November 30, 2017

vanishing act for 4 pounds of chicken

On Friday night, I made a huge dinner.  Part of my master plan included bringing meals to the Irish dancing competition on Sunday.  Last year I got stuck with hungry kids and no time to run out and get them fast food before the awards ceremony started, because Curly's competition dragged on and wrapped up just before awards.  This time I knew my new handy-dandy Stanley thermoses would save the day.

Saturday night before I went to bed insanely early in preparation for my 4:40 am scheduled wake up, I reached into the fridge to pull out the multitude of leftover honey mustard chicken.  I was going to cut up enough for the girls and I, so that it would be easy to heat up and plop into the thermos.

Imagine my surprise when I could only locate a small Tupperware container with one and a half chicken breasts in it.  Coach shrugged when I demanded to know where the rest of the chicken was. The girls and I ate an early dinner on Friday, so I wasn't home when the boys ate and stored the leftovers.

Then it became clear to me, that the boys didn't so much 'eat' Friday night . . . they scarfed.  They inhaled.  They partook in a feeding frenzy that I'm not sorry I missed.

Folks, I had prepared 4 pounds of chicken.  Laddie's big-ass appetite is away at college.  How could they have polished off that much food in one sitting?

I insisted on remaining chill for this competition, so I remained calm - slightly grumpy and fearful of the future of my grocery bills, but calm.  The girls and I would make due on less chicken.  Coach, who was supposed to feed the boys the remaining (and now non-existent) honey mustard chicken Sunday night while I was away at the dancing shin-dig could fend for himself.

November 29, 2017

stress headache - but I was trying not to be stressed!

I have almost recovered from the exhausting weekend of Irish dancing championships.  I'm getting caught up on sleep, I managed to squeeze in a couple of loads of laundry, and I have high hopes that my nagging headache will soon release me from its powerful grip.

Coach had a bad cold that started on black Friday.  It turns out that a man with a cold, who had to work like 14 hours the day after Thanksgiving followed by a shift on Saturday really can make a day feel black.  When my head started throbbing on Saturday I feared that this was the beginning of cold symptoms that he may have shared with me.  I did not want to deal with a cold while I was trying to cheer on the girls on Sunday.

So no, I didn't get the cold but the damn headache has been coming and going every since.  Mornings start out OK, but as the day wears on my eyes feel sucked into my skull and the pressure in my noggin is bone crushing.

I've had a headache like this before, but I couldn't remember at first how I survived it - or what I decided was the root of it.  I blame the distracting throbbing of my head for my memory loss here.  Since I'm married to a physical therapist, I requested constant deep massages to help relieve the pain.  And it worked . . . temporarily.  I kept wondering if I could be coming down with a sinus infection, but I never got Coach's cold.  Could severe muscle strain from a bootybarre class be to blame?  I don't do bootybarre all that often, so I thought I tensed up too much in the shoulders while I was strengthening my poor booty. 

I may not drink caffeine often, but
I need to make a mental note
 that this can help my stress headaches. 
Because, hey - life is stressful. 
I think it is remarkable that I haven't
had one for almost a year.  And to think,
I was MUCH less stressed than
normal about the dancing competition. 
I forced myself to relax, because it just isn't worth it.  
Then I remembered in a moment of clarity late last night that the last time I felt this way, I saw a doctor.  It started last Christmas and on my birthday, December 30th, I surrendered and made an appointment to seek professional help.  She thought I had a migraine headache brought on by stress.  Stress?  At Christmas?  What?  Oh, last Christmas was a doozie.  My hubby might be great at massaging muscles, when I beg enough or when I am rendered completely helpless by a horrific head ache, but he has no involvement with gifting, wrapping, buying, baking, envelope stuffing, addressing, etc.

Last year the doctor suggested I drink caffeine to get rid of my on-going headache.  Caffeine is not one of my vices, buy I got almost instant relief.

You better believe that as soon as I am out of my pajamas this morning, I am running out to get an ice cold coke.

Please stay tune for an update on how the girls did at dancing championships.  Promise to share soon . . .

November 25, 2017

Laddie's headdress photo abyss

Just showing the quarters I used
when baking pumpkin bread.
Great news:  Laddie got our care package on time.  I drove to the post office on Monday morning to  mail him the box with the 3 loaves of pumpkin bread and the fabulously hilarious Native American headdresses.  They were going to charge me $18 for 2 day service.  Perfect.  BUT - they wouldn't guarantee the 2 day deal.  What?

Well, what good is pumpkin bread and humorous Thanksgiving head-wear the day after Thanksgiving?  That just wouldn't do.

The monotone postal worker (whose face must have frozen in that pouty-puss-like expression despite her mother's constant warnings not to keep pouting or her face would stay that way . . . wait, she works at your post office too?  CRAZY!), offered to charge me $64 to overnight it.

I was babysitting for the two tykes.  Translation:  I had dragged them out of their carseats along with the box into the post office.  And I had waited in line.  And I was about to fork out 64 bucks and just chalk it up as a rookie-mom-with-a-college-kid-far-away mistake.  I would vow never to try to ship something in 2 days again.  Then I had a thought.

My friendly postal worker allowed me to step aside while I called UPS.  How was that for shocking?  UPS would ship it in two days GUARANTEED for 15 bucks.  Done.  Well, accept for the part where I had to haul my young charges and my box over there, etc.- but you get the idea.

Depending on Lad's mood, we figured he could toss our project in the trash, or he could find it funny and share it with his friends.  He seemed to enjoy the package and promised to pass the hats out at the Thanksgiving feast he and his friends were having - AND take pictures.

See - we aren't drunk when cutting
out feathers for the hats - just blurry.
We exchanged texts a few times on turkey day.  When asked about producing photos of the fanfare with the hats, he assured me he would take pictures but the hat thing wouldn't be happening until some adult beverages were flowing.  Fair enough - although we were sober when we made them and we found them very entertaining.  'Just add alcohol' - not part of the instructions.

He did make me chuckle when he texted me late in the afternoon for my yummy rice broccoli casserole recipe.  I still haven't gotten the skinny on whether or not he was trying to whip that up at the last minute, or just trying to rattle off ingredients to a female guest so he could act like he knew a thing or two in the casserole department.

