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October 23, 2017

road blocks like metal poles and modems

I arrived home from my adventure to New York with Tank and Reggie late Saturday night.  Knowing I would be tired on Sunday, I didn't set out to accomplish too much.  I DID plan to get something done though.

What was I thinking?

I mentioned to Coach before I left for the airport on Thursday that the internet connection was becoming a headache.  I could get online, but I could expect to lose that connection without warning.  CONSTANTLY.  It was definitely annoying.  I suggested that it might be time to replace our modem.

My general feelings about computers and
how to make them function properly.
First of all, the fact that I can even locate a modem and turn the power off and on in order to get online is nothing short of a miracle.  When I'm not flipping the modem off, I am literally flipping the power source off and on.  It usually works - the power source thing, not my obscene hand gestures.

Sunday morning, I used the computer a bit before Coach got started setting up the new modem he bought.  I didn't have time to post anything, but figured I'd just do it when he was done.  How long can it take? 

Since he was busy taking one for the team with modem setup (which included wires and plugging things in and hooking things up - yuck), I became the available kid chauffeur.  I gladly drove Reggie over to his buddy's house to avoid computer stuff.  I wasn't back 15 minutes, before I got a call that Reggie was getting dropped back off at my house.  He ran into a pole.  This was a new one.

Reggie and his friends decided to spin around 20 times and then run as fast as they could towards a pole at the park to see who could get there first.  Sounds like a great plan if you are 11 . . .  and stupid.  I guess being 11 and acting stupid goes hand in hand.

Reg won the challenge.  I can't say I'm proud.  His win may not have counted because the side of his face collided with the pole.  He laid on the couch with ice on his face and fell asleep.  I was a bit concerned that he might have a concussion, but he wasn't dizzy and didn't feel like he was going to throw up and his pupils matched one another.  This kid gave himself a concussion when he was 3 1/2 by building a tower out of toys and small furniture in the basement, scaling his creation, and falling off of it.  On his head. 

Coach is more of an expert at doing a concussion assessment because he is a physical therapist, but he was now on the phone with AT&T.  The modem installation wasn't going well.  When Coach finally surfaced, he was surprised to see Reg sleeping.  I reminded him that our trip to New York was exhausting and Reg was probably tired. When I took the ice off of his face, he woke up.  We sent him to nap in his bed.  We agreed to wake him up in a bit, so that he could watch his flag football game . . from the sidelines.  No playing.  Bummer.

I took a nap too.  Despite getting a good night sleep in my own bed the night before, I was still exhausted.  Shortly after my snooze, a frustrated Coach called me into the study.  It was my turn to take the reins in the modem nightmare.  Coach had to prep dinner that he was going to grill.  AT&T decided that there might be a problem with our line. They are scheduled to come out to the house on Thursday to check it out.  In the meantime, Coach attempted to set up the modem and was on the phone with Netgear.  He was super frustrated.  I couldn't believe that this was still dragging on.

Was hoping to shop online -
this setup screen wasn't what I had
envisioned staring at for HOURS!
I won't bore you with details, but here a few interesting notes:  the person I was on the phone with told me to call AT&T back because they must have given Coach the wrong login and password.  She was correct - wrong password.  When I called Netgear back with the right password the woman instructed me to hang up so she could call me back.  She never called. 

The next guy had me try a zillion things.  No luck.  I passed the time while we waited for screens to update and pages to open by shopping for a kitchen table and chairs on my smartphone.  Browsing the web for furniture had been on my list.  I had hoped to have access to a larger screen. 

Two hours later, he suggested that I go back to the store and trade the modem in for a new one because it must have been faulty.  Seriously?  Coach kept asking why the basic setup instructions that came with the modem wouldn't work.  We both suffer from extreme cluelessness when it comes to computers, but we were following all of their instructions. 

I hung up with our 3rd Netgear consultant and drove Tank to a meeting.  Coach raced to Best Buy to swap out the modem.  We had planned to drive Reggie to his basketball clinic, but he admitted that he still didn't feel well enough to play a sport.  (Side note:  Reg has NEVER passed up a chance to play a sport.)  This was the last clinic in the not-so-cheap series.  Between Coach and I our frustration level was measuring off the charts.  An explosion was imminent. 

Coach called Netgear back.  The new modem wouldn't connect the traditional way.  Hours later, he joined the kids and I in the basement where we were watching our back logged 'America's Got Talent' show.  Coach shook his head.  He was able to get the modem working.  It had literally been an all day nightmare project. 

I no longer felt focused enough to write something to post on my blog.  By the look on Coach's face, Reggie wasn't the only family member who felt like his face was smashed into a metal pole
- albeit figuratively. 

unusual nap time interruption

The question the construction worker was asking me didn't initially raise any red flags.  I had just put the two tots down for naps and I was changing into a sun top, because I planned to sit on the deck, soak up some rays, and read my book during nap time.  

I heard the younger dude of the dynamic duo call up the stairs, 'Um, do you know where the main shutoff valve is for the water?'  The sun . . . it was beckoning me, but I left my room and jogged down the stairs to show him where the valve was in the basement.  

These two electricians had been there all day wiring the new kitchen.  It didn't dawned on me that electricians don't typically mess with water.  Operative word here being 'mess.'

The young guy followed me down to the basement.  I had just learned where our main water valve was located.  How handy!  I felt like a grown up, a homeowner . . . wise beyond my years.  'It's in the back of the storage room,' I was explaining . . . that's when I heard it.  It sounded like a waterfall in my basement.  I glanced around but didn't see the source.

As I rounded the corner there was the older guy electrician standing on a small step ladder.  His hands were inside a gaping hole in the ceiling.  He was attempting to keep the water from pouring thru the ceiling.  An impossible task considering that they had accidentally broken a pipe.  Not a pipe that operates with a trickle.  Nope.  A serious pipe that apparently moves or holds lots of water.  

I rushed into the storage room - pointed to the valve in the corner and then turned my attention to the newest feature of our recently finished basement:  a splash pad.  

