July 22, 2014

Christmas in July

No one can accuse my family of gift purchase procrastination.  The women of the clan typically map out their purchases in advance, while my brothers aren't covered by this plan-in-advance-shopping umbrella.  My Mom, for example, has a closet in a spare room where she stores great finds throughout the year.  When Christmas draws near, Mom visits her stockpile of gifts that she keeps sorted by child for each of her 22 grandchildren.  She is organized, wrapped, and prepared months in advance. 

My siblings and I create a shopping list based on the annual Christmas drawing.  All the cousin's names are written on scraps of paper and drawn from a hat to determine who is shopping for who.  The adults draw names of other adults in order to exchange gifts with each other as well.  Most of the women in the family like to follow in Mom's footsteps and try to get a jump start on shopping . . .  as early as the summer months in some cases.  While the kids get excited about whose name they've drawn, they are typically uninvolved in the shopping and decision making.  At least that is the way it works in the Shenanigan Family. 

My brother and his wife are currently visiting her family for several weeks in Ireland.  Although we were all together over the 4th of July holiday, I was dragging my feet on whether or not the Shenanigan's would participate this year.  A few years ago, we withdrew from the Christmas drawing after we moved into a new house, because our budget was too tight.  My oldest sister struggled with our choice that year.  How dare we break tradition?  So this year, I pondered how grinch-like it would prove to be if we opted out of the cousin gift exchange.  I would be:  1. upsetting my sister.  2. disappointing my kids (who would sit and watch cousins open gifts), and 3. relieving myself of shopping for and purchasing an additional six gifts.  I caved, and agreed to participate.  Not in time to get the drawing accomplished though.

My sis in law emailed from Ireland seeking permission to conduct the drawing on the other side of the Atlantic so that she could begin her shopping in Ireland.  Permission granted.  Unfortunately, the shopping list she produced was incomplete.  Instead of 22 pairs of names, there were only 20.  The adult list was corrupt as well.  One adult, who I refuse to name, would be receiving two gifts.  Discrepancies were pointed out, and corrections made.  No harm, no foul.  Few of us, as eager as we are to shop early had actually run out to the mall to make any early purchases.

Although I didn't have the fiscal excuse that I utilized a few years back, I was very hesitant to be involved in the exchange this year after last year's debacle.  The year unfolded like this:  I shopped early for the cousin gifts.  Although I was working over 30 hours a week, I organized my list and hit the mall late one evening.  The next morning I appeared groggy for breakfast, but satisfied that my list was covered in pen marks, notations, and several check marks.  I even smuggled the huge bags into the house while the kids slept, taking the time to separate out the cousin gifts from offspring gifts.  Tired, but accomplished. 

A week before Christmas my brother (a gift purchasing procrastinator) called me.  After picking my brain a bit about ideas I might have for his godson, Laddie, he asked me if I had picked something up for his kids.  In a freaky twist of events, all four of his kids landed on my shopping list.  All of their gifts had been purchased.  They would all be receiving Play mobile sets similar to the ones that my kids currently owned and greatly enjoyed.  Each themed play set was packaged in a neat travel case.  Perfect for taking in the car, or at home storage.  Additionally, I had purchased a few star wars related items to round out the gifts.  They were after all a great deal.  He hesitated after my detailed description of what the kids were getting.  Turns out my brother and his wife weren't really interested in gifts with pieces.  Who is?  But at Christmas it's fair game, right?  His youngest was 3 years old, hardly a candidate for putting everything in the mouth.  He explained that his kids would be receiving a wii video game, so they were hoping that I could pick up a few additional games.  Shock.  I'm all for offering suggestions when asked.  If no one asks what my kid wants, I don't make suggestions . . . especially not in the 11th hour.

Gift receipts were already attached to the packages in my closet.  Why not do what all other controlling parents do, encourage your kid not to rip the packaging and return the gift after the holiday?  Obviously you run the risk of losing out to a spoiled child who demands to open the package on the spot.  I thought about those little receipts carefully taped to each box, 'Feel free to purchase as many wii game cartridges with the exchange money as your heart desires!' I wanted to shout.  The real struggle going on in my head was that my brother and his wife have excellent jobs.  To say that their income is plentiful is an understatement.  On the flip side, I had spent precious time selecting gifts their kids would enjoy and using coupons to keep the items affordable. 

