Fried ham and pancakes and joy

If only every night could be as delightful as last Wednesday evening. I came home from work and both kids had finished their homework. They asked if we could make pancakes and eggs for dinner. Ri wanted to make the eggs and Mario, the pancakes. Right out of the bat, no fighting over who makes what. Yes!

Ri found some ham in the refrigerator drawer and asked if we could fry up some ham with her eggs. She started frying the ham, and the smell emanated throughout the kitchen. Mario looked over at her as he poured the pancake mix and said “that ham smells great Maria!”

She thanked him and brought a slice over for him to eat. “You need your protein”, she said. He laughed and gobbled it down.   Ri asked how he wanted his eggs cooked. They debated on which would be better – sunny side up or over medium. Mario left it to Maria to decide. Maria then asked if he wanted cheese on his eggs and he replied “whatever you want to give me Maria!” Was I dropped in a fantasy world?!

Mario continued to stir his pancake batter, and was anxious to put the batter on the skillet.  We got the chocolate chips, the cornflakes, and the bananas. Maria likes corn flakes, Mario likes chocolate chips, and I like bananas. Mario asked me to pour the batter on the skillet but he wanted to flip the pancakes. It took a while for them to cook. He kept placing his spatula under a pancake trying to flip it but it was still not cooked enough to flip over. I turned away to wash a dish in the sink and I heard a yell of “Mom!” Mario flipped the pancake when it was still raw and the batter fell halfway off the skillet onto the stove. He was mad at himself. Maria quickly jumped in and provided her pancake war story. 

“Mario,  the first time I made pancakes I flipped the pancakes so hard the batter hit the top of the ceiling and then some came back down and landed all over the floor. So you are doing so much better than I did my first time, little brother!”

He smiled, shook his head in comraderie with Ri, and continued on with his next pancake.    

 The next batch he made were flipped perfectly. He got a plate for Ri and asked her to try one he made for her with a bold combination of chocolate chips and corn flakes. 

“This is superb! It’s ten times better than mom’s pancakes!”

Yes, she gave me a huge grin right after she muttered those words. Then she blurted out a back-handed compliment to me: “It’s ok mom, you are much better with food that’s cooked in the microwave.” Obnoxious… but I couldn’t argue with that observation.  

Mario finished up his pancakes and Ri scraped out her final egg from the skillet. We sat at the table and talked about school work, teachers, and spring break.   Then, to top off the fabulous meal, Mario found the last episode of blackish on demand. He’d been checking every night for me since I had mentioned wanting to see it after hearing how great it was on the topic of race in America. We all sat down in the family room and watched the show together. And to make Mario’s night complete, we  wrestled during the commercials. 

Mama’s Day

  

I got treated to a five-star meal on Mother’s Day; the menu is above. The blueberry roasted tumble was to die for – a combo of pancake mix, corn flakes and blueberries. Seriously, it would rival Bob Evans any day. Mario made the smoothies and made sure he stood over Jon and I as we took the first sip to see how we liked them. Everything was quite good, as always. These babes have been making us breakfast in bed for some time now and they’ve become experts. 

After we ate our meal, the kids showered me with cards, which is exactly what I asked for on Mother’s Day. First, Maria’s:

  
She pasted a box of Nerds and a queen playing card on paper and wrote “you are not a nerd, your a queen.” Precious. And she drew one of my favorite animals – an elephant. And then Mario:

   
       

I gushed over his birthday card to Maria which said “every boy wants to be your brother” and got a similar quote that “every boy wants to be your son.” And a pig – my most favorite animal. My MOM poem got juice spilled on it but all my teacher relatives will love that Mario thinks teachers are the smartest people out there. 

Maria had her last soccer game at 11 am. We came home and I got to garden and get a massage (thank you Jon!). Then, the kids blind-folded me and took me to my most favorite restaurant: Perkins! Jon had informed me of the surprise but the kids didn’t know that and they were so excited to tear off the blind-fold when we got outside the front door of Perkins. 

   
 

How blessed I am to have these two pumpkin seeds as my kiddos. I hit the mama jackpot, for sure. They are a perfect combo of hilarity and intelligence and wit and compassion and loyalty. I know they have my back wherever we go. And they agreed that Perkins’ pancakes are the best around – a sure-fire way to win my heart. 