Dining room table/dance supply central.
It is now Saturday evening, and still no pictures.  He swears that they wore the hats and that photos were snapped.  He is fuzzy on who used their phone to take these photos.  Adult beverages playing a role, perhaps. 

This situation is reminding me of another Laddie missing photo, and I will describe that to you in an upcoming post.  I don't have time right now because, this was supposed to be a quick update, (drum roll) . . .

Bedazzled everything - check!
Tomorrow I have two dancers competing in the Midwest Oireachtas - for those of you who care about your life savings and haven't enrolled your children in Irish dancing classes - is the Midwest Irish Dancing championships.  It is a very stressful event.  Happily it is local for us this year, but I need to leave the house at 5:30 am. - with two sleepyhead dancers in tow.  We don't expect to arrive home until after 10:30 pm.  It's only 35 minutes from our house.  Long day?  Why not?

I've been busy preparing for this day- that I dread all year.  Shining shoes, changing out laces, purchasing new bedazzled socks, packing snacks, making lists of things to remember, etc.  Enjoy your turkey leftovers, your early Christmas shopping, and your chilling out on the couch, but think of me.

November 21, 2017

Our creative yet un-x-rated headdresses

Laddie isn't coming home from school for Thanksgiving.  Flights from New York to Chicago were around $500 when I looked.  Maybe if we had looked into flights earlier, we would've found a deal.  I doubt it though.  I think that since there is less wiggle room in terms of travel dates over such a short break the prices are just high. 

Christmas break will be here in no time.  Do you recall what fun last year's Christmas break was?  I haven't.  (Ok - this is a link to a long post.  I've gotten better about this, don't you think?  Just pace yourself if you'd like to be enlightened).

Although he was invited to a friend's house in Philadelphia, he opted to stay at school and hang with some buddies who are also staying in town.  The group plans cook a Thanksgiving meal at his buddies' house off campus.  Tank expressed some misgivings about the possibility of food poisoning.  He had a good point.  Do these college sophomores know how to tell when a turkey is cooked?  I'm assuming they will be surfing the web for tips - or calling home.

I vowed to bake some pumpkin bread and ship it out to Laddie for their friends-giving.  Baking has come to a stand still around here.  I can bake in the basement, but it is a hassle.  This was going to take some effort.  I remembered on Sunday night - when I was very exhausted thanks to Christmas card creating online -that I needed to get this bread baked and in the mail the next morning. 

Exhausted as I was, I started making mental notes about how the pumpkin bread package needed to take shape quickly.  During dinner, I told Curly that I thought she could make some place-mats or Thanksgiving decorations for Lad's friends. 

Then I had an idea.

Why not make construction paper Native American headdresses for Laddie and his friends?  I texted Lad to find out how many buddies would be attending the dinner.  9.  Then the entire family stepped up.  The girls and I handled constructing long white bands with notches to fit any size noggin.  To complete the look, we taped three or more feathers to the back.  The highlight was when we brainstormed for unique native american names.  We came up with some whoppers to label each hat.
our finished work
In true Mini-me form, Mini can't spell.  Before she messed up ANOTHER headdress, I decided to google how to spell the word she was about to write.  Um, little did I know that the phrase we THOUGHT we had coined actually referenced a nasty sex act.  The description popped up on my phone screen and shocked the hell out of me!  I quickly insisted that Mini choose from the many other suggestions we had yet to utilize.

Tank was on to me . . . of course my attempts to withhold my laughter only made me burst suspiciously at the seams.  It was like being in church as a kid when a sibling makes you laugh over ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, but once you start there is no end in sight.  Holding it in only makes it worse. 

Tank was googling the phrase faster than I could beg him not to.  His eyes widened.  'Oh yeah, Mini - whatever you do - DON'T WRITE THAT!'  I imagined with horror what would have happened if we had sent the x-rated custom Thanksgiving hat to Lad's friends.  I am still quite confident that this odd dual-meaning is incredibly obscure.  I don't consider it to be mainstream enough to have offended his friends' parents, if the guys had posed for a photo showing off the hats.  But still. 

A few of the approved favorites included:  'Vaping Cow'  'Makes-Big-Dung-Piles'  'Pilgrim Hater'  'Dwight Schrute' (Tank is an Office addict)  'Chief Moon-U'  'Angry Elf'' (we are all Will Ferrell fans) 'Squaw Magnet' 'Lost-My-Loin-Cloth' and 'Dances-With-Chicks'.  We were on a roll, so we over-produced.  Translation:  these 9 guys will have plenty of hats to choose from.

The kids claimed that they hadn't seen me laugh so hard in ages.  It is true, I am often the family's Angry Elf.  I think it makes me grouchy to race to fix dinner in a constricted basement space (for the past 13 weeks!) and stumble over a pile of legos as I bolt back up the stairs because I am running late to drive some kid to an activity.  All this while knowing that I can't speed to get there. 

I will keep you posted on how our humorous gift was received.  We discussed what we anticipate Laddie's approach to be.  He might toss our treasures in the trash before he heads over to the off campus house, or he might introduce his friends to his quirky family and their twisted (but not x-rated) sense of humor.  Time will tell.  If all goes as planned, then we anticipate Lad sharing photos of he and his friends donning our creations . . . wondering which one Lad will elect to wear. 

November 20, 2017

too much?

I did end up making breakfast sandwiches.  They were met with rave reviews.  So, naturally, I made more.  Way more. 

I wasn't detail oriented enough after the first batch to realize that not everyone was a huge fan of the breakfast sandwiches.  Tank hates vegetables in his eggs.  Actually, I think he is opposed to all healthy food items in general.  Vegetables in particular.  His idea of breakfast is a donut, or maybe even 8. 

Mass production lasts longer,
so that's how I roll!
Curly and Reg usually enjoy the eggs I scramble loaded with onions, green peppers, and tomatoes.  I swear they expressed some level of interest in these new morning creations, but by the second, ultra time consuming batch they were both moaning about the veggies being mixed into the eggs.  What?!

