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March 18, 2019

birth order, can opener, and burned muffins

A few weeks ago, I caught myself slipping into the double standard pitfalls that I hated as a kid.  I am ashamed to admit it.

First of all, we were blessed with three boys before we welcomed Mini into our lives.  That was the explanation I used when my mom would come to my house and ask why it was such a mess.  I had 3 boys first and she had 3 girls first.

There was no waiting around for Mini to unload or load the dishwasher.  With three able-bodied boys ahead of her, the boys had to participate in the regular tasks at hand.  They carried laundry upstairs, cleared places, washed the kitchen table, helped with the dishwasher, swept the floor, etc.  (this is when they were really young, the chores became more age appropriate as they got older).

I never considered letting the boys off the hook a few years later just because Mini was finally ready to pitch in.  They still were expected to do things.  I had a job chart when the kids were a bit older and the jobs rotated.  They emptied bathroom garbage, stripped beds, sharpened pencils for homework, dusted the family room, Windex-ed the sliding doors, swept, unloaded the dishwasher, washed counter-tops, sorted laundry, dust mopped the stairs, vacuumed, etc.

Now that Mini is in high school, I admit that my expectations have shifted.  Slightly.  A few occurrences cropped up recently that left me dumbfounded and frustrated.

Getting ready to whip up batch #2.
Mini invited friends over the the Superbowl.  I told her she could help make the 7 layer taco dip.  I have made the same dip for the boys when their friends have come over, and I don't think that I required them to help make the dip.  (although, I have made them help chop the vegetables for the dip in the past - I cannot say if it was necessarily when their friends were coming over or when I was making the dip for a family party).  Note:  Mini enjoys helping prepare food, particularly baking, so this wasn't a punishment so much as it was - hey, pitch in.

Can I interest you in a rock corn muffin,
or would you prefer a softer variety?
I asked her to open a can of refried beans, and she could not work the handheld can opener.  There were brothers standing around to witness this embarrassing moment, so that sucked.  She shoved the can in Eddie's direction.  'I bet you cannot open it.'  Ed opened the can in 10 seconds.  Ouch.

Before the girls arrived, I told Mini that she could make the corn muffins from a box.  Not an involved process.  I was Hell bent on getting some writing done that day, so I returned to the study.  When her friends started arriving, I jumped in and make the muffins myself because she forgot.

The muffins cooked for over an hour vs the required 20 minutes, because in my haste to get back to my writing I never set the timer.  Maybe the apple doesn't fall far from the tree?  (I am the tree in this scenario - a corn muffin burning tree!)



March 16, 2019

double standard living (with 5 star photos!)

I never intended to be 'that' mom.  The one that raised my kids by following the all-infuriating double standard.

I grew up the youngest of 3 sisters, followed very closely by 2 younger brothers.  I don't think my sisters were as impacted by the double standard lifestyle that my parents practiced as much as I was.  My sisters were programmed to 'do it all', because they were 'older.'

I admit that I often stepped back and allowed my sisters to handle tasks that I was perfectly capable of.  They didn't want me to wear something wrinkled to church, so they made me de-robe so that they could iron it.  Wink, wink.  Yep, I was that lazy, younger sister, who knew if I didn't - they would.

Marie, 2 years older than me, was an early riser.  She embraced that role.  Yuck.  You wouldn't catch me out of bed before my alarm for anything unless it was mandated.  As a result, Marie made our lunches starting in junior high.  She probably unloaded the dishwasher each morning too, I was sound asleep so I don't recall.

Me @1986. Not sure why
I didn't date in high school?
 'Jammers' were in, but these
were cheap knock
off Hawaiian
shorts.  Shockingly
there are no
photos of my unloading
 the dishwasher.
Ann, who was 2 years older than Marie, liked order.  Anytime my folks left the house, she made us clean up.  My folks' house was almost always in perfect order, but heaven forbid someone left a book in the family room or someone had pulled out a pile of coloring books.  Ann made us put them all away.  If there was a cardigan, a stuffed animal, or other miscellaneous item left on the first floor that technically belonged upstairs, then she ordered us to assume the position:  the stairway.  We had to line up on the stairs in age order.  The person at the bottom would hand up the items that needed to be put away in our bedrooms.  Our human chain handed the items up -and the person at the top of the stairs would place the items outside the bedroom doors.  Shazam - just like that, order was restored.

