August 23, 2019

drivers can drive, um -and argue, and fight for the car

I lost two drivers in one day - to college, People, nothing tragic, thank God.  

Part of me is not sorry about being down a few drivers.  I can only tolerate so many conversations about when ‘not-present’ brother will be back with the car and why can I not be without my car so ‘present brother’ can go do such and such until ‘always late’ brother returns.  

Oh, dear Lord - do not get me started on the ‘dearest brother, why is the car on empty when I just filled it up and you used it last’ heated discussion that permeated the kitchen as often as the smell of workout clothes and musty caddy towels.  While it was a joy at times to have two drivers to tap for errands and Irish dancing pick up or drop offs, the impending headache often caused me to skip the ask and just do it myself.  

I informed Coach earlier this summer that this will be our last summer owning 3 cars.  By next summer we could potentially have 6 drivers (including Coach and I), but first I must share with you the dreaded DMV stories from a few weeks back.  (coming up in a subsequent you-won't-believe-this-one post, brace yourselves).

This is Lad and Ed's room before they left.
 It only looks slightly less cluttered now
 that they are gone.  Not a huge improvement.
  I considered going back in there to take an
 'after they moved out' photo, but opted not to
 ruin my day.  I am in no hurry to
 re-enter the dungeon.  Baby steps.
The two college boys have always shared a room.  Now that room is vacant - unless you count the filth and disorder left behind.  Mislaid, discarded clothes - will they want these when they return, or are these the give-to-Tank-or-Goodwill variety?  Ed likes to drink water in his room, so I can now go claim the kitchen cups he left in his wake.  Lad struggles to keep sheets on his bed, but extra comforters are a must.  There is garbage - literally - scattered everywhere.  Packaging from opening new underwear to used Kleenexes litter the floor.  I stripped beds today and while I know I have to go back in their pit eventually, it will wait until I can no longer waste time basking in the sun on my deck lounge chair.

They may have been disruptive or argumentative or self-involved or messy or lazy at cleaning up or overly social or always hungry, but I will miss them both.  Their personalities are unique and different, and there were often mini brawls and arguments in my kitchen.  Good or bad, the dynamic will be different without them.

August 21, 2019

my Scarlet O'Hara twist on things and what is left behind

When asked how I handled dropping Ed off at college, I told my friend that I am focused on what happens next and keeping busy with the daily tasks that lie in wait for me.  Tuesday is orientation for Reg and Curly at junior high complete with laptop pickup, supply drop off, and school pictures.  We will have 3 tots that I babysit for in tow.  

Translation:  I am pulling a Scarlet O’Hara here.  Not familiar with her coping mechanisms?  ‘I will think about that tomorrow.  Tomorrow is another day.’  Call it avoidance, if you will.  That is how I am dealing at the moment.  Maybe I will fall apart later. 

Back when Lad first went away to school, it was an adjustment.  He had been pushing the envelope and testing us on the regular in high school though.  College was a welcome change.  

Lad turned 21 this summer.  Lad:  'Treat me like I am 21!'  Coach and I:  'Act like you are 21.'  Nuff said?    Already since he flew back to New York Monday, we have had multiple phone conversations and there were no doors slammed or harsh words exchanged in the process.  21 year olds should not live at home.  

I know Ed will come home for visits, but I also know that it will never be the same.  He will only be a visitor not someone living under our roof.  He will be focused on seeing friends.  To prepare us, he was singly focused on his social life all summer.  ‘So and so leaves tomorrow.  We are all going over there tonight.’  Me:  'You will see these peeps again and you HAVE been seeing them all summer.'  He was hardly home -always racing off to caddy, to workout, or to see friends.  Meanwhile I whiled away the hours leading up to the day he would leave for college by ordering things on Amazon or interrupting school supply shopping with Curly to grab toiletries for him at Target.
And I am left with this . . .
Tank's sense of humor.
  He sent this text as I drove
home.  Ed does
 not cook and he is not one
 with nature, so
 I was like, 'huh?'  then the
followup text came. 
Wonder if I should start bracing
 myself now for
 the absence of Tank's sense of
humor when he
goes away in 2 years.  

