April 29, 2018

early sign of nightmare neighbor

I know I promised to share the story of the initial issue with our nightmare neighbors last week.  I forgot.  What with a tot caressing a dead squirrel in our yard and my vasovagal incident yesterday (story to follow), I have been distracted. 

We moved into this house when Curly was 6 months old.  At the closing, the seller's realtor smiled at us from across the table.  'You are going to love this house.  It is in a nice, quiet neighborhood.'

Coach and I exchanged a quick glance.  We thought the same thing.  Quiet neighborhood?  Not for long.  We wondered how well the neighbors would tolerate our 6 little rascals. 

A few years later, I got a letter in the mail.  The association wanted me to know that neighbors had complained about our property.  We were being sited for having dying grass. 

Our grass was dying.  In our defense, it was the end of summer.  It was dry.  I had literally gone for a walk the day before and when I returned I asked Coach what the deal was with our yard.  We had huge patches of dry grass.  Coach pointed out that it wasn't just us.  It had basically happened overnight.  Lots of our neighbors were experiencing similar lawn issues.  It had been a very dry August.  I doubt they all received the same letter.

The letter didn't stop at the grass.  It went on to point out that we had too many toys left out in our yard.  If our dry lawn situation (which was similar to so many of our neighbors) shocked me as an issue worthy of complaints, then toys on our lawn totally blew me away.

A typical afternoon in our yard circa 2008.
I marched outside to see what the fuss was about.  Our house is on the corner.  Our driveway and garage jut out of the side of our house.  There was a scooter left near the sidewalk in the front of our house.  Because we typically entered the house from the side, I didn't often notice the front yard.  Folks, it was one scooter. 

I continued to circle the house.  The side of the house that faces the neighbor's house (opposite side from the side entrance/garage door) is where our water spicket is located.  There under the faucet near the coiled up hose was a toy dump truck.  The horrors.  It was practically touching the foundation.  I can't imagine that many people could even see it.

Curly and Reg looking at our deck in 2010. 
Note the playhouse.  For shame!
As always we had a few toys up on our deck.  We had a big plastic playhouse in the yard.  It seemed like a fitting item to have in the yard.  Call me crazy.

That was it.  Perhaps the complaint was lodged on a day when there were more toys scattered around the yard.  Typically we ordered kids to put the bikes and bats and balls away when we called them in for dinner.  I don't think there was a day when the basic stuff didn't get tucked back into the garage.  The only things that appeared to have been overlooked for several days or maybe over a week consisted of a dump truck and a scooter.  I didn't count the stuff on the deck and the playhouse in the yard.  Those things belonged exactly where they were.  Did my ass hole neighbors think we were going to pull a playhouse into the garage every night?

After assessing the yard, I stood in my kitchen.  Shaking.  I peered out from behind the wooden shutters.  I felt violated.  Who behaved like this?  I called Coach at work.  He agreed it was nuts.  Everyone in the neighborhood had patches of dry grass.  It was tough to prevent.  He also felt our toys were under control.

Then I did the only thing I felt was reasonable.  I informed my little toddlers that we were going to play a game.  We were going to drag EVERY SINGLE EFFING TOY out of our garage and spread them around the lawn.  Reg and Curly were probably about 4 and 2.  They loved this game.  It was a blast.

I left the yard littered with our toy explosion for days.  It felt good.  It felt right.  It felt like I had sent a message.  'Up yours.'

I really wanted to stick a sign in the yard that read:  'If you think this is bad, you should see the inside of the house.'

April 26, 2018

I know it's supposed to suck

I try to vacuum once a week.  Aim high, right?

During the school year, when I babysit and when the house isn't under construction, I am fairly successful at reaching this goal.  I can make it happen.  First I work up a sweat running from one kids' room to the next to toss all of their crap up on the beds or the desk.  Believe me, I give them plenty of warning.  'Get your crap off of your floor - I'm vacuuming tomorrow'.  The warning is repeated the next morning.  I swear one of these days I am going to toss anything not put away out the window.  (I did that to Laddie once, years ago).

False advertising. Or labeling. 
Or something.
 Just FALSE!
The only real issue I have with vacuum day is that I HATE my vacuum.  We owned an upright Hoover with a bag variety forever.  When I finally admitted that it wasn't working anymore, I decided to upgrade.  I bought a Shark.

It sucks.  Actually, I wish it sucked - as in suck the stuff up off the carpet.  There is no bag.  I think the bag-version worked better.  This one has a combination sponge/foam insert thing.  These pieces are supposed to be removed after each use and washed out.  I do that.  Promise.  

Imagine my surprise though when I open the basket that is supposed to be full of junk and it is empty.  We are not that clean.  I mean, we don't have pets, but there is always lint, crud, and food particles because the crew cares little about the don't-eat-in-this-room rule.

Exhibit A.  Price tag thingie holders and
mint wrappers.  Impossible for
my poor Shark.
I find it ultra infuriating to vacuum up those long plastic price tag attachment thingies only to see the Shark spit them back out across the room.  It also struggles with plastic wrappers to mints.  I've tried different techniques.  Pushing the vacuum slow.  Really slow.  Wait till it gets sucked up, and then 30 seconds later watch as it is deposited on the other side of the room.  NO!!!!!

When the basket doesn't fill up, I end up having to disembowel the hose.  I have discovered the hard way that the hose gets so backed up that it won't bring the garbage to the basket.  It just fills up the hose.  Infuriating!

Anyone have a vacuum recommendation or a frustrating Shark experience?

April 24, 2018

What is that you are holding?

I took the 4 kids I sit for to the zoo today.  Finally spring.  It is APRIL 24TH after all.  It was a great day.

We came home in time for naps.  When Theo was done with quiet time, I sent him out to play on the swing set in my yard.  He is four and a half.  Curly joined him in the yard after her after school snack.  I was standing in the family room while on hold with a pharmacy.  A guy had just come out to fix the carpet in the family room.  

Carpet side story:  When the construction workers shoved our old fridge into the family room during the renovation, they managed to cause the padding under the carpet to buckle.  The contractor suggested that I call the carpet place directly.  Mind you - the construction crew messed it up, but I am now arranging to have it fixed.  Then I get to pay for it.  $125.  Weird, don't you think?  Because I have shelled out a fairly staggering amount of money for the kitchen to be renovated.  Oh, don't get me started.  Deep down I knew that if I waited for the renovation people to get a carpet guy out to fix the bubbled carpet pad, it would be months.  

