School’s back 

We got the haircuts, the school clothes (braved Polaris Mall and wanted to poke my eyes out), the book bags, the lunch boxes, the notebooks, and even managed to get a couple of showers in prior to the first day of school. The kids were so excited – they both couldn’t fall asleep. It was like Christmas Eve. I was taken aback at how charged up they were to head back to school although I know in a few weeks they will be dragging out of bed…. 

Maria set her alarm for 5:30 am. Yes, 5:30. Why? Because she needed to spend 45 minutes on her hair. How is she my child?! She borrowed the “beach wave” curling iron from my girlfriend to assist with the do she wanted for her first day. My girlfriend had styled Ri’s hair a few weeks ago with the iron and Ri loved it. We laugh because my girlfriend’s daughter is a replica of me – athletic clothes, sports watch, hair in a ponytail and Ri is like my girlfriend with her sweet hair styles and trendy clothes. But I digress…. 

Jon and I shook our heads as we laid in bed listening to Ri bumble around in the bathroom. At around 6:15, Ri came into our room and tapped my shoulder.

“Mom, the curling iron is really hot. Could you do my waves in my hair?”

Are you kidding? Did she really ask me, the woman who puts her hair in a pony every day, to do her hair?! 

I rose out of bed determined to curl her hair and curl it well. Ri had straightened most of her hair but put a small section on each side in a ponytail on top of her head. She just wanted the hair in the pony to be wavy. Not so hard, heh?!

Yea, well, for someone that never uses curling irons, it was torture. I curled the first strand and when it came out, the hair was kined in every direction. Ri took one look in the mirror and bawled. Then she hyperventilated. Then she sobbed. I grabbed another strand determined to do it right. More kinks. What the he–?! More hyper-ventilating. I tried again. No luck. Ri bolted into her room crying. I walked in and made the executive decision.  

“We are gonna have to straighten the hair in the pony and try waves another time. I can’t do waves right now.”

She gave an affirmative nod and cried a few more tears. I told her again I was sorry. She stood still in the bathroom as I tried to straighten the kinks. She finally spoke:

“It’s ok, mom. I should have known you couldn’t curl hair.”

Well, at least she’s honest in her downtrodden moments. She actually looked just as adorable with the straightened ponytail look and I think she felt half way decent about it, too. Mom came through in a half-assed way….

Mario, meanwhile, slipped on a pair of athletic shorts and a t-shirt and was ready to hit the road. Thank goodness. 

I made Ri and Mario take obligatory pictures out front prior to heading off for their first day. One of these days, I will gather all of these “first day of school” pictures and do something with them….


Ri left at 7:30 to walk up the street and meet her two girlfriends. Mario and I biked up to meet them so I could get pictures. They all looked so mature! I can’t imagine how taken aback I will be when they hit high school.


Mario and I then biked to RLS. We got there early so we walked around and talked. Mario eventually spotted his buddies and bolted from my side to see them. I caught up and asked for a picture. What was I thinking? They dashed away from me as soon as they saw the camera. Where the girls were mature, the boys were 3rd grade crazy.


A few other moms and I were able to direct our sons over for a picture eventually but it took some muscle. 


And then the bell rang. Mario did not ask me or Jon to go in with him. He didn’t even wave goodbye. He just disappeared into the masses. 