Stack of white towels - storing them is
 annoying but they saved the day.
While the kitchen has been under construction (for 8 weeks, but who's counting?), we have been operating out of the tiny but functional basement kitchen.   It's functional, if you count the absence of a dishwasher a way to function.  (8 WEEKS, friends, 8 WEEKS - and no end in sight!)  I suppose our dish washing chores are minimal considering we are relying heavily on paper/plastic products, but any cooking and bam, the whole damn sink overflows with pots, pans, and Pyrex.  

In order to dry all of the clean dishes, I spread towels on the table.  We have an obnoxious supply of white towels.  I have never purchased a white towel, mind you, but Laddie's swim team involvement has led to a ridiculous inventory of mismatched whitish towels.  I should probably bring a stack back over to the high school one day . . . when the basement is done and we no longer need towels for dish drying.  (Ha, I just said 'basement done' as if that is a thing).  

Displaced bins housing floating legos and guys.
So when our basement sprung a leak that afternoon, I scooped up the handy/stolen towels and tossed them to Mr. Waterworks.  The bookshelf directly below the flowing water took a direct hit.  Bins housing legos and plastic princesses collected water making it look like a scene from 'the Lego Movie' when the main characters escaped near disaster by stowing away in a double decker lego couch.  Cool.  Legos are swimming in my basement.  

It killed me.  Summer had just ended and I had just washed a bunch of beach towels, but I raced upstairs and grabbed these clean towels.  I handed the pile to the electricians and backed away slowly. 

It was a bummer, but I would NOT get roped into cleaning that up.  I knew I would end up washing the towels, AGAIN.  The sun was waiting.  The boys' nap time might include a short snooze for me on my lounge chair.  I would need to rest up anyway - because soon it would be time to wash dishes again.  

October 19, 2017

birthday Shenanigan style

Yesterday was Eddie's 17th birthday.  It marked week 8 of being without a kitchen while the kitchen is under construction.  It was also the first night that we went out to dinner as a family during our kitchen-less state.  This amazing feat was accomplished because we have a small kitchen in the basement.  I am very anxious to be done creating meals in this small kitchen.

We don't eat out often, so there was a level of excitement.  The night was very typical for us.

We chose Chilis because we had a coupon for $5 off.  Last week Coach and I ate out.  Together.  Alone.  We hadn't been out alone in awhile.  I don't even think we went out for our anniversary because that was the day we loaded everyone into the Great White and drove to Boston.

Anyway, it just so happened that a Tuesday worked better than a weekend.  We had no soccer, no dancing, and no work.  Bingo.  We sat down and Coach noticed that the menu stated that kids under 12 eat free on Tuesday nights.  The kids were home eating Chicken Cordon Bleu.  They love that 'dinner' - I use the term 'dinner' loosely when I refer to the frozen stuff that I shove in the oven before I head for the hills.  It was tempting to run home and grab Reg and Curly so they could eat out for free.  Instead we said we'd do it again another time.

Eddie's birthday landed on a Wednesday.  Wednesdays are insanely busy around here with activities, plus Coach works until around 9.  We opted to celebrate a night early.

We don't usually eat out for birthdays, but we made an exception.  We sat down and realized that the kids eating free only worked if the kids ate off a kids' menu.  Curly was fine with it.  Reggie ordered off the real menu.  This gang I'm raising doesn't mess around.  They have serious appetites.  Coach waited until after our order was placed to share his disgust that Reg didn't order off the free menu.

It was like an episode of the body snatchers.  Where was he when the ordering topic was discussed a bit earlier?  I requested that Reg take one for the team and go track down our waitress and change his order.  He wasn't happy about it, but he did it.

Before we ordered the Chilis staff sang happy birthday to a kid at another table.  Ed glanced at me, and informed me that they better not sing to him.  I had no intention.  We tend to draw enough attention without a singing fiasco added to the night.

We were nearly done with our meal when the waitress asked us if we drone a dodge caravan.  Yes.  Oh, because someone left a car door open on a red caravan in the parking lot.  Cool.  We could see our minivan from the window and the sliding door on the far side was indeed open.  Sweet.

Before we ordered Reg and Curly played with this little black mini computer looking thing that sat on each table.  While we were waiting for our bill, Coach grabbed it.  'I wonder if we are supposed to pay for the bill on here.  Maybe that's what is taking so long.'  Mini had to be at Church for a meeting about Confirmation at 7 pm.  Our early dinner was starting to push the envelope.

Coach found our bill.  He was confused.  There was an item called 'molten' that was $7.95.  At first he thought that the kids had racked up a charge for playing games on the stupid table computer.  Then he started asking if someone ordered something called 'molten.'  There were already charges for 7 entrees so it didn't make sense.

Just then our waitress appeared.  She had apparently heard me tell Eddie to order what he wanted since it was his birthday.  She was carrying a plate of cake and ice cream with several forks stuck in it.  Fortunately she hadn't alerted the rest of the staff that a singing telegram was necessary, so we were able to walk out of the restaurant without limping out on broken limbs.

Coach asked her what the extra charge was for.  'Oh, that's for this birthday cake.  Your bill isn't ready yet.  I still have to take the cake off the bill.  It's complimentary.'  Mystery solved.  We all exhaled jointly - particularly Reggie and Curly, who feared that they were responsible.  Perhaps I should say mystery devoured, because my kids dove into that thing with true Shenanigan style.

I'm hoping it's the age, but Eddie tends to dislike most of his siblings except for the two youngest.  He also dislikes dessert or anything that isn't ultra healthy.  He required one bite of cake before he shared it.  When the free-for-all erupted, he was more than a little outraged.