Oh, and another thing.  A guy showed up at my house last week to look at this same carpet area.  There were drips of drywall paste all over the carpet in this corner.  The guy who showed up wanted to see my drywall drips.  Hmm, OK.  He explained to me that he hadn't been paid by my people because my people were upset that his guys messed up my carpet.  You follow?  

So, let me get this straight.  The crew doing my slow-ass-kitchen-addition and renovation are punishing another group for crappy workmanship?!  Hold the phone.  This made me grit my teeth a bit.  Maybe it is good that I now know that they like to play that game.  How about we withhold, oh - I don't know, like a few thousand dollars since 10 months later they still aren't done!  Breathe, breathe.

Pharmacy side story:  Sorry, I know.  I just need to know if I am the only one in this long distance pharmacy boat.  I am old school.  I prefer to drop off my prescriptions, or have them called in by my doctor's office, to my local, close-to-home pharmacy.  This new far-away-pharmacy-thing baffles me.  I have two boys on acne medicine.  I believe that it saves me money to have their prescriptions outsourced to these far-away-pharmacies.  It is just so DAMN CONFUSING!

Said pharmacies (the far-away variety) call me every month to verify my credit card info and to make sure that I still want the medications.  If I don't answer the phone, they leave a message.  If I don't remember to call them back right away, I lose track of what the Hell medicine from what the Hell pharmacy I need to get in touch with.  Today I had to call the dermatologist and ask where the Hell I was supposed to call to give out my credit card info for like the 50th time.  

Guess what?  That pharmacy had sent said prescription to a sister pharmacy.  Isn't it bad enough having far-away-pharmacies?  Now they have siblings?  Save me.  So, I got to wait on hold while they tried to figure out who had the prescription.  The sister or the brother?  You know that they call the pills different names to confuse me further.  'Generic for what?  Is that a creme or a pill?'  I wonder if there is a hidden camera thing happening.  Did Tank put you up to this because I took all of his clothes from his room?

ANYWAY:  Now that you are caught up, I am standing in my family room.  Phone to ear.  Carpet being ripped up behind me.  I am looking out into the yard where Theo is playing.  There are huge sliding doors.  I have a good view.  He has wandered from the swingset.  He is standing under a tree near the deck on the landscaping rocks.  

Theo picks something up.  At first I think it is an old sock.  Entirely possible.  Don't judge.  I watch him look at it a bit closer.  It flops over in his hand.  Then he drops it.  What the devil is that?  I slide open the door.  'Theo, what was that?' 
Upon closer examination,
we decided that it was a baby squirrel. 
Which of course made me want to scream,
 just like in the Christmas Vacation movie.
'I don't actually know.'  Emphasis on 'actually.'  He will never be chosen for sports teams in P.E. class.  

'Was it an animal?'  He still admits that he is unsure.  I summon Curly who is across the yard.  Reggie is stuffing his face with his after school snack not far from me.  'Reg, Go!  What was he just holding in his hand?'  Reg rushes out the door slipping into some shoes.  

Curly and Reg confirmed my fears.  It was some kind of dead animal.  Early reports said it was a chipmunk.  At my command, Reg ushered Theo inside to get his hands washed.  'Don't touch ANYTHING!'

So, this kid has sensory issues.  Hates getting his hands dirty.  Clearly he didn't grasp the magnitude of touching a dead animal.  I turned on the water and waited for the temperature that I desired.  Pretty stinking warm.  Theo reminded me that he didn't care for hot water.  'Did I ask you if you like hot water?'  This is when the pharmacy guy comes back to the line.  'Oh no, nevermind.  I was talking to a kid that just picked up a dead chipmunk in my yard.  So about that prescription?'

April 22, 2018

With neighbors like these

Stu is the construction worker who has built most of our kitchen.  He is an older fella from Poland who speaks English pretty clearly, smiles constantly, and tries to shuffle out of my way whenever he thinks he might be in my space.  He is a hard worker and very conscientious.

I opened the sliding door to the deck on Monday when I saw that he was setting up his saw.  'I am so happy to see you, Stu!  I could kiss you.'  Tank was making his breakfast - or more accurately standing around waiting for me to prepare his fruit smoothie.  'He doesn't want to kiss you.  You are like 60 years old or something,' he sneered at me.  I admit that I did look frightening.  I had on my pajamas and a hoodie.  My hair was standing straight up and I was wearing my glasses.   Tank was lucky that he didn't end up wearing his smoothie.  I am not even remotely close to 60.  Just saying.

The tile for the back splash apparently was out of stock when I ordered it and we were waiting for the next shipment to arrive from Italy.  Waiting for 3 months.  A.  I was not aware I had ordered tile that was made in Italy, or that was not in stock.  B.  I had no idea that the tile was the holdup.   A little communication might have been nice.  Or,  just too much to ask.

Most of the back splash is done now.  It looks awesome!  I'm told that the hood (cabinetry surround thing - because the mechanical parts have been sitting here for months) is on its way.  I think the electrician might come in the next few days -translation:  my new chandelier that was back ordered might be hung - weird because I was convinced that it would go up weeks after the kitchen was complete.  Little did I know that the kitchen would not be done by mid April.  Funny stuff.

A man rang my doorbell Monday afternoon.  He was from the city.  He was at my house to let me know that a neighbor had called to complain because there was debris in my backyard.  Yes, I do have the world's worst neighbors.  Trust me.

To give you a visual:  we are on the corner and people drive into the neighborhood and have a good view of the back of our house from the road.  I celebrated when I came home from Scotland because the dumpster that I feared had become a permanent fixture on my driveway was finally gone.  Why, oh why, did the workers not dispose of the tangle of gutters while they had a dumpster?  I swear nothing was thrown into the dumpster in the last four months.  The gutters were removed MANY months ago and tossed in a heap next to our deck.  Apparently one of my delightful neighbors did not enjoy this.

This is a depiction of the rear of our house.  When you all come over for a barbecue someday soon, you will see that my deck doesn't actually look like a picket fence.  And I drew this too close to the edge of the paper.  The old gutters -seen here at the bottom left of the page - were actually around the corner of the deck away from the street - so they would technically be further to the left and then around the side.  Still visible from the street, but they weren't smack right at the back of my deck.  

I have a pretty good idea of who it was.  If it was a normal neighbor, they would have had a conversation with me, like:  'Oh, the dumpster is gone.  They must be almost done.  Any idea what they plan to do with the gutters left out back?'  The crazy neighbors- that look for anything to get their undies in a twist about- must have called he city.

