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June 5, 2020

my new happy place and my no-hospitality policy & A NEW UNREAL ENDING

I am a pool person.  In the summer, if I get tied up and I cannot log some time at our local pool on a hot, sunny day then I get REALLY grumpy.  We do not know if and when our local pool will open.  Commence the grumpiness.
This served as my 'pool'
for Memorial Day.

Memorial weekend was the warmest, hottest ever- no pool to escape to.  On Memorial Day, I did a search for little pools to buy at Target or Walmart. 

Coach:  "That is dumb.  I won't help you blow it up.  It can't go on the grass, because it'll kill my grass."  

I wanted to say, "Oh go sit in the shade and soak your pasty face in a vat 'o sunscreen."

But instead . . . I shrugged:  "I can put in on the deck."

I ordered a 10 by 4 foot pool at Walmart.  I got an email instructing me not to come yet.  I would get an email when my order was ready. 

The next email:  Sorry folks, moose shoulda told ya out front, the parks closed . . .

in reality:  'certain items in your cart are no longer available.'  Well, I only had the one item, so I deduced that someone walked in off the street and messed up their inventory by buying MY POOL.  

I trolled Amazon, but all the pools were crazy expensive, or would not arrive until the end of June. 

Midweek I happened to do another Walmart search.  Boom - a different Walmart, not too far from my allergy shots, where I was headed, had my pool.  I gathered my minions.  Mini drove to shots, I hopped out, realized Mini left the credit card I gave her to buy the pool on the kitchen counter, gave her a different card, and Tank drove them to Walmart.  I told them 'text me the minute you have the pool  and I will cancel my online order.' 

I am no fool.

Mini texted me 'The eagle flies at midnight' - kidding, 'We have the pool.  Tank lost the car keys, so I am standing at the car.  He went back inside to look for them.'  

Swell.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum(ber). 

He found the keys a few minutes later and they managed to pick me up and I cancelled my online order. 
Alas, where there is a sun-worshipper,
there is a way.

The pool sat in the box till Tuesday when it hotter than hell.  I told Reg his job was too open the pool up while I was walking to see if the pump for the air mattresses would work.  Nope.   Alas, where there is a sun-worshiper, there is a way.  I rolled up a part of a cereal box and made a cone shaped thing with the wide end at the air mattress pump and the narrow end shoved into my future sanctuary (insert:  that's what he said - I couldn't resist). 

It blew up with no trouble.  Um, it's huge.  Curly got the hose.  She was worried that the water would be so hot because hose water is hot.  Yeah, unless you turn on the hose for more than 30 seconds - then bring on the iceberg
Took up a big chunk of the family room
where I blew it up while Curly was
in the shower - oh, the joy
when she saw it.

We quit using the hose after awhile 2 hours because I was trying to avoid giving my children hypothermia.  About 6 buckets of hot water from inside the house and it was still gonna numb anyone who was brave enough to stick their extremities in there.  An hour or so later it started to heat up, thank you sun. 

Reg and Curly's friends came over and they 'swam'.  Two of Mini's BFFs got their licenses and they came over driving separately to scoop her up.  She scoffed at my spa to her friends as if it was disgusting to submerge oneself with bugs and leaves and friends.  The nerve.  Remembering that my goal should  not ALWAYS be to embarrass her in front of her friends, I managed to not point out that her bedroom is not much cleaner than my pool. 
Mini admitted to me tonight that she snapped
 a photo of me reading my book in my spa and
 she snapchatted it to her friends, and one of
them now has my pool-submerged
self as her screen saver.

Then it was my turn to lower myself in.  The corner is perfect for a headrest, armrest.  The temperature was super refreshing.  Great angle towards the sun.  Curly pulled up a bench for my water and my book.  Bliss.  It was in the 90s and I even snoozed a tiny bit.  Glorious.

The next morning Lad showed me photos on his phone from a deck visitor that appeared while I was sleeping.  No it was not Mary Ann trying to take a quick dip on our deck before she got busy on her broomstick.  Drum roll . . .  it was 

A HUGE, ENORMOUS RACCOON

So, recap:  two years ago a raccoon lived under our deck.  We decided she was ill because hello, how do you forget to be nocturnal?!  (note in this link, I still referred to her as a him!)  A police officer drove by and SAW the coon from the street (she was a big 'un) one evening and suggested relocation.  He even brought me a cage from the station. We caught her, dropped her off on the other side of the expressway, and 
Lad's photo.