Lad may have left a trail around the house and we would wake up unsure of where he slept the night before:  the basement couch, Coach's family room recliner, his own bed, or maybe he never came home, but I will miss his sense of humor and the stories surrounding the encounters he had with golfers while he caddied.  

I will miss conversing with Ed, because we used to talk and joke about things like school or his sports teams or my babysitting or whatever was happening.  My concerns became his concerns and he was a good guy to have around when I was stressed about something.  

Meanwhile I am left with:  Mini, who likes to talk to me, and Curly, who has a velcro attachment to me, so I have that going for me.  Tank has a few more years to eat entire packages of things and leave his belongings EVERYWHERE before he goes away to college.  He is a one-word responder when asked about usual things like school and team practices and friends.  If Reg is not careful he is going to inhale a basketball while he is living and breathing all things basketball, and I may struggle to remove said basketball from his airway.  A switch was recently flipped from 'good-kid' to ‘teenage-kid’ in Reg and he now has an answer for most everything and a sneer for everything else, so my jaw is often clenched.  

At least the two college kids left their room in a TOTAL state of disarray so I can busy myself fixing that up as a distraction from my 'where the Hell did everyone go?' feeling, which was so thoughtful of them. 

August 19, 2019

where to begin, from 6 to 4

I had a post all set for this morning, but I decided to write about the weekend instead.  Then I was not sure what to say.  Where to start?  It has taken me all day.  Kinda in a funk.
This picture is my shoe vertical -
should have flipped it horizontal.
 Sorry.  Small move-in injury.  I kept
bumping my right foot shoe into my
left shoe ankle bone.  Ouch.  It is like
biting the inside of your cheek and
 then re-biting it multiple times,
which I always attribute to stress. 

This has been the busiest, most hectic, chaotic, stressful summer on record for us.  Now these busy days and weeks have dissolved with one downsizing swoop.  We went from having six kids at home to just four.  

I dropped Eddie off for his freshman year of college yesterday - complete with a 4 hour drive there and a four hour drive home.  All this driving took place in one day on less than 6 hours of sleep.  Not my favorite way to drive.  We were at a 50th b-day party the night before and I wonder if I ate something that had pesky gluten in it.  I didn't feel great.  

Ed and I left the house at 7:30 am.  I warned Ed that if I heard Lad and Coach get up and leave for the airport before 4 am for Lad to catch his 5:55 am flight back to New York for school, then we might have to bolt at the same time.  Once I am awake I have to start driving before major drowsiness sets in.  I woke up at 5:35 am - happily had not heard the earlier college departure (I said my good-byes the night before).  I showered, gathered lunch and snacks, and then dragged Ed out of bed.
I drank the 3rd coke bottle which also had
a college logo on the label. 
One of these may or
 may not be where Ed ended
 up going to school.

Curly was supposed to accompany Ed and I.  She was excited to see Ed's room and help him move in.  I had sold the move-in idea to her, because she would end up being alone all day if she didn't come with us.  Coach was assisting in teaching a class thing (WHY DID HE OFFER HIS SERVICES ON THIS DAY?) and Mini is in Ireland (more on that later) and then Tank and Reg would be caddying.  At the last minute a friend invited her to attend an extra Irish dancing class, hang at friend's house, plus a sleepover.  Sleepovers always win with 11 year old girls - besides I reminded her that as fun as it was to see Ed's room, it would still add up to 8 hours in the car round trip.  Sleepover it was.

We woke her to say good-bye.  It was not pretty.  She leaned out of her bunk bed as Ed whispered, 'Don't get out - we want you to go back to sleep, just give me a hug.'  And hug she did.  She would not let go.  My own eyes welled up watching her little chin quiver as she cried and clung to him in the longest sibling hug in our family's history.  
While in the stupid parking lot I
spotted this licence plate from
 CALIFORNIA!  What?!  Why would
 a water polo player from California
 go to school in the Midwest at a
 school with no water polo team.
I guess it could be a Dad's car and
maybe this kid doesn't play water polo.
 Mr. California, have you
 not heard about our winters?