I managed to get off the phone and keep my composure.  At first, I was just in disbelief, then irritated.  Later I broke down and cried.  Now in addition to all the wasted time I spent shopping for their four children, I would have to return the gifts in order to afford suitable items.  Coach was annoyed.  He told me to tell them to forget it.  Why had they waited until a week before Christmas to put in a gift request?  In this case it felt like a gift demand.  Rude.

Within a few days, my sister in law texted me some additional suggestions.  Turns out she overbought and she had some toys in her closet that she would sell me so that I could give them to her kids.  She hoped this would save me a trip to the mall.  Thoughtful.  It just kept getting better.  She failed to understand my budget issues.  My coupons didn't apply at her closet checkout.

On Christmas day, I opened a Lia Sophia necklace from the same sister in law who had systematically rearranged my shopping agenda.  There was no gift receipt.   A friend, who sells the jewelry, shared with me that the necklace was retired.  Translation:  it was most likely offered as a buy one get one.  Makes sense.  My other sister was given a Lia Sophia necklace as well.  I don't know whether or not my sister ever wore her gift.  I don't accessorize much, but when I do I choose to wear a diamond heart pendant that my mother gave me.  Lia Sophia is now safely stored in my top dresser drawer waiting to be re-gifted this year.  Now that the names have been assigned, I fear that my sister's husband might be receiving a Lia Sophia necklace in the near future, because I plan to limit my bending-over-backward trips to the mall.

I suppose my sister in law has begun her shopping in Ireland.  This complicated return procedure might make any gift exchanges highly improbable.  

July 15, 2014


I’m big on consistency.  As a middle child, who was the third and youngest daughter before the arrival of a first born son, my birth order experience left me with a desire for consistency for my children above all else.  I tried.  Correction:  I’m still trying.  I like to think my successes outweigh my failings in this area.  I must admit complications abound when it comes to consistent parenting.

The first born.  No one picked on him.  Who could’ve accomplished this necessary irritation in his life with the absence of an older sibling?  Should Coach and I have knocked down his lego towers and laughed?  Hidden his toys and played dumb?  Gobbled up the last of his favorite cookies as he watched horrified?  Without life’s lessons delivered by older, annoying siblings, Laddie embarked on his school years basically unaware of unexplained mean moments, name calling, and hurtful teasing.  Although Laddie was often confused and unsure of how to handle these situations, I longed to protect the rest of the gang from the same unwelcome childhood torments that his life was free of.  When Laddie unleashed the teasing and in your face nonsense on each new arrival to our family as they grew and invaded his space, I quickly reminded him that his sweet early years existed without such annoying behavior.  I hoped he would spare them, but that didn’t happen.  As a parent, I learned that I could only control so much. 

Other aspects of parenting were easier to maintain a consistent thread to.  Regular bedtimes, no eating in the family room, limited TV watching, helping out with household chores, manners,.  etc.  We demanded the same level of attention to these details as we had from the get go.   Of course our offspring break rules, complain about chores, and  stay awake later now that we are involved in more activities. 

Eddie’s friend’s mom assured him recently that his first cell phone would arrive any time.  She was confident he would receive a phone earlier than Laddie had received his . . . the night before freshman year of high school started.  I countered her thoughts, and Eddie soon understood that I wouldn’t bend on this one.  No cell phone prior to the first day of freshman year.  No exceptions.  If I had a crystal ball, I am guessing that it would show an image of Curly’s siblings as college age students instructing me to purchase her a cell phone long before her high school career began.  'Save your breath', I would instruct them.  They would know from experience.  Their parents were too set in their ways to change course.  Sorry, Curly.

The one inconsistent aspect of their childhood that I wish had remained the same rather than morphed into a short tempered version of her former self is . . .  me.  Ironic, isn’t it?  Although I crave similarities among the kids’ childhoods, I have failed to stay the course.  Opposed to the fun loving, playful, patient mother that began the parenthood journey 16 years ago, I am grumpy, frustrated, and busy.  I try.  There are carefree moments when I am not rushing around, when we enjoy a laugh, attend an event, or relax together.  I squeeze in time to read with them albeit less frequently than I did with the older kids back in the day, but I try.  In my defense, nowadays there are teenage attitudes to deal with, schedules to adhere to, mountains of laundry (bigger people - bigger clothes), and disgusting messes in every room in the house.  The bills are more substantial, grocery bags heavier, and meals devoured faster.  Even the overcrowded fridge consumes time as I try to navigate around all the stuff jammed in there just to find the jelly.  Nap times have been replaced with activities, sports, and homework.  Of course Coach’s hours continue to be lengthy.  The kids have begun to hide from me, if they sense I am about to assign them some household chore.  It’s a vicious cycle.  They would prefer a life with a fun loving mother who allows more free time to play and create childhood memories, but they refuse to recognize their own role in revealing my dark side.  I make very few messes, and I clean up whatever messes I cause.  On the other hand, they are comfortable leaving a mess and pretending not to be involved with it.  Although I am not a neat nick, I require some sense of order after awhile.  They beg me not to care and I beg them to put something away without being told.  Imagine the energy saved?