REMEMBER . . . later that day I heard what I thought sounded like birds?  Four baby raccoons under the deck crying for their mama.  Well, I felt awful.  The boys scooped the babies out (deck torn up during addition) from under the deck and our friend Betty drove them to a rescue. 

I was at Irish dancing - remember when that was a thing?  When Irish dancing dictated my every move?  Guess who is cringing to think of the return of those days? The boys took video and photos of the babies.  

In case looking back at the links I shared
would cut into your time at
YOUR pool, this is a photo of
 two of the babies huddled
together and off to the rescue.
Anyway, now we know that mama raccoons come out during the day after giving birth to look for food.  So now I have to be all kindly to this mama.  I wonder if she is the same mama - do raccoons do that?  Return to the place they got kicked out of even if crossing an expressway is a suicide mission?

We spotted her several times yesterday in the early evening.  Coach and I tried to get more pics.  He took a video.  I was out in the yard watching her scamper  away towards neighbors decks and I wanted to be all realtor-ish on her ass, like:

"Can I interest you in this deck over here?  This looks spacious?  Ow, less weeds than they have at that nasty Shenanigan house.  Looks like they have an en-suite.  Or better yet, check out Mary Ann's roof over there - I bet her attic is the BOMB.  Come, I'll get you a ladder, sure bring the babies."

Just to give you reference, and
because I think my pool is a
thing of beauty, so why not share more pics?  The
 photo Lad took of the raccoon was up on the
gazebo near where Coach's covered grill is
right in front of where that
 net float thing is that Curly, my pool hand,
has beenusing to try to clean the pool. 
Big Mama froze at one point and stared as I stood in the lawn and I swear she mouthed the words:  'Baby kidnapper!'  Yeah, so I am sleeping with one eye open now.

Of course my biggest concern is my fancy spa.  I raced downstairs this morning half expecting her to be giving her babies swimming lessons in my oasis.  If that creature puts a claw or a fang in the side of my glorious lil-bit-o-heaven, we are having raccoon meat for dinner.  I am struggling to get my preferred frozen Perdue individually wrapped chicken breasts at the grocery right now, so we just might end up with mystery meat.  Don't judge (or call animal cruelty because what is meaner than popping someone's happy-place?).  Wink, wink. 
Reg circa 2010, sporting a souvenir
coon skin cap in Yellowstone.

Besides, I'd love a new winter hat.  I hear the Davy Crockett look is coming back.  Oh and who cares if it isn't?  If Mini can drive around in a turban, I can sport a winter coon-skin cap.

And as a warning to all those varmints out there.  Keep your fur-ball-selves away from my happy place, damn it. 

Do you like hanging in the pool?  Did you even know what sunscreen was as a kid?  (we did not)  Are your pools open?  Don't tease me, Suz, and anyone else with their own private pool - and be all sassy with your 'Yep, my pool is good to go.'

NEW ENDING - EDITED TO ADD:
I wrote this post Thursday night just before I went to bed.  I woke up at 6:15 am.  Coach had sent me 2 text messages early this morning.  One was a photo:

HERE SHE IS WITH HER LITTLE FAMILY!
The other was this video:


  


Oh, and this is a photo of the paw prints
all over the edge of my sanctuary.  (sobbing softly)
It looks like her drinking and her babies running around behind her (I just updated it because the first video was blurry.  I got Coach to email it to me instead of text it).
  
People, stop laughing.  This means war.  I am thinking chicken wire around the walls of the deck?  I will happily leave her a big bowl/bucket of water on the grass off of the deck 

BUT SHE HAS GOT TO STAY OFF MY DECK AND OUT OF MY EF-ING POOL.  

Please include your suggestions in my comments.

June 3, 2020

An unintentional head bonking, Joe's, dirty rice, & taco mourning

I do not have a photo of the finished cleaned garage, because there was an 'incident'.  

