Mario time

We’ve only had Mario all week with Maria gone to camp (how is she at a six day overnight camp already?!). We promised him dinner of his choice and where do you think we went two nights? Skyline. After night two, Jon and I swore we would not head back there for at least six months. It’s so good when you’re eating it, but then….

Mario has been the BEST son this week. I wish I could say it’s just because he decided to turn over a new leaf and not argue when it’s time for bed or time to do homework. But no, it’s not that. He has been an angel child because he wants an electric scooter and he keeps hoping that if he is excellent for us, we will get him one. 

He took out the trash, got his own water, cleaned up his mess, fed Rocco, took Rocco on a walk, went straight to bed. You name it. Everything that used to be a fight or end up in whining tirades, is simple now. It really has been a beautiful yet strange week. 

He’s also been Mr. Independent wanting to ride to the library by himself and read books. Whether he does that or not, I’m not sure. But I did follow him up there one evening and couldn’t find him anywhere. Sure enough, he was in a study room reading his Wings of Dragons book. Impressive. He had his blue sports bag on the table in which he carried his book. When we left, he tossed his bag over each shoulder and hopped on his bike. He looked 13. It seems everyday he grows another inch. 


We’ve been biking together every night, which he loves. I used to refuse to bike and only walk along side of him. But I do enjoy biking with him because he loves it so much and it’s much more relaxing to be by his side and able to talk. We biked to Stauf’s last night for a bagel dinner. He beat me at Crazy Eights four times in a row and won $6 off of me. He was stoked about that. We biked home talking about that electric scooter again. 

“Mom, I’ve been so good. Don’t I deserve a scooter now?” 

I told him I was concerned about what he’d be like once we got the scooter. Would he go back to complaining at bedtime and whining about cleaning his room?

An emphatic “no” shot from his mouth as if he knew that would be my question. He shot those pacific blue eyes my way and I knew he had me. But I didn’t let him know. I just reiterated that dad and I would talk about the scooter knowing full well we would end up getting it for him as an early birthday present. How could I resist this sweet biking partner of mine?


Skyline Sunday

We have been going non-stop since the beginning of the holidays between hosting family and driving to parties and running kids to games and practices. So we were in dire need for a little chill time this afternoon after Mario played his basketball game.
And what better way to chill as a family then to eat Skyline chili dogs together. Jon and I used to hit Skyline every Saturday afternoon when we were dating; we even became “ambassadors.” Something to be proud of?! So it was a blast from the past to head over there with the kiddos today. And dang if it wasn’t yummy as all get out. Everything from the oyster crackers to the cheese on top of the coney dog. The kids dared each other to eat hot sauce on the oyster cracker. Ri put a ton on and drank an entire glass of water. Mario put a dab on and was gloating because he didn’t drink any water afterwards. Of course he had to make it a competition.

As if we really needed any other food after Skyline, we couldn’t resist a stop at Dunkin Donuts on the way home. Chocolate long johns to die for.


We couldn’t even wait to eat them at home! Now could I please just get in my sweats and call it a day at 2 in the afternoon?!

Kings Island 2013

I don’t know who was more excited about my brother and sister and brother-in-law coming in town – me or Maria and Mario. We had planned a Kings Island trip for a Monday hoping it would be less crowded. Sar and Jorge got in town on Sunday afternoon and we met them in my office so that I could hang Jorge’s photos that he framed for me. They look awesome.

Maria and Mario glued themselves onto Sar and Jorge from that point on insisting to ride home with them. I am as good as gone once those two come around. Jorge became a Candy Land whiz playing game after game with Mario.

Meanwhile, Ri enjoyed some adult talk with Sarah, Jack, and me. This is her version of heaven.

We woke up at 7:15 on Monday morning and got prepared for a day at KI! A mandatory Stauf’s run was in order and then we were off down I-71.

We played the “Conversation” game that Ri loves. It consists of a deck of cards that contain questions about love, passions, secrets…. We learned a lot about each other on the way down (I.e., Jorge has jumped through a hoop of fire and Jack would love a night with Lindsay Lohan). We arrived at KI at exactly 10 am and the lot was already filled with people and cars. Amazing. We skipped towards the front gate energized to take on the roller coasters. We figured we’d better hit the Beast right in the beginning to avoid a long line. It took us ten minutes to get through the line. Ri didn’t hesitate to get in the seat with Sarah. I could not believe it. Mario seemed fine with the fact that he was too short to ride and I was fine standing back with him.

It was Jorge’s first time on a roller coaster and although he was nervous as hell, he stood strong for Ri. I love this before and after shot of Ri and Sar.


