and I were so charged up for him because he had been getting so mad at practice about not getting the ball. I was like a crazed woman out on the field screaming like a lunatic for him. I can’t imagine what I will be like when he’s older.




We left for Cincy later in the day with the hopes of heading to my old grade school’s festival and seeing some friends. Unfortunately, as soon as we hit the outskirts of Cincy a sheet of grey covered us and lightning and thunder came clammoring down on us. I hate driving in that weather and proceeded to white knuckle it to my mom’s house. Mario was fascinated with the lightning letting me know every time he saw a flash. Ri kept me in line: when I whispered “shit” under my breath after a car jerked in front of me, she scolded “listen lady, you need to replace that “i” with an “o” so you say shoot and not the bad word.

Lou and mom and Rod greeted us at the door with a tasty sheet cake awaiting us. We couldn’t wait to dig into it so we had Gracie and Liz over and sang happy birthday to Mario. He took forever to think of a wish but eventually blew out the candles so we could eat the world’s best food: sheet cake.




The cousins played downstairs together for a while so mom and I could catch up on her new third shift schedule. I’m amazed at how well Grace and Ri and Mario get along. They played barbies and watched Spongebob (tv always bonds, heh?). At about 8:30, mom and I decided to head over to Nativity festival with the hopes it wasn’t canceled even though it was still raining. No luck. But we did get to go inside and see where I used to have lunch and music class. I was more excited to see it than the kids.

We made up for the disappointment of the festival by heading to Skyline at 9:15 at night. Nothing like 4-ways and coney dogs right before bed.


One thing about my mom’s house is that she has really dark shades so you can’t tell when the sun has risen. On the other hand, she has Lou who inevitably pushes the bedroom door with his nose and let’s the light in that way. He performed that trick at 6:45 am on Sunday morning. I rose to go downstairs with the kids and had that feeling I typically get on weekend mornings when we rise that early: “how am I gonna get through this whole day??”

But we started it out well walking with the pups through the Timbers. Mario got to pet other dogs and Ri got to walk Willie. And our reward was home-made goetta and pancakes from Aunt Julie. Ri is such the Cincy girl – she loves goetta more than any other meat. After breakfast, we walked to the park with Grace. The kids performed shows for us at the amphitheater and swung on the swings. Mario helped me push Grace and Ri tried to morph into a two year old by squeezing herself into a baby swing. I was so irritated trying to get her out but had to laugh when she exclaimed “I’m making progress mom – I almost have one cheek out!” The girl is a trip. We eventually got her freed and she stayed away from the swings the rest of the time. Mario loved the creek. He must have thrown ten different sized sticks in the water to see if they would all go down the waterfall. The heavier ones didn’t and he noted that by sticking his finger in the air and calling himself a “great scientist!”



After the park, we got treated to some Aunt Jane and Julie time…and we got treated to round two of cake and ice cream. Ri and Mario don’t know how lucky they are to have such a supportive and loving family. It warms my heart to see the aunts who helped raise me help me raise my kiddos.


Next up, swimming! Thankfully, the kids wanted to go to the Timbers pool rather than Blue Ash so we threw on our suits and crossed the street. Mario showed off his dives and Ri and Gracie made a huge contraption with noodles.


Our last dip in the pool until next year. We dropped ourselves in the bath after the pool and finally got the stink off Mario’s feet. He doesn’t wear socks with his shoes (“they don’t feel good with socks”) so his feet and shoes are disgusting. After baths, we reluctantly left the Timbers to head home. My mom was rightfully exhausted after our tornados came through but she always misses us as soon as we leave. Meg and Patty feel the same. You can’t wait for some peace and quiet but then you can’t wait for some chaos again.

I was a few hundred feet from the highway home when I made a brash call to head to Nativity’s festival. I had to let Mario play Big Six. It was my favorite game as a kid and he was so excited about winning money. He loved it just as much as I did. Ri was ready to stop gambling after she won some quarters but Mario got bit by the bug and it took all my night to pull him away. They both ended up pocketing quarters in the end, and I lost $20. Never fails.


