July 21, 2018


A few more notes worth mentioning before I get to the big ugly:

1.  Geraldine texted me in Sept of '16 and asked me if the Love's could use their backup sitter, so that she could bring her sick children to my house.

This was my second year of babysitting, and I had added the Love family.  (that link is totally unrelated to this story except that the germ baby in this case was Joey Love).  Mr. Love was a PT with Coach.  The mom a teacher.  We were at their wedding and they were excited when they learned that I was babysitting.  In the fall of '16, I eagerly agreed to watch 16 mo old Joey (whose parents hated their daycare) along with Theo and Carter.  Sweet baby Bailey, Joey's little sister joined the gang in Jan '18 after her mom's maternity leave.

Anyway, Geraldine WASN'T supposed to bring sick kids to my house.  She knew that the Love's had grandparents who COULD help them out, but the Love's certainly didn't want to use up their 'help-us-out' card with their grandparents needlessly. The nerve.

2.  Gerladine got stuck in a snow storm visiting a friend out east.  She texted me late on a Sunday night (1/8/17) and asked me to pick her and Carter up from the airport the next day, because their Sunday flight was cancelled.  I remember the date because the next day was Reggie's birthday.  I was relying on nap time to make his birthday meal.

I would still have Theo, who was in town with pushover-dad.  The pickup was in the middle of nap time and my high school kids had one last day of Christmas break left.  They agreed to stay with sleeping Theo while I drove to the airport.  I DIDN'T WANT TO DO IT AND I SHOULD HAVE JUST SAID NO.  (words I now live by).  Coach heckled me over this and was like, 'Oh, you can do that.' .  . . so, by the way, can an Uber driver.  It boiled my blood, but I did it.

I jogged to Midway, grabbed her and Carter, stopped off at my house, loaded up Theo (who was with my teens- Geraldine never paid them for watching sleeping Theo - my boys didn't care, but to me it was a sign of utter inconsideration), and then drove them to their house.

On my way back to my house, I called the library because I realized it was the story time sign up day.  I was at a stop light.  I didn't have the bluetooth car, because I needed the big van for the carseats.  'Can I sign up over the phone or is it all online now?'  I could do it over the phone, Ms. Library told me.  The light changed.  I was on my phone.  For a moment.  I got pulled over.  I GOT ANOTHER TICKET, PEOPLE!!!!  I had been ticket free for, well, like several months.  Geraldine didn't increase my pay for the out-of-the-way-airport-shuttle service.

This is on of many dirty hair days.  
3.  Geraldine admitted to me a few months ago that she only bathes her kids about twice a week.  TWICE A WEEK!  Theo wipes himself.  These are boys.  They get dirty.

One day the boys showed up and Carter's hair was still full of the food that had been in his hair the day before.  I honestly considered skipping our scheduled outing because he looked dirty.  I didn't want people to think he was my kid.

I may not have worked out of the home when my kids were young, but I don't think I would've sacrificed the 10 minutes it took to bathe them.  Um, she has two kids.  I managed to bathe 6 - no matter how busy I was.  Besides, she picks the boys up at 4:00.  Plenty of time to give a bath before bed.  Theo liked to tell me about the movies he would watch when he got home from my house (after not watching TV at my house the entire day!) - but no time for a bath?  I can count on one hand how many times my kids missed a bath - EVER.  Seriously.

July 19, 2018

never wake a sleeping baby vs race to the door

Babysitting for Theo and Carter wasn't all bad.  They listened to me.  Dealing with their folks and their unique 'style' of parenting, again a term I use loosely, was a struggle.

An ongoing issue for YEARS that almost made my eating-their-breakfast-trying-to-mind-their-own-business kids lose their appetite, was the door dilemma.  Once Carter could walk, Theo struggled because Carter might run to the garage door and open it BEFORE Theo.  Imagine the lawlessness of it all!!!

Geraldine and her equally walk-all-over-me-please husband Simon tried to 'fix' Theo's issue.  They promised him that he would open the door the next time.  They would bring him back out to the garage so that he could open it himself.  There were other tactics.  It was mind-blowing.

My approach, since Theo was now over 3 years of age:  'Oh well, that's life.'  This is how I ended up with kids who didn't cry if they didn't get the coveted (insert favorite color here) cup at meals.  Cry all you want, kid.  Not gonna change anything.  This was still happening on one of the last days of this school year when Theo was well over 4 and a half years old!!!!  I thought Coach was going to blow a gasket one morning in June when it happened AGAIN.

Hey, I am NOT a perfect parent.  Remember:  my kids are far from perfectThey keep a gross bathroomThey forget that this isn't a college dorm.  But for heaven's sake.  This toddler stuff is elementary, right?

Of course, Theo could've been crying about the door thing because he was TIRED.  When he was 3 1/2 his folks asked me to start waking him up.  They decided that if his naps at my house went too long, he struggled to go to sleep at night.  I did that.  I started limiting how long his naps were.  He was dazed and confused, and sometimes tearful because he still wanted to sleep when I woke him.  It felt a little nutty. What's that saying, 'Never wake a sleeping baby'?
Joey, Carter, and Theo playing
at an awesome nature center. 
Sometimes it was a struggle to
 keep them awake
 in the car on the way home.
 How do you go from that to no naps?

I wore these kids out.  We did stuff.  The park, the zoo, the forest preserve place with an awesome hands-on nature learning center.  (same place I called when the raccoon issue arose, 'member?)  We kept busy.  Nap time was essential.

In the fall Theo turned 4.  He was a premie, mind you.  A tiny kid.  My Laddie was a huge kid, but napped thru kindergarten.  Eddie was done napping (much to my chagrin) by the time he was about 2 1/2.  They are all different.  No rhyme or reason.

Anyway, Geraldine announced to me one day at pick up that they decided that they didn't want Theo to nap anymore.  My response, 'Oh, well there will always be nap time at my house.  I mean, we can make it quiet time for Theo.  I can give him some quiet toys and books to look at in the room he usually naps in.'

Geraldine had no poker face.  She was NOT in agreement with me on this.  After she left, I called my friend and fellow babysitter, Caroline.  Caroline was on the same page as me.  'I would've said the same thing to her.  Nap time or quiet time.  Call it what you want.  Still part of the program.  No way around it.'