Last night, on Eddie's actual b-day I served a frozen pie in my former Burger King booth in the basement.  I'm trying to empty out my fridge, and I had no idea so many frozen pies were just hanging out in there.  We ate in shifts, opened gifts long after bedtime, and posed the kids for a photo while holding up a poster of Laddie from his senior year football season (school issues them to varsity athletes - we aren't the life-size-poster ordering type).  Kids complained about sitting close to one another for a photo, and I begged Tank and Reg to review what minimal amount they were packing.  I am taking the two younger boys to New York today to see Laddie.  He has 3 water polo games.  It should be an adventure.
Mini is his main target for teenage, eye-rolling, we-can't-be-related angst.  She asked for his criticism though when she tried to accomplish shoving a four-bite sized forkful in her face . . .  and missing.  It was her turn to sample the cake, and she apparently feared that was the only opportunity she would have to taste it - or quite possibly to taste cake ever again in her life.  Evidence that she is my daughter.   She is the one I fear for the most if celiac disease becomes her reality.

I begged Ed to stop berating her, but I looked at Mini and said, 'Seriously?'

Coach paid the bill - and gave the two youngest the stink eye because there was a small charge on the bill for their game playing.  The car ride home was festive as everyone imitated Daddy, 'What is MOLTEN?  Who ordered that?  Is this for that game thing?'  Just what this family needs another quote.

 

October 17, 2017

Can't wait to be finished with the refinishing

The house renovation project is approaching the next phase.  It's hard to believe that the kitchen will begin to look like a kitchen and not a barn with exposed beams and no insulation.  With the plumbing, electrical, and heating/AC work complete, they are about to hang the drywall.

I have been told that after the drywall is hung, the hardwood floors will be next.  Our entire first floor is hardwood flooring.  Despite the popular trend to expose all hardwood, our family room has a very thick carpet over the hardwood. (I wonder how many times I can squeeze the word 'hardwood' into this paragraph!)  I LOVE carpet.  What's better than a cozy room with carpeted floors?  Call me old school.  Call me outdated.  I've been called worse.

Please understand, there is not enough space on our furniture for all of our family members to sit.  Bodies strewn across the floor while we watch a movie or a sporting event is our norm.  Great carpet is paramount to our family's comfort level.  Never mind carpet absorbs sound.  The Shenanigans are a loud breed.  Trust me.  

I've been freaking out a bit about getting the floors refinished - not replaced, just refinished.  Everything on the first floor needs to be moved into the family room, the mudroom, the downstairs bathroom, or the garage.

I look around and my eyes bulge out when I realize how much crap we pulled out of the kitchen cabinets.  It was deposited in little boxes, in piles, or spread across the dining room table.  Everything is on display as if we are hosting a flea market of shit no one wants to buy.  
This is just the stuff that was in my kitchen desk.

Our  makeshift kitchen in the dining room.











The task of shuffling the kitchen cabinet explosion along with EVERYTHING resting on the floor in the study closet, the junk in the living room end tables, and the breakable Waterford in the dining room china cabinet gives me a wave of panic.  People - I do not panic.  It is not my thing.  I may swear a blue streak because I am blessed with an Irish temper, but I am not prone to panic.

Lad's room with temporary additional seating.
Boxes full of kids' artwork, favorite school
papers, and believe it or not - hair. 
I often tuck hair into a baggie with the date
after a first haircut, but it is just so damn
hard to throw away Curly's beautiful
locks after a haircut. 
She's got enough to create a wig someday.  





















Study closet - floor space cleared . . . no small task.






The contractor hasn't been able to pinpoint a date when I need to clear the floors.  I have been begging for a date.  Without concrete information, I am fearful of a last minute 'get out' request.  Will they do the floors on a Friday, when I don't babysit?  I've warned my Mom and Dad that we will most likely show up and hope to hunker down at their house when we get ousted from ours.  Mom was less than excited.  My folks live a few minutes away.  We haven't stayed with them since Laddie was a one year old and we had a few weeks 'layover' between our condo selling and our newly purchased first house being vacant.

Shower working to store my photo albums plus!
The end of last week and part of the weekend was devoted to the shuffling process.  My first floor shower, which is rarely used (unless we are all attending an event like Christmas mass and no one thought to allow enough time to stagger showers) has taken on most of the photo albums from the study closet and the living room end tables.  I have a ton of photo albums.  If some wise-ass turns on the water in the shower-turned-storage-unit, I will lose my mind.

I'm gradually tackling this overwhelming job.  I would rather not just toss stuff around only to stick it right back where I found it.  Whenever possible, I am organizing and eliminating.  Reggie asked when the floors were getting done as he lugged memory boxes filled with kids' school papers to the upstairs hallway.  'I think in a few weeks,' I informed him. 

He was outraged that we were ALREADY starting this project.  Clueless.


October 15, 2017

spare flute #2

I know this place is a chain,
 but just in case you had never
heard of it - this is a legitimate music store.
I am feeling like a bad mom because
I have no pictures of my kid participating
in marching band - so all you get is the
 music store letter head.  
We ended up securing a loaner flute for Tank after he busted his hours before a busy marching band weekend.  Coach picked up the loaner flute at Quinlin and Fabish on his way home after work and met Tank at the high school just before the home game started.

We watched the game, and scanned the band members during the half time show.  Short kid with glasses, short kid with glasses, short kid with glasses, tall kid without glasses who towered over the short kids with glasses.  Tall kid was playing a flute . . . aha, there's our kid.  When we met his at the car later, Tank described the crazy, chaotic band room after the game.  

At home I gathered some snacks for Tank to pack in his drawstring bag.  The next morning at 5 am this freshman had to report to the high school for a band trip to Northern Illinois University.  I gave him $20 for food at the concession stand.  Tank set his alarm and I set mine.  

Ungodly early the next morning, my alarm went off.  Tank's didn't.  He had set it for pm instead of am.  I reached up into the top bunk and shook him awake.  Tank couldn't remember where he put his bag of snacks.  Eventually, he found it.  Coach decided to drive him - I crawled back into my bed. 

I was still awake when Coach returned.  He was shaking his head.  Tank had forgotten the cash I gave him.  Fortunately the stars aligned and Coach who could be voted 'most-likely-not-to-carry-cash' had cash in his wallet.

After I got a bit more sleep, I stumbled down the stairs and discovered that I had a text message.  From Tank.  'I got here and opened my flute case and my flute isn't in it.'