I wanted to spray paint a giant white sheet and hang it from my garage door.  'WE HAVE THE WORST NEIGHBORS.  EVER.' 

Stu promised to haul away all of the junk the next morning when he came back to caulk the tile.  He is not responsible for the mess.  It was the roofing guys.  I turned into the neighborhood after dragging 4 tots to Tanks' ortho appointment this morning, because Coach had a patient (this is usually his late start day.  Grrr).  I thought, 'Oh, I should take a picture of the debris for my blog.'  Stu was too fast.  He had already taken it away.  Thus my beautiful rendering above.

Stu is the best.  I still might kiss him.  I dare you to describe a worse neighbor than mine.

(I planned to share a link to one particular nightmare neighbor story that reminded me of this.  I have been paging thru the many posts I have written about the incurably, self-involved, holier-than-though, pompous Mary Ann-worst-neighbor-extraordinaire, (yes, I have posted 5 different actual incidents involving Mary Ann - if you are unfamiliar, I urge you to read all about her.  As usual, I couldn't make this stuff up) and I am shocked that I never blogged about this very funny neighborhood incident that I don't believe was Mary Ann related.  I live near more than one crazy.  Really.  So, I will just have to share that one next.  Brace yourself.  It is a guaranteed good chuckle).

April 20, 2018

how to deal with an un-invitation? plus informative side-notes

Several weeks ago my sister in law emailed family to find out who would be available to celebrate her daughter's First Communion.  Her email went like this:
 Sent: Wednesday, April 4, 2018 10:21 AM
 Subject: Abbey’s First Communion

With Abbey’s First Communion approaching next month (Sat., May
12th at 2pm), I just wanted to get a feel for who thinks
they will be able to make it. I know Pat and Connie have
their music competition again, and Betty has prom. I
don’t need exact numbers, just an idea! 

Sent from my
My kids play Irish music-just like my brother Pat's kids.  I was trying to figure out which of my kids might go to St. Louis to compete in the Midwest Irish music championships the weekend of May 11th.  Mini's 8th grade dance is scheduled for Friday night the 11th.  If she opted to attend her dance, then she COULD go to St. Louis on Saturday.  She would miss the duets and trios on Friday evening.  She would also miss solos on Saturday morning.  That would limit her involvement to the Sat. night ceili band competition.

Mini wanted to go to some part of the competition.  Tank was ticked that she would consider going to her dance.  He skipped his 8th grade dance in order to attend the music competition in
St. Louis last year.  His theory:  I skipped so we could do a duet, so you should skip so that we could do a duet.

Mini (who has been playing fiddle for 6 years) and Tank (who has played the concert flute for years --just got his Irish flute last Christmas) have only had a couple of lessons all year.  Long story, but my sister in law Connie who was teaching Mini stopped giving lessons.  She opted to grandfather Mini in and keep her as a student.  That only resulted in 2 lessons.  Connie is just too busy.  Mini wasn't feeling up to competing with Tank based on their lack of serious lessons all year.  Side note:  I just found a new teacher who will teach Mini and Curly fiddle via skype.

I responded to my sis in law RIGHT AWAY to let her know that she might need to count Mini and I and maybe one other kid out.
On Apr 4, 2018, at 10:40 AM, Ernie Shenanigan wrote:

think Mini and I and possibly another kid will be going to
st Louis too.  Haven't finalized that yet.
Please note that she said she didn't need exact numbers.  Her next email totally caught me by surprise.

 Subject: Re: Abbey’s First Communion
To: Ernie Shenanigan
Date: Thursday, April 5, 2018, 10:24 PM

That’s fine. Since you’re planning on going to
St. Louis and so many can’t make it (only Marie, Delaney
and Ann who is a maybe for dinner), we’re going to go
to a restaurant instead. I’m only able to get a
reservation for 14 at this point. It’ll just be your
Marie and Delaney, and my sister’s family and                                                      maybe Ann, depending on timing around Betty’s                                                                picture’s for prom. 
Sent from my
WHAT?  Just because Mini and I and maybe another kid might not attend, she decided not to invite ANYONE from my family????  Help me out here.  I can't wrap my brain around it.

I am full of side notes today:  she and my brother just bought a mansion.  She almost never entertained at their last home because she always claimed they didn't have enough space.  They had a very nice 4 bedroom home with a living room, dining room, eat in kitchen, family room, full unfinished basement, backyard, etc.   We have a big family .  My siblings and I have given our folks 22 grandchildren.  Trust me, there was ample space for us in their last house.  I do believe that she gets overwhelmed entertaining.  I think she WANTS everything from a decorating standpoint to be perfect and appear as if it was out of a magazine.  (None of us really care.  No reason for her to raise the bar to host our group.  Really).  So, I get that she prefers a restaurant.  She couldn't find a place to accommodate the rest of us?

In the meantime, I told Mini that I didn't want to go all the way to St. Louis for a quick competition.  We would have to stay over.  I always end up driving 5 hours home from this event on Mother's Day. 
I took a few days to ponder my response.  I wanted to say something along the lines of, 'Hi Crazy!  I know I am the most awesome person in my immediate family - but did you really decide not to invite the rest of the gang because I might not be there?'  Instead I approached it like a grown up.
On Apr 7, 2018, at 10:32 AM, Ernie Shenanigan wrote:
That’s fine, but not sure if you realize that most of our family will still be in town.  I actually think I have Mini convinced that it doesn’t make sense to go all the way to St. Louis for ceili band only.  Mini has her 8th grade dance Friday night so she thought she was going to go to St. Louis for Saturday but that means she misses solos and duets - and just shows up to do ceili band.  If you want to keep your reservation the way you have it, then don’t worry about it.  Maybe if more seats become available, you can add us.  