After that, things took an interesting turn.

July 17, 2018

I guess that's what they are calling it nowadays

I tried working outside our home.  I substitute taught.  I also worked for 3 years as an advancement director at a Catholic grammar school.  My take on the Catholic school administration thing (my kids once went to a different Catholic School from the one I worked in and we switched to public school, so I have experience with more than one of these places) - everyone has their own agenda.  No one is on the same page.  Communication sucks.  Why not stay home and be frustrated (and be slightly poorer, but only slightly)?

My kids would call me to say they forgot their lunch, or they missed the bus, or they couldn't find something.  I would arrive home to find our garage door up, the milk out, and the kitchen a disaster.  When I wasn't trying to read the minds of the powers that be at Saint-This-Place-Is-Full-of-Politics, I was stuck in traffic and racing to beat the school bus home.  Yes, this is where I scored my first of the string of tickets that caused me to lose my license for 7 weeks.

Three years ago in Sept '15, I started to babysit for a kid named Theo while his mom worked in a school  (I realize after looking back at older posts I am sharing that I sometimes refer to her as Gretta and sometimes I refer to her as Geraldine - same nutty parent different alias).  I found the parents a bit odd.  Understatement of the year.  She was about to have baby Carter.  After her maternity leave, I was watching both of her boys three days a week the first year and four days a week the two years after that.

I took this photo in Sept of '16. 
He had already worn
them EVERYDAY the school year
 before.  What kid fits in the same
 shoes for over a year? 
These people were not destitute.
They both have decent paying jobs.
 Just cheap.
 Buy your kid a pair of shoes!
Theo wore thread barren shoes.  The same pair for well over a year, and they were used when he started to wear them.  What 2 year old can fit in the same shoes for over a year?

Eventually my physical therapist husband informed her that she should be buying him new shoes.  She was prone to used shoes.  Used shoes might be okay for special occasion/single use shoes, but not a great idea for a kid who is a new walker who needs support, etc.

She used cloth diapers.  I rolled with it.  She wanted me to change Theo into pajamas for his afternoon naps.  I went along with that for a few weeks, and then I ceased the wardrobe change for a 2 year old's nap.

The list of weirdness is fairly endless.  She spoke to Theo and eventually to Carter in a way that made me cringe.  I hear parents at the grocery store talk like this, and it is all I can do to stop my old-school self from correcting them on the spot.  When Theo tried to interrupt her when she was talking to me during pick up one day, she squatted down and made him feel valued.  I guess that's what they are calling it nowadays..  In a sickly sweet voice, she told him, 'I hear what you are saying and I am sorry you are sad.  I am almost done talking to Ernie.  I know that you are ready to go home, and I will be ready in another moment.  Thank you for your patience.'

A finger (NO, not that finger - I'm not that bad), raised up in the kid's direction would have been all my kids needed to understand that they needed to wait a minute.  Geraldine was like that though - never interested in upsetting the youngster.  Offering long, squeaky explanations where I felt none was necessary.  Bending over backwards to make Theo's needs met.  'Needs' a term I use loosely.

Memory - sometimes we play it and sometimes we don't.  
Is the game 'Memory' a need?  One day Geraldine showed up just as we had set up a game of memory.  Theo was not happy.  Geraldine texted me the next day with her ETA.  She wanted to allow us enough time for memory.  Newsflash:  just because a game works one day, doesn't mean I have time for it the next day.  Curly had homework and I was finishing my dinner prep so that we could bolt for our soccer games that night.  I did NOT jump thru that memory-game- hoop and force a quick game to appease both mother and son.  Not the way the cookies crumbles, people.

I promise this leads somewhere . . .

July 15, 2018

not much - but enough to make me crazy

Tank and I walked out to the car.  The cops were nice.  They came over to my great white van a minute later where I was waiting to pull into traffic.  I told them that if I lived closer I would be driving here regularly and heckling potential clients, 'Don't go in there!'  They said that wasn't a good idea, and they assured me that the place was usually empty anyway.

Fridge drawers with cabinet covers that
won't stay on.  Hard to
open a drawer without the
panel because there is no handle.
I broke down a bit when I described my full life and how this has become an exhausting process.  The cop felt bad about what I was going thru.  He asked me how much of the job was left.  'Not much,' I admitted.

Things could be worse.  The flunkies could have stopped showing up back when we didn't have running water, or before the cabinets were in.  It isn't like the kitchen is only a third of the way done.  The thing is that I feel duped.  The fact that all those last little pieces of the job aren't getting done is crazy frustrating.

This happened the end of May.  It is now July.  JULY.  It is time consuming to call around and try to piece together the last bits of the kitchen.  I feel like we spent way too much on the job for me to be trying to figure out what is left to do and who is going to do it.  A guy, who came highly recommended, was going to work on a custom hood for us.  He set up a few appointments in mid June, but never showed and now won't return my calls.  Maybe one custom hood is too small a job for him.

Bathroom.  I was planning to do a
gray color in there.  Coach thinks
it would be easier to just
use the same color.
 And cheaper.
I still have to figure out someone to measure and order the barn doors.  Coach's approach is like, 'Do we NEED those?'  See, that is the other issue.  Coach is willing to throw his arms up and call it a day on lots of things - like the paint in the bathroom.  'Just leave it the color it is, because we probably still have the paint color.'  This is why I was working with what I thought were professionals.  So I didn't have to go thru Mr. It-Looks-Fine-To-Me.

We take pictures of everything.  When things aren't completed or when they are done incorrectly, we are scrambling to redo things or find someone who knows how to do what we need.  For instance, the cabinet panels to the fridge drawers in the mini-island snack bar thing won't stay attached.  We are now going to pay the appliance store that sold us the panel-ready appliances to re-attach the panels.
Ah, a completed deck.

The main two cabinets over the dishwasher don't open at the same time.  If I am unloading dishes from the dishwasher, then a kid cannot open the adjacent cabinet with the cups in it at the same time.  I described this issue to the cop that day when he stood at my car.

