November 17, 2018

re-configuring my dance-mom mission, yuck

Tots checking out the otters.  One of my favorites! 
They did not disappoint.
In true dance-mom (gulp) fashion, I planned an outing to the zoo last Friday (and when it snowed that morning, we pressed on like the zoo-lovers that we are) with the tykes.  Curly brought her BFF.  Both girls love babies and they still enjoy the zoo.  A win-win.

Curly was going to require a relaxing treat considering that I had just booked for her three private lessons over her long weekend.  She kept arguing with me that it was her weekend off.

Um, Curly has gone thru a growth spurt and as a result is struggling a bit to keep her body from wobbling (while dancing . . . that was implied, right?  I mean, the kid is tall, but she CAN walk).  To begin with my kid is several inches, if not a full head taller, than most of the other dancers her age.  And with a late December birthday, she is one of the youngest girls in her age group:  cut off Jan 1.

Some might argue that those long legs would wow the judges in competition.  Well, if those long legs aren't in control and there is so damn much of them to see, then the judges are gonna notice.  Oh, how I don't wish to be a dance mom, but I have been down this path before.

I know how hard it is to pick a disappointed kid up off the floor and put the pieces of her broken heart back together again.  Last year Curly placed 4th.  In the Midwest.  It was huge.  Don't think for a minute though that I was not keenly aware of the flip-side.  There really is no where to go from there.  The top three places are fairly locked in by three amazing dancers.  I just hope that Curly is happy with her placement on the 25th.

After the zoo, the crazy bus driven by my crazy-dance-mom-self drove the long way home (as in the wrong direction, but hey we were already out and the smalls were already buckled in car-seats).  I dropped Curly at the studio.

I spoon-fed the baby her lunch in the indoor children's play zoo.  I passed out the other lunches on paper plates and assigned Curly the task of breaking off bites of food to hand to the 16 month old.  It worked great that a few of the kids I normally sit for, didn't come that day.

The 4.5 yr old shared that he didn't want to eat lunch in the car.  He would like to eat at home.  'Oh, I didn't ask you where you want to eat.'  Love this guy, but he also exclusively drinks chocolate milk.  Translation:  at my house he drinks water.  I don't jump thru hoops, peeps.  I often distribute lunch in the car, because it saves time.  Do you want more time to see the cute baby orangutan, or do you want to leave early so you can eat at my kitchen table?  Work with me, damn it.  Besides, we were being re-routed to the dance studio, so it was going to be awhile before we were home. 

The night before all of this went down, Ed came home from practice and informed me that his basketball practice time changed.  Sure, why the Hell not?!  He could no longer drive to the studio to get Curly after her lesson at 3:30.

I cancelled the haircut I needed so desperately, and asked the moms I sit for to pick up as soon as they possibly could because Curly was at a dance lesson waiting for meSo Curly's two hour dance lesson, morphed into 3 hours by the time my shaggy, bad-haired self arrived to pick her up.

November 15, 2018

You fly where? When? For how long? . . . Out of the loop

Being the good dance-mom that I am (yes, those words tasted foul even though I was only typing them . . . choke, choke), I have been cramming private dance lessons into every spare opening in Curly's day.  Midwest Championships for Irish dancing are happening over Thanksgiving weekend.  Crunch time.

Someone got a new dress.
Curly had no school on Friday November 9th because the school had parent/teacher conferences.  I was babysitting, but I was trying to figure out a way to get Curly to the dance studio in order to score her a lengthy private lesson.

A dancer, who is usually away at college, was in town for the weekend.  She had nothing else going on and would be available and happy to give Curly a lengthy lesson.   Between nap times and feeding the troops their lunch, I was struggling to find a way to get Curly to the studio.

Then I had a brilliant idea.  (I have brilliant ideas all the time -executing them is often the challenge).  Coach was heading out of town to attend a class in Reno for the weekend.  When he got home that night, I asked him, 'Hey, what time is your flight on Friday?'  Depending on what airport he was flying out of, he might be able to drop Curly at the studio on his way.

That's when he dropped way #4 that made me wish for just a few moments that I could be him:  'Oh, I don't fly out on Friday.  I leave on Wednesday.  Straight from work.' 

How did I not know this?

My laundry room is often in this chaotic state.
 NOT when I leave town though. 
See the bin on the right?  Note that it is cracked.
The guys that have spent 10 weeks
to fix my kids' bathroom shower must have
knocked it off the high shelf it was on when they
were hammering on the other side of the wall. 
Time for a new bin.  And hey, maybe
You understand, of course, that if I were to go out of town I practically tattoo my plans to Coach's forehead.  I run my itinerary past him - usually offering several different options to see what would work best for him prior to booking anything.  I arrange rides for the kids to as many activities as possible.  I make multiple meals well in advance to feed the masses.  In my spare time, I race to the laundry room to wash, dry, repeat as many times as it takes to clear the heaps of laundry from the floor.

His class ran from Thursday till Sunday - not just Sat/Sun as I had originally thought.  He would be taking the red-eye home early Monday morning, and then he would go straight to work.   Awesome.

My private lesson mission did not die there.

November 13, 2018

that, by definition, is a preference

Here is another 'wonder what it would be like to be Coach?' scenario:

#3.  On election morning, I was trying to map out where everyone was going to be and when.

In order to make my point, I need to illustrate Coach's schedule.  Coach works late two nights a week.  He is technically not working on Tuesday evenings, but for the last SEVERAL months, he has been teaching an online physical therapy class from 6 - 9 pm.  He does this in our bedroom from his laptop while hidden away from the family chaos.

OK, I was going to make a joke about him maybe conducting a different kind of class because after I typed that last sentence, it sounds very secretive given his location and the need for space from the fam, but this isn't that kind of blog.  And Coach isn't that kind of Coach.  Trust me.

Translation about his schedule:  he cannot drive anyone anywhere on those nights.  He does gets paid.  He just got the check for this course that FINALLY, MERCIFULLY ended week before last.  I told him, NOT WORTH IT.

⌻ Check this box to vote no more Tuesday night classes for Coach.  
(couldn't resist - election day and all.  I would totally be carefully filling in the box on this one).

So election day was a Tuesday, and Coach would be a participant in family activities this particular Tuesday (and hopefully every Tuesday following).   Before they walked to school I thought to ask Reggie and Curly if they had a preference as to who came to which game.  Mommy or Daddy.  When Reggie plays at home, Curly plays away and vice versa because they both play for the 7th grade junior high teams - boy team/girl team.

They both shook their heads.  No.  They didn't care.  Slight pause.

'Well, I mean.  I would rather have Daddy come to my game,' Reg admitted.

Defense by Ed.  Lookie there, I know 
what defense is.  Hey, I am no slouch when
 it comes to following their sports.  
I am just not 'Dad'.  
I truly was not offended.  I just had to chuckle, because Reg had just said 'no preference'.  I pointed out to him that this was in fact a preference.

