Diving deep

Mario presented his slideshow on light pollution after dinner last night. We laughed at some of the internet sites where he found his facts. He cited a company’s webpage. The company sold stones that helped reduce light pollution. Creative or desperate?!

The mood was light and airy as he wrapped up. It quickly moved to irritable as we told Mario he still needed to read 15 minutes. He responded as he typically does – with a grunt and a plea to read tomorrow night – not tonight. Jon and I reiterated that won’t work and he huffed away and we sighed. As he walked by hastily to head upstairs, Jon reminded him he needed to start practicing basketball everyday. Mario has got quite the ego when it comes to b-ball and some of the dinner conversation earlier had been around how there should be an A-Team and a B-team for b-ball, and that he and his friend Owen should be on the A-Team. We talked about not getting too boastful because other kids were practicing hard and may show up this season with their skills much improved. Jon told him he needed to practice if he wanted to be one of the best. Mario retorted that he has been out there practicing – we just don’t see him because we are working.

Jon mentioned that one of Mario’s friends had a free throw line drawn on his b-ball court so he could shoot free throws for 15 minutes straight (Mario’s practicing usually never entails taking free throw shots – he just likes to practice his three-point shot and his dribbling).  Mario quickly responded as follows:

“Do you know who helped Drew draw the free-throw line? His dad!”

Jon immediately scolded Mario for being sarcastic. Mario responded that he was just telling him that Drew’s dad drew the line. I picked up quickly that Mario was not trying to be sarcastic but rather, was sending out a plea to Jon to do more with him, including practicing his shots with him. Mario asked to go read his book, and walked upstairs. Jon looked at me quizzically and I proceeded to tell him what I thought Mario was feeling. It is not as though Jon doesn’t spend a lot of time with this kid. He is at every football game and takes him hunting and fishing and out to Dover.  Nonetheless, Mario was needing some dad-love, it was clear.

Jon, being the good dad, heard me and walked up the stairs after Mario. A few minutes later, I heard Mario talking to Jon. I couldn’t hear what he was saying but I was glad to see that there was dialogue between them both. When I ascended the stairs a half-hour later, I found Jon on one side of our bed and Mario on the other.  I smiled.

“I assume I am sleeping in your room tonight?!” I asked Mario. I saw him smile and pull the blanket up around his ears.

Mama’s day quiet

I vacillate between saying Mother’s Day is a Hallmark holiday and ridiculous, and feeling like I should be treated like a queen. This is the first year that I did not have my mom or stepmom or mother-in-law over for the day or have the kids hanging with me all day Long. I felt guilty. A bit sad. Glad to have time to take a walk. Lost. This motherhood thing can be an emotional roller coaster.

Really, I should be happy with how the day ended up. I got alone time with Maria. She took a two-mile walk with me and Rocco. Not only that – she actually conversed with me along the way. I thought on numerous occasions during our stroll about how happy I was in the moment – being with her and listening to her words. We didn’t get into any deep conversation about the meaning of life – we talked mostly about the puppies she was going to visit later in the day and about a book we had contemplated months ago about Rocco. I have got to get off my romantic notion that she and I will spend long afternoons talking about the state of this world or friendships or dreams for the future. Right now, I need to be satisfied with puppy talk. The most important thing is that we are together and talking. Later on in the day, we played cards and ate salsa and chips. She also biked to the library with me before seeing the puppies. This was more activity with her than I have had in months. Grateful.

Mario and Jon returned at 7 pm from hunting and fishing – just in time for Jon and I’s kickball game. Mario walked in the door and headed straight towards me for a giant embrace. “Happy Mom’s Day, mom” he said as he held me tight. Grateful. He also scribbled a quick poem to me after overhearing me tell Jon that I was a bit bummed to not get any cards from the kids. This was the first year I didn’t get a fabulous drawing or poem. As we were about to head out for our game, he stopped to tell me about a Langston Hughes poem that he wanted to print off for me. He thought I’d love it. He knows his mama’s taste.

