June 25, 2017

5 reasons why I believe Lad has confused our home with a dorm

No one has ever accused me of being an outstanding housekeeper.  My sister has been known to show up to my house and roll her eyes at my home's appearance.  Her type-A-ness is debilitating, so not shocking.  

People often marvel at how I manage life with a big family.  I guess one reason I can hack it with lots of kids and their stuff underfoot is that I can tolerate lots of chaos.  There are rarely times when my counter-tops are clear of paperwork, when clean laundry isn't dumped somewhere waiting to be folded, and when an impressive amount of dust isn't building on untouched pieces of furniture.  Still, I roll thru my day.  I tackle necessary tasks as time permits, and fall asleep each night without stressing about the crumby kitchen floor and the toothpaste stained sink.  
If it wasn't a bathroom, I'd be tempted to install a camera to uncover
the mystery of which kid spits DIRECTLY at the mirror.  I don't even think this picture does it justice.  

I've been in other people's houses.  I know that not everyone lives as we do.  I also have standards.  OK, so my standards might be lower than most . . . but standards none the less.

Laddie just completed his freshman year of college.  He came home for the summer mid May.  I gave him several weeks to transition back to life as we expect it to be lived.  Unfortunately, I feel he has confused our home with his dorm.  I draw a line thru the dust, toothpaste, and clutter that we are accustomed to and I am begging him to STOP CROSSING THE DAMN LINE.

His infractions include:  

1.  STUFF ABANDONMENT:  When he arrived home he unloaded the car with his stuff.  It sat right where he dumped it (in the front hall of our house) for WEEKS.  

2.  HALF ASS EFFORT:  When I encouraged him to organize his stuff so it was easy to store in the basement storage room until it was time to go back to school, he moaned.  Then he found some time and managed to stick some things in the basement without my help.  Rah, rah!  Independence.  Love it. . . . until I realize that he literally dumped a few items in the basement storage area.  They weren't even in bins or bags.  Just dropped there.  

3.  FAILURE TO LAUNDER:  A few days later, when majority of his stuff was still scattered in the front hall, I demanded that he stop going out with his friends EVERY NIGHT so we could join forces to get his stuff packed up.  I asked him where his comforter was, so we (translation:  'I') could wash it.  This is when he informed me that he had already stored his filthy, gross (my descriptive words, that I use without even having looked at or smelled his comforter . . .  I would never smell his comforter, but the point is I KNOW it isn't clean after being on his dorm room bed for the entire year).  We are not on the same page:  shock.

4.  BONFIRE FAKE OUT:  One night after his summer school class, he asked if he could have a bonfire.  When?  I thought he wanted to plan it for the weekend, but no.  Now.  NOW?  It was 10:20 pm.  On a Wednesday.  We said no.  At midnight there were voices in the backyard.  I got out of bed and peeked out the bathroom window.  I could see flames in the portable fire pit that was pulled to the back of the yard.  Beams from flashlights bobbed in the yard.  It started to rain and the lights started to bounce over to the swing set.  Of course.  Lad had told them that they couldn't go in the house, since we didn't approve of them coming over.  They were trying to take cover under the fort platform of the swing set.  Seriously?!

5.  STICKY-ING THE KITCHEN FLOOR:  Honey - not a term of endearment, actual honey on the kitchen floor.  The floor that had JUST been washed.  The bucket of dirty water was still sitting in the corner of the kitchen.  That is how freshly washed the damn floor was.  I only use honey when I make honey mustard chicken.  Lad apparently has discovered that he enjoys honey on bread - at all hours, of course.  Fortunately I saw it before I stepped in it.  A huge dollop.  Even more grateful that my other offspring hadn't glided into the kitchen earlier than me and smeared it with their feet EVERYWHERE.  Because that would've happened, and they wouldn't have noticed.  This crew, not very detail oriented.

Oh, there's more, but I'm trying not to make this post unimaginably long.  His most insane mess-up will appear at the end of my list . . . unless he surprises me with some new material before then.  I cringe to think about that.  Check back, because believe me - you won't want to miss the grand finale.  I might need to devote an entire post to this one momentous event.  