When the floating hands on Facebook whipped up a batch, it did seem to take no time at all.  I suppose if I tried to make one pan of eggs, I could've spent a lot less time trapped in the kitchen.  Since when do I make one tray of anything?

Mini loved them.  Now, this girl doesn't really like cereal.  She's OK with a bagel, but often doesn't have enough time.  She can eat a bowl of oatmeal, but doesn't always bother.  I've been begging her to beef up her breakfast routine for ages.  Her preference:  cinnamon swirl toast.  I decided it was worth the effort to even get one kid to inhale a decent breakfast each morning.

Eddie.  I had him at 'protein.'  This kid is overly tuned into what he eats, and by default what everyone else eats.  He was most excited that there would be a steady supply of breakfast sandwiches for him to include in his 4 course breakfast routine (no exaggeration).  Coach was also pleased with the new offering.  He even fine tuned the microwave process. 

He encouraged the kids (really just Mini and Eddie, since the rest quickly turned against me and my dedicated time in the kitchen) to cook the sandwich for a minute and then flip it over and cook for another minute.  They had some issues with the English muffin becoming too soggy.  Can you hear that?  It's the violin I am playing for those gluten-eating bastards.  Soggy bread?  Sounds horrific, how do you manage?

My gluten free versions were tasty, but somewhat hard to eat without the bread.  I did my best to wrap them in the lunch meat.  My heart skipped a beat when I saw a bit of the cheese melted onto the parchment paper.  Damn how I hate to miss out on a single morsel of approved food.  The bread eaters also struggled to peel the parchment paper off of the sandwich once it was heated up.  Bits of it would get stuck to the English muffin.  (Cry me a river - what's so bad about eating bread with a smackeral of parchment paper on there?  Beats no bread at all, I say!)

So, either I misread the vibe from the family or the novelty just wore off a lot faster than I could have ever anticipated.  On the third batch, I focused on creating a few trays of eggs without any veggies.  Coach was horrified that I would cater to finicky eaters.  True, but I argued that a sandwich with eggs was better then a bagel. 

Oh, the night of 70 sandwiches was grueling!
One back-breaking night, I overdid it.  Curly helped me wrap the sandwiches in the paper.  We counted.  I had unwittingly made 70 sandwiches.  Coach asked me where I planned to store all of them.  Oh.  Hadn't thought of that. 

Those little I-don't-like-veggies-in-my-egg kids STILL turned up there noses when I subtracted the veggies.  The nerve.  There were still some rumblings about the parchment paper from my breakfast-sandwich-fan-club.

Yep, my almost 15 yr old hiding
his partially eaten sandwich under
his seat cushion.
Tank's fakeout: stepping outside
to spit out his eggs.  Trust me,
these were GOOD eggs!
One morning Coach was home.  He insisted that Tank eat a sandwich.  Let's just say it became a battle of the wills.  There may not have been egg on my face, but I later found eggs spit out on the front porch and part of Tank's bread stuck under a chair cushion.   

Thanks, Facebook for the easy recipe.

November 18, 2017

charred breakfast

My first batch of breakfast sandwiches should've gone like this:  eggs, milk, and chopped up veggies baked in a 9 x 13 pan for 30 minutes at @350.  Once the eggs were cut into squares, I would place the square, a slice of lunch meat, turkey bacon, and a slice of cheese on a toasted English muffin.  Then I planned to wrap the sandwich in parchment paper, mark what combination I made, and stuff it in a Ziploc bag.  I would repeat the entire process but leave off the bread and wrap the lonely looking, little gluten free arrangements up for my celiac self in a Ziploc bag labeled GF.  

The basement kitchen messed with my plan a little.
Yes, those black disks were English muffins before I destroyed them.  But don't those eggs look yummy?
I stuck the English muffins in the oven to broil.  That's what the recipe instructed me to do. Fun fact #2:  I am not one to improvise while cooking or baking.  A little improvisation with say a toaster might have slowed down this overall process but would've saved the bread from scorch city. 

Ironically I was upstairs checking the computer to see how long the recipe suggested that I broil these bad boys.  I think I got distracted.  Can you guess, I don't use the broiler function much? 

I struggle to cook in the basement, because much of life is happening upstairs.  I jog upstairs to deal with laundry, or check something on the computer, or holler at a few kids and I forget about the basement side of life.  That's exactly what happened here.  I guess there is a reason that the kitchen is typically the central hub of the house.  Oh, how I miss mine.

I should've snapped a picture of the seriously thick smoke when I walked back downstairs, so I could share it with you.  I guess I was too focused on the fact that the entire house was going to burn down. 

A few minutes later the head of the construction crew came down into the basement.  This was early on in the kitchen project, and he was working upstairs with the electrician.  He smelled the smoke and thought that they were responsible. 

His native tongue is Polish, and he speaks with a thick accent.  He called out to me thru the smoke, 'Ernie, is that your fault?' 

'Yes, this is my fault,' I admitted.  Turns out he was asking me if it was my food, not my fault.  Once he enunciated a bit better, I told him:  'My food AND my fault.'

Don't worry - I was bound and determined to make these damn sandwiches.  Good thing English muffins were on sale.  

November 16, 2017

fun fact about me

I rarely visit Facebook, but a few months ago I saw someone post one of those easy recipe videos complete with anonymous hands.  The floating hands were demonstrating how to create  breakfast sandwiches.  I decided to give it a try. 

Fun fact about me:  I ate the same thing for breakfast my entire childhood and a good portion of my adulthood.  Cheerios.  I even had a unique technique of absentmindedly/furiously dunking the o's in the milk before I ate them.  This became obvious when my friends poked fun at me at the dining hall in college.  Now I am requesting that you share a fun fact about yourself in my comments.  Come on - you can do it.  It doesn't have to be food-centric, but that works!

Ah, the dining hall.  Ah, college.  Why did I take for granted walking into a building where food was already prepared for me?  Where I could SIT DOWN to eat a meal AND enjoy pleasant conversation?  So what if my lack of adventurous eating habits and my cheerio dunking issues were targeted?  