Ann is the same sister that stopped by my house when my kids were really little and 'tsk, tsk-ed' at me for leaving my baking sheets in the sink vs having them scrubbed and put away, and for having smudges on my refrigerator.  She was very pleased with herself when she taught Mini how to get out the 'squirt' aka Windex, and spray the fridge and wipe it down with a paper towel.  Mini was about 4 years old.

Why would Pat and I be fighting for car
 privileges if we drove this '76 Chevy Impala
station wagon?  Well, that's all there was.
 This is the photo of the fake funeral
 my mom and I held for 'ole Betsy in '91.
 It was days after my sister's wedding. 
We put the flowers on the roof of the car
 and I wore my black dress and posed for photos
feigning emotional distress.  You can see the guy
 there hooking up the car to tow it away.
  I am sure he thought we were nuts.
By the time I was a sophomore in high school, both sisters were away at college.  I was left to do all the things they enjoyed doing as mother's helpers.  My brothers were expected to do nothing.  Literally.  They didn't load or unload the dishwasher.  They didn't know the washing machine from the dryer.  They sure as Hell never ironed one of dad's shirts.

They were close to my age and I saw the tasks at hand more as age appropriate vs. gender specific.

Well, here I am in high school with my friend
who reminded me of Prairie Dawn
 from Sesame Street.  My nickname 'Ernie'
was also somewhat related to Sesame, so we made
 this sign and snapped a photo - you can
see the straw to my milk carton behind
 the sign.  I wonder if I was
still financing my own milk?
There were other issues.  Pat, the first born son, was given car privileges before me.  For real.  I was older, but he was favored, more trusted.  If he wanted the car, particularly because he wanted to take a girl on a date, he got the keys ahead of me.  I did not dating in high school, and that was frowned upon.  Mom was the eternal Irish match maker mom.  Her heart skipped a beat when her son was dating a girl.  It was nauseating.

My sisters and I bought our own milk at the cafeteria in high school.  The minute Pat - followed the next year by Mike, started attending high school, our folks started to give them milk money.  They were 'boys' after all.  They were athletes.  They needed their milk - and one carton was never enough for them.  They also didn't work during the school year, because of sports.  I guess the girls were expected to have milk money on hand, because we held down jobs during the school year.  All three of us babysat in addition to working fast food or grocery store jobs.

Is your blood boiling yet?

March 14, 2019

concerned about crazies, weekend blurs, and a plea for comments


What weekend?  February (and one March) weekends all blew (some blew chunks).  
This was Saturday, march 1st. 
Don't get me started on
putting wigs on kids for
 dancing - PARTIUCLRLY girls
 who have gorgeous curly hair.
     *  The girls and I headed to Lake Geneva, Wisc this weekend for an Irish dancing competition.  It was just a one night deal.  Curly danced early Saturday and then we raced home to make her b-ball end of season party.

     *  Ironically we stayed in the same hotel that the three of us stayed at Feb. 8th for Curly's b-ball tournament.  That was a one night deal too.

      *  Last weekend (Feb 22nd) I was hurling on Friday and feeling lousy on Saturday and doing Curly and Reggie's playoff games solo both Sat and Sun since Coach was teaching a class.

I was so tired during this
event -I was bummed
that the auditorium chairs
 didn't allow for me
 to put my head back and snooze
 - just for a few minutes.
     *  Feb. 15th at 9:30 at night, Eddie and I left to drive to Indiana University - a little 4 hour jaunt.  We attended a direct admit day for the Kelley School of Business.  We were very impressed.  Then on very little sleep, I drove us 4 hours home.  Bottom line:  I AM TIRED!  I feel like I haven't had a weekend in, well, weeks!

