Distance really does make the heart grow fonder

Maria Grace stayed with Jon’s mom this entire week.  We went up for Memorial Day on Monday and she just returned today.  I swear she looks two years older.  She got four inches cut off of her hair during her stay with Grandma.  She greeted me with a huge hug and smile but when I asked her how her time was with Grandma and Alana, she responded “it was fine but I don’t want to talk about it.”  Huh?! I asked her if something went wrong and she looked at me puzzled.  “No, mom, I just don’t feel like talking about it.” 

Ok.  I am not ready for this response when just two weeks ago she would have went on and on about her time with Alana and her adventures with Grandma.  Well, maybe I exaggerate a bit – she has never been that talkative about her days; but she used to at least summarize them for me!  I let it go in order to just enjoy the moment with her – soak up her smile and her laugh.  Mario yelled “Ria” when he saw her and gave her a huge hug that lasted 30 seconds.  He had been asking when she’d be home for the last three days. 

One of the first tasks that Maria set out to do when she walked in the house was write a letter to Ann Curry.  Yes, the Today Show’s Ann Curry.  Jon and I default to NBC News in the morning, and Maria enjoys watching it, too.  She loves Ann Curry; she thinks she’s smart and stylish.  Her letter told her as much and she also added a sentence stating that Ann Curry helps her learn more about the world.  Precious.  I had Maria write Ann Curry’s name and address on the front of the envelope with the hopes that it does not get pitched since it is clearly from a kid.  We will keep our fingers crossed…! 

Meanwhile, Mario and I wrestled.  He made me grab his leg each time he started to turn the DVD dial and then after I grabbed it, he shocked me with the electric waves coming out of his fingers.  I had to play dead for five seconds and then come back alive to do it all over again.  He could have played that game with me for two hours but I could only handle about 15 minutes.  I had to play a game of HeadBandz in order to get him off the wrestling kick, and then find his Spiderman costume for him to wear.

I got a massage in the mid-afternoon, which was a piece of heaven for an hour.  Is there anything better than a scalp massage at 3 pm?  And I could hire someone to rub my feet all day long and think it was money well spent.  I lifted myself off the massage table afterwards, and had deep creases along my face and legs – a sign of a good massage.  Jon decided to cook lemon chicken for dinner so we spent an hour preparing the chicken and the sides while the kids played on the computer and drew.  It was a very strange yet wonderful experience for us.  Strange to smell sweet aromas throughout the kitchen and wonderful to cook our own meal (the joke is that we have only used our pots and pans a handful of times since we were married in 2002). 

The kids even liked it!  And Maggie, hung over and all, enjoyed it, too.  After dinner, we rode our bikes up to the mailbox to deliver Ann Curry’s letter (and a b-day card to Grandma Lolo) and chow on some Orange Leaf.  Mario gave up on his bike at Stauf’s so I carried him the rest of the way (I am a sucker!).  Jon played on his new scooter for a bit; Maggie texted her friends and engaged in time trials with the kids; and I cleaned up.  A good ending to a long day.  I am excited to have Maria back with us even if she doesn’t want to divulge her week to me.  As long as I still get those hugs, I am ok.

Open House

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Maria hosted Granmda Ionno, Mario and me at her Open House at school.  She had a clipboard with a checklist of everything she had to show us before the night was over.  We got to listen to other Fairy Tale about a big bad dog and a cat, watch her slide show on the blue morpho butterfly and learn a lot of desert facts.  She has accomplished a lot this year, and has especially excelled in her reading.  I can’t believe how well she is reading compared to the beginning of the year. 

She is a very good student and listens to her teacher.  She rarely ever gets in trouble, and when she does she feels horrible.  I think she is one heck of a student. While Maria was showing us her shoebox 3-D project (the blue morpho butterfly one that I helped with) she detailed how a girl in her class made fun of it.  She seemed really hurt by the girl’s comments, and for one minute, I felt like approaching the girl and giving her a piece of my mind.  I asked Maria if she told the girl how it made her feel and she told me she just walked away from her.  Maybe a better move in this instance since I can tell the girl is a piece of work. The mama bear comes out in me when I am told of those situations. 