June 22, 2017

Father's Day aftermath and sisters suck: exhibit A

So, I planned to post this right after the other Father's Day post.  It's hard to summarize the nonsense of being excluded from a Father's Day meal with my own dad, so another post snuck in there while I worked on this . . .

After a lifetime of being left out, over looked, and under valued, I hesitate to know where to go from here.  My siblings describe our family as very close knit.  I suppose if I am not counted as part of the family unit, then this assessment is true.  

In short, my two older sisters are best friends.  (So are my two younger brothers).  My sisters are stuffy, judgmental, and humorless.  They both adjust their normal voice to speak in a 'it's just super-sweet-me' tone when they answer the phone.  Puke.  With me, what you see is what you get.

Their straight-as-an arrow tendencies and their need for constant control frustrate me like the little sister who was excluded because she was 'too little.'  A side note . . . I am two and a half years younger than Marie, who is exactly two years younger than Ann.  Just in case you thought a ten year divide separated us and gave them reason to consider me 'younger'.
Ah, childhood memories!

In high school and college, my friends often confused my sisters, who looked so alike.  It didn't help that their non-blog names are just a syllable off of each other.  

I grew up hoping that they would accept me, include me, or grow fond of me.  Ann never liked me.  My outspoken tendencies and flare for embellishment must have made her queasy.  I enjoy retelling a good story.  I also don't go along with something for fear of making waves.  

Even the birth order of our respective offspring leads to my kids becoming the 'middle' cousins of the 22 grandchildren on my side of the family.

Growing up, my folks never corrected Ann for bemoaning my existence.  My oldest sister was considered incredibly sweet.  Her beyond-shy, worry-about-what-others-think personality allowed her to get away with treating me like the wicked step sister.  

About 7 years ago when Marie's family ended up relocating to the Midwest after years on the east coast, my mom said to me, 'This will be so nice for Ann.'  Strange, but true.  I raced to the bathroom mirror to investigate.  Nope, not invisible.  Over the years since Marie's arrival in Milwaukee, I have been excluded and made to feel invisible.

When Reggie and Curly weren't quite school age, Mom made sure to mention one shopping trip to me just before it happened.  She said that she, Marie, and Ann planned to meet at the Illinois/Wisconsin border for an afternoon of shopping till they dropped.  She said, they just assumed I wouldn't be able to get a sitter.  Of course I knew that one of my close girlfriends would have been happy to take Reg and Curly for the day.

It was clever to tell me about their adventure, so that it looked as if they weren't sneaking away for fun without me.  Waiting to the last minute meant I had no chance to make arrangements for my two tykes.  I hurried out of her house that day, because I could only blink back the tears for so long.  

There have also been dinners in the area, shopping weekends downtown (like when I was away with my dad and 10 kids touring Gettysburg - perhaps this one proved the most nervy) and overnight trips to Milwaukee.  All of these events had the same common factor:  no Ernie.  

For some reason I believe Irish families have no shame in playing favorites.  Or is that just my experience?  

Coach tried for awhile to remind me that I don't really enjoy spending time with my sisters.  I am a firecracker to their stick in the muddiness.  They don't approve of people who speak their mind - unless these free-speakers are, of course, of the same mind.  I get Coach's thought process, but it is just not the point.

My folks are old.  I recognize that it is too late to correct their ways.  What would it accomplish for me to point out, 'Hey, you guys never required my sisters to include me, let alone be civil to me'?

I could've tried to trump them by scheduling my dad for lunch before they 'got to him.'  BUT, I could NEVER invite my dad somewhere on dad's day and not include my siblings.  It's Father's Day.  He's their father, too!  

What to do now?  I've thought of being a wise ass and emailing them:  'Thanks for including me in your lunch with dad.  I appreciate your thoughtfulness.'  It seems my brothers weren't included either, but they probably planned to stop by his house later since they were most likely celebrating with their families.

