Mario moolah

I went to teacher conferences for the kiddos last week. Maria got rave reviews from her teachers: “she is so sweet and generous with her classmates; she always helps out; she always participates in class…”. I think she’s hit a good stride this year and feels more confident around her classmates and teachers. 

Mario’s teacher has been a neighbor of ours the past few years. I see her and her husband walk their dog around the block and often stop to chat “dog” with them when I’m walking Rocco. She’s a down-to-earth, pleasant person who has taught for at least 20 years. 

We sat down and her first words were “Mario is a bit mature for his age, heh?” She gave an immediate example (paraphrased below):

“I asked the students to draw an object based on a shape I gave them. For example, a ball may be turned into a basketball. Mario got a square. He turned it into a house. 

I asked each kid to come to the front of the room and describe the object they made. When Mario came to the front of the room, he described his house like this: ‘my house is pretty big but the sellers are asking way too much for it. They want $600,000 and it’s barely worth $300,000 so I don’t think they are going to get as much as they want.’

All of the kids sat there looking confused but smiling at Mario.”

Gotta love that kid. She advised that if I want to give him any extra math work, I make sure to use real scenarios with him. “He understands math and money – and likes real world problems.”

Hmmmm. I immediately thought of my dad telling me the story of him and Mario building a birdhouse together. They had been working on finishing touches to the wooden birdhouse when Mario asked “how much longer do we have on this one?” My dad asked what the hurry. Mario responded “we need to get this one done so we can make a bunch more and sell them for $50 each.” 

Yep. My boy has always had a keen sense for numbers and money. And he’s much better at addition than subtraction.


Bed time

Maria has been begging for a new bed for months. She complains she’s not comfortable in her bed – it’s too hard and too lumpy. I’m not sure when we bought her bed or if we even bought it. It may have been my grandma’s since the headboard and footboard are hers. I can’t remember. In any case, seeing we have had foam pads laid across her bed for months, I figured it was time to get a new one. Besides, she swears she will sleep in later on a new bed….

I took the kids to the Original Mattress Factory down the street on Saturday morning. What a hoot that trip ended up being. The kids could have tested mattresses all day. Mario, of course, pleaded and begged and whined to be able to get a new mattress like Ri because his mattress was horrible, too. Yea, right. Of course, the ones they immediately gravitated to were the most expensive. $2,200 for a twin orthopedic mattress! Seriously? Mario couldn’t leave its side. The salesman, Thom, was a 20 year employee of the store and gave us its history. Maria was fascinated and peppered him with question after question. She loves any kind of history. He even took them behind the showroom doors to let them see where they stored equipment and beds. He was quite the host.

Then he showed me where the more reasonably priced beds were located in the back of the showroom. Now we were talking – $200-350. Of course, after laying on the orthopedic ones, these felt like rocks. Smart move, Mattress Factory. Mario kept jumping from one to another to another. Maria actually laid on a few for a while and soaked them in. She finally landed on one that she felt was the best. It was a pillow top double sided mattress that was not at the low range but not ridiculously high. She convinced me by analyzing the others in comparison to her current mattress and the difference in the pillow top. I tried it out and could feel the difference. But honestly, what drove me to agree was the sheer hope that this gem would have her sleeping until 9 am.

Mario continued to hop from bed to bed while I filled out paperwork for Ri. When I told them we had to go, Mario pleaded for the $2,200 mattress. When I said no way for the tenth time, he distressingly replied “ok, I will take that one.” He pointed to the $1,200 one. I’m glad he continues to believe he will be a pro football player making “$1 million dollars a week” because he’s gonna need it with his taste.


pulling teeth 


This kid didn’t lose a tooth until he was seven years old. He used to complain in Kindergarten that everyone had lost a tooth but him. Then this year arrived, and his friends were losing them like crazy. He would pull and wiggle all his teeth hoping he could loosen just one and it would fall out. 

Then out of no where, he has lost three in the matter of a month. He’s a perfect jack-o-lantern. He is so super excited but we think we know why…. All along, I think he was less concerned about losing teeth and more concerned about scoring cash from the tooth fairy. 

“I hope she gives me $100 so I can buy a skateboard.” 

He got $5 with the last one so I have an inkling that he will be pulling at the remaining baby teeth with that skateboard in mind. 

Give me the money!

Mario is in love with his beyblades lately. He’s dying to buy Japanese ones on eBay. But he has little to no money in his wallet. So he decides to clean his room, Maria’s room and the bathroom to earn some money. Granted however, he does not tell Jon or me about this  decision so we did not set any price we’d pay for him to do these chores. And Maria never did either. 

He finishes “cleaning” Ri’s room, which entails throwing her clothes in random drawers and tossing random objects on the ground onto her bed. I think his mantra is “if the floor is clean, the room is clean.” He walks downstairs and informs Ri that he cleaned her room and she needed to pay him. She casually finds her wallet and whips out a $20 bill to give him. This all happens while Jon and I are at work.