Basement kitchen work area,
where the breakfast sandwiches
were about to be mass
I've outgrown my hesitation to try new food.  Remember, I hadn't tried a taco prior to college.  Another favorite past time in the dining hall was when my roomies enjoyed playing a little game of 'Have you ever eaten ______ (fill in the blank with some seriously basic food group)?'  I credit my mom's picky eating habits with the fact that so many foods were just never introduced to me.

Now that I am well aware of the benefits of a hearty breakfast, I try to encourage my offspring to ingest something decent for their first meal of the day.  I am all about protein.  Cheerios are great, but I push more than a bowl of cereal.  So these breakfast sandwiches seemed like just the thing.  According to the directions, these sandwiches could be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months.  I chuckled at the thought of anything lasting in my freezer for two months.
Coach forgot to put
 outlets in the basement
kitchen, so from this angle
you can see the microwave
set up on a toddler table in
order to be plugged in. 
It works so much better
when we don't blow a fuse
down there.  

Since being diagnosed with Celiac disease, I try to stretch out my available eats for as long as possible, so I don't run out of options too early.  I don't know about you, but I dislike going to bed hungry.  I can always resort to eating ice cream (not cookies and cream or anything crazy good like that, but still).  Filling up on ice cream can get ugly really fast though.  I start my day with gluten free oatmeal, and I typically have eggs late morning. 

The thought of stockpiling an easy egg food creation in the freezer was enticing.  I thought:  hey, maybe I won't be scramblin' to whip up eggs on a busy morning.  (get it!?)

Photos of my breakfast sandwich making ordeal to follow, but first a fun fact about Y-O-U!  Come on - you promised. 

November 14, 2017

Are they saying what I think they are saying?

 So when we last met, I had just seen stars, remember?

As Mini and I rushed out of the dancing studio, I called a restaurant near home.  I asked them to make me an omelet.  'I'll be there in 10 minutes!'  I've been really busy lately and I am out of my breakfast sandwiches - explanation of these gems is coming.  No time to scramble eggs.  A salad for lunch is my standard, but I knew that I would not be able to come up for air, let alone a salad, as I shoveled stacks of clothes and chachkies out of the cleaners' way - not to mention all of the crap that landed upstairs when the floors were refinished.  It was a shit-show.

Big Mama needed to eat.  I didn't have a good gluten free option for dinner last night, and I almost gnawed my own arm off before bed.  Lesson learned.

I inhaled most of my eggs, and hadn't even removed my coat when the professionals marched in.  I begged Reggie, who was mostly better, to assist me -somehow.  Mini was aware of the mission, because I had been obsessing over it on our way home.  I had also been praying that my eggs were ready when we pulled up to the restaurant.

It didn't take long before I was dripping in sweat.  Why had I not moved some of this shit out of the way before?  What was wrong with me?

Exhibit A:  there was a bin of clothes hangers on the laundry room floor - partially blocking the laundry room entrance.  I think I've been tripping over it since the beginning of the summer.  When I reorganized the laundry room, I hauled it down off of a high shelf to make room for Curly's future wardrobe bins.  I used to run a garage sale for the kids' Catholic school.  I ended up with this bin of hangers (and lots of crap the kids grabbed hold of) . . . um, years ago.  I had already selected the hangers that I wanted to keep.  Why, oh Lord, WHY, had I not ditched it earlier?

I summoned Reg upstairs.  'Haul this bin out to the dumpster (see that, we have a dumpster - so there really is no excuse!) - toss the hangers and bring me back the bin.  In less than 2 minutes, I had an empty bin to work with AND a clear path to the laundry room.  Of course said bin had no lid, but beggars can't be choosy.
I'm convinced that I would 
have a better handle on the scum 
in our house, if I had the correct 
equipment.  A step stool.  Brilliant!  
And a nifty cleaning supply caring thingy.  
Definitely this is why I fall short.

Ah, and a real feather duster.  
A bit more official than 
dusting with Coach's old
ripped up t-shirts.

Just the day before, I had started to organize the girls' closet.  Oh, the timing.  We didn't get very far - just the dumping phase.  Dumping bins, clearing shelves, making piles.  An able bodied person couldn't walk into their room without fear of life or limb.  The other rooms that were in serious disarray had no such excuse.  Lots of paperwork type stuff that I didn't want to lose track of landed in a corner of my bedroom.  Now I found myself jamming it into various drawers and on shelves in my closet.  I kept calling out to the children asking them to witness my panic-mode-stuffing system.  I ordered them to help me remember my new not-so-intricate filing system.  Yeah, great plan.  A few of these kids were delirious with fever and stomach pains, but I'm sure they were completely tuned into my need for backup memory help.
I was entirely too frazzled to snap a photo of the mayhem created in the girls' room when we rearranged their closet.  I know you're broken hearted to have missed that scene.  I'm proud to share this gem though.  The finished product.  I'm trying to avoid getting too excited.  I know from experience . . .  it won't last.
I had forgotten what color the tile
floor was in our laundry room. 
During my sweat fest, I managed to clear the
counter-top in there.  I had given up hope
 that it was possible.  Just what I needed -
a small army of workers speaking in
their foreign tongue about me
 and no doubt judging
me as I struggled to keep up with them.

The staff of cleaners never hesitated to plow right thru the rooms and get to work.  They spoke to one another in Spanish.  Between delivering commands to Mini, I asked her if she could understand what they were saying.  I mean, she's had a little over a year of junior high Spanish.  Let's see her put that knowledge to work, damn it.  She couldn't decipher their speedy conversation.  I assume it was something along the lines of:  'These people live like filthy animals.'  I would've agreed with them.  Honest.

The house looks AMAZING!  I should invite people over or something.  But alas, the pukers.  They are recovering.  As I draft this, they've moved into the sips of vitamin water, popsicles, and dry toast phase.

The cleaning crew hadn't been gone for more than an hour before the carpeted basement floor was littered with discarded popsicle sticks.  Does anyone know how to say 'filthy animals' in Spanish?

November 13, 2017

When the gift horse's mouth spits at you

Such exciting news must be shared.  The contractor paid to have a cleaning service clean our house Friday.  Typically this happens at the very end of the job.  It's funny to say 'end' and 'job' in the same sentence.  Could it happen?  On Wednesday we will have been without a kitchen for 12 weeks.