Eddie and I get along great.  He is very aware of tensions that might crop up in my day.  He can joke with me, and assure me that things are going to work out.  He is a good listener and offers to help me out whenever possible (while he is taking 7 AP classes and filling out college applications, not so much in the helping out department - but there are other, less crazy times when he is good enough to pitch in and drive someone or do some other chore).

I don't miss his basketball games or water polo games unless I absolutely have to.  I ask him about practice.  I enjoy hosting the team for pasta dinners and I love to learn about the team dynamics and personalities.  I cheer whole-heartily.  BUT, when it comes time to talk about a game or a stat or a play or an encouraging comment from a coach, Ed singles out his father and shares the details with him fairly exclusively.

All good.  I am fine with it.  Guy talk.  It makes me wonder though, once again
. . . what would it be like to be Coach.

I mean, I am lucky because all the kids come to their mother when they are about to vomit - especially in the middle of the night.  So, I got that going for me!

November 11, 2018

Would you like a sticker for that?

If you are just tuning in, this is the second way that I recently thought, 'hmm . . . I wonder what it would be like to be Coach.'

#2.  The night got a bit more confusing (as in, the night when I was trying to vote after catching Curly's basketball game and racing to the bank - and hoping that I could have time to woof down a meal - that Coach was grilling - and cart Curly to a private Irish dancing lesson), because I realized as I drove in the wrong direction from the high school to my voting spot, that we would have two kids done with basketball at the high school at any minute.  I called Coach.  'I am cooking dinner.  I can't go pick them up,' he told me.

Fair enough.  They could wait.  Better them, than me.  That is my chauffeuring motto - so long as coaches don't have to stand around and wait.  That I try desperately to avoid.

Imagine how many stickers I could collect
 if they handed them out for other exciting
 adventures each day like:  making dinner
 and timing it not to interfere with
 chauffeuring duties, 

remembering to pick up kids,
 making time for the bank
 separate from my husband's visit, cheering
for a 5th grader in her 7th grade b-ball game
Mini forgot her phone that morning, and Tank's phone is broken - although he has managed to send and receive the occasional text.  We question whether or not he is just jones-ing for a new phone.  Can't blame him, since his phone is INCREDIBLY cheap, but he has caused more than his share of frustrations lately - laundry hijackings, DMV nightmares, corneal abrasions, etc.  Have I not written about those yet?  Oh, hold on to your hat peeps.  I will soon share the Tank dairies with you.

I digress, b-ball coaches don't always end basketball practice/tryouts when they say they are going to.  I had no idea how I would communicate with Mini and Tank.  I was pressed for time, because I still had to vote, get them at the high school, double-back to get home, eat dinner, and drive Curly to her money pit private lesson.

Getting back to my point - how I wish I could be Coach:  I cook dinner most nights.  I have NEVER been eligible to use the 'I'm-cooking-dinner-I-can't-pick-so-and-so-up' card.  Really, this doesn't count and I know it.  There is some kind of state mandate that my dinners must all be in the oven well in advance, so there isn't a chauffeuring conflict.  Coach grills, and that damn grill can be downright unforgiving.  This is why I stick to the stove/oven/crock pot variety dinners.  I never grill.

Let me just add though - I don't usually have someone to differ to for pick up, because most of the time I am flying solo.  Cussing a blue streak, but flying solo none the less.

Just as I was pulling into the parking lot where I needed to vote, Tank called me on a borrowed phone.  'We are done.  Come get us.'  I am voting now, but the lot doesn't look full, so it should be fast.  Like 15 minutes, I explained.  Excessive amount of grumbling.

I voted quicker than you can say, I-am-elated-that-I-don't-have-to-hear-any-more-horrible-political-ads.  On my way to the high school, I got a text from Coach.  I asked Ms. Bluetooth Voice to read it to me.  It sounded like:  'Eee walked home.  In shorts.'  Now I was super confused.  There was no way that Tank could have physically walked home from the high school in the time it took me to vote.  What on earth was Coach texting me about?

Ms. Bluetooth Voice pronounced the 'B' as 'Eee'.  'B' in truth is the first initial of Reggie's real name and the initial that Coach and I text to avoid typing Reg's entire name.  I thought Ms. Bluetooth was trying to say 'He' but dropping the 'H'.  Kind of like when I call someone with the last name Jensen and the phone turns the 'J' into a 'Y':  Yensen.  Any-who, the text was telling me that 'B' aka 'Reg' had just walked home in shorts (it was freezing out) the 5 blocks from our junior high.  Reg was supposed to borrow a cell phone to let us know when he was back at our junior high and ready to be picked up.

What kind of mother am I if I admit that I had completely forgotten about Reggie needing to be picked up from the junior high after he watched the away game bench-warmer scrimmage?  I guess I am the kind of mother that occasionally wishes that I was my kids' father.

November 9, 2018

Hey, how's Reno?

Coach just sent me this picture of the view of his hotel room.  In Reno.  He is there taking a class.  He teaches classes and gets paid sometimes.  This isn't one of those times.

Lately I have been wondering what it would be like to be 'him.'  It would certainly suck to bear the weight as the breadwinner for this crew.  That would translate to a lot 'o babysitting for moi.  Anyway, aside from the salary issue - there have been a few things that have cropped up recently that have given me pause.  It is either pause, or a serious headache - I choose to pause.  And take deep breaths.

#1.  On Tuesday, I arranged for the kids that typically get picked up last (life 4:15) from my little babysitting service to be collected before 4:00.  I wanted to make it to Curly's girls' 7th grade home basketball game 5 blocks away at 4:15.  Zach's mom, who usually arrives to grab her 16 month old  by 3:40 latest, didn't show up until 4:01.  I raced out the door, as soon as it was polite.

After the game, I called Coach to touch base.  It was going to be a 'who-is-getting-who' kind of night.  Reggie plays on the boys' 7th grade team, so when the girls are home the boys are away.  Coach was leaving Reg's game to go home and grill dinner.  This away game was like a mile and a half from our house.  Coach informed me that Reg was required to stay for a scrimmage that the coaches had arranged for their bench warmers.  Reg wouldn't play, but that meant someone had to go back and pick him up after the bus brought him back to our school.

Swell.  One more thing.

I told Coach that I still needed to vote, and I needed to get to the bank.  That's when I head Coach say, 'Oh, shit!'  What?  Are you getting pulled over, I inquired.  No, he wasn't.  That's definitely more my speed.  (Get it?!).

My husband was 'Oh-shitting' the fact that he had gone to the bank earlier - as in, the SAME FLIPPING DAY.  What?!  Now that Coach gets checks in the mail for teaching, he occasionally deposits them himself at the bank.  (I was chatting with Coach's former-and-desperately-missed-office-manager and she told me that we could be depositing these checks with our phones.  Now I fear that Coach and I have turned into my parents.  We are not keeping up with technology).  Prior to Coach's new interest in depositing his checks, I was the sole bank-goer.  Why, oh why, had he not asked me if I needed anything from the bank?  Like, I don't know, CASH!!!