Grandma Ionno tried to get up a few times to check on Grandpa but Maria begged her to stay and listen to her reading or watch her slide show.  She loves having family there to watch her.  After the event, we went to Panera for dinner.  Mario talked about inappropriate things and Maria talked about how it seems “like only yesterday that Mario’s hair was really thin.”  God love her – she cracks me up with her 60-year-old quips, and god love him, he is just insane.  When we came home tonight, she set all of her paperwork aside from school in order to show Jon when he returns home from out-of-town.  She was so heartbroken when she learned that Jon would not be able to attend her event but he made it up to her by promising her a double chocolate frozen drink at Starbuck’s.  He knows how to make up for his absence.

The dreaded art project

God help me.  It has finally happened.  I dreaded the day.  I had thought we may have escaped it since we are so close to the end of the year…. The do-it-at home art project. 

Jon and I are both left-brained people.  Logical, rational, linear.  Where are my right-brained sister and brother when I most need them? Ok, so I exaggerate a tad bit seeing the project was simply to make a morpho butterfly from the rain forest in 3D.  Doesn’t sound too hard. Right? 

We bought clay last weekend, and that ended up going nowhere fast.  We got the clay a bit wet to mold it better (my left-brained self followed the instructions to a tee) but then the clay stuck to the plate and then to our hands and then to the knife as we cut through it.  Maria was in tears within five minutes and I was ready to throw the clay at the wall if only it would have peeled off my hands.  We also thought about cutting out the morpho butterfly on construction paper and stuffing both pieces of paper with tissue paper.  I think that idea may have been our smartest but Jon thought we should use big sheets of paper at his office and nobody wanted to make the commute up there so we ditched the idea completely. 

We landed on colored molding clay which was a lot easier to mold than the grey modeling clay.  Ri and I worked on two wings for the butterfly after reviewing internet pictures.  I thought for sure that Ri would freak at the wings that I (we) made for the creature but I think she was too tired to complain at that point.  We were out of pipe cleaners for the antennae so we used Q tips (cut off the ends) instead (they don’t have that cute twist but whatever…).  Next, Maria had a great idea for the shoebox that would be the butterfly’s home.  She drew trees and put real leaves on them and then stood a paper tree up in the front of the box so the butterfly could perch in it.  After a bit of drama about getting the butterfly to stick on the tree (she takes pride in using scotch tape everywhere) , she had our creation and, most importantly, she was happy with it.  

Jon and I were, too.  After all, it is quite a piece of work for a lawyer and a business executive.   

 

TGIF

Ten Reasons to be Grateful For Today…

1. Gorgeous powder blue sky with cotton ball clouds and 70 degree temperature = perfect biking to work weather.

2. Lunch with Mom at Mario’s school – free Panera with a big chocolate chip cookie!  Running around the playground with Mario, spinning in plastic seats and playing tag in the muscle room.  Mario made me a gorgeous beaded necklace so “I can remember him every time I wear it.”

3. Playing soccer with Maggie and Mario in the back yard (except when Maggie stole the ball from me and scored)!

4. Figuring out which drapes to get for the living room window and hall window.  So exciting to branch out and take a walk on the wild side!  I am not matching the color of the drapes with the furniture – crazy!

5. Seeing Jon on a scooter that his friend wants him to buy.  He looked like a ten-year old who just got the present he begged his parents for all year.

6. Taking Maria to school and listening to Jack’s CD in the car.  Maria asked if Jack wrote one of the songs after he broke up with Chelsea.  I told her I was not sure and that we should ask him since we have the good fortune of being related to the singer of the band!  She stopped me in my tracks and told me that we should not ask Jack such a question because it may make him sad and she doesn’t want to see her uncle sad.  Also, loved seeing her in the cowboy boots that Grandma Meg got her for her b-day! 

7. Going for a bike ride with Mario; he still fits in the baby seat on my bike!  We biked all over Grandview; hit the park for some slide tag and Giant Eagle for a flower to plant outside. 