No spacer between these cabinets.  The
 doors buckle and then pop
 open and whack together if they
are both attempted to open at the same time.
He said it sounded like they failed to put in a spacer between the cabinets.  I would guess that self-taught didn't put the necessary spacer in the drawings.  I had been telling flunkies since December that those cabinets weren't working right.  Flunkies just kept shrugging and saying that is how the cabinets were made.  They knew damn well that they hadn't hung them with the proper spacer.  Hell, the cop figured that out without even having seen the kitchen.  This isn't a Home Depot kitchen, damn it.  All of the cabinets should open properly.

See how close the cabinets are. 
Needed a spacer.  To add one now would
involve taking these cabinets down
and would impact the crown molding, etc.
Our neighbor-lawyer has been a huge help to us.  He drew up the paperwork to have the contract terminated.  When I emailed Paulie to let him know that our lawyer was drawing up the contract termination papers, he emailed back.  He wrote that he would be gathering information on us.  As if.  Like he was going to sue us or expose us as the crazy people who made it impossible for him to do his work.  That email was rewarded with a half a chuckle.

Oh how I wish that this industry wasn't SO impossible to regulate.  I have heard many, many stories about jobs dragging on longer than humanly possible.  Horrible work.  Terrible communication.

Coach and his dad completed our deck in time for Mini's graduation party.  It ended up raining for the entire day, so the deck wasn't needed but it looked great.  It is also no longer the home to raccoons.

Coach has a patient who builds.  We used his plumber to install the gas line that needed to be put in before the deck was finished.  This patient has agreed to finish the kitchen for us, if we get him the materials.  I did locate and order the tile that we needed to complete the back-splash behind the stove top.  I am hoping that this other guy will come and look at our hood issue SOON.

Baby steps.

Oh yeah, Tank created a fake email address.  Under 'Connie Burn' - something he likes to say - Con and burn.  Not sure what the heck it means but it has something to do with 'in your face, I just burned you'.  He wanted me to email all the people whose emails I took note of in the office.  He was like 'The fake email account is tied to my cell phone, Mommy, so they can't trace it to you.'  Hmmm, not quite.  I ditched my initial plan to send out an email.  I did blast the flunkie company on Yelp though.

See, this is why it took me so long to write about.  Do you feel drained?  I do.  At least I had my 'yippee ki yi mother beeper' moment when Babs left us alone in the showroom.

July 13, 2018

like a kid in a candy store, plus cops

Tank and I looked at each other wide-eyed.  We were alone in the flunkie contractor's office.  I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to.  Totally bazaar.

Tank immediately walked thru the office to see if we were in fact alone.  We were.  I tested out a tall file cabinet.  It was unlocked.  I glanced around at papers on various counters and desks.  I felt like a kid in a candy store - only I didn't know what was candy and what was poison.

Babs poked her head back into the door about 6 minutes later.  I jumped.  I was standing in front of the tall file cabinet jotting things down on a notepad.  'Um, just be sure you lock up when you leave,' she requested.  WHAT?  What would I lock up with?  I didn't have a key.  Obviously.  What kind of crazy job security does this chick have?  Are these people all on drugs? 

I texted Paulie immediately.  'We are alone in your office.  Babs left.'  He texted back in record time.

He was definitely sweating.  Tank called out, 'Don't respond to him.'  Oh, I had no intention of responding.  I hoped he would show up at his showroom.  I had some things I wanted to say to his face.  Of course, I hadn't threatened anyone.  

I started jotting down names from a file that I found in the file cabinet.  This was a file of prospective clients.  These people wanted Paulie to get back to them, or start their job, or give them a quote.  I so wanted to send an email and warn them.  'Go with another contractor.  You're welcome.'

Then we started snapping pictures with our phones.  It was faster.  There was an invoice from a plumber.  Snap.  Attached was a bright colored sticky note.  'Plumber says he won't go back to the Whelan job until he is paid for the Ryerson job.'  Interesting.  Paulie was robbing Peter to pay Paul.  As suspected, he wasn't paying his subcontractors.  This is why progress on our job had stalled so frequently.  There was also a collection notice for $1,800 from some company.  Snap.  

Long story, but I met another family via YELP who was experiencing similar issues with our flunkie contractor.  They were the Whelan family, whose job the plumber wouldn't return to until the plumber was paid.  I called up Mr. Whelan. 

'You'll never guess where I am!' I squealed into the phone.  I described the plumber invoice.  Whelan couldn't believe that Babs had bailed AND asked me to lock up.  (Whelan was the one who pointed out to me that the guy who tiled my back-splash is not in fact a tile guy.  Swell.) 

Tank kept busy removing the batteries from the clocks.  He hid their land lines.  He wanted to mess with Paulie's computer, but I pulled the plug on that.  Tempting, but no.  

Tank started to get nervous that the police would show up.  I was ready.  I had nothing to hide.  Once I hung up with Whelan, I called Coach at work.  I told him how crazy it was that Tank and I were in the office alone.  That's when I noticed that the police were getting out of their car.  'Oh, I gotta go, Coach.  The police are here.'  Coach later described the kicked-in-his-gut feeling when I informed him that the police were there and then quickly hung up.  

The cops asked what was happening.  I told them all of it.  I pointed out how crazy it was that Babs had run off, and that despite Paulie's claims, I hadn't threatened anyone.  They chuckled about the threatening part and told me not to worry about it.  I wasn't.

They called up Paulie.  The cop told him, 'I can't make people talk nice on the phone or send nice emails.  Let me know what you want us to do.  Are we going to ask Ernie to leave, or are you going to come and give her the materials that she has paid for?'  Then the cop said, 'OK' and hung up.  

He looked at me and said, 'His exact words were:  Tell her to take me to court.'

July 11, 2018

when things go from frustrating to weird

May 30th the flunkie company emailed me to let me know that they were working on addressing my list, and that I would hear back from them in 24 hours.  Hearing back and completing the work didn't sound like the same thing.  Shock.

Mini was graduating from 8th grade on Thursday the 31st.  After she attended graduation practice in the morning, she was dismissed.  Tank hadn’t made it as far as graduation practice.  Remember?  The morning before, as Mini got ready to attend the final field trip, I teased her about whether or not she thought she might start a ruckus which could lead her to getting kicked out of graduation too.  Of course we both knew there was no chance little miss straight laced was going to follow in Tank's footsteps.  