A few years ago, I discovered that my brother was hosting a cookout on Father's Day.  Ann was invited, but the rest of us were not.  In order to get to see my dad that day, we drove the family to Pat's house, filed into the backyard to hand my dad his card and hug him amid their festivities, and then unceremoniously marched back to our car.  

Ann is divorced, so she isn't expected to make a meal for a spouse or instruct kids to craft memorable cards.  Marie's husband is afraid to rock the boat.  Besides at this point I'm sure he recognizes my sister's sheer obsession with our parents.  We can count on her to send out group text messages to her siblings when she can't track down our folks for over an hour.  (They don't have a cell phone).  They are only in their mid 70's and are both still sharp and mobile.  

Demanding to be included in my sisters' escapades puts me in a tight spot.  I don't really want them to feel obligated to invite me.  And of course, like Coach says - I don't really enjoy spending time with them.

So, it's hard to decide how to handle this situation.  I could do the usual:  just carry-on and allow myself a few days to remain pissed before I swallow my irritation and move on with life.

On the other hand, I'd love to finally share the link to my blog with them.  

So readers, what would you do?  Anyone have a similar family dynamic?

June 21, 2017

Where do we keep the swim diapers?

My kids were out of school a few days before my babysitting duties wrapped up for the summer.  I agreed to take the tots to the local pool with my gang as a fun treat.  The night before our end of year swim adventure, I texted the two moms and asked them to drop off swim gear for their kiddos.

The next morning one of the dads showed up with a floatie device, a swim suit, and a diaper . . . he meant to grab a swim diaper but realized it was just a regular variety.  Oops.  Coach, who hadn't left for work yet, had a thought.  'Don't we still have swim diapers in a closet somewhere?

Flotation device, bathing suit, and 'regular diaper' . . . uh oh.
My mouth hung open.  We haven't required a swim diaper in over 7 years.  Did he really think that I had a couple of rogue swim diapers floating around in a closet somewhere?  My house is rarely in perfect order . . . but, come on!!!!  Give me SOME credit.

I attack those closets on a regular basis.  Last year I filled several garbage bags of clothes to donate to the less fortunate.  My mind hurts to consider how jammed up every space in our house would be if I failed to regularly toss out nonessential items  . . . like swim diapers!

I assured the dad that despite Coach's vote of confidence, I would not be able to scrounge up a swim diaper.  He ran to the drug store and bought a pack.

Coach and I typically have different approaches to organizing the house.  If he can see the carpet in the family room, he considers his efforts a success.  I prefer not to just plow a walking path through the room.  I'm all about putting things where they belong, and of course my ultimate goal is always:  ELIMINATE.

I often feel like what I do around here goes unnoticed.  I have sensed that my efforts to run a tight ship are glossed over.  Taken for granted.  Coach's swim diaper comment confirmed that for me.

Do you have a spouse who doesn't know where you keep things, or assumes you own things that have been tossed out ions ago?  Do tell.

June 19, 2017

Father's Day (plus family drama)

Father's Day at the Shenanigan house was fairly uneventful.  Overall a chill day.  Coach opted to whip up waffles at breakfast while I scrambled some eggs with 'everything'.

No one else is authorized to operate the waffle maker - although I admit I've utilized these same flip, cook, and beep machines at hotels featuring serve-yourself buffets.  I'm comfortable leaving Coach with waffle duty most days, but I tried to convince him to let me handle breakfast.  It's Father's Day!  Awesome pancakes are routinely part of my breakfast package, but Coach hadn't done waffles in awhile, so he insisted.

Coach fired up the grill, another device I steer clear of, to cook pork fillets for dinner.  I swear, this was his idea.  Before you feel sorry for him understand that I contributed sweet and sour green bean casserole (an involved recipe that he loves and is usually reserved for big holidays), baked potatoes, and I bought a yummy cheesecake (his fav) for dessert.  

