December 30, 2017

scheduling priorities: basketball, mammograms, birthday

My mistake.  I know I just informed you in my last post that we are surviving with no schedule over break.  I was wrong.  Our entire break up until now has been dictated by basketball.  

Christmas tournament grid -
slightly complicated!
High school Christmas tournaments.  Tank was involved in one for freshman.  Ed participated in one for varsity.  These events are apparently dreamt up by coaches whose sole purpose in life is to mess with mothers.  I am familiar with this group of adults and how they operate.  They value predetermined schedules so much that they alert players what time they've CHANGED practice times to during the school day via text.  

Nothing screams  'who-gives-a-shit-about-mothers-and-planning' like a coach who adjusts practices at the last minute.  Constantly.  Christmas tournies are part of their master 'undo-the-mothers' plan.  The basketball game time for tomorrow's game is determined AFTER today's game is either won or lost.  

Don't get me wrong.  I love basketball.  There's no denying that.  Coach and I come from tall stock.  Our clan tends to tower over their peers.  Changes to practice times and contemplating the many 'what if' scenarios of a Christmas tournament is Hell for a family juggling one less car than drivers.  

Every morning we wake up and try to figure out who is driving where, who will utilize which car (we try to avoid the boys driving the great white, former airport shuttle), and who will be stranded with no vehicle the longest.  These decisions should be determined the night before we go to bed, but that would fall under the 'way-organized-family' category.  So not us.

Once there is a plan in place- which often includes someone getting driven to Coach's nearby PT clinic and 'stealing' his car that would otherwise just sit in the lot all day - the next step is to rifle thru Lad's coat pockets for the teenager car key.  He's NEVER awake when we do our car-shuffle-two-step, and he would NEVER put a key somewhere obvious.  

I was so smart.  I scheduled a million doctor appointments this week -some for the kids and some for me.  No school plus a met deductible equals time to squeeze in year-end doctor visits.  It seemed so simple.  So organized.  The dermatologist, the orthodontist, the pediatric neurologist, the OBGYN and a mammogram.  Before and after these appointments I have been hustling to two different away tournaments in two different directions.  Living on the edge is fun. 

When Ed's team lost on Thursday, I was at the dermatologist with Tank.  Coach was texting me updates.  Eddie hasn't played significantly all season.  That's been a real bummer.  He was told last year that he would start this year, but then he broke his wrist.  I hate that he seems to be penalized for the injury that happened on the b-ball court.  Not like he was out skateboarding. 

Because they lost, their game on Thursday landed right in the middle of my 4:00 mammogram.  I happened to call early Thursday morning and found that the imaging center had had a cancellation, so I moved my mammogram to an earlier time slot.  All the stars aligned - I got my boobs squeezed AND I got to go to his game AND my kid played.  He played well.  He scored 9 points, and looked great out there.  He'd been told so many times that he was going to play, and then nothing.  I was super excited that he finally got his chance.  

My birthday is today.  I wondered all week how Ed's game schedule would impact my birthday celebration.  Let's all have a good chuckle about the fact that I just wrote 'birthday celebration' as if that is a thing.  For a mother.  I'm thinking dinner out might happen, unless . . . basketball.  

December 28, 2017

accomplishing squat while dodging Lego mine fields and pop cans

What was I thinking?  I must've blocked out all previous Christmas breaks.  Could someone have slipped something in my eggnog that made me delusional?

I believed I would be accomplishing so much these few weeks with no school and no babysitting duties.  Instead, I am struggling to stay afloat.  Good-bye schedule - hello, mayhem. 

Empty bags of Legos and
direction books.  If there
 aren't Legos on the floor,
then this is the other issue.
Lego Friends are
 over taking our home.
NBA Lego too. 
Whatever happened to a bucket
of Legos that could
 make anything you could imagine?
The kids just want to open lego sets and sprinkle the tiny pieces across the floor.  This behavior is so uncharacteristic of my gang.  They are instinctively very neat and tidy and would never dream of leaving something out of place.  Stop it, you didn't really believe that, did you?  

At times they will take a break in their Lego creating to eat something - feed their brains.  Then abandon the mess in the kitchen - maybe play a few rounds of a video game before heading back to the Lego mine field.  If a friend calls, they will jump at the chance to go hang out at another house - why not?  Or they stick around and continue to feed their faces willy nilly and only come up for air to ask what I'm serving them for dinner.  

This is a small would-be
counter top that currently
is covered by plywood and a
festive Christmas table cloth. 
We only have pop in the
house after a party.  This is why. 
Empty applesauce, empty pop cans. 
It's a free for all.

The older guys.  Well, they sleep half the day away.  Everything else is worked in and around their trips to the gym and how long they argue over control of the xbox.  Returning milk to the fridge is apparently against their religious beliefs.   
Leftover pizza casserole in a
 crockpot might feed the
masses but it also leads to
college kid opting to eat at
a friend's house.  Embarrassing.
I haven't even cooked dinner this week in part because I hosted on the 23rd.  Hooray for leftovers.  I'm just too busy to find time to cook.  WHY?