Anyway, they decided to give our house an additional, earlier cleaning.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe they felt bad for creating so much dust.  Maybe there was guilt that the job is dragging on for so long.  Maybe they noticed that our house has a built-in disaster area component, and they recognized it as a cry for help.  Not wanting to ask a dumb question, and certainly not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, I just said, 'Awesome!'

So, the timing was both good and bad.  How great to have a cleaning service right after I had so many kids puke!  I did scrub those bathrooms, but another round of cleaning wasn't a bad thing.  Besides, these people are professionals.

I don't usually babysit on Fridays, but of course I was asked weeks ago to sit on Friday the 10th and I agreed.  My grade school kids were also off of school, which didn't really feel like a day off because they were home sick anyway.  The biggest barfer of all, Tank, was home from high school, too.  So the down side to getting the house spic and span was that there were so many additional bodies to deal with.
Exhibit A:  This is Curly, who slept on the basement floor while her room was being serviced.
I requested that they start in Eddie's bedroom, so I could put a tot in there to nap the instant they were done.  In order to stay one step ahead of the cleaning crew, I had to usher the sickos from various rooms despite their lack of energy.  Tank was sound asleep in my bed when they started cleaning my room.  He had so many blankets piled on that they didn't even notice him at first.  Since he wins the prize for the highest number of hurls, he could barely walk when I dragged him back to his room.

Before they arrived, there was some confusion about what was getting cleaned.  Originally I thought they were going to only clean the rooms adjacent to the construction zone.  The family room took the hardest hit.  Don't get me wrong, that drywall dust was EVERYWHERE - it did not discriminate.  Earlier in the week, the head construction guy told me they would clean the first floor.

While Mini was dancing her butt off
at her private lesson, I ran
to the grocery store to purchase the
sick kid necessities:  vitamin water,
Popsicles, bananas, bread
 (for dry toast -yum), and chicken noodle soup.
I took Mini to a private lesson for Irish dancing in the morning because Midwest championships are in two weeks.  Curly was supposed to split the hour lesson, but the timing of her stomach bug eliminated her from participating.  While at dancing, I texted the kitchen designer about the cleanup.  She informed me that it would not be limited to the first floor, but the hired service would include the entire house.

Just the day before I took one for the team, and emptied the girls' closet.  Stacks of clothes everywhere.  We were mid-way thru the process of determining what fits who, what is worth saving, and how tight skinny jeans can be before they become um, offensive.  For Curly, it was like Christmas morning as she dug thru the bins of Mini's former wardrobe.  Mini sat and commented on EVERY item:  'Oh my gosh, I wore that in 6th grade and it already fits her?!'  (Curly is in 4th grade and now wears a size 12 jeans).  Mini has always been crazy tall.  Lately Curly has reached freak-of-nature-tall status.

Who was going to clear a path for the hired crew?  They were supposed to arrive about 30 minutes before I would return from this confound-it dance lesson.  My head was spinning.

Folks, I saw stars . . .

(I'm not really trying to create a cliff hanger here, but this post got to be too lengthy, so I am sharing the conclusion with you tomorrow.  I urge you to check back to see how I survived trying to make the best of this amazing opportunity -short of tossing our hard-earned clutter out on the lawn.  I have pictures!  I'd love your feedback - leave me a comment and let me know:  would you prefer a marathon post, or a two-day deal like this?)

November 10, 2017

found time

What do you do with extra time on your hands?  

First, there was the additional hour gifted so generously by the time change.  That seems like forever ago, right?  I'm all adjusted now, but for a few days it threw off my sleep patterns like I was a two year old.  I was awake at 4 am on Monday.  Coach's alarm went off and I sprung out of bed ready for the day.  

As an aside . . . I agree, it is crazy that my husband wakes up at 4 am.  His commute is less than 7 minutes, and it takes him less than 20 minutes to get ready for work.  I know what you are thinking, because I've puzzled over the same thing.  Are there really patients in need of physical therapy before 5 am?  The answer is 'NO'.  He does get a few patients showing up insanely early, like 5:30 or 6.  He goes to work in the middle of the night when his schedule isn't overflowing with patient care to address his managerial non-patient crap.  Yes, I consider leaving for work before 5 am the middle of the night.  Duh.  

I discovered a stockpile of eggs - evidence that
I am not keeping up with my usual baking. 
This photo doesn't include the two cartons
I decided to scramble for breakfast.
The four identical and mostly
empty salad dressings have been dealt
with prior to the fridge photo shoot.  
Oh, how accomplished I felt by the time the kids left for school on Monday.  I wasted no time and cleaned out the basement fridge.  This was quite an undertaking.  Living with two kitchens set up on two different floors has been nothing short of chaotic.  It is quite easy to lose track of food when operating out of two fridges.  To clarify, I always operate out of two fridges.  One is typically more of the family 'cow' if you will.  It's where I keep our 6 gallons of milk for the week.  I won't gross you out with some of the treasures I stumbled upon in my long-overdue fridge clean out.

I love how the floors turned out!
Since we returned to our home after the floor refinishing ordeal, I have chosen NOT to reconstruct the kitchen in the dining room/living room area.  Those rooms looked so pristine. I couldn't bring myself to introduce boxes of cereal, a toaster, cutting boards, a vinyl backed tablecloth, and dozens of abandoned plastic cups.  I banished all eating to the basement mini-kitchen.  Translation:  I needed the basement fridge to function.  The formerly 'main' fridge is now located in the family room instead of in the corner of the dining room.  It's become the 'cow'- storing our milk and crock pots.  I'm trying to avoid having it serve in a mainstream fashion, because my kids drop things out of the fridge every hour like clockwork.  Um, the family room is carpeted.  No thanks.  

Once the fridge was organized . . . a  real shock to my system, I washed all of the dishes.  Then I decided to make bacon and eggs.  I knew the kids might think they had been delivered to an alternate universe when they woke up a few hours later (like normal people enjoying the gift of an extra hour of sleep), because while I am able to cook in the basement it isn't a regular occurrence.  
We rarely eat at this basement table,
because it's where we dry our dishes.