I lounged around a bit on the deck (which the kids reminded me is what I did on Mother's Day!  Turns out it's a universal way to celebrate . . . any day) in order to finish my book - even squeezing in my somewhat-mandatory daily nap.  Meanwhile the US Open held Coach's focus most of the afternoon.  Please note the day wasn't completely relaxing for me.  It also included a trip to the grocery store, another to Costco, and two loads of laundry followed by a run to Best Buy for a dad's day gift for Coach.

Curly's card included a list of
things she likes about Coach.
It was literally endless and
had the entire family in stitches.
I was a little taken aback when he was under-whelmed by the wireless speaker I selected for him.  I distinctly remember him asking if the new kitchen cabinets would come with a built in speaker.  Surprise!!!  We don't usually purchase pricey gifts for one another.  Knowing my husband, I suspect he would've been happier if I could've presented him with a gift that didn't involve the exchange of money.

The kids showered Coach with handmade cards, which were a big hit because no money was spent - do you notice the pattern?
Homemade cards are
popular at our house.

While I was running errands, the three 'littles' plus Ed played volleyball in the yard with Coach.  Ed managed to hold his own with one arm, since the other is still in a full cast.  Lad and Tank were at the golf course most of the day caddying.  

More volleyball cropped up after dinner.  I participated to the best of my utterly pathetic ability despite the fact that I HATE volleyball.  Tank was home -having completed two loops (two times around the course), so we had his antics to entertain us . . . he proceeded in talking trash to his one-good-armed brother, Ed, who was still dominating!  Lad was assigned bag room duty, so he was at the course until after we went to bed.

On my way home from Best Buy, I called my dad.  I had left him a message earlier in the day when I was coming home from the grocery store.  This time he answered the phone. 

My mom flew out of town for the weekend with her sister to visit their ailing brother.  Dad was home alone, but I assumed my siblings would all be visiting him throughout the day.  I figured I'd run over to say happy Father's Day once I knew he was home.

My folks live just around the corner from us.  My two brothers and my sister, Ann, all live within about a 10 or 15 minute drive from us.  My sister, Marie, lives in Milwaukee.  

I asked my dad where he was when I called earlier.  He explained that Ann and her teenage daughter had driven him up to the Illinois/Wisconsin border where they met Marie and three of her kids for lunch.  

Really.  REALLY??!! . . . . Of course, I said nothing.

Stay tuned . . . I'll give you a bit of background on my middle child status in my next post, and I hope you will give me your valued input!

June 17, 2017

swear-maid's sock duty hold the bon bons

Do your stairs look like this?
Just when I thought I would wake up and lounge around on the couch eating bon bons, I decided the stairs needed to be addressed.  Apparently, our housekeeper had the day off.

In the Shenanigan home, our housekeeper is a mythical creature.  You've heard of a mermaid?  Well our servant is a swear-maid.  While her octopus-like arms rotate in constant motion, she emits a steady stream of foul language.  Her ability to withstand unexplained clutter can only be described as unnatural.  We are blessed to employ her - although to be honest, we pay her next to nothing even though she works long hours.  Over time, she's grown accustomed to be taken for granted.  Thanks to her unfortunate hair, she bares a close resemblance to me.

Unfortunately, when one area of our abode gets the spic and span treatment from our swear-maid  another area suffers.  It seems pointless at times for her to try to keep ahead of each mess because an impending disaster lurks around every corner.

Knowing how burdened swear-maid is, I recently requested that my offspring help sort laundry.  It started with the kid in the cast.  While my empathy for his bummer of a situation is abundant, my desire to make everyone contribute overruled my pity party for him.

He complained that it was too hard to fold laundry with one arm when I expressed my disbelief that he hadn't accomplished much.  'Don't fold it - just sort it!'  Any progress is appreciated in the disaster zone we live in.

The next day Reggie and Curly claimed that they attempted to work on the mangled piles of laundry.  Admittedly it is hard to distinguish who wears what.  Three tall, skinny teenage boys plus a tall, skinny husband leads to much confusion when it comes to sweat socks, tee-shirts, shorts, and boxers.