Never grow up

I got to stay home with the kids until 11 am yesterday because they got another day off of school due to the frigid cold. We made our typical Sunday morning breakfast on a Thursday morning – awesome! Mario really wanted to make his own egg since he’s seen Ri making them for the last few weeks. He decided that he wanted to make one for Ri. He made it sunny side up, which is the easiest way to make a cooked egg, thank goodness, because I know Mario would have been so pissed if the egg didn’t turn out right.
He placed the egg on a plate when he finished cooking it and handed it to Ri.
“Taste it, Ri.”
She took a bite and swooned over him.
“You are the best cook ever! This egg is awesome. I want you to cook for me always!”
Leave it to Ri to gush over him – she does this so well. And Mario soaks it up like a sponge. He has to hear praise after he does something for someone or else he becomes extremely disappointed (something we need to continue to work on with him so that he’s not relying on that feedback anytime he does anything!).
Next I let him make pancakes for all of us. He was in heaven. He loves doing things by himself. After he made his first batch, he brought one to Ri. She was busy making a smoothie video, and he kept poking her to eat his pancake. She finally turned to him as he pled to her to eat. She grabbed the pancake and squeezed his cheek and chirped “don’t you ever grow up little man. You are so cute!” She is a hoot.
He made another ten pancakes (please, just one more batch mom?), waited to hear me swoon over my pancake, and then closed up shop.
We cleaned up the kitchen and then Ri read her MLK book while Mario drew comics. Can I just say that’s pure heaven? Having both kids off the computer, and actually enjoying a book and drawing?! It lasted a total of 15 minutes but hey, I’ll take it.
These two are my most favorite little people ever and – taking off what Ri said to Mario yesterday morning – I wish they’d never grow up….

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National Pancake Day

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And we celebrated National Pancake Day in style on Tuesday night with giant pancakes full of chocolate chips. Mario just tries to eat out the chocolate chips from the pancake so I’ve decided to throw chips everywhere into the pancake so he will eat it all.
We made 18 pancakes and by the end of the night, there were only two left. We got our full of gluten for the week.
When I was rubbing the kids’ backs later in the evening before bed, Mario looked over at Ri and me.
“I hope it’s National Long John Day tomorrow!”
Ri and I smiled at him and Ri reached over and tussled his blond locks.
You’re silly, bud,” I responded (but I secretly hoped the same).

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Don’t leave us, Autumn

We are getting down to the last few weekends where you can still go outside in a sweatshirt and shorts (or jeans for those cold-blooded folks), view a few remaining leaves on the trees, and feel the warmth of the sun on your face.  I can’t stand to be inside on these weekends because I know in a very short period of time, I will be relegated to the house staring out the windows at the bleak, frigid, bare-treed world. 

The cousins ready for a train ride

We woke up on Sunday to a balmy 59 degrees (most mornings nowadays are in the high 30s) and I over-bundled the troops for our morning stroller ride.  We hit Giant Eagle for something different and its close proximity to CVS where I needed to develop pictures.  Jon and I bought a picture frame collage when we bought our new furniture for the house a few months ago and the frame has a bunch of different sized frames that look really cool in the spur of the moment.  However, once you get home and are forced to fill 2.5 x 3.5 and 4×4 and 3x 3.5 it is a different story.  I think I have spent  over 4 hours at CVS trying to correctly develop pictures to fit in the frames.  It is driving me batty.  And yet I won’t give up (although I did feel like throwing the collage frame out the second story window one night at 1 am).  But I digress…

Mario got a chocolate muffin and Maria got a chocolate sprinkle donut at Giant Eagle (Mario said “Why do you get chocolate donuts when you don’t like chocolate?!” Maria’s response “I like chocolate donuts – who wouldn’t?!).  After Giant Eagle and CVS, we headed home reading Berenstein Bears Moving Day.  Yes, I stroll them and read them a book held by Maria who does a great job turning the pages and holding it just right so I can read the words.  As we approached home and the sun peered through the few remaining leaves of the big oak trees, I decided that I would brave it and see if my niece and nephew wanted to head to the zoo with us.  My sister-in-law agreed to let them go and Maria and Mario screamed with excitement. 

Having fun on a statute

We got home and packed pretzels, raisins, and fruit roll ups for the trip.  We grabbed the library movies we had rented earlier in the week, and we were off to Hilliard to pick up M&M’s cousins.  We packed everyone in the truck, fastened seat belts, and headed north to zoo land.  I thank the heavens that I only have two kids but if I had four, I would be able to crank it out.  I packed those kids in the car in less than a minute and that’s with buckling seat belts, too.  I have become a pro. 

