Maggie’s Georgia wedding!

The kids were pumped up on Thursday morning with the thought of getting out of school early and being able to skip school entirely on Friday. They had Maggie to thank for their school skipping glee; she decided to have her wedding in the hills of Georgia. 

We mapquested the route: 8 hours of joy. We looked up flights but they were pricey so we opted to take the car and enjoy a family road trip. We got ten movies from the library and a few books; packed up a ton of snacks; threw in two blankets and pillow pets; and filled up some water bottles before we left around noon. The kids had their earphones on and a movie playing before we pulled on the highway.

  

They glanced up for a few seconds to take in the Cincinnati skyline and to peak down at the Ohio River. Ri also got excited to see the “Welcome to Kentucky” sign. I swore there was a sweet truck stop along I-75 that had a glass bridge going over the highway but we never found it. Instead, we stopped at a Love’s. I could go nuts in truck stops with all the random weird gifts they have stocked up. These hats were magnificent.

 

  

 And this doll looks like it’s straight out of the Chucky movies…

 

A can of Pringles and a bag of Doritos later, we were back on the road. We were supposed to stay in a Marriott in Lexington for the night but we were making good time and we would have had five hours to the lodge in Georgia the next morning so we decided to head to Corbin, Kentucky to stay the night. All we needed was a pool – and the Fairfield Inn had one. I could swim five strokes between one end and the other but who cares?! It’s a pool. And it had a hot tub, which made Mario ecstatic. 

   

   

I gave the kids a scenario and they took turns acting out how they world react as they jumped in the pool: we had winning the lottery, being chased by a bear, meeting the Queen of England, celebrating your birthday with a giant cake, you name it, we covered it. 

We decided on Cracker Barrel to eat dinner. Mario wanted McDonald’s. But he liked the peg game at Cracker Barrel, and the grilled cheese sandwich, so he stopped complaining.  

   

 

We filled up on DQ after dinner and hit the sack. The kids woke up at 7 am (even with the dark curtains in the room)so what else to do but throw on our suits for a morning dip. The pool didn’t open until 9 am but who could say no to these two munchballs?! Then we got treated to the Farfield Inn breakfast buffet – pancakes and eggs and muffins and fruit loops! 

And leg 2 of the trip began. GPS took us for quite the detour through a ten mile stretch of dirt roads with steep overhangs. But, there was a beautiful creek that ran through the woods and even some waterfalls. The kids turned off their movie to take in the scenery, which made me very happy. Ri tried to snap some pictures but they didn’t do the scene justice.

  

We arrived at our destination right on time after getting a bit lost and catching up with Julie and Ann. The cabins were huge and laid right on the bank of the river. The river reminded me of the river in the movie A River Runs Through It (if only Brad Pitt was fly fishing in it). Rocks laid throughout it with the water gliding over them. Geese standing atop the tallest rocks looking over at us suspiciously. The cabins had three floors – each with a lounge area and spacious bedroom. Our third floor bedroom had a loft, too. The kids loved this treat. After we checked out our space, we headed over to Julie’s cabin and yapped it up with the cousins and aunts and uncles as they arrived. Ri and Mario hadn’t seen the Glamp boys in years and I knew they’d love hanging with them. Maria and Mario became attached to all three of them within an hour.

   

 

Mario found out our cabin had a hot tub and rushed over to jump in it. Ri was close behind. The life, I’ll tell you.   

 

Soon after we arrived, Sarah and Jorge arrived with Ms. Elena. Elena didn’t know what to think with all those Heile ladies swooping her up and whisking her away from her mama! Poor Sarah didn’t know what to do either!  I’m telling you, those Heile gals will pat Elena’s butt and bounce her up and down and Elena will forget about her mama in no time. 

  

We all got caught up on our rides down – everyone having their own story about taking back roads, getting lost, fighting with the attendant at the front gate about access to our cabin. But we soon forgot our irritations and took in the beauty of the place and the time away from our regular routines. 

