A Blink of an Eye

The other day, I was standing outside of Stauf’s talking to an older woman while Mario petted and loved on her puggle (half pug/half beagle). The woman’s 20-something son walked out of Stauf’s and she looked at him and then at Mario.

“Enjoy your time with your son because pretty soon he will look like my son. The years go by with a blink of the eye.”

If I’ve gained any wisdom in these parenting years, it is too more fully take in and appreciate these days with my young kids. They are at the perfect ages: smart and inquisitive and able to engage in full conversations but still wanting hugs and to hold hands as you walk down the street. 

The last two weekends, I have gotten full-on M&M time, and it has put me in such a good mood for back-to-work Mondays. They are both hilarious in their own right with their completely unique senses of humor and takes on life. And they get along pretty daggone well most of the time. 

Last weekend, we took a walk with Rocco to  Edison Park. He flipped out with the kids on the swings. He bites at their ankles as if he doesn’t understand they are part of their bodies. We were relegated to the jungle gym and non-swing activities so he’d stay calm. Ri came up with an obstacle course thanks to her Coach Amy, who had created a similar course for Ri’s soccer team during practice. Ri and Mario had me time them each time they ran it – each one wanting to beat the other’s newest time. 

After the park, we drove to the garden shop to buy flowers for our front door planters and seeds for the kids to plant flowers of their choosing. Mario found a Venus fly trap plant and was totally enamored with it. Ri found a dainty cactus in a pink artistic pot. It was a perfect day for gardening. I let the kids off on their own to plant their seeds while I mowed for the first time in 2017. God only knows if the kids planted the seeds far enough in the ground or far enough a part. We will find out in May, I guess. I promised them a pedicure if they helped me garden so when they were done, they begged me to go. I asked them for 20 more minutes so they decided to have a water fight in the meantime. The first water fight of the year, too!

We had to hit the doggie day spa after the water fight because Rocco rubbed his entire drenched body through the dirt lining our flower beds. 

After cleaning up the two kids and the dog, we finally made it to the salon. On the way there, Mario told me I need a new car (he tells me this every time we get in the car). I explained to him that my car is perfectly fine. He then informed me he’s getting a Lamborghini when he is 16. Yea, ok. Maria tries to talk sense into him, too, but it’s no use. He swears he’s gonna have the best of everything. I told him he better invent something that gives him millions or get in the NBA. He looks at me like “duh, not a problem. I got it.” 

Of course, with his love of luxury, he thoroughly enjoyed his pedicure. Ri and I kept looking over at him cracking up because he was fully relaxed in his massage chair reading his magazine and enjoying the foot scrub. He went for gold nail polish as well (which totally reminded me of Dennis Rodman), but he quickly asked the woman to remove it after she put it on. 

After the pedicure, we went home to roller skate and roller blade down the hills. Ri was smooth as always while Mario jerked and fell on his blades. But he kept trying. He loved the hills once he could take off his blades and use his electric scooter. He’d fly down the hill and then watch for cars so Ri could skate down. She flew, too, but I had a bit fewer heart palpitations after the Pittsburgh hill craziness. 

We wrapped up the evening watching a couple of episodes of blackish, and called it a night. 

Yesterday, it was much colder than last Saturday. Therefore, no gardening was in order. However, we did get another trip to Edison in with Rocco.

 Then we decided on a trip to Worthington pool. I used to take the kids there when they were toddlers. The memories came flooding in as we entered the pool area and I saw the baby slide. Mario was always nervous to go down it. Now, he was Mr. Cool unable to remember ever being scared of that slide. He and Ri went on the big slide and we all braved the cyclone pool where they used to get sucked in and it would take all my might to pull them out. Now, they handled it with ease and didn’t need my assistance. Although they still wanted me by their side to experience it with them. I remember when they were younger and they’d pull on me every second in the pool. They wanted me to constantly play with them or watch them or catch them. Exhausting. I’d think about how great it would be when they’d play in their own. But yesterday, I let myself enjoy their constant need for my presence. I soaked up every breakdance Mario asked me to watch. I waved at Ri and clapped as she did her trick off the slide. As Ri states, I was being mind-ful rather than mind-full. 

After some Air Hockey and Sun Chips, we left for home. 