And what about my duties as a daughter? Once kids turn 18, do you know longer have an obligation to give a poem? I talked with my mom, my stepmom, and my mother-in-law throughout the day to wish them a wonderful day. It seems we were all pretty good with time alone; in fact, that may be the best gift we could give each other.

Mario time

Last weekend, Maria and Alana went to Grandma Patty’s house, which left Jon and I alone with our boy. We had such a fabulous weekend hanging out with him. It’s nice to  only have one of your children for a day or two because it allows you to give your full concentration to that child and not be pulled in different directions. When the both of them are together you don’t get that intimate conversation that you do with just one. Not as though Mario was too intimate with Jon and I about his every day activities but we were able to get some information out of him. For example, I learned that he really likes a girl in his class because she’s “super cool and funny and always nice to him.” I also learned that he always talks in front of classes during his leadership session because his co-leader is too nervous to do so. That’s my boy.

On Saturday morning, I went on my run. I promised Mario I’d be back within two hours so he and I could take Rocco to the woods. He left with Jon and they did their car ride together where they get Starbucks and breakfast. Mario was ready to go when I got home. We bundled up and got Rocco ready. We ran to the woods, and Mario decided to look for Pokémon. He spotted one but it was through the trees across the tracks and over a busy road. We decided to go for it. I kept Rocco on the leash and we traveled through the trees, across the tracks, through more trees, and over to the main strip. It was exhilarating! Mario thought it was super cool to go the Illegal” way (yes, a bit disturbing). By the time we reached the strip, the Pokémon disappeared. We both just laughed about it because the thrill was in in the journey. As we headed back to the woods, we saw a train – yet another cool moment for Mario. Rack two up for mom.

When we got home, Jon was ready to take Mario to the archery/fishing store on the south side of Columbus. I was ready to clean the house and relax a bit. But Mario wanted all of us to go to the store together. After a bit of cajoling, I agreed to head down with the boys. I am so glad I did. What an experience to watch Mario in his element. He was so excited to show me how he shot his bow. The guys at the shop were mighty impressed with his archery skills. We went back-and-forth three times to adjust the tension level on his bow – I think he just wanted to adjust it each time so that it would give him another time to practice his shot in the store. I would typically be antsy but I loved to see him having such a great time. I would’ve stayed in the store all day with him just to see the joy on that face of his as he pointed out different things. He absolutely had a blast.

When we got home, we made sandwiches and hung out until I decided to get a 15 minute neck massage at Yi’s . Mario agreed I could leave for that time. But he made me promise when I got home we’d see the new Kong movie. 

Holy crap movie prices have skyrocketed! Granted, the boys only wanted to see Kong in IMAX 3-D, so the ticket prices were a bit higher because of that. It cost nearly $50 for the three of us to go see a movie and then another $25 just for a large popcorn and drinks. Insanity! I’m just going to ask for a movie gift cards for Christmas next year. But being together and watching that movie was worth it. Mario was so excited to have us by his side. At every scary scene, he would tell me that I could hold his hand and squeeze it if I got scared. Precious. And after the movie, we went home and chilled out together: watching a few YouTube videos, drawing a little, and watching some TV before bed. All things that make Mario very happy.

Leave it to the boys in my life to get me to relax a bit and enjoy the simple pleasures of life – ya know, like shooting a bow, looking at fishing gear, watching a Kong movie, and eating buttery popcorn. Loved this day with all my heart.

Girls and Boys

The boys and girls split up early yesterday morning. Ri and I left at 8 am for her indoor soccer game and Mario and Jon left at 8:45 am for Mario’s basketball game. Ri took me up on my advice to get more aggressive, at least somewhat. She went for the ball a few more times than last week. Slowly but surely….
After soccer, we stopped at Starbucks and got my coffee. Ri wanted to try something new so we got her a chai latte. She loved it.