Ri was rather shaken after the four minute ride. Her stomach hurt for two hours afterwards. Poor girl. I think back and realize she was probably scared too death but wanted to impress her Aunt Sarah so stayed calm and quiet. I was proud of her intrepid spirit.
The kids and I headed to Kiddy Land after the Beast to let Ri’s stomach calm down. We went on a miniature ride where it shoots you up about 100 feet and back down. That was a thrill to Mario and me but I think Ri thought it was lame after the Beast experience. Ri and I begged Mario to ride the Log Floom. Last year, he freaked out because his shoes and shirt got a little wet so we were prepared this time. I brought his flip-flops and bathing suit. He changed on the steps leading to the canoe while Ri and I surrounded him. Luckily, he’s not shy. He ended up loving it this year. Next, we headed to the haunted house; the line was ridiculously long for it only being 11 am. The kids waited patiently but Mario was done waiting in lines after that ride. We rode the bumper cars and posed with some characters and went to meet Sarah, Jack and Jorge at the Vortex (Jorge’s favorite roller coaster!).




We hit LaRosas for lunch knowing we would hit Skyline for dinner. Grandma M. would be so proud of us chowing at all the local eateries.

After lunch we went up the Eiffel Tower because Mario really wanted “to see the whole world.”

While up on the Tower, I asked Ri if she wanted to go on the Racer with me. She agreed to do it because I promised her the hill was tiny compared to the Beast. I could tell she was a bit hesitant but she got into line with me and Sar and Jack while Mario strolled around with Jorge (and fell asleep for a few minutes). I think I was more nervous than Ri to get on the coaster.


There are two different types of people on coasters – the “hold everything in” types and the “let it all out” types. Maria is the former and Sarah and I are the latter. I could barely talk after the ride. Sarah had hilarious pictures of Ri holding her breath with her cheeks puffed out like mini balloons. But we made it through alive and just a little shaken.
We headed to the water park next but stopped at the White Water Canyon first. We stood in line for a half hour with Sar worried about her shoes getting soaked for most of that time only to be told that Mario was an inch too short to ride the ride. Sar and I laid into the teenage girl worker but she held her ground. So all of us boycotted the ride in solidarity with Mario (who was mad as heck at the rules and the girl worker). Maria, always the positive one, chimed in as we walked away, “at least Aunt Sarah’s shoes will stay dry.”

We paid $12 for a locker at the water park – what a deal… and had high hopes for some water fun. It ended up bring a bit of a disappointment but we still had our laughs.

We stood in line for 45 minutes for a rafting ride that Sarah remembered being scared half too death of as a kid. It was quite the disappointment after the long wait (Sar was ready to head back down but we made her wait) but the kids loved it! They also loved the Lazy River but us old foegy adults were freezing! Luckily, the kids started to get cold after a couple more slides so we packed it up and hit the games. Mario had been begging to play games since we walked in the park.
They always play the water gun game because someone is bound to win. Ri purposely lost the second game after winning the first so Mario could get an animal. Ri loves the Guess your Age or Weight game so we headed over there, too. She loves for them to guess her birth month. And they were wrong again so she got a prize. Mario used his Aunt Sarah to win his prize; she knew they’d guess a really low weight for her and they did so Mario got the famous hot pepper!


We played two more games to ensure we’d walk out with three stuffed animals each and then called it quits (with just a tad bit of begging for more games from Ri). We had to buy the key chain at the end with all of us on it for memory sake (Ri and I are sentimentalists).
By the time we left at 6:30, we were fried and starving. We headed straight to Skyline and devoured the oyster crackers and then the five-ways and coneys. It’s like we hasn’t eaten on a year.

We barely spoke a word as we shoveled food in our mouths. It was delightful. Jack and Ri passed out within ten minutes of our trip home. Jorge and Mario watched Looney Tunes. Sar and I talked about writing and blogs and definitely having to make this an annual event.

Here come the O-O-Overbecks


Two out of the four Overbeck kids arrived at our house on Sunday morning at 2 am. Laura and Cy tip-toed up the stairs to Mario’s room and fell asleep. Mario and Gio wanted to wake them up so badly at 7:30 am but I kept them away by promising them donuts and sprints at the track (sounds just like a Big Mac and a diet coke).

When we returned full of yeast and sugar and lactic acid, Laura was awake and watching football with Jon. Cy was still snoozing (17 year old boy for ya). When Cy finally woke up, Mario and Gio descended on him like flies on fruit. They jumped on him and wrestled him and dragged him to the basement to play Lego’s. He obeyed their every command and helped erect some sweet Lego structures.


