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July 24, 2015

Running on empty in more ways than one

Since being diagnosed with Celiac disease and eliminating gluten from my diet, I've noticed that I don't feel pooped by midday as often as I used to back when I was enjoying my food.  My nap requirement is practically non existent now.  There are days when I run out of steam, but I struggle to understand if my lack of energy is due to my body recovering from the original damage done by gluten, or if I am just tuckered out from keeping up with the clan.  Yesterday was a first.  It marks the first time my energy level outlasted my minivan's. 

It hadn't happened to me in years.  I gas up the car when it's on empty, but I'll be the first to admit I err on the side of 'Oh, I'll stop for gas after this next stop' or 'I should have enough to wait until tomorrow morning when I'm not so busy.'  In retrospect, I wonder how often I teetered on the edge of puttering to a halt on an expressway as I raced to get back from somewhere, dropped off a kid someplace, or hoped not to be late for something.  Was I too overconfident those times, or was I just consistently lucky at just making it on fumes?  From now on, my urge to 'fill 'er up' will overpower my willingness to wait.

I swear the needle didn't hover over the 'E' until yesterday morning.  Usually that means I have until the end of the day to make a pit stop.  Perhaps my initial calculations of where I would travel after witnessing the 'E' were a bit stingy.  I dropped the three youngest kids off at a three hour long Irish dancing class and ran a bunch of errands.  I needed to return birthday gifts that didn't fit Laddie and Mini to two different stores.  One of which was Nordstroms.  Since I'm not a Nordstroms shopper, I was unaware that they were celebrating the first day of their anniversary sale.  I was equally unaware
 of the crowds of designer-dressed, bedazzled-toddler-toting, can-afford-to-buy-without-the-discount-but-came-to-see-the-inventory shoppers this sale would draw.  I circled the parking lot for ages before finding a spot - thus squandering precious gas and time on a 2 minute return.  Scouring discount racks for an additional bathing suit for slim-jim Reggie added a few extra stops.  (Being the fourth son, the suits churned up for him from the depths of the bathing suit bin either lack elastic or were worn by the thicker Tetanka.  The puckered effect that results from pulling the drawstring tightly around his 9 year old 22 inch waist is an abomination).

After picking up the dancers a few minutes late, we ran to the high school with documentation to prove residency.  In the spring when I registered Eddie for high school, I shared paperwork that served as evidence that we in fact live at our current address.  I fear the district has mistaken me for someone with the energy to sell a house, pack our belongings, and move to another house in a few short months.  En-route home we circled a nearby neighborhood until we tracked down Reggie's buddy and invited him over to play.  When his babysitting grandpa didn't answer the home phone, we drove back to his house to be sure Gramps gave Jerry permission to hang out at our house for a few hours.  I promised to bring him back before dinner.  Looking back, my tank was most likely screaming for additional petrol by the time we had secured Reggie's play date.  Glad to be home at last, I focused on handling a few things that required my attention before the evening's home swim meet.  Translation:  I forgot about the gas tank.

I fed my starving dancers a not so timely lunch -seeing as it was 2:30 in the afternoon.  I whipped up a batch of cookies, since the unseasonably cool temperatures would soon end and I wanted to take advantage of the one benefit offered by this crazy weather.  Between cookie sheets, I downloaded the 4th of July photos from our weekend in Wisconsin with my whole family, uploaded them to an online site, and ordered the large group pics that my parents were anxious to see -hoping that one would work for their Christmas card.  As usual, time slipped away from me and I found myself racing the clock to prepare the swimmers for the home meet.  I became aware that the caddies would most likely call for a ride home from the course just as the meet was starting.  Laddie was away on a mission trip, so Eddie and Tetanka relied on me for transportation.  I threw pulled chicken sandwiches on the table, grabbed Jerry from the baseball game in the yard, and instructed the kids to eat and be dressed in suits with swim gear loaded by the time I got back from running Jerry home.  No time for a fill up now.