I'm just now carving out time to blog.  I drove Curly to dancing and I intended to drive home and send a brother to pick her up.  It snowed just enough to make the roads a disaster, so I opted to sit and wait for her in my car.  For two hours.  Um, it's crazy, ass-biting cold here in Chicago.  I hope you appreciate that I can't feel my fingers as I blog. 

I'm just crossing my frozen phalanges that SOMEONE puts SOMETHING away while I'm absent.  I doubt it though.  

I don't want Christmas break to end, BUT I need some order.  I'm not even a neat freak.  It's not my nature.  I told Coach tonight that I might mandate a day where no one is allowed to leave the house or make plans until something is accomplished.
'I think I am working that day,' he muttered.  And I wonder where they get it.    

December 23, 2017

shopping in panic mode

I swore this wouldn't happen this year.  I was going to be good.  Keep track of what I purchased.  Not overdo it.  Stick to essentials with a few fun things thrown in.

Turns out having a dumpster on the driveway
this Christmas has been very useful.  Santa's
workshop has been extra busy delivering
my Amazon prime stuff to my door. 
They make it so damn easy,
 I need to remind myself that
 I DO have to pay for it all.
But sure as my Christmas tree didn't get put up until Tuesday night the 19th (as part of Curly's festive and practical birthday celebration), it happened again.  Coach doesn't buy a single gift.  No exaggeration here.  He doesn't even contribute with ideas.  I'm not worried about my lack of gift getting.  I got a new kitchen . . . still in progress in fact.  So, I don't ever expect to get another gift.  Ever.  I'm OK with that. 

But doing all of the shopping, and wrapping, and card making/addressing/sending, on top of everything else I do in a given week is a bit overwhelming.  This year is a tad unique since we have the kitchen construction wrapping up.  Toss in my horrible bout of Bronchitis that landed me at the doctor again on Monday night followed by a chest xray at the hospital, and I hit panic mode.  Big time.

The contractor is asking me to finalize my tile and light fixtures.  These things were left until the end because I needed to see the kitchen put together first.  But, who has time now?  A few days before Christmas? 

Amazon has been my constant companion this week.  I dread looking at my credit card statement in January.  As if the December one isn't bad enough with the appliances tossed on there.  I tried to space out the appliance purchase by paying half on the credit card one month and the next half the day they were delivered.  Guess what?  Both of those items posted to the same month . . . the first day and the last day of the credit card cycle.  Just my luck. 

I feel a bit like Ernie on Sesame when he tries to equal out the grape juice with Bert by taking little sips from both cups until there isn't any left.  Not sure who the ticked off Bert is in this scenario.  I guess Coach, but can he really complain about the results if he does nothing to help with the process?

I keep fearing that I forgot something.  Overlooked someone.  That someone is going to be bummed.  In my hopes to keep evening out the piles, I keep adding a few things here and there.  Eddie has already whined about not having any surprises this year.  In my quest to find tall, skinny jeans/khakis for him I made him try everything on as I stumbled upon it at the store. 

Hello, Elves . . . dropping this at the door
 in THIS box was a bit of an oversight, don't you think? 

So lucky that we caught it before
Reggie did!  Hard to find good help these days!
Then there are the birthday gifts.  Tank Dec. 5th.  Curly Dec. 19th.  Reg Jan. 9th.  I won't do combo gifts.  Combo gifts were the norm for me as a kid.  I was cursed with a December 30th birthday that followed my center-of-the-universe brother's December 27th birthday.  I will not repeat history here.

This SHOULD have been a scaled back Christmas what with the expense of doing a kitchen.  I had visions of wrapping up counter stools for the kids, but I have yet to select those.  I love a practical gift.  My crew doesn't really need much.  Tell that to my Amazon habit though. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and happy anything else you might be celebrating this time of year!  I hope you won't be stuck with any combo gifts or budget issues.  Tis the season!

December 21, 2017

Not enough expletives here? I can always add more!

Island is blue.  Note the empty spaces
on the wall for appliances.
I have waited a few days to write about this frustration.  Perhaps this way you will be subjected to fewer expletives.  I am not promising.

The countertops were delivered on Wednesday. December 13th.  They look amazing!  Super exciting.  At last.  I was eagerly awaiting the appliances that were set to arrive the next day.  Ah, function.  You know where this is going, right?

I can't get over the size of the island.  11 feet by 5!
The appliances arrived first thing Thursday morning.  Sweet.  After 16 weeks, it was all coming together.  The contractor had agreed to install them, so this was just delivery.  I was suddenly a bit panicked that the appliances weren't going to be installed that day.  Could it be a Jedi mind trick?

Then, music to my ears.  Footsteps.  That could only mean one thing, right?  A crew was here to install the appliances.  Good-bye cooking in the basement!  Nope, just the carpenter to continue to build the cabinets.

Earlier Thursday morning, I dropped a Pyrex bowl (not a tiny one, mind you) and it shattered in a million and ten pieces.  I was in my PJ's and bare feet.  I got a microscopic piece in my toe.  Thankfully, Coach was still home.  He cleaned up the mess, and eventually located the dot of glass in my toe that was making me crazy.