There were move-in frustrations.  Why oh why did they instruct us to move our cars to the stadium lot after we unloaded?  It was 92 degrees out and I chose to walk back to his dorm about 3 miles because I saw no shuttles or people waiting for shuttles or signs that said 'shuttle here.'  A third of the way to his dorm, I turned and walked back to my car.  'Screw this.  I will find a closer place to park.'  I had no intention of being there all damn day.  We had no dinner plans and elaborate redecorating schemes.  I drove back in my sweat soaked clothes and parked in an academic lot across the street.  What college move-in day would be complete without a painful trip to Target with 5,000 other people?  A trip that I later decided was unnecessary.  Sigh.

Our good-bye was awkward because his roomie was saying good-bye to his folks on the other side of the room.  I dreaded this moment.  I hugged Ed, got choked up, and ran like lightening out the door.  His roomie called after me, 'Bye Mrs. Shenanigan!'  

August 16, 2019

decisions: funds, kitchenettes, & how to accommodate excessive teens

We knew Curly was dancing in Vancouver, but we had yet to decide who we would assemble as the tag-along cast-of-characters.  Before hammering out our decision, the block of rooms opened.  
I have no photos to accompany this somewhat
boring saga setting up the ensuing room-booking
drama, so I decided to toss this your way.  This
 is the scale aka my nemesis in the locker room
of my health club.  I believe the visible appendage
 is my arm.  I did not mean to take photos in
 the locker room at the club.  Imagine how
 incredibly grateful I am (and now in turn
 you are) that there were no naked women
milling around in the background.  That would
have been embarrassing - especially if these
 imaginary women THOUGHT I
 was taking their photo.  Lawsuit or
club expulsion dodged.  Phew.

Really the decision amounted to this:  spend a gross amount of money and travel as a family to do touristy things when Curly’s dancing duties were complete, or invest enough to still make my dance-mom head spin and just take Curly the dancer and Mini the supportive-sister as my faithful travel companions and do very few touristy things.  Decisions, decisions.  Or more simply:  funding, funding. 

Booking a hotel in the Irish dancing block for these competitions is nothing short of stressful, aggressive, and frustrating.  Opting out of the reserved block results in paying a penalty.  Missing the initial offering means choosing from a hotel in a subsequent block once extra hotel rooms are scraped together.  Been there, done that.  

Again:  irrelevant photo.  Tank this morning
(clutching a wad of cash in his fist)
after a rather muddy landscaping instillation
 of a new garden for some new client.
  He netted over a grand, so he was muddy
AND happy and since he is opening the
fridge here:  HUNGRY.  What else is new?

So, it makes sense that I began my research into what hotels bragged about what amenities the night before the damn block opened.  I am nothing if not ill-prepared and frazzled on the regular.  What can I say, the last minute lifestyle such as mine leads to an often miserable existence, but I am rocking it.  Sort of.  

Namely I longed for:  kitchenette, or just a microwave, or just a fridge, or all of the above in some kind of glorious combo.  These details rank as the most important for a goofy, budget conscious, celiac suffering mom who travels with as much food as physically possible.  

I was also moderately interested in how close the hotel was to the venue.  Last year’s dance-bag-left-in-the-cab nightmare is still painfully fresh in my memory.  Had I been awarded my own reality TV show weeks before the lost-bag incident, I would be writing this from my new digs in some exclusive island resort where I would now reside with my family as millionaires.  Sadly, Irish dancing schools are barred from said island, and Curly has retired.  Wink, wink.  Yes, the ‘incident’ would have come across as THAT entertaining had it just been captured by some seedy, go-for-the-jugular TV producer.

I discovered in my I-just-want-to-go-to-bed research hours when I cussed myself out for not investigating earlier, that one hotel had a kitchenette and separate bedrooms.  Apartment style.  This would be ideal to let teenagers sleep late or allow them to stay up later than those family members who are not nocturnal.  Of course I was still not 100% sure excessive teenagers would be in attendance.  Since it was clear as mud, and not about to get clearer - I went to bed ready to try for a room the next day.

August 14, 2019

a new use for deodorant, & funniest text from Coach EVER

I was racing to get out the door to have Ed's wisdom teeth pulled.  My master bathroom toilet would not stop running.  I am not a plumber.  Not even close.  I bravely lifted the cover off the back of the toilet to see all the bells and whistles in there.  Fun.  I jiggled a few things.  Isn't that what one does?