We saw the boys off to go hunting (Mario was so excited) and got to work cleaning the house. All the salt and snow had been tracked in and it was driving me nuts. Ri agreed to do the toilets and I did the floors. As we began, she looked at me with a rag in her hand and mused “Susan B. Anthony would be shaking her head at us doing the cleaning in the house after everything she fought for on behalf of women.” Touché. I explained to her that we are doing it of our own choosing and the boys would definitely be folding laundry when they got home.
After finishing the household chores, we settled down for a mani/pedi in the kitchen. Ri wasn’t too concerned about this activity when I said “why should girls feel they have to get their nails done and not boys?!” Her response: “boys should get them, too.” I had told Ri that we could go to CK Nails but she responded ” why don’t we save money and just do them for each other?” That’s my girl. And so she arranged the kitchen as a nail salon with two trays and chairs and polish, clippers, files, moisturizer, towels, and bowls of water. She gave me my mani/pedi first. I have to act like I’m in her salon and she tells me about all the famous people she treats at her salon. She informed me that I had large veins in my hands which was a sign of stress. I needed to take it easy (her way of getting me to sit with her all afternoon). She finished my hands and moved onto my feet. Yowzer! She had her hands full with my feet. They are definitely runners’ feet. She kept her game face on though as she worked on them since she didn’t want to offend her customer.

By the time I finished Ri’s nails, we were starving. Ri agreed to walk to Stauf’s but only if she could scooter. Deal. I miss heading up to Stauf’s on the weekends. When the kids were little, I’d stroll or bike or carry them up to Stauf’s for a muffin or bagel at least once a weekend if not two or three times. We lived two blocks away. All those memories flooded back as I sat across from Ri and she worked on a crossword puzzle and we ate our bagels. How has she grown into such an amazing girl in what feels like three seconds?
We played tether ball on the way home and I’ve never felt so uncoordinated in my life. Ri got a kick out of seeing me so unable to play an activity. She also got a kick out of me getting slammed in the stomach by the ball. Yea, it was ugly. Not a fan.
On the way home, we decided to go see a movie at the dollar theatre. We decided on Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good Day. Before we saw that though, we had to try on Ri’s new Susan B. Anthony outfit that we ordered for her play next week. She looked like she had been blasted out of the 1800’s. She loves it.

As we drove to the movie, I remembered that Ri could not eat popcorn with her palette expander. Dang. I didn’t want to make her jealous so I had to be relegated to Milk Duds and nachos. Ri got a one quarter pound angus hot dog, God love her. The movie was bearable, which was a gift since so few are at her age.
We drove home and ended our night with a call from Jon informing us that Mario and him got a rabbit. Mario climbed through the thorn bushes to retrieve the rabbit for him.
Ri and I laid in her bed while Rocco ran back and forth from her bed to the hall chasing a ball. We laughed so hard at his crazy antics until he finally had enough and laid his head at the end of the bed. We rested our heads on her purple pillows and fell fast to sleep.

Growing up Mario


Yep, that’s slick boy handing out donuts to his classmates on Friday. Jon reported that he walked into the classroom, held up the box of donuts, and pronounced “Who wants donuts?” He beamed in delight as everyone yelled “Mario has donuts! Mario’s here!” I think he rather enjoys his ego stroked….


But oh, is he versatile. He goes from city slicker to country hunter in a flash of a second. He wasted no time getting his camo on and heading out to Big Mario’s woods to hunt turkey with Jon. He was dejected when they heard a few but Jon had unloaded his gun already. I am fearful for those turkeys when he gets old enough to shoot.


And if that’s not impressive, he has yet another persona – sweet, playful, curious Mario. We went to the river this morning to find cool rocks and I almost cried when he picked one up and admired it. “Isn’t this one beautiful, mom?”

My body could have melted at his feet. I told Jon when we got home that I am going to miss that innocent, precious five-year old boy who holds my hand and giggles as we throw rocks in the water together.

Jon mustered up five little words in response as he stared out the window: “I know what you mean.”

Hunting turkeys

Mario and Jon have gone turkey hunting a few times over the last month. They have come back empty-handed every time. Jon has, too, when he goes it alone. In fact, I think it’s been at least five years since Jon or my dad have gotten a turkey (the last time I remember is when I was laying out in the front yard and dad pulled up with a turkey he shot -I held it up by its turkey legs in my bikini – classy).