Coach was trying to put a shelf up on the garage wall that the kitchen workers knocked down 3 years ago.  No one could speak to him and ask him:  Where should we put this?  Do you still need this?  while he worked on the shelf hanging.


So:  lots of standing around.  My least favorite thing, while working on a project.  Finally, I reached up to grab something off of a high shelf.  So . . . the thing I grabbed didn't look like it was near where Coach and Mini were working on the shelf, but it knocked into something else that then fell and hit an empty milk crate and the milk crate fell TOWARDS where Coach was crouched over hanging the shelf and despite my screams . . . the corner bonked off of his head.  

It was like a game of PLINKO gone bad.  It bounced the wrong way.  Well, Coach was NOT happy.  Understandably.  I apologized profusely and then I abandoned ship.  I felt thrilled to have the shelf back, but I also thought that might have been better as a separate project since it was taking FOREVER.  

Aside from bonking Coach on the head, I also used my super powers to whip up SEVERAL meals over the weekend.  Now, we just have to remember to eat them so we don't have to throw any food away.  

At Costco I bought 10 pounds of ground beef last week.  I also bought a huge thing of pork chops AND I will be cooking them in my crock-pot Monday (writing this Sunday night).  No forgetting rotting meat this time.

Anyway, I browned a few pounds of ground beef Friday and tossed some pasta sauce in it for people to eat with pasta.  Then I prepared a few pounds for tacos, because I don't eat pasta, and Ed prefers tacos too.  Just call me a crowd pleaser.  

FINALLY, I made a little more than 5 pounds into Sloppy Joe's.  

My children behaved like it was Christmas morning when they heard Sloppy Joe's would be on the upcoming menu.  Even Lad, our resident vegetarian, decided to eat meat.  They ate them Sunday night and gave them rave reviews.  They were downright giddy.

Vat-o-Sloppy-Joe's
Note to self:  make Joe's from time to time and keep the children happy.  How hard?  

Of course I say this, but I assume you all experience the same thing:  make something they love once too many times in the same calendar year and be prepared for their wrath.  Like, sleep with one eye open.  What is the formula, anyway?  

While you ponder this, I will share that we have officially added dirty rice to our regular meals over here.  That was part of Ed's 'make-a-meal-Mommy-doesn't-make' pandemic adventure and it stuck.  Get it, rice?  Stuck?  I'll be here all week.  

The kids voted to keep Reg's recipe, pesto mozzarella chicken - shared by Beth, in the recipe rotation.  I have agreed, but I am conserving my chicken at the moment because it's hard to get - so they wait, patiently, because they are angels - in case you didn't realize.  

Served on a bed of lettuce for the celiac Mom.
When Ed made dirty rice, our mouths were on fire.  Crazy spicy.  Hello, have we met?  I don't do spicy.  Cut me some slack, please.  My mom is a very picky eater and raised us in her shadow - rarely making anything that wasn't meat and potatoes.  I didn't eat a taco until college, and even then I think it was AFTER college.  *** Moment of silence here for all the possible enjoyable taco eating years I missed out on. ***  Thank you.   

Anyway, my face was sweating when we ate Ed's dirty rice.  Then Ed and I made it again one night and I was in one of my let's-make-a-ton-of-shit-so-I-don't-have-to-cook-again-for-at-least-48-hours moods.  

It was a side dish and I was preparing something else while hollering over my shoulder things like:  Ed, add more rice.  I think I have another box of rice somewhere.  Let's make a whole other pan.  Get some more veggies cut up.  Let's do this.  


Well, I lost track of how many times we were multiplying the recipe and we just tossed in a bunch of paprika and cayenne pepper.  Lord have mercy, spicy.  My mouth was on fire and had to keep blotting my face - but eat it we did, because who knew when we would get rice again.  

At the time there were also shortages on gallons of milk.  I blinked wildly and begged them to stop, but my offspring gulped one full glass of milk after the other - splashing it carelessly down their chins- to calm the fire in their mouths.  Well, shit - that was a pandemic misfortune.  The equivalent to having a bad case of diarrhea early on when there was no spare toilet paper to be found, I guess.    