Eleven days later.  That's right.  ELEVEN.  Side note #3 in case anyone is counting:  I typically get along fine with my sister in law.  She is very sweet.  I don't hang with her much outside of family events.  She is all about designer clothes for her kids - they don't wear hand-me-downs EVER, concerns herself with appearances, and has NEVER once answered a ringing phone - be it a cell phone or a landline.  It baffles me.  So consider that before you suggests that I call her.  She doesn't work.  Her kids are all in school.  She is a nice person who is crazy about my brother, devoted to her kids (spoils them pretty sufficiently- especially Abbey), and respectful and kind to my parents.   Her long-awaited response:

 Hey Ernie! Sorry I’m just responding now! Once the numbers started coming in and I knew that only 3 cousins had confirmed (Deirdre, Jimmy and Jill), I realized it would be a small party/more of a big kid/adult party. I didn’t want to have a typical house party where Abbey wouldn’t have anyone to play with. She said she’d rather go to a restaurant and have dessert at our house later. That was fine w Mike and me, so I reserved a couple of tables as soon as I could! But if you’re not going to go to St. Louis or if you think some of your kiddos will make it, we’ll have it at our house. I hope this weather will be better by then!!

Sent from my iPhone

WHAT?!!??  Now, Coach and I are going to dictate that they host a party at their house even though she has shared with me that she would prefer to have it at a restaurant?  I think not.  I tried to imagine if I had made a similar oversight.  I would instantly email the person back and say, 'Sorry!  I don't know what I was thinking by not counting your other family members.  Glad some of you are in town (and maybe all of you).  Invitation to follow.'

I would not have the nerve to make the potential guest feel like they were put upon -that their presence might mean that the party take on a different feel/location entirely.  IS IT JUST ME???

This is the frame I ordered for Abbey. 
It is my favorite 1st Communion gift. 
I get it at personalization mall.  (link)
Guests can sign the frame and write a message. 
Such a sweet keepsake. 
Ironically my family will not be signing
the frame, because
I have yet to respond.  Curly is upset because she really wants to go.  She is only 2 years older than Abbey.  I am thinking that I will call and leave a million messages for 'I-don't-answer-calls-sis-in-law'.  When she finally calls me back, I will just ask her if she can possibly fit Curly in at the restaurant.  I will point out that I have no interest in dictating where the party is held, so best if we just stay home.

I will recover from not spending time with my family.  Seriously.  That is not the point. 

Thoughts?  Tell me you have never heard the likes of this?  Please.  Because I feel like it is nuts.  Or do you think I am nuts?  I am ready and waiting. 

April 18, 2018

attacking mandarin oranges

Tank is not willing to pack fresh fruit in his lunch for school.  He will sometimes bring a banana, but I have very little confidence that he actually eats it.  His argument is that the fruit is warm or mushy by the time he eats it.   In case you are a mom (and therefore uncool by default) then you must be aware of the trend:  it is dorky to take a lunchbox to high school.  Thus begins the viscous circle:  no lunch box, no cold packs, no fresh fruit (at least for Tank).

My 6 foot 1 freshman isn't a huge fan of apples.  This is ludicrous because his mother buys the most expensive, delicious apples known to man.  The checker at the grocery store frequently asks me if I seriously intend to spend $40 or more on a weekly supply of apples.  I don't mind spending more for something that is wonderfully delicious AND healthy.  Where else can you get that?  If you haven't sampled a Honey-crisp apple - what are you waiting for?

Tank's before school breakfast routine doesn't include fresh fruit either.  His morning consists of us begging him to find socks to wear, to not get 'caught up' with the tots I sit for, and to just make progress in general to be ready on time.

There IS ample fresh fruit available in our house.  Honest.  This kid's lack of fruit intake has been a sticking point with me for most of the school year.

I packed cans of mandarin oranges for our trip to Scotland.  Unlike Tank, I don't like to be without fruit.  While I was in the shopping-for-Scotland mode, I picked up a few of those single serving cup packs of mandarin oranges to see if Tank would take that to school.  My purchase was a big hit.  Tank began to take a fruit cup in his sack lunch.

On Sunday I ran to Costco.  I purchased a case of mandarin orange cups that would be perfect for Tank to toss in his lunch.  Buying in bulk is the way I roll whenever possible.

My mistake was that I didn't open the thick cardboard box that held the 20 plastic cups of mandarin oranges.  I foolishly left the box on the pantry shelf.  Tank struggled to open the box himself.  Mornings around here resemble feeding time at the zoo.  Chaos.  I was only vaguely aware of Tank's 10 second attempt to rip open the box of mandarin oranges.

I mass produce peanut butter and jelly sandwiches most mornings and if I am not careful I lose track of who needs what.  I have been known to gift one kid with two sandwiches and less fortunate kid with none.  The tots I sit for eat PB&J, so I make theirs in the morning while I am making the sandwiches for my gang - then I set them aside in a Tupperware container or an empty bread loaf bag.  Recently I stuffed the tot lunch in an empty bread loaf bag.  When I cleaned up the kitchen I absentmindedly put the bread bag back in the bread drawer.  I enjoy creating little scavenger hunts for myself.  The idea behind the one-time-sandwich-making assembly line is to simplify my life.  Imagine my excitement in searching for the previously prepared sandwiches at noon that day.  Baby crying offered the perfect backdrop for me as I dug thru the trash and shuffled paperwork around on the counter before I opened the bread drawer.

These are the surviving mandarin orange cups.
  My advice on opening the box with a steak knife: 
Don't try this at home, all you impatient kids
out there who are suddenly so
committed to eating fruit you
can't control yourself.
Sorry, I digress.  Just trying to paint a vivid picture of our morning fun.

Before I could stop him, Tank-who wasn't making any progress opening the box with his bare hands and noodle arms- attempted to open the box with a steak knife.  He punctured the side of the box with the knife.  Ed was sitting at the island eating his breakfast, 'What are you doing, you idiot?!'  I grabbed the box from Tank.  Too late.  It was now leaking mandarin orange juice.

I ripped open the box and we found the leaker.  Tank put that one in a plastic bag for his lunch.  I made him rinse the rest of the containers off in the sink and spread them out on a towel.  He also had to address the juice leakage issue that was all over the floor.

I won't pretend that a string of bad words didn't escape my mouth.  It just happens that way.

Later in the day when I accidentally knocked one of the orange cups off its drying perch on the towel (because I wanted to make Tank come home and put them all in the pantry), the lid popped open from the force and it splattered all over the floor.  More of a mess to clean up.  And of course, more bad words.

I left that one off to the side, so I would remember to make Tank put it in a baggie for his lunch.  Curly hopped off the bus and promptly picked up the cup with the compromised lid and asked me if she could eat it.  She, of course, asked me this while she was waving it around at me.  It leaked all over the floor AGAIN.

This is the thanks I get for trying to get my kid to eat healthy.

April 16, 2018

bouncing bleachers: offensive or acceptable?

