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August 14, 2018

Home stretch

Mini’s Irish dancing career wrapped up this summer.  She qualified at Thanksgiving to compete at National Championships that are always held 4th of July week.  July marked her first time competing in solos at Nationals.  Aside from that exciting accomplishment, she hoped to bump up to the highest level of competition before taking her final bow.  
The girls have been well-decorated, but Mini just
needed two first places to achieve her goal. 
Really the last thing we needed was a
 few more trophies to stick in their room.

Without writing a tutorial on Irish dancing levels, and how you get there, let me just say that in order to move up a level she needed to win two first places at a regular, run-of-the-mill competition.  Advancing to Open Championship from Preliminary Championship was a completely separate endeavor than dancing at Nationals.

All dancers in the same age group regardless of their level compete in one competition at National Championships.  If you do well, you might qualify for World Championships - but it wouldn’t impact your dancing level.  Most of the dancers at Nationals were already competing in Open Championships.  Mini was close to being in Open, which is why she qualified for Nationals.
Oh, look - we found more trophy storage
above the desk.  Yeah, us!

So much for skipping the tutorial.  My apologies.

Last year I entered Mini is about 17 weekend competitions.  If that sounds like a lot to an Irish dancing non-guru bystander, then let me clarify.  17 is a ton of competitions.  

Knowing what it is like to grow up in the shadow of a younger, more talented sibling, I felt for Mini.  Curly is an Irish dancing natural.  She has a gift.  Mini is Curly’s biggest fan and is genuinely thrilled for all of her success.  As the Mom of two great dancers, I wanted Mini to walk away from dancing with her head held high.  I didn’t want her to look back and feel unaccomplished.

I admit that at times I wondered if I cared more than Mini did about her Open Championship goal.  These were the times when it stung me when my former dancing sons Tank, Eddie, and Reggie liked to call me ‘dance mom!’ 

August 12, 2018

watch out Tom Curise AND 9 ounces

Days before our trip to the beach, Coach watched ‘Top Gun’ with the kids, minus THAT scene, of course.  Coach is better at fast forwarding than I am.  I tend to panic and then the scene that is completely inappropriate becomes paused or zoomed in or something.

The pole dancing scene with Jennifer Aniston in 'We're the Millers' is fairly memorable around here.  I fumbled around with the remote and played it in slow motion before I froze it and turned the volume up - all while TRYING to fast forward it.  Meanwhile the kids were all begging me to stop subjecting them to such awkwardness.  Ever since the 'incident', I am never allowed to be in charge of the remote.

The rest of my fam proving that while we may
not be volleyball studs, none of them are
scarred for life after being humiliated in
junior high gym class on more
than one occasion.  
Anyway I was tied up in the study when they watched 'Top Gun', but I could hear much of the dialogue and the soundtrack.

Lad brought his portable speaker to the beach  We brought a volleyball.  I don’t play volleyball.  Hate it, in fact.  Maybe I will describe my embarrassingly pathetic volleyball efforts during junior high gym class in another blog.  Tall, but useless.  Sad, but true.

Anyway, I wandered over off of the blanket with my phone to video the rest of my family spiking, volleying, and laughing.  The SAME EXACT song ('Playing with the Boys' Kenny Loggins) that plays in the ‘Top Gun’ volleyball scene randomly started playing on Lad’s speaker.  I quickly got in position next to the speaker to video, so that it looks as if we are reenacting the. ‘Top Gun’ scene.  

Coach told the kids he wished he had on his jeans like Tom Cruise did.  Always better to play beach volleyball in jeans.  I captured the best volley of the day with the theme music playing in the background.  I think everyone touched the ball.  The volley ended by Tank taking a clumsy step backwards and to the side.  He turned backwards and rotated for the ball, which was really more of a trip.  Missing the ball, he fell flat on his face.  It was classic.

The day after our beach trip, I reached into the deli meat drawer in my fridge for the ham.  I came up empty.  Coach was working on his computer in the family room on this switched-with-the-day-before ‘get stuff done’ day.  

‘Coach ,where is the rest of the rest of the lunchmeat you bought yesterday?’ 

‘Oh, I only bought one package of ham,’ he responded.  

And there it is.  My husband bought 9 ounces of lunchmeat.  NINE.  OUCNES.  Lad eats almost 9 ounces on his sandwich daily.  

I didn’t really want to start a fight, but I was hoping to correct the situation from EVER happening again.  So, I asked the burning question:  WHY?

He just thought we needed something for yesterday.  Perfect sense.  Who cares about tomorrow?  Back to the grocery store for me.  

