A weekend to remember

I remember waking up at five in the morning every weekend. Jon and I would hear the wrestling in the other room and know that our early bird torturer had awaken. We would hold our breath with the hopes that she would fall back to sleep but alas, within seconds, she would start yelling for us. We would each whine to the other about having gotten up with her last until one of us finally gave in and kicked the covers off our bodies heading to get the child. Whichever one of us grabbed her did not matter. We both headed back to the bed with her. She sat up between us like a new, crisp book between two worn book ends. One of us sleepily turned on the tv and there she sat between us for an hour, sometimes two, watching episode after episode of Dora the Explorer. Dora was our volunteer babysitter while we “slept in” until the late hour of 7 AM. I’d begin to feel guilty after the fourth episode so we would slowly ooze out of bed like slime moving from one hand to the other. As we got dressed and Ri jumped on the bed, the same question ran through our heads: “when will we be able to sleep in and not have to spend every waking moment with this child?!”

Flash forward. The kids still aren’t late sleepers but they are able to get up on their own, make breakfast, and chill in the house until Jon and I wake up. It used to be that once we woke up, we were planning out the day together – going to the Conservatory, hitting the indoor pool, going to the park. But now, that is beginning to change, too. Maria wants to go to the mall and be with her friends or head to clay café to make pottery. Mario wants to go to the skate park with his boys or hang out and play video games. It is a much greater effort to find something that we can all do together. When did this happen? How were those days so long in the past and now they run so short?

I want the precious memories of those days from the past back again Without the early wake up time and the constant attention. When I would lift Maria out of her crib and she would wrap her arms around my neck. Or when I would gather Mario and put him in the snugglie for a 2 mile walk around town. He would hold onto my index finger with his little hand and just be as content as can be.

This past weekend, nobody had games or play practice on the schedule for Sunday. More importantly, the kids had been wanting a new couch for the basement. Therefore, they were willing to hang with Jon and me for the afternoon. We all jumped in the truck and headed to IKEA.

Maria and Mario tested every single futon and couch three times over. We battled a bit with Mario who was dead set on getting some furniture for his room as well as the basement even though we had said 20 times before that we were just going to find a sofa for the basement. Maria then got a bit stressed because she wanted all of us to focus on the sofa and the color scheme of the basement. We finally landed on a couch we all liked an hour later. But then we had to go find it in the self service warehouse, put the boxes on a cart, and take it to check out (because there was no way that I was paying $35 for IKEA to do it). Then, after we checked out, we were required to walk it over to delivery and assembly so they could tag it and give us a delivery date. We were all starving by the time we had simply loaded the boxes on the cart. The checkout line was 6 people deep. Ugh. We would have to have that daggone annoying virtue, patience. We all tapped our fingers as we waited in line, and listened to Mario complain about how he was absolutely starving (it doesn’t help that IKEA has a Cinnabon shoppe at the end of the checkout line). We did have some entertainment when a guy who was in front of us moved out of our line to a new line, and then, 5 minutes later, returned to our line butting his cart in front of us without even saying a word. Jon asked what he was doing, and he had the nerve to be a complete ass. The kids enjoyed watching Jon and him have a little chat….Whatever it takes to divert our attention from hunger. We finally made it out of there two hours later. We were supposed to go to the mall to look for a dress for Maria’s dance but even she had no desire to do it once we left IKEA. We are not the shopping family by any means.

Rather, we are the food family. We went straight to Steak & Shake. I had not been to that restaurant in forever – Jon and Mario go fairly often together after basketball. Their shakes were pretty darn good. And, most importantly, they had a super-ball dispensing machine at the front of the store! How exciting! Unfortunately, it wasn’t working so we ended up with a gigantic jaw-breaker to eat on the way home.

As we approached home, Ri saw our beloved bald eagle perched on top of the branch right off the highway. We have two bald eagles that live about a mile away from our house. Jon has been keeping an eye on them for the last few weeks but the rest of us have not gotten to see them. Jon took us to the spot where he watches them. We spent 20 minutes trying to zoom in on it with our binoculars. We got back in the car to find a closer spot.

We were all able to see it!

Was I really that excited?! Yes I was. I was back to the days when the kids would be jumping on a plastic tarp of piano keys and singing a song for us. I was planted back to the times when we would sit around the table and play Yahtzee. I had the best of all worlds – time with my kids with the knowledge that once we got home we could all migrate our separate directions and have some alone time.

Shopping and eating…

Maria begged me to take her and her girlfriend to the mall on Friday night. Mario stayed with Patty this weekend – loving his time with his grandma before she moves from Marion. 