Maybe it is the time of year for us Shenanigans, or maybe it was just the year-long reno project but I was feeling antsy by lunch time.  No word from the flunkie contractor.  Life was pretty damn hectic (thanks in part to one of the families I sit for - more on that later), but I paused a moment and decided:  enough is enough.  Mini was at her friends' house.  I called her.  'If you two hang out over here, then you can babysit during nap time and I can drive to the flunkie contractor place and demand my materials.'  

This is one of the items
listed on the punch list. 
A phone jack that wasn't complete.
I did state in my email that I was coming to pick up my already-paid-for-materials on the 31st if they hadn't delivered them, so that is what I decided to do.  Action felt better than sitting around doing nothing.  Tank walked in from mowing a few lawns.  I invited him to hop in the great white van.  'You are to use your phone for video footage if it gets ugly.'  Tank was all in.  

The showroom is a 25 minute drive from our house.  I tried to remind myself that there was very little chance that this adventure would end with me walking out to my car with my barn doors, my hood, etc.  Sometimes you gotta just go for it though.

I called to let the flunkies know I was planning to be there in under an hour.  I stressed that I meant business.  Babs, the newer office manager whom I had never met, tried to tell me that this was a showroom and my stuff wasn't there.  'Oh, no problem.  Just give me the address of the storage facility.  I will go there and you can have Paulie meet me there.'  I told her I would call back shortly to get the info on where I was to meet Paulie.  I used Tank's phone to call back, because I figured Babs would be screening her calls.  She didn't know Tank's number, but she didn't answer anyway.    

Mystery wire.  No idea what this is for. 
Never asked to have this stick out of the wall
 of the buffet.  They made a hole
 in the tile to accommodate this wire. 
The front door was locked, but Babs office was in the store-front window, so we saw her.  I knocked HARD on her window.  She let us in.  Then it got crazy weird.  Babs asked me if I had gotten her most recent email.  She had just sent it 2 minutes before I arrived, so -no, I hadn't gotten in.  I was driving, not checking email.  Oh, that reminds me.  Before I left and while I was driving there, Paulie sent me some crazy text messages.  How interesting that all of a sudden he was trying to communicate.

Babs handed me a printed copy of the 2 page email.  It was their response to my punch list.  I requested in my punch list that they install a phone jack and explain what the other exposed wire was for.  We had only one phone jack in the plans but there are two different spots where wires jut out of the tiled walls.  No idea why.  We aren't thrilled that the tile behind the buffet has a big hole in it to accommodate this mystery wire.  Their response on this email that Babs handed me:  'contact AT&T'.  Huh?

A closer look at the mystery wire and how horrible
 the tile will look if we have it removed now.
Babs' phone rang.  She shoved the phone in my face, 'It's just a personal call.'  I told her, 'Listen (crazy lady - didn't actually say that, but it WAS implied), I don't care who is calling you.  I am going to wait here until Paulie comes and gives me my shit.'  

'I have to watch my grandchildren.  I can't stay.  I need to go,' she called as she raced out the door.  It was early - like 3:30.  Hardly quitting time in my book. 

Tank, my heavy, and I just looked at each other.  What in the world?  We found ourselves alone in the office.  ALONE.  IN. THE. OFFICE.  


July 9, 2018

wait, you think we owe you what, and more red flags

As anticipated, the email that I dreaded stated something to the effect of:

We just realized that we only charged you for the baseboard in the front hall for $750.  The crown molding cost is $1,900.’  Red flag.  Why, oh why, had we allowed the previous red flags to slap us in the face and not flee from this group?!  Groan.  

I mean I KNOW why.  We just wanted the kitchen done.  And, hey- they had our money.  They had the plans, the crew, the materials, etc.  They were going to finish, right?

The woodwork had been done months ago.  I had already been billed, and I had already submitted my payment.  If they wanted to change the amount that I owed them, they were out of luck.  There were a few other pricing increases.  

We reached out to a neighbor, who is a lawyer.  He is a great guy.  He was Tank’s first lawn-mowing customer, and he was Tank’s confirmation sponsor.  He agreed to sit down with Coach and I that weekend.

The most earth shattering revelation was that Lawyer-neighbor told us that if our contractor was subcontracting out to get the work done on our job and not paying his subcontractors, then these subcontractors could take out a lien against our house.  Alarming!
If you are a regular reader here, um - thank you,
then this pic is old news.  It is just the most in-your-face
 reminder that the kitchen has not been completed.  

I drafted an email to the contractor and stated that we wouldn’t make another payment until he provided us with waivers of lien.  Lawyer-neighbor instructed me to include a date that we expected the work to be done.  If they didn’t complete the job by then, we would hire someone else and deduct the costs from what we owed them.  

Lawyer-neighbor checked over my email and then I sent it.  Just before I sent the email, the contractor sent his own email.  This email included a few of the adjustments that were glossed over in his alarming $25K email.  Now his total of what we owed was closer to what we thought we owed.  It was $13,000.  

This is probably old news too,
but this is the door to our deck. 
A bit of a struggle to walk
out there -a concern with
Mini's upcoming graduation party. 
I sent my email May 15th demanding waivers of lien and with the expectation that the work be done by May 31st.  The actual work (not including the punch list of little issues and incomplete aspects of the job):  

1.  install the hood (I have the appliance part sitting in boxes) and custom hood surround, 

2.  Put the glass doors in the two cabinets on either side of the stovetop, 

3.  finish building the deck, 

4.  and hang the barn doors that are supposed to slide in front of the recessed calendar.  

Then we waited, and we received this little gem of an email.  I do wonder if maybe the guy is on heroine.  He is MAYBE 112 pounds sopping wet and he never stops moving, plus he doesn't make sense lots of times.  Exhibit A . . .

Ernie and Coach,

As I expressed in my last e-mail, before we can move forward, it's best to resolve remaining balance extras that we need to settle as I expressed in the past several weeks.

As we are preparing more details to reply to your last e-mail, which you will have by the end of the day.


May 31st was quickly approaching and we had heard nothing.  I sent a follow up email clarifying what specific things needed to be complete by May 31st.  If they didn't complete the work, then we expected them to either drop off the materials that we had paid for (have an email stating this)- or we would come and pick them up.  Use your imagination to see where this is headed . . . that is a challenge, but trust me - not in your wildest dreams . . .   