Third time is the charm. . . I was channeling my
 inner Goldilocks - it was JUST RIGHT!
I must share that last week I made ANOTHER mountain of dirty rice.  Some family members insisted they wanted it spicy.  Who even are they?  I agreed to make it spicy, but secretly winked at Curly.  She was with me - tone it the fuck down.  

I quadrupled it, but did not quadruple the spices and voila - perfection.  Even my sudden 'bring on the spice' people were completely satisfied, and for now I have cancelled my plan to go out and purchase a cow for the yard to keep up with our milk consumption.  Sort of sad about that, because let your imagination run wild with my plans for cow pies . . . you got it: 

"Special delivery for Mary Ann."  wink, wink, nudge, nudge. 

Now I just have to worry that my children will lynch my in my sleep once I have pushed the envelope and prepared dirty rice one two many times.  

ME:  Don't hurt me!  I will run out and get ground beef for Sloppy Joe's first thing tomorrow!   

(FYI:  I was trying to keep this post under 1,000 words and before I added this it was at 1,004 . . . like my dirty rice, not bad).

Do you like spicy, or not?  What did you not eat growing up that you later realized EVERYONE else was eating?

June 1, 2020

Herculean task I hate & a 'mess with me, will you? moment

Oh look, our garage vomited!
I returned from my walk Sunday morning to a glorious sight.  The entire contents of our garage had been dumped onto the driveway.  Why was this glorious?  Because, for once I was not spearheading this enormous undertaking.

For the record, we have a three car garage and we can usually only fit the great white in there.  It fits in the double side surrounded by bikes and garbage bins, etc.  So, yeah . . . STUFF.  

Ya know what's fun?  Being
almost 50 and owning baby gear.
We can actually fit the minivan in on the other side (in the single garage) but good luck extricating yourself from inside of the car.  Unless you have special powers and can take flight - it's not worth it.  You would have to be able to fly or have some serious hops to get over the two lawnmowers that are usually nestled between the great white and the red minivan thereby pinning the driver into the car.  

Coach knows I have been a little stressed out lately.   So, when I left for my walk and called out a warning to Reg:  "We will probably clean out the garage today,"  Coach, the smart man that he is, got a jump start.  Day made.  
Bikes and golf clubs might pin us in our car
one day.  Thankfully cell phones are usually
 available in case we need
 to call for the jaws of life.

It was not supposed to be crazy hot, so I thought great day for this.  I was being a little saucy though because I had not run the project idea past Coach, so sorta bold and maybe a tinge bossy.  I will say that many, many times I have cleaned the garage out with the help of my children or mostly on my own because Coach is OK with it becoming downright dangerous in there.  It is a herculean task that I loathe.  

What would've made my day even better is if I didn't have to be involved at all, but beggars cannot be choosy.  Plus, I own several strollers and a wagon for my babysitting gig so I figured I better pitch in.  

*Feel free to replace beggars here with the only person that really occasionally gives a damn that our belongings and our excess crap doesn't swallow us whole.  

I never mentioned the tile . . . loads of leftover
tile from every project ever were
 in the garage.  I hauled them
 to the basement with Mini and Reg and
 wiped them all down and stored
 them under the basement sink.
Anyway the project was gross:  lots of dust, dirt, spiders, and filth.  Four bikes have been selected to be either sold, or thrown away.  I'm guilty for damaging some bikes with the great white.  We have a bike rack but if the kids don't store the bikes correctly, then they (the bikes, not the kid)  inadvertently end up under the great white's tires.  Not a pretty way to go.  

Reggie and Curly worked tirelessly on the emptying of the garage.  Curly eventually begged to be released from duty to shower.  Reg would go inside but kept coming back out and doing a little bit more.  He admitted that he felt bad because:  "Daddy said he didn't want to be out here all day and he is still here."  Can we give this kid a gold star?

Look at that neat little pile.  Now, you
 might need to remind me where I stowed
 them, because I do that when I organize: 
Oh, this will fit right here.
  Months later: 
Where the hell is the ___?
Mini stumbled out after waking up at noon.  She looked still very much asleep and I was like "What's wrong?" as in - why are you out of bed when it's just noon?  She admitted that she heard about the project and was worried she'd be in trouble if she didn't help.   