First day of school – 2014

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And so a new school year begins….
Mario in First and Ri in Fourth. We had one school year – last year – where the kids were both in the same building. It passed too quickly, and now we have Ri heading to the Intermediate school just a few blocks from our street and Mario staying at the Elementary school about a mile away. Ri has to be to school by 8 am (and will deal with nothing less than being ten minutes early) and Mario has to be at school by 8:15 (and could care less if he’s there early). It made for an interesting first morning. Jon and I had to draw straws to see who took who. Actually, we didn’t in the end because we both knew who Mario would want to take him. Jon. He’s a huge dad fan lately. So Ri and I started up our street at 7:35 am hoping to meet some friends along the way. We found Nora!
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Then Lucia!
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And then throngs of kids in front of the school doors. Ri talked with random friends and then the teacher came out to welcome them. I snuck in behind Ri and got to see her classroom. She promptly shoo’d me away and I obeyed. But not before making sure her school supplies were in the room. They weren’t. Great. I confirmed with her teacher that they wouldn’t need them today and found the name of the PTO rep who I needed to call. I swore I ordered her supplies not once, but twice on line just to be safe. She’s the child that will freak out if everything is not in order. I left without even telling her so she wouldn’t stress all day and promptly called the rep to make sure I could have her supplies by tomorrow.
Then I biked like Lance Armstrong down to Mario’s school. When I arrived, there was a line around the school to enter. I cut through it and I made it to Mario’s room in time to see him planted in his seat ready to learn.
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I had managed to get his supplies ordered ( the child who could care less). One star for me. Mario was quiet and shy. He began to draw on the sheet of paper in front of him that had the words “Summer, I did….” He kept glancing around at friends coming in the classroom. He doesn’t have any of his football buddies or previous boys from Kindergarten in the classroom but I know he will make quick friends. My girlfriend sent me this darling GQ-like picture from earlier in the morning.
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It was much easier to drop off this year than last year when Mario cried and cried. He’s growing up.
I biked over to Ri’s school at lunch. They had a 4-8th grade cookout. They were dancing to the YMCA song and running everywhere. Ri was her chill self sitting on the jungle gym.
“Why don’t you go dance, Ri?”
“I don’t want to.”
I smiled and rubbed her dangling foot. I’m learning to stand back. As much as I want to advise her on who to play with and who to befriend, I’ve got to let her be and trust that she will figure it out like we all did as young girls.
I biked from work at 2:30 to catch Mario after school. He came running out happy as can be
and chatting with his buddies. He confirmed he had a great day – thank goodness. I expected Ri to be down there when I arrived but she was not. I started to ridiculously fret that maybe she went home instead or got kidnapped or had to walk alone or… You name it, I thought it.
I got a text at 2:55 from Ri’s friend, Evie informing me that Ri wanted to talk to me.
“Mom, we are at the top of the hill;can I go say hi to Mrs. Pharion?”
I was relieved she had made it down from Edison and that she was not asking me to pick her up (she is not my walker girl). When I caught up with her, I asked her how the walk to Stevenson was. She said “great.” I was very happy to hear that word; hopefully she will continue to like walking home with Kathryn and Evie. It’s good for her. It also led to her pleading for a phone like Evie has and ten justifications for having one. This will an on-going battle this year, I am sure.
By the time I got done talking to Maria, Mario had decided to go with Stephanie and Quinn to DQ. Sophie ran over to Ri to ask her to go. Ri planted a big hug on her.
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And they were off for after-school ice cream with their buddies. First day over and done with – grateful to see it end with smiles and friends.
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Whirlwind

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind.  I signed up to coach Ri’s softball team and had to participate in “the draft” and practices for the last two weeks.  The kids had their last week of school prior to the Memorial Day weekend (yes, they get out way too early), which consisted of school parties and fretting about presents for teachers.  Oh yea, and Jon was out of town all week.  But we persevered with just a few rough spots (really rough).  The kids biked (Mario) and scootered (Maria) to school every day during the last week of school, which was a god-send since it allowed me to start my day with some fresh air.
The last week of school was nuts.  Maria had an end-of-the-year party at McKinley Park all day on Thursday.  They wore bathing suits and took down tennis rackets and water guns.  Ri was not happy about the fact that they had to walk to the park from school – she begged to take her scooter.  By the time I made it down at noon, she was playing “family” with Riley and Anna and hanging close to Mrs. Pharion in the shade (she likes hanging with adults and listening to the conversation).

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They all looked so tired – teachers and kids – and I knew softball practice would be dreadful that evening.
I got to Mario’s room at 1:45. The moms told me he had been looking for me the last ten minutes. He glanced over as they told me and ran over to give me a big hug. We worked on postcards and decorating frames. The boys ran around like nuts while the girls sat in place. Why is that?! Mrs. Page passed out “candy” awards to each kid. Mario got a peppermint patty award because “he is a burst of energy every day!” Who does that sound like?!

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Friday was clearly going to be a free-for-all day for both teachers and students after Thursday’s insanity. Ri got to watch a movie and Mario got playground time most of the day. I picked them up with Patty at 2:50 and they were charged up. School was officially out! Grandma took them to get DQ and they played with Sophie and Quinn. Mario declared “It’s summer, we don’t have to do anything!” So he wishes….
Friday was a much better ride-to-school day than Thursday. The kids goofed around together and gave me a sweet picture to remember their last day of third grade and kindergarten.