In all the madness, I frequently lose my cool.  I am quick to let lose a string of audible cuss words.  This is one huge change from Laddie’s early years.  I recall preparing our family favorite 'pizza casserole' for dinner one night.  Laddie, Eddie, and I planned to walk to the park before dinner.  I set the oven to automatically cook the dinner.  I was pregnant and arrived home from the park starving.  To my dismay, I had missed a step when I set the oven.  I may have even forgotten to insert the casserole in the oven.  I don’t remember the details.  I do remember my reaction.  I used the third person combined with the word silly.  Something like, ‘Silly Mommy forgot to put the food in the oven.  We are going to have to wait a bit longer for dinner.’  If the same scenario happened today, it would have sounded something along the lines of:  ‘Shit!  I forgot to turn the oven on.  God damn it!  Well, we’re all going to be late now or we’ll have to eat later.  Unbelievable!  If someone could help me out just once.’  Words that Danny never heard are part of Curly’s everyday experiences. 

Now I must go figure out what to feed the masses tonight, see if anyone bothered to put their own f-ing  laundry away, discover if Curly found her face mask yet or I’ll be forced to call and get the orthodontist to prepare her a new one.  Perhaps tomorrow my retro self can reintroduce herself to the children and we can go min golfing minus teen attitude, concern over the cluttered house, and unexpected swearing., but I won't hold my f-ing breath.

July 12, 2014


I drove the giant, white, twelve-seater van into the grocery store parking lot the other day and pulled into a spot near the front of the store.  It was tight.  The car to my right had failed to line up her car with the yellow stripes.  The car hung over the stripe and was therefore very close to the passenger side of my van.  The three kids that were with me filed out of the side door.  That's when I heard it.  A voice.  A woman was calling to me as she approached from the store with a few shopping bags in her hands.  "I don't think I can fit in there."  Seriously.  She parked poorly, so I needed to move?  I backed up the van, but then she was trying to back up out of her spot.  My kids crossed the parking lot themselves.  I was jockeying around the lot to satisfy Ms. Clueless.  The nerve!  I ended up driving around the lot and returning to the same spot once she drove off.  I hopped out of my car - hopping mad.  Did this woman even get that she was in err?

I saw my window of opportunity.  She was stopped in front of the store while someone pushed a grocery cart in front of her sedan.  Her windows were down.  I tried to jog up so I could have a few words with her.  Fearing she was about to drive off into the sunset and be none the wiser, I chose to call out to her.  "Next time park between the lines!!!  Other people shouldn't have to move for you!!!"

Mini was mortified.  Accustomed to my rants within the gouged, marked up walls of our 'oh-look-a-bomb-must-have-recently-detonated' home, Mini quickly reminded me that we were in public.  "Well aware that we are in public, Mini.  I'm delivering a public service message, so that no one else will need to accommodate this nutty lady's parking issues," I quipped.  Grocery shopping is rarely my favorite activity, but I was there to pick up a few things with a few children in attendance.  Never a good mix.  My kids visit grocery stores infrequently now that they are school age.  I am smart enough to shop without them.  Without a regular attendance at the grocery store, they literally act like Neanderthal children who have recently been dropped into current society after being deprived of prepackaged food, bakery aromas, and funky carts with wheels their entire lives.  Annoying.  Anyway poor-parking lady was adding frustration to an already aggravating event.  I'll never know if she heard my message.  I'll also never understand why I didn't roll my window down and share my thoughts with her while she demanded that I move my car.  I think I was just dumbfounded to have found anyone so inept.