By the time everyone pulled in, it was time to leave to head to the barbecue at the lodge where Maggie was marrying Michael. It was an hour drive to the Lodge – the 15 minutes getting out of our development and the 15 minutes heading back toMaggie’s lodge were insane. Winding drives and steep curves. Thank god Jon drove. Ri and Mario drove with Aunt Jane and Cy and Olivia. Mario kept trying to pull his tooth out to gross out Olivia. 

  

The Lodge was quaint with an overlook down to the pastures where horses roamed. And the sunsets both nights were gorgeous. Of course, Jon and I failed to get a family picture because I was too busy yapping it up. Mario played basketball with a teenage boy and Ri chatted with her cousins. She attached herself to Gabe’s hip through the night – God love him. 

   

   

Maggie gave Sarah and I a piece of Grandma Heile’s veil stitched on a blue satin cloth. Laura stitched the veil piece on for each of us girl cousins. Such a sweet gift to receive. I thought of Grandma on the way home – how she always smiled and laughed at these events. I remember her laughing hard with Jon at our wedding; he could always get her going. 

The photographer asked for Julie and her siblings to get together for a picture with Maggie and Michael. I started to walk over to get in the picture and Ann said “siblings only Mary Grace.” I thought back to the time when I was maybe five or six years old and it was grandma and grandpa’s wedding anniversary celebration. Somebody wanted a picture of the siblings and I tried to get in it. Someone called me to get out of the picture. I cried and cried because I wanted to be in the picture with everyone. After all, I felt like I was a sibling since I hung out with grandma and grandpa so much and Ann and I were like sisters. Grandpa picked me up after the first picture and I got in the second. I felt relieved that I was a part of the family that I loved so much. I was nearly as close to these aunts and uncles of mine as I was to my mom and dad, and I’m sure I felt relief and joy to be included as one of the Heile clan in the Heile family picture.

   

  

However, I didn’t put up a fit for the picture with Maggie and all the aunts and uncles. I was content to be in the cousin picture (be with the youngins’)! We had to do the obligatory silly face for the last picture.

   

 

I’ve watched all these cousins grow from babies to 20 something’s and they all somehow turned out alright! No one has landed in jail or been involved in some social media scandal so I’m impressed. They really  are all fascinating young people in their own unique way and I was grateful to have some time to talk with each of them during the trip. 

On Saturday, the kids woke up at the break of dawn but they were too busy with their cousins and Elena to worry about waking us up. Hallelujah. That is, until the Glamp boys mentioned fishing. Then we had to get up and get Mario and Jon ready to go. I took a run/walk on the dirt roads looking down at the river and up at the green leaves on the trees (when we arrived back to Columbus there was finally green to be seen). 

Cy, Olivia and Lia joined me on a second hike through the woods. Cy is our nutritionist giving us tips on the heartiest foods. Lia got me up to speed on the newest restaurants in Columbus and the beauty of Match.com. And I got them to give me 20 push ups half way through our hike!

   

 

When we came back, I helped Ri get a mean game of Yahtzee together with Aunt Susie and Uncle Joe and Aunt Christina. I told them the winner got $5. Ri won beating out Aunt Susie with one extra Yahtzee! She still hasn’t tried to collect from me…. 

  

Mario returned without a fish in hand but happy that he got to go out. Beckett caught one that Mario described to us. The kids wanted to canoe in the river but we all agreed it was a bit too much for us to handle. So we decided the kids could put on their suits and wade. But before I could get down there with them, I see Ri waist deep with Sarah!

   

They climbed onto a rock in the middle of the river so Mario and I were bound to meet them. Except those darn rocks at the bottom of the river hurt like a mother when you stepped on them. Jagged, pointy things and you couldn’t see them to know when they were coming. My feet hurt like heck. Mario got  terrified of falling in the water and was freezing. But he couldn’t quite get himself to turn around. The competitor in him wanted to make it to the rock where Ri stood. And with a little assistance from me and Sarah, he did.