As I type this, I am sitting on metal bleachers at Reggie’s travel basketball game.  Have you been there?  Not the travel game, but the bleachers.  Agony.  I do have one of those bleacher seats, but I never remember to bring it.    

Coach is out of town this weekend helping teach a class near DC.  He is scheduled to get back around midnight Sunday.  I will be begging for some physical therapy work from him after my time on these god forsaken bleachers.  There must be a better way to seat tall people during a sporting event.  I know, I know, I can always stand - and I probably will as soon as I am done describing this mom to you.  

Reg was supposed to have 3 games.  The tournament is only 11 minutes from home, so when they cancelled the middle game (first I rejoiced) we ran home for a bit.  Nothing like finding time for a grocery run to make my day. 

Anyway, I found a spot on the bleachers just before Reggie’s first game.  I tried the front row because there was no one sitting there, but when I realized that my knees were going to serve as handy chin rest I opted to move up a row.  A mom and her 10 year old daughter sat behind me.  A couple of teenage-ish guys sat far enough down from them that someone could have fit between them.  

Now when I say teenage-ish, I mean I have no idea how old these two guys were.  I do know that they liked to use sound effects in conjunction with their cheering.  Like:  low groaning as a kid dribbles expertly thru a bunch of defenders - when he shoots and scores the groaning is followed by a quick side comment to the buddy- along the lines of ‘no he di-int!’  They wore their baseball hat brims wide and flat and their clothes baggy.  They were too skinny for me to gauge their age with much accuracy.  Could have been college age - I guess.  Or high school.  They were kind of punky looking, if I was trying to classify them.  But I wasn't.  They sort of reminded me of the love interest of the fake sister in the movie 'We're the Millers', if you are looking for a visual.  And if you haven't seen that movie, and you are looking for a laugh - I highly recommend. 

Anyway I was watching the game.  I noticed that the bleachers were bouncing.  Someone was tapping a foot or something.  A bit later the mom behind me leaned over the empty spot next to her daughter where no one was sitting.  She got the attention of the punky guy closest to her, 'Excuse me, excuse me.  Can you stop bouncing please?' 

OK, so she was polite.  Big deal.  I found her request RUDE.  Coach often has one leg that is in constant motion.  So, perhaps I am immune to the annoyance it can cause.  I still COULDN'T believe that she told him to stop bouncing his leg.  This is a public place where people sit.  If you don't like the arrangement - get up and go find a better seat, or stand. 

Yes, I drew her wearing a tiara.
  She wasn't wearing one at the game.
 I'm assuming that she just left
it to be shined by her staff that day. 

The lines around the guy's leg are
supposed to denote movement. 
Cut me some slack.  I sat in very
uncomfortable bleachers
 for a big part of my day.
Travel sports teams are weird.  Since the teammates are not from our school- I don't know who they are.  I also don't know who their parents are.  Eventually I deduced that this woman's kid was on the other team.   I sit at travel games and cheer for my kid.  When I am not cheering, I can't help but people watch.  This game offered some very entertaining peeps. 
After punky kid was told to stop bouncing, he told her, 'Oh sorry.  My bad.'  Then he leaned over to punk buddy, 'What?  Who is SHE?!'  He said it in the same low, cartoon-like, whispery voice that he used when he was adding sound effects to the action in the game. 

Part of me wanted to turn around and agree with him.  'Yeah, who IS she?  What is up with that?'  I didn't do it.  Sometimes I opt not to cause a scene.  This woman must have been a princess somewhere.  People must bow down and worship her.  These punky kids were entertaining.  They were enjoying the game.  They weren't bothering anyone.  A bouncing leg - please.  Oh, she aggravated me. 

I think I would only have considered scolding someone next to me in the bleachers if they were swearing profusely in front of young children.  Not that it would have both
ered my children, because they live with me.  A potty mouthed mother.  If I sit down next to someone with horrible body odor, I don't tell them to leave.  I choose to stand up and go somewhere less offensive. 

What would tick you off enough to tell someone to 'quit it' in the bleachers?  And have you gotten up the nerve to do so?  Please share!

April 14, 2018

Do eyebrows grow back?

Tank and Eddie had an early dismissal on Tuesday.  Slightly early.  They left school at 2:00 and worked out at our top-notch health club.  To be clear, we would never belong to this place if Coach's physical therapy clinic wasn't in the same building.  The club offers Coach (and our family) a free membership - which is why he can NEVER, NEVER, EVER quit his job or piss off the people who grant him the free membership, because that would suck.  It's a pricey place. 

Coach finishes work early on a Tuesday, so he ended up working out after work.  His workout overlapped partly with the boys' workout.  He arrived home a bit before they did.  Because let's face it, the boys are interested in playing basketball, swimming, lifting, etc.  Coach is more into a 1 hour cardio workout, a shower, and being done.

When Coach arrived home, he talked to me for a few minutes.  Then he asked me if Tank had called me.  He followed that up with 'Did Tank send you a picture of himself?'  No and no.  'Wait till you see what he did to his face.'  OK, WHAT?!  Who says that to a mother?

Apparently, Tank was lifting weights.  It is true that I do make fun of him for having noodle arms when he plays basketball. 

After his basketball games I was always like, 'What is the deal with your arms?  You are the tallest kid out there.  You should be out-rebounding EVERYONE.'  Instead if, let's say, an opponent grazes the air particles that surrounds Tank's arm it causes Tank's arm to waiver and wiggle.  He doesn't have the muscles to hold his position and GRAB THE DAMN BALL.  (Don't even get me started on what happens when someone throws their arms up using utter strength and collides with Tank's noodles.  It's mind blowing). 

In case you haven't figured it out by now, it is not a total cakewalk being a Shenanigan.  We are not about to beat around the bush.  We don't overthink giving someone feedback - particularly if they aren't giving an athletic activity their all.  So, I may have suggested that he lift something besides a bag of chips or whatever available junk food he can get his meat-hooks on.  I did not mean to imply that he lift weights without supervision.  Tank can't put his laundry away without supervision.

This is 24 hours later. 
It doesn't look so bad in this photo. 
There is definitely some
eyebrow missing though. 
I tried to rotate this thing,
but this is the best I could do. 
Computer is fighting with me,
and winning.
Apparently, he was benching.  He tried to place the bar back on the stand (Forgive me for not using the proper terminology here.  Other than 'benching' - that word I have heard tossed around by my guys).  The bar was not securely in the stand.  Tank thought it was.  The bar dropped on one side and grazed his face.  Some part of the bar sheered off a chunk of Tank's skin above his eye and thru his eyebrow. 