We all needed to shower before going to the Escape Room that Ri recommended for our evening adventure. I was hesitant about it and was hoping they may want to do it without me. But they wanted us all to enjoy. I had no idea what to expect – I was picturing the zombie-type escape room where you are scared too death constantly. Thank god it was nothing like that. It was a 1920’s set-up in a Speakeasy, and we had to find all the clues to get out before the police arrived. We had a blast. We were in the room with four others – early 20 somethings – who were great with Ri and Mario. 

We had 60 minutes to try and escape. We got three hints. It was intense. Every time we’d get exhausted, someone would pull through and find a clue to help us progress. We were so close to escaping – probably needed 3 more minutes. Mario was bummed we didn’t escape but felt better when the owner said a majority of folks don’t escape. 

We were pretty beat after that escapade so we decided on Subway and home to watch The Middle. Ri was nearly passed out by the end of the show and Mario and I weren’t far behind. 

And with a blink of an eye, I woke up to Rocco jumping on the bed and Ri yelling “time to get up and get to Stauf’s!” Another blink, and she will be driving to Stauf’s from her own apartment and Mario will be pulling up to the curb in his Lamborghini. 

I’m soaking it all in now before I blink again.

Weeding can be fun?

We weeded the garden and raked the leaves for the second night in a row. How excited I was to get an encore from M&M!

I attempt to weed with them but every time I go to plant myself amongst the ivy or ragweed one of the kids yells “Mom, come look at how good I am doing!” I go to one of them and praise their work and the other shouts “Mom, come look at my work!”

They both did awesome jobs pulling up patches of weeds lining the border of the garden out back. Mario likes the tall weeds by the vegetable garden and Ri likes the short, stout weeds by the back fence.


I have read all sorts of articles on gardening but have never really gotten the kids out in our back yard as much as I wanted. They helped plant the vegetable garden in early summer and they help place rocks around the gardens but don’t really dig in the dirt and weed or tend to the flowers. Why?

Probably has to do with their parents not doing too much! Neither Jon nor I have the “green thumb” of the family. We get things done to keep the yard and garden looking decent but our first priority on weekends has not been spending hours in the yard.

But I have to admit that it has been enjoyable and relaxing the last two nights to stay home and work together as a family on beautifying the yard. Maria is more and more into science so I could use this time in the dirt and flowers to learn about science. Mario has always loved to help outdoors and discover pill bugs and butterflies. I have been transformed. By no means a full-fledged gardener nut but at least more appreciative of the art and tranquility of the process.

We had to end the night with a leaf pile for the kids to jump in to celebrate our hard work and to commemorate the beginning of the end of Summer. It wasn’t gargantuan in size but still provided lots of laughter and smiles like any leaf pile should.



Partyin’ with potato salad

Jon took over the kitchen Sunday morning; there was no stopping the man.  When Mario and I got home from our run, we found him hunched over peeling potatoes into a glass bowl.  He had spices out, jars open, and utensils scattered.  It was quite a breath-taking (and rather attractive) sight.  Patty gave him the recipes to her potato salad and her baked beans, and he would not let anyone else see them or work on them.  Once he decides to cook, everyone else must scatter away from his kitchen space.  After tasting his potato salad, I am happy to give him all the space he needs.  He is a heck of a cook.  That is how he wowed me when we were dating – he’d bring me soup while I studied for the bar.

Maria and Mario and I cleaned rooms and the kitchen, and got ready for Gracie to come over.  Maria loves to babysit that girl but Maria is a tough bird.  Gracie does something bad and Maria says “Grace Ann Wells! You should not do that!”  She is everything I am not!  Discipline, structure….  god help her children.  Grace arrived at 1 pm, and yelled “Aunt Mary!”  She was glued to my hip the rest of the day except when she took a two-hour nap in the middle of the afternoon.  Maria read her The Fly Guy before her nap and when we all left the room, she babbled for fifteen minutes and then fell asleep.  That is a foreign occurrence for Jon and me.  We would have to rock M&M to sleep, rub their backs for 20 minutes, lay with them, you name it.  All of those hurdles before any sleep would occur.  And then, 9 times out of ten, they’d be up within a half an hour anyway.  So Grace is a piece of cake. 