Not doing me much good

The contractor looked at me like I was crazy.  Why would I anticipate the appliances being installed?  They still needed to have the electrician and the plumber come back.  'REALLY?  THEN WHY THE F_ _ _  WEREN'T THEY HERE ON MONDAY OR TUESDAY OR WEDNESDAY?  OR GEE THEY COULD HAVE PICKED A DAY LAST WEEK?'  'There are other jobs.  Everyone is busy.'

This job was supposed to start in June.  Yes, middle of June.  Why do I care what other jobs they have?  He shrugged at me when I asked if they would be out the next day.  'Oh, well tomorrow is Friday?'  Again, WHAT THE HELL?  Do electricians and plumbers not work on Fridays?  Get them out here and get the work done.

It would need to wait until Monday.

Coach comes from casual stock.  His siblings are not dressy people who expect the red carpet to be rolled out.  Good thing, because we are hosting them for Christmas on December 23rd.  I have warned them that they will have to pardon our dust.  That doesn't mean though, that I am not going to try my damnedest to restore as much order as possible - even if it means I have to work myself silly on, I don't know, say a Friday!  Unthinkable!

December 19, 2017

delegating, thanks prednisone

I am able to write this post in the wee hours of the morning thanks in part to my prescription of prednisone.  I was quite familiar with the sleeplessness side effect when the doctor put me on it yesterday.

Once again my young charges arrived at my house full of snot a few weeks ago.  Theodore sneezed one morning and ended up with two strips of thick, green snot swaying about 6 inches past his chin.  His mom had obviously not even bothered to have him blow his nose before she dropped him off.  Seriously!  Coach was still home, and this scene ticked him off.  After I had de-boogered Theo, Coach complained that I hadn't taken a photo of him.  He wanted me to text Gretta, 'Come pick up your kid.' You can thank me in the comments for NOT taking and sharing that photo. 

Coach and most of the kids had colds too, so this time (unlike last time) it was just a big germ fest.  It was hard to say who started the germ that ultimately sent me to the doctor yesterday.

I am kicking myself.  My sore throat started back on Dec. 8th.  I know this because it was before all of the fun we had getting too and from the United Center:  me with lots of tissues in tow, and the confiscated water bottles.  I decided to be proactive.  I took my advair (steroid) inhaler in the hopes that keeping my chest open would keep me healthy.  One night I crawled into bed and realized I forgot to take the inhaler.  Who can get out of bed when it is cozy in bed and cold in Chicago?  The next morning, I decided that I was mostly better.  I convinced myself that I was over the hump and wasn't going to get really sick.

Wrong.  Friday I felt like I had a hairball in my chest.  I did a nebulizer treatment that night so that I could sleep.  Then I woke up and went to the doctor.  My chest was killing me.  Bronchitis.  The doc prescribed a Z-pack, a prednisone pack, and some other boring stuff.  The prednisone causes me to be wide awake at weird times.

When Coach came home with the
 groceries, I instructed him to
just put them in the new fridge.
Note the blue tape.
This was easier than directing him
 on how to divide between
the basement fridge or the family
room (former kitchen) fridge.  Of
 course we aren't yet able
 to use the kitchen. 
Don't worry - that story is coming!
The doctor also told me to take it easy.  Well, sure.  That's going to happen.

I came home and asked Coach to grab my stuff at the pharmacy when it was ready.  There is some weird phenomenon that happens at our drug store.  NOTHING is ever ready when Coach gets there to pick it up  He is a lot of things.  Patient is not one of them.  Everything is ready when I go to get it.  I agreed to call first to make sure he could swoop in, pick up, and race home.  Then I realized I needed to go to the grocery store.

I was about to do my usual:  'Oh, never mind I will just go.'  But instead I took a crazy amount of time drafting a detailed grocery list for him.  Details like:  30 apples.  I learned back when I didn't drive or 7 weeks, that Coach translates 'apples' to about 6.  I debriefed Mini on half of the list and sent her along.  Yay, me.  Of course the phone rang countless times asking for help.

All I know is I now have a teen girl whose eyes were opened to what my grocery store adventures are like.  AND while they were gone, I got to update my address list so I could finally print envelopes out for my Christmas cards.

Hoping I feel better soon because today we are going to get a Christmas tree.  Damn it.  In the meantime, being on prednisone is like finding time.  Imagine what else I can get done if I don't sleep for the next week?

December 17, 2017

Pointing fingers . . .cough, cough

This link is a post to a hilarious and true account about the aftermath of dealing with my cough at a restaurant in February.  The post I wrote detailing how sick I really was is still in my drafts.  Maybe I was hesitant to point fingers at who 'shared' the germs with me back then.  

I'm not feeling so shy now . . .

Back in February, Gretta arrived to pick up her boys, who I sit for.  The Uber car escorting Coach and I to the airport would arrive in less than an hour.  We were flying to Arizona.  Alone.  I was rifling thru my wallet eliminating the excess cards I wouldn't need.  

Theodore, who likes to get things out in the open, revealed to her that he had shared his cough with me.  This realization came on our trip home from the doctor's office earlier that morning.   'I have a cough,' my 3 year old captain-obvious passenger stated.  'Yeah, thanks for sharing it with me,' I wheezed as we waited in the car at the pharmacy. 