Coach explained that Tank showed up at his PT clinic just before Coach was going to walk across the hall to start his workout.  Tank was holding a towel to his face that was covered in blood.  Coach dressed his open wound and scolded him for not being more careful.  His office manager, who is like family, got a chuckle out of Coach's lack of empathy.  Coach turned to her and said, 'Yeah, well trust me he isn't going to get any sympathy from Ernie.'

This is true.  I questioned his safety procedures when lifting.  Then I expressed my concerns that his bushy eyebrow would grow back.

Tank on the other hand was very pumped up about going to school on Wednesday.  He was concocting various violent and impressive scenarios about how his face was injured.  I have no doubt that he convinced classmates of something nutty.  I sometimes wonder if he really attends
class.  I imagine that he walks around 'working' the place.  Greeting people.  Joking with them.  And now - showing off his partially missing eyebrow. 

April 12, 2018

not my favorite repair man

The appliance guy came back because the parts he ordered were in.  Just as in the Monty Python movies, there was much celebrating.  Celebrating by family members, because we got chills anticipating ice.

The guy showed up and asked me for the flap door thing that Tank broke off of the interior of the freezer when it still smelled like a new appliance.  I was confused.  Tank broke it.  I didn't still have it.  I threw it away. 

The man laughed.  He laughed a lot.  I frowned.  He informed me that the broken flap door thing had tiny screws in it that he needed to install the new flap door thing.  Why did he find this funny?  This flap door thing offers nothing but aesthetic value to the inside of the freezer.  Even though the part might not be necessary for the freezer to function, I hated to have a part missing this early on in my new freezer ownership. 

He sighed (when he was done laughing at what seemed like my expense).  'I'm not sure I can order the screws for the new flap door.'  If that is the case, why was he laughing???!!!  I instinctively glanced at the garbage bin where I had tossed the door after this guy's last visit weeks ago.  Of course the garbage was taken out several times since then. 

I found it hard not to scream.  If I saved everything my kids broke over the years, I would be featured on some hoarding show.  It baffled me.  He took a picture of the broken door on his last visit, but he never instructed me to keep the broken part.  My new kitchen is more spacious, but I have yet to designate a cabinet:  'storage-for-broken-stuff'.  With this crew, I suppose I shouldn't rule a cabinet with that label.

Then it got real infuriating.  'Well, I need to come back anyway.  I need to order another part for the ice maker.'  How could this be?  I cannot for the life of me remember what else he needed to order.  What I do remember is wondering if anyone had ever threatened to shove this guy into one of the freezers that he was fixing. 

The white piece that looks like a wall
and has 'Thermador' printed across
 it is the swing door thing
 that hides the ice maker parts.
It also hides some of my hidden cookies,
which Tank discovered and in his haste -
broke off the door. Beneath it is ICE. 
Then on Wednesday it happened.  The stars aligned.  My least favorite fix it guy arrived.  Coach came home from work fairly early, so I raced off to Costco because I was starving and in need of groceries.  I slipped away just as the guy started tinkering with the freezer.  I thought it best that I not be in the same building as Mr. You-Threw-Something-Away-And-It-Struck-My-Funny-Bone, because inevitably he would announce that he needed more parts. 

When I got home, I opened the freezer.  A new aesthetic flap door thing hung in place.  So he had no trouble ordering the screws.  Hooray!  Coach told me that he had instructions to empty the ice cubes in the morning.  After that, the ice cubes could be ingested.  I was given these same instructions back when Mr. Joker played a Jedi mind trick on me. 

I was skeptical, but sure enough in the morning . . . ICE.

April 10, 2018

feed me, damn it

Yesterday was one of those days when I just couldn't find enough to eat - or more specifically food that I WANTED to eat.  My workout class was incredibly intense - thus ramping up my appetite.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays I workout crazy early.  At least to me it is crazy early.  Basically any time that interferes with a time that I COULD be sleeping, is crazy early.  Or perhaps I am just plain crazy for working out and forgoing sleep.

The bummer about my 5:45 Wednesday class is that the studio gets very full very quickly.  In order to get a spot on the floor, I aim to get there by 5:35 am. The basketball court where the class gathers on Tuesdays at 6 am is more spacious.

The silver lining when I lost my license for 7 weeks a few years ago is that I discovered these early workout classes.  (A neighbor agreed to drive my sorry ass to workout, but she worked out very early).  Have you not read about all the no-license stuff?  It was one of those things . . . not funny in the moment, but time plus a few blogging posts, and bam - turns out it was pretty comical.  Check it out here, here, here, here, here, and here.  There are layers and lots of stories associated with my temporary loss of driving privileges.

Getting back to my severe hunger mode . . . we did a ladder workout on Wednesday.  The instructor told us to do 25 crunches and 25 push ups and then run a few laps.  She added 5 increments each time and eventually decreased the amount we were doing.  Thus moving down the ladder.  I think we moved back up the ladder too, but everything started to blur.  I mentioned - this was early in the morning, right?  By the time we were done she estimated that we completed 150 push ups.

I am NOT a fan of push ups.  I am also not a fan of instructors that announce 'work at your own pace'.  I am in pretty decent shape, but I was always the last one to finish a set of exercises.  It's not like anyone waited for me to finish, so I was in constant catch-up mode.  Yes, that means that I shaved off a few push ups here and there.  Sue me.

A workout like that is great, except that I can't find enough to fill my pie hole for the rest of the day.  Yeah, yeah - I know protein.  I start there but could easily swallow my kids' entire stash of hostess products.  Total no-no for me.

Since being diagnosed with Celiac disease on a very dark day in May of 2015, I have the occasional situation when I just want to eat something on the 'OFF LIMITS' list.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I will be honest.  It sucked.

I realized late in the day that I hadn't eaten my afternoon apple.  Shoot.  How could I have skipped such a treat?

People, I have early morning gluten free oatmeal loaded with craisins and granola so I can pretend it doesn't taste like baby food.  Then I have scrambled eggs and a grapefruit.  I make a kick ass cob salad for lunch and chase that with a yogurt.  Late afternoon I award myself with an apple.  I was dipping it in peanut butter until that started to show on the scale.  Dinner is usually meat, potatoes, and veggies.
This is now in my freezer. 
I have eaten gluten free pizza before.
 It makes no sense to save the leftovers.
  Leftover gluten free pizza tastes like dirt.