August 10, 2018

tears only shed once

Just a little update on our summer fun.  

Coach took a few days off in mid July.  We were tossing around the idea of going to the beach.  Decided we would go on Thursday while the 3 oldest caddied.  They probably wouldn’t want to be bothered going to the beach.  Kid stuff.  Wednesday was going to be devoted to getting things done with maybe some early morning golf thrown in.  
Nothing like a day at the beach
in downtown Chicago.  Bucket hat:  a must!

Turned out the 3 oldest WANTED to go to the beach.  Who knew?  Certainly not us, because
1.  we are never in the same place at the same time.  Those teenage boys keep weird hours.  Toss a caddy schedule on top of that and forget about it.

2.  teenagers are unpredictable.  Once  you think you know what they like, they get all, 'What?  Why wouldn't we want to go to the beach?'

3.  They also struggle to communicate with Coach and I because we are not on snap-chat.

On Wednesday late morning, we reversed our days.  Switched gears.  Opted to do the beach that day.  Coach was on the golf course with a few kids.  I had some kid at an ortho or the dermatologist or some other regular occurrence.  The moment I was home I announced something along the lines of ‘stations everyone’.  

I started directing people to pack towels, load outdoor games in the car, dig out the big picnic blanket.  Of course my focus was food.  No escaping it.  Coach bopped in from doing some par 3 golf with Tank and Lad.  Ed had some basketball weight lifting or something.  

Despite my incredibly clean and well organized garage, we are missing the Frisbee that goes with our can jam game.  Coach announced that he would run to Target to buy a Frisbee.  

‘Freeze’, I hollered.  ‘There is no Target trip unless I have assessed what else we need.’ Lunchmeat.  That was what I came up with.  Impossible to keep it in the house.  Grab some packages of lunchmeat.  I usually get it at the deli, but pre-packaged stuff would work fine.

Our impromptu beach day was a success.  The weather was great.  The kids played a ton of games together, and we only looked partially ridiculous in our bucket hats.  Um, I don't wear a bucket hat, therefore I can make fun of them. 
All 6 kids played, so we knew that wouldn't
 last long.  I don't know how to play, and
 by the sound of the scoldings that were launched
at one another, neither do some of the kids.  But
 it looks cool, right?  The object is to bounce
 the little green ball off of the little net. 
I'm guessing there is more to it than that. 
The gang tossed a Frisbee in the water, dug a hole in the sand, built a sandcastle, played volleyball (more on that and the big laugh we had in my next post), snacked, played can jam, and snacked some more.

There was a spike ball tournament.  Tank hollered: ‘Another Mini moment!’ every time Mini missed the ball.  That game ended a little prematurely when Mini finally broke down and cried.  Stupid brothers.  


August 8, 2018

I got this! or, not

When we arrived at the high school this evening, Ed raced off in his half dressed up apparel to go to his photo shoot.  I started to weave my way thru the various stops for registration.  When we got to the health form table, the ladies asked for my freshman's physical.  Well, send me to detention.

I had health forms for Ed and Tank.  Mini's physical is scheduled for later in August.  She still goes to the pediatrician, so hers is at the same time as sports physicals for Reg and Curly.  Oops.  Big time.

I couldn't get her schedule without the proper forms.  The ladies at the health form table suggested that I run to the nearby clinic and get her a physical for $20.  Nope.  I would keep my scheduled appointment at the pediatrician.  These health table ladies admitted that they had records of her up-to-date immunizations.  Just not an updated physical.

I knew she needed a physical.  I knew it needed to be done before school.  It just fell off my radar that it needed to be done before registration.  Oh, damn all those emails I ignored.  I thought I had this.

At the next table, I got schedules for both boys.  Mini was steamed.  She couldn't stop muttering phrases like 'figures' and 'I can't believe you did this' under her breath.  After I reminded her not to have a meltdown because she was technically a high school student, I leaned across the table and explained to the ladies that I messed up.  Her physical was scheduled.

Could we just peek at her schedule?  They were VERY accommodating.  They were after all, moms.
A portion of Mini's schedule. 
She admitted later that she
accidentally snap-chatted her
schedule before removing her
locker number and combination.
  This is what we get for waiting to
get a kid a phone as high school begins. 
Clueless.
So, Mini's schedule was photographed, and life continued.  Until . . .

Ed texted me.  'You paid for a full photo session and I am not wearing any pants.'  Well, there you have it.  That's not the kind of text a mom gets everyday.