Of course, this wasn't actually Theodore's fault.  It was his mom's.  Please don't think less of me for grumbling that to him.  I assumed it would be a no-comprendo situation.  Reminder:  I was very ill.  I contemplated not going to Arizona.  This was my 2nd visit to the doc in a week.  I needed stronger meds.  I was a mess.  This time I learned that I may have pneumonia.  They didn't bother with an x-ray.  The drugs they were switching me to would cover it.

Coach and I RARELY get away.  He had a physical therapy class in Arizona, and I was joining him to relax by the pool.  The timing couldn't be worse.  I hadn't been this sick in YEARS!

Dear Santa, Please send
a wallet that will organize
my life!  I've been mostly
 good, 'cept for the
time I told a 3 year
old it was his fault I was sick.
Won't need my library card.  I located my health insurance card in case my cough got worse (not sure that is possible).  How much do I love that our insurance company supplies me with a card for each family member now?  No wonder my wallet overflow-ith.  I left the kids' insurance cards fanned out in a rainbow display on my desk for their sitter. 

'Oh, Ernie, I hope we didn't share our germs with you.'  I wanted to scream.  Gretta has a habit of dropping kids at my house who would be better served curled up on her couch all day.

My house is not a dumping ground for sick kids.  Her boys were at our house with horrible, productive coughs.  Boogers smeared across their faces on Tuesday.  Wednesday early morning she texted to say she was keeping them home.  She admitted that Baby Geo had a fever the night before.  

Half hour later she texted me back to say that she now noticed that the fever was non-existent.  Their coughs didn't seem as bad.  Would it be OK if she still brought them?  WHAT?!  NO!  

Hello Clueless, a 24 fever-free policy isn't something I created.  It's standard.  Not to mention, the fever probably subsided thanks to fever-reducing meds.  They shouldn't have been at my house that Tuesday even sans-fever.  They were not well.  Although it had been awhile, a bad cold often travels to my chest - a perk of having asthma.

Joey, the other boy I sit for, missed two days that week because of the generous germ sharing from  Gretta's boys the week before.  Note:  Joey's mom kept him home when his cold was off-the-charts.

I hustled a mushy Gretta out the door.  I couldn't listen to her insist that her kids had only been sick over the weekend (when I didn't watch them).  What?!  I certainly didn't imagine the Tuesday of grossness followed by the 'hey they're sick, but can you still watch them' text on that Wednesday. 

This wasn't the first time that Gretta texted and begged me to watch her boys despite illness.  Earlier in the school year, she begged me to watch her boys despite fevers.  She didn't have a decent back up sitter option.  She requested that I ask Joey's parents to leave him with his back up sitter, so her sick kids could come to my house.  

I felt guilty about adding Joey to my sitting roster.  The year before I had only watched Greta's kids.  Damn guilt.  I caved and asked Joey's folks if Joey could go to his grandma's house.  I distinctly remember the horrible headache this baby-shuffling gave me.  I thought this babysitting gig would be stress-free.  Well, the kids don't stress me out, but some of the parents, ugh!

I wised up this year and gave the parents a contract stating no sick kids at my house.  Period.  Guess what happened a few weeks ago?

December 14, 2017

Aunt-of-the-year award nominee: will you vote for me?

Saturday was a hectic day here, since we attended two basketball games at the United Center.

I briefly considered decorating
this fixture on our
driveway with a string
of Christmas lights.
With several hours of a 'layover' between, we brought three cousins back to our house to hang out with our kids.  These cousins don't live in close proximity to us.  They hadn't witnessed the construction zone we currently live in.

As we pulled into the driveway in our former airport-shuttle, Chevy express van that seats 12, I called back to the cousins:  'So, we are having work done on the house.  The only bathroom that functions right now is this port-a-potty on the driveway.'  Margaret, who is 13, was sitting right behind my seat with her buddies Mini and Curly.  Her eyes got really big.

I couldn't have them in panic mode for more than 10 seconds.  Just couldn't do it.  'Just kidding!' I blurted out.  Mini scowled at me.  She wanted the joke to go on a bit longer.

Several hours later we were scurrying into the United Center for the second time.  I looked down at Jimmy, who is Curly's age.  He had no coat on.  What the Hell?  He told me he forgot it in my house.

Well, I guess arriving home at 1:30, running to Home Depot to select new shelving with Coach, squeezing in a 30 minute nap, whipping up a turkey breast dinner with stuffing (from a box) and all the fixings for this crew by 4:30 pm, rushing them out the door to church at 5 where Coach and I had to teach religious ed and Tank was subbing in Ed's class, and finally corralling them to the United Center was more than I could handle.  Somewhere along the lines, I forgot to check that a 10 year old WAS WEARING HIS COAT!  This is Chicago.  It is December.  It was beyond freezing, and it isn't like we parked 10 feet from the building.

After the game Margaret and her brother left with their dad.  He was sitting with us in the nosebleed section.  Coat-less Jimmy was spending the night at our house, because he lives where God lost his sandals (and maybe his coat).  His dad, Coach's younger brother, was driving down to pick him the up the next morning.