   

 

And then something happened I never thought I’d see. Aunt Ann, in her white pants and translucent top, got in the river and waded over to us. Yes, indeed, I was mighty impressed.

  

Jon and the cousins were rooting her on as they stood on the shore and the rest of the crew cheered from the deck at the lodge.  But then we had to return to land, and I dreaded it on behalf of Mario. He was genuinely nervous. Aunt Ann didn’t help the situation at all as she was the first to head back and get caught in the rapids. She slipped on a rock and tried to get her balance but the current took her and she fell – entire body up to her neck – in the river. I couldn’t breathe I was laughing so hard as I climbed over the rocks to save her. Uncle Joe, our firefighter, waded out to help. Those white pants suffered but we got her back to shore. Mario was next. And then Sarah and Ri made their way back as if walking on air. Ri stayed in the water for another fifteen minutes as we dried off. She could live in the Arctic in shorts and a tank top. I cannot understand her tolerance to cold!

By the time we all got out and laughed at all our falls and scrapes, it was time to get ready for the big wedding. Aunt Ann curled Ri’s hair and Jon did Mario’s (too precious watching Jon brush and gel Mario’s bangs!). Jon happily drove his hunting partner Steve and Ri and I drove in the shuttle buses. Ri sat with Aunt Ann and took selfies while Amanda and Lia and I tried to keep Elena entertained.

 

  

  

We arrived again at the lodge a little shaken from the twists and turns but ready to party Heile-style! Ri was excited to see Maggie walk down the aisle and Mario got an aisle seat to watch the flower girls walk down together (he will never admit it but we know it’s true). Maggie and Michael stood in front of all of us and gave their vows to one another (a great moment was when Michael began his vows with “I, Maggie, take you…”. Maggie burst out laughing as did all of us guests sitting on the lawn. Precious mistake. And thank god he got us laughing early because it was all tears after that moment. Michael crying. His dad crying. The officiant, Michael’s uncle, crying. My goodness. The reading was beautiful. Michael and Maggie’s hand-written vows were tender-hearted. I was sitting next to my cousin Tiffanie and we couldn’t stop wiping our eyes. 

  

And then the officiant announced them husband and wife. And the hoot hoot began on the Heile side! We were ready to party! Aunt Terrie and I hollered at the wedding party down the aisle and started to dance. And it wasn’t long until the rest of the Heile brood was shaking it up with us. 

We did stop for a few minutes to listen to Uncle Terrance give a prayer before dinner. It was another amazing job by Terrance – not leaving a dry eye in the crowd and reminding us all to remember our loved ones who were no longer with us but were surely watching over us with happy hearts and appreciate family and friends who we got to share a beautiful evening with all night. 

  

Then the toasts and more tears while listening to Julie and Michael’s sister and dad. 

   

 

Ann managed to get a few pictures here and there, thank goodness, so I have some memories of my sweet children and hubby all dressed up, but the rest of the night was filled with singing and dancing and partying it up. 

   

               

Even Steve with his healing back got out there to dance with Jane. Aunts Julie, Terrie, Christina and Ann were grooving it out jumping in the middle of the circle to show off their moves. And of course all my cousins were showing off their stuff. Ri and I kept up with them – I couldn’t believe Ri. She jammed it out with those girl cousins and Maggie’s friends. She also partied it up with her Grandma Lolo!

   

  

 At one point, Maggie’s friends were dancing to “Shake it up” and they were acting like they were bouncing a basketball and shooting it. Ri and I got in on the act and Ri pretend-bounced it and shot it to Maggie’s friend, Bree. Then Mario got in the game and stole the ball from Bree, dribbled it in and out of his legs five times and dunked it as one of Maggie’s friends held her arms out in a circle. It was hilarious. He loved it and wanted to continue the fake hooping all night. Ri swore she was gonna go until midnight and ride the bus home with Ann but at about 9:30 she asked the time. When I told her, she looked worried. She asked again at 9:45 as we danced around with Lia and Amanda. And then I found her here at 10 pm.