You might find this shocking, but grocery getaway lady was not my first experience with a parking idiot.  A few years ago I drove the 4 youngest kids downtown to the Field Museum.  They were performing with their Irish dancing school for underprivileged children from Chicago.  After double parking outside the museum, I raced the kids inside to get them to the meeting room where they would change into their clothes and rehearse their numbers.  Dripping in sweat and worried about the legality of my somewhat abandoned vehicle, I jogged for the exit.  Ahh, the car sat right where I had left it.  Now I followed the instructions that were given to me by a museum employee to park across the street in the Soldier's Field parking garage.  I found a spot on the first floor.  This time I was not driving the 'great white' but the old minivan.  I slid into the spot despite the fact that the car in the next spot was parked horribly.  This car was not even close to being within the white lines of the chosen spot.  The car on the other side didn't allow much wiggle room either.  Concerned that one of the kids would need me and would be forced to seek assistance from any number of moms who thought their dancers' ability together with their financial status crowned them automatic royalty in the Irish dancing world, I parked there despite the obvious space issues.  Sucking in my breath, I exited the auto and side stepped between the adjacent car until I was free.  Breathing again and bolting for the museum.

After the show, the kids and I made our way back to the garage.  Because the performers were allowed to participate in the party following the show, we enjoyed the Jesse White Tumblers, a visit with Santa, balloon animals, McDonald's happy meals, and many laughs.  We were one of the last people to exit the building.  Reggie turned as we were leaving and asked, "Wait, so ev-we-fing in dere is dead?"  With his speech impediment that makes his language similar to a New York City resident.  A museum employee departing for home carrying her work in her briefcase overheard his question.  She and I shared a chuckle.  Tetonka prided himself on being one of the last people out of the party.  My kids may not be underprivileged, but they don't get out much, so this soiree was a highlight of their winter. 

We noted that our car was one of the few remaining in the garage.  As we approached our car, I noticed that the car parked to my right was just backing up.  I stopped the kids in their drunk-with-fun, giggling tracks so they weren't run over.  Tetonka noticed the note first.  I grabbed it off the windshield.  There was a handwritten message on a blank, bank deposit slip.  'Nice parking job.  Had to load 3 kids and self in thru passenger door.  Next time think!'  I swiveled around just as the note leaving culprit was rounding the turn and driving past us in the next lane for the exit.  "Next time park between the lines, moron!" I yelled.  While she was not brave enough to wait and scoff at me face to face, even though she clearly saw us approaching, she did have the inner strength to flip my young children and I the bird as she squealed out of the lot. 

Perhaps I should have passed up the last close proximity spot when I saw how poorly she parked, but maybe she should learn how to align her car between the white lines if she doesn't want to crawl thru a passenger door.  I pointed it out to my only witnesses, my kids. . . they noted my textbook parking job.  It irked me that she clearly thought she was correct, and I had no opportunity to state my case or point out my awesome parking job.  I hope she reads this, so SHE 'thinks' next time she ponders leaving a note on someone's car. 

July 9, 2014

invitations that deliver life lessons

The other day our good friends invited Reggie and Mini to join them at their rented Lake house for part of their upcoming week long vacation.  Awesome for Reggie and Mini!  Tough break for Curly.  Tetonka expressed disappointment as well.  Tetnoka stayed with his buddy last year for 5 days at their Lake house.  He has since made a few return visits of shorter duration.  As the other kids would say, "Luckyyyyy!"  It's hard to be the mom delivering exciting news to one kid while feeling the lazer-like stares shoot at you from the other, uninvited kids.  It may be a bummer, but it's life!

I cringed back when the phone would ring off the hook for Eddie on days off of school.  Eddie leaped with excitement to throw on shoes and a coat as I noted the details on the phone.  The older Laddie surfaced from the other room wondering when Eddie would return to whatever they were playing.  His disappointment was palpable.  Invitations were constantly directed towards Eddie, Laddie less frequently.  Part of it was the make up of Laddie's class.  Couldn't be helped.  I often hoped that Eddie would pass up an invite to stay and hang with Laddie.  Finish the game, start something new, build something, pretend, whatever . . . just don't leave me here to deal with Laddie's loss.  Eddie was Laddie's constant companion until a better offer came along.   When Eddie made his exit, Laddie was left in romper room.  The other siblings were too babyish to be interesting playmates.  It was heart breaking.

Ten years later, an older, wiser mother of six now sees that these situations are life lessons shrouded in temporary disappointment.  Curly was sad not to go to the Lake house for 4 days with the other kids.  It's true that she plays well with the kids who did the inviting, but she is only 6 years old.  She can age up during playtime, but she needs to wait a bit before she enjoys an overnight at a Lake house without her Mommy.  Fortunately, she is still excited because the same family invited our entire clan to another rental they are doing a few weeks later.  Awesome!  Curly's feelings aside, not many people offer to include our entire family for an overnight visit.  At a Lake house!!!