     *  Guess what?  Next weekend Coach flies to Omaha to teach a class.  Me, solo again.  Well hey, then it is March.  Time to escape the nonsense of February.  Right?  Well, then Curly starts going to shows to perform for St. Pat's parties and events.  Blah, blah, blah


Looking for sitting jobs is frustrating.
This is a job posting from a person on
care.com.  This person is
looking for someone to
watch their kid apparently every minute
 of every day.  I want to tell them,
you are not looking
 for a nanny you are
 looking for a replacement! 
See, there are
 crazies out there. Some are less
 obvious than others, unfortunately.  

     *  I had hoped to find someone to replace the crazies who left before Christmas.  I just met with a family who seemed VERY interested in having me watch their 2 kiddos two days a week for the remainder of the school year.  We were talking logistics, details, the whole she-bang.  They didn't need anyone right away, but that was almost 2 weeks ago.  I texted the woman Thursday at noon.  'Just touching base to see if you have made a childcare decision.'  Crickets.  That text is now like 5 days old.  I find that rude.  If you have decided to continue to have your mom who has some physical limitations watch your kids (even though you admitted to wanting someone who could get on the floor with the kids and do stairs without a problem, etc), then so be it, but for God's sake just let me know.


     *  Another family who is looking for part time care for their baby for next school year met with me that same day two weeks ago.  They said they would let me know the end of Feb, still no word.

     *  It is a drag to line up  new families to sit for next year.  It makes me anxious.  Will they be nuts?  Will they be demanding?  Will it be a good fit?  Will they be normal and appreciative and thrilled with my care (which is the majority of my families, but all it takes is a couple of wack-a-doodles to muck everything up).  Will I have to spend most of my summer arranging my sitting schedule for next year, or can I sort it out soon-ish?

Who would dedicate a table to all of their
writing 'stuff' in the corner of their living room,
if there wasn't hope of getting the
 damn thing published?  me.

When am I supposed to write?:    *  I admit that all of the busy bits of life often make it hard to find time to write.  Well, that is frustrating.  Am I meant to change diapers forever?  Prepare meals?  Handle the laundry?  I put Coach thru physical therapy school.  Then I continued to hold down the fort while he added more and more letters and designations to his name, like Fellow.  Well, when will I get to be a Jolly Good Fellow and get my book published?  Or even carve out time to blog?

     *  Add to that, the hopeless feeling I have at times that I may never get my book published.  I know, I know, put your mind to something and it will happen.  There are all kinds of inspirational stories out there and words of wisdom.  I cringe when I step into the library.  It knocks my confidence to see all of those books that actual authors have written.  Who am I to think I could join the ranks of becoming a 'real' author?

This is not a pic of me while sick - but it
IS Tank who is currently lying on the living room
 couch.  Ed puked on Sunday last week
 (right after me) and today was
Tank's turn.  Tank also had a
 stomach bug during one
of the polar vortex days
and didn't miss any school.
  Guess who doesn't want to hear
 about getting enough
sleep and eating fruit, etc so that
 he stays healthy? 
I wanted
 to fit this pic up near my description of my
 awesome weekends of late, but it wouldn't fit.  
     *  This hopelessness becomes less pronounced when I have the time to work on my manuscript.  At those times, I am reminded that I do have a story to tell, and what I am writing is good, and it gives me hope that I will get it published.


Christmas gift unrecognized:
     *  This goes along with the above 'writing' issues.  I gave my dad the first 39 pages of my manuscript for Christmas.  He has yet to say one word about it.  Not 'I don't have time to read it.'  or 'I hope to read it someday soon,'  or 'I am enjoying it.'  NOT ONE WORD.

I could use more comments:
     *  Of course hearing from blog readers in my comment section helps boost my confidence and makes my damn day.  Harmless plug here, but go ahead and leave me a comment if you have taken the time to read my gibberish.  It would make my day, and we are having an endless Chicago winter, people- so I could use a pick-me-up!


March 12, 2019

heavy

Coach left for work this morning and asked that I find a new attitude by the time he returns.  This might be tough.

I have no idea why I feel down in the dumps, grouchy, and just 'heavy' in general, but I have a few suspicions:

I feel like I am doing the same ole, same ole without a break.
     *  I grumbled about facing another sea of dirty diapers this morning.  Comes with the babysitting territory, but holy crap - literally - I am tired of it.  Especially the guy who poops before breakfast.  (And after breakfast, and after lunch, etc.)