The kids and I and Jon met back at the house at 10 pm and we all crashed hard. 5 am came way too early but I did my sisterly duty and picked up Sarah at the Mega Bus station at 5:30 am. And what did we do at 5:45 am when we got home? Went for a five mile run. Why not? It was actually a wonderful run with the moon shining over us. It almost makes me want to get up at that time every morning… but then it doesn’t.
We hit Stauf’s at 8 am with Jorge and dogs in tow. Again, I looked at my watch and thought “I’ve been going since 5 am and I have an entire day left to go. Ahhhh!” But it only got better from there.

We drove up to Marion to have a family celebration at Patty’s house with all of Jon’s brothers and some of their kids. We also visited Jon’s dad in the rehab center. The kids love seeing their cousins. It never ceases to amaze me how close they are even when we don’t see each other for months. They fished on the bridge into the pond, swam at the country club, and played in the basement. Maria cried and cried when we had to leave. I got to chat with Jon’s brothers and wives and Sherry and Micah and reminisce about old times and laugh about new ones (Micah and Sherry and Mario comparing biceps size (Sherry won)). Patty and I got to experience Mario holding her hand as we walked through the rehab center and saying “this is a nice place for grandpa to be.” It broke her heart. And Maria giving a gentle peck on Joe’s cheek when we left for the night. We have some sensitive, empathetic kids.





And here I am on Tuesday night forgetting about the lethargy I felt this morning and grateful for all of my family and the joy they contribute to this one amazing life.

Three Days of Ox

Maria is at a new stage in her life where she gets excited about school festivals because “her friends will be there.”

We had our community annual Ox Roast on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this weekend. On Thursday, she begged me to take her and her friend to the Roast. I had just suffered an atrociously long day at work but I remembered being her age and looking so forward to these festivals to play and hang out with friends. So I agreed.

There weren’t too many other sucker parents down there! But the girls had a blast after spending $25 on “all you can ride” wristbands for them. I drew the line at the $5 games where you try to shoot in a hole or toss a bag in bucket because we rarely win and when we do, the prize is cherished for three minutes and then tossed.

Maria loved rock climbing – she got to the top easily (even in flats!).


She went on the swings because her friend begged her. Unfortunately, she is inflicted with her mom’s intolerance for circular motion at high speed. She looked green after that ride. So we chilled it out with the calm slide and more rock climbing.


When Ri’s stomach was still little queasy, we went real low key with the baby bathtub ride. I didn’t think Ri would ever still go on this ride but she surprised me (her stomach probably begged her). It took me back to when she was a toddler.


I finally dragged them out of there at 8:45 and we grabbed some nutritious fair food on the way.

On Friday morning, Mario found out that Ri had gone to the festival. He cried and cried about not going. So, I promised to take him Friday night. Yeah, I’m a sucker. Ri and Mario and I got on our bikes and headed down to the Roast after I got home from work. I knew that we’d be back on Saturday so I put my foot down on wristbands. I allowed them to ride on two rides each and then they scored a free ride on the slide because of a change in shifts. Mario found the cotten candy booth and they engorged themselves on extra big sticks of goo.



On Saturday, Maria had a party for one of her classmates at 2:00. I thought that she may be tired after that party and want to chill. Yeah right. We came home and her and Mario begged for more Ox Roast. I thought maybe there would be a prize for hitting it three nights in a row but the only prize was spending a boat load of cash on rides and bounceys, and food. Not really, the prize was letting the kids have these experiences, watching them laugh, letting them boost their courage (Mario went down the slide without me for once!), and teaching them that life is what you make it. When I wouldn’t let them play the $5 games, they whined for a minute but then I told them about everything else that was there and they quickly let it go and ran to the swings to play.

I was spent on Saturday night when we got home at 9:30 but it was a good kind of spent like when you run a fast race or work for hours in the yard. Documentation of the fun:





Summer festivals

In the tub!

The St. Christopher festival went live at 6 pm last night.  We arrived by 7 pm.  Jon and I grew up with catholic school festivals since we both attended catholic schools from 1st grade through high school, and we both have an affiliation for their festivals.  Gambling, beer, and duck ponds – does it get any better?  Maria and Mario will not be heading down the catholic school road because of Grandview’s awesome public schools but they can still enjoy the festivals – and boy do they!
As soon as we walked up to the gate, the kids spotted the rides and begged to head right to them.  The bouncy house has always been a hit with them, and it did not fail them last night.  Mario kept bouncing near a little girl in order to see her fall.  Wicked little guy.  I finally had to chastise him in front of all of the parents and he cooled it somewhat (until us parents went back to talking and I saw him inching closer out of the corner of my eye).  Maria climbed out with two more minutes of time left.  I asked her if she had fun and she responded “Yeah, mom, my hip just hurt.”  God, she is Jon’s child!