A bit later she went inside to get a wet rag for us and LITERALLY stumbled down the step and landed on the floor on her way back in the garage.  It was NOT graceful, but once again I was relieved when she started chuckling so we could all start laughing at her (Yes, I'm THAT mom, in case by now there was any doubt) and of course most importantly I was relieved because her laughing meant she wasn't hurt.  

Lad poked around in the garage and helped a bit here and there.  

Ed was off the hook because he was caddying.  He made $200.  The course is technically not open, but Ed is still getting requested.  I think he is on the caddy master's 'list.'  The other kids hope to get to start caddying again soon, because:
     a)  they get paid great and 
     b) it gets them out of hard labor on the home front.  

Then there was Tank.  He came out and did a few things, but he would sneak back inside occasionally and tell Reg, "Mommy is calling you."  Reg had already done more than his share and would come outside and say, "You want me, Mommy?" So, I got wind of Tank's nonsense and lost my shit.  

Then Tank kept trying to jump the gun and throw everything back into the garage haphazardly.  I finally released him of his garage duty but assigned him to scrub all 4 toilets and empty all bathroom garbage.  

Mess with me, will you?

So, who messed with you this weekend?  Or share your least favorite household task.  Or what project your spouse or your offspring have taken on to make your day?


May 29, 2020

Curly's no-covid-excuse haircut, plus photos galore


Tank holding Curly pre-hair. 
We just stumbled across this
 pic and we CANNOT
believe her cheeks. 
I have always cut the boys' hair, including Coach.  I cut the girls' hair when they were young, even giving Mini a cute bob that I called the grape-juice haircut.  

Reason being:  I felt like Ernie (no pun intended) when he tried to evenly share grape-juice with Bert.  He kept pouring a bit and then deciding someone had too much, and taking a few sips to even it out.  Well, straightening Mini's bob out was not my most shining moment as a fake beautician.  
Curly age 3, and I thought the hair
was tough to comb through back then.
 It is so incredibly curly now.
  I wish I could share a feel
-think poodle on steroids.

Then along came Curly.  I thought her curly hair was made for shining moments.  Her hair was SO darn forgiving.  She has a mass of serious curls and if one side was a tad longer than another, who knew?  

Coach and I will soon be buying a second home with all the haircut money we have saved over the years.  OK, fake news, but you get the point.  

December 2018:  Curly's hair began to look like a triangle.  My beautician suggested I buy a thinning shears and thin it out to give it more shape.  I watched YouTube videos, sat her down in the bathroom (because- Chicago winter), and got started.  Mini was in the room and every little clip I made, Mini shrieked until I invited her to LEAVE the bathroom.  

Silly to show her face as a tot but not as a big kid? 
Hmm, maybe.  If I am anything, it is
half-ass when it comes
to hiding our identity lately.  Maybe because I
am all, bring-it Mary Ann!  I think the kids
 are harder to ID as tots and babies
 vs their current faces.  Oh, this is an
example of triangle hair, but looking
 back it isn't so bad.  (sobs softly) 
 
The results were fabulous.  She had shape.  It was manageable - as in she could get through it without horrible knots.  She was delighted.  

The thing I learned early on when cutting Curly's hair is that if I cut a tiny fraction of hair off, her hair sprung up and looked 2 inches shorter.  I had to focus really hard not to cut off too much from the length or it would look crazy short.

May 2019:  Last year in early May, Coach and I took Curly out to lunch. 

We take the kids out alone two times a year for breakfast or lunch and it was her turn.  It was a beautiful spring day, and she pointed out that she was ready for another haircut.  She was starting to get triangle-ish again.  When we got home, she was all:  CAN YOU DO CUT MY HAIR NOW?

My arsenal
I gathered my stuff and told her to get it wet and meet me on the deck.  Her friend's mom texted me and asked if Curly could come and play.  Ugh.  Curly was like, OH, PLEASE CAN I GO TO HER HOUSE?  JUST HURRY UP AND CUT MY HAIR AND THEN I WILL GO.

I texted back:  Cutting her hair, she'll be over soon.  