Deep breaths.

The Midwest Irish dancing championships are approaching and I am springing for private lessons for Curly left and right.  I don't exactly like to share with Coach how costly these extra lessons are, so I suppose it was just as well. 

November 7, 2018

want not, waste not, right?!

We did enjoy some good weather. 
The whole family rented kayaks.
Just a few more vacation tidbits to share.  Have you ever stayed in a Stay-bridge?  Well, if you have then you might recall that this hotel chain offers a complimentary breakfast AND a complimentary dinner.

Do you know where this is headed?  So, Coach didn't remember that detail.  He may be able to pop open a shower drain with ease, but he neglected to share this key info with me.  Coach booked the hotel and didn't think to utter something along the lines of 'So, no need to pack a ton of meals, unless you need something gluten free for you.'

Imagine how thrilled I was that I had prepared LOADS of food.  Now, most of it wasn't needed.  I did eat my secret supply of food a few times when I was a little nervous about whether or not I was going to be contaminated with gluten - or when I was just grossed out . . .

In general I am not a huge fan of cafeteria style, buffet type meals.  Too many people can dip God-knows-what into tubs of God-knows-what without my knowledge.  My kids, on the other hand, were all about burgers being grilled and the taco night.

Ed and Lad took full advantage of the Stay-bridge workout room.  If we spent time in the sun during the day, then they began their workout late at night when we returned to the hotel.  Weird, but a few less bodies in the room when people were going to sleep wasn't a horrible thing.

Ed checking out one of
University of Michigan gyms after our tour.
One morning, I woke up early and decided to go workout.  I was tip-toeing thru the living area (which consisted of two of our three air mattresses, a pull out, and Curly's makeshift ottoman bed) and into the kitchen area.  I felt around for a key card that would get me in the workout room.  Guess how easy those things were to track?

There on the counter top in our little kitchen-ette was a turkey breast.  It was morning.  Translation:  Ed or Tank returned after a late night workout and wanted to ingest some protein.  One or both of them pulled out the turkey breast dinner that I had packed to feed us one night, and then didn't need.  After the feast, no one put it back in the fridge.  It sat out all night.

Now I was ticked.  If I was not going to feed turkey to the masses, then I sure as Hell wasn't planning to throw it away.  Now, I had no choice.  Ed woke up and owned responsibility for the forgotten food.  It isn't easy to eat a full meal apparently in the dark when surrounded by sleeping bodies.

I still agreed to drive him to University of Michigan for a day trip.  I insisted that he stay awake on the 2 plus hour drive, so that he would chat with me and keep me from dozing.  Turns out sleeping in a hotel room with 8 family members does not lead to fabulous nights of sleep.

Guess what?  Late night workouts and turkey meals in the middle of the night lead to?  Sleepy passengers.

November 5, 2018

other uses for potato peelers

I was initially very proud of my own MacGyver maneuver in the Stay-bridge hotel while on vacation.  

Mini took the first shower right after we checked into the hotel.  For dinner, we were meeting friends, who have a summer place nearby.  Everyone was fighting over who would shower first, because SAND!  I had been at the beach with Reg, Curly, Tank, and Mini.  Coach and the older boys hadn't gotten into town yet, so they were meeting us at the restaurant.  

That left me to orchestrate unloading the car with my 'helpers', stock the fridge with whatever cold stuff I brought, (Coach would be bringing another cooler.  As usual, I had packed most of our meals), and try not to pull my hair out while the kids argued over who got the next shower.  

Mini called to me from the shower that the drain wasn't working.  Swell.  Music to my ears - knowing that all of us would be sharing a bathroom with one tub/shower.  

I poked my head in and tried to offer her some instructions.  Nothing was working.  My offspring believe showers should run for as long as it takes.  Takes to do what, is the question.  Not really sure what the deal is, but they sure hang out in there way longer than necessary to get clean.  Today was no exception - despite the line of kids waiting to shower.

In case you cannot identify this interesting
scenario:  this is a tub with a healthy
rim of sand, a few inches of standing water,
 and a complimentary potato peeler doing
 double duty as a drain popper-upper.
When Mini was done, I entered the steamy sauna she had created.  I tried to wedge my flip flop under the drain cover.  My flip flop just floated to the top.  The other kids were overjoyed that they could bath and shower at the same time given that the tub was practically full of water that refused to drain.  Dirty, filthy, sandy water that was now 10 degrees colder than the air temperature.  Gross!!!!

I went to the kitchen and rifled thru the available kitchen supplies.  (Thank you Stay-bridge for the kitchen utensils.  Bonus).  I grabbed a potato peeler and shoved it under the drain.  Magic.  I felt like a super-hero.  

After dinner when our hotel room reached maximum capacity, I pointed out the drain disaster to Coach.  I didn't imagine that we would be able to survive one bathroom for 8 of us for 4 days with a faulty drain temporarily propped open with a potato peeler.  

Coach, the real hero, promptly bent over, pushed on the drain cover, and it sprung up.  Just.  That.  Simple.  

Ouch.  I had nothing.  No explanation as to why we (OK, me.  I was the adult) hadn't just stepped on the drain to pop it up.  I think I was trying to twist it.  It was under several gallons of water by the time I attempted anything.  In order to survive in our family, thick skin is essential.  I think my skin got a little thicker that evening!

November 3, 2018

bad timing - unforgettable vacay memories

On more than one occasion a group of girls
came over and joined in the family (minus mom)
 volleyball game.  Eddie was OK when they could
 play, but he was a little annoyed when girls
 jumped in but could not volley.
 I don't think the volleyball game was
what really attracted them.  Wink, wink. 
 Two strangers are playing here
 with Ed and Coach and their girlfriend is watching. 
Coach and I drove separate cars to Michigan.  The older boys wanted to caddie on Sunday, and the younger kids and I wanted to get to the beach asap.  Two cars meant we could also lug extra beach accessories like Can-Jam and Spike-ball.  

On our way to the beach, Mini jotted something on a piece of paper and slipped it to me.  ‘Got my period.’  Swell.  Of course she couldn’t have told me this 10 minutes earlier when we were still standing in our house and able to pack accordingly?  

This was Mini's first period that threatened beach time.  I assured her we would figure it out.  

One morning we planned to head to the beach fairly early.  I had just worked out and still needed to shower.  The natives were getting restless.  Mini had agreed to try utilizing products that would allow her to enter the lake without incident.  In order to stay on schedule, Coach had to accompany her to the local Walmart to make ‘the purchase’.  I suggested ‘slender’ - not sure if that terminology is outdated, or if Walmart just doesn’t carry that size, but they spent an insane amount of time shopping and eventually purchased ‘sport.’  

