Bring on the commercial

I usually don’t mind when Jon heads to his cousin’s house on Sunday. However, when the Sunday happens to be Super Bowl Sunday, and we have watched the commercials as a family for the past few years, I mind. I don’t mind enough to argue they shouldn’t go (after all, it was his cousin’s birthday and there was going to be a smorgasbord of Italian foods) but I just got sad. I have to fight to find time where the four of us are together anymore between sports, robotics, work, friends, homework….

So, I struggled with whether to go with them or not. It was going to be a gorgeous day and I could use the time to sit outside and get work accomplished. I could also get a much-needed massage and clean up the house. But then I thought about all my self-help books and how they advised to forget about the dirty house and just experience life. This back-and-forth in my head was processed further in a conversation with my mom. It is comical getting her and I together. We are two of the most indecisive people on this planet so we just play off each other with “well, take this into account; oh, but what about this….”

I still hasn’t decided whether to go or not (although I was pulling in favor of going so I could be with my clan even if it would be driving for four hours in a crammed car) when my hubby got a text from his cousin informing him the matriarch was sick so they likely wouldn’t have Sunday dinner.

Decision made – not by me – by an outside force – but made.

And made in my favor. My Sunday rocked. I’m not sure if it was because I spent the 48 hours coming up to it thinking about how nice it would be to just have family time and lamenting the thought of having to sit in a car for four of the hours or whether the universe just bestowed a much needed family day on me, but whatever it was, I’m grateful.

I took a walk with Rocco when I woke up. Ri walked a loop with me on her way home from her friend’s house, which made me smile. Any time I get a walk in with my teenage, you tube, phone-addicted daughter, I’m happy. I made pancakes for Mario when I got home, and played Monopoly with both kids (although it ended poorly with Maria quitting based on Mario’s insensitive comments to her about not looking like she could wear Air Force Ones – it got better when Mario apologized and told her he’d buy her a pair).

Mario, Jon and I spent the afternoon working on Mario’s basketball hoop – we had started it weeks ago and then realized they gave us the wrong parts. It is always hysterical to work on a project together. Lots of laughs and lots of cursing. I took a break to get Maria out on a walk/run with me and Rocco in Tarpy. She did not want to go but was a good sport about it once we left the house. She talked about school and how excited she was for Florida. At one point in the walk, as we lunged up the steps towards the old Tarpy home, I felt a wave of gratitude. The sun poking through the massive oaks, the robins perched on empty branches, and my daughter by my side chatting away about life – it really doesn’t get any better. I halted her in her steps and made her take notice of it all. We breathed together. I photographed the moment into my brain.

When we got home, I took Mario to get his haircut. He got spoiled with a shampoo and head massage at Aveda. He thinks these pampered cuts will continue but he is sorely misunderstood….

We came home to the start of the Super Bowl. Maria came upstairs to watch with us. I had my wish – we were all together in the same room for two straight hours watching the game and the commercials. Mario ate pretzels and dip, Jon ate chicken and potatoes, Ri ate a chocolate chip cannoli, and I ate Hershey bars. To each his own….

Even if Mario expressed his frustration with me massaging Ri’s feet or Jon barked at Mario to stop flopping around – it was all good because we were all together while we barked and sighed. And the being together grounded me. This was my clan – my tribe – and we were all safe in our nest.

I woke up with a positive, ready-to-go attitude on Monday morning. This has not happened in a while:) I attributed it to the time together on Sunday. Funny how Jon and I used to dream of the day when the kids did their own things and we had the freedom to do whatever we desired. We would sit in the living room of our old house as they showed off their dance moves or sang a new song. It would be 9:30 am and we would have been up for three hours already. We were exhausted and it wasn’t even noon. It’s a reminder to absorb those moments – even when they feel everlasting and you just want one more hour of rest – because they fade away and you find yourself excited about getting to watch a commercial because your babes will be next to you.

Twice-baked potato

Our girl hooked us up for Super Bowl night. She was planning out the snacks and appetizers long before the Super Bowl occurred. What did she want most of all? 

Twice-baked potatoes! 

She had eaten them at grandma Meg’s farm and loved them. She asked Meg for the recipe and was set on making them for us. This was in addition to nachos, wings, chips and dip, and 7-Up. Yeah, there is no-holds-barred on Super Bowl evening.

I bought Maria a 5 pound sack of potatoes, a block of Velveeta cheese (the only cheese Jon wanted on his twice-baked potatoes because that’s what his mom uses), onion, and sour cream. She came running in from her basketball game ready to start the potatoes. She baked them for the requisite 45 minutes, and then cut them “in the shape of a canoe.” She begged me to help her so that she could mix the butter and sour cream and potato together. 

“We need to get these in the oven within 10 minutes so that they are ready for the kick off!”

She is a little kitchen dictator. She watched over me as I scooped out the potato to make sure that I was getting all of the potato and there was only skin remaining. I was actually quite nervous.