Toward the end of the school year, I offered to let Curly invite over a little girl in her class named Denise.  Knowing that Curly could play outside on the swing set while I tackled the overwhelming task of cleaning out my close, I decided inviting Denise over would be a great idea.  I liked many of my recent shopping spree purchases, but I decided to organize myself in order to see if it was necessary that I introduce these new items into my wardrobe.  It was late Sunday afternoon, so time was not on our side to get a last minute play date rolling.  Denise's mom was out of town, so I dialed her husband's cell at her instruction.  Denise has a twin brother named Ned, and no other siblings.  Ned has been over to our home before.  Curly is happy to play with anyone.  Anytime.  Many of the boys in her class invite her to their birthday parties.  She would have been happy to have Denise and Ned over.  Having seen Ned in action, I knew if he came I wouldn't be able to accomplish anything because I would have to keep a close eye on this active guy.  I was more interested in a calm, swing set, girly, quiet play date than tracking Mr. Busy Pants.

The phone call to the twins' dad took an unexpected turn when he allowed the kids to do the talking.  I never heard him utter a word and wondered if they had overtaken the home and tied him up.  Ned shouted into the phone.  Calling me 'Curly's mom', he asked if he could come too.  I informed him that he could come another day when Reggie was home.  (Great excuse, right?)  Where was the parental interference on this one?  Hello, please correct your youngster and try to encourage manners.  I could barely make out what Denise was saying over Ned's kindergarten, speech-impaired shouting.  I sensed excitement and it sounded like they were on their way over.  Then the call disconnected.  They live around the corner.  Curly raced outside to wait.

I climbed the stairs two at a time to remove the stack of clothes from my closet shelf that I wanted to sort.  A bit later I realized that Curly hadn't yelled up to me in a hysterical voice, "She's here!" as I had expected her to.  Back down to the kitchen where my cell was charging, I noticed a text from Denise's mom.  The husband didn't remember exactly where we lived, so he'd like the address.  That was the hold up?  I texted back our address and informed her that Curly was outside - couldn't miss us.  I also offered a gentle reminder that we would be eating at 6:15, so hoping he would arrive soon.  The reply included words I hadn't expected.  'He's at the zoo with the kids.  Just leaving now.  Here's his text number.'  The zoo?  What?  I had assumed that they were at home.  Deciphering their garbled, excited toddler-speak was more than should have been expected of me.  The invite was extended late in the day at around 4:20, but did these clueless parents actually think I was going to start a kindergarten play date at 5:30 on a Sunday night?  Wacky.  Why had Mr. Communication not spoken up when the kids were monopolizing the air waves?  Frustrating.

Now it was a few minutes after 5.  I spoke to Mr. Communication.  He put me on speaker phone in his car.  This would be an acceptable practice if his emotionally charged son hadn't been demanding time to speak to 'Curly's mom.'  He chuckled when he explained that he thought that I knew that they were departing the zoo.  I guess he thought the kids made that clear.  I don't understand other people's kids when they talk like they have marbles in their mouth while licking the cell phone, so my ability to understand them should not have been assumed. I pointed out that we would probably need to reschedule as our dinner would be done around 6:15.  I failed to explain that dinner would be followed by bath and bedtime.  Pretty typical for kindergarteners, I think.  Our entire 2 minute conversation was constantly being interrupted by his son, who is clearly not medicated enough.  Ned continued to somewhat verbally and somewhat spastic-ally request that he be included in the now defunct play date.  His father continued to pretend that he was still in the Africa exhibit at the zoo and would not be able to satisfactorily correct his rude son because he was so taken with the Mandrills. 

After hanging up, I stopped to explain the scenario to a confused Coach.  Then I dragged myself to the window where I shouted out to Curly, who honestly may have forgotten that her friend was coming over because she was so wrapped up in a game with her siblings.  My cancellation information sent her into tears, begging me to get Denise over there pronto.  Ugh!  I love it when other parent's screw things up.  "Honey, they were at the zoo, and they won't be home until it is almost time for dinner.  We'll try for another day."