When we got home at almost 11 pm, I ordered kids to bring bags of stuff into the house.  I refused to buy snacks and drinks at the United Center.  Instead, I brought a small grocery store along in the car and distributed the loot to the kids before we braved the harsh winds for our jog into the game.

Curly looked pregnant with all the contraband she was smuggling in under her coat.  The other kids also proved to be excellent mules.  I, on the other hand, got stopped by security for having a short water bottle in each of my puffy winter coat pockets.  I was ticked.  The kids were a tad nervous that I was going to let lose on this guy for making me surrender my beverages.  My offspring have seen me in action at water polo games when refs suck.

It wasn't booze.  I had a bad cold.  I wanted some water.  I think charging $6 for a water bottle at this venue when you force people to leave unopened waters at the door is downright unamerican.  Sorry, I had to vent on that one.  Back to our main attraction . . .

With everyone assigned religious ed books or partially filled grocery bags to haul into the house, we marched thru the under-construction kitchen.  We were taking off our coats in the front hall when we heard someone knocking on the glass of the deck door.  'It's Jimmy,' Tank informed us.

We questioned him as to why he was still outside (without a coat).  Why had he not come inside BEFORE we put the garage door down unintentionally locking him out of the house and forcing him to stumble around over the dismantled deck to pound on the back sliding door?

'I had to go to the bathroom,' he explained.

Oops, he hadn't heard my 'just kidding' punchline way back 10 seconds after my initial tom-foolery.  We laughed our butts off, but tried to rein it in when we noticed that our shivering guest
looked like he might cry.  Being from Timbuktu, he doesn't hang with us all that regularly.  Not sure how he saw his way around a port-a-potty in the pitch black.  Reggie asked the burning question on his 11 year old mind, 'Was it #1 or #2?'

December 12, 2017

Is your husband 'single', or is it just mine?

Is your husband 'single' and therefore making his own schedule, or is it just mine?

When I crawled into bed Sunday night, I mumbled a reminder* to Coach that I was going to need his help on Thursday.  *reminder denotes that this has been previously mentioned/discussed.  He was already half asleep, but he mumbled back a reminder to me.  Not so much a reminder as an announcement.  A news flash. 

Control central, aka my calendar.
He is working late on Thursday.  He decided to swap his Wednesday schedule with his Thursday schedule.  

'I wanted to see Reggie's basketball game, so I switched my days.  You told me to.'  He explained.  Ah, so it is my fault.  Oh, well now it makes perfect sense.  Of course when I suggested that he swap some days around to be able to attend Reg's games, I didn't mean for him to do it without sharing the flipping date changes with ME.

All 6 kids and I have dentist appointments Thursday.  I will be babysitting for the two little boys, too.  My appointment is before lunch.  I have no trouble bringing the little rascals along for my appointment.  I CANNOT, however, round our kids up from 3 different schools during nap time and deliver them to the dentist.  Not possible.

I intentionally scheduled all of us for a Thursday, BECAUSE Coach is flexible on Thursdays.  He doesn't see patients.  If you screamed the capitalized 'because' in the previous sentence, then you read this as it was intended.  

Our dentist is only open Tues, Wed, and Thursday, or believe me- I would be handling the entire ordeal solo on Friday when I have the day off.  I don't mind solo.  I'm used to it.  Things tend to work out better for me when I don't have to rely on someone else.  

Before I went to sleep, I pondered what life would be like if I just set my own schedule.  Did my own thing.  Failed to worry about ANYONE else's stuff.  Couldn't grasp it.  Too far fetched. 

Coach suggested I just change the dentist appointments.  While I'm at it, maybe I can just snap my fingers and get all of the gifts bought and wrapped for Christmas.  I mean we are talking about some kind of magical powers here, I'm assuming.  Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to tap into my Harry-Potter-bad-ass-self just yet.  That's why the damn house is always such a mess.  My lack of special powers.

We all gravitate towards the same hygienist, so I always try to book us with her.  Preferably on the same day.  I book these appointments months in advance.  Don't remember the hygienist story . . . read this to get caught up.  (It's surprisingly short).

I will look for any excuse to share this photo.
Oh, that comment!  Does he really think that calling up the dentist to make 8 appointments that work with b-ball practices, school schedules, and college breaks is that easy?  At the moment Coach is on a different dental rotation than the rest of the fam since getting his teeth knocked out and repaired.  (OK, this post is long, but it details how Coach's teeth get knocked out in the yard hours before Lad's high school graduation.  Fairly unique).  I guess I should pat myself on the back for making what I do look that easy.  

Poor Tank.  Unable to locate a spare
toothbrush.  This formerly insane
toothbrush storage system
pictured here is no
 longer an issue since I started
 conducting occasional bathroom
drawer inspections.  
Oh by the way, both Tank and Mini announced over the weekend that when Reg cleaned the bathroom last he dropped their toothbrushes in the toilet.  Not sure yet if this was an strategic and intentional move by Reg in the hopes that he be relieved from any future bathroom chores.  I need to conduct some research.