WHAT?!  Who does that?  Who wakes up before 5 am, misplaces their snack bag momentarily, forgets to bring his cash supply, requires a parent to drive him to the high school, and drives for hours to a destination WITHOUT A FLUTE!!!!!!

I called him.  He explained that in the mayhem after the game the night before, he put his flute on a shelf.  Before they left for the college visit that am, he grabbed it but apparently never loaded it into the case.  Now he was a long way away with no instrument.  Again, with the flute shortage. 

A friend had informed me the day before, shortly after Tank's initial flute issues were resolved, that her daughter's flute was in storage until the next daughter began lessons.  I could borrow it anytime.  Neither of us expected my flute begging phone call to happen so soon. 

I texted Tank and asked him to ask the other band members if anyone's parents were coming out to the game.  I really didn't want to spend my Saturday driving out to NIU and back.  And believe me, I was comfortable with this nightmare turning into one of those life lessons for Tank.  If I could work out the logistics, fine.  Otherwise he was going to have to suffer thru a long band event with nothing to blow his hot air into.

Sure enough, Tank learned that neighbors were driving out to the game later to watch their son who was also in the band.  

Here's part of a band email - looking for volunteers.  Standing outside in questionable weather doesn't thrill me, so I hesitated to volunteer for outdoor snack distributor during half time.  I mean Lad just retired from football.  We have kids in Irish dancing, water polo, swim team, basketball - all indoor sports.  Notice a trend?  I do NOT enjoy dealing with the elements to cheer on a kid, even if I am crazy about my kid.  We do still have soccer players and golfers, but high school golfers don't expect me to follow them around a course.  It didn't occur to me that Tank's band involvement would land me back to the bleachers at dreaded football games until the first home game.  Foiled!
I picked up borrowed flute #2 and approached our neighbor's house.  It was still early.  The husband got in his car and saw me wave to him.  He thought I was just being friendly -perhaps on a morning jog.  He looked a tad startled as I continued to approach his car - as if I was threatening his personal space.  Did I mention-it was early?  Apparently too early for me to be acting as if we were about to have a friendly neighborly chat.

I do bake cookies to thank people,
but I think Tank is the one who owes
 the thanks here!
Since I hadn't bought tickets to attend the NIU game, I had glossed over those band emails.  (As it happens, I will do just about anything these days to not have to read an entire band related email).  I was unclear what time the game was supposed to start, so I didn't know if this neighbor was departing for NIU at that particular moment.  Nope, he was just dropping a younger son off at a boy scout commitment.  They planned to leave for the college game around noon.

I texted Tank and let him know their ETA.  I informed him that it would be his job to locate them - not the other way around.  He believed that he would only miss one practice, but would be able to participate in everything else.

I tucked my cape back inside of my purse until the next time Tank's executive functioning problems interfered with life and I needed to play the hero.  Oh, and Tank had suggested in one of his text messages that I bake cookies for Mrs. Neighbor.  Really?  I should bake them cookies.  I feel like maybe I had done enough.

He texted me a few hours later.  'Can I text Mrs. Neighbor and ask her what time they are going to get here?'  Without hesitating, I texted him back: 'NO!'  

October 13, 2017

unbend this

Tank is our first kid to participate in high school marching band.  Eddie referred to Tank's choice as social suicide.  I know there are great kids in band.  I'm hoping Tank finds a group of great kids to befriend.  I told Eddie to zip it, because, hey - to each his own.

So, being a newbie band parent, I was a little surprised this summer to discover that Tank was expected to attend band camp.  Mandatory.  Yikes.  That was tough.  Tank runs a landscaping business and caddies during the summer - not to worry, he finds plenty of free time to eat mountains of food and leave wrappers, half eaten items, and dirty socks EVERYWHERE.  He wasn't excited to miss money making opportunities, but he was committed to the band.

Imagine my surprise when the emails from the band started filling my inbox.  Fun.  I had no idea that there were fees that needed to be collected.  Band parent booster club fees.  Funds for food during band camp.  There were band shoes that needed to be purchased.  They suggested the students look thru a box of used band shoes.  I laughed.  Doubting there were any size 15 band shoes floating around, I wrote a check for new shoes and begged Tank not to lose it.  

A few weeks after school started I learned that Tank needed to attend a band competition.  An entire Saturday blown.  Ouch.  Fortunately he relieved Coach and I from the duty of watching the aforementioned band competition.  So, this kid isn't all bad.

On a Friday afternoon a few weeks after Tank sacrificed his Saturday to compete with the band, he texted me from school.  'I dropped my flute during practice and it's bent.  I need it this weekend.  Please come and get it.  Take it to be fixed.'

It was true - he did require a flute.  This was hours before the kickoff of a weekend chock-full of band events.  I didn't even know where to take it.  I texted back, 'Can you still play it?'

'No.  It got bent.'  Yes, you mentioned the bending part, but can't you just bend it back?  I didn't actually type that.  I thought it though.  I didn't know if a place could fix a bent flute on the spot.  Can they just bend it back?  Can I just bend it back?  That might save a lot of trouble.  In the end, I thought best to borrow an unbent instrument and figure out a repair later.

My brother (click here to learn about my brother and his Irish music background, and well -more) explained that his concert flute was way too old for Tank to use.  He usually plays his Irish wooden flute.  He suggested that Tank ask his band director for a loaner or a spare part to substitute for the bent part.  See, I don't do 'instrument' talk, so this made sense to me.  I texted Tank to try that angle.  

Eventually I texted Ed, aka Tank's after school chauffeur.  I told him to drive Tank to Quinlin and Fabish.  We rent a fiddle from there, but I didn't realize until I did some investigating that they repair instruments - even those that they don't rent out.

Ed was overjoyed with this assignment.  He vented at me about how this flute ordeal was cutting into his Friday night plans.  It was 3:05. 