It was a cold night on Friday so I knew that we would not be able to play outside. This was pretty much the only reason I agreed to the mall – that, and it allowed for me to at least walk around and get some exercise while they looked at clothes. It also brings back fond memories of my girlfriend Beth and I going to Kenwood Mall on the weekends. We would spend hours up there just walking around, eating lunch, looking to see if any other friends or boys were around. We inevitably would find other friends hanging out because that is what we did in the 1980s. Nowadays, kids actually go there just to shop. How strange is that?

 I couldn’t believe how long Maria and her friend could remain in one store. I waited out on the couches for them, catching up on emails, but after 25 minutes I thought maybe they had been held hostage in there. I went to check on them and, sure enough, they were trying on there seventh shirt in the dressing room – just as happy as can be. 

Ri walked out with this snazzy top and I told her there was no way her father would allow her to wear that outside the house. She loved it though, and of course, I caved in and got it for her – but required her to agree that she would only wear it this summer, not beforeehand. I’m a real stickler aren’t I?!

They finally decided to move to a different store. They chose Bare Minerals. I watched a video of how to put on make up, and realized how little I know about proper application of that stuff. I was tempted to buy everything that was on the video because the older lady starring in it transformed from wrinkles and blemishes to a supermodel. But the  practical part of me, along with many generations of women who have never been consumed by that stuff, overpowered any remaining desire I had. I grabbed the girls and told them we needed to move on to another store. But this was not before they both applied some funky pink lipstick.

We moved on to Lush. I actually liked the store – all organic bath products. The bath bombs smelled delicious. I caved in and bought each girl one of them. These are the times that I wish we had a huge bathtub – I could get into using one of those bath bombs every night to relax me.

We hit a few more clothing stores, including the newly designed Abercrombie and Fitch store, which the girls geeked over. Finally, 2 1/2 hours later, they were starving and ready to go. Everyone was craving Mexican food so we decided to head to El Vaquero. Not a smart move when you are starving and they feed you nonstop chips and salsa. 

We were ill or by the time our food came but how can you reject fish tacos and enchiladas? And to top it off and make us truly stuffed, we had to get the fried ice cream for dessert!  I was positive we would all have stomachaches at 2 am.

Surprisingly, we all slept like logs. In fact, we woke up the next morning and decided to top off our Mexican grub from the previous evening with some timbits from Tim Hortons. If you are gonna splurge, splurge big!


All is well with the world again. My babies were home all weekend with me and Jon. We played Quirkle (Jon won one and Ri won one) and hung out around the house. Mario is still fighting some virus so we needed to lay low. 

The kids biked up to Stauf’s on Saturday afternoon to get bagels and write a piece about Jorge on my computer. They did not want me to come with them. Ri packed the computer in her book bag and they set off together. It is the sweetest sight ever to watch them when they are getting along. I take joyful refuge in watching them bike side by side up the street as they smile and and talk to one another. 

They called me after 45 minutes and asked if I wanted to come up and play cards with them. Why, of course, I told them. I opened the coffee shoppe door and there they were with their drinks and half-eaten bagels with cream cheese. Mario reading a magazine and Ri on my computer. I marveled at their independence. We played crazy eights and go fish and I didn’t win a game. But I loved hanging with them all the same.


We went school clothes shopping after Stauf’s – heaven help me. I have too much testosterone or something because I detest shopping. We only went to one store and I was ready to rip my head off after an hour. I am my mother’s child. I recall my mom and I going to Shapely Outlet Mall when I was a pre-teen. I was trying on dress after dress oblivious to my mom. All of a sudden, I hear a crash and a yelp. Mom had walked right into a mirror. She was done, shot, ready to go. So maybe it’s not too much testosterone – maybe it’s hereditary. 

On Sunday, we had our breakfast at Stauf’s – one of my single most favorite Sunday activities. Jon joined us for a game of Go Fish. Mr. “I don’t play those childish games” certainly became Mr. Competitive as we started playing. He almost beat out Mario but Mario pulled away with 14 pairs to Jon’s 11. A bit later, the kids got their lemonade stand together. Ri worked for an hour on the sign while Mario prepared the lemonade. They didn’t get to many hits, unfortunately. But I can’t believe how long they sat out there together with no computer or tv to watch. Just staring out at the street and chatting together. 

I’m holding on tight to these days: I know the time will come sooner than I like when the kids are more interested in friends’ houses and any where else other than home.

Thanksgiving 2013

And so part one of three has ended of the holiday get-togethers. Christmas and New Year’s are breathing down my neck. But as much as I cringe at the thought of untangling Christmas lights and shopping on-line, I truly love this time of year. People are more pleasant. Someone even hurriedly hopped in his car when he saw me waiting for his space (one if my worst pet peeves are people taking ten minutes to climb in their car and reverse out of a space). Everyone seems to have a good attitude and I get a lot more “hellos” from passerbys.
Because of all this good cheer, I figured I’d add to the spirit and take Ri and her friend and Mario and his friend to lunch the last day of school before Thanksgiving break. Mario didn’t quite understand why I was there since I surprised him. He thought I was taking him home for the day. So what was at first elation to see me turned to sourpuss and pleading to leave school for the day. But after explaining five times over that only big kids get to go to lunch with their mom, he decided he’d take what he could get. Ri and her friend stood at the door anxious for chicken strips and ranch dressing. We headed out to Marshall’s across the street dodging snowballs from the boys.