Tank was upset that I was out of new toothbrushes.  Mini got the last one.  He shared that he had been brushing his teeth with his finger for days.  Oh, and why does this not surprise me?  I am out of toothbrushes and I am on strike with the grocery store since I hung out there every day last week but Tuesday.  Peeps in need of new toothbrushes need to wait until Thursday when the dentist hands them out . . . assuming the stars will align and I will get everyone to their appointments.                                                                                     

December 10, 2017

My 10 days of December (at least you won't have to hear me sing)

This post is meant to explain my absence for the past 4 days - in fact even longer than that.  My last few posts were written and scheduled.  Does that bother you, that I scheduled a few posts to 'drop' after I wrote them?  Does it not feel, well, fresh?

The bold parts of this post should be hummed to the tune of '12 Days of Christmas' . . .

On the 1st day of December, I told my daughter Mini:  'You need a bra!'  ♪ ♫
These flimsy colorful
preteen bras are
no longer suitable for Mini.
     Not a sports bra with ALWAYS exposed, racer-back, bright colored straps or the skinny strap variety intended for an 11 year old who isn't 5 foot 8 inches.  Those straps look like they might leave permanent little lines embedded in her shoulders.  The internet search was on for a very small bra with legit straps that wouldn't supply her with a cup size two times what is necessary, because she SO doesn't want to appear bustier than her basic flat chested self.  After following the online instructions for how to measure - something I had never done - we ordered a 30AA.  It came yesterday.  We think it fits.

Now I need to look for this
 certified gluten fee
label before I shop.

On the 2nd day of December, my GI doc said to me:  'Go visit a dietitian',  ♬ ♪ ♪
     Since I recently discovered that I am inadvertently getting gluten in my supposed gluten free diet (thanks to celiac disease) this was a necessary, time-consuming adventure.  I went to the University of Chicago per my suburban doctor's instructions and learned about labels that say gluten free and those that are certified gluten free.  There were other tips too.  I feel like I am starting over after previously feeling like I was very careful.  Insert loud, depressing, heavy sigh.

On the 3rd day of December, I told my fam-ily:  'Don't interrupt me while I start my Christmas poem!'  ♭ ♬
A few examples of
previous Christmas letters.
     This tradition started when Curly was due on Christmas day.  I prepared a baby boy and a baby girl birth announcement/Christmas card with a poem set to 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'.  When Curly arrived Dec. 19th, I inserted her name and weight, printed them out, snapped a photo of all 6, and had the cards in the mail on Dec. 23rd.  I've been creating a rhyming letter detailing our yearly adventures ever since.  I include lines like:
     Coach and I are grateful that our neat and tidy kids always listen the first time to our requests,
     They are constantly sweeping the floor, folding laundry, and exhibiting behavior that’s their best.
     I’m assuming you sense the sarcasm in that line– but a mom can dare to dream,
     Honestly, Coach is usually at work, and I when I’m not driving them around I just yell and scream.

On the 4th day of December, I paid a visit to the mall.  ♬ ♩
     With three of the 6 kids born around Christmas, I have extra shopping to do.
Leftover meatballs. 
They look better fresh.

On the 5th day of December, I cooked spaghetti & meatballs for Tank's birthday dinner request!  ♩ ♫
     Cooking big meals in the basement is a thrill a minute.  Oh, dishwashers- please be installed soon!

On the 6th day of December, I attended Tank's holiday high school band concert.  ♪ ♬
     Well, there's 2 hours that I will never get back.  Honestly, the concert WAS amazing.  Lots of talent.  I just had too many things I needed to do with my time.  TWO HOURS.  That's lengthy.  Before the concert I drove all the way to Irish dancing to drop off the girls.  Coach agreed to pick them up after work.  I texted Coach mid-concert to alert him that he had dodged yet another bullet.  

On the 7th day of December, I found myself back at the high school.  ♫ ♪
     Another 2 hours invested at the high school.  It was 8th grade night.  Soon-to-be freshman meet their counselor, take a tour of the school, and walk around the field house to be introduced to available clubs, activities, and teams.  Fun, but again a time investment that kept me from my blog.
Nosebleed section
of the Bulls game.

On the 8th day of December, I attended two high school basketball games.  ♫ ♫
     Both Eddie and Tank played in home games.  Friday I don't babysit, so I was committed to completing the Christmas poem.  Well, so much for self-inflicted deadlines.  It's almost done.  An opponent knocked into Tank's jaw during his game.  The trainer said he sprained his TMJ.  I asked him if he recommended Tank not speak for several weeks to speed recovery.  Wishful thinking.  

On the 9th day of December, the family drove to the United Center TWO TIMES!  ♪ ♫
     Ed's varsity basketball team played at the United Center at 11:30 am.  $25 tickets included entrance into 'Da Bulls game that night.  Ed's coach begged us to sell tickets.  Friends, cousins, aunts, and uncles attended.  A nephew slept over.  BUSY!!  Lots of hustling people to buy tickets weeks ago, followed by:  countless emails, last minute ticket requests, group text messages, family, driving, and orchestrating groups of people.  No blog time here.    