But the little dictator can be nice when you follow her directions; she she told me that I did a good job in my scooping duties. She loaded the potato skins with the potato combination and we put them back in the oven with the cheese laid on top of each. And, ta-da, 15 minutes later, look at this beauty (Ri added some crumbled bacon on top for added flavor).


Thank goodness we have one chef in the house, and a beauty at that.

Dogs and Hamsters and a Super Bowl, Oh My

This past weekend was one of those weekends where you wake up Monday morning feeling you totally took advantage of the weekend’s purpose – to relax, be silly, watch football, and eat chips while vegging in your pjs.

On Friday, Jon and I took Mario to the hockey game. Maria had to make the executive decision on whether to go to Kids Night Out at school or to the game with us. It was a brutal decision because she had her girlfriend asking if she was coming to Kids Night Out but she had her dad going to the hockey game. She LOVES hanging with her dad lately, especially when it’s dad and mom and Mario (she is the pack dog). But, ultimately a brief description of the hockey game (watching boys skate on ice and try to hit a puck in a goal) led her to choose Kids Night Out with popcorn, grape juice, friends and a movie. The pack dog strays when there is food and entertainment….

Mario loved the hockey game. He ate his favorite food – a hot dog – and watched the players skate along the ice and hit each other up against the wall.  Jon and I thought he might enjoy that activity more than he did since he is all into fighting.  Rather, he enjoyed hanging on the railing and talking to the older boys behind us in the box.  He also enjoyed the cheerleaders…. We left the game during the third quarter and picked up Maria.  It seems that every time I see her at school, she is even older and more independent.  She reminds me of me when I was in fourth and fifth grade (probably like when I was in first grade, too, but I can’t remember that time at all!) hanging out with my girl posse.  When I picked her up, she was laughing with her three girlfriends and they were falling all over each other.  Too cute. 

On Saturday, we headed to Hamilton Parker to find tile for our bathroom.  The kids ran around checking out the showroom showers and the kids’ room while Jon and I talked to the sales guy.  Maria explained where everything was in the showroom since she had come to the store with me back in September.  “Buddy, the kids’ room is over here and it has a tv.”  Mario’s response: “Will the tv have Godzilla?”  Maria’s reply: “We’ll see buddy and if it doesn’t, we”ll find something else for you.”  The way she calls him “buddy” makes our hearts melt.  After Hamilton Parker, we headed to BW-3’s for some wings and nachos.  Nothin’ like a healthy lunch.  We waddled out to the front of the restaurant and the kids begged to play a game.  They put a dollar in a chicken and egg machine and each of them got a plastic egg.  Maria scored a tattoo and Mario scored a little orange plastic cone that had the words “Back away slowly.”  I read it to Mario and he laughed “I know, mom and dad, I am going to put this in my room and when you walk in, you will have to walk back slowly.” 

We headed to the pet store in the late afternoon to torture ourselves by holding sweet little precious pups that needed a home.  Maria always picks the most docile puppies that love to be held.  She sits in the little room with them caressing and talking to them.  Mario hangs out at the hamster bin trying to put the hamsters on the exercise wheel or in the tire.  They run from him like he is death.  Mario does not have quite the touch with the pups like Maria does.  He likes to put them on the ground and watch them run around and play.  If they don’t move much, he picks another.  I can usually handle about 45 minutes in that store because it is such a madhouse of people but I made it an hour on Saturday.  When we left, Maria begged to go on Sunday. 

On Sunday, I skipped yoga because Maria and Mario begged me to stay home.  We ate cereal and read books.  Maria and I went on a stroller ride to the store to get pencils for her class project – a timeline of her life – all 6 years.  We headed out to Dirty Franks for lunch (yeah, two for two on the healthy lunch front for the weekend!).  When we returned, the kids and I took a bike ride to the library to grab some movies and new books.  Maria and I watched Mario ahead of us – his little legs pushing the clunky wheels of his tricycle.  He wants so badly to lead the group but usually Maria cannot help but bolt ahead because she is on a two-wheeler bike and can’t easily slow down without falling off.  But I held onto her on this bike ride so Mario could take the lead and he was one proud puppy.  When an older lady passed him, he stopped and said hello to her.  When we stopped at the library, he said “Mom, an old lady said hi to me and I said hi to her back.  I stopped my bike and everything. Are you proud of me?”

We headed to Kroger’s before the Super Bowl and Maria and I stocked up on chips and dip.  Maria was grabbing all sorts of dips and chips for our party arguing that “it is the Super Bowl – we had to have a real party!”  When we got home, we turned on the Super Bowl and watched all of the commercials.  We all sat on the couch together – Mario on Jon’s arm playing Leapster, Maria in between Jon and me.  She loved it.  She kept saying “I love cuddling with my mom and dad and brother.”  We have got to start up family movie nights.  Maria fell asleep with 30 seconds left of the Super Bowl.  Mario remained wide awake playing his Leapster Ben Ten game.  I dragged him upstairs with me to hit the sack, and we were both out cold in three minutes flat.