Curly enjoyed the statues set
 up all around downtown St. Joe
Let’s just say that when Mini and I closed the door behind us in the ONE TINY BATHROOM available to us, it was hard to focus on the task at hand.  This was one of those bathrooms with a toilet and tub/shower only.  One person could barely turn around, let alone two of us.  Voices -  including sibling skirmishes - were hard to block out.  I could barely hear myself think and the atmosphere was not condusive for gently delivering THESE instructions.  Overall it was an epic fail.

I assured Mini that this was not the ideal situation and not to be discouraged.  Besides, the beach offered lots of other activities like sand castle building, volleyball, reading, etc.

Later, Curly scoffed at her sis for not joining her in the water to jump the waves, ‘You aren’t fun anymore!’  Direct hit.

This reminded me of the first time I was informed about the purpose of a tampon.  A few days after my 8th grade graduation, the entire class was invited to a kid's mansion to a pool party.  My friends and I were not part of the 'in' crowd (we weren't even cool enough to be part of the 'out' crowd) and we were thrilled to be included.

Imagine my disgust when I got my period the day before the party.  'No!!!!'  I was moping around at my best friend Meg's house.  I believe that I spent more time at Meg's house than I did at my own house, so when her mom asked us what was up Meg glanced at me.  I nodded, giving her permission to spill the beans.

Meg's mom walked into the her master bathroom and came out with her hands behind her back. She asked me if I had considered using a tampon.  While she tossed this new vocab word my way and its explanation, she simultaneously whipped her hand from behind her back.  She was wielding a wrapped tampon like a little mini sword - slicing away my childhood innocence in a nanosecond.

Thanks to my yet to be diagnosed vasovagal tendencies, I got all sweaty and proceeded to sort of faint across her bed.  Needless to say I wore a bathing suit with shorts to the pool party.  My self-consciousness remained in high alert all night - but I managed.  Let's face it, I was wearing huge glasses, and a twisted version of my once cute Dorothy Hamel haircut (destroyed by my mom and her straight-edge-razor-blade budget cut).  It mattered little that I wore shorts with a bathing suit.

Mini participated in volleyball, cam-jam, and spike-ball.  She read, ate, and built in the sand.  What are we women, if not champions of making the most of a lousy situation?

Can you share an 'oh, crap - why must I have my period now?' nightmare?

November 1, 2018

Elmo's head in a pinch

I wasn't paying attention to the date, and I feel remiss that I did not post an appropriate Halloween-ish blurb yesterday.  If you haven't read my previous Halloween posts, click on the links in the text - you won't be disappointed!

Damn fine spider, if I don't say so myself.
 I honestly don't mind that my
sewing machine remained in its case
 for this one.  There were other super-hero
friends, but this was the only one available
 when I dropped Curly off and
headed to the grocery store.
We kind of sucked at Halloween this year.  It is the first year that we failed to even purchase a pumpkin.  Oops.  I got nothing here.  No excuse.  Just didn't do it.  Bad mom.  No one really complained, so I am not anticipating my pumpkin skipping to impact the kids' future therapist bills.

I anticipated have two trick-or-treaters this year. 

Halloween costume creations of yesteryear!
(I never shy away from an
opportunity to repost this photo)
1.  Curly:  Curly and her friends dressed in a super-hero theme costumes complete with a girl wardrobe element:  a tutu.  Curly frowned at me when I suggested that she be Captain Curly or someone who rescued people from bad hair days, etc.  It wasn't that kind of a costume theme.  No imagination required - and clearly, not preferred.  Curly dressed as spiderman - or I guess spiderwoman because she wore a tutu. 

After years and years of costume creations, all I did this year was draw a spider on a red long-sleeved shirt for Curly. 

2.  Reggie:  He stuffed himself in Cookie Monster's fat suit, a shirt, and a black curly wig. Whatever!  Reg is one of those kids that takes candy collection seriously.  He collects intel on which neighborhoods pass out the highest percentage of full size candy bars and he builds his door-to-door path based on that information.  Halloween is no different than sporting events for Reg . . . it's all a competition:  'How much candy did you get?  How many full-size bars?' 

This goes on and on until Tank starts stealing someone's loot and then Reg switches from Mr. Competition to Mr. Survival-Mode.  He stops caring who has more, and focuses on who has had more disappear mysteriously.  Translation:  starting last night, the next several weeks of my life as head referee becomes just a big barrel of laughs. 

Both Reg and Curly were using a friend's house (with dinner included) as base camp for their Halloween operation.  That left Coach and I off the hook.  Besides doorbell duty, which I am pleased to say I did not handle even once, Coach and I had nothing pressing.  There was on Irish dancing.  No basketball practice (for little kids).

Mini wore the Elmo head -
I still prefer what she wore
 to school last year, remember? -
Elmo's danglyneck (that resembles
an elderly woman's extra skin, hey -
remember I did this with no pattern,
so what did you expect?)
didn't look fabulous without
the costume to tuck it into, but
in a pinch it worked.  She also wore
his furry hands and borrowed Ed's
red sweatshirt.  She chose my kitchen
 cabinet for her candy hiding place. 
Just when I thought she was pretty bright.
I took Tank to the DMV right after school.  I will explain more on that adventure later.  I do want to point out here that the DMV is a ghost town on Halloween.  People with younger kids, make a note.  Hit the DMV on Oct. 31st.  You can thank me later.

The grocery store:  another easy-breezy task on Halloween. 

I left the grocery store to pick up Mini from freshman girls' basketball practice.  I had a trunk full of groceries and thought that we would just be heading home to heat up some leftovers.  Mini hopped in the car and asked if she could go to her friend's house to have pizza and then go trick-or-treating.  She wanted to just stop home and grab the Elmo head.  So much for my plan to feed the masses my leftovers.  They manage to all make plans for dinner when leftovers are being served.  Coincidence?

Now I had a 3rd trick-or-treater (one additional loot bag for Tank to steal from).  I was actually happy that Mini's friends wanted to go trick-or-treating because that would erase the awful experience of last year when she missed trick-or-treating.  This was a better note to end on. 
Elmo looks like he is pouting. 
He misses Halloween already.

The Elmo head was still sitting on the kitchen table this morning when the babysitting kids arrived.  They were very excited to get to eat breakfast in Elmo's presence. 

October 31, 2018

thanks google photos, lest I forgot

My google photos have once again served as a memory jogger also known as a writing prompt.  I am well aware that it is October, and that I am writing about our July vacation.  Still thinking it is worth sharing.

Thank you google photos for this memory: 
Curly sleeping on her makeshift
bed next to Reggie's pull out.
The Shenanigan family managed to carve out 4 days in late July.  Four whopping days when we aligned all of our schedules in order to go on a mini-vacation.   We had to factor in the forced march to Gettysburg with my dad (more on that later), the completion of Lad’s summer school classes, Tank and Ed’s return from their mission trip, the championship golf tournament at the club where the kids caddie, and of course the 4th of July dancing competition.