The fish were a big hit with the boys as well as the pool table. The girls just wanted to sit alone and play music. And eat.



I took the kids back to school and gave Mario ten hugs goodbye. That evening, I addressed thank you cards to everyone that was coming to Thanksgiving dinner. The kids got into holiday mode – they played on electronics and made a fort in our bedroom.
We woke on Thanksgiving morning and drove down to the YMCA to feed some of the homeless men. They already had enough servers so we just went around to the tables and said hi to them. The first man we said hi to was wearing a long sweatshirt. After Mario told him his name, the man rolled up his sleeve and showed us the name “Mario” tattooed on his arm. Too funny. Mario was in awe (and will probably try to get one himself in five years). Next, we went upstairs to where they were hosting 15 women, and made cards for them to place on their chairs. Maria asked what to write and I told her just something nice. I looked over a few minutes later and she had written “Happy Thanksgiving! You are special just the way you are.” What a doll. Mario drew turkeys and flowers on his card. We went back downstairs after the card-making and visited with some more folks. The final man we talked to was from Alabama and he talked about the snakes and turkeys in Alabama. He kept the kids’ attention and had me cracking up. He was hilarious. We left after an hour and went home to greet the Ionno family and my mom and sister. Jon was fast at work getting the turkeys together.
The crew showed up around 1 and the cousins ran around like wild animals while we all slaved over the meal. Actually, I got off easy this year because I kept going outside with Rocco and taking walks with my mom and Lou. Oh, and then there was the obligatory run to the grocery to get more peppadews…(anything to avoid mashing potatoes). However, I was put on clean-up duty. Nonetheless, by the time all the dishes were done, we were ready for pie and ice cream. Homemade pumpkin pie from Patty. Yum. We made sure to sing an extra loud birthday song to her.


Patty gave me a second November birthday present by taking the kids with her back to Marion on Thursday night and keeping them until today. Unbelievable that woman is! She has to help Joe get around all the time now plus she adds on these kids. She is the energizer bunny. And the kids LOVE going to stay with her. They hate coming home even when they are up there for four days. She is a lot of fun though; I’d stay, too.
My sis stayed with Jon and me through Saturday. I can’t believe the two most anti-mall gals braved Black Friday shopping. Sar was determined to get gifts for her in-laws in Mexico so I couldn’t say no. We even got a movie and a massage in before she left!


By today, Jon and I were both missing the kids and ready to squeeze them when they walked through the door. Of course, within five minutes of walking through the door, Mario was whining about his toy not working and Ri was talking so loud you’d have thought her eardrums had burst.

Ahh, home sweet home!

Pumpkins and pizza


The Irons pumpkin patch cured the girlfriend blues. I hadn’t seen my Cincy gals for months due to summer camps, sports events, work functions, vacations, and moves. You name it and one of us was doing it. However, I find that if I don’t get my time with my life-long girlfriends, I start to funk out and get the girlfriend blues. I got my girlfriends in Columbus who I love but these Cincy gals are my life blood. They’ve been with me my entire life through the acne, the break-ups, the homecoming dances, the principal office, the family dramas. They know me – the real me. And damn if they don’t make me laugh and let go of worry every time I see them.

I missed Kathy in the mix – my soul sister moved to Michigan a couple of months ago and just had a baby so she couldn’t make it to our pumpkin patch outing Sunday. She’s the one I count on to talk about what the hell we’re doing in our lives – where we want to be in two years – why we’re not pursuing what we want – how we are gonna make a change! She’s also my fellow lawyer….

Even though we don’t get together every month, I love how our kids always warm up to one another after the initial thirty minute awkward mulling around. Jill’s girls are so polite and sweet, like Jill. Ericka’s daughter is confident and laid-back like Ericka. Lisa’s kids are sassy but loving like Lisa. And mine, well they are crazy and loud, like….





Maria and Mario had to feed the llamas like they do every year (Mario isn’t scared of them even though he was bit two years ago by one and swore he’d never feed one again – distant memory now, thank goodness).

We all laid our respective kids in the grass with the leaves surrounding them with the hopes of a Christmas card-ready picture. The other kids gave some sweet, angelic poses but this is as good as I got.