I promised Curly 'another day' would happen soon.  Both Denise's parents work, and the school year was ending.  I had no intentions of retrieving Denise from a day care setting where I would be stuck entertaining her for the day.  Monday morning texting.  The mom first.  I started with an apology that it hadn't worked out.  She offered nothing in response, no 'sorry my husband didn't make their zoo location clear.'  Nothing.  'How about after school on Tuesday?' I suggested.  The mom pointed out that she was still out of town, so please text Mr. Communication.  She also made this request, "Let's be sure that we include Ned, so he doesn't have a major melt down."   Balls.  First of all I recognize that the 'Let's' is directed at me.  Clearly she would always be including him in a play date at her house, since he lived there.  Don't tell me how to conduct an invitation and who to include.  Your child's emotional instability is not my problem.  Please feel free to learn to curb your child's temper tantrums, don't ask me to be assist you in teaching him to deal with life.  I don't care if he is only 6.  Audacity.  Now I understand why the father hadn't corrected the kid.  These people are confused enough to think that because they birthed two children at once, my play date invitation needs to always include them both.

As it happened, Tuesday wouldn't work as it was the last day of school and he would be taking the twins out to celebrate.  'How about Monday?' (as in today), he wanted to know.  He was in a meeting up north and he would have a difficult time collecting the kids from the school's after care program anyway.  He suggested that I pick up his kids from school when I picked up my own.  He would be able to come and pick them up a little after 6:30.  Crazy.  No intention of babysitting your kids for over 3 hours.  Honestly, my Monday was quite hectic.  Wasn't sure how I was going to get where I needed to be, so it wouldn't work.  Another time.

The mom called my cell that Friday night as I cut my boys' hair on the deck.  I was squeezing in haircuts in order to meet my friend out for a glass of wine.  I ignored the call.  Obviously. 

July 8, 2014

Pukeless weekends

No, this is not a post where I reflect back on my college years where drinking, flirting, and studying were an integral part of life.  Not necessarily in that order.  I wouldn't classify myself as a big drinker in college.  I do have a few decent puke stories, but that's a different post.

Coach and I just returned from a long weekend in a resort on a lake in Wisconsin with my entire side of the  family.  It was awesome.  Picture majority of the 22 cousins playing an intense game of Frisbee in the grass with the uncles while a few of the younger ones perched on a nearby blanket and belted out the theme song from 'Frozen' while waiting for the fireworks to start from a barge on the Lake.  Keep-away games in the pool (where Curly made an amazing mid-air interception after being thrown sky high by Coach), mini golf, volleyball, soccer, baseball, evening board or card games, horse back riding, kayaking, photo bombing, and of course eating rounded out the rest of the weekend.  My parents surprised my four siblings and I with this great plan for a getaway in late February.  Back when warm summer weather and gentle lake breezes remained abstract thoughts that we only dared to dream about.  We've eagerly anticipated the arrival of this weekend every since.  We departed for home with hundreds of group pictures, tanned skin, and lasting memories.  Looking back at the great time that we had, I'm so relieved that everyone was able to participate.

While summer can be busy, the month of May seems to become more and more packed with activities, parties, and celebrations each year.  This April I studied the May calendar closely to prepare for the nonstop schedule that faced us.

One weekend Reggie, Mini, and Eddie competed in an Irish music competition in St. Louis.  Tetonka's Irish music career is just beginning, so he accompanied me on the trip just to check it out.  He does better if he knows what to expect as his involvement increases anyway.  Coach stayed home to attend a rigorous water polo tournament that Laddie played in.  Curly scored a sleep over invite at a cousins' house at the last minute, which was nice because how many water polo tournaments can one 6 year old take in anyway?  They bolted up to a cousin's first communion party in Northern Illinois later in the afternoon on Saturday.  Although the Irish music scene is much more relaxed than Irish dancing competitions, I was barely able to enjoy the non-wig wearing event.

After Eddie and Tetonka woke me up at 2:00 in the morning on Saturday because of spacial disagreements in their shared bed, I scolded them for interfering with my much needed sleep.  I intended to drive home the next day and would need to be well rested.  A moment after I forced Eddie to find some comfortable floor space, I heard him whispering to someone.  I sat up in time to hear, "Leave her alone.  She needs to sleep.  You'll be fine."  I jumped up and followed Mini, who was already sleeping on the floor, to the bathroom.  There we stayed for the next 5 hours.  I squatted with half my ass on the tub while I held Mini's hair back.  She puked for hours on end.  We counted 18 in total.  Awful.  One of the longer nights of my life as I pondered how I would get us home with three hours of sleep under my droopy eyelids.