Ugly boxers assist in sorting
laundry for multiple family
I recently purchased new boxers for Eddie.  I purposely chose an ugly plaid by Hanes so that his underwear doesn't get confused with the other, more common underwear plaids we already own.  Ed was less than enthusiastic about owning ugly underwear, but he's even less enthusiastic about helping me sort laundry.  I win.

I am, however, losing when it comes to the stairs.  When I stumble upon dirty clothes - more often than not socks - I toss them near the stairs.  The laundry room is upstairs.  Eventually I snag crusty, stinky socks from the stairs and launch them thru the laundry room door.

Don't even get me started on the sock stripping issue my children have adopted.  It boggles my mind.  There are socks strewn all across most floors in the house.  They can be found stuffed between couch cushions, littering the mud room floor, and abandoned in the living room or the kitchen.  Years ago I sat down to play a board game with the kids.  When we opened the box, we discovered a crunchy, smelly sweat sock hidden inside for the next unsuspecting player.  

The laundry folding assistance debacle led to someone eventually dumping clean socks on the stairs.  I imagine this act was in response to my constant hollering to 'get that laundry out of the family room!'  Now clean socks are intermingled with dirty socks.  On the stairs.

I am so excited to forgo the bon bon inhaling that I had scheduled for today to instead give random socks a good sniff test.  This is what I get for asking for help with the laundry.  Swear-maid will undoubtedly make an appearance.  Bad hair, bad words, and all!

June 14, 2017

something to raise an eyebrow at

For the second time in my life, I scheduled a bikini wax for myself.  

My first experience, ions ago, ended in what I refer to as an 'incomplete' job.  It was rather hit or miss, with more misses than I considered acceptable.  What's the point of going thru with a bikini wax, if the results leave you still taming the area from time to time?  I shied away from repeating the hassle again . . .  until now.  I recently decided that I could handle giving it another try, but I opted for a more reputable place.

I called on a whim and they had an immediate opening.  I told the kids I would be home shortly.  I had an appointment.  Then I hopped in the car and headed over before I changed my mind.

I checked in with the receptionist and she went in the back to alert my esthetician (yes, that is the title attributed to this line of work - I googled it) that I had arrived.
While I waited the receptionist shared various packages with me.  I listened to her spiel, but became increasingly grateful that I do not have Chewbacca-like tendencies.

The esthetician showed me back to the room.  It was definitely an improvement over the under-furnished back room lit by a swaying florescent light at the first place I visited over a decade ago.  That memorable location was fittingly labeled 'the Hair Garden.' She showed me where I could hang my purse.  Then she said in a foreign accent, 'So, you are here for eyebrows?'  

You're welcome for not taking an actual photo of me in my bathing suit - or a close up of my apparently offensive eyebrows..
I would've thought she was joking, but I don't think there is much humor involved in body waxing.  Perhaps that's how they make their money . . . making suggestions.  I tried not to take it personally, as I directed her to the area that I wanted waxed.  

She was fast and thorough.  Over and done with before I was allowed much time to contemplate this awkward process.  Later I was pleased that upon inspection I noticed that her work was 'complete.'  

I left feeling relieved that it was over.  But wondering . . . are my eyebrows that bad?

June 12, 2017

thank goodness it was a short week: Friday (the final chapter!)

Friday morning I was caught up on my sleep and ready to put my son's lack of participation in his 8th grade graduation behind me.  It was time to focus on preparing for the graduation party we were hosting for Tank on Sunday.  I was slotted to drive to Milwaukee the next day with the four youngest kids to celebrate my niece's graduation party.  Today had to count.

Although I don't typically babysit on Fridays, I was strapped with two tykes.  I vowed this day would be productive.  Before my late morning workout class, I planned to prep as much food for the party as possible.  I pulled put four 9 x 13 Pyrex pans to get started.  

Eddie, who finished finals on Thursday, was playing in an away basketball tournament with the varsity high school summer league.  Lad needed the shared teenage car.  He was supposed to drive Eddie to the high school at 7:30 am, which is why I dashed out to the car at 7:22 am.  Ed trailed me begging me to help him get to the high school on time, so he wouldn't miss the bus.