July 7, 2018

Where to begin: filling you in on what we hoped would be an ending?

Coach likes to pretend he is going to
 sweep his pile right down this
opening to the heating/ac duct.
Where to begin?  So the addition/kitchen remodel started close to a year ago.  The kitchen looks great, except for the gaping space where the hood should go, the lack of glass doors in two of the cabinets, the cabinet panels that are falling off or our appliances, the hole in the base of the cabinet where there should be a vent, and. . . well - I could go on. 

It is ALMOST done, but not quite.  The process has been long and frustrating.  There have been ENTIRE months when NO ONE showed up.  Communication was horrid.  I couldn’t get in touch with ANYONE from the group for several weeks back in December/January.  I started to think they had gone bankrupt.
That is my little snack bar area
complete with fridge drawers
 with cabinet covers
that don't stay on.  I now
 have to pay someone else
 to come and attach the cabinet
 doors properly.
Note the red solo cup.
Anarchy.  Our children
refuse to reuse the colored
cups they have been assigned.
Old news.  No hood.  No glass cabinet doors.

On April 30th the contractor emailed to let us know that we owed him $25,000.  The body of the email detailed a charge for $1,900 and a charge for less than a thousand.  I wasn’t understanding the math.  How was he getting those two numbers to add up to 25K?  He wanted us to send a payment before he continued to do work on the kitchen.  I almost fell off my chair at the computer.  According to my calculations, we owed him closer to $10,000.  

I waited until after I hosted Mini’s confirmation dinner on May 1st, and then I called the office.  ‘Is this a typo?  Has someone added a zero?’  The office person spoke to the owner’s daughter, the self-taught kitchen designer.  She came back to the phone and assured me that Self-taught thought it was a mistake.  

I relaxed until I got the next email.  No, they still felt I owed them close to $25,000.  They did apologize for the run on sentence and the horrible math in the earlier email.  Can you say unprofessional?  Who sends an email with bad math and a lack of a sentence?!

In this email, they listed the payments that they had received from me.  The $7,000 payment I made in February wasn’t included.  I called the bank and got a copy of the cancelled check.  Then I emailed the contractor to let them know they had failed to give us credit for the 7K. 

I told Coach that night that the contractor would probably start adding additional fees to our bill.  I suspected that he just wanted to collect a certain amount of money from us, whether we owed it or not. 

Guess what?  That is exactly what happened.     

Hi Ernie,

I apologize for missing the $7,000 payment you made.  I had just come on board and during the transition the books were not as accurate as they should be.  (HELLO - RED FLAG!!!)

I have attached the revised statement.  Upon further reviewing the extras, we have found that the crown molding in the front hallway, door casing for the front door, as well as the baseboard and base shoe was not included in the extra sheet in the amount of $1,980.

There was also the pricing for the additional new crawlspace decorative semi-custom door for $592 which was overlooked.

Your job description from the original order until now has changed dramatically.  (CHANGES THAT WERE NAILED DOWN BEFORE THE PROJECT EVER BEGAN!!!)  Because of these changes we believe it is beneficial for all to be on the same page moving forward. We are just as eager to complete this job as you are for us to complete it.



Office Manager 

The actual names have been changed in the above email to protect the idiots who work there.  They decided that they hadn't charged us enough for the baseboard and the crown molding in the front hall.  An amount I had already been billed for and paid.

Oh, there's more.

July 5, 2018

As long as we are on the topic . . .

Well now you know the truth about my Scotland trip.  Months later, I had yet another unrelated incident.  Think less itch and more pain.

It was the day of Mini's graduation party.  I had just returned from Indianapolis the day before.  Who plans a graduation party for the day after they are out of town?  Um, no comment.  I wrote down a few things I hoped Coach would do while I was gone, but I didn't REALLY think he was going to do any of it.

First of all let me point out that Coach spent hours that morning trimming the shrubs and trees in the yard.  Um, it was raining and there was no chance that our guests were going to spend any amount of time outside during the party.  At least we had a bigger space with the kitchen expansion, so we had room for people inside.

I am of the mindset that in order to throw a party the host should do as much as possible in advance - especially a host with 6 of the messiest kids in the history of kids.  I can't clean the kitchen in advance because my offspring will destroy it in one meal (I mean I think that is pretty standard), but I can dust my china hutch in the dining room, dust mop the living room, deal with stacks of paperwork on the island, and do some of the food prep in advance.

If we were going to focus on the landscaping, (and why would this be important to us for this party when it has been a tradition to overlook it for forever) then why wouldn't we, aka Coach, have focused on it a week or two in advance?  If you had spied on us that morning, you would have seen Coach in the yard drenched in sweat wrestling branches and chopping away at straggling overgrowth while I dripped in sweat racing around the kitchen.  I was trying to put some order to the house while plugging in crock-pots and calling out orders.  The boys were caddying, but Mini and Curly took orders like champs.

Less than an hour before the party, Coach ran to get ice.  That's when it happened.  I kicked it into overdrive and overdrive kicked me back - hard.

This is the light fixture. 
There are two of them over the
 island.  Notice the lack of hood
 in the background.  It is so
 frustrating I can't bring myself
to write about it.  A vi-jay-jay
story was embarrassing
but not frustrating. 
I decided to hop up on a counter height bar stool and Windex the top of the light fixtures over the island.  They honestly didn't look bad, but I was on autopilot.  I have a horrible host habit of hopping in the shower minutes before the guests are going to arrive.  I blame it on being a lefty.  I do things backwards.

I lunged forward on the island with one foot planted on the counter and wiped down the light fixtures.  Coach's first comment about the new lights over the island was that they would be hard to clean.  I told him since it might bother him and since he had the height advantage at 6 foot 4, that the lights over the island could become his job.  These lights were on the little list I jotted down as I left for Indy.  I found out later that he had already done them.  Oops.

My bigger oops, was when I stepped down off of the island.  I misjudged where I was.  I thought I was stepping sideways off of the stool and clearing the backrest.  No.  I was stepping over the backrest.  My leg might be long, but not THAT long.  I couldn't reach the ground with the backrest up in my bits.  I fell.  My crotch caught the backrest of the stool.  The stool fell.  Yep.  That sucked.