Chilling out at the bonfire area at the
 Stay-bridge -playing a rousing
 game of Balderdash.  A game
 that is impossible for Tank
 to be successful at, because he
 must write down the MOST
 preposterous definitions -
always a dead giveaway.  His
 secret mission is to make the
reader crack completely
up while reading his card.  
After everything was booked and scheduled, I (I almost typed ‘we’ as if Coach would ever open an email from the high school band director) realized that Tank had mandatory band camp the same week when we were planning to be out of town.  Tank didn’t care if he missed it.  I shot an email to the band director and let him know the difficulty in scheduling a few days away for the fam.  He gave Tank a pass.  

Fast forward:  The day of the first home football game, Tank dropped out of band.  He could no longer tolerate watching his friends enjoy the game while he performed with the band.  None of his friends were on band.  Also they have weekend competitions throughout the year.  Turns out he HATED those.  Play for 5 minutes, sit all day.  Not his thing.  Glad we didn’t bother to adjust our mini-trip to incorporate band camp into the mix.  

We chose a small town in Michigan for our 4 day July getaway.  Coach chose a hotel not far from the beach.  We considered doing an Airbnb, but the older boys were banking on a workout facility AND an awesome, included breakfast.  Coach factored it all in and booked us at a Staybridge.  One bedroom, one kitchen, one bathroom, one living area with a pullout.  

These guys slept on air mattresses, but grabbed
some time on a bed whenever possible -
 so they could better concentrate on their phones.
Jealous?  I bet.  So relaxing to do the fam-cram on vacation.  I begged for an additional bedroom.  Coach argued that it was only a few nights, it would be fine.  Our 3 oldest sons are over 6’1”.  Mini is 5’10”.  After having 6 kids, I need a direct path to the bathroom every night.  The bladder ain't what it once was.  Navigating footing around those bodies sprawled on squeaky air mattresses in the dark of night . . . equivalent of living on the edge, I guess.  

Another small hitch cropped up when Coach realized after we checked in that the pullout was only a twin.  A twin?  He had banked on Curly and Reg sharing the pullout.  Instead Coach channeled his inner MacGyver and created a bed for our 10 yr old by pushing the ottoman up to the end of the couch.  She managed to sleep there and not roll onto the floor.  A true blessing, because there would have been Hell to pay if she landed on one of her air mattress giant brothers flanking her sleeping spot.

Never, I mean never, mess with a sleeping teenage boy.

October 29, 2018

ACT, FAFSA, CVS, wait, what? (part 2)

I left the dad to deal with Lila's poop.  I raced into the study to see what was up with Ed's distress call.

Ed had gone back into his full ride scholarship application to look for the email address for the scholarship committee.  He needed to send an email to update them about being chosen as a leader for a thing at school.  While he was in his application, he noticed that he only had one community activity listed.  Where were the other activities?  There were no mission trips, no religious education teaching, no basketball little kid coaching.  What the Hell?!!

While Ed was sharing this ordeal with me, I heard Coach on the phone in the family room.  Coach is never home on a Monday, but since he taught for 3 weekends in a row he opted out of working late on Monday night.  He was on the phone with Lad .  . .

'Well, how often do you look at your email?  This letter is dated Oct. 3rd.  It says I only have ten days to respond.  Ten days was a few days ago.  You have to be more on top of this stuff.  You are getting the emails, not me!'

By now all my babysitting charges had been picked up.  Hallelujah.  Yikes, why was Coach's hair on fire in the family room?  I went to investigate leaving Ed to start jotting down all of his missing community activities.

Turns out Lad's FAFSA needed some updated paperwork.  Fun.  I delegate FAFSA stuff to Coach, but let's not kid ourselves I make myself and my knowledge of our accounts readily available to him.  I help when I can.  Lad got an email apparently asking for info.  The letter that was sent to us arrived after the supposed deadline for when they required the info.

Coach hung up with Lad and started trying to figure out what was needed.  This is the first year that we have used a FAFSA.  Uncharted territory.  He called Lad right back - 'I need your drivers' license number.'  Lad informed him that he couldn't find his drivers' license.

Oh brother.  It was going to be one of those nights.

I called the car insurance company to ask if they had a copy of Lad's license.  I left a message.  Then I started to rifle around on my computer desk.  I was back in the study where Ed was moaning and groaning over his messed up application.

A more impressive picture would have been
 the pile of junk that I sifted thru in order to find this
letter from the sec of state, but I feared we wouldn't
 be friends anymore if you saw that!
On my computer desk I eventually found what I needed.  A letter alerting us that Lad had gotten a speeding ticked over the summer.  Yes, this was a ticket that he chose to pay rather than request supervision.  Why, oh, why would he do that?  Because then he figured he didn't have to tell us.  Oops.  Then we got the letter and we were ticked, and now he has the ticket on his record.  Dumb.

Lad doesn't drive the entire time he is away at school, so naturally I would've encouraged him to request supervision, if he had consulted us.  Um, yes, I do tend to be an expert on speeding tickets, now that you bring it up.  Well, his drivers' license number was on this letter.  So, when I found it there was much to celebrate.

I reviewed the email that Ed had drafted to the scholarship board.  Gave him a few suggestions, like:  'I hope that this information isn't repetitive, but when I open my application I cannot see these activities that I saved in my application.  Perhaps you can see them on your end.'  STRESS!

On Wednesday Coach had to sit down and fill out a CSS.  I was like, 'What are you filling out now?  A CVS?'  Yeah, no - that's a pharmacy.  The CSS was ANOTHER financial document that the scholarship committee needed.  I later heard it referred to as the FAFSA on steroids.  The email said you should expect to spend 45 minutes on it.  Several hours later, Coach was wrapping it up and in a rather delightful mood about the whole thing.  As I am sure you can imagine.

Ed has opted to take the ACT again on Oct. 27th.  His current score is solid, but hoping to raise it a point or two.  Oh, how I long for that to be wrapped up.

So basically the A,B,C's of college are causing us a great deal of discomfort and I will be happy when we are done with all of this BS.

October 27, 2018

ACT, FAFSA, CVS, wait, what?

A very random sample of the college brochures
 that clutter our new mail slots
in my (wait for it) STILL unfinished kitchen.
I have developed an eye twitch.  It's no mystery.  It is stress related.  Ed's college search is stressing me out.  I mean, it is stressing him out, too - but there is much at stake here.

He is applying for a scholarship - the kind that equates to a full ride.  If he gets that scholarship, he can only attend a pre-determined list of schools.  There are good options - some fall in the 'reach' category, and then there are other schools where he knows he can get in and is confident he will be happy to attend.  In the meantime, his college search also includes other non-full-ride schools in case he doesn't get the full ride deal.  Again, lots of good options.  To consider two different sets of schools, though, is time consuming.

He completed his full-ride scholarship application weeks ago.  On Friday, he got called to the office at school.  He was one of 3 seniors selected to lead a group of kids at a leadership conference.  He attended the conference last year as a junior, and now was being asked to participate as a leader.  Great news!