  

Jon took Ri home and the first shuttle left shortly thereafter but Mario and I stayed. I danced a little more with my Heile ladies and Mario stood around with Gracie and the two other flower girls. One of the girls lost her necklace earlier in the night and Mario spent an hour trying to find it for her (Grandma Lolo helped out, too, even crawling under the deck to look – God love her)! Mario wanted to be the hero.

Mario hit his breaking point around 11. He begged to leave but we had no shuttle. He broke down in fatigue and slept on my shoulder the entire way home when the shuttle eventually came. Uncle Ken had us cracking up the entire way home. And don’t even get me started about Ken and the front gates not opening! That scene was even more hilarious than Ann in the river!

I woke up Sunday morning with no voice. Completely gone. And my middle toe purple and as wide as my big toe due to my river walking. What a mess. But so worth it to spend time with this Heile clan. Uncle Joe made breakfast and we sat around in the lodge giving each other grief and laughing about all the antics from the night before. Oh, and of course, loving on Hoss, the Glamp’s sweet pup. 

  

Mario and Mario joked around with those cousins one last time and I chatted and played around with those aunts of mine a few more times before we hit the road. 

   

   

And then we were off on our epic drive home – waiting in two hour traffic jams while eating Spicy Doritos and Pringles and chocolate bars. Nothing like gas station meals all day. And I believe the kids lost all brain capacity for school this week due to the non-stop movie watching.

   

     

But all I had to do was keep taking myself back to that wedding night and all the joy and frivolity and laughter experienced by me and my family. Well worth a long road trip home and a tummy ache. 

 

  

Finally! A no travel weekend

We had no plans to travel this weekend. I don’t believe that has happened for three months. Ms. Elena has a lot to do with that predicament. Ri and I can barely go a week without heading to the farm to see her.

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We’ve also had Cincy pool parties, Big Mario’s pig roast, farm family reunions, vacation. You name it, we did it this Summer. So it was heavenly to stay put this weekend.
Maria had a Strings picnic on Saturday afternoon. I thought it was just a gathering outside the middle school to play on the swings and jungle gym and get to know fellow String players. I had Joanne pick up Ri so I could finish cleaning and told Ri I’d meet up with her at 1 (the picnic was 12-2). Mario and I walked up at 1. I should say that Mario started out in the stroller but then walked as soon as we spotted his football coach. He had not wanted the stroller to begin with but we were in a hurry and he wanted to eat lunch so he couldn’t bike. He even told me as he hopped in “I can’t let anyone see me in this because it’s embarrassing.” So when we spotted Coach Jim and his family a block ahead of us, he leaped out of his seat and walked ahead of me. What a trip.
We arrived at Edison to find no one outside. We learned the picnic was inside and all the kids, including Ri, were sitting in rows with their instruments. I guess this is a musician’s idea of a picnic… The 4th graders plucked away as they tried to follow the notes on the page. The 5-7 graders played with their bows. They actually sounded pretty good. Ri and her two girlfriends looked a bit overwhelmed but they hung in with the rest of them.
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Afterwards, I asked Ri what she thought. She confirmed she was overwhelmed and that her fingers were sore from plucking. I began to feel the “I want to give up” cloud moving in and promptly blew it away. “You are just starting. You will only get better. You need to hang in there.” She nodded and continued walking.
When we got home, she immediately placed her violin case on the table and took it out. She began to pluck after she wrote down a line of D’s, A’s and G’s. She did this off and on all weekend, and loved playing a “concert” for Jon and Mario and me. Hopefully, this enthusiasm will remain.
Mario enjoyed hanging with his boy, Quinn over the weekend and swimming with his friends Zachary and Owen. He always wants to be with his friends or on his iPad so when we say no to iPad, we know he will ask to play with a friend. Quinn is always first on the list. But Saturday, Quinn was busy so Mario met Zachary and Owen to swim and play at Zachary’s house. Dressing up and drinking lots of juice was involved.
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Ri and Sophie and I took Rocco for a walk to Grandview Ave. around dinner time. Why is it that we always and up with Jeni’s ice cream for dinner when we do that?!
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Mario and I played Yahtzee when we got home while Ri played violin. He and I had an epic battle – two competitive souls fighting for a Yahtzee. Neither of us got one but he made it up top so he beat me by 35 points. He loved that.
On Sunday, Jon and I were treated to an anniversary breakfast in bed by M&M. Mario kept running into our room to see if we were sleeping until finally he pleaded for us to get up at 8 am (yea, they were up before 7). He brought us two coffees and me a Powerade. He knows his mama. Ri brought up two plates holding two over easy eggs and a waffle. They made us eat all the food as they watched us (the eggs may have needed cooked a bit longer). We told them that the best things to came from our marriage were them munchballs.