I'm a bad band parent - I don't even have a photo of my kid playing in the band.  I have no photo of the bent flute -I'm guessing Eddie would'be been happy to oblige if I had asked him to photograph the broken instrument before he dropped it off to be fixed..  This music stand and music books in our basement are the only evidence that I have to prove I have a kid who plays flute.  
The boys came home from the Quinlin and Fabish store without a flute.  Not surprising - the store kept Tank's to be fixed -  no on the spot repairs.  The band director didn't have a spare flute, so he tossed Tank a piccolo to borrow for the weekend.  Tank opened that case and gave it a whirl.  I begged him to put it away and NEVER, EVER make that kind of sound in my presence again. 

The home football game was a few hours away and Tank was supposed to march with the band.  The next day Tank was scheduled to travel to Northern Illinois University with the marching band to march during half time. 

If we didn't come up with a flute, maybe Tank couldn't attend the NIU event?  What a pity that would be . . . Coach and I were expected to get him to the high school at 5 am to allow the buses enough time to get to NIU.  Maybe I wasn't cut out to be a band parent.


October 11, 2017

Tank - visiting the dog house, his favorite hangout

As I mentioned the other day, Tank made me late for Reggie's soccer game.  I rarely watch an entire soccer game, but that's not the point.

Perhaps my need for organization in the kids' bedrooms stems from the current disaster area status of our first floor.  If you read my blog regularly, you know that order is not a standard in our home.  Dealing with a small bump out and a kitchen remodel has brought our state of disarray to a whole new level.  (even though this level was a choice we knowingly entered).  While I am wired to handle chaos and messy surroundings, this kitchen project has tested my tolerance . . . big time.

It's been hard to vacuum the kids' rooms lately.  The process of dumping clean laundry on the floor and picking thru it as one dresses in the morning has been perfected by my 14 year old son, Tank.  Unfortunately, he is not alone.  The others cover their tracks better.  Once I hound Tank about cleaning his room, he collects the mixture of clean and dirty laundry from the layers on the floor and tosses it unceremoniously into the laundry room.  I hate preparing to wash clothes when they are already folded.

I insisted that Tank be present while he and I sort his clothes into piles of:
     A.  clothes that no longer fit (a growing pile, since he is now 6 feet tall)
     B.  clothes he no longer likes
     C.  clothes he intends to wear

Complicated?  I think not.

Believe me, I had plenty of other ways to spend a Saturday morning.  At every turn, Tank disappeared from the room.  I ordered him back.  This task couldn't have been easier for him.  I held up items and asked whether it was A, B, or C.  In return for my time and effort, Tank rolled around on the floor moaning as if I was preparing to remove his internal organs thru his nose.  The thought crossed my mind.

Reggie was in their small room sorting his own clothes at the same time.  This may not have been the most well planned organizational system ever, but I was hoping the three of us in one space could kill two birds with one stone.  Perhaps the word 'kill' is a poor word choice when referring to time spent cleaning up my boys' room.

I was busy folding shirts into neat stacks, when I heard Reggie mumbling to himself.  'What's the problem, Reg?' I asked.  'I just had all of my clothes right here in a pile on the floor and now they are gone.'

Tank was sitting on the floor looking at his phone.  Um, hello?  I opened one of Tank's overstuffed drawers.  Low and behold, there was Reggie's pile.  In an effort to 'be done', Tank had scooped up everything on the floor and stuffed it into his drawer.  Right under my nose!  And my children wonder why I am a screaming lunatic.

Anytime I sent Tank to another room, he failed to return.  'Tank, go put these two sweatshirts in your mudroom locker.'  I repeated the direction multiple times.  Our house isn't that big, but he did get lost.  When Coach and I hollered for him, he claimed he was hanging the sweatshirts in his locker just as he was told.  How could that quick task turn into a 15 minute project?

I know - so distracting it's hard to  notice the two sweatshirts
tossed on the chair in the upper left corner.
Oh, I discovered the answer the next day.  Tank had obviously gotten sidetracked by food.  A common disorder among teen boys, I suppose.  Still- unacceptable!  Both sweatshirts were tossed on the floor in a corner of the dining room - where we currently have a mini-kitchen setup due to the construction.  They landed no where near his locker.

I begged Coach to get in Tank's face.  My threats weren't registering.  I needed reinforcements.  Coach got upset.  Tank moved a tad faster.  'Tad' might be too generous a term.

Reg wrapped up his portion of the clothes (now that they had been removed from Tank's over-zealous clutches) and raced off to his game with Coach.
He obviously hasn't opened this drawer since
our  my work.  It's too neat.  Cold
weather is coming and sadly, he will
 eventually open his long sleeves drawer.

Tank's portion of the job wasn't quite complete when he announced that he needed a ride to the high school.  The marching band was attending a performance at a college a few hours away.  Last I heard the band members were expected to report to the school at 1:30.  It was noon.

Apologies for not taking a before pic. 
This is a few weeks later -
Reggie's shelves are neat and Lad's are a little
messed up, but nothing crazy. . . yet!











I could've signed up to have 'reminds' sent to my phone in the form of text messages from the band director.  I passed on that opportunity.  Tempting as it was.

I had no other information to go on.  Tank insisted that the band director decided that they needed to leave earlier.  Looking back, I probably should've asked to look at the departure change text that he claimed was on his phone.  Instead, I dropped Tank off at the high school and headed over to Reggie's game.  Late.

That night when the bus was incredibly late returning from the band event, a neighbor (not Mary Ann - so many Mary Ann posts, it was hard to choose which to highlight here) texted me.  She receives the band 'reminds' and she got a text that the bus was going to be later than anticipated.  We owed her a favor, so I offered to bring her son home when we got Tank.

That's when I thought to ask her, 'Hey, did the bus really leave around noon today?'  Nope.  The band bus departed at 1:30 as originally planned.

Yep, that's right.  My snake of a son would rather sit in an empty school for over an hour than assist me in organizing his closet and drawers.  OK, so he's not a snake.  He's a dog . . .who loves the doghouse.