Once his full-ride scholarship application was submitted he couldn't edit it, so he needed to email the scholarship committee and let them know about this leadership role at the high school so that they could update his application.  He did this on Monday after school.

While Ed was in the study drafting the email, the triplets' dad walked in to collect his 4 kids.  My phone was in the study.  I was in the kitchen positioned at the 'revolving door' of moms entering the house to pick up babies/kids.  'He napped good.'  'She loved eating her peaches today.'  I didn't see the text message from triplet dad that said, 'Be there i
n 5 minutes.'

As an aside, I haven't understood the '5 minute' warning text message from the triplets dad all school year.  Does he want the kids waiting at the door dressed in coats with toy clean up complete before he walks in to get them?  That isn't always possible.  On the days when I was racing to get to Mini's tennis matches, I tried to have them ready so I could bolt.  In nice weather, there is less to clean up because they were usually playing on the swing-set.  Or, is it just a courtesy? 

On this day, I was chatting with moms.  His kids were still playing with toys.  My phone wasn't within reach.  Clean up still needed to happen.

While he waited for his kids to put the toys away in the family room, he started to get his daughter, Lila, in her coat.  Lila gets dropped off on a bus about 30 minutes before he arrives.  Lila is autistic and isn't potty trained yet.  The dad turned to me and asked where I kept her pull-ups.  She needed to be changed.  I hadn't caught a whiff of her from my spot in the kitchen.  It had to have just happened.  Still, it was awkward because I got the feeling that he felt like I should've been aware of it.  Groan.

That is the exact moment when Ed started calling me to the study.  He was panicked . . .  

October 25, 2018

but who needs sleep?

 Mini’s tennis season was supposed to end last Tuesday.  After her match, I thanked TC (tennis coach) for a great season.  Later, Mini shared that TC had asked her on the bus ride home to play up a level on JV1 for the end of the JV1 season.  Mini was excited!  That is why she was playing on Thursday - it was a JV1 match.  So moments before Mini forgot her backpack on Thursday, I once again thanked TC for a great season.  I thought the season was over.

He looked at me confused.  'She is playing in JV1 conference on Saturday, right?  She knows about it.'  Of course SHE did, but she just hadn't thought to share with me.  No big deal.  Coach would be out of town (2nd of his 3rd weekend out of town teaching).  I had nothing else going on, because basketball season hadn't started yet.

Trust me, I will soon try in vain to remember what my life was like BEFORE basketball season.  If Tank ('I-mean,-I-shoot-around,-but-I am-not-the-most-devoted-off-season-player') makes the sophomore team, then I will have:
This is Reggie's concertina.  I know
when he has practiced, because the
super expensive instrument is no
longer in it's case and might even be
 left on the family room floor.  Exhibit A.
  I remind Mini and Curly to practice the fiddle,
which I could totally share a photo of
because they aren't put away in
 their cases either.  What the heck?

     1.  Ed on varsity.
     2.  Tank on sophomore,
     3.  Mini on freshmen,
     4.  Reg on travel and
     5.  Reg on 7th grade school team (crazy short season),
     6.  Curly on travel and
     7.  Curly on girls' 7th grade school team (we anticipate she will make this team - very few girls try out - not competitive and Curly is a decent player.  Also crazy short season).

So, yes last Saturday I didn't have any big plans, because who needs to vacuum the house, clean bathrooms, do laundry, remind kids to clean their room, encourage people to practice the fiddle, or make meals?  All tasks that can easily be skipped.  I told Mini to let me know where she was going to play when she figured it out.  (Because of course she was not sure which of the two host schools she was headed to that day -Can you hear that?  It is me, screaming inside my head)

So, they don't look so great,
but trust me these are the bomb!
Friday night after making awesome gluten-free snacks I stayed up until 12:38 am.  Um, I don't do that.  Ed was working on college essays, and I was proofreading and offering feedback.  I felt one of his essays needed more personal examples.  He was frustrated and I was trying to keep him on the right track.

When Mini had come home from BFF’s house, she was
     #1 loving her haircut, and
     #2 informing me that she needed to be at the high school at 6:30 am.  That meant leaving our house at 6:20 am.

She wanted me to get up at 6:00 am to help her pack her lunch.  I preferred to roll out of bed at 6:18 and stagger to the garage to drive the car.  I pointed out to her that perhaps she should have come home from BFF’s house earlier in order to start packing a decent supply of conference day food.

I did begrudgingly agree to get up at 6:00 am - what’s another 20 minutes of sleep at that point?

The small cooler was loaded, and I was busy hating myself for choosing to stay up so damn late. Mini’s phone got a text.  It was 6:14 am.  It was too bad that I was so tired, because with the heavy downpour happening, I was pretty damn sure I was going to be asked to build an ark soon.  Mini’s text:  ‘match postponed an hour.  Meet at school at 7:15.’
‘Setting my alarm for 7,’ I mumbled to Mini over my shoulder as I shuffled back to my glorious bed.

At 7:00 am when I dragged myself out of bed, I told Mini I would drive her just as soon as I checked the basement for water.  Obsessing over the sumppump is typically Coach’s role.  I was walking back up the basement stairs, relieved that it was dry, when Mini called down the stairs:  ‘Just got a text.  They cancelled the match.’

I crawled BACK into my bed.  I set my alarm for 8:00 am, so I could go to my 8:15 workout class.  Oh how I wanted to ignore my alarm.  But I went to the health club, where my bleary-eyed self discovered that the class I attend every Saturday was CANCELLED.  The usual instructor was out of town, and they were unable to find a sub.

I hit a workout class 30 minutes later, tempted as I was to go home and go back to bed.  JV1 tennis conference was not rescheduled.  That was a bummer, but I was too exhausted to mind.  The weather the day of conference was expected to be horrible.  Why, oh, why could they not have cancelled it in advance - or at the very least why not cancel at 6:15 instead of postponing?

October 23, 2018

girl caddies, Heath lookalikes, & 'move or be moved'

Both Mini and Reggie learned to caddy this summer.  As a 14 year old, Mini is off to a late start by our family's standards.  Both my dad and Coach's dad caddied back in their day.  Coach and his two younger brothers caddied at the same course where my two younger brothers caddied.  It is in our blood.  But a girl caddy?  A first. 

Mini's late-bloomer-caddy status is due to the fact that Coach and I didn’t think she could handle it.  In addition to the physical demands of carrying a bag full of golf clubs around on a roasting summer day, there were other considerations.
Lad knew I was trying
to snap a caddy photo
 back in May - thus the flex. 
Reg is in the background
getting in the caddy mobile.  

Golfers can be rude.  They don’t always hesitate to pee on trees.  They are known for using foul language and telling offensive jokes.  From what I have heard, they aren’t always able to control their tendencies to drink in excess.  Of course there are plenty of gentlemen who golf, so excuse me for the generalizations.  