     *  Then there is dinner.  What will we eat?  Who will complain about what we eat?  Will the meal I prepare be ready for the first round of eaters - those who bolt out the door to get to dancing or practice?  One thing is for sure, I will be the one preparing whatever it is we are going to ingest.  Yeah, me.
My couch after I have sorted a couple of loads.

I sometimes ask the kids to help sort, but really -
I can do it in lightening speed and while I do make
 mistakes, I have a better handle on who wears what.
  Less stuff goes missing, and let's face it - peace is
 a good thing vs. 'why are you wearing
 my socks/pants/shirt?!'
     *  Will the laundry ever become less overwhelming?  Will our kids ever learn to wear something long enough until it actually needs to be laundered (this does not apply to the kids who are not capable of applying deodorant)?  Will we ever figure out a better system for our dryer vent.  It used to vent out the side of the house, but it must snake longer to reach the side of the house since our addition.  Coach has to drag a ladder to the side of the house and clean out the vent like once a week.  I am washing towels today, so that means he has to empty that damn vent again even though he just did it.  Sometimes it takes 3 cycles to dry shit, which is a waste of money and just mind boggling frustrating.  I constantly go to change the laundry and find stuff that is still wet or damp.  Good times.

The weather.
     *  It is March, yet the temperature on Monday in Chicago was

11 degrees.  What the Hell?!  I can't take it anymore.  Don't get me wrong, loading tots and babies who are all bundled into puffy coats into the many rows of seats in the great white when we leave the house is a relaxing experience and all, but come on spring.  Get here!

I miss my workouts.
     *  I was on a really great schedule.  My stupid health club will no longer allow me to bring the kids I sit for to the health club when I workout.  Trust me, I was never bringing all of the kiddos, only on the occasion that I had only a few kids tagging along.  Anyway, I workout really early in the morning at the club on Tues and Wed.  On the days when I don't workout crazy early, I workout in my house before the tots get dropped off.  I do some cardio and then I do many of the same exercises that we do during classes.  But, then I got sick and I have been allowing myself to sleep in.  AND, while I love my weekend workout time - that has been nonexistent because of the out of town February stuff, and the sick weekend.

Eddie and a few teammates chat about the
 game during a break in the action.
Basketball season is over.
     *  I wonder if deep down I am saddened by the fact that Eddie's basketball season is over.  As crazy as our basketball season was this year, I thoroughly enjoyed having Ed start on his varsity team.  I remember feeling lost and very emotional when we left the high school after Lad's last high school water polo game.  Tears streaming down my face.  He ended up playing water polo in college of course, but I don't expect Ed will go that route.  Ed did have a coach from a tiny school in Chicago (Concordia) come and talk to him after his senior night game.  The guy wanted Ed to play for them.  Ed was flattered, but wants to attend a bigger school.

This is just the tip of the 'heavy' ice burg, as so often is the case with me - there is more . . .






March 10, 2019

now that's cold

For some reason, reintroducing food to my germ-ravaged system (after the losing battle I fought vs a gross stomach/intestinal bug) was no easy task.  I ate little bits and it seemed like my insides wrapped my intestines around each bite in a painful little knot to inspect it fully before allowing it to progress any further.

I was writhing on the couch in pain when Coach resurfaced after the social time he forced himself to bask in while dropping Mini off at his sister's house.  He ran down to the basement fridge for something and when he entered the family room, he said these words:  'Ernie, we have an emergency!'

She's a beaut, right?  Nothing like spending
 over a $1,000 on something that offers
 no aesthetic value to the house.
 Add to that the $875 for the teen car's
misfiring engine/spark plug issue,
and the mega bucks we spent
 on flights to Vancouver, and you
will start to feel my pain.  Ouch.
Oh.  I thought I WAS an emergency.  Like, eating is something I enjoy - when was my body going to reinstate that past-time as a function again?  And when would we declare that an emergency?