On the 10th day of December, I looked back in disbelief . . . ♬ ♩
     In addition to all of this, I taught religious ed, got groceries 9 times, cooked several meals, attended 2 of Reggie's away games, washed dishes by hand, moved mountains of clutter so I could vacuum 4 bedrooms., washed 7 loads of laundry, sorted 6 stacks of laundry, listened to Ed complain about our 2 dancing girls leaping, called the builder, met with a guy about our custom built-in bench, found fabric for the bench, ordered two kitchen stools, finalized the new kitchen table, AND FINALLY FOUND TIMMME  . . . TO BLLL-OOO-GGG!!! ♬ ♪ 

Hope it was worth the wait!  What things are happening in your December days that keep you from blogging?


December 6, 2017

Ho ho help!

I love Santa.  My kids have always been big believers in Santa.  I think their steadfast belief comes in part from their mindset that their parents would never choose to add more toys to our home.  Time and time again I've heard them come home off the school bus and argue the point aloud.  'Well, Jimmy the Jerk on the bus said there's no such thing as Santa, but I know there must be because there is no way you and Daddy would ever get us all those toys!'  Wink, wink.

My heart aches a bit each time one of the kids stops believing.  Laddie believed for so long, I feared that he would get laughed at when he professed his belief at school.  His class was full of a bunch of aggressive punks who pounced on anyone who wasn't 'cool'.  Oh, how I despised this group of kids.  They were MTV to my kid's Romper Room.  There was no gelling with them for the oldest child of a big family.

Years ago, I ran a garage sale for the parish and one day someone brought in a gently used toy kitchen set.  I snagged it for Curly, who was about 2 or 3 at the time.  I explained to Laddie as he helped me drag it out to the car that I would save it for Christmas.  That's when he expressed some confusion about Santa.  I think he was in 6th grade.  I set him straight, but it broke my heart.

Curly is the last of a dying breed here.  She is my only 'believer'.  She is still 9, but will be 10 in less than 2 weeks.  Reggie decided to be a punk ass older brother a few weeks ago.  Curly came up from the basement and asked me if I was Santa.  Reg was coming up the stairs right behind her and she made a googlie-eyed face at me.  Translation:  don't let Reg know I was asking you that.

Reg was chuckling, and looking a little nervous at the same time when he appeared from the basement.  I think he realized that his 'joke' had overstepped.  He's in this phase currently where he can't say anything legitimate.  Everything he says ends with 'just kidding.'  The formula goes something like this:  tall tale, split second, 'just kidding', followed quickly by him admitting that his teacher didn't really light a book on fire in class or he somehow clarifies whatever the Hell cockamamie story he just made up.  He's a barrel of laughs.
Ah, the good ole days when
they all believed.  Look at the
way Tank is eyeing Santa. 
Love this!  Believe you me,
Reggie is getting coal
and nuts in his stocking!

'I was just kidding, Curly,' he pleaded giving me the once over to assess how much trouble he was in.  How could I have raised the next 'Jimmy the jerk'?

I played it cool.  Curly kept giving me weird eye expressions begging me not to admit in front of Reg that she had questioned me about Santa.  I just assured her that Santa was the real deal and playfully shoved Reg, whose brow was beading up with sweat.  'Knock it off Reg, of course Santa is real Curly.'

A week later Coach was flipping thru channels one night.  The kids enjoy watching something for a few minutes before bed.  Well, I guess I don't have to tell you that there is very rarely anything family friendly on the TV.  Let me first point out that my husband is TYPICALLY the most over-protective, insanely conservative father when it comes to inappropriate TV.  So, I'm not sure what happened here.

He landed on 'Four Christmases' with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughan.  Yes, this flick is inappropriate, but parts are clean and it is funny.  Well, we hadn't seen this movie in years.  It happened to be a night when I was still suffering with the bad headache.  It was just one of those things where you sit there and try to remember what might be coming up in the next scene, but it is impossible - especially when there is funny stuff happening.

Vince Vaughan's character was passing out Christmas gifts to family members he hadn't seen in awhile.  He makes a joke to his nephew that the kid's dad probably didn't spend much on his 'Santa' gifts.  Well, he has just blown Santa's cover and he doesn't realize that the kid still believed, because he's a bit out of touch over the kid's age, etc.

Curly was sitting on the couch next to me.  I made no sudden movements, but my insides ached now more than my head.  I feared that if I changed the channel very abruptly there would be red flags everywhere.  So, just before she went to bed, I turned to her and said, 'You know that was just a movie.  They were just joking around with that kid.'  She said she got that, but her body language said something else.  Crap!

I am asking for help here.  Any suggestions on how to reel Curly back in?  How can I convince my sweet young baby (who IS almost 10) to continue to believe?  I am thinking we need to stage something creative.  If you are as stumped as I am, then just share how you discovered 'the truth.'  How old were you, or your kids?

December 2, 2017

happy tears

The girls danced beautifully on Sunday in their Midwest Irish dancing championships.  It's technically called an Oireachtas.  There you go.  The next time you play scrabble you are all set to wow your opponent with that one. 

Mini doesn't plan to dance in high school.  This was her swan song and I wanted her to end on a note that she felt proud of.  Her goal was to qualify for National championships -something she has never done.  It was going to be tough.  There were 181 dancers in her under 13 age group.  Seriously!*#@!  They placed the top 91 dancers.  Mini had to rank 56th or above to make it to Nationals.