After the bouncy house, we strolled past a climbing wall (these festivals are going up-scale)!  Mario immediately ran towards it and the carni-man asked him if he wanted to try it.  Mario did.  I thought that he would scale up that wall in two minutes with as tiny as he is and as strong as he is but instead he stopped after the first foot hold scared to death.  He explained to the carni-man “I will do it some other time.”  God love him.  He chooses his risk-taking activities wisely.  I asked Maria if she wanted to try it and she did, too.  They strapped her in and up she went.  She had some hesitation at first but as soon as I yelled to her that she was beating a boy on the other side, something hit home.  She had on flip-flops so it was hard to grip the foot holds  but she made it 3/4 of the way up the wall before she lost her footing and came down with a large surprised smile on her face.  Again, what a joy I get from observing  my courageous, intrepid daughter. 

We hit the tub ride (Maria’s and Mario’s favorite for years) and the inflatable house before getting two rainbow sno-cones and calling it a night.  Tonight is the big night because dad has agreed to come with us.  We have already reserved the climbing wall for dad to climb – Mario announced when we left the wall last night “My daddy could climb to the top of that wall because he is really strong.”  Nothin’ like some pressure, babe!

Fun Fair 2011

M&M at the 2010 fun fest!We went to the annual Family Fun Fest today for the second year in a row (the picture to the left is of M&M after getting their face painted like cats last year; despite their looks, they did have a blast!). 

Once again, I left more exhausted than I am after a ten-mile run.  The middle school gym is filled with frantic kids trying to get to every game and activity in the place.  There was the annual toilet paper throw with boarded up toilet seats as the target; the coconut roll; the duck pond; and the basketball free-throw zone. 

The b-ball zone was Mario’s dream come true.  He would not leave it.  Luckily, the male volunteer in charge of that game took a liking to little Mario and let him take a few shots in between other contestants taking their shots.   He stayed in that one area even though there was a bouncey house, a football toss and the almighty toilet paper toss nearby.  Maria and I were cracking up. 

Maria did not surprise me with her actions at the fair.  She is like clockwork.  She walked in and immediately bolted over to the sand art (putting colored sand in a plastic figurine necklace).  Next, she moved to the painting exercise but it had a line so she quickly moved on (she has her mother’s patience).  She headed over to the cupcake and cookie table and checked out the goods.  I had my eye on her knowing what was to come. 

Mario at the fun fair with the green octopus he chose!

“Mom, can I get two snacks; I am so hungry.” Of course I give in justifying that it is a festival after all.  She chooses the purple cupcake and iced cookie.  Mario nabs a brownie, and heads back to the b-ball game.  Maria shuffles to and from a few games for about ten minutes, and then asks for another snack.  “No way, you have to wait a little longer.  We’ll get a hot dog in a bit.”  She finds a friend soon thereafter and they go in the bounce house together and run around the gym.   I am finally able to drag Mario from the b-ball game by having the volunteer pretend that they are closing up the game up for the day.  He helps me put away the balls and holds off the other kids until Mario and I are out of the door.  God love him.

We found the face-painting area on our way out.  Maria chose an ice cream cone and Mario chose an octopus.  Mario spent five minutes after the painting admiring his octopus in the little mirror they gave him.  Maria told me she got a chocolate ice cream cone just for me, and then added “Now, can we get a hot dog or a treat?”  She knows how to reel me in…

We went to the food table and they were sold out of hot dogs.  Maria glared at me with tears forming quickly and shouted “It is all your fault – we should have come over here when I first asked, mom!”  I attributed the outburst to half exhaustion and half a longing for festival food.  As I stood there trying to help Mario put on his shoe, she spotted the cupcake table.  Her anger at me soon ceased.  “Mom, may I please get one more snack since they don’t have a hot dog?” Sweet as can be (she really does know how to work it).  I bought her a small cookie.  Mario refused any more sweets because “they have a lot of sugar which won’t make me grow.”  Jon and I have been telling him this so that he will eat more veggies and fruits and every once in a while it works.  Rather than worry about food, Mario beamed at the sweat that he had built up from playing basketball.  “I look like you mom after you come home from a run!” 