We had to feed the 6’7″ cuz eventually so we headed to Skyline for some Cincy chili. Maria told Laura scary stories she heard at her party in Marion and Laura diligently listened to all of them. Mario told Cy about his football games (“we always win except one time we tied and the whole team was sad”). We chowed down at Skyline eating coney dogs and three-ways and mounds of oyster crackers. And we all could have went home and slept for four hours – that is, the adults could have. M&M were pumped to have their cousins around and clung to them like koalas to eucalyptus.

Laura took Maria to Target and Loews to buy cork board and supplies for a necklace holder. Cy stayed back with us and played hours of basketball with Mario. Only a high school basketball player could endure shooting hundreds of times with a five-year old. Mario loved having Cy watch his every move, and Cy treated him like a little brother. It was very sweet.

Laura and Ri brought both supplies and another Overbeck, Robert back to the house (the last Overbeck kid, Emily, is in Colorado and couldn’t fly back for the fun!). Mario got Cy and Robert to pal around with? What a day for the little man!

Maria got her Laura time – spray painting her cork board pink and preparing to liven up her room. Thank god for Laura and her crafting skill because I have none of it (check out her blog!). An hour later, Ri led me, eyes closed, to her room to check out the new necklace holder. What a kick-butt, bright pink, functional wall decoration. Laura rocks it out again.



After all that madness, the Skyline finally set in. Everyone got in relaxed mode (even M&M!) and settled down while Jon and I cooked dinner (yes, miracles do happen). Jon and I cracked up when we glanced into the living room only to see these high school macho boys watching the “Bodyguard” movie with Whitney Houston. They were all into it.


And just when our stomachs finally felt at peace, we were ready to eat again! Jon made soup with meat, spinach, onions and beans (we still need a name for it) and I made corn bread and scalloped potatoes. Jon kept pushing me to try the soup and when I finally did, he asked “do you like the meat?” I knew this was a different kind of meat at that point and just hoped it wasn’t squirrel.

But no, it was elk and it tasted good. Listen, my man doesn’t go to the grocery to buy meat; he goes out and hunts it down! Jon shot this elk last year in Colorado and we are still trying to eat up all the meat.

Maria did not have the same reaction. She put down her spoon after Jon’s declaration and stuck with the potatoes and bread (and lots of it!). Mario tried the elk and ate two pieces (a lot for him). He also battled the boys while they teased him about eating his food (any thing to try to get that boy to eat).

After dinner, we engaged in some pick up basketball. The boys laughed hysterically at the PIG game that Jon and I played. It was a pathetic sight, especially to two b-ball players. Laura couldn’t help but feel sorry for us.

The fun had to eventually end with school and work in the horizon, and so it did at 6:30 when the Overbecks plopped in their car and drove off. “That was fun, mom,” Maria said as she jumped in my arms. Yes, it was. Those Overbecks know how to bring it!

Lovin’ some DIrty Franks

Jon and I used to be ambassadors of Skyline Chili.  We are not embarrassed to admit it (well, maybe a bit embarrassed when people learn we had our picture up in the entrance way and our own “ambassador plates” to eat our three-way chilis).  Skyline bestowed this title upon us back when we were young pups with no kids and lots of time.  Now we go into Skyline and we are granted no privileges; we are just another family in the crowd eating oyster crackers as we wait for our food. 

But that is ok with us.  We like the relaxed atmosphere, the oyster crackers as appetizers, and the hotdogs with cheese.  Mario typically eats 2 of them before we leave (which is huge for Mario).  Maria typically eats one hot dog and a chili spaghetti.  They love the place, and may one day get our title back for us. They especially love the Oreo cookies that they get as a special dessert at the end of the meal (I admit, I am rather jealous although Jon gives me a quarter from his pocket so I can get Reese Pieces out of the dispenser). 

But Jon found another, cooler dive for us to head to when we are craving dogs.  A little hole in the wall on 4th Avenue downtown called Dirty Franks (  They have hot dogs with anything you can imagine spread on them.  Maria has fallen in love with the Octodog (macaroni and cheese with a hot dog shaped as an octopus).  Mario likes a plain dog with cheese on it.  I love the beanie weenie (baked beans with a hot dog and cheese and onion).  Jon typically gets a dog with sauerkraut or one with pickles or fries on it.  We also get the hush puppies with chili and cheese, which could subside anyone’s late night, hung-over cravings.  The walls are filled with artwork of famous singers like Michael Jackson and Prince (the only two I recognize).  Maria always asks me why Michael Jackson looks white when he is brown.  Mario loves all of the pictures of crazed looking rockers, especially the one with blood out of his mouth.  We find a new piece of artwork each time we go (keeps the kids busy!). 

I am thinking that Skyline may have to miss us for a bit while we frequent our Dirty Franks establishment.  Although, I do find myself craving that Cincinnati chili every once in a while – a girl can leave Cincinnati but Cincinnati can’t leave the girl!