This was apparently not all about me, so Coach continued, 'The water heater is leaking.'  He called our plumber.  Our plumber is amazing, and promised to be there in the morning.  Coach reviewed the garage door code with Plumber so he could let himself in and not have to deal with Puke-zilla (me!), who hadn't upchucked in like 10 hours but was not quite 'over' it.

Coach had to teach a class on Saturday and Sunday, so I needed to be a function again by morning to assume the single parent role.  Coach invited Reggie and Curly to shower right away, while there was still hot water.  Me?  Well, I am a morning shower kind of person, so my must-feel-better-morning just had another component added to it.  Coach was planning to shower at the health club on his way to his class.  That might work for me too, if I felt well enough.

Saturday morning arrived, and the storm in my gut had subsided.  My head had a slow throb that increased as the day went by, but I was ready to drop Curly off at a 4 hour St. Pat's show-team Irish dance practice and then attend four basketball games.  Two for Reg in one direction and two for Curly in the other direction.  All a decent distance from the house.  And by 'ready' I mean - I wanted to shower!

I went down to the basement and asked Plumber when he was going to be done /when could I shower.  Plumber said, 'Oh, like 40 minutes.'  Perfect.  I could drive Curly to the studio and then return and shower before driving to watch Reggie's game.  Another teammate was driving him to the game.  I didn't really want to add an additional 'shower-at-the-health-club' step, so this would work well.

I was ready to hop in the shower, and was waiting for the water to get warm.  And waiting.  That's when I realized that I just could NOT catch a damn break.  The water heater may have been officially installed, but it was not going to heat up our water in the blink of an eye.  Why had the plumber not mentioned that when I asked him about when I could shower?!  I really can't complain because this man had gotten us out of many jams in the past.  Like my uncanny gift at clogging the kitchen sink each and every time we are loading the car to head out of town.

No one was home when I took my tortuous icy cold shower (at this point I had no time to head to the club in the wrong direction).  I did my best imitation of Florence Jenkins in the movie featuring her awful opera singing.  I could not help but release guttural hollers as I doused myself in the frigid water.  Nothing like a cold shower to ramp up an after-puke headache. 

March 8, 2019

syncing calendars: not dry erase board friendly

Friday night, Feb 22nd,  Coach and I were supposed to drive Mini up to his sister's house - about 30 minutes north.  Near O'Hare.   Mini was going to be her cousin's Confirmation sponsor the next morning.  (Confirmation = a Catholic sacrament). Coach and I arranged for Mini to spend the night so that we could get where we needed to be on Saturday morning without making her late.

As an aside (my specialty) Ed (my high school senior) and I attended a direct admit day at Indiana's Kelley School of Business the weekend before (Feb. 16th).  Originally, he signed up to attend the admitted student day on Feb. 23rd.  He caught me off guard in early Feb. when he asked me to commit.  It was late at night.  (No one should be allowed to speak to me late at night, at least not about important matters).  My brain was still fixed on January, so I was not wrapping my noggin around upcoming Feb. events.  I glanced at my dry erase calendar.  I failed, however, to consult the calendar in my phone.  Do not ask me how I have managed to function and get people where they need to be with my current system.  Clearly, not rocking the calendar thing.  A day or so later, it all started to hit the fan.

Coach was set to teach a class on Feb 23/24.  Mini had confirmation.  Reggie had b-ball games.  And, while I started realizing all of the conflicts, I decided to email Curly's coach and ask if Curly had a game that weekend.  Why would there still be travel b-ball practice, but no games?

See this grenn app:  team manager. 
Works great,
so long as the coach includes
the PLAYOFF dates.  Seriously!
I must pat myself on the back here- since I am not an app guru.  I downloaded and learned to use the app for her team.  Calendar, directions to games, messages, all of it.  I found it a useful tool, until . . .  Oh, there were games the 23rd. Playoffs.  Apparently because the time was not known for the playoffs, it didn't get added to the calendar.  My suggestions:  playoffs:  TBA in the app vs. leaving it blank and fooling me into thinking it was a wide open weekend.   

Ed was NOT happy when I told him that we had to switch the Indiana Univ visit to Feb 16.  He is dating a girl that graduated from his high school last year, and she is a student there.  She would be home on the 16th, and he saw no point in going to IU while she was going to be home.  Really?