Exciting stuff.  See why I occasionally get desperate for MORE?

Good or bad, while in severe starvation mode I ran to Costco.  They were sampling gluten free pizza.  I generally don't eat gluten free pizza or pasta or anything that isn't gluten free naturally, but I sampled it.  It was tasty and I fell into the Costco trap and bought it.  On Good Friday a few weeks ago, I ate a salad while surrounded by the  awesome aroma of pizza that the rest of the family was stuffing in their faces.  Instant grumpy mommy.

Well bad-mood-from-hating-my-food no more.

Look for this box in
your Costco freezer.
 I don't get any $
 for endorsing this -
 just the satisfaction
that I've introduced
 something yummy
 and healthy to other
gluten free eaters.

Yummy muffin!
I discovered a delicious treat by Garden Lites while loading my cart with $380 worth of groceries.  Banana chocolate chip muffins.  Gluten free.  Amazing and healthy!  They weren't even sampling them at Costco.  I just stumbled on them by my big-girl self.

Eddie is the health food guru in these parts.  He inspected the box and gave me a thumbs up.  He was impressed that one muffin didn't count for like 98% of daily carbs or anything sneaky like that.  I still had the crumbs on my face from inhaling my second muffin in 2 minutes, when I asked for his blessing . . . 'Is it a big deal if I eat like 2 in a day?'  Eddie forbid it.  Damn.
Muffin nutrition label. 
Main ingredient is zucchini.

I mean when you kick yourself for forgetting your apple treat, you know you are just too damn deprived.  Thanks to another blogger (themorethemessier), I have been indulging lately on Senor Rico rice puddings.  Probably not great for my waistline, but it's done wonders for my disposition.

The kids know to keep their mitts off of my stash of generously over-sized 'single' servings of rice pudding.  They cross me and their Hostess supplier will cut them off!
This is a mighty generous portion of rice pudding.
 Not that I'm complaining!

April 8, 2018

cleaning products that are foreign, combined with crew that is foreign to cleaning

I do request help from the other household members to assist in cleaning the house from time to time.  I swear I do.  Are you familiar with the saying, 'If I don't do it myself, . . . ?'

Coach knew that I wanted to return from Scotland and be surrounded by tidy, clean rooms.  This is asking a lot, because our home rarely reaches clean and tidy status when I haven't been out of the country- so perhaps my hopes were a tad unrealistic.

While I was away, Coach took the three youngest boys to Florida for 4 days to visit his folks.  (Four days with his parents vs missing a connection in Heathrow . . . the visitors to Florida definitely drew short straws there.  I'd much rather feel exhausted and in desperate need of a shower in an airport for an additional 7 hours - bringing our travel time to close to 24 hours than spend 4 days with in-laws.  Just saying).  As much as I tried to get the house in perfect order before I left, the boys were still going to live here for a few days while we were gone.  Enough said.   

Just like the good ole days when I was about to head to the hospital to have a baby, I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor moments before I left for the airport.

I came home from Scotland last week.  (I promise to go into more detail about that adventure later.)  Coach got home from Florida the night before we returned from Scotland.  He proudly shared with me that he had Eddie clean a few toilets before we arrived home.  Awesome news.  My goals had shifted a bit though.  All I really cared about was going to sleep in my own bed.

The night we landed I walked thru the kitchen until suddenly I was ice skating.  No joke.  I almost went down.  'OK, who spilled something here?'  Coach had a puzzled look on his face.  'How did you know?  I spilled some grease from the rotisserie chicken I bought at the grocery store for dinner.'  A few more days peppered with more impromptu ice skating episodes in that particular spot, and I finally asked HOW he cleaned up the grease.  'A wet paper towel.'  Duh.

Days after our much less eventful return to the USA, I instructed Mini to clean the kids’ bathroom.  It was technically Tank's turn, but he met up with his best friend's family and stayed in Florida when Coach flew home.  Living the dream.

My previous post about the issues I have with the kids' bathroom was written in order to make this post more streamlined and sensible.

Mini claimed to be done with her chore, and I cautiously entered my least favorite room in the house.  First of all, I'm no detective but small wads of toilet paper tucked behind the hand soap on the counter is a good indicator that Mini didn't REALLY do a good job of cleaning the bathroom.  Partial smears of toothpaste offered more evidence of a job not well done.  I was already fuming when I glanced at the mirror . . .

Folks, it was totally fogged.  I'm sorry I didn't snap a photo of it.  It would've been easy to take a photo and not worry about my reflection appearing in the photo, BECAUSE NO ONE COULD SEE ANYTHING IN THIS MIRROR.

Mini explained that there was a problem with the Windex.  Huh?  Since when is Windex at fault for this?  She showed me the bottle she used.  The whole bathroom smelled weird.  Clean, but weird.  The story unraveled and the truth behind Eddie's toilet cleaning and Coach's 'help' in assigning a kid a cleaning task came to light. 

This photo is frustrating me because
I don't think it is clear just how
 neon the 'fake' Windex is on the left. 
The 'Windex' bottle used was tampered with.  Eddie and Coach failed to find one of the 5 or 6 bottles of Windex stored in the pantry.  So they put their pea brains together, and voila.  They poured Mr. Clean - a tile floor cleaner - into an empty bottle of Windex.  Coach claims that they barely added any and that they diluted it with water.  Really?  Please see the attached photo, because this neon shit doesn't look diluted at all.

After the non-diluted concoction was created, Ed used it to spray toilets and clean them.  I'm not really that fussy about what is used to clean toilets - I mean Mr. Clean kills germs and stuff, but they failed to label the new cleaner they whipped up.  AND, Windex might be fine for toilet seats and rims, but I use comet to scrub toilets.  Again, I refuse to complain because a clean toilet is a clean toilet - but I just want to point out that 'Comet' is readily available.  Not sure why anyone felt the need to introduce Mr. Clean in a spray bottle to my abundant supply of cleaners

Here you can see the 3 cans of Comet.  6 good bottles of Windex.  Then front and center is the Mr. Clean floor cleaner alongside the neon Windex bottle that is apparently filled with Mr. Clean.  And hey, why not just pour some Mr. Clean on a rag and clean the toilet that way?  Why did we need to confuse everyone with a mysteriously neon Windex experiment?  