This, my 2nd time thinning her hair didn't go quite so well.  I blame the HURRY UP factor.  Friends, I ran that thinning scissors up AND down her hair, then back again in the other direction.  I was not as focused as the day in the bathroom when I carefully chose select strands and thinned them, and started only from about 6 inches away from the root.  I needed Mini's shrieking to remind me to be CAUTIOUS.  

No words.
Afterwards, Curly ran upstairs to shower.  I looked at my deck and felt a tad ill that Curly's curls were EVERYWHERE.  I reminded myself that I always feel this way when Curly's beautiful locks scatter.  

A moment later I heard Curly holler from my bathroom.  I ran upstairs.  Mini was in there and carefully made horrified faces from angles that Curly could not see- even in the mirror.  
Off of the deck, blowing in the
breeze- my girl's hair.

Curly was crying:  WHAT DID YOU DO?  IT'S ALL COMING OUT!

She was not lying.  I assured her that she just needed to comb through it and that it would be fine.  I took the brush and brushed through it.  I told her that was it, no more would come out.  I pointed her face at the mirror, SEE?  YOU STILL HAVE ALL KINDS OF HAIR.

Curly held up the brush to me and sobbed:  LOOK!

Dear God, I could have ditched babysitting to become a wig-maker.  There was THAT much hair in the brush.  

A somewhat distorted photo of Mini because
 I took the picture while it was in a frame.
 See - her hair.  So pretty,
then straight (still pretty),
now back to long ringlets, especially
 with the help of her twisty turban.
I fumbled for words.  Ultimately, I told her that it would still look cute, it always did.  Plus it would grow back.  I apologized profusely and told her I should have re-watched the videos to remember what I was doing.  I admitted that I was probably racing.  After the shower, it perked up and she decided it was cute, but we both knew I had gone overboard.  

Days later, Tank would sit behind her on the family room floor and make jerking hand motions behind her head to point out the many strange geometric shapes in her remaining curls.  If only my dagger looks aimed at him could be felt from across the room.  

I think part of the deal with Curly's hair is that it was transforming from little kid hair to hair that changes after hormones/puberty.  Does anyone else find that their kids' hair does this?  

Walking in Vancouver last summer.  Not sure
you can tell, but majorly frizzy
and lots of up and down dips. 
Oh, the guilt.
Example:  Mini had curly hair as a tot.  Think loose ringlets.  Then in grade school her hair was pretty straight with a wave to it.  After puberty, serious curls - not as afro-esque as Curly's, but really curly.  

So, Curly's hair now has SO MANY different layers and lengths to it, it has driven her crazy over the course of the year.  It has been growing out ever so gradually and I pointed out early on in the pandemic that by the time we were done with house-arrest her friends would be shocked at how much it had come back.  

I admit though, when Reg had his graduation pictures taken at school in January, I calculated that Curly has 2 years before her 8th grade grad pics are taken and I hope by then her hair will be BACK to normal.  

(image credit:  Google) Zoe with same
wispies as Curly at the sides.
Lately Curly has a handful of curls that hang down below the rest.  Honestly she reminds me of a Muppet.  Parts of this hang-down-below-the-rest hairs are very feather-light and they bounce in the breeze.  Thus:  Muppet resemblance with hair flying around like those puppets with feathers and lightweight fur.  I swear she looks a tad like Zoe from Sesame Street.  

Oh, and I am raising my right hand here and swearing, triangle or not - Curly will be going to a professional from now on.  I even met a woman at a graduation party last summer who gave me the name of a beautician who specializes in curly haircuts.  

Anyone else ever destroy your kid's hair accidentally?  

Note:  I think I am subliminally inserted the 'going to lunch' story to assure you I am not a horrible parent who thoughtlessly sheered the shit out of my kid's hair.




May 27, 2020

Wanna see my stitches Mary Ann?

As I sit down to write this I realize there is a Mary Ann story missing from the trail of Mary Ann issues, but I will move forward and tell this one out of sequence.  It won't really matter to you, but I just won't be able to refer back to the last, and very similar 'episode.'  