(As an aside, tonight I picked Tank up from his work on the school's play - he is doing technical stuff.  Our conversation made me think that perhaps my blog should be re-titled 'Life with Tank' . . . stay tuned for more Tank stories in the near future).








October 9, 2017

Which coach is my Coach?

I got to Reggie's soccer game late yesterday - thanks to Tank.  I have no problem arriving late or even missing some of my kids' sporting events.  It's the way it goes.  I wasn't fuming over being a tad late.  Tank WAS in the dog house though for what he did to make me late.  When I arrived just after the first quarter, something odd happened.

I couldn't identify which of the coaches on the sidelines was Coach.  Coach is coaching Reggie's soccer team.  He is coaching Curly's team as well . . . thus the title assigned to him for my blog.  In the morning I attended Curly's game.  I didn't really remember what Coach was wearing, but it was a bit breezy out in the morning and he had been sporting a navy jacket.

I typically sit in the bleachers and chat with other parents while managing to stay tuned into Reggie's action on the field.  I rarely shy away from a social opportunity, and I'm always glad to see another parent that I enjoy talking to during the game.

I was describing Tank's latest infraction to another parent.  When I glanced across the field, I paused.  There was another man standing on the opposite sidelines near the other coaches.  I hesitated, because I thought I had already identified Coach as the tall, skinny guy talking to a few kids further down the field.  Now this other tall, skinny guy caused me to do a double take.

The other mom who was learning all about life with Tank commented that the other team's coach was built an awful lot like Coach.  They both were wearing khaki shorts and a tan baseball hat.  The one that we thought was the other team's coach was wearing a navy jacket.  That was what was throwing me off.  I thought for sure that he wasn't my husband, but Coach had been wearing a navy coat that morning.

This field is hardly an Olympic size stadium.  We were sitting on standard bleachers not far from the sidelines at a field behind a local junior high.  The row of family members sitting in portable chairs was about 10 feet in front of us.  Hey, if bleachers are available I don't bother to pull a portable chair out of the trunk of my car.  I mentioned that I get there late frequently, right?  Not worth the effort to pull out a chair.  Besides, the chairs that we own are falling apart.  It takes a good deal of concentration to prop up the poles in the right corners of the broken down arm rests so that the darn thing doesn't topple over.

AND I was wearing my contact lenses.  I can't be trusted to operate a motor vehicle without my corrective lenses or eye glasses.  Arriving to the game at all would have been a Mr. Magoo caliber small miracle, if I managed to leave the house without contact lenses.

So there we sat, trying to decide which coach I was married to for 21 years.  Just as I decided that the guy in the t-shirt with no jacket was my hubby, the whistle blew for half time.  That's when the 'other coach' approached Reggie and started pointing around the field giving him soccer tips.  Now that was a new approach to coaching.

Then my mom friend alerted me that there was another coach on the sidelines standing closer to the opposing team.  Wait a minute.

Then the mystery coach in the navy jacket started to walk along the sidelines.  His mannerisms were very similar to Coach's.  By now other folks sitting in the bleachers had started to weigh in on which of the similarly dressed, tall, thin men was my husband.  Navy jacket coach continued to walk around the field towards us.  Another dad called out, 'Hey, isn't that your older son?'

OK, not my best art work.  I was obviously too lazy to grab a soccer ball from the garage, so my version is a geometric nightmare.  My apologies.  My kids had no school today, but the kids I sit for were here anyway.  It was 80 degrees out.  Tank had a doctor's appointment.  The kids had friends over.  I made a quick trip to the grocery store.  I used the gas grill for the first time ever.  I whipped up my infamous 7 layer taco dip for a Chicago Bears Monday night football block party.  I did a few load of laundry.  AND I've been without a kitchen for about 7 weeks.  Days like this the blog suffers.  I contemplated making Coach and Ed dress in their matching clothes and posing for a photo, but that was NEVER going to happen.  Oh, and I must note that no one in my family wears a baseball hat at this weird angle.  Artist interpretation - or just crappy drawing, you decide.  Wow, this caption is almost as long as an entire blog post! 
I bust out laughing.  I was slightly embarrassed.  Eddie was the dude that was dressed similarly to Coach, built the same, and carrying on with the same mannerisms.  Aha!  It made perfect sense that he had pulled Reg over for some added instruction.

That morning when Ed headed to the golf course to caddy, he informed us that there would be a 27 hold tournament.  I didn't expect to see him for hours.  Apparently, the caddy master asked him to caddy for a group that was teeing off before the tournament began.  Since he finished early he decided to come and watch a few minutes of his little brother's game.

If Ed hadn't been wearing the navy jacket, his Kelly green polo shirt that he wears as his caddy uniform would've tipped me off.  Ed is thinner and a tad shorter than his father, but I hadn't noticed just how similar Ed is to Coach now that Ed has reached 6 foot 3.  Coach is 6 foot 4.

Ed and Reggie are cut from the same cloth to a point of ridiculousness.  Now, I see that the Ed/Reggie real-live action figure is crafted exactly after their dear old Dad.

Tank, on the other hand, is most often associated with resembling his father.  If he had escaped his dog house and attended the game, he could've made the game of 'Guess who is who' on the sidelines  even more interesting.

October 6, 2017

Am I a parent standing in a forest?

glimpse of my list - not written in invisible ink, mind you!
Something is happening- or, I guess a better way to put it is that NOTHING is happening.  I mean, I guess this has been the situation for awhile.  Judging by the lack of response I get from my offspring, I fear that I have become invisible.  Perhaps I'm disappearing, but my scale tells me otherwise.  Could it be that only the neighborhood dogs are able to hear my voice?  I doubt it, since my voice is anything but high pitched.  So, I'm left to wonder . . . WHY CAN'T ANYONE HEAR ME?

Of course my issues are limited to my home.  When I am at the grocery store or my workout classes, those around me have no problem interacting with me.  They converse with me and manage not to ignore me.  Interesting.

Am I alone?  Do you also hate being tuned out in your own home?