We arrived at a quiet zoo with parking close to the entrance.  When we entered, everyone grabbed a map and began to review as if they knew what they were reviewing.  We decided to head to the Petting Zoo first.  Of course, it was closed.  The barn was open so you could see the goats but it’s not the same as being in the pen with them.  We decided to head to the North American region and come back to the Petting Zoo. 

Watching the polar bear

One of the coolest sites of the day was the polar bear exhibit where you can go underground and watch the polar bears dive into the water to play or catch fish.  Two polar bears jumped in while we stood underground, and the kids got to witness them playing and swimming around in the water.  They were darling.  We tried to hit a playground after the polar bears but it was closed, too.  The kids were upset and began with the whiny complaints (“This zoo is awful…”).  I explained to them how lucky they were to be able to come to the zoo and how a lot of kids don’t even get that opportunity.  Maria understood it immediately but the rest of them failed to comprehend at all.  Nonetheless, we continued on to the bobcats, pumas, and moose and their minds were promptly diverted to how cool those animals looked. 

The metal statutes were a big hit for the kids.  They loved to climb on them and swing from them.  We hit one of those at almost every new geographical location.  The bird sanctuary was a bigger hit than I thought it would be.  They searched for birds throughout the sanctuary and when they found one they made a mad dash to the chart to see what kind of bird it was.  After the bird sanctuary, we hit another playground and it was closed, too.  This even pissed me off. I get that they close the playground areas at a specified time each year but really, on a day that is 60 degrees?  More disappointment on their faces when I told them it was closed.  I think it was disappointment and exhaustion from walking for two and a half hours.  Tension began to rise in the two groups of siblings, also.  Giovanni had found a feather and Mario wanted to touch it.  Gio refused.  Mario begged.  He still refused.  At that point, Maria walked up to him and pointed her finger scolding him about how selfish he was being and how he needed to learn to share.  Alana hurried up to defend her brother and tell Maria to leave him alone.  Maria proceeded to tell Alana that Mario would not share his toys with Gio if Gio continued to act selfish.  Alana said that Gio didn’t care.  And yes it kept going just like that for another minute or two before I interjected.  What would spark up 4 and 6 year olds after an exhausting day at the zoo?  McDonald’s Playland!  Let’s go kids!  

Tunnel Fun

My kids are used to the Playland because of our trips to and from Cincy where the McDonald’s Playland acts as a rest stop half way in between Columbus and Cincy.  Their cousins are not used to McDonald’s Playland because their parents do not frequent such establishments.  Aunt Mary is a lot different from Aunt Carrie.  I could care less about the dangers of such playlands – germs are good for kids in order to build up tolerance.  Heck, I never worried about germs as a kid and I turned out healthy.  But Aunt Carrie is polar opposite.  I am sure it sickens her to think about playing at McDonald’s.  I respect her for that – I sometimes I wish I had a little more of her style in me – but if the kids are with me, we will head to these types of places because they are cheap and the kids like them.  Heck, they spent a half hour running around and exhausting themselves so that when 9 pm came that night, they should have been out cold (Maria was knocked out; Mario was just getting a second wind). 

Finally, we ended up at Joann Fabrics to look for vases and flowers for the house.  I could not believe how good the kids were at that place.  They had every opportunity to run all around the store when I was looking at flowers, but they stayed by my side or within earshot of me.  I was very impressed, and because I was so impressed, I let them each buy a little something.  They helped me select flowers for the dining room and tried to find me some artwork for the room.  Nothing would do the trick so I made an impulse last-minute buy of two flower pictures.  I got them home and decided against them immediately.  Oh well.  I do like the flowers we bought. 

We got home at 6 pm and helped Jon with the remainder of the garage cleaning.  He had worked on clearing out the garage while we went to the zoo – no small task since we threw every piece of junk and unnecessary item in the garage when we moved into the house.  To my surprise, after we were done, he asked if we wanted to go to Bob Evans.  Heaven.  I had been craving their pancakes for weeks.  We loaded up and headed down to Bob’s for pancakes and dinner rolls with butter and mashed potatoes.  Thanks, Mother Nature for giving us such a beautiful Autumn day.