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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
produced.
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.  

November 4, 2017

Big Bird's retirement (part 1)

I woke up to a very untraditional Halloween.  We were staying at my folks' house while our floors were being refinished, and I had Mini home sick.  Since we weren't going to be at our house answering the door, I hadn't even bought candy.  Finally, the kitchen renovation saved us some dough!

Mini was bummed to be sick at her grandparents' house.  The fear of sharing the germ with my parents left her no choice but to be confined to the hall bathroom.  On top of that, she was going to miss a field trip at school that she was excited about.  And of course, trick or treating was off the table for her.  As an 8th grader, that translates to 'game over'.  Trick or treating for a straight laced girl in high school is unlikely.  

In the mayhem of packing up and moving in with my folks I ordered kids to choose a Halloween costume and put it in their overnight bag.  Fortunately, our storage room is jam packed with options thanks to my years of devoted costume creations.  Curly shared with me that she was deciding between Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird.  Both part of my Sesame Street collection.  I pointed out that she had already worn Big Bird as a 2nd grader, but she told me that she just loves that costume.  

Ultimately she chose Big Bird.  I tried not to be the older, tired, overwhelmed mother who is trying to survive a seemingly never-ending kitchen renovation.  Without a mask to hide behind though, it was tough.  

As I was clearing the first floor of furniture and everything that typically rests on the floor (ugh!), I took a few minutes and hauled this big ass costume out of the storage room.  I handed it off to Coach, who was bringing a shipment of crap over to my folks' house.  Remember Coach's reaction to moving out of the house for three days was just shy of divorce-paper-signing.  Handing him a bulky, feathered, yellow costume in several awkward pieces went over like news that he had just been awarded a mandatory guest spot complete with singing the alphabet on the next taping of the Sesame Street show.

I do feel guilty about my lack of enthusiasm surrounding Curly's costume choice because back in the day I was the Halloween costume mom.  I made multiple visits to the fabric store, and was comfortable with fuzzy fur fabric strewn everywhere.  The kids would rush in from school to the hum of my sewing machine.  They would peer into the dining room aka costume central, and jump up and down with excitement when they saw the progress I had made.  Of course, I was always the wilted looking mom on Halloween after pulling an all-nighter to get the costumes done.  Thanks to birth order, Curly's memory of the hype and my willingness to build something amazing has probably faded.  Sigh.

  

Exhibit A:  our living room in October 2013.  Jim Henson workshop wannabe!

At one point I did utter the words, 'I hope this costume still fits you.'  In our haste to pack up, I never went to the trouble of having her try it on.  My fear was that the leg portion of the get-up would not work.  The bird legs were sewn to the bottom of old Buzz Lightyear pajama bottoms.  Yes, I cut corners.  Sue me.  The costume legs don't go all the way up to the crotch.  I worried a bit that Curly's Big Bird would reveal the Buzz pajamas between the feathered bottom portion and the above-the-knee portion, because this girl is crazy tall.  

Have I mentioned that Mini puked 10 times at my folks house on the 30th?  I hung out in the bathroom with her for each horrible episode.  In between I sat on the floor rubbing her back and at times even playing Boggle.  I felt awful that she was trapped in that bathroom.  I mean it is a huge bathroom, but it is void of TV and conversation.  Anyway, thanks to so much time in the bathroom -Halloween kind of snuck up on me.

On Halloween morning I was getting ready to drive Curly to school.  Since we weren't at home, she couldn't take the bus.  Besides, hauling Big Bird on the bus would be too difficult.  Before we left, we FINALLY did a dry-run of trying the bird on.  This kid is tall and thin, but the bottom portion of the costume wouldn't go over her rear end.  She stepped out of the costume after our unsuccessful struggle, but wouldn't turn and face me.  I spun her around, and her face was streaked with tears.  Oh, shit . . . 




November 3, 2017

Making ourselves at home

                                       Our house - example of a not-so-pristine room.  
                         There are other rooms in similar fashion, but I will spare you.

Monday morning I was up early trying to remember all of the last minute stuff that I was  
planning to pack in my car to bring to my folks house.  

My parents live less than 3 minutes from us.  Their house is pristine.  We're talking, Waterford floor lamps, spotless bathrooms, non-divot-ridden drywall, beautifully restored antique furniture, and perfect order.  I enjoy being in a space like this.  It's so foreign to me though, that walking back into our disaster area of a house (even without the construction zone theme that we currently have going on) causes me to flinch.  Big time.

I knew my mom wasn't excited about having us invade their peaceful solitude for 3 days.  Fortunately, my folks are very budget conscious, and they were adamant we stay with them rather than spend money on a hotel.  

To try to make our presence tolerable I vowed to keep the squirts I sit for out of my folks' house until nap time.  I also brought the provisions we would need to feed the clan for three days.  This included a crock pot of chicken tortilla soup.  I prepared it knowing my dad would enjoy it.  My mom, on the other hand, is like a grown up stricken with a 2 year old's palette.  She doesn't eat anything spicy, forget beans, steers clear of onions, and tries nothing new.  Ever.  

This is the reason I had never even tried a taco until I was in college.  My roomates enjoyed playing a little game called, 'Has Ernie ever tired . . . ?'

When nap time - aka the best time of day - hit, I sat down on the couch.  'I never sit down during nap time, because I have so much shit to do.  All of my shit is at my house,' I explained to my mom.  Five minutes later the phone rang.  It was the junior high.

Mini was throwing up.  

I raced out the door to get her from school.  My folks were home, so I wasn't abandoning the sleeping tots or anything illegal.  

Mini puked 10 times.  Then diarrhea hit.  It was a nightmare.  My dad has a compromised immune system because of leukemia.  We weren't supposed to invite a nasty stomach bug into their house.  Had the construction gone as originally planned (I am learning that a job like this sticking to a predetermined schedule is as likely as pigs flying) then the floors would've been done while we were out of town on one of our many long weekends away over the summer. 


This is a photo of Mini after puking all night in a hotel a few years ago.  I texted it to Coach to share the experrience with him. This time I didn't bother to take photos.  She was too coherent.  That would've just been cruel.  

Here I was worried that we might stain a carpet or leave a fingerprint on a wall.  Silly me.  

What else could go wrong?  Dare I wonder . . .