There are also loads of caddies who don’t practice the best manners.  With 4 brothers caddying, I worry little about a caddy offending Mini.  He would have to be a pea brain or a caddy with a secret death wish, because who would dare to offend the girl caddy who shows up each morning with four brother caddies . . . Three of whom are older, twice as muscular, and more seasoned than she is?

The boys scoffed at the idea of Mini caddying last year, and they still raised an eyebrow or more at the suggestion this year.  Mini has grown to be taller than me now.  She is 5’10”.  She insisted that she was going to attend the training and give it a try.  

Reg was technically younger than the approved start age of 13 when he started training alongside Mini in the spring.  Reg turns 13 in January.  His brothers started early too, except for Laddie because we missed the training dates.  Silly, rookie-parent-of-future-caddies mistake.

To her credit, Mini survived her first round, and THEN SOME.  She caddied consistently all summer.  She regularly:
     1.  woke up before the sun (another reason I never thought she would make it - this girl is like her mother:  ‘I need my sleep or else'),
     2.  waited in the caddy shack for hours, 
     3.  texted me to let me know how hungry she was,
     4.  lugged around heavy bags,
     5.  dealt with interesting personalities,
     6.  accepted the ridiculous tan lines that come with the territory,
     7.  listened to her brothers’ feedback (this had to be challenging!),
     8.  survived Lad’s grouchy, early morning outbursts
     9.  Fought the good fight to hold on to the caddy towel she brought, despite Lad's or other brother's attempts to steal it
     10.  And eventually got hooked!  

Ed on his way to join the caddies. 
Asking them to pose for a caddy
 photo would exploit their coolness somehow.
One day after returning from a day of caddying, the caddies were all hovered around the kitchen
table scarfing down anything that closely resembled food.  Eddie, who has a tendency to pick on Mini, groaned about her appearance.

This is not the most accurate photo
of Mini's 'Heath' look.  Snatching
 a photo of her in full Heath mode
 fresh from the golf course would
 have pushed the envelope.  Big time.
  This was after tennis.
 A weak replica at best.
‘I will not allow her to return to the golf course until she gets her hair under control.  You are giving the family a bad name.  Put on a caddy hat or a hair band or something. You look ridiculous.’

I had to agree with him.  Her whispy hairs that escaped her loose, low pony tail were flailing out to the sides like Medusa.  As much as I hate to encourage Eddie’s knit-picking of Mini, I couldn’t help it:  ‘It does look like you are doing a decent imitation of Heath Ledger when he was in the movie ‘The Patriot.’

The nickname stuck.  Whenever the messy bun pops up - let’s face it, that’s a daily occurrence,  I remind Mini of her Heath Ledger resemblance.

My favorite parts of being the mother of 5 caddies: 
     1.  Curly waking up hours after they have left and looking lost and confused, 
     2.  the sharing and comparing of hilarious stories at the end of the day,
     3.  the caddy master quote that I just learned about - when he sees my kids approach each morning, he calls out:  'Here come the Shenanigans.  Move or be moved.'

October 21, 2018

frustration, messy bun affliction, forgotten flowers, & gluten free heaven

My frustration level was off-the-charts last Friday.

Kids I sit for had a half day, which meant Zach and Susie had no preschool.  Matt would be at my house before lunch instead of after school only.  He's bossy - to put it mildly.  Baby Billy was visiting his grandma, so he wasn't there.  Still, it made for a full house and a busy day.  It rained most of the day, so it was going to be an indoor play day.  Swell.

Coach left for his 2nd of 3 weekends out of town.  He is new to the teaching program, and by way of trying to make  himself available whenever possible inadvertently signed up for a class that was sandwiched between two others.

I was fed up (not really appropriate to use past tense here - it is an ongoing emotion that I cannot shake) that the bathroom AND kitchen were not being worked on in a timely manner.  Bathroom was supposed to take 3 days - as I write this we are getting dangerously close to 6 weeks.  I texted the cell number for the Italian Stallion (oh, he is like 67 years old, so just a nickname because he is from Italy - don't read into it) to Coach.  Coach was sitting at an airport waiting to take off.  I suggested that he call Stallion.

30 minutes later, after I served breakfast to the masses, and cleaned up a kitchen, and changed countless poop diapers, I called Coach.  'Have you called Stallion yet?'  Coach seemed offended that I even asked.  'I am about to board my flight!'  Me:  'Oh yeah, well what have you been doing for the last 30 minutes?  You don't want to know what I've been doing!'

I fumed about my Stallion issues for the remainder of the day.  I typically call his cell over and over - like maybe 18 times- until he finally texts me that he will call me later.  Sometimes he calls, sometimes he doesn't.  I have told him refund us and we will find someone else to do the work.  I mean, COME ON!

The bright part of my morning was that Mini woke up and announced that she was ready for a haircut.  Since she could no longer get a brush thru her hair, she figured it was time.  No comment.  I played it cool, but the instant she was out the door I texted my hairdresser for her availability.

When the babysitting kids got picked up at 4:00, I went for a run.  15 minutes into my run, Mini texted for a ride home from tennis practice.  30 minutes early?!!  I ordered her to walk across the street to the library and wait for me.  I would not end my run early.  I NEEDED TO LET OFF SOME STEAM.

When I got to the library,  my 14 yr old daughter was incredibly hungry which makes her floppy.  The hair was flipping around.  This is a thing she does on the rare occasion that her mop ISN'T in a messy bun and she wants it out of her face.  I always say things like:  'what about just a small clip?'  She scoffs at me.  Her remove-hair-from-face maneuver involves an entire upper body sway and swoosh.   I wondered if she had any bones in her 5'10" frame.  That's a tall structure to not have much control over.  That candy-bar commercial says it best.  She was 'hangry' with me when I checked out a couple of movies.  'Did you get some homework done?' I asked her.  'I slept,' she mumbled.  'I need to eat.'  Really?

She was not pleased that I snapped this
after she retrieved the flowers from the
 library.  She probably suspected it would
land in my blog.  Hey, you supply me
with material - then you pay the price.
Halfway home, she let out a moan/cry.  'I forgot my flowers in the library.  Girls going to conference for tennis got flowers.  They were in a vase and everything.  I left them on the table.'  In high school, we used to say 'toe cheese' instead of 'oh, geez.'  This was a toe-cheese moment for sure.  Seriously.  The back pack incident was still an open, oozing wound.  I said nothing.  U-turn.

I called Reg at home.  'Heat up some of the leftover pizza casserole for Mini right now.  We have to leave in a minute for her haircut.'  We grabbed her dinner and raced away to relieve her 'messy-bun' affliction.

One of the chocolate quinoa balls
 is missing because I figured
 I would sample one before
sticking them in the fridge.
  Great news:  they are delicious
chilled or recently created!
After her hair ceased to have that chic stone-age look, she asked me to drop her at her friend's house.  Now I was hangry.  I stopped at the grocery store and snatched up obscure items that I don't normally buy, like dates and sunflower seeds and quinoa and coconut.  This was it - I was going to try to make a gluten free, somewhat healthy snack TONIGHT or die trying.  Nothing like a frustrating Friday to mandate a good snack to munch on.