Signing up for a senior picture session online was different than what I did a few years ago for Lad.  At least I think it was.  I really have no recollection of it.  Over a month ago, I had fumbled around trying to figure out what I was signing up for on the website.  It was late at night, or not that late, but I was very tired and it FELT very late.  I was trying to get one more thing off my list before I collapsed into bed.  The photo place was closed, so I couldn't call and ask for clarification.  Check this box.  Plug in credit card.  Move on with life.  Go to bed.

I texted Ed back.  'I don't care what I paid for.  I just want a head shot.'  My phone rang.  It was Ed.  Did I get his text?  He does that.  Calls me after allowing insufficient time for me to have responded to his text.  I think they call that a lack of patience.  I think the photo shoot peeps took extra pics of him in his cap and gown instead.  Pics I won't order, but I don't care.
I stayed up late to write this, and guess what
 I found on the bathroom floor when I went
 to bed?  That's right.  Tank's Hawaiian shirt.
  He is a barrel of laughs,
 but impossible to live with.

I stood there trying to make sure I took care of everything (other than the need to come back with Mini's physical form when the ink is still wet).  Tank kept asking me sarcastically if I wanted to spend a little more time milling around doing nothing.  He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt.  Thankfully he had chosen to button the shirt.  On the drive over, he tried to get Mini worked up by pretending that he was going to walk into registration and call out 'Wha's up?' to any available staff members with an open Hawaiian shirt.

I was definitely on my A game and outshining all of the other moms standing in line with their physical forms and correctly filled out senior portrait online ordering pages.  I was just glad I remembered my checkbook. 



August 6, 2018

high school kids' August focus, any guesses?

Today was the day I was taking the 3 high school kids to registration.  This is a big day in the life of a high school student, because (drum roll) they get their class schedule for the year.
Priorities:  lake house vs keeping
high schoolers happy. 
Lake house wins out every time.  Honestly
 no one complained that we weren't
 going to be the first
ones to know our schedules. 
Not until I really stepped in it.

Registration actually opened yesterday, but I was at my friend's lake house for a few days this week with the three youngest kids.  Translation:  my kids were not able to snap chat their schedule to all of their friends.  There was no 'guess-who-is-in-my-lunch' discussion yesterday.  No celebrations or heavy sighs about what teachers they have or which friends they will get to see in their classes.  All that was postponed until today.  Our appointment was NOT in the morning, it was this evening.  Oh, the drama.

Eddie was scheduled to have his senior portrait taken today.  It just so happened to overlap with registration.  He didn't need to be present at registration.  I was the rock star at registration, because I had the checkbook.

Eddie drove with us wearing his sport coat, tie, and dress shirt.  This formal ensemble looked a bit out of place, since it was paired with his shorts and sneakers.  He was just sitting for a head shot, so the full suit wasn't necessary.

If my math is correct, this is my 7th registration process at the high school.  It has changed so much over the years.  We used to bring proof of residency documents with us.  The lines used to be longer.  There were more stops to make.  Lots of waiting.  Nowadays, most of the process is done in advance online.

The only downside to that is the volume of emails I get from the high school.  Some info might get lost in the shuffle - especially since I often get the same info 3 times now that I am going to have a senior, sophomore, and a freshman.

While we were at the lake house, my phone wouldn't get any reception.  Mini's phone couldn't call or text either.  Mini's friends were trying to figure out what lunch Mini had, and they couldn't contact her.  I had received an email the day before with details about my freshman's lunch period.  I hadn't bothered to open the email.  Imagine?  Had I opened it Mini would have been able to tell her friends (via snap chat or something new age that worked with wifi despite our lack of phone service) that she had 9th period lunch.

Uh oh.  Prepare to eat a protein bar between classes, girlfriend.  That is a LATE lunch.  Not only do I feel for my high-metabolism daughter and her impending hunger issues, but I am confident they made the 'Hangry' commercials with her in mind.  Watch out high school population.  If you don't feed her, she might bite.


August 4, 2018

the end of the longest school year EVER

Over the next few weeks, the only 'we-hate-nap-time' parents to ever walk the face of the earth had some other creative ideas for me.  Me, mother of six.  Babysitter extraordinaire.  I mean, remember I was babysitting back when things were weird for my 7th grade self and handling it like a champ.  Give me some credit, please. 

Suggestions from Geraldine and Simon included, but were not limited to:

Even a fun basement playroom wasn't
enough to keep a sleepy guy awake.
     1.  Maybe Theo could go in a different room in my house during quiet time.  Um, not every space in my house is available to your kid.  Particularly while I had workmen parading in and out.  Weird and presumptuous.  Towards the end of the school year I had him play in the basement play area during nap time.  He STILL laid down and went
to sleep when he was tired.  No joke.