So, when Mario and I walked by the library on Tuesday night (Ri went out to dinner with her girlfriends after softball practice) and caught a glimpse of a turkey, we got excited. Mario screamed “Look at the big boy!” He strutted his fine self all around the cage (the turkey, that is).



Mario begged me to call Jon and tell him. “Dad can’t shoot this turkey, though because he’s a pet.” At least he’s got some sense (every other time we talk about turkeys he wants to get out and hunt ’em). The woman owner was sweet as can be with the kids. She had ducks, chicks, rabbits and the Tom turkey. Mario petted all of them but couldn’t quite leave that turkey.



When we headed home, I looked back at the turkey and glanced at Mario. “See, you couldn’t shoot one of those babes, could you?” He looked up at me for a second, grinned, and ran down the street laughing.

Babes in the woods

Jon gave me an early Christmas present yesterday by taking the kids to Dover to see Big Mario and Vicki. I had 20 different ideas on how to spend my day – get a massage, go see a movie, go buy a pair of winter boots. But alas, after working on a project for a non-profit in the morning, I spent 5 hours in the yard raking leaves and planting baby fir in my planters. I loved every minute of it, though. The day was gorgeous with sunny skies and 50 degree weather. After the yard, I had about two hours before the family got home. I splurged on a Wendy’s burger and fries at the drive-thru and took off up north to Michael’s craft store to get some table decor for Thanksgiving. That store is addicting, I’ll tell ya. I have never had a desire to scrapbook but after leaving there, I think I could quit my job and go for it!

Meanwhile, Jon and his two hunters sat in a blind in the woods and waited to see a deer. Ri had been so upset earlier in the morning because Mario kept telling her that she didn’t know how to hunt. She gets her feelings hurt so quickly and bawled after Mario chided her. But Jon stepped in and consoled her and made her laugh as he always does and she had a great time.

Jon sent me this picture of M&M heading out to hunt and I swore it was a photo out of a militia magazine.


They look mean… and ready to do some damage. But I know under that paint and camo, they are gentle babes. I should have gotten a picture of the babes when Jon pulled up at 9 pm. Zonked out like little angels in the backseat.

Best day of my life

Mario could not sit still all morning. It was his big day to go hunting with Jon. I can’t believe I missed taking a picture of him in his camo shirt and pants. He searched the closets for his camo hat, too.

Jon and he made it to the woods around 1:30 in the afternoon. Jon informs me that Mario was beside himself with joy. He turned to Jon after sitting with him in pure silence for 20 minutes and whispered “this is the best day of my life.” Wrap it up with a bow – it doesn’t get much sweeter than that folks.

Meanwhile, I had the pleasure of picking up Ri and her two girlfriends and taking them to Bob Evans for dinner. I picked Ri up from Kids Club and her friend, Ceylone begged to go with us, which led Ri to beg to let her come with us, which led her friend Janira to beg to come, which led all three of them to beg to come with us. Ceylone’s mom and Janira’s mom thought I was nuts but I actually enjoy these types of outings.

I sometimes dream about what the outings will entail: we’ll talk about their day at school, they will ask me pressing questions they have as young girls, I will answer with rapturous stories making them squirm in their seat anxious for my next word.

Reality: They play on my iPhone until their food comes. They scarf it down. They run-off.


I gladly delivered them to the school at 6:00 pm for three hours of Math Club -Kids Night Out. Gotta love those teachers working all day and then hosting this event. They jumped out of the car and ran to the side door. I told them it was locked but they didn’t believe me. When they tried to open it, they all turned to each other and yelled “we got schooled!” Heaven help me.


They let me snap a quick picture before they headed in and I lost them in the crowd of excited second graders running into one another to get to the gymnasium. I had just settled at Stauf’s a half hour later when I got a text from Ri’s teacher telling me Ri felt sick. So much for my three hour block of alone time.

But at least I know I will get some cuddle time with my girl tonight.