I just realized, I still haven't shared with you the breakfast sandwich adventure I launched early on in our kitchen-less state.  I promise - that is coming.  I guess I got sidetracked when I felt compelled to report about the puke, the floors, and my family dynamics.

When Reggie started throwing up at 4:20 am yesterday, I found myself wide awake once again.  There was an entire week between when Mini, Eddie, myself, and my Mom were sick, so this was unexpected.  I assume he dragged this delightful stomach bug home from school on Wednesday night.  The kids had no school on Thursday (yesterday) or today, so he doesn't even get to miss school.  Instead he is missing one of his good friend's birthday party/sleepovers.  Yes, there were tears.  

I got Reg comfortable, and decided to clean the bathrooms.  Another great way to spend a few hours early in the morning.  Tank, Curly, and Coach were the only family members still standing strong against the bug.  I was hoping to cut this thing off in its tracks.  
These guys failed me.
No such luck.  Tank started throwing up at 2:30 am THIS MORNING.  Unable to go back to sleep after he popped into my room to share the latest puke update, I decided writing would be a great use of this legitimate middle of the night free-time.  

Of course Coach scooted out of the house at 3:00 am yesterday (an hour and 20 minutes before Reg hurled, in case you are counting) to catch a flight.  He is in Arizona for 4 days at a conference.  He wanted me to go.  Since the grade school had a four day weekend, I had to pass.  I couldn't pawn the kids off on friends for a four day weekend.  Damn it.

Oh yippee, Curly just burst out of her room sobbing (it's now 4:20 am).  She is the last kid to fall to the bug.  This actually comes as a relief to me.  A few days after Thanksgiving, Curly and Mini are competing in the Midwest championships for Irish dancing.  I was starting to worry that Curly would get sick closer to the competition.  Coach is the last healthy family member -unless he's losing his lunch in his Arizona hotel.  

Maybe for the rest of my non-sleeping, free-time, I will just sit in the bathroom holding Curly's hair back and think about Arizona.  

November 9, 2017

Glacier whitewater could've been a fall from grace - oh, wait - what grace?

In case you need to catch up, my family stayed at my folks' house while our floors were being refinished.  We ended up getting a stomach bug while we were there.  I'm not at all surprised that my siblings didn't call to inquire how we were doing . . . but as a middle child I am forever looking for opportunities to over-share how annoying my siblings can be.  Here's my chance.

A few years ago, my brother, Pat, and his four kids traveled to Yellowstone.  My dad went with them.  Pat's wife stayed home to work, because she couldn't take off additional time from work.  Their family was planning to visit her family in Ireland later in the summer.  

On the second day there, my dad agreed to go on a horse trail ride with my 11 year old niece.  Pat's other kids were too young to go, and Pat is very allergic to animals.  They decided it would be easier for Pat to stay back and entertain the other kids during the one hour ride.  Dad's horse got spooked in the yard when they arrived back at the barn.  He was thrown from the horse and almost killed.  His leg snapped off at the hip and he required surgery to reattach it.  In addition, he suffered six broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and a brain bleed, which was dangerous because he is on blood thinners for leukemia.  

This is the same stable where my dad was thrown from his horse. 
I took this photo back in 2010 when Coach and I camped out with the kids in Yellowstone.  First time ever camping.  Real smart.  That's a blog post all in itself.  Another time, perhaps.
It was a very scary time.  My dad, who was 76 at the time, shocked all of the doctors by making great strides and recovering so quickly that he was able to fly home a few weeks later with the help of my brother, Mike.  He stayed in various rehab facilities for about 4 more weeks before he could go home.  Today he walks without a cane and has recovered completely.

This stressful event revealed some interesting dynamics.  Marie acted as if HER father had been seriously injured and the rest of us were all just well-intentioned neighbors who were showing up now and then to offer our support.  It was nauseating.   

At one point several weeks after the accident, Pat sent out a group email during his family's trip to Ireland to ask for the number for the cell phone that we bought dad.  Pat wanted to call Dad at the rehab place.  Marie emailed him the number.  She also informed him that she called Dad each night at 6:00 pm.  Dad would be expecting her call.  In other words, Pat would not only need to consider the time difference before he placed his call, he would be expected not to interfere with Marie's reserved phone call time slot.  Someone felt like 'the chosen one.'  Oh, believe me Marie was given every bit of encouragement that she was in fact 'the chosen child'.  Well, the chosen daughter anyway.

Pat, on the other hand, has always been the chosen son. He and I are Irish twins.  His arrival marked the introduction of a male heir.  In an Irish family.  Need I go on?  He kicked me off the throne before my first birthday and has been ruling the roost ever since.   

Pat brought Dad to Yellowstone, witnessed his horrible accident, but rose to hero status in the process.  Incredible considering this brother of mine already walked on water in the eyes of my parents.  Who knew his position could be elevated?

Our tame and thankfully uneventful white water rafting adventure.
I found it interesting and mildly entertaining (it would've been more entertaining had the circumstances been different) to observe Marie and Pat try to jockey for position as the favorite of the favorites.  As a nurse, Ann was involved in my dad's health issues from the get-go.  She didn't need to maneuver for position in the sibling hierarchy because as a single mother, my parents are rarely without her influence.  She christened them her support system forever ago.  So, she too is in like Flynn.  Not necessarily as the chosen one, but as the offspring most in need of them.  My youngest brother, Mike, and I manage to enjoy our peripheral position orbiting all of the nonsense.  I insist that Mike has a leg up on me, because he is after all a male.  In an Irish family.  Are you catching on to the pattern here?

A few weeks prior to this Yellowstone visit, Dad accompanied Coach, the kids, and I to Glacier.  What can I say, the man is a national park junkie.  Anyway, Coach and I agree that had Dad been thrown off the raft during our white water adventure and received any kind of injury, I would've been lynched.  Hours after learning of Dad's accident, Marie referenced this possible scenario. 

Me:  'I'm so glad nothing like this happened when Dad insisted on going white water rafting with us in Glacier.' 