When we come home, we hear what happened. Mario now assumes because of Ri’s ridiculous generosity that he is going to score serious cash from me and Jon for cleaning two rooms. Wrong. He’s deflated when we tell him we may give him $1 for his efforts. Ri comes to his side advocating about what a thorough cleaning job he did.  

Patty came in town to watch M&M while we went to Cancun last week. She lost her phone the day before her arrival and she was upset she’d have to buy a new one. While she was taking Ri to school one morning, Ri found Patty’s phone hidden in the car seat. Patty was so relieved. She offered Ri $5 for finding it. Ri’s response: “you keep it Grandma for when we go to the lake this Summer.” Mario later found out Patty offered $5 to Ri. His response: “What?! I didn’t have a chance to try to find it in Grandma’s car and get $5. Not fair!”

Jon and I arrived home from Cancun. We had bought a couple of drinks at the airport and I had gotten two Mexican coins back from the cashier. I slipped them in my pocket without looking at them. As Ri and Mario opened the last of their souvenir gifts, I remembered the coins. I took them out and handed one to Ri and one to Mario. Ri looked at it and said “cool, a $5 coin.” Mario looked at his and said “wait, mine is only $1.” Ri looked at me with a concerned look. She immediately handed her $5 coin to Mario and told him she’d trade. I stopped her arm from reaching his hand. But he had already rejected her offer. It’s like he innately knew there wasn’t anything he was going to do with pesos here in the US so why use his good will on that exchange with Ri. Or, for all I know, he innately knew that $5 pesos wasn’t even worth $1 in US currency so why bother. It would not surprise me a bit.



I am so happy to have this boy in my life. A few days ago, he started making Skylander books, which consist of one Skylander on a page and about three or four pages stapled together. No words. But he verbally describes each Skylander to me. After reading all three different books to me, he started his sales pitch: “what book do you want to buy, mom?”

“How much are they?”

“For you, $10.”

“”Is that a higher price than for others or a deal?!”, I wondered out loud.

“Hey, I need money to buy Skylander swap so I gotta sell them for at least $10.”

I told him I’d give him $5 knowing we’d land at $6 since he always bargains back and forth. But I made him autograph it for me so when he became famous, I could say “I knew him when….” He thought that was cool. He wrote “Mom”, drew a heart, and signed his name. Precious. Then he stuck out his hand to retrieve $6 from me.

When I tucked him in, he asked when I’d get him the $6. I told him I’d savage through my purse when I went downstairs. He made me promise to put the cash in his wallet in a particular order: “the ones have to go after the fives and the fives after the tens. Dad and I organize our money right.” Oh my.

The next evening, he laid in our bed waiting for Jon to come up to watch football with him. Jon called me up to look at him. He was laying face up holding one of his “books” in front of him. He looked like an angel. I walked over to him and kissed his forehead and he looked at me with a sad little face.

“What’s wrong pumpkin?”

“I don’t want you or dad to die.”

I was dizzy with love and compassion and swooped him up in my arms to hug him. I told him we weren’t going anywhere and he hugged me back as hard as I hugged him while planting the most gentle of kisses on my cheek.


Mario’s first lost tooth


After a week of tugging and pulling, Mario lost his first tooth last night while eating a chicken nugget in the back seat of Jon’s truck.

“I felt something hard in my chicken nugget and it was my tooth!”

He had made it bleed earlier in the day with me and I had told him to stop pulling at it and let it come out naturally. So much for listening to mom. It was welcome excitement after spending most of the day at Children’s Hospital getting his left eye examined due to a cut that his best friend Quinn gave him while dancing.

He has high expectations for the Tooth Fairy. He woke up this morning and found five single dollar bills under his pillow. He counted them out one by one and when he got to the last one, he sighed and said in an exasperated tone:

“I got five dollars.”

“Five dollars! I only got 25 cents when I was a kid.” (I have to add my “I walked ten miles uphill and barefoot” stories in as much as possible).

He looked at me with an understanding expression but then quickly added “Dad still owes me $5 for allowance so at least I will have $10.”

I’m worried he is going to start yanking at all of his teeth in order to get up to $25.


Money Money

Mario continues to be fixated on money. He called me into the bedroom this morning and shouted “Look, look!” Tim Horton’s had a commercial for its scratch-off tickets.

“You can win up to $50,000 or a new car!”

After it was over, he looked over at me to see my reaction. I looked amazed and said “wow, I could win a lot of money!”

He shook his head and said “no, mom, I wouldn’t go for that one. Grandma Ionno played and just won a coffee.”

He proceeded to tell me that the insurance commercial where we save $100 by switching to a new company is a lot better deal for us because then we know we’d get $100 cash.

This behavior paired with his recent request of Grandma Ionno to buy him button down shirts and a tie, make me see Wall Street in his future… or maybe, CEO of Traveler’s Insurance.