After breakfast, we cleaned Ri’s room – I swear we had two garbage bags of stuff to either throw away or give away and yet her room was still cluttered as can be. Mario would not allow his room to be clawed over for old toys and trash. He neatly piled all his junk in his drawers or bins and called it a day.
I did get the kids to take Rocco to the woods with me. Rocco has finally come to terms with the kids climbing up the tree. He used to bark and jump up on the tree to get them.
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Mario got his wish come true the rest of Sunday. He got to play with Quinn all day. Ri got to play with Sophie, too. It’s been such a long time since we had an entire day to spend just relaxing with friends. Jon and I spent the day gazing into each others’ eyes still mesmerized by each other 12 years after we said our vows to one another. Actually I got a massage and he got palettes for Ri’s broken bed frame but we did swipe smiles at one another as we walked out the door. >

New Year’s Eve 2013

Jon and I are in trouble. Big trouble.

Ri is a one heck of a party animal.

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Not only did she stay up until after the ball dropped but she ran outside after midnight in my jacket and Jon’s boots and slammed her gingerbread house on the sidewalk (one of her Brownie girls gave her the idea). She was ready to keep going after midnight – she blew her horns and kept taunting us with “what, are you tired?!” But we made her go upstairs after the high of the gingerbread house destruction and she fell asleep next to me in about ten minutes.

Up until 11 pm, we were all hanging in there together. We played Yahtzee – Maria kicked our butts. Patty and I drank some wine. We ate chips and dip. We watched lame tv coverage of the ball drop (I have never seen such a sad display of commentators). Ri got to see Miley Cyrus perform. But then Mario fell asleep on my lap and Patty could barely keep her eyes open and Jon was two winks away from falling asleep.

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We did get hold of Uncle Jack at midnight – Peepaw had dropped him off in Brooklyn on the 30th and he told us he was planning to head to Times Square. we could hear the chaos behind him. Ri and I are heading there with him next year.

The following morning, Mario asked us to re-play the ball drop. Luckily Jon had recorded it. Ri and Mario grabbed their blowers and clappers and went to town eight hours after the official beginning of 2014.

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I find it a very good sign that Mario did not flip out that he had fallen asleep before midnight, and that he was grateful to blow his horn after the fact. I also find it positive that Ri did not rub in the fact she stayed awake to Mario. And lastly, I find it very telling that we started the year with Patty at our house. I think that means that family will play a significant role in our lives this year and, an even more fabulous byproduct of that: Jon and I will have lots of free babysitters!

Here’s to 2014!

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Weekend Round-Up

Maria exhibited her mom’s wackiness for “Crazy Hat Day” at school by taking her straw hat she received as a gift at a birthday party and pinning a stuffed animal on top.

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If it would have been the first week of school, that would never have happened. But since she knows her classmates so well, she had no qualms about it. She is quite the party animal when she knows everyone involved.

She had one heck of a day on Friday because after Crazy Hat Day, we played Yahtzee in the evening. Mario and I have both gotten Yahtzees while playing the game and Ri always gets so dejected that she hasn’t experienced the thrill. First roll of the game, she got a Yahtzee! And with sixes! She was so charged up. I think one of the greatest milestones for kids is when they experience excitement for another instead of experiencing jealousy. This happened with Mario. He got so excited for Ri when she got her Yahtzee; he gave her a big big and yelled “good job, Ria!” About five minutes later, she rolled another one. She ran into Jon to tell him the unbelievable news. Mario didn’t exhibit quite the excitement but he didn’t whine either (big progress). Ri ended up demolishing us by over 200 points. She remains the reigning champ but a game is scheduled for tonight and I feel lucky.