And people, I FOUND it.  Heaven.  At last.

October 19, 2018

a sure fire way to kill free time ('kill' operative word here)

On Tuesday, Mini was invited to play on the JV1 team for the remainder of the season when her JV2 season wrapped up. 

She was all excited.  I asked the obvious:  'What does this mean?'  She said it meant she would play on Thursday.  Initially she thought her match was away near my brother's houseWednesday, I picked her up after her JV 1 practice.  'So where do you play tomorrow?'
.  On

She did not know, but she jumped out of the car to go ask.  I have been BEGGING her to pay a bit more attention ever since I mistakenly drove to Jesus Sandals Central HS. 

I was excited when she learned that she was playing at home.  Easy.  Thursday, I requested that any parent who couldn't pick their kids up from me by 4 pm meet me at the high school tennis courts.  That trick worked, and I was at her match on time.

We drove home at the same time after the team chatted with the coach- no return trip to wait for an away match bus.  I was super excited to have the rest of my night chauffeur-free.  With Curly at outdoor education with her 5th grade class for a few days, I did NOT need to drive to Irish dancing class.

I realized when we were half way home that Tank had been floating around the high school grounds hanging out with friends after serving his detention for too many tardies.  (Riddle me this:  how is Tank late for school religiously, when the other two siblings who drive in the same car with him have far less tardy instances?)  Now I feared pulling into the driveway only to get a text from him:  'Come get me.'

I guess lugging this monster team-issued tennis
 equipment bag around threw her off.  This
 thing can hold two racquets (Mini got
one used racquet just after the
season started) and SO MUCH MORE!
Oh, but that ISN'T what happened.  Instead we walked in the house and Mini moaned.  She left her backpack on the bleachers by the tennis courts. 

I hesitated to race back to get the backpack.  I wanted to hear back from Tank first so I knew if I needed to get him and where.  I also was toying with the idea of getting some ingredients at the store to make some gluten free snacks that I had researched online.  I fumbled around for a few minutes with the recipes and sent Tank a few unanswered text messages.  Then we left for our forgotten backpack quest.

We pulled up to the bleachers and there was NO backpack there.  Another girl from tennis was still in the parking lot.  Parking lot girl told Mini that Tennis Coach (TC) put it in the storage shed.  I told Mini to call TC.  She swears that she had already pointed this out to me, but I did not realize that her phone was in her backpack.  I used my phone to call Mini's BFF and get TC's number.  Meanwhile Mini hopped out at my direction to seek out someone who could unlock the storage locker.

TC told me he had the backpack with him.  He had just arrived at the tennis facility where he works.  NOT DOWN THE STREET.  I saw Mini cross the parking lot with a guy from the athletic department spinning a big ring of keys on his finger.  I rolled down my window and informed her the backpack wasn't in there after all.  That would have been way too easy. 

We drove to TC's work.  Got the backpack.  Sat in traffic.  All the while my Irish temper was exploding and my 'free night' was slipping away from me as our mission took up about an hour and a half. 

I did not stop at the store to get ingredients.  I did not hear from Tank until he showed up at the house.  I did not handle myself with poise and positive vibes. 

Mini and I both recovered.  Eventually.  Maybe misplacing bags is a family trait? 

October 17, 2018

driving to Jesus Sandals Central HS

Mini, as it turns out, is not great at communicating much about her high school tennis team.  After school she tends to show up and go where she is expected.  That might mean she is getting on a bus for an away match, or heading out to the school's tennis courts.

I admit that I opted to NOT sign up for the tennis team's 'text remind'.  I figured, 'hey - I have a paper schedule.  I know how to look up the schedule on the school's website.  Why get more annoying text messages?'  

I am particularly sensitive to unnecessary text messages because I am part of a group text thru Lad's college water polo team.  A parent, who is present at the game, typically sends out countless texts to update the rest of the parents on the progress of the games.  The non-present parents OFTEN respond with 'great job, Johnny!'  'Woo-hoo!'  'Let's go, men!'  No joke this leads to approximately 95-125 texts during a one hour game.   On the weekends, the team sometimes plays more than one game a day.  Folks, that is a lot of texts. 

If I am driving in the car, my Bluetooth can hardly keep up.  My Bluetooth voice alerts me every few seconds of a message with the monotone:  'text message from Lad's water poLO' - the 'LO' at the end of 'polo' is a prominent syllable for some reason. 

Without a tennis remind on my own phone, I relied on info from Mini and my old fashioned paper schedule/school website.  A few weeks ago, I drove to a high school that was about 30 minutes away.  I made sure that the kids I sit for were all going to be picked up by 4:00, so I could make it all that way to see some of the tennis. 

When I arrived at the school where Jesus lost his sandals, I saw a few girls practicing tennis on the courts.  This campus was beyond big, so I just assumed there were more courts somewhere else.  I texted Mini and her BFF.  BFF generally responds quicker than Mini and is also on the tennis team. 

My big rig takes 30 gallons of gas. 
I filled up 29.29 gallons that day.  Yikes.
  Oh, don't be alarmed at that $89.31. 
The price of driving around
 aimlessly is not cheap, you know.
'I just got to Jesus Sandals Central.  I don't see you guys.  Are there other courts in the back of the school?'  BFF texted back in a flash:  'Oh, Mrs. Shenanigan - we are playing at home today.' 

I am not going to lie.  The 30 minute ride back to the school was peppered with foul language.  I managed to see the last 30 minutes of Mini's match, because it went really long.  It all worked out, I guess. 

I arrived home hours later after I drove Curly to dancing (straight from tennis because Ed dropped her off there for me) and stopped in to check out the uniform sizes for Curly's upcoming travel basketball team.  Curly wasn't with me, so I became the creepy stranger who stared at other people's kids who seemed like the same size as Curly.  I watched these fake Curly's try on uniforms.  Then I jotted down sizes that I thought I should order for her.  I crossed my fingers that I wouldn't run out of gas on the way home and I didn't!  I managed to enjoy this sunset while I drove, and drove, and drove.

Ah, driving is SO relaxing!
Once home, I ate dinner and then cleaned up after dinner.  My kids would secretly love to surprise me and clean up after a meal without being asked, but they are afraid that it would surprise me so much that I might suffer some sort of health trauma like a heart issue or loss of oxygen as I hyperventilate. 

It wasn't until I was about to go to bed that I decided to pull the paper schedule out of the drawer where I keep it.  There it was.  'Away @ Jesus Sandals Central'.  Website:  same.  Believe it or not, I felt joyful.  I didn't mess this up!  I was just misled.

Of course I questioned Mini.  Why, oh why had she not told me about the schedule change?  When she gets texts about the games, it doesn't necessarily start out with:  'We are home today.  This is a change from the paper schedule.'  Mini was off the hook . . . for now.