I had been trying to pace myself so that I could get in the shower at an acceptable time -  all the while I was watching my husband attack our hopeless landscaping in crummy weather.  Fortunately I wasn't writhing on the floor holding myself between my legs as guests were arriving.  I had a few spare minutes.

The scene of the accident.  No idea how
I got so disoriented that I thought that
my foot was coming off the side
 not over the back of this stool.  Duh!
The girls came running.  Mini gasped in relief, 'Wow - the way you screamed I thought something bad happened like you dropped a whole tray of pasta.'  That was an interesting perspective.  Curly moaned, 'Is it going to hurt when you have to pee?'  Good point, but I assured her that by the grace of God, I had fallen on the back of the bar stool on an angle.  My injury was directed more in the corner between my leg and my vi-gay-gay.  Later when Reggie was home, he said, 'Wow, if you were a boy you would be dead.'  Well put.

There were other bruises, but I decided I was lucky that I didn't break my arm or something.  Coach was ticked that I had been such a knucklehead.  'I already did that,' he hollered.  He acted as if him accomplishing his chores was a given.

A few guests had trickled in while I was showering.  My quick shower routine called for a bit of extra time since I needed to apply ice to the 'area'.

July 3, 2018

water on weeds

My first phone call when I got home from Scotland was to the OBGYN.  Was she the right person to be treating this?  I asked this aloud.  Discomfort removes the beat-around-the-bush process.  Nice choice of words, huh?  They agreed.  It was time to see the dermatologist. 

Aha, hooray.  Bearing my who-ha to another medical professional was just what I had in mind.  I honestly would have flashed a bus driver claiming to know about rashes, if I thought he had the answers I was searching for.  Desperate times and all.

I wasn't sure what pics to display here.
  These are the two pairs of skinny jeans. 
Aren't the paisley ones super cute?
 In all seriousness, they were soft like butter.
 Thank the Lord for small favors!
Did your mother ever warn you about wearing decent underwear in case you were in a car accident?  Well, I threw caution to the wind.  Wearing NOTHING from the waist down (really, I don't typically roll this way) except the baggiest pair of black, ultra-thick, hand-me-down water polo sweats from Laddie, I waddled into the doctor's office the next morning.

There I robbed a young dermatologist of her innocence and guaranteed her several weeks if not months of nightmares.  And this is the woman who treats my kids' acne.  So, I see her often - under what I once considered bummer circumstances.  'Look how broken out they are!'  Sad, pouty mom face vs. me begging her secretly to disassociate me with what she was about to see.  'Look away!  Look away!  I mean cure me, damn it!  But try not to remember that it is my downstairs you are inspecting.'

This is when she asked me what the OBGYN had given me.  I called the pharmacist and was embarrassed to learn that it had happened more times than I could even remember.  What is wrong with me?

Again, at a loss for an appropriate picture. 
These are the girls' dancing dresses. 
We are getting packed up for another
 major competition.  July 1st-July 5th
 I will be in Orlando with the girls for
National Championships of Irish Dancing.
 No, we aren't going to the parks this time.
 Bummer.  We just did Nationals
 in Orlando two years ago.  I needed
more of a break to justify a visit to the parks.
  For me, it doesn't take much.
I love it there. 
Strictly dancing and home. 
Minus the itching.  
Dermatologist (whose American Indian name going forward would be 'One-whose-eyeballs-forever-burn') told me that it was a fungal infection.  Giving me an oral steroid was just hiding the raging itch temporarily, but not getting rid of it.  'It was like throwing water on weeds.' she declared.  This is why it continued to reappear - worse every time until I looked like I had been slathered in sunscreen everywhere but my bits and my upper, inner thighs and left to bake in the sun for countless hours.  I don't sunburn in general, but it looked like the worse sunburn imaginable with an added itch.  In case you needed a visual.  Trust me - you don't want a visual.

She gave me an ointment for fungal infection.  She looked at my feet to see if perhaps I had picked up a fungal infection at the gym and passed it to that particular spot when I stepped into my underwear.  No sign of anything though.  I admit to occasionally getting sidetracked after my workouts and not always jumping directly in the shower.  It could've happened because I was sweaty once and stayed in my sweaty clothes while getting a few things done first.

I had to wonder how an OBGYN couldn't figure this one out.  Oh, if only.

Now you know why I didn't go into great detail about my Glasgow trip.

July 1, 2018

where the sun don't shine

I have been hesitant to post anything about this topic.  Now that I have accumulated a couple of 'incidents', I think I will try to broach the subject - with caution.

Back in March just before I headed to Scotland for Irish Dancing World Championships, I noticed an itch.  This was no ordinary itch.  Unfortunately, I had experienced a similar issue several months earlier.

Back in November, I assumed it was a pesky yeast infection.  (yes, that kind of itch.  Now you know why I hesitated to share).  I tried the standard operating procedure for a yeast infection.  Much to my discomfort - IT DID NOT GO AWAY!

As much as I dreaded it, I decided to call my OBGYN.  I crossed my fingers that they would call in a prescription for an oral pill that would clear it up.  After I described how severe the symptoms were, the nurse said the 5 words that I hated to hear:  'You need to be seen.'  NO!!!!!!  Really?

To my horror (and apparently the horror of the Doc), she admitted that she had never seen anything like this before.  How is that possible?  She prescribed an oral steroid.  There was creme too.  It took time, but it went away.

I hoped the girls wouldn't
grab this thinking it was toothpaste.
 I mean we had some serious
moments of exhaustion after
 that endless journey.
Only to return again.  Yep, the following month it happened again.  I happened to be seeing the same doctor for my annual exam.  She was like, 'What is going on?'  I think it was closer to 5 or 6 weeks since the first episode.  Holy Hell.  I tried to explain it away like this had something to do with my age and my hormone levels.  It isn't really the kind of thing you ask your girlfriends.  'So, does your vi-jay-jay do this?'  I was given another oral steroid.

When this was all said and done, I called my pharmacist to find out how many times I had been put on the same oral steroid by my OBGYN.  I had lost track and I recall being shocked that it had occurred 3 times total.  Not counting Glasgow.