Over the last 24 hours I feel like things have escalated.  Last night when I left to drive Curly to dancing, I left a list on the kitchen table of a few things I expected the kids to do.  I delivered audible, verbal remarks to accompany said list.  I arrived home and was instantly frustrated.

recycling overflowing - ignored by Ed.
Eddie had NOT taken out the garbage, or put the sheets back on Curly's top bunk.  I wash sheets on Thursdays (OK every other, sue me), so I washed the sheets yesterday.  I made a point to put the sheets back on Mini's bed myself.  When I climb the stairs multiple times a day, Mini's unmade bed is the first thing I see.  I am obviously NOT a neat freak, but I feel like it would take her less than 10 seconds to toss the blankets in the general direction of the pillow.  Instead, what I normally see is a giant tangle of sheets and blankets and quilt in the middle of her bed.

Mini's unmade, but better than normal bed
I have shared a bed with Mini before during a hotel stay, AND on those occasions I have feared for my life.  Knowing that she is a tumultuous sleeper, explains why her bed is always in such disarray.  Still, when I put her sheets on her bed I try to tuck the everything super tight and urge her to stay in the sheets so the morning routine is simple.  Futile effort.

At 9:30 pm after I arrived home from dancing, Eddie had to put the sheets on the top bunk for Curly even though Mini (who has an injured foot at the moment and didn't attend dancing class) was already sleeping in the bottom bunk.

This girl likes her sleep - what can I say?  She is her mother's child.  I typically make her breakfast and prepare her sack lunch for school in order to speed up Sleeping Beauty's morning routine.  Once high school comes, I will officially retire from being Mini's personal assistant.  The point is, how can she not have 10 seconds to toss her blankets across her bed when her other morning tasks are minimal?

This morning she told me her bed was made.  Imagine how annoyed I was when I saw that it wasn't actually made.  I noted that it did look better than most days, but still!  I had to pick her up during lunch for a doctor's appointment for her foot.  I glared at her, 'The bed?  You said you made it.'  She shrugged, 'Oh, yeah, but it didn't look as bad as usual, so I thought that counted.' 

Tank was supposed to unload the remaining Costco shopping boxes like cereal and paper products from the back of the Great White van.  After I hollered at Ed for no sheets, no garbage, I yelled at Tank and ordered him to get up off the couch and unload the van. 

The next morning when Coach left for work, he discovered that the garage door was left up all night and the light was on in the garage.  Way to go, Tank!  Later that afternoon when I opened the cargo doors of the van, I discovered that much of the Costco 'big stuff' that I had asked Tank to unload was still in the car.  SERIOUSLY?! 

Mini was supposed to organize the mud room - truly a tall order.  I've been trying to get kids to commit to what sweatshirts they want to keep in their locker for a few weeks.  In addition to the mud room, I requested that she link kids with hoodies and then get hoodies hung up in lockers. 

I practically tripped over the mounds of sweatshirts -divided into piles- but still on the front hall floor unclaimed.  No one is really utilizing the mudroom right now because the house is under construction and it is off the beaten path, so my front hall looks like a bomb went off.  Always.  Mini did tackle the mudroom.  There was evidence of this by the laundry basket size (oh, she didn't grab an empty laundry basket and fill it - let's not get carried away) pile of discarded clothing in the work-in-progress kitchen.  She had collected socks, boxers, shorts, t-shirts, and every other kind of clothing you can imagine . . . from the mudroom. 

Tank asked me recently if I knew where his t-shirt went from his Washington DC trip.  It could be anywhere.  Literally.  Nothing would surprise me.

I guess I need to hand out more punishments rather than tax my vocal chords any further.  No one is listening and the louder I shout, the more devoted my offspring seem to become at tuning me out.  What is the saying, 'If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?'  Is it just me, or do you feel like, 'If a parent tells a kid to do something but no one bothers to listen, is the parent standing in a forest?'  If that is the case, you don't want to be in the forest with me when my Irish temper kicks in - because I will push a tree down.  The end of my rope has been reached. 

October 3, 2017

demanding date and Ed's funding issues

Homecoming was approaching.  Ed had decided to bring a date, but hadn't decided who he would ask.  Then one night he made a poster.  Yes, I was just as surprised as you are.  In bubble letters he spelled out:  'I know on the tennis court you score lots of points, but going to homecoming with you would be an ace.'  She said yes.

That night he asked me where he could get a black suit.  The guys and all of their dates planned to  match.  Oh, hold the phone.  This is just the kind of drama this kid steers clear of.  Matching?  This isn't prom!  Cummerbums weren't necessary.  I laughed at his request.  'You have something that fits and that it what you are wearing.'  I told him if he liked he could go out and buy a black shirt or a white tie to fit the black and white color combo of his date.

A week later he asked ME if I had gotten him a black tie or a white shirt or something.  Laughter.  'No, I haven't.  If you want to shop for that shit, have at it.  We own a closet full of shirts and ties.  I'm done.'  Suddenly the tie and shirt selection that we own was acceptable.

I was preparing to drive to St. Paul, Minnesota for Irish dancing on Friday, so early in the week I called up to Eddie's room.  'I was going to order a corsage for your date, white flowers to go with your black and white theme?'  In a rare moment when he would usually respond with 'I'm doing homework.  I don't care,' he came out of his room.  His date had forwarded him a picture of what she wanted.  I had crept up part of the staircase to be closer to his bedroom door.  I almost fell down the stairs.  I wanted to whisper to him subliminally, 'Dude, this is drama - do you not get that?'

He showed me the phone.  It was white flowers.  Not sure what kind of flowers they were.  Lilies maybe, but smaller.  It was open and it had petals.  I am not a flower expert.  I stared at him in disbelief.  'How about white roses?' I asked.  'Sure, whatever, that's fine,' he stumbled.  I think he was picking up on my 'who-the-hell-is-this-chick' vibe.