8. Watching a yellow finch land on the branch of a japanese maple tree.

9. Talking to my mom about her new pup, Lou, and how everyone at the doggie day care thinks he is the best dog ever (so funny to see her as such a proud doggy mama!).

10. Eating Orange Leaf’s brownie batter and birthday cake yogurt with oreo and graham cracker topping.  Mario got his pineapple, as always. And sitting outside together talking about desert animals.

Muscle Man and Coach

Mario officially turned into a muscle head tonight.  It started while Jon and him were outside grilling steak and burgers for dinner.  Mario found a set of five-pound weights in the garage and he started curling them.  Jon called me outside, and I stopped in my tracks.  There was my 40 pound son pushing weights over his head and grunting like a power lifter.  I can’t tell you how proud I was!  He is taking after his mama!

Jon called me out a few minutes later and I found Mario with no shirt pumping iron.  He informed me that he lifts better with his shirt off. Of course.  We sat down to eat, and he begged me to wash his weights so he could take them to his room.  I can only imagine opening his bedroom door and seeing him lifting weights in his sweats while jammin’ it out to Black Eyed Peas.  In the middle of eating, Mario turned to Jon and asked “Can I be done with my food so I can go outside and lift weights?” 

After eating a few more bites, he and Maria went outside.  Jon whistled at me as I cleaned the dishes.  I walked over to the back door and there was sergeant Maria belting out commands to Mario. 

Coach and lifter“First you do ten weight curls. Then you go to the horse and balance. Then you run to the back yard. Then you hit the baseball and sprint back. Then you go to the front porch and pump your arm. Then run back.”  Mario soaked in every word and performed every activity shouted out.  With each activity, Maria would yell “Ok, Mario, move to the next!”   When he finished, she patted him on the back and told him “good job.” While Mario has got a lot of my energy and drive, Maria has a lot of her dad’s commanding style.  She has no problem barking orders to Mario and making sure that he abides by her commands.  She also has Jon’s concern for people and knows when praise is needed.  When Mario returned from his obstacle course, she knew she needed to pump him up and tell him good job. 

I our initial thoughts about these two crazy kids remain: Maria will be the executive calling the shots behind her mahogany desk and Mario will be the pro soccer player (or weightlifter) playing his heart out.

The joys of nature, good food and family

The girlsThe farm delivered good times this past weekend.  Maria, her cousin and her friend drove out with me on Saturday afternoon. We jammed it out to Now 41 and Justin Bieber during the ride.  Everytime I tried to sing with them, Maria would yell “Moooom, please don’t!”  Even though she did not want me to sing, she did want me pump my arm up and down when we passed truck drivers along the way.  She remembers me telling her my story of doing that as a kid and truck drivers honking away at me and my girlfriends when we were on long trips with our parents.  They tried to do it from the back seat but the windows are tinted.  I pulled through for them and pumped my arm (and showed a little leg) and got a few honks for them! 

When we pulled up the drive to the farm, Maria began explaining the entire set-up to her friends.  “There is my pee-paw in the garden and there is Rosie’s dog-run and the chickens are up in their house and the cabin is in the back and….”  SHe is definitely at home out at the farm.  The girls jumped out of the truck and bee-lined to Rosie.  Maria and Alana love to play with Rosie. They throw her toy, play chase, love on her, and exhaust her.  Janira, Maria’s school friend, was much more hesitant to get in the gated area with them.  She stood back and watched.  I think the whole farm scene overwhelmed her – she is a true city girl.  However, she did get up her nerve to go into the chicken coop with the girls. And much to her amazement, she retrieved a chicken egg.  All three girls retrieved one, and came running back to the house with eggs in their hands.  They were different colors, mostly peach and grey-blue.  Maria described to Grandma Meg how they found the eggs by digging under the hay (she knows all of the tricks of the farm, too). 

Next, we headed to the creek below the house.  Meg and I walked with them enjoying a few minutes together to talk about the latest going-ons in our lives.  Meg and I don’t get to talk as much as we used to pre-kids because she lives two hours away and the kids are always with me when we see each other.  I value even the small moments in time that we can catch up.  The water in the creek flowed at a manageable level for the girls to walk around in their water shoes.  Maria and Alana took off again, and Janira was a trooper trying to keep up.  We walked to the swimming hole; a pool of water less than waist-high where the girls could jump around and splash.  It looked like a little bit of paradise with the sun shining through the trees onto the water; the green plants and wildflowers lining the edge of the bank, the birds flying from one bush to the other, and the smell of nature.  My dad talked about making a cleaner path to the swimming hole and setting up stones near the hole for adults to talk while the kids played.  Retirement is hitting him soon, and he is already scoping out projects to keep him busy!

The kids were soaked after the swimming hole.  We took them to the house and dried them off.  When they moved to the table, they found sweet surprises from Grandma Meg.  First, goodie bags with headbands and snap bracelets and crayons and pens.  Second, a homemade Nature Journal complete with a twig fastener and activities inside.  Leave it to my Meg-pie – she has a perfect combo of teacher, conservationist and nature guru.  It had educational yet fun activities in it like discovering a tree and finding certain colors pasted onto a sheet of the journal (when we were walking in the woods and saw yellow bark, Janira yelled out “I found our yellow!”).  She also had pages to detail the day, including writing one thing in nature that made you have a happier day (Meg gave them an example of a butterfly landing on her leg).  They stood around the table soaking up her words.  What an awesome influence for Maria Grace and her friends.  These girls certainly walked away from the weekend with a greater appreciation for nature.  They also got so excited over finding a caterpillar (which Meg looked up in her guide-book with Maria completely intrigued), a toad, and a woodpecker.

I helped my dad later in the afternoon following a sumptuous meal of spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread and corn on the cob.  We loaded up all of the slate from the barn to store next to the chicken house (the barn needs to be refurbished due to its age and the fact that it could topple over any second).  Nothing better than some good, hard labor (when you are not forced to do it, heh?!).  My body was rather shaky and exhausted after moving the slate and picking up a few giant rocks, but it was a good exhausted – one where you feel you’ve actually done something useful with this machine that is our body.  I enjoyed time with my pops, too.  When we rode on the forklift to get the rocks, there was a moment he looked back at me to make sure I was on securely.  I felt like a kid again hanging out my dad.  I wanted to tell him how much it meant to me to share that moment with him but it seemed a rather strange comment to make when we were both dripping in sweat and riding a forklift down a gravel hill.  So I kept it to myself but I believe he knew just from the sheer fact of being my dad, and having an intuition for those things. 

We returned to cake and ice cream – yummy.  Meg and I laughed at our sweet Maria as she sat in her chair eating the icing off her cake.  All was quiet and she chimed in “Ahh, I am enjoying this cake.”  A perfect summation of what we were all thinking.  We finished the night with Matilda – an absolutely adorable movie with Danny Devito and Rhea Perlman.  It was super moon night, and it shined into the house so brightly that I felt like I was being interrogated at times.  But it was gorgeous in the clear black night out in the country. 

My girl with Taz and G-ma MegWe woke on Sunday and rode horses.  The girls all did a fab job with Meg and dad helping them.  The horses were in great moods and caused no distress.  After the girls rode, we had some killer pancakes made by dad.  He uses a regular whole wheat mix but adds a bit of brown sugar to it and it makes them to die for.  They have this crispness around the edges and a melt in your mouth taste.  Sometimes he makes them with nuts and blueberries, which sounds amazing.  After pancakes, the girls took a tractor ride around the pasture and gathered a few more eggs from the chicken brood.  The bickering began around that time with little slights setting them off (Maria yelled at Alana for talking about dogs because it made Maria miss Cy; Alana yelled back; Maria yelled at Janira for “bragging” and Janira cried that she was not trying to brag but Maria always thought she was and it’s not fair…).  Hence, it was a good time to leave so Meg and dad would not be subjected to it and I could ignore it from the long way off in the front of the truck. 

We pulled out of the drive, and I felt so happy.  You know those moments you get every once in a while where the entire world looks peachy-keen and life has circled around to right where you want it?  I had it.  Right in the palm of my hand.  And then Maria threw a marker past Alana so she couldn’t use it and Alana screamed at Maria and Janira cried her head hurt, and I was back in reality.  I had promised that we would stop at McDonald’s Playland on the way back home.  Why did I do that? This McDonald’s Playland was the grossest one I have ever seen.  The tables were dirty; the kids were loud and obnoxious, and the parents were even worse.  One parent was yelling at her son to get down from the slide.  When he refused she yelled “That’s it, Tiger, I am going to whoop on your ass with my belt in front of everyone.” I was ready to rescue the kid if she did it in front of me but she refrained.  Eye-opening to see other walks of life.  I pride myself on appreciating diversity but the folks in that McDonald’s tested me. 

The cousinsWhen we finally got home, we got to start the party all over again with Jon’s family.  Patty had kept Giovanni and Mario all weekend up at her condo, and I am sure was ready to bring them down to our house to say good riddance!  It took her over ten hours to make potato salad because she had to keep running after them.  What a woman. I was being a little pissy from being tired when the rest of the clan arrived. The kids went down in the basement to dance to “I’m Sexy and I Know it” and  Jon grilled hamburgers and brats and peppers.  The meal was delicious, and I shook off my irritable mood and had a good time (it was probably the realization that I would get another whole sheet cake to eat (I had already had two others for Maria’s b-day earlier in the week)). 

Everyone left around 8:30.  Jon and I dropped on the couch.  The kids fell pretty quickly, too.  Maria’s b-day weekend brought lots of good times but I was glad to be on my couch with my hubby staring off into space.  Although, loading up slate would be a close second.

Sitting still

Maria and I hung out this evening while Jon and Mario drove to Marion. Prior to their drive to Marion, we made dinner.  Actually, I should say, Maria made dinner.  She overheard a lady at the salon talking about how she made dinner for her mom starting when she was 6 years old, and that was all it took to get Maria in that mindset. 

She poured pancake mix and water into a bowl.  She filled a bowl full of chocolate chips and tried to mash them.  When that didn’t work, she microwaved them (smart girl).  She added the chocolate into the pancake mix.  I poured them on the griddle and she flipped them.  She also made eggs (she microwaved them).  She got out our plates and syrup.  She nearly did it all!  Another year and I expect chicken parmesan and shrimp scampi….  And the chocolate pancakes were pretty darn good.  I could have stood a few chips in them too but overall they hit the spot.  Mario ate a few but he was too excited about going to Grandma Ionno’s house. 

After dinner, Maria took off with me on her bike.  We stopped at her friend’s house to play in the sprinkler (in her clothes) and by the time we left, it was close to 8:15.  We cranked it home and I pulled out the lawn mower.  I told Maria to grab a book or her markers and come outside while I mowed.  A few minutes later, I saw her on the deck with her water and crazy straw.  She sat on the deck chair watching me without any book or markers.  When I moved to the front, she moved with me sitting on the front step with, still,  just her water and straw.  I kept waiting for her to grab something from inside or complain about being bored but she didn’t.  She just waited for me to finish while sitting patiently and thinking about … well, I have no clue. And that is good.  It was her time to be still and mindful.  And I was so excited to see her be able to do this, and not be begging for the iPad or leapster or even a book. 

Something I have a hard time doing.  

But seeing her renewed my challenge to take that itme to be mindful myself.  Funny how your children look up to you without having any idea how much you learn from them.  And so tonight, I sat at the kitchen table for a whole five minutes before I scanned the computer for the latest news and updates.  Hey, it’s better than nothing!

Riding it out

This weekend felt long.  

We had Maria’s friend Janira over on Friday night for a play date.  Mario got himself all worked up wanting to be near Janira even going so far as to ask for her autograph on his arm.  If she didn’t have any self-esteem prior to coming to our house, she sure has it now.  Maria gets annoyed and begs Jon and I to keep him away from her.  It works for a bit but then he sneaks upstairs to see them.  Every once in a while, if he acts like a pet dog or a new-born baby, the girls will allow him to play with them.  If he refuses to engage in the act, he is not wanted.

Saturday brought a hectic morning getting Maria ready to go over to Janira’s house for a play date and a movie and getting Mario packed up to spend a few nights with Grandma Ionno.  I hit the road at noon to head to Hamilton, Ohio for my cousin’s baby shower.  I was praying for sheet cake – I will take on a two-hour drive in the pouring rain with no issue if I know there is sheet cake waiting for me.  Alas, no sheet cake but there were cute, yummy cupcakes.  And there was good conversation with Meg’s sisters and nieces.  There is always a lot to talk about with them since I don’t get to see them much during the year.  They are down-to-earth and make me laugh.  We have two weddings this Spring for two of the cousins so Maria is in seventh heaven – she loves seeing the gowns and the ceremony and rockin’ it out at the reception. 

I got back to the house with only my hubby sitting in it.  Strange, yet peaceful.  No kids screaming.  No pulling at my shirt. No begging to play a game.  I actually got quite a few hours to just veg yesterday.  I thought a little about work and a little about tasks in the coming week but I spent a lot of time just listening to music and the scenery.  Just being.  Nice. In the evening, Maria traveled to the horse show with Grandma Meg and Peepaw.  She didn’t get home until 11 pm – Jon and I only stayed awake by watching Indiana Jones.  When she got home, she had an attack of the giggles.  She ignored our demand to sleep in her own bed (we allowed her in our bed because her neck hurt and we both were freaking out she had some strange disease).  She laughed at everything Jon said or did.  He sneezed, she laughed.  He said “goodnight”, she laughed.  Finally, Jon stopped talking and we all fell asleep. 

We woke up on Sunday morning at 7 am (can our kids ever sleep past 7 especially when they go to bed so late?!).  Jon headed to Marietta for a few hours.  Ri and I spent the first hour or so of the morning cleaning up her room.  We (actually just me!) gathered a lot of clothes for Baby Grace and a lot of toys for Goodwill.  After a bit, we both realized we were hungry and jumped in the stroller to head to Bob Evans.  It was packed – we got there just a bit late and all of the drunk college kids were strolling in with their hangovers.  We turned around and went to McDonald’s for sausage burritos and hash browns.  Not quite the same but it filled our bellies. 

On the stroller ride home, Maria seemed a little sad.  I asked her what was wrong, and she kept telling me nothing.  Finally, she admitted that she just wanted a play date with someone.  I told her we’d need to clean up a bit before someone came over, and she went into whine mode crying “Mom, what do we need to do?”  It got under my skin.  I thought what do I need to do to make her more appreciative of what she has and what more do I need to do to make her more willing to do chores.  How could I raise a daughter that thought she could just play all the time and not do any work?  How did I raise a daughter that was so moody at times?   

We stopped at the park before we headed home.  As I pushed Maria on the swing for the tenth time, it hit me.  I promote this behavior – I just stopped at the park after I told her we needed to go home and clean!  I help them clean their rooms after I tell them to clean their rooms themselves!  I go everywhere with them and take care of their every concern!  Ugh, no wonder she is acting this way.  What a dumba–!!! 

I sat her down after the swings and talked with her about my irritation.  I explained to her my epiphany and how I wanted her to be independent and respectful and driven, and how I had fostered a dependence on me by doing a lot for her instead of having her do it.  I explained that I did that out of love for her but that sometimes you need to push someone out on their own in order to show your love.  I told her that I was going to do that more and I needed her to work with me.  I looked down at her and she looked up at me.  Her reply: “Ok.”  I am quite sure she was thinking “what a whack job” but she has too big of a heart to say that to me. 

We went home and cleaned up some.  I also realized how ADD I am when it comes to housework.  I clean one thing and start on another but then I get side-tracked on something else.  Maria only follows in my footsteps. So, we have another day, another week, another year, to work on it all.  We threw down the dirty laundry and biked to pick up Janira and to Orange Leaf for a big ol’ yogurt with cookies and M&M’s sprinkled on top.  Much more fun than housework.  Then we went home, and the girls created a spa for me.  They filled bowls of water with flower petals and “mint” (green leaves from the plants outside) and scented lotions.  They got kitchen scrubbers and gels and a brush.  

I must admit that they did a half-way decent job.  Janira gave a mad foot rub and Maria rubbed my head with hair gel (I looked like a peacock afterwards but who cares when you get your hair pulled!).  They were just getting started when big ol’ bumblebees came swarming towards us surely smelling the scented lotions.  We made a mad dash inside and closed up the spa.  Barbies came next, and when I asked Maria to clean up before we took Janira home, she promptly abided.  My girl.

I love you like a Love Song Baby

Watching Maria mouth the words of Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream takes me back to my pre-pubescent years listening to Phil Collins and Air Supply on my 45s.  Or better yet, waiting to hear the love songs on Casey Kasem’s Top 40 so I could tape them onto a cassette to play over and over on the weekend. 

It is only in the last month that Maria has shown more of an interest in music.  First, Big Time Rush; then Justin Bieber; now Katy Perry and Selena Gomez.  She struggles to understand the words and produce a dance move while she sings but she certainly tries.  And it is doggone cute to observe her attempt it.  She does what I used to do a lot; sing a word that is not the actual word of the song.  She belts out “I love you like the Love Sun Baby.”  Meanwhile, her little brother stands in the background pretending to strum a guitar and mouth the words to the song – perfectly content not to have a clue what he is singing.  He just enjoys moving his body. 

I caught Maria the other day on my mom’s treadmill jamming it out to Ms. Gomez.  I had allowed her to start the treadmill and keep it at a low-level.  She had grabbed my mom’s CD player and headphones and inserted her Teenage Bop CD in it.  I saw the teenage Maria at that moment as she belted out a word here or there while walking on the treadmill and dreamily staring out the window in front of her.  I wish I could get into that brain of hers in those moments to listen to what she is thinking in that dreamy world of hers.  I am quite sure it is not how much she loves her mama….

My mother-in-law forwarded an announcement about Big Time Rush coming to Nationwide Arena in July. I can’t wait to take her to her first concert – I still remember heading to Prince with my mom in Cincinnati.  What a concert in which to begin my concert experience!  I think Big Time Rush will be a tad bit more subdued than Prince….

The Joys of Parenting A Daughter

I had not seen Maria since Friday morning when I dropped her off for school with the exception of a few minutes on Saturday afternoon between her return from a friend’s house and her departure to her cousin’s house.  I pulled into the driveway at 5:30 pm and she ran down the driveway yelling “MOM!”  What a marvelous feeling. 

I loaded her and Mario in the car to head to Wendy’s Gymnastics.  She asked me if she could run in the house and get a snack.  I told her I would head in with her (knowing that her snack may be a four course meal).  Indeed, she was ready to rip into another cereal bar (after eating one a half hour ago with the sitter).  I told her that she could have an apple or grapes rather than the cereal bar since we would be eating dinner right after the gym.  She looked at me in disgust and walked away.  I asked her if she wanted fruit, and she shut the door behind her.  Lovely.  When I opened my car door, I got the following pleasantry thrown my way:

“I can’t wait until you are away in Cancun. You can’t leave soon enough.” 

Even lovelier.  I gave her a sad face that I know she saw through my rear view mirror but it stirred no response.  When we got to Wendy’s, she opened her door, stepped out of the car, and marched into the gym alone.  Mario looked at me as I picked her up out of his seat and observed “She seems mad at you.”  He is a smart cookie.  He gave me his sweet Mario hug to make up for Maria’s quick departure. 

Once inside, she continued to ignore me.  I had a pack of Tic Tacs and I offered her a few.  She accepted and whispered “thanks, mommy.”  I didn’t press the issue any more.  I want her to feel that she can assert herself with me – without retribution or revenge on my part.  I am not going to give her grief for saying she wanted me in another country – she needs to be able to get her feelings out (although there are times that it takes me biting my lip to near bruising to avoid saying something to her I will regret (and sometimes I say it anyway and slip up; I am human after all)).  I will draw the line if she cusses me out or behaves like a crazy woman but other than that, I am going to let her process her feelings. 

About a third of the way through gymnastics class, she waved me down and motioned for me to watch her jump off the balance beam.  I did.  And I gave her a thumbs up and a standing ovation.  She smiled at me. 

All is good.