On Saturday, we went to the middle school’s fun fair. They have a raffle, tons of cookies and cupcakes, games and a bouncey house. What more can kids ask for?! I always feel bad for Mario because Ri is at that age where she “meets up” with her girlfriends and runs around with them the entire time. Mario begs to bring a friend but his friends live outside of Grandview and it’s a whole big ordeal to plan a play date. I am so glad that he is starting Kindergarten next year and will meet Grandview boys to hang with on the weekends.

Sure enough, as soon as we walked in, one of Maria’s friends appeared. They walked around together for most of the time (Hailey’s mom “trailed” them without letting them know it). Ri’s at that strange age where you feel comfortable letting her run around at a closed event like this but you also don’t want to leave her completely unchaperoned. It feels strange not to have her by my side and to watch her act goofy with her girlfriends and boys in her grade.

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Meanwhile, Mario wanted me to watch him go down the bouncey house slide fifteen times over. He still stands by my side, which I won’t complain about at all. But as soon as our next door neighbors showed up, he left me and went running around with Quinn. He loved the toilet paper toss – our little hillbilly.

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He also kicked it at the dart game – got a bullseye on his first try (taking after his Uncle Greg).

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The kids located the face paint table towards the end of the day and Ri, being true to her school spirit, got a Bobcat paw. Mario, being true to his bad self, got a vicious snake.

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I could not believe it was 2 pm when we left. We stayed at that fair for three hours. I was spent. But we managed to head into my office around 5 in order for me to print off some things. We ended up on there until 7 pm. The kids loved sitting at the computer and playing. Mario was on mine and Ri was on my assistant’s. I was on my colleague’s. when I had finished my tasks, I walked into my office and found Mario watching some home-made Transformers movie where every other word was a cuss word.

“How long have you been watching this?” I asked him.

“Only a few minutes. It’s awesome.”

We had a talk about using those words and I didn’t hear any of them the rest of the weekend so hopefully we are in the clear.

My dad called Saturday night to ask if he could crash at our place after watching Jack play at a bar that night. It’s a sad day when your dad is partying til the wee hours of the night and crashing at your place (and you’ve been in bed since 10 pm)! Ri and I made pancakes for Peepaw in the morning and then followed him to Cincy to decorate Grandma Menkedick’s grave on the anniversary of her death. Ri wore all pink in her honor. It was freezing outside.

I love the few words my dad said to Ri when she told him she was freezing. “Now we can visit her grave every year and we will know that Spring is coming soon.”

Maria had to take a picture before we left.

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We performed our tornado exercise at my mom’s house Sunday afternoon. We watched Lou eat a stuffed bear, ate cookies and played on the bed. Then we went to a birthday party that Grace-Bug was invited to at a gym with inflatables. Nothing like inviting yourself to someone’s birthday party (luckily we knew them). The kids went non-stop on the inflatables and begged me to join. Aunt Julie tried to teach me to sit still and make them play on their own but I couldn’t last too long. Besides, I love playing on those things! Ri, Mario and I held hands down the shark slide and Gracie even braved it. And… we even scored sheet cake! Ri and I downed two pieces each.

We ended the day with baths at Julie’s house. Maria and Gracie in one tub and Mario in his own. They smelled like baby shampoo on the way home. I miss that scent.

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Grandma Lolo gave Ri a koala bear and Mario a “hot stuff” bear (apropos) for the ride home. We stopped at BP for our chips and drinks and we were off for Columbus. When we got home, we hoped dad would surprise us and not have left for his trip. No such luck. The only silver lining was that the kids got to sleep in my bed with me ( a silver lining for the kids – not me – as I get kicked and punched all night!).