Cancun 2014

I never thought I’d complain about the heat after the Winter we have had this year. But I returned from my morning run in Cancun sweating and feeling nauseous because of the sun beaming down on me. I think my body was in shock after running in 5 degree weather the last two months. But that was the only hot weather complaint I had while on our annual Cancun vacation with Jon’s work folks.
We left on Wednesday morning at 4:30 am (I braved 10 degree weather in shorts with the excitement of landing in 80 degree weather). We arrived at the hotel at 11 am, did our Chevy Chase Vacation head bobbing on the balcony of our room while taking in the ocean, and headed down to swim. We had a blast playing in the waves. Meanwhile, Ri called us four times in a row to tell us how much she missed us. Mario was perfectly content with Grandma Ionno but Ri missed having us around her. We better take that in while we can because I have a feeling that may not continue in a couple of years.
We hung out a good deal with Jon’s friend Craig and his wife Julie. Julie and I tease Jon and Craig about their bromance but it is quite darling. They told Julie and me that they take care of one another – when one is having a bad day, the other lifts him up. And when Craig heard Jon ordering a coke at McDonald’s one morning, he counseled him on making better choices. Precious. Julie talked to me about Pure Barre and how much she loved it. I think that will be my new adventure in exercise…. They are a sweet couple and we all laughed a lot when we were together.

Jon and I engaged in our normal routine: I get up and workout, we meet for the killer breakfast buffet (Ri would adore it), we jump in the ocean and swim, we get massages, we jump back in the ocean, we eat dinner, we crash. Not a bad life. I even swam with a shark this year! I didn’t mean to by any means…. I was looking for shells a ways down the beach and stood up to find a three foot shark swimming by me. I froze and let him continue to circle me and when he moved away a third time, I darted onto the beach. I couldn’t wait to tell Jon and Mario! And Jon experienced a first at the beach, too. He got a pedicure! His feet were baby soft and he had to admit he loved it. I imagine he will be sneaking away at lunch to get one every three weeks. He did have to endure his guy friends giving him grief about his robe though. The front desk lady gave him a super short one to wear even after he asked for another. When he walked into the waiting area, his buddy Phil shook his head and said “Jon, you just made my day.” His other friend told him that the robe looked like it would fit his twelve year old daughter. Nothin’ like guy friends to calm your anxiety. When we got up to the room, there was a present laying there for Jon – a toddler-size robe compliments of “The Guys”. We laughed for ten minutes straight.
Jon’s boss, Jim tried to teach us to body surf to no avail. The man is like balsa wood the way he rides a wave nearly into shore. Jon and I made it about five feet from where the wave crested.
We missed hanging with Dave and Jen and Joe and Lydia – our Michigan buddies. Our schedules never lined up except when Jen and I got to dance to our Violent Femmes song in the pool Friday night. We are gonna need some time on Dave’s boat this Summer….


Patty cranked out four straight days with the kiddos, god love her! Maria got strept throat on Thursday. She called us up barely able to speak but mustering up the words to tell us that “this is the time when she most needs her parents near her.” Talk about knowing how to give a guilt trip…! When we arrived home on Saturday night (a day early between Ri’s strept and the snowmageddon predicted for Sunday), these posters were hanging:

I love how this one has our ages.

And this one poses questions to us (answers: I’d rather eat with Michael Jackson and Jon would rather eat a snail).
We got the most warm and welcoming hugs from the munchos when we stepped in the door (we need to leave more often).
And Rocco was in heaven with his doggy pals at the farm. As Jorge commented “Rocco likes Winter.”

All is back to normal again: kids, Rocco, 48 year old dad and 42 year old mom are back at home together waiting for Spring to come.

Thank God For Friday…and pizza…and cousins…and head massages

Between fighting the flu early in the week and fighting work insanity late in the week, I am relieved it is Friday night and I am able to sit in front of my computer and eat a DQ blizzard.  We received a treat tonight with Maggie and Laura coming over for pizza and hair brushing.  Yeah, that’s right – not together though!  We ate pizza (before pizza, Mario said grace and stated he was thankful for his cousins and his family and won Maggie and Laura’s hearts forever).  Maria hung on Maggie’s and Laura’s every word; she looks up to them like I looked up to their moms.  

M&M with their cousins

As we ate pizza, Mario began fidgeting in his seat and jumping out of it to dance around.  Jon and I told him to sit down and eat.  He kept talking. Maggie and Laura have always teased us about how lenient we are with discipline and we have always teased them about running a tight ship.  But, I have always admitted that a little bit more of that “hard ship” attitude would be helpful, especially at dinner. Laura took his arm and firmly stated “Mario, your dad spoke to you and asked you to sit.Sit.”  He sat.  We completely ignored him until he began eating his pizza.  He finished it in 5 minutes.  Laura figured out that his one “treasure” that would hurt him the most if taken away was attention.  He lives to be the life of the party.  Take that away, and he is bored.  And that is what we did when we ignored him and paid him no attention – he was forced to eat his pizza to get that attention back. Genius!  

After pizza, Maggie started a bath and Laura got hair products to comb out Maria’s knotty hair.  Maria’s hair looks like strands of gold when it is fully combed out and only Laura has the ability to get it combed to that level without Maria screaming and carrying on like an insane person.   After Maria’s hair, Laura combed mine, and if that was not heavenly, she massaged my head.  I sat at the table lost in another world while Maggie kept the kids busy and Laura kept my head amongst the clouds. 

After dinner, they helped clean up and wrestled with the kids.  They called it a night around 9 pm since they had to take a shower and get ready to hit the bars!  Oh, to be young again.  Jon and I are seriously contemplating paying them a salary per year to live in our attic; I do believe it is the only way that M&M will learn their manners, pay attention, and behave appropriately in society.  Ok, I may be exaggerating a bit but they are good and on Friday night when Jon and I are exhausted, they are awesome!

From Rocks to Waltzes

One aspect of my upbringing that I most cherish is the fact that my parents gave me such a breadth of experiences and viewpoints.  My dad took inner city kids out on hikes in the Ohio forests, my mom appreciated beautiful artwork and running; my step mom harbored a passion for writing and funky music.  I am committed to providing that same breadth of experience to my kids.  

Maria and Mario debating which rocks can be thrown in the river versus taken home

Our Sunday morning began with a trip to the river to throw rocks and a jaunt to the woods to play amongst the trees and our Monday night ended with a bike ride to the dance studio to watch professional dancers waltz across the newly polished hardwood floor. 

Sunday morning is our donut morning. I pack up the kids in their pj’s and we stroll down to Tim Horton’s.  You know you eat at a place too much when all of the staff members know your name and what you want to eat.  Maria inevitably gets her rainbow sprinkled vanilla donut and Mario chows down on five chocolate timbits.  This Sunday we got a special treat.  There was a half marathon course running right past the Tim Horton’s.  We got to watch men and women run by us as we stuffed our faces with dough and sugar.  Nice. 

I told the kids about how much I relied on cheering by-standers when I ran my races.  That struck a chord in Maria and she started yelling “girls beat the boys” as the runners raced by.  Unfortunately, all of the runners passing by were men.  Mario, of course, had to point this fact out to her with the quip “he was not a girl, Maria, he was a boy.”  However, within two minutes of Mario’s statement, we saw a woman pass by and Maria chimed in again “Girls beat the boys!”  Mario got her back by shoving her and Maria got him back by kicking him.  Lovely.  Luckily, their attentions got diverted by a stray cat walking outside in the parking lot.  

After the donut shop, we drug our tired selves out to the stroller (watching those runners whooped us up (or maybe it was the massive sugar infiltration!))  and headed down the street to a bike path that led to the river.  

Maria being the good sport and watching Mario's 25th toss in the river

The little bank we stopped at is perfect for the kids.  Maria can pick up rocks to take home to our garden and Mario can throw a zillion rocks in the river.  I had yet another moment at the river where I thanked the stars above for giving me Maria first.  She is so good with her brother.  Mario must have said twenty times “Maria, look at this throw.”  Now most people would ignore Mario after two or three throws but Maria stops what she is doing, watches him, and exclaims “Cool Mario!” And even when she has no desire to watch him after the twentieth time, she will still throw a glance at him right when she needs to so Mario thinks that she is watching.  What a trooper. 

Maria deep in her massage (notice eyes closed and all!)

After collecting a handful of rocks, we left to head home.  On the way back, the kids decided they wanted to visit the trolls in the forest.  There is a little woods about a mile from our house (close to a home we thought of purchasing a few months ago and didn’t – slight regret) that is perfect for the kids.  They can run around in it and not get lost.  We can make up stories of trolls and fairies.  We can play hide and seek.  We can balance across fallen logs.  We can look for worms.  Mario collected acorns for the trip home and Maria asked about the trolls and where they sleep at night. Mario is a little more hesitant!

After all of that rock throwing and hiking, we needed a good massage.  Luckily, there was a masseuse on the streets of Grandview giving a “mini massage” to try to get business that day so Maria convinced me to take a load off and hit the masseuse up for a shoulder massage.  After I finished, Maria stood up out of the stroller and quipped “I am next!”  Of course, Mario could not resist if his sis got one.  So, there we are, the family massage on Grandview Avenue. 

When we got home, Jon had a surprise for me.  He was taking the kids to his cousin’s house for a fishing escapade so I could work and relax.  Ahh, the most wonderful gift I could ever receive on a Sunday afternoon.When I told Maria I was going to take her picture, she jumped off her bike and got in this pose!

Smiling Mario on his bike

On Monday night, the kids jumped on their bikes to ride up the street.  Mario is intrepid but when it comes to crossing the street, he becomes hesitant and cautious.  He stops ten feet back from the street, looks both ways, and then looks at me and says “I’m worried about cars, mommy.”  There could be a car five blocks down the street, and he will wait for it to pass before riding.  Maria gets exasperated with him. 

Hot times on Grandview Avenue

We finally made it to the top of the street and decided to go in the dance studio.  They sat on the couch and became mesmerized with an instructor and his student.  The two of them were doing a waltz around the studio.  The kids were in awe.  They got up every few minutes to try out a move they witnessed and then sat back down and continued watching.  We probably could have stayed until midnight – they just loved it.  When we left, I was fumbling around looking for my money, and when I looked up, the pose to the left is what I saw.  Maria reminds me of a female James Dean with her suave leaning pose.  Oh, how they make me smile!