While the gals napped, Mario played Ben Ten games on the computer.  He had his Cheez-Its next to his side as he intently concentrated on his next move.  His concentration allowed me to get the house decorated for Maggie Jean’s party.  Of course, I had felt that we had it all under control the night before but then inevitably, the day of, I find myself scrambling to get everything together.  Maggie, our graduate, arrived to the house at 4 pm after sitting in 90 degree heat for four hours.  Julie and Liz were with her – Liz having sat through graduation on Friday in Cincinnati.  We broke out the celebratory beer and chips and dip, and let the party begin!  Maria was instantly mesmerized with Maggie’s friends Sarah and Annie.  Mario acted silly with Maggie’s dad, Denny.  Gracie stayed on my hip the entire afternoon, which I loved.  Liz kept telling me to put her down but I just couldn’t do it.  She was so happy hanging out with me that I had to soak in the love. 

My aunt Terrie and aunt Ann arrived a little later.  They had not seen the house since we bought it.  They each brought me a house-warming gift from Pottery Barn (high-class aunts, I will say…), and gave accolades galore about the house.  So sweet.  I was so excited that they came up to Columbus because I don’t get to see them often.  Terrie is in Marietta, Georgia with her hubby and three boys and Ann is in Washington DC and Dubai with her job and beau.  When I was little, Terrie and Julie used to invite me over to their apartment on the West side of Cincy for sleep overs and I remember listening to slow sappy 70’s love songs on the radio.  Time with them was a treat – hanging with the older girls.  Ann is only a year and a half older than me (the youngest of eight) and I looked up to her like a big sis.  She was into serious heavy rock when she was in high school and I used to just sit in her room and watch her get dressed to go out as she banged her head to Motley Crue.  And now here we all were standing my kitchen as adults.   Life is strange. 

At one point in the evening, we brought out Dairy Queen cake for Maggie.  We were all joking about what to sing to her, what the cake said, etc. and I all of a sudden felt a rush of gratitude and joy for having the day with my aunts and cousins.  I just wanted to lean over the table and smooch ’em all on the lips but I figured that may not have come off as I would have planned so I just smiled at them all and lit the candle for Maggie to blow out.  After cake, Julie and Terrie helped me figure out the weeds versus plants in the garden.  I have a lot of weeds but weeds look like plants to me; in fact, I think I am prone to liking weeds more than plants and flowers.  They are tough cookies – not dying for anything and growing back even stronger than before.  There is something you have to respect in the weed.  But we pulled ’em out nonetheless.  We would have been out there all night if Jon wouldn ‘t have announced that there is poison ivy in the garden.  That blasted Ter and Jul out of the garden and into the bathroom to wash off.  I would have felt like a total heel if they had gotten poison ivy.  

The aunts left a while later – all three of them heading to Starbucks to get a coffee for the road.  Little do they know how much I think of them and appreciate their generosity in traveling up north to see me.  And Julie constantly opening her house to me and the kids when we are in Cincy.  It is a rare gift to receive.  With their departure, we just had Maggie and her friends left at the house.  Maria and Mario were in heaven – Mario danced to I’m Sexy and I Know It and played ball with the boys, and Maria brushed the boys’ hair so that they could “pick up rich girls.” I am sure they were wondering what they had done to deserve a night at our house. 

Everyone hit the road around 9:30 and the kids hit the sack pretty quickly.  I got to watch my HBO show, Girls, and eat the rest of the DQ ice cream cake.  What a great life.

Family Green Thumbs

The family got down and dirty tonight.

We finally planted our garden out back.  Eight tomato plants, twelve pepper plants, two garlic plants, and two broccoli plants (Mario begged Jon to get the broccoli plants so he is on the hook for eating it if it actually grows).  Jon and I do not exactly have the greenest of thumbs so our fingers are all crossed that these plants actually produce some sort of  edible food for us.  Jon and I are dreaming of tomato and onion salad all summer.  When Jon used the tiller over the weekend, he found strawberries growing in our garden.  Strawberries!  The former owner of our home was a gardening nut and had all sorts of vegetables and herbs and I guess, fruits planted around the house.  Jon and I know the strawberry plants need some serious weeding but we have not quite got to that chore yet.  There really needs to be a robot invented that can smell out the weeds in your garden and flower beds and scorch them down to the Earth so that we would not have to manually do it every single week.  I can’t even tell what are weeds and what are flowers.  Half of the time I learn something is a weed, I am amazed because I found it to be just as gorgeous as a flower, and I only pull it if it is obviously strangling the flowers in its stead. 