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Thursday was not quite as sweet. Mario woke up on the wrong side of the bed and was pissy the entire ride. I asked for a picture of him and Ri and he refused to look at me. After the third time asking, I said “fine, be that way, Mario.” The inflection in my voice told him I was disappointed. This creates quite a conflict in him. He wants to stay pissy but he doesn’t want to disappoint me. He stopped his bike and told me I could take a picture. When I went to take it though, he wouldn’t smile. So I said “forget it” and kept walking. He started crying and telling me he was just about to smile. He then flew past me on his bike mad as heck. We got to the school and he waited for me. I knew he wanted me to ask for another picture. He plays these games when he’s mad. Instead, we dropped Ri off at her classroom and went to his room. I said goodbye. He ran out as I left and said sorry and begged for a picture with Ri. This kid. Of course I did it (even though he still didn’t smile big) even though I probably should have told him too late to teach him a lesson that he couldn’t get his way all the time.
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And just like that, no more bike rides to school for two and a half more months. Now the bike rides are to Stauf’s for Black Russian bagels – yum.

On Saturday, Ri and I walked in the Memorial Day parade for our Reds softball team. I love this parade in Grandview. It has such a small town feel with everyone lining the streets and waving at you. We bought bags and bags of candy for the girls to throw and we still managed to run out blocks before the end. The girls chanted “We are the Reds” throughout the parade. It was a blast.
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Patty and Jon took Mario, Gio and Alana to watch the parade and scream for Ri. They got three full Kroger’s bags of candy. They were very happy campers. It was insanity when we got to the field. The kids were all hoarse from screaming the entire parade route. I was exhausted from working out at 7 am and then sheparding the girls for two hours. Parents were everywhere looking for their kids. Kids were begging for water. Craziness! But opening ceremony was awesome with the Star-Spangled Banner and old plane overhead and Ri by my side and all the kids ready to play ball. I’m a sucker for that stuff. We headed directly into our game at noon. There was confusion about who was home team so Jon jumped in to do the concession stand. Mario loved helping him. When the game ended, Jon pronounced he never wanted to see a hot dog again.
The girls were a little shell-shocked their first game. They didn’t look comfortable on the field and the pitchers were nervous. The girls didn’t bat as strong as I would have liked either. But I think it was first game nerves. The good news is that we came back from a 6-1 deficit to make it 6-5 in the end.
We were all popped afterwards. Jon’s feet hurt, my back ached, Ri was hot. So Jon and Patty and I sat on the deck and chilled (after I mowed the grass!). The kids played on the computer and ate parade candy.
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On Sunday, we found out the pool was open so we flung on our suits and headed down.

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And guess who jumped off the high dive without flinching?


Last year, he’d climb up a few steps and stand there terrified, and I would have to help him down. Amazing what a year will do. Ri continued her high dive jumps – this year doing mid-air splits. She was so proud of her little bro after he jumped off and told everyone we ran into afterwards.
On Monday, we traveled down to Cincinnati for the long-awaited pool party at Aunt Susie’s and Uncle Kenny’s house. Oh, how the kids were dying for this party. They love having a private pool to play around in with Jon and me and the cousins. We brought Rocco down with us after Susie invited him (she is the consummate dog lover). The kids and I threw on our suits and jumped in without five minutes passing from stepping into the yard. Guess who joined us? Yep, Mr. Rocco. He loved the pool, and refused to get out. I tried to pull him out to take a breather after 20 minutes and he hopped right back in when I turned my back.

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Mario and I suffered serious cuts from Rocco’s nails as he swam by us but it was a joy to see him in his element. We had to pull him out for the spectacular pool volleyball game. The Heiles against the Non-Heiles! The Heiles dominated, and Jon joined me for some post-game fun.
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And it remained all fun-n-games until one of the many dogs playing at Susie’s house decided to let loose on Rocco. Rocco was engaging in his friendly antics, sniffing butts, when one of the dogs attacked him. His ear was sliced and face gashed and blood was everywhere. It seriously was like a murder scene. Jon and I had specks everywhere on us. Mario was mesmerized with all the blood and Ri was scared too death about Rocco. My mom and Rod and Mario and I jumped in the car and headed to the emergency vet at 5 pm. We ended up there until 9 (par for the course on a Memorial Day). Luckily, they were able to glue Rocco’s ear. He also got to leave with a cone.
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Yep, it’s not a party until someone leaves in a cone. At least mom and I got some quality time together. And Mario learned how to make some killer Keurig coffee and tea.
Rocco keeps us laughing with his inability to maneuver around objects with his cone head. Ya gotta laugh at this crazy life or else you’re screw–, no I mean, you’re coned.