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A Mother's Day Adventure

by on May 10, 2011 3:55 PM

You would have to walk in Heidi Battista’s shoes to have any idea of how much she enjoyed Mother’s Day this year.

To say that we live a busy lifestyle in the Battista household these days would be a tremendous understatement. Living with me is a challenge on its own every day, but add to that dealing with a daughter who just finished her freshman year at PSU, a teenage son who is driving, a 10-year-old who plays four sports, and caring for Sportster, the world’s most neurotic dog!

So Sunday started off with breakfast in bed. Well, sort of.

I assumed there would be eggs and other breakfast foods for the ritual we have performed annually since Brianna was a youngster. Prior proper planning prevents poor performance. No eggs, no pancake mix, no oatmeal, no fresh fruit, no toast, etc. So Eggos and yogurt had to suffice.

I had help from our 10-year-old, Ryan, and we muddled our way through making her favorite coffee and did our best to jazz up the presentation on the tray. We made it upstairs in a stealthy manner and woke up No. 1 son Jonathon to join us in Heidi’s traditional Mother’s Day treat.

To say the star treatment was expected would be another understatement, as Heidi pretty much requires it (and hints at it all week so we won’t forget!). It doesn’t matter that she knows we are coming; she beams as though it were the first time. We take a group photo with Mom and her boys (including the dog!) all cuddled up in our bed. It’s a photo that gets deleted every year because Heidi has “bed head” and hasn’t quite beautified herself at that point.

Breakfast in bed rates a 5 out of 10, but we get bonus points for the effort.

Now we scurry to get everyone ready for church. I have to create a smoke screen so I can convince Heidi that we have to pick up our daughter on the way. She’s visibly frustrated that Brianna won’t just walk the four blocks from her new downtown apartment to our church. I took her jabs, all the while texting Brianna to be sure we effectively pull off the surprise awaiting her mom.

We pick up Grandpa Smitty on the way into town and pull into the Beaver Terrace Apartments. Of course, Brianna isn’t quite ready, which now adds to Mom’s angst about getting everyone to church and on time.

Suddenly, the van door opens and there stands our little girl holding her mom’s present, a new Keurig coffee maker! Instantly, Heidi’s anger turns to jubilation as she has wanted a Keurig for some time and the current coffee maker at home has been giving us fits lately. So we end up being a few minutes late for church (that’s normal in the Battista world), and we enjoy a chance to spend some extra worship time together as a family.

After the service, we have a time of fellowship in the church basement, where we have coffee and catch up on all the week’s happenings with our friends at St. Paul’s.

Lunch at Rotelli’s is next on the agenda but, since they don’t open for another half hour, we travel across town to Lowe’s to get some tiles for our fire pit and some flowers for Heidi to plant. While there, we run into several old friends and, of course, stay longer than planned. We finally arrive at Rotelli’s, and we have a nice and surprisingly cordial family meal.

Poor Smitty is still in the referee’s seat between his daughter and granddaughter. Having raised three daughters and having to deal with four women on a regular basis in his household, Smitty is unequivocally an expert on dealing with highly opinionated female members of the family. We leave Rotelli’s, having enjoyed a rare civil family dining experience.      

Heidi gets some time to herself to plant flowers and to relax before we head to the ball field for Ryan’s Little League game. I can’t think of a better way to spend a nice sunny afternoon than to be at the field for a game. Even Brianna and Sportster make it down to watch Ryan’s team win in a blowout. All is good in the world.

Now there is only one more Mother’s Day wish to fulfill: the Heidi Hike.

Heidi-Ba grew up in the woods. Her family had a 60-acre camp called “Back Achers” in the tiny town of Tidioute in Warren County. Walking in the woods to commune with nature is just in her blood. So we loaded up the boys, including the dog (who may love these family hikes more than Heidi, as he gets to roam leash-less in the woods) and off we went to Shingletown Gap. We arrived late in the afternoon just as it started to cool down, but it wasn’t long into the hike before the heart was pumping and the sweat beads were forming. No video games, no TV, no interruptions — just the sounds of a babbling creek, the wind blowing through the trees and my heart and lungs pumping.

After running into a young family enjoying a Sunday picnic at the base of the mountain, we had the place to ourselves. As Jonathon led us up the mountain (he sometimes comes out here on his own with just the dog to hike), he took us on a “road less traveled” along the highest ridge. I had never gone this route before, and the view of Happy Valley was spectacular. We took the time to rest at the peak and took some photos.

As busy as we all are these days, it was a welcome departure from the “real world” and a chance to relax, get some exercise and spend time together. Brianna was nursing a bad cold, so she didn’t make the hike, and I had a nasty allergy attack, but it was still worth it because Mamma was happy: And if Mamma’s not happy, no one is happy!

The evening ended with a quick trip to Rita’s for some Italian ice and gelato. While there, we ran into a number of friends treating their families to an early summer preparatory dessert. Heidi was tickled to get her sprinkles and to have her men with her.

We arrived at home just in time for Heidi and Brianna to watch their favorite TV show, “Extreme Makeover.” It took all of 30 seconds and Heidi was bawling like a baby as she does every Sunday when watching this show.

So Mother’s Day 2011 is in the books. Heidi had her day packed with family functions and relaxing activities.

If Mamma is happy, then we are all happy!



Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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