I guess I can also point out here that I have never been one to mop up spilled grease on a kitchen floor with a wet paper towel.  Thus the appearance of the jug of white vinegar in the above photo.  I guess this counts for exhibits A, B, C, and so on to support my case.  Even when they try to help . . . they are CLUELESS!!!!!  

April 6, 2018

top 10 reasons I steer clear of the kids' bathroom

Entering the kids’ bathroom is not an activity I take lightly.  It took a long time for me to come to terms with the fact that if they want to live like undomesticated, uncivilized beings from some low-budget sci-fi film, then avoiding the kids' bathroom (the hall bath) is my best coping mechanism.  

It is better for me if I don’t witness their filth.  It appears in many forms:  
     10.  their mislaid trash (perhaps the tiny, typical-bathroom-sized bin isn't wide enough for them and they regularly miss the target), 
     9.  their poor aim (speaking of missing the target . . . 4 boys, people.  FOUR), 
     8.  their overflowing garbage bin (why they refuse to grasp that they shouldn't empty large items into a tiny garbage pail is way beyond my comprehension.  Often times they clean their rooms - only when ordered multiple times, mind you- and they discard old birthday party loot bags, shoe boxes, mounds of partially used construction paper, broken sport bottles, and 83 wadded up Kleenexes into this tiny, meant-for-bathroom-trash-only bin),
    7.  their toothpaste spittoon competitions (unless there is a more reasonable explanation for toothpaste spit splattering ALL OVER one side of the mirror.  I do recognize that the lopsided spitting issue is most likely related to one culprit, but I have yet to install cameras-this is a bathroom, after all- to determine who this might be.  I have my theories), 
The ledge in their shower . . . 4 of these bottles are empty. 
4!!!  Guess how often they use 'Daily Shower'? 
I refuse to show you the overflowing garbage or the state of the
soap scum.  I have standards.  My children don't, but I do.
     6.  their empties (removing an empty shampoo or conditioner container from the shower stall is sac-religious to our offspring.  There could be 3 or 4 family-size plastic container shoved in the corner of their shower and NO ONE cares  Not proud.  Just saying), 
     5.  their 67 hairbrushes (yes, and only two hairbrush users), 
     4.  their littering of hair ties/scrunchies/bows (again, easily deduced -so finger pointing by the brothers is perfectly acceptable here, but like I've said - their tolerance for junk everywhere is incredibly high, so the boys never complain), 
I admit, this photo was taken awhile ago
- the situation has improved slightly. 
People those are all TOOTHBRUSHES!
 Not sure how clueless Coach and I must
 have been to allow this entire drawer to be filled
 with barely to overly used toothbrushes.
 Since this photo, I have made the
box of spare toothbrushes
 MUCH less accessible to the
 freaky children we live with. 
     3.  their new toilet paper roll -not replaced on the wall, but rolling around in the general vicinity of the toilet, 
     2.  their multitude of toothbrushes - no explanation, (Coach and I both insist that we were allotted one toothbrush when we were growing up, and by-golly it proved sufficient, we struggle with how our kids manage to lam on to more than one toothbrush and NEVER toss out the older one, AND quickly become unable to identify a toothbrush that was once theirs - who are these people and who invited them to live with such civilized parents?)
     1.  and their balled-up dirty laundry - heaps of it (because reaching a forearm thru the laundry room door directly next to the bathroom might show real attention to detail). 

That sums it up.  This is why I rarely enter their bathroom space.  I make them clean it.  It's a 6 week rotation when Laddie is home.  When he isn't, a turn pops up for each kid every 5 weeks.  Everyone has to do it.  I really thought they would start to be neater in general, knowing that in the blink of an eye they would be in there dealing with the grossness.  

Nothing deters them though.  NOTHING. 

April 4, 2018

the ice-man

Last week a man from the appliance store came to inspect the brand new freezer.  It was installed in late December, but hasn't made ice yet.  The contractor (the one who speaks like Gru from 'Despicable Me') suggested forever ago that the plumber should check the water line.  Maybe it wasn't set up properly.  Two months later while we waited impatiently to add ice to our cups of water, he arranged for the plumber to peek at the water line.  It was fine.
Top left:  bags of frozen cookies, directly beneath
 that is where there are little pegs where the
door that Tank broke is supposed to be.
 And at the bottom is our eternally empty ice bin.

So when the appliance guy (that I hesitated to call for 2 months while I waited for our contractor to get the plumber out here to verify that it wasn't his mistake - are you following this?  Think of how exausting this process is AND then imagine drinking tepid water while this was all happening) arrived, he messed with the freezer.

I showed him the small interior door that is supposed to hang down over the ice bin or something.  Tank broke it off when the freezer was less than a week old.  I explained that my 6 foot freshman wears a size 15 men's shoe and NEVER stops eating despite our famine like conditions.  I guessed that the plastic door was interfering with his ability to pillage thru my stash of homemade frozen cookies.  When he stopped chuckling, he ordered a replacement mini-door thing.  Then he told me that the ice would fill up overnight.  We were to toss out the first batch.  After that we could ingest the ice.  Yippee.

I texted Ed who is forever complaining about the lack of ice.  I have bought bags of ice several times, but that isn't really the point.  Chiseling away at ice is a bit of an annoyance when we have a top-of-the-line brand new freezer.

Without glasses of ice water accessible to him, Ed has taken to consuming many disposable water bottles a day.  He doesn't have the genetic makeup that allows him to toss the empties away.  I counted over 25 discarded water bottles littering his room one day.  That is not an exaggeration.  I think I was too upset to snap a picture as I collected his recyclable litter.

The morning after the freezer repair guy was here, I prepared to shovel the ice into the sink to make room for the fresh ice.  There were only a few cubes.  The digital readout was in messed-up mode again.  I called the guy back.  He casually mentioned that fact that he had ordered a new controller for my freezer -as if this was common knowledge.  Why, oh why, did he not mention our malfunctioning controller the day before?

That was cold, don’t you think?  (Pun intended).

April 2, 2018

little red hen and her sub-par bread

Coach likes to make fun of me for shushing everyone when I am baking.  When people walk into the kitchen and try to talk to me or are busy talking to each other loudly, I respond by counting my teaspoons, cups, eggs, etc. VERY LOUDLY.  It is my hope that they get the message.  Don't interrupt me while I am trying to keep track of what I am putting into my masterpiece.  Damn it.  

Coach laughed at me when I did this yesterday.  It was Easter Sunday.  I was making my very awesome and moist Irish soda bread.