I waved the tykes' dad off of the driveway just as he pulled up, so I could back my big 12 seater van out of the garage.  I hollered out the window to drop-off dad that the junior high kids were still inside to supervise and I'd be right back.  Sometimes I look at the folks I sit for and shake my head with envy.  Remember when life revolved around nap times, buying diapers on sale, and getting excited to meet other young parents at the park?  

With my kids off to school and the tiny mouths inhaling their breakfast, I started boiling water for the pasta noodles.  I had been rotating plates of bacon into the microwave at 10 minute intervals all morning.  A pile of crispy bacon began to form on the counter-top.  I chopped onions in my ninja blender thingie and browned them in a frying pan.  I occasionally shuffled the recipe index cards around the crowded counter rereading them to see if it made sense to chop, brown, or cook any additional ingredients in advance.  No time to waste.  

The tykes were playing in the family room.  The noodles were boiling.  A respectable pile of dishes, pots, and utensils had built up in the sink.  I wrestled with them, determined to fit the entire lot in the dishwasher.  Days like these would require a midday dishwasher cycle.  The sooner the better.

The phone rang.  It was Eddie's coach.  When I dropped Eddie off that morning, I called after him.  'Let me know if the coach has decided whether or not I am getting a discount on basketball camps.'

The coach responded to my initial email two weeks ago saying that he would get back to me.  He had to figure out what kind of discount he could give me for enrolling 5 kids in camps.  He wanted Eddie to help him coach.  Having Ed coach would be great, but he'd take a financial hit.  He could typically make more working as a caddy.  The tentative cost of basketball camp for our crew tallied up at $600.  Ouch. 

For a brief moment as I stood in front of multiple pots of boiling mostaccioli noodles, I thought the coach was calling to discuss discounting the camp fees.  'Sorry this isn't great news,' he began.  I heard 'isn't great news' and thought it meant 'no discount.'  It took me a minute to switch gears and process the real message  after his next statement.  'Looks like we have a broken wrist here.'  

Mangled wrist.
A moment later, I gasped for air.  Then I screamed.  Then I uttered a few strings of foul language.  'No!'  I won't bother to type the rest.  Use your imagination.

If you've been following my blog recently, you recognize that it had been a stressful week full of crappy college transcripts, school suspensions, and lack of sleep.  

Laddie woke up with all of the commotion.  I ordered him to stir the ingredients into the noodles that I had just drained.  'Stick all the food in the fridge - use the basement fridge if necessary.  If there are juice boxes in there, take them out to give yourself more space.'  He screamed that I was talking too fast.  I spoke slower:  'STIR IT.  REFRIGERATE IT.'

Doc said after surgery that Eddie had strong bones.
Must've been quite a fall to break like this.  Grrr.
This was the first day of Eddie's summer.  He was playing in the first game of the high school summer league.  There was one minute left in the game.  His opponent pushed as Ed jumped up for a right handed layup.  He landed on his left wrist.  He's a lefty.  

A coach drove him home since I explained my babysitting situation.  They were 40 minutes away.  Ed was a mess.  The pain was intense.  The wait at the doctor's office was insanely long.  I eventually called in reinforcements.  If I had known that we would sit for an hour and a half, I would've driven home and put the boys to bed for a nap.  My mom could've watched them there.  Instead, she met me at the office and I baled with the tykes.  She agreed to wait with Ed.  I felt horrible driving home when he still hadn't seen the doctor.  

It was broken in two places.  He required surgery with pins on Monday.  

Water polo summer league was starting Monday night.  Lad and Tank were registered for the same league. Three brothers, one sport, one car.  Too much to ask for, I suppose.   

Good thing this was a short week.  I can't imagine what else could've unraveled if there had been another day.  Maybe I should start bracing myself for Mini to join a cult after all.

After the week I had with my boys, I have to ask:  who says girls are hard?