Before my class started March 1st, I had a bunch of posts all lined up and ready to post in case my class became too taxing and I didn't have time to write something bloggish.  Then the pandemic blew into our lives and those posts got pushed to the side while I discussed pressing shit like playing Chinese checkers, and pandemic-ish quotes, and Mini driving in her twisty turban.  

I will one day post those non-pandemic friendly posts . . . and when I do - Mary Ann will once again strut her stuff.  I am sure the anticipation is killing you.

In the meantime, Friday I had a Zoom conference for an hour with a therapist I am seeing from the new group of therapists we found to work with Lad.  She is wonderful.  I 'Zoom' with her in my walk in closet with the sound machine going in my bedroom and the door to my bedroom locked.  Can never be too careful.  

I emerged at 4:00 on Friday, and came downstairs a bit sweaty from being confined to my closet.  By the way, Zoom froze an image of me but my voice could still be heard, so the therapist was like:  "It's fine, don't worry."  It wasn't the most attractive pose of me and I suspect that she needed some therapy of her own afterwards.  I digress.  Shock.  

In the kitchen, there was a big box sitting on my island.  It was a white box with a picture of an air purifier or something on the outside.  Coach's patients give him 'stuff' sometimes.  "Anybody know anything about this box?"

Coach said 'No idea' about the mystery box.  Other kids were out in the yard and no one else responded.  

Tank walked inside and I got Coach's attention and did the nod of the head towards the study maneuver that translates into 'remember we gotta talk to this one.'

Remember:  Tank wants to do ROTC in college.  He's worried he can't because of ADD.  He has reached out to my bro in law 'Bill' who was a lifer in the marines.  Bill emailed me recently and said (nicely) that Tank was still emailing him.  Bill had reached out to me several weeks ago saying he was not sure he should relay any more info to Tank fearing Tank might be upset or lose hope, etc.  I told him after Tank's AP exam we would talk to him.  Then I forgot.

So, we sat Tank down to say the same stuff we've been saying:  It'll work out one way or another.  If this isn't the path, there will be others (and, ever so subtly) Uncle Bill thinks it doesn't look great, but you have SO MUCH going for you, etc.    

While we were talking to him, thinking it was going well, he burst into tears.  Heartbreaking.  He is 17 and swears this is all he wants, but isn't sure why.  I think it is because he wants a specific path so he doesn't have to figure something out later.  That makes him anxious.  

ANYWAY . . . I get a text message.  At this emotional moment.  From Mary Ann.

Her:  Did you guys get an amazon package today?  We got a notification that a package was delivered and handed to a person at the residence.  No one was here so just checking if you guys got it.  Thank you.  

(not sure I have shared before:  our addresses are the same number, just different streets, ie:  123 Happy St and 123 Bitch Street, but since we are on the corner and our driveway faces her's it confuses Amazon).

Me:  When I came out of a Zoom meeting there was an air purifier or something on my island.  No one knew anything about where it came from.  Is that your item?

** I suppose I could have pointed out that no one was really around vs no one knew where it came from.  I still had some investigating to do, but didn't seem all that emergent because it wasn't like someone mistakenly delivered a melting tub of ice cream on my front porch.  Dare to dream, right?

Her:  It's ours!  

(this was the next text.  I wanted to text back and say DANG, CAUSE I WAS HOPING TO USE IT AND PRETEND IT WAS MINE. Understand, mystery package was in our house for less than an hour and a half - not days!)

I drafted back a message WHILE trying to be present for my son who was an emotional puddle.  I failed to hit send.  DAMN IT.  I really wish my message had sent.  It was simple, 'Got it.  Will have a kid bring it over in a bit.'

She continued with:  The amazon guy said he delivered it with our name on pkg.  Handed it to D sad one one. 

** Do packages get delivered WITHOUT names on them?  What?   

** And what was the deal with her trying to transcribe the chicken scratch of who signed for it?  Lad's real name starts with a 'D' but so what?  Oh, she hates Lad.  It started long ago when he was just a kid trying to play football in the yard with her boys.  

Our study, where we were sitting with Tank the sobbing disaster of a kid, is right next to the front door.  I saw Mary Ann march up to our front door from the study window.  I looked down at my phone and realized my 'a kid will bring it over in a bit' message didn't send.  