Maria with her ice cream painting.

 We strolled home in the light drizzle without saying a word – the excitement of the fun fair blowing us away for a second year in a row.

Family Fun Fest, aka Parents’ Torment

Yes, we waited all week for Family Fun Fest.  The kids, because they were excited about the games and toys; me, because I was excited to have an event to go to for a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon (although, I had no idea that the weather would break today and reach a high of 45 degrees, which after weeks and weeks of below freezing temperatures feels like a Florida heat wave!) 

Unfortunately, as soon as we walked into the school, there was a table full of brownies, cookies, cakes, and donuts.  Maria’s and Mario’s eyes and feet both dashed to the table.  Mario proceeded to touch about three different cupcakes and five cookies, which I was then forced to buy.  Of course, Maria did not want any of the ones he touched – she wanted the brownies with the chocolate sky-high frosting (she is my daughter).  Why does every school fest have to have loads and loads of sugar for sale?  I know, it is the easiest thing for parents to make and sell (can’t really imagine a table full of hummus and pita – although the parents would probably pay $5 a shot for some of that after spending an hour running after their kids and the PTA would make more in one sale than in fifty cookie sales – but I diverge…). 

After scarfing down our sugar treats, Maria and Mario spot the face painting, which

The stunned kitty and the whiskered boy

they both gravitate to at any festival that we attend.  Maria became a very cool cat and Mario became a clown with whiskers.  I think Mario’s face painter wanted to meet up with her guy friends so she slapped a little red on his nose and stroked the brush a few times on his cheeks.  Poor guy.  Thank god it was him and not Maria because she would have had a fit (nothing but the best for that girl). 

We continued to travel around the lunch room making random sand necklaces and tie dye paintings, and then headed to the gym for some duck pond and bean bag tossing.   It is funny to see the parents.  I think it is fair to say that we all dread being at these things.  Who wouldn’t?  Kids running around trying to find their friends; toddlers screaming because they want to play a game and they have to wait in line; preschoolers crying because they lost a game and didn’t get any prize tickets; and all the kids whining and pleading for more candy, more cookies, and more game money. 

But yet, we are all there.  Suckers among suckers.  Wondering why the hell we thought it would be a good idea to go to this thing.  In the middle of the week when you have cooked mac-n-cheese for the third time, and have sat in the same living room watching the same Scooby Doo for the third time, and have heard “what can we do, mom” for the fiftieth time, you start to hallucinate and think that a Family Fun Fest would be a joy!  Then the day comes and you try to remember what was going on in your head mid-week to make you become so delusional. 

At least other parents noticeably feel your pain.  They all shakes their heads with you, make sarcastic slight comments about how much fun it is, breathe heavy when their kids beg for five more minutes in the gym, and every so often, scream under their breath at their kid who will stop at nothing to throw that bean bag one more time. 

This is an event that should undoubtedly be taped for our children to let them know what hell we went through in order to allow them to funnel sand into plastic bottles, spray paint onto spinning paper, and throw toilet paper into a toilet seat rim mounted on a piece of a wood (yes, that was a game).  

We should be able to use this as Evidence 101 when they are arguing to us that they should not have to come visit us in the nursing home or they should not have to help us figure out how the ten electronic gadgets work together to turn on the tv.  We bucked it up for you so now you repay it to us! 

Maria and her jar of 1238 M&Ms

I have to admit that the day ended with a bang when we got a call from the Festival volunteer informing us that Maria had guessed the closest amount of M&Ms in a jar so we had won a prize!  My heart dropped.  Yeah, I am serious – I am such a sucker for any game.  I walked up to the school to collect our prize, which not only contained a bunch of goofy Nerf toys but a Mama Mimi’s pizza certificate (yummy!) and the entire jar of 1238 M&Ms.  I thought I had died and goe to heaven when they told me we got to keep the jar of M&Ms.  I will be pumped full of chocolate for weeks.  And Maria was just as charged when I brought the gifts home to her – she looked at the Nerf toys for a mini-second but then reached out for that jar of M&Ms, eyes full and glazed, smile filling her entire face.  “Ahh” she sighed.  Yeah, that is my girl.