Marie:  'Oh, I know.  Mom and I were so upset that you took Dad white water rafting.'  Oh, the thought of their discussion of my involvement in Dad's white water rafting choice burned me up.  I loved this little private tribunal that was not shared with me until now.  

Newsflash:  Dad makes his own decisions.  He was not part of the reservation that I made.  He brought a book to the place making us believe that he would read while we rafted.  Then, as my family selected our scuba suits he registered himself.  Never mind
, the white water was very tame at this location.  I think the time of the year had something to do with it.  The woman behind the counter insisted that he would be fine - she kept reassuring me as I argued with Dad that he need to sit and read his Agatha Christie book.  

So, while I'm thankful and relieved that Dad wasn't seriously injured while vacationing with us, I know that I wouldn't have been raised up to prominent status as a result.  

I suspect strongly that my siblings, who haven't called me since the stomach bug sharing that went on last week at my folks' house (although they don't reach out to me regularly anyway), are rallying to get me written out of the will.  

Is a stomach bus worse than lice?  Well, who am I to judge - I mean I dragged my dad white water rafting.  The thought of lice vs. stomach bug does leave me scratching my head.  (pun intended)  

November 8, 2017

Stomach bugs and family dynamics

My family dynamic is hard to describe.  I've been married to Coach for 21 years, and he has just started to 'get it' over the last few years.  

My two older sisters are very close.  They probably speak to each other every few days.  I go weeks or longer without hearing from either one of them.  And life is fine that way.  I'm the middle child.  Or the great divide between the two sets of buddies.  My two younger brothers have a similar BFF dynamic.  Growing up we always joked that they would end up marrying twins or sisters at least.  We couldn't imagine them not living under the same roof.  

So, it isn't completely unexpected that neither of my sisters have called or texted or emailed me to ask if I felt better.  They know I was sick.  They call and talk to my mom daily.  They know my family stayed at our parents' house WHILE we were sick.  They know that my mom ended up getting sick.  They blame me.  And it IS our fault.  Had we not stayed there, my mom wouldn't have become sick.  We feel terrible.  My parents' kept telling us not to worry about it.  It wasn't intentional.  It happens.  Still.  

The night Mini got sick my oldest sister called my parents' house.  She and I spoke briefly.  'I mean, do you have dad in a different room than Mini?' she grilled me.  Oh, the tone.  I'm sorry I can't deliver that in a blog post.  Trust me, it's nasty.  Most of her sentences begin with 'I mean . . . '  I so badly wanted to respond with a sarcastic, 'No, I have him in the bathroom holding her hair back while she pukes.'  Seriously!

Several years ago, my side of the family was scheduled to have a family photo.  My sister, Marie, and her family were staying at my parents' house.  They were in town from Wisconsin.  An hour before the photo shoot was scheduled, we got word that Marie's girls had lice and the portrait would need to be rescheduled.  Marie has four girls.  Lots of hair.  Lots.  It was dreadful.  
The view from our seats at the ND game back in September 2011.
My parents' have incredibly short, to no hair at all.  They weren't worried about getting lice, but the kids had stayed at their house.  Fumigation was necessary.  Our kids had spent time with these cousins at a Notre Dame tailgate and football game the day before the lice breakout became apparent, so Mini had to go thru a precautionary kill-lice-egg-treatment ordeal.  None of us blamed Marie.  She felt awful.  We all called.  Checked up on her.  Inquired about her situation, because it wasn't easy.  She had to go home and deal with all that hair, and the bedding, and wherever else lice lay their eggs.  It was a nightmare.  
What you see here in the background is a delightful tailgate spread on a
beautiful September day in South Bend. 
Mini poses with a cousin in front of the food.  I remembered taking this photo and countless others like it, which is why I groaned the next day when I heard the 'lice' news.  Mini had to have her hair treated with the anti-lice stuff.  I was really relieved that Curly hadn't gone to ND that day.  Imagine dealing with her mop of curls?
OK, OK, I know.  I typically avoid putting photos of my kids on my blog.  I couldn't crop this face.  Just couldn't do it.  Besides this was 2011.  We were thankful not to have to rake thru this head in search of lice.  That would've been torture.
So, you get the picture?  Not just of hair and puke, but of the family dynamic here?  Just in case you don't I am posting another gem.  This next one speaks volumes to how stressful times reveal so much about a family. 

Am I alone?  Does anyone else out there have siblings who believe that they belong to a close knit family, but in reality they are only close to the family members who share their narrow mindedness and passive aggressiveness?  And who would never think outside the box?  And who don't create original thoughts?  And who don't introduce awful stomach bugs (albeit unintentionally) to their parents' home? 

OK, I'm done.  Deep breath.  

November 7, 2017

Overstaying our welcome

 I didn't feel great on Halloween.  I just thought I was tired.  Nap time at my folks house consisted of me shuffling the tots into different bedrooms so that Mini, who was home sick,  could also nap.  Left without a bedroom, I curled up on the basement couch and slept for close to 45 minutes.  I love a nap, but at times I wake up feeling a bit groggy.  I wrote my crappy feeling off as an after-nap zone that I just couldn't shake. 

My folks collect antiques.  Translation: 
tall peeps brace for discomfort sleeping here.
My head was pounding when I woke up crazy early the next morning, but I attributed that to being confined to a full size antique bed with Coach.  The foot board dipped a bit to give our feet room to protrude, but otherwise it was a tight squeeze.  Perhaps I slept a bit stiff and rigid afraid that one wrong move would land one of us on the floor.  We usually sleep in a queen, but oh, how I wish we had a king.  Coach is 6 foot 4.  When I stand up straight, which is rare - I am almost 5 foot 10.  

I ended up with diarrhea.  Coach left for work with a:  'Hopefully it is unrelated to Mini's sickness,' wish.  Ironically this was the day that I had an appointment at my gastroenterologist.  This is the doctor that first diagnosed my celiac disease.  I've been having an issue lately, and after my primary ruled out thyroid or diabetes problems, I decided to check in with this doc.  I hated to miss the appointment, and I was still hopeful that I just had the runs - not the stomach bug from Mini -so I didn't cancel.  My mom knew I didn't feel 100%, but she was hoping I would get some answers from this appointment.  She offered to let me leave the little guy with her while I went to the doctor.