     2.  Maybe I could set a timer so that he would know when quiet time was over.  Not sure how this differed from me waking him up to insure he hadn't slept too much, except they possibly didn't believe that I was waking him up.

     3.  At one point right before Christmas despite my rule of no outside toys, Simon showed up with a plastic bag holding a transformer toy that came with a zillion pieces.  It was Theo's favorite.  For sure he won't fall asleep if I offer this to him during nap time.  This dad didn't get it.  Your kid isn't bored - HE'S FREAKING TIRED!  I envisioned many pieces getting misplaced in Tank and Reggie's very messy room.  I wasn’t interested in tracking missing  pieces to a favorite toy (thus the no-outside-toy rule's roots)
This is Tank and Reg's room on a good day.

Bouncing back to the dilemma in mid-September . . . I finally admitted to Geraldine that I saw that she was hiring a different sitter on the website.  A website that still sends me job alerts.  I had a mom on maternity leave and occasionally checked it to see if someone needed a temporary sitter, especially when I couldn't sleep.

I had struggled with what to do for 2 weeks.  Limbo sucked.  Would she cut me loose before I found a replacement family?  What teacher would need a sitter to start late September
?  One friend suggested that I apply to her online job posting so she knew that I had seen it.  I loved that idea, but I really wanted to see her face when I told her that I knew she was shopping around.  

Geraldine dropped off her boys one morning and when she stepped outside, I followed her.  I told her that I was going to just put an end date on our time together because it looked like she was busy making other plans anyway.

Not sure if you recall my description of her over-the-top, dramatic way of speaking.  Well, she was all apologies for having done that.  She rained down compliments about my care and not wanting the boys to go anywhere else.  This online nanny search was just a knee jerk reaction to my insistence that there would always be a nap time or a quiet time in my house.  

We agreed to continue for the rest of the school year.  It was perhaps a good decision financially, but the remainder of the school year was insufferable.  I hated most of it.  Geraldine and Simon and their strange fixation on keeping their tired kid tired until they could get him home so he could sleep as soon as possible for them was irritating.  Her kid’s need to be the first to open the door and their insistence on fixing his disappointment was grating.  How she dealt with the boys and spoke to them made me nauseated.  

All of this babysitting fun combined with a kitchen no one would finish and my celiac disease dietary struggles and I am telling you - NO ONE WAS HAPPIER TO SEE THE SCHOOL YEAR END THAN ME!

August 2, 2018

a need to snooze, is a need to snooze!

Fast-forward to the morning that I happened to see that Geraldine had posted on CARE.COM that she was trying to replace me.  Me, the woman who had stopped her in her tracks as she almost purchased a toilet topper.  Not to mention the countless other ways I tried to coax her towards mainstream parenting.

Her husband, Simon, showed up to drop the kids off.  I was bleary eyed from a crappy night sleep compliments of celiac disease, AND still shaking from my shock at seeing the CARE.COM post.  Simon occasionally dropped kids off, but usually it was Geraldine.

This was the view from my dining room's
makeshift kitchen into my ripped up
 old kitchen until they covered
 the opening with heavy plastic.
My house was under construction and our fake kitchen was setup in the living room and dining room.  A normal drop off includes literally getting the kids in the door and then leaving.  I was hustling around getting lunches ready for my kids when I became aware that Simon hadn’t left.

He was following me into the dining room where I was digging around in my fridge.  AWKWARD.  He tried to peek thru the heavy plastic that covered the dining room entrance to the construction-zone kitchen.  Claimed he wanted to check on the progress.  I was baffled and growing more and more irritated.  I needed to get Curly on the bus.

This is where I stood making lunches
when I felt confused by
 Simon's presence.  He really
 had no business following me thru
the front hall, the living room,
and then finally into my dining room.
Something was up
.
I think his plan was to lure me into the construction zone away from the children, but the heavy plastic was running interference.  I let him know that I needed to get Curly on the bus.  He finally got to the point:  Well, I just wanted to make it very clear that we DO NOT want Theo napping anymore.’

I so wanted to say, ‘Hey, Mr. Napoleon-complex-sufferer.  Take your kids home, put on your tap shoes this afternoon, and do a little dance to try to keep your kid awake.  A tired kid is a tired kid.

Instead I told him thru clenched teeth that I understood.  Knowing that they were trying to hire someone else made the whole situation even more INSANE.  The audacity!   

Enough said?
That afternoon I put Theo in the same room I always put him in for nap time.  I spread out the sleeping bag and made a pile of quiet toys and books that he was interested in.  5 minutes later I returned.  Face-plant.