I began to itch before we left for the trip, but I was incredibly busy.  I thought I could handle it.  Perhaps there is some brain cell loss associated with taking so many rounds of oral steroids.  Or I blocked it.  At any rate, in my state of denial I tossed a little Vagisil in my bag and away we went.

As if the adventure of getting to Glasgow wasn't enough, my insane itching was the icing on the cake.  I packed skinny jeans for the staple of my wardrobe.  Enough said.  The Vagisil ointment offered some relief until around dinner.  Misery doesn't begin to cover it.

I needed the girls to know what I was going thru, so in a very memorable Mommy/daughters moment - I showed them.  They may be scarred for life.  I kid you not, I thought my upper legs would literally be scarred for life as the rash crept down my legs.  Had I worn my last bathing suit?

June 29, 2018

what's with the eye twitch?

I have developed an eye twitch.  I would assume it is stress related.  Summer stress.

Ah, summer.  It used to mean no schedule.  Racing up to the pool whenever possible.  Meeting up with friends.  Now it is all about shuffling cars and trying not to forget to pick people up from their stuff and begging (I do mean BEGGING) people to put their shit away.  And then there is everyday nonsense such as:

This (to the left) fell out of the fridge yesterday.  Reg opened the fridge and it fell out.  This Ninja jug was half full of protein/fruit smoothie.  I make a batch for breakfast daily and any kid that has already left the house helps himself to some later.  I thought Ed (the family health nut who lives for his protein shake) was going to explode when he found the broken container.  Reg cleaned it all up.

I was out buying a gently used quadruple stroller for my babysitting adventure in the fall.  I can explain.  I feel like I have been promising lots of upcoming posts.  Hey, something to look forward to, right?  Well you might have to remind me what I was supposed to tell you.

When Reg called, I was driving home from the city with the stroller in the back of my 12 seater-former-airport-shuttle van.  Reg called me to confess about the broken Ninja jug.  I couldn't keep my eyes open on my drive in the rain with the huge stroller that filled most of the rear window.  I was so tired, I missed my exit.  Ugh.  I didn't even have the energy to get upset about the Ninja jug.  I got home and in less than 3 minutes I ordered a replacement jug on Amazon for $23.  And I told Ed to relax!

Why am I always so damn tired?  I laid down Tuesday evening at 4:30.  Coach was taking kids to the swim meet.  People, I woke up at 7:30 AT NIGHT!  I know the house was quiet, but still!  Who takes a 3 hour nap in the early evening?  My sleep has been officially thrown off all week.

Anyway, I didn't blame Reg.  The fridge can sometimes be very full.  A little jostle and something is going to go flying.  He must have done a good job cleaning it up because I haven't been sticking to the floor.  So, there's the silver lining.  I suspect he was afraid of getting in trouble with me.  Kind of like Mini being afraid of getting in trouble with me over the lack of underwear thing.
one of the many
uses of rice

Do you know what this is to the right?  It is a giant bag of rice being used to dry out Lad's phone after he dropped it in the hot tub at the health club after his workout last night.  Fingers crossed that the rice will save his phone and absorb all the water from the phone.  The phone was purchased in mid May.  At Walmart.  Cringe.  Don't get me started, and don't make me go back there.  It is too soon!  That's right, his phone is only a month old.  Note to self:  buy more rice.

Shown here:  four of the six cups. 
What is so bad about yellow?
  I think he just likes to get a rise
out of me.  I will win this, damn it.
  If I have to pack the other glasses/mugs
 in boxes and hide them in the
basement.  He likes to use HUGE
 cups that people brought home from sporting
events when they ordered a drink. 
Those things don't fit in the dishwasher.

I recently ordered colored tumblers from Amazon.  These 6 cups come in 6 different colors.  And they fit in the dishwasher.  Perfect.  Just what we needed.

Coach is a kitchen nazi.  He can't stand it when the kids use more than one cup.  My plan was that if everyone had their own color cup, then they would remember which cup was theirs and they wouldn't just grab ANOTHER cup.

Lad REFUSES to use his yellow cup.  I think he was asleep when the other kids called dibs on colors.  Early bird gets the favorite cup color, I guess.

It is a chore to pull the minivan
 into the smaller space.
Talk about tight.
There will be a bit more space
once the last pieces
 of wood get moved out of the garage
when we are sure that the builders
(different builders - yep, I still need to
 update you on that.  It's a doozie)
 don't need all of it to complete the kitchen.
And, there goes the eye twitch again.
I literally hid all other cups, mugs, and glasses the other morning.  The only cup left in the cupboard was the yellow cup.  Lad had no choice.

But he found the coffee mugs.  Of course.  No one drinks coffee in our house.  Or tea.  His coffee mug was in the sink this morning.  He had used it for his morning protein shake.  Of course, he left it in the sink.

None of them can load anything in the dishwasher during the day.  It is going to be such a long summer.

I used to love summer, but my kids are making messes, demanding rides, and acting taxed when I mention expectations.  I may have a twitchy eye, but hey -at least we can park two of our three cars in the garage again.  Even Coach was impressed with my garage efforts.

June 27, 2018

update on the awful family drama 6 months ago, AND an endoscopy

Today is June 25th.  I know, I know, it is really June 27th by the time you are reading this.  I am scheduling it to post in the future.  Does that make you feel cheated?  Well, I apologize but my options are limited.  I am going to be in Orlando for National Championships of Irish Dancing soon.  I decided to get some writing done tonight, or I would have several days with nothing posted. 

Today (well, June 25th) Laddie turned 20 years old.  We celebrated last night (the 24th - are you confused?) because everyone was going in different directions on Monday night.  I whipped up a crowd pleasing dinner of  Honey Mustard Chicken and mashed potatoes and green beans.  Then I served the gluten eaters a Costco cheesecake. It looked dreamy.

I was stressing a bit, so I was a bit of a grouch.   Full disclosure.  I was barking at people to put their stuff away and clean up after themselves.  The usual.  When Coach hollered, 'What now?' . . . as in 'what could one of our darling children do to set me off AGAIN ' while I dished out dinner, Lad added to the drama with his two cents.