Me:  "Don't answer the door.  This is not an emergency.  We are in the middle of something.  She can wait."  

The gist of Mary Ann:  the world revolves around her.  Most. Self. Involved. Person. Ever.   

Coach ignored me and answered the door.  He played totally chill.  "Oh really.  I don't know.  Let me go see."  He took his time coming back to the door with the box.  To be clear, it was not in a cardboard delivery box.  It was the internal, actual box of the product.  Not even a really sturdy box.  I assumed one of our kids had ripped open the cardboard packaging, which was weird because they don't usually do that.  Of course, I think we all know my kids aren't 'usual.'  Ha. 

I could hear Mary Ann being all snippy, but Coach was acting like he had no pulse.  Meanwhile my blood was boiling 10 feet away in the study.  She was asking things like:  where's the box it came in?  

Coach:  "Oh.  Huh?  I don't know.  Weird, right?  OK then."

She grabbed the box from him and as she pounded away I could see her through the window and her mouth was still running:  blah blah blah!!!

One of my biggest regrets in life might be that I didn't sit there and video her as a gift to all of you, and future generations, etc.  I was just so SHOCKED.  Like, who does this?  

What I did do was this loudly:  WHAT?  YOU GOT SOME-TIN' TO SAY?  I didn't actually remember this but Tank, who was sitting there wiping his tears, and I should point out that he never cries, imitated me later at dinner to his siblings.  He said I also gave her both my middle fingers.  Sometimes one isn't sufficient.

Like I said, I have no photos of the incident.  Wish I had taken a photo of the mystery box before our meeting with Tank.  So this is the our backyard as seen from the end of my daily 65 minute speed walk.  Just so you realize that I don't live in a mansion, the roof you see above the swing-set on the left belongs to a house across the street from us.  Weird angle and trees and all.  My house ends sort of under the 's' in house.  
Coach went to play volleyball with the kids in the yard after our chat with Tank, but I first assembled my brood.  Tank wouldn't play v-ball - he was in his room gathering himself.  The 5 of them stood there leery of what I was gonna say, still oblivious to the package thievery we were being accused of.  

Me:  Who took the package and put it on the island?

Curly:  Oh.  That was me.  A delivery person handed it to me while I was playing on the driveway.  

Me:  Where is the box that it came in?

Curly:  Oh, it got delivered like that.  There wasn't a bigger box.  It was just that white box with a picture of a fan thing on it.  

No one signed for it.  And the label was on the actual box, but who is going to see a white label on a white box and if you are busy playing and you are 12 then who's gonna care?

I think Mary Ann ought to just be happy it wasn't a *sensitive* box - like her sex toys or her new broom.  

After gathering the info, I started to charge off of the deck to her house to say something along the lines of "Look here, Be-atch, my 12 year old got the package while on my driveway, no she didn't open the box, and if you got something to say to me, go for it.  Oh, and news flash:  your package deliveries come to our house sometimes and we ARE SOMETIMES BUSY or WE ARE SOMETIMES DEALING WITH A SOBBING KID, so settle the fuck down with the hysteria over your box.  We did not do anything wrong here.  And THIS IS WHERE I GOT MY STITCHES BACK IN SEPTEMBER, RIGHT HERE ON MY MIDDLE FINGER!"  

Sadly, my children physically blocked me from storming off the deck and going up to her door and giving that 'Have a blessed day' beast a piece of my mind.  Mini was the only one who voted I tell her what for.  Glad to know I am raising one kid who isn't afraid to stick up for herself.  

I drafted a text saying, "Turns out it was Curly.  No outer packaging.  We were in the middle of something'" but I never sent it.  Think I will wait till I can say that ever so sweetly to her wound-up-tight face.  Maybe I will video our exchange.  That would be fun.

Tell me, friends . . . what would you do?  Would you say something to her?  If so, what?  Extra credit for creativity.  We'll call this our e-learning exercise for the day.  

**(Sorry this was long, I will try to be brief next time.  Please come back, I get to tell you the stuff Coach won't let me say in polite company - as if we even get to be with company lately, polite or otherwise).