See that damn yellow-ish hose would not stop
with the over the top water supply.
There were teeth to be pulled,
damn it.  STOP!  There is nothing
 gross here, promise.  Clean water, folks.
 Lots of bubbles from the
 constant flow of water.  
I figured out that by holding this one piece up high enough the water would stop streaming out of this angry white hose thing.  All the while I kept reminding myself:  clean water, clean water.  While channeling my inner MacGyver, I thought of Duplo legos.  You know - the chubby ones?  Doesn't everyone think of Duplo legos when the toilet won't stop running?    I know.  It is times like this that my babysitting mind prevails.

With no time to jog down to the first floor and build a lego tower to hoist up the piece, I frantically looked around.  Mini's deodorant, abandoned since our return from Vancouver almost a week ago, was on the counter.  No idea what she has been using to avoid bad BO, but I cross my fingers that she has a spare.  I am way to sophisticated and concerned with my general health to step foot in the kids' bathroom and investigate who has what deodorant.  Trust me, if I ever posted a live action, uncut photo of the kids' bathroom at its finest - we would stop being friends.  Guaranteed.
Note the white Dry Idea bottle perched under
 that black thing sort of middle/ bottom
of the photos.  Also note that the yellow-ish
hose stopped running water.  

So, since tidiness is not the name of the game here, I never removed her Dry Idea from my bathroom.  Now Dry Idea gave me an idea.  I propped it up under the need-some-support part.  I kid you not, the bottle of Mini's under-utilized deodorant fit PERFECTLY.  And I have photos to prove it.

Well this must be your lucky day, because this reminds me of another toilet story.

Before we left for Vancouver, I entered my bathroom to a gruesome discovery.  Someone, overfilled the toilet with toilet paper.  And then didn't flush.  All other evidence had thankfully been flushed away.  Just mountain of TP remained, which I managed to flush.  I ran around the house scolding the general public.

The next day, same thing in the kids bathroom.  We were not so lucky this time.  The toilet made horrible gasping sounds when Mini (who was not the culprit) tried to flush.  Coach had just left the house for Home Depot.  I opted for a text to deliver the time-to-plunge news.  Seemed like he might need a warning before walking back into this.  I do a lot of shit (no pun intended, but it works!), but I don't plunge.

His response text made me unable to move air for a while.  I was laughing that kind of silent laugh that can be misunderstood to think that someone is struggling.  Mini was sitting on my bed as I packed and she kept asking me:  'What?  What?  WHAT?!'  I finally showed her the text from her Dad.  She joined me in basking in the hilarity of it.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how my kids didn't think their golfer actually knew their dad because he described Daddy as 'funny.'  Well, if you wait around long enough you get the much-awaited laugh.

August 12, 2019

hole in 1, new shoes, career woes, & a hole in 1 at my workplace

Last week the guy Lad was caddying for made a hole in one.  I do not golf, but I get that this is an exciting moment in the life of a golfer.  Fortunately, it is also an exciting moment in the life of a caddy.  The golfer paid Lad $500 for the day.  HUGE!  GENEROUS!

This is a FEW of the shoes in the
mudroom.  I opted not to spend
 my entire morning
walking around the corners
of the kitchen and
 the front hall taking pics of all the
shoes abandoned there.
Apparently a golfer scoring a hole in one typically purchases new shoes for his caddy after such a monumental event.  I know, I don't get the correlation either.  Laddie is excited to get new shoes.  Our mudroom groaned a little at the prospect of ANOTHER pair of shoes being tossed around in there.

Not sure my kids believe me, but when I was growing up we each owned a pair of shoes for Catholic school - known as 'school shoes' - very creative title indeed.  They were leather Mary Jane's or Sperry's that we referred to as top siders in the '80s.  Then we owned 'gym shoes' which were sneakers suitable for gym class.  In the summer, the girls owned a pair of sandals.  The end.  And my mother wonders why my house is such a disaster.  It is the shoes.  They are going to overtake us.

Anyway, lately I have been grappling with career woes or  job insecurity/questioning.  Not sure what else to call it.  Similar feelings have crept up on me in the past.  Like:  why don't I get a 'real' job?  I have a degree, why can't I find a way to use it?  (oh, that's right my experience is diapers)  Why didn't I go back and get a teaching degree back in the day?