He griped that I shouldn't have called the gang to dinner if the plates weren't ready.  It is true, kids were sitting waiting to be served.  Imagine?!  How inconsiderate of me.  I have a habit of cutting up all the meat and then tossing various portion sizes on plates.  Curly likes to graze all day and never has room for a full meal.  Anyway, it is sort of a silly practice since the big boys all eat at least one chicken breast each.  The other issue I was trying to explain as the hungry lot sat there and stared at me is that we don't have enough knives for kids to cut there own meat.  I need to remedy that situation.  Soon!

Lad directed a more detailed critique of me to Coach, 'There's always an issue and she's always negative.'  So, that put a damper on the dinner and my festive spirit.  Do I need to mention that it sucks the life out of me to have them sit around and watch me do EVERYTHING?

I was especially annoyed by the shoes laying around, the plates from earlier meals not handled, and the caddy towels tossed here and there.  These kinds of standard messes make me come unglued today in particular because in the morning (the 25th) I was going to my doctor's office for an endoscopy.  Later in the afternoon I hoped to be perky, because a new family was coming to meet me to see if they want me to babysit for them in the fall.  I was unsure of how I would feel after the procedure, and I didn't want to be trying to get the house cleaned up while groggy.  It's hard enough to clean up the house while not being groggy. 

Anyway, since it is Laddie's birthday I wanted to update you on a situation between Laddie and my Dad.  You remember, right?  The Christmas gift with a stinger included. 

Apparently after mass Saturday night, my Dad flagged Lad down.  I missed it because I needed to chat with someone, and I followed her out to the parking lot to ask her something.  Coach later told me that Dad said to Lad, 'Lad, I want to take you out sometime soon.  I want to apologize.' 

Coach's former office manager, who we miss terribly,
threw a party because she is moving from
 this building with an awesome view of the city.
Coach and I went out that night.  Wonders never cease.  We went downtown to Coach's former office manager's apartment.  She was having a rooftop party.  It wasn't until we were there that Coach turned to me and asked me if I had heard what Dad said to Lad.  What??  Are you serious?  

What do you know? 
Coach and I were out late enough
for the city to be all lit up.
 Just a couple of crazy kids.
I am not sure how receptive Lad will be to my Dad's invitation.  The other kids, who witnessed it, said Lad shrugged and was like 'whatever.'  I am hopeful that Lad will agree to go to lunch with him, and that he will be ready to accept Dad's apology. 

I know my Dad didn't mean to hurt Laddie, but the fact is that he did.  The man has a tendency not to THINK.  The impact was pretty obvious.  My heart is happy to know that my Dad is going to try to straighten out the mess.  I am sad that it took 6 months.  I am guessing that it really started to hit home that Lad is home from college but won't greet my Dad.  He wouldn't sign the Dad's day card that I bought for my Dad.  The rest of the kids hopped in the car when I went to wish my Dad a happy Father's Day.  Lad was noticeably absent. 

In other news:  my endoscopy went well this morning.  I am glad it is over.  Whoever put the tube down my throat had some serious skill.  I didn't even have a sore throat.  See, I am not always negative.  I am thrilled that my throat isn't killing me!  Last time my throat hurt for days. 

I was told I couldn't drive today.  I have been ordering people around to have them drive here and there all day.  I might pretend that I have an endoscopy more often!

June 25, 2018

begs the question, 'Were you raised in a barn?'

Mini now has a phone, since she graduated 8th grade.  Thank you, Walmart. 
I went into the family room to snag her phone and just snap a photo of it with the new case that arrived today.  I should have ordered the case back when I bought the phone - before it even had service.  Wasn't thinking that far in advance.  New phone already has one crack in it.  Anyway, how perfect that the two sisters were curled up on the couch looking at different kinds of dog breeds on Mini's phone.  Perfect picture and I didn't even pose them!  Pure as the driven snow.  Mini will make a great babysitter.  Damn it.

I reminded her Wednesday that she should text the woman, Tootsie, that she just started sitting for.  Previously, Tootsie was texting Mini indirectly thru me.  I had explained that Mini would have her own phone soon.

I suggested Mini text Tootsie something like:  'Hi, Tootsie!  I have my own phone now.  I wanted to touch base with you to see what time you needed me Saturday night?'

Tootsie responded right away.  'Oh sorry.  Since I hadn't confirmed with you, I asked my mother-in-law to babysit Saturday night.'  What the Hell is wrong with people?

Maybe she forgot that she had asked Mini to sit.  Regardless, now that Mini texted her to ask what time she was needed, Tootsie should realize that Mini was planning to babysit.  Mini certainly wouldn't have just imagined that Tootsie and hubby had a wedding to go to.  I felt that Tootsie should cancel the grandma sitter.  Duh.  It isn't Mini's fault that Tootsie is flaky.  She should honor the job that she offered Mini several weeks ago.
See - the job was clearly marked
on our dry erase board.
 I did not add it just for the sake
 of my blog - swear.  I wouldn't do that to you.
  I may have wiped off Tootsie's real name.
 If she flakes on this though, she
 deserves a fake name like Tootsie, right?

I was there when Mini met Tootsie.  Tank mows their lawn.  We chatted.  Mini met the kids.  Tootsie asked her for 2 dates.  Mini looked at me, her walking calendar.  I confirmed that Mini was available for both dates.

Mini babysat for the first of those two dates two weeks ago on a Saturday.  June 9th.  (getting home from an Irish dancing competition was a little dodgy, but I made it happen.  More on that later.  Promise).  Tootsie and her hubby were very generous when they paid her.  Mini told me that when they dropped her off aftrerwards, she said, 'See you on Saturday.'

So Mini said 'Saturday,' when she should have said 'see you in 2 weeks on Saturday, June 23rd.'  She didn't have her walking calendar handy.  Still, that was her friendly 14-year-old reminder that she had an upcoming job with them.

I feel the need to write a book titled:  'Rules for Hiring Babysitters.'  Remember Geraldine and her 'cast a wide net' issue when hiring a sitter?  What is with these people?  Were they raised in a barn?

Is it me?  I feel like it just comes down to manners.  Plain and simple.  I may swear like a sailor, drive like Mario Andretti, and struggle to keep my home tidy, but I understand babysitter hiring etiquette 101.