I called the floral department at the grocery store.  Budget flowers are perfect for a situation like this.  I asked about the white flowers in the photo  supplied by Ed's date.  The lady wasn't sure what kind of flower I was describing.  She said they had white carnations and white roses and anything else would be a special order.  White roses, then!  I shared my 'kid's today' feelings and my disgust at the 'how about if my corsage includes these flowers' from a girl who was going to a dance with my son as a friend.  The florist and I shared a good chuckle.

How long will Ed leave his suit
in his mudroom locker?
I texted Ed to let him know that he needed to pick up his flowers at the grocery store after 11 am on Saturday.  They would be $20.  He texted back, 'Do I have to pay?'  I refused to recognize that question with a response. 

Later than night Eddie moaned about how expensive the homecoming tickets were.  $25 a piece.  I suspect that I can now update my observations of Ed's social habits to include:  #6.  Doesn't want to spend money.  Read the first 5 observations here.  (That apple doesn't fall far from the tree - I know from experience).

I texted Ed and asked him if he would buy a homecoming ticket for Tank, who was at the ortho with me during his lunch hour on Thursday.  Ed would be reimbursed.  'I barely have enough to buy my tickets,' he whined thru his text.  Need I remind you that Eddie pulls in close to $5,000 as a caddy in the summer.  Granted we encourage that money to be earmarked for his college fund, but he is allowed to spend a bit now and then.  

Neither Coach nor I attended the photo session.  Coach was teaching religious education, which is where I was supposed to be if I wasn't out of town for dancing.  Other parents took some photos and forwarded them to us. 

Ed probably wishes that I would go out of town more often - but only if I take the rest of his embarrassing family members with me.

It was 95 degrees out.  Both boys enjoyed the dance.  They both commented on how sweaty EVERYONE was in the high school's field house.  No air conditioning and the school ran out of water bottles.  Ed's suit, formerly Lad's suit, is seen in this photo hanging in his locker.  The pants are in a ball in front of the hanging jacket.  I wonder how Ed would respond if I let him handle the dry cleaning bill. 

October 1, 2017

Homecoming 2017

Eddie informed me that he was going to ask a girl to the homecoming dance.  He isn't dating anyone (never has, which is fine with Coach and I - plenty of time for that) and for the most part he is content to hang out with his buddies.  They shoot hoops, or get ice cream, or attend the high school football games, or eat at a local burrito place, or gather at someone's house for a bonfire.

I know a few things about Ed's social life
     1.  He values time with his buddies, but his commitment to sports teams and his academics comes first (not necessarily in that order).
     2.  The guys he considers hilarious are his faves.
     3.  He manages to avoid inviting anyone to our house.  EVER.  At the moment he has an excuse, because our house is under construction.  Our basement is our main living space - complete with a small functioning kitchen and a couch, a TV and a bathroom.  Typically the teenagers and their friends would gravitate towards our basement.  Not the case when the rest of the fam is hanging down there.
     4.  Ed likes to pretend that he doesn't have siblings and possibly even parents.  So our presence in a shared space with he and his friends would wreak havoc on his Oliver Twist-ish mindset.
     5.  My junior in high school has zero interest in girl drama or in girls that create girl drama or in girls that live for girl drama.  He can't be bothered. 

A spot in my laundry room where dress clothes gather.  Honestly, at the rate at which my boys grow combined with the rate at which my sister drops off unwanted sport coats from her much shorter but older kid, my dress clothes overflow could supply Reggie with a fabulous business work wardrobe should he chose to drop out of 6th grade and become a professional.  I suppose given his interest in sports, he'd be best equipped to broadcast sporting events.  My point - most of this stuff doesn't fit my three oldest boys.
Knowing that I would be out of town the weekend of homecoming, I made a point to have Ed try on dress clothes a few weeks in advance.  I was hoping that something we owned would work.  Tank expressed an interest in attending the dance as well, so while I searched for clothes for Ed, I ordered him to grab any dress pants that fit him last year from his closet.
A few stray ties still hang on the banister where Ed tried on clothes.  He so prefers to pretend he doesn't live with any of us, we aren't typically welcome in his room.  Our trying on suits and such was conducted in the hallway.
In an amazing the-stars-have-aligned moment Laddie's gray high school graduation suit fit Ed perfectly.  Ed is 6' 3".  When Lad graduated in May of '16, he was probably around 6' 2" but the suit pants were a tad long on him.  Lad was more filled out as a senior so the jacket on Eddie had a bit of room, but my son wasn't appearing in GQ.  He was just attending a dance.  Tank, who is now a little over 6 feet tall as a 14 year old stomping around in size 15 steppers, fit into a number of Ed's old dress pants.  Awesome.

Tank planned to attend the dance.  Most freshman at their school just go to the dance in a group.  They gather at a previously arranged home where a crowd of parents take loads of pictures.  Then the freshman head to the dance in a bunch of available minivans.

Aha!  More sport coats in Tank's closet.
Ed wasn't sure who he was going to ask to the dance.  I inquired a few times without being pushy.  I really didn't care who he asked.  Perhaps my children will one day thank me for not possessing the 'match-making' gene that is so prevalent from my mother's genetic pool.  I assumed he wasn't motivated by some romantic inclination.  At one point Ed said to me, 'I don't know.  Any girl I ask will say yes.'  That comment caught my attention and made me almost barf.  Ed noticed my expression, my sharply inhaled breath, and my hands clenched in tight fists.  He quickly explained himself.

He was kind of waiting to see who still needed a date.  He said the girls all wanted to go with a date.  The guys didn't really care.  So his comment really meant:  'I'm just going to take a date because I know the girls want to go with a date.'  He wasn't trying to sound conceited, so I let him live to see another day.  He figured he would just ask a girl who hung out in his group of friends.  There was a senior girl he thought of asking, but he figured she'd rather go with someone from her circle.  He continued to weigh his options and wait.

I suggested that he do his homecoming homework and find out if these girls did indeed already have a date.  He looked at me like I was insane.  Duh.  That is already factored into the equation.  I believe he asked if I was stupid.  I think the correct label for my flubbed date request of the late '80's stemmed more from inexperience than stupidity - that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  Don't make me go into it again . . . just read about it here.