She came in 43rd.  So that may not sound impressive, but please remember 181 girls competed!  I wept.  This girl works so hard.  She wanted it so bad.  Her face was pure excitement, relief, and joy!  Hooray!  I was poised in front of the stage with my video camera.  They announce the awards in reverse order.  With each number called I held my breath hoping it wasn't her number until we had cleared the National qualifying number.  Midway through the announcements, I noticed that I could see Mini, who was standing side-stage with the other girls who hadn't been announced yet.  I zoomed in and watched her jump up and down screaming with excitement as she got closer to her award.

Curly admitted to Mini and I on Friday night that her goal was to beat 7th place, since that is what she was last year.  I flat out told her to pick a different goal.  Vote me in for mom-of-the-year.  I felt like her goal was too lofty, and near impossible.  I feared that she would be disappointed.

Mini and I squeezed together in front of the stage to watch Curly's results.  While I thought Curly danced great, I felt like two of her three rounds were not her best.  I told her over and over to brace herself, so that she wouldn't be upset.  The other point I must make is that my girls' competitions were happening at the SAME BLEEPING TIME.  I watched each of Curly's and Mini's dances and I got to see some of each group, but it isn't like I was sitting and watching an entire competition.  I wasn't completely convinced where either girl's ability fell since I hadn't seen all of the competitors.

Mini was holding my phone and snapped
 this blurry picture when Curly
came down off the stage.
Curly went nuts when she realized that she had made it into the top 10.  She was on stage hugging her friends beaming from ear to ear.  I was relieved beyond measure.  Then they announced 7th place -still not Curly's number.  Again - lots of squealing and celebrating.  Mini and I exchanged a look.  This kid had done it again - exceeded her goal.  Curly came in 4th out of 147 girls.  She qualified for Nationals like Mini.  She also qualified for World Championships.

We didn't get to bed before midnight.  Too many pictures to take and too many happy hugs to squeeze in before we went home.  Our drive home was much more celebratory than last year.  Curly pointed out that I kept reminding them no tears, and the only tears we had were happy ones!

World Championships take place in Scotland this year.  The competition is held around Easter.  I whispered to Curly, 'Let's just not bring up the 'Scotland' word to Daddy just yet.  We are still finishing a kitchen after all.'  Gulp.

Maybe it is best that Coach didn't attend the awards ceremony and remains clueless about Irish dancing overall.

December 1, 2017

remembering last year's results

I swore that I would not allow the dancing competition to derail my life and render me a sleep-deprived, stressed-out lunatic this year.  We've been participating in this annual competition the weekend after Thanksgiving for the last 7 or 8 years, so it was time to put the damn thing in perspective.  Despite my aftermath headache, I swear I succeeded.

I have not been sleeping much for the last 3 months.  Seriously.  Completely unrelated to the dancing scenario.  I finally got some answers from my doctor the day before Thanksgiving.  More about that later.  Nothing life threatening, but an interesting revelation.  Knowing that there are bigger evils than Irish dancing aka SERIOUS sleep deprivation, I was able to keep my Irish dancing demons at bay.

Being extremely organized with all of their gear helped.  I was also very excited that it was almost over.  In typical Shenanigan family I brought meals and snacks so we could avoid waiting in long lines and spending EVEN MORE money while trapped at the competition from 6 am until 10:30 pm.

I lectured the girls multiple times.  I would not allow ANY crying.  I begged them to keep their emotions in check until we reached the car on the drive home.

Friday night I took the girls to the competition (it goes for 3 days, but we were scheduled to dance on Sunday) to watch the awards ceremony for the older girls.  This is Curly posing with two of her older classmates while they were donning their wigs.  When she was very young and not yet competing, I took her with me to a competition.  I turned around after watching one of her siblings dance on stage, and for a split second I couldn't find her.  I learned quickly that in a sea of wigs, my kid was easy to lose.  
Last year recap:  Mini came in 69th out of like 75 placements (about 150 dancers overall - they place the top half).  She was incredibly disappointed and my heart broke for her.  Meanwhile Reg placed 15th (of course there were only like 22 boys in his competition and all boys place- so it is all relative).  He qualified to compete at Nationals, but quickly announced his retirement when he exited the stage with his award.  Finally, Curly, whose goal was to be in the top 10, placed 7th.  She was elated.  She had competed against roughly 125 girls.  Thankfully, Mini was ecstatic over Curly's success despite being majorly bummed out over her own results.

My drive home last year was a mixed bag.  I dealt with Curly's excitement, Reg's indifference, and Mini's broken heart.  As usual Coach was living the dream last year (and this year).  He picks and chooses when he shows up at the competition.  Breezes in and out of the venue when it suits him.  Wishes the dancers luck and cheers for them with gusto, but his life is his own.  Do I sound jealous? 

This year he watched the kids dance a few rounds, but then opted to return home.  The awards ceremony apparently is not his cup of tea.  In his defense, the awards ceremony traditionally runs painfully long and always starts late.  Coach gets up for work at around 4:30 am on a Monday.

Dancing is definitely more my area of expertise, and like it or not - I am without fail the dedicated 'dance mom'.  Sometimes I consider giving myself a swift Irish dancing kick in the butt for this.