I would like to think that this real-job-where-art-thou thought process will subside, but I will be honest I only foresee that happening if my book gets published.  Then I will be all 'You see, I have just been carving out time to write during naps.  Writing is also an excellent way to avoid cleaning house.  And look here - now I have a book to show for it.  Piece of cake!'

I am not holding my breath.

What I should do is write a book about potty training, because WHY ARE THERE KIDS OUT THERE WHO ARE THREE YEARS OLD STILL WEARING DIAPERS?  Come on.  It is an area of expertise for me.  The family I started babysitting for when I was 12 yrs old, paid me extra when the folks went to Europe (by now I was 16 because leaving kids with a 12 yr old for Europe probably didn't fly back then even though seat belts were considered decorative devices) for a few weeks and came home to a potty trained kid.  Shazam!

It got me thinking that the families I sit for should perhaps offer me a similar $500 hole in one bonus.  Potty training is a similar concept.  Ready, aim, fire -in the hole preferably - not on my floor.

I will pass on the new shoes, because I am really particular about my shoes and because my house cannot accommodate another pair.

August 9, 2019

common courtesy, who drinks my catsup, & that pudding won't last


I have been actively interviewing new families for my in-home daycare as I still have several openings for the fall.  I meet people on a Mom's Facebook page,, and the NextDoor website.

I have lost track of how many people I have met with or messaged back and forth.  There was the one woman who swore she could taste her own breast-milk when she got full.  So, yes - there are people I am relieved have not called me back.

Honestly though, I have never encountered so many people who fail to get back in touch.  To me it is simple:  'We selected someone closer to home, thanks for your time' or 'We are still deciding, thanks for meeting with us.'  or 'My mother in law decided to watch little Junior, but thanks anyway.'  I could not live with myself if I did not message people back that I had interviewed.

One woman messaged me while I was in Vancouver and asked if I could chat in an hour.  I explained that I was in Vancouver but could we talk in two days time?  'Yes.'  I have messaged her several times.  No response.  How about:  'Sorry, I found someone.'  NO BIG DEAL.  Basic manners.  Speaking of manners . . .


Lad came home from college with an aversion to certain meats.  No rhyme or reason.  I think he doesn't like how some chickens are fed.  I serve up what I serve up.  Feast of famine, people,  Coach laughed one morning.  Lad had ingested most of a bottle of castup with a big bag of potato chips while the rest of us slept.  Evidence was right there on the island.
Trust me, there is a shadow in the pic
 that makes the bottle look like it has half
 a portion in there.  Not the case.

Coach was like:  'Well, he is clearly concerned with what he puts in his body.'  We are a sarcastic breed over here, so be cautious when you show up and decide to be inconsistent with your manifestos.

We were at the dentist early this morning and it was crappy caddy weather.  Ed had his wisdom teeth out yesterday.  They suggested pancakes for his must-eat-soft-food palate, so I whipped up eggs and cakes for an early lunch.  Ed would never eat a pancake normally because he really only eats healthy food (meat works for him when his mouth is functioning).  I urged him to eat a pancake so I could be sure he wasn't messing with his stitches.

I got that whole mess cleaned up and then got out stuff to load my crock-pot.  Catsup, sugar, onions, etc.  I noticed early in the summer that I had overbought catsup.  This morning:  NO FRICKING CATSUP.  Oh, I mean unless you count the half a capful that was in the container in the fridge.  How on earth can one college kid inhale that much catsup?

Is this picture too dark for you to see?
 Pudding on the left and cool whip
on the right.  The stuff dreams are made of.
Maybe catsup lover could mention:  I just opened the last bottle in what was once your very impressive inventory.  And, hey - sorry to be quirky, but DON'T PUT IT BACK IN THE FRIDGE IF IT IS ESSENTIALLY EMPTY!!!


I had Mini make some chocolate pudding and thaw cool whip from the freezer for Ed as he hopes not to lose weight while healing (such a problem to have!).  Well, look who is enjoying a bit of pudding and cool whip?  Yep.  Of course there is sugar involved so Ed has barely touched it.  Why is my genetic pool so lacking in willpower?