We chowed down at LaRosas after the pumpkin patch. Ri got the spaghetti and meatballs she has loved since shortly after birth and Mario and I got pizza. I wish we could get a LaRosas in Columbus but our waistlines would surely expand. Mario and Josh did their boy thing and wrestled during lunch. They created a little bond by way of throwing each other to the floor. The girls drew and gave their condolences to Ri and Emma for having to deal with those crazy boys. Us ladies chatted about work, motherhood, periods, and other random topics that get interjected in the hour that we have together without kids at our beckon call.

After LaRosas, we doled out our hugs and kisses and headed to the outlet mall for some new gym shoes (my most favorite indulgence!). We met my mom at the mall and found some sweet shoes after testing them out throughout the store.

Mario thinks my mom buys everything when we go to the outlet mall so when we got home he pronounced to Jon “Look at the sweet shoes Grandma Lolo bought me!” We also hit Old Navy for some pants for the kids (Mario wears serious high waters and Maria’s all have holes in the butt). They each scored a bouncey ball from the 25 cent vending machine (I am a sucker for bouncey balls) and some new threads. Good life.

Mom and I got some fries while the kids played at McDonald’s play land and talked about the latest happenings in the family, and Lou, of course. She spoils that dog of hers taking him on 6 walks a day sometimes! Good life!

We gave our hugs and kisses to Grandma and made our way back to Columbus to see Jon who was driving back from his cousin’s house without any deer that he had hoped to shoot over the weekend. Oh well, looks like Chipotle for dinner this week.

Icees are a godsend

Maria and I are hosting five girlfriends and their kids from Cincinnati tomorrow afternoon.  We spent the first half of the day cleaning the house (why will the kids clean any other room in the house but their own?!); hosting Jon’s parents (Patty bought a new mini COoper!)l hitting the library in the afternoon; and baking cookies in the late afternoon.  Right around 6:15 pm, I was finally ready to hit Target and the grocery.  I had finished cleaning the house, washing the dishes, and preparing the gifts (which Maria helped me with as always).  I worried about taking them to Target since every time we go there, they beg to see the toys and they stand in the aisles yelling “mom, look at this!  Will you get it for me?” 

Since we had not had dinner, I enticed them to go with me by offering them icees.  We rarely get icees anywhere but if we get one, it is at Target.  They agreed to go on the condition that I get them icees (and Maria added in a pretzel).  We went straight to the Target food center and got two small icees.  The kids filled each of their cups up with a mixture of red, blue and purple.  I gave them a straw, and we were on our way around the store looking for random items for the party. 

They sat in their seats the entire ride slurping down those icees.  We went past the toy aisles twice and they did not say a word about getting out and looking!  A miracle on Target Street!  I have a new-found friend in the Icee, and will make sure I have $1.39 on me every time we head there in the future.  Money well spent!


Happy Feet 2

The kids and I ran errands galore this afternoon from noon until 4.  We hit four different stores to return things and purchase new things.  Meg warned me that I better be ready to buy and return with a new house since it takes a while to figure out your style for each room.  She was correct.  And I feel like I can’t spend money on anything more until I return what I don’t want.  Hence, why we had to hit four different stores.  I cannot stand to spend my time doing such tasks but I resolved it had to be done and put myself in the mindset to get it done.  It is a little easier to accomplish this task now that it is cold outside. 

The kids were surprisingly very good and even listened to me when I commanded them to come.  At the last store, I let them each buy a small toy for being so good. I have mixed feelings on that choice: I don’t want them to think they will always get that if “they act good” but I also dragged them all over god’s creation and thought a $5 toy was a special treat that they earned.  Who knows what the right answer is? Actually, the right answer is whatever we feel comfortable doing in that situation so I guess I picked the right answer. 

As we drove home, my friend Amy called and told me she was going to see the 6:30 pm movie, Happy Feet 2.  When she called, I was hesitant to commit because I wanted to continue to get the shopping done that I needed done.  But after walking in the front door and laying down our bags, I thought “what the heck” – I need a break and movie popcorn is too tempting.”  The movie theatre, Mill Run, serves food.  You sit at a counter and watch the movie.  It was strange.  I am not sure if I liked it better or not.  I kinda like the intimacy of the regular theatre seats where your shoulder is up against the next and the popcorn sits on the armrest between you.  But the kids liked it because it was something different. 

Jammin' with the chipmunks after the movie

 Happy Feet 2 did not impress me.  I thought it was rather dull and the only good music was in the beginning and the very end.  The baby penguin, Will, was cute but the plot never thickened to the point you cared and the entire movie seemed disjointed.  They tried to make some political points with global warming but I don’t think the kids got the subtlety with which they were made.  Nonetheless, the kids sat through the entire movie so they must have found it interesting (Mario did make me play with his wrestlers for about 15 minutes but stayed tuned in the rest of the time).

I would have rather seen Puss-n-Boots but that could have been just as bad.  I have never been a big kids movie fan.  Rio was the first one I had seen that I enjoyed.  But the popcorn was delicious, and Mario’s corn dogs weren’t bad.