Maria began the planting with us but soon tired of the activity and laid in the grass looking up at the sky.  Mario came out only after we ordered him off the computer (he is a Ben Ten fanatic).  However, once outside, he is a workhorse.  He wants to do as much physical labor as possible.  He begged to dig holes.  He planted plants and covered them with dirt.  He pulled weeds.  He told me how far down I should place the garlic plants and he scolded me when I did not hold the root up straight for him.  I see a gardener in the making. 

Being outside with the entire family made me happy.  No worries about homework (it was done) or running off to the store (it was done, too).  Just hanging out in our garden, getting our hands dirty and gazing at the couple of strawberries peeking out at us.

Tuesday ramblings

My mom came up from Cincy tonight with the hope that she could help me figure out what were weeds and what were flowers in my garden, and also see the grandkids on the side.  She picked up Maria from school, a treat Maria absolutely loves.  If she could have each of her grandparents pick her up everyday of the week, she would be in heaven.  When they got home, Maria helped my mom in the garden a bit and then asked her if she could ride her bike to the park.  This question floored my mom who expected Maria to ask to watch tv or play a game.  They biked down to the park, and Maria gave my mom a mini-stroke when she climbed up her favorite tree to the near top.  My mom made her stop way before she typically stops, which majorly irritated Maria.  Mario and I arrived soon thereafter.  We walked down from the house.  I had given him the option to bike but he wanted to race.  He set forth the typical prize for winning the race – a chocolate cake.  We ran about a block and then he asked me to carry him.  As I carried him the six blocks to the park, we talked about the green leaves and why they were green now and brown in the Fall time.  He also asked me if he would die, and we talked about how everyone dies eventually.  He asked if I would die, and then covered my mouth when I started to answer.  He shook his head while holding my mouth and confirmed to me “mom, I know you will die, too, just like me.”  Nothing like some light, uplifting conversation with your four-year old on the way to the park. 

After the park, we headed to the police station to go to the bathroom, and to say hi to our former neighbor, Kim.  Maria biked from the station to Panera.  Mario ran most of the way.  I love it when they enjoy being outdoors on their own.  At Panera, they learned how to make “lemonade” from Grandma Lolo.  They squeezed three lemons into their water and added one Splenda.  Maria also wanted to add a Sweet-n-low, which made her water taste like something a hummingbird would love. We walked home from Panera with much pomp and circumstance.  Maria crossed a street without looking, which prompted a major smack-down from my mom on me.  She was completely right; I need to do a better job of making these kids look both ways or stop at the edge of the street.  But I still felt irritated.  After a few minutes, I realized it was not so much irritation as it was hurt.  It’s funny how we, as adults, still look to our parents for moral support and adoration.  We still want to impress them with our skills – only it’s parenting skills rather than algebra brilliance. 

But I am 40 years old – really, Mar, let it go.  In the end, a lot of the hurt has to deal with me realizing that I am letting myself down.  I know I need to set more rules and work harder at imposing more boundaries and structure at certain times (like at an intersection!).  I am pissed at myself for not working harder at doing just that.  So, learn from it and do it better (you all just got a little glimpse of the dialogue raging through my head – lovely, heh?!).

After we worked in the garden a bit more, we decided to treat ourselves to Orange Leaf.  A car trip later, we were eating yogurt with oreos and brownies and lucky charms on top.  Maria sat slumped in her seat with her sunglasses resting on her head and Mario sat in his seat staring at Shrek and eating pineapple yogurt.  My mom looked at me and said matter of factly “Your kids are mod.” 

I am still trying to figure out whether she meant “mod” to mean dashing and smart or to mean offbeat.  Either way, I will embrace the compliment, which I know she meant it to be.  After all, what grandma gets to hang out with a pirate grandson and a granddaughter who engages in questions about past relatives and their spirits.