Eddie called to let me know his loop was done and that Tetanka was about an hour behind him.  I dumped the kids on the path to the pool and hollered after them that I would be back as soon as possible.  Coach works late on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  He misses all meets and I am the designated parent to cover volunteer assignments, cheer on swimmers, and gather up wet towels, tuckered swimmers, and the empty cooler before heading home.  We cut a handful of meets too close this season and didn't allow enough time for the caddies to get off the course in time to participate in the meet.  I was thankful that this wouldn't be one of those nights.  The big boys had begged me not to register them for the meet since they were caddying in a tournament.  They weren't convinced they would be done looping in time.  Dodged that bullet.  But now it was as if that same bullet had pierced my tank and drained it of gasoline.  (OK, not really.  It was more like I flaked out on filling the car).

Armed with tin foil wrapped pulled chicken sandwiches, juice boxes, and even a few of my coveted cookies, I darted to the golf course.  Eddie met me in the lot.  While he ate, he explained that he was worried that Tetanka may have been carrying double bags. Laddie and Eddie rarely double bag, so I grimaced imagining my 12 year old rookie caddie successfully lugging 2 bags around the course.  We thought we spotted him with his caddie bucket hat on limping with only one bag on his shoulder.  Eddie groaned and muttered something about being embarrassed that Tetanka had required a golfer to grab a cart since he wasn't up to the task.  A while later another caddy donning a bucket hat appeared.  Through the tall grass of the parking lot we were able to positively I.D. this kid as our Tetanka.  No limp.  Two bags.  Wow!

Once both caddies and their distinct odors were securely in my car, I headed out.  Anxious to attend the meet and supervise the three youngest, I groaned about the fact that I still needed gas.  As I exited the lot, I realized that there was a gas station right across the street.  I felt silly for waiting for Tetanka instead of filling up while he finished his round.  Imagine my surprise when the pump wouldn't work.  I tried the next pump.  That's when I glared at the office wondering why the attendant wasn't offering any assistance.  Aha.  There was a 'CLOSED' sign in the window.  I guess small town gas stations close early in this swanky part of town.

I raced off towards the meet - planning to fill up on the way.  Suddenly I struggled to steer the car.  It lurched forward a bit but stopped responding to my rage.  I veered off the road onto the shoulder in disbelief.  What a powerless, not to mention stupid, feeling.  Eddie and Tetanka exchanged a look, shortly after T instructed me on where to locate my hazards.  (The boy likes to tinker with the buttons in the car).  "Sergio", they said in unison.  They nodded.  They chuckled.  They informed me that they were going to run to another caddy's house for help.

Sergio is infamous at our dinner table and a frequent topic on drives home from the course.  This caddy is notorious for arriving at the caddy shack gulping jolt and munching on donuts.  His reign over the other caddies knows no bounds.  He is the leader of the pack.  He is a Hispanic version of Jack Black, and his humor is on par with his Hollywod counter part.  My boys crack up whenever they describe his antics.  They have also mentioned that they are fortunate to be in good favor with him.  Now I felt fortunate that the boys were in good favor with hin too.

I sat in the car hoping that Sergio was home.  The boys jogged back to the car about 10 minutes later. A heavy gas can slowed their progress.   My embarrassment was no rival for Eddie and Tetanka's bliss.  An additional Sergio encounter was the perfect ending to their caddy day.  Our hero refused to accept cash for the gas, but I stuffed a gallon size zip loc bag full of my cookies when we got home for the boys to deliver to Sergio the next day at the caddy shack.  Fortunatley the three young swimmers had no issues at the meet.  I suppose at this point in the season they could participate in a  meet blind folded.

I guess in retrospect, eating gluten wasn't the only issue that impacted my energy level.  All my running around is enough to slow down anyone, or at the very least their car.  My only regret is that I didn't snap a photo of the caddy legend standing just outside the course gates filling my tank with his antique looking gas can.  Laddie would not believe he missed the whole ordeal.


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