I grabbed a plastic grocery bag on my way out the door.  I thought this was a good plan, but I wasn't feeling incredibly detail oriented.  I didn't stare into the bottom of the bag to check for holes.  Peering into a bag that I was maybe going to throw up into just might have induced vomit, so I failed to peer. 

I got thru the appointment, barely.  Didn't really get any answers.  Later I thought of a few other angles I wanted to discuss with him.  I was too preoccupied with thoughts of 'don't barf in here'.  He handed me a script to get more blood work done to be sure when I eat out, I am not inadvertently eating gluten.  I tired to explain how eating out for us is a rarity, and my issues are more consistent than our restaurant visits.  I don't think he grasped the concept of a not eating out lifestyle.    

The great white.  My ride. 
Yes, it is a former airport shuttle.
On the 15 minute drive back to town where I needed to pick up from preschool, my mouth started to fill with saliva.  Oh, shit.  There wasn't really a good place to pull over, and it just came on so fast.  I reached for the bag - the one I never looked at closely.  I puked my guts out.  Repeatedly.  I managed to stay in my lane and not crash the great white.  After a minute, I felt my lap get warm.  Oops, there were holes in the bottom of the bag.  It had leaked all over my jeans, my awesome winter coat, and the seat of the car.  Perfect.

If you're counting, this is the 2nd time this year I have been in a car with puke.  The other time was inexcusable, but entertaining.

Bird's hands and feet next to a package of
paper towels compliments of Coach's clinic.
No worries, this is as graphic as the photos get.
Before the next round hit, I reached over and grabbed a different grocery bag that happened to hold the Big Bird costume accessories:  hands and feet.  I had just enough time to dump Bird's appendages on the seat, so I could use the bag.  No holes.  

I felt better.  Momentarily.  I drove to Coach's physical therapy clinic which is on the way to the preschool.  I had just enough time for a pit-stop before preschool let out.  I called the clinic, and explained my situation.  Coach came out to the parking lot with towels, water, napkins, and a big garbage bag minus holes.  

So, I sometimes hate Coach's profession because of the long hours he works - particularly in the evenings when I need to drive kids in different directions and haven't been able to clone myself just yet.  I do enjoy the free medical advice about my aches and pains, although I am constantly scolded for failing to perform the back exercises he assigns me.  This vomit clean up service was a huge bonus.  It was a first.  And hopefully the last. 

I got back to our temporary housing situation at my parents' house.  Got the tots to bed.  Puked some more.  And got a text from Eddie.  He needed me to call the school to let him dive himself home.  He didn't feel well.

Another view of antique land.
He and I took turns puking and moaning and napping in an antique bedroom that we converted quickly into a sick ward.  By the next morning, my mom was throwing up.  

Talk about overstaying your welcome.  

November 5, 2017

Big Bird's retirement (PART 2)

Big Bird's bottom portion is an old round laundry basket turned upside down.  I cut a hole in the bottom of the basket.  The end result is jagged, hard-plastic.  This has never been an issue, because previous wearers of the bird -including Curly- were so tiny that it didn't come close to touching their waistline.  

I hugged Curly and suggested that she just wear the Goldilocks apron that I made for her for the dancing competition.  I was super relieved that I thought to pack that.  She admitted that her friends were looking forward to her wearing Big Bird.  I kept reminding her that she had already worn Big Bird anyway.  She sobbed, 'I'm sorry that I like your costumes so much!' 

This is Curly wearing the costume back in 2nd grade.  Reg is Cookie.  And the apron - it wasn't quite done.  I added iron on letters on the skirt so it says:  I 💗 porridge.

That was it.  I may not have pulled a recent, costume-centric all-nighter, but I would not have my youngest disappointed on Halloween.  The guilt was too much.  Too many older siblings had their costume dreams come true.  The often over-looked middle child in me couldn't stand by and watch this happen.

I told her we were going to try to squeeze her into it again.  This time I forced the laundry basket opening over her rump.  Once it was on, it seemed to be OK.  The circumference of her waist was smaller than that of her dairy-aire.  I reached under and pulled her sweatshirt down to form a buffer between the rough edges of the plastic and her waist.  We got the top on with a bit of a struggle.  The upside down cereal bowl (I'm revealing all of my secrets here - maybe I should write a post entitled 'How to sew a Big Bird costume without a pattern by only using common household objects) that needs to rest on her head to support the styrofoam cone of Big's neck was hard for her to cram onto her head.  There just wasn't space under it for a tall costume wearer.  
If you look closely you can tell that she had been crying.  She isn't wearing the hands and feet here.  Details were added later!

She was in!  She kept muttering, 'It's OK, I'll just be Goldilocks.'  What?  Was she in pain?  This was happening, damn it.  Why the long face still?  We discussed what her day would be like in the bird getup.  I had given up home of getting her to school on time anyway.  She wouldn't be able to sit down or go to the bathroom.  I promised her that if an emergent bathroom issue arose, she could call me and I could drive over to the school.  If need be, she could probably get the costume off without issue.  It just might be hard to get it back on.  Again, I was willing to drive over.  My folks would be around so I wouldn't have to drag the tots.  

She started to perk up.  I took her into the bathroom and with some interesting maneuvering she was able to pee one last time.  I handled the wiping duty.  She was going to keep the bottom of the costume on in the great white (my van) and carry the top piece with her. 
Here she is gettin gin the great white - resting a butt cheek on the edge of the seat.

After school Curly took the bus directly to her friend's house to go trick or treating (leaving Big Bird at her friend's house and dressing as Goldi).  She said it was hard to walk down the isle on the bus because the costume wouldn't really fit.  She hadn't gone to the bathroom all day.  

She admitted to me later that towards the end of the school day she was tooting quite a bit.  Her best friend whispered to her, 'I think you need to go to the bathroom, Curly.'  Ah, what are friends for, but to impress with your costume and then pollute the air they breathe.

Big Bird will now join the cast of characters that my children have outgrown.  They will of course take up real estate in the storage room as they await the perfect sized grandkids.