Just after she had held down a small amount of Gatorade (supplied by her on-hand fiddle teacher and aunt, who also happens to be a family practice doctor) for over an  hour, she puked it all up.  I knew she wanted to play her fiddle after all that practice.  I pointed out that she was having a great hair day, all things considered.  Urged her to put her clothes on, and then ordered her to test out her strength by holding up the fiddle and giving me a few notes.  Remarkably Mini managed to perform her fiddle pieces for the judge early in the morning before crawling into bed where a high fever made her drift in and out of sleep.  During the competition I posted myself 10 feet away, plastic bag in hand - just in case.  We made it home safely, and Mini recovered in the next 24 hours.

The following weekend was Reggie's First Holy Communion.  We hosted almost 45 people.  I made all of the brunch food myself and cleaned the house as well.  All the clothes were laid out and ironed so we wouldn't be late to the 9 am mass.  The house needed to be left in 'party-ready' mode so our guests could arrive directly after the mass.  In addition to party preparations, I worked every day that week.  Busy.

The mass was lovely.  Reggie read all of the prayers of the faithful with great enthusiasm and clarity just as we had practiced.  Afterwards, we raced around the house finishing off the last few details.  The kids ran around outside in the cool, spring weather while the adults sat down to eat.  Reggie came inside to tell me that his tummy hurt.  Had he eaten breakfast, or was that overlooked due to the crazy morning?  I made him a plate assuming that he just needed a bit of food in his system.  I whispered with him about whether or not this could be a bathroom issue.  We managed to get a handful of family photos taken before he insisted on changing out of his suit.  I didn't notice that he had been upstairs for quite some time until his tear streaked face appeared in the kitchen.  "Do you think you are going to throw up?" I asked.  Affirmative head shake.  We disappeared upstairs.  Hours over the toilet instead of hours in the yard playing with dozens of cousins from both sides of the family.  Bummer.

The following weekend (you know where this is heading, don't you?) I was taking Mini to a wedding mass for a girl I used to sit for.  From there, Coach would grab the caddies and pick us up so we could drive up to Milwaukee for my sister's daughters joint graduation party (a high school and an 8th grade).  The wedding mass conflicted with the graduation party, but I wouldn't miss it for the world (or for another grad party).  Luckily Reggie and Curly scored a ride earlier in the day with my other sister, and Tetonka was out of town.  That Friday night we had friends over on the deck to celebrate the arrival of summer.  Drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and lots of laughs.  In the middle of the night, Eddie came in and woke me up.  Upset stomach.

Been down this path with him before.  I gently accused him of over eating at our gathering.  I refused to accept that he too could be sick.  (Historically speaking he did vomit all over my kitchen floor in the middle of the night about a year and a half ago after attending a Notre Dame football game with my dad.  Tale-gating doesn't mix well with a lack of self control).  I also not so gently reminded him that a 13 year old should not wake up his mother if his tummy hurts.  Deal with it.  Tums administered.  We waited.  Sure enough.  Puke.  Three weekends in a row.  Stupid, persistent stomach bug.  Damn did I miss sleep.  Eddie moaned.  He's not easy to be around when he isn't well.  He slept in small intervals on the bath mat on the bathroom floor while I sat and rubbed his leg.  Just as I would sneak back to bed, I would hear him hurling all over again and I would be at his side to pat his back, offer the cold washcloth for his forehead, and remind him to rinse his mouth but not to drink anything yet.  Eddie was heartbroken, when he took the time to think about it.  His plans to caddy in the morning dashed.  Graduation party with cousinly fun impossible. I slept on the way to the party.  Eddie insisted he could stay home alone.  Shortly after eating, I jumped in my parents car and bummed a ride home with them.  I felt too bad leaving him home.  My folks had spent the night before the party attending the graduation ceremony, so they were tuckered.  That made three of us.

The next weekend I was fearful.  Would the bug claim another victim under my roof?  No, we skated thru the entire weekend without an issue.  The remaining weeks leading up to the 4th of July all proved healthy.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I managed to forget what havoc the puke potential would have equated to for this momentous occasion.  Under the weather kids had interfered with so much over three consecutive May weekends, I was relieved that no one fell ill in the eleventh hour.  With so many different schedules it was amazing that we were all able to spend an entire, memorable weekend together.