I shared the point with him in as calm a manner as I could muster as a mother with a million conflicts for the date he was registered for.  If Daddy was teaching, I had to be home to get everyone else where they needed to be.  It did suck, because the 15th was his senior night for basketball.  We would have to drive to IU (4 hours) after his last home game.  Leaving around 9:30 pm.  Plus a time change not working in our favor.

Well.  Guess what?  Kelley School of Business didn't have space for him to switch.  The 16th was full.  I called everyday asking about cancellations until they 'found' room.  Then they sent a weird email saying they would see me on the 23rd AFTER they had verbally switched me to the 16th.  More phone calls.  Enough said.  Back on for the 16th, but with elevated blood pressure and the possibility that my photo now appears on a secret 'parents to watch out for' bulletin board.

Fast forward to the night of the 22nd - I was ever so happy that we had managed to visit Indiana on the 16th, because in my current recover from vomit-and-other-grossness situation I wouldn't have been going anywhere!

I was looking forward to having a glass of wine with my sis and bro in-law near O'Hare, but my sudden bout of nightmare stomach bug that morning prevented me from going.  Coach bravely drove Mini alone, and while he insisted that he didn't really feel like hanging out with them and having a drink (without me- implied)- he certainly stayed long enough to indicate that he must have been 'talked into' hanging out and having a drink.  I surmised this from my position on the coach where I was writhing in pain for hours.

March 6, 2019

well-hidden silver lining

I woke up on Friday at 3 am.  I thought it was just gas.  I could not get comfortable and I could barely sleep.  At 5 am, I finally got some relief, um . . . how can I say this?  Well, I apparently had a stomach/intestinal bug.  Let's just say all exits were utilized SIMULTANEOUSLY!  The worst.

I would rather not revisit, and I am sure you don't want to hear details, so . . .  moving on.

It was the first time in 4 years that I have cancelled my babysitting services (verses taking a planned day off, which I have done).  It was so last minute.  I texted the moms and apologized, but explained that I was ill.
Rice rollers:  think rice cake, but minus
 the cake aspect, so less flavorful.
 Think food for people who don't take
 pleasure in eating.  Rice rollers help
those of us who enjoy eating, and still
want to feel the sensation of chewing even
 if it means crunching on something so
 boring as this because gluten
free living is not a choice but a hardship.

Next I used my cell phone to call my children on the landline.  'Get out the bacterial wipes, and wipe down handles and whatever else you can!  This must not spread!  Also, make sure all the food gets put away and the garage door goes down when you guys leave for school.'  The basics.

This was just so unexpected, because:
     1. no one else in the family had been sick.  and
     2.  I am a grown up - how could I be the one to go down with this?  Haven't I been exposed to EVERYTHING by now?

This was different from when Mini invited us to all puke along side her in a show of solidarity Halloween of 2017Remember?  If you haven't, this is a must read.  (floors being refinished, staying at my parents' house.  Oh dear God, it was Hell on earth).

All this available,
but most of it off limits.
 Am I playing on
 your heartstrings yet?
Anyway, I stumbled downstairs hours later after rotating a few hours of sleep with a few bouts or bathroom unpleasantness.  It strikes me as funny that in moments of crisis I manage to forget that I have celiac disease.  I was heading towards the kitchen thinking that it was time for toast and sprite (after stirring to remove the bubbles, of course).  Then it dawned on me.  No toast.  No dry cereal.  No saltines.  What would I nibble on?  A rice roller saved the day.

Food  normal people
 eat after hurling.
The kitchen was a mess.  I didn't care.  The food seemed to have been stowed back in the fridge.  That was a small feat.  I was debating where I would plant myself for the next few hours.  The couch or back up to my bed.

I needed a cup for the Sprite.  That's when I discovered a true miracle.  The dishwashers.  Both of them.  Had been unloaded.  And I had nothing to do with it. No reminders.  No texts.  No threats.  No sleepy-voice, raspy-from-vomit orders from the depths of my darkened do-not-enter bedroom.  They just did it.  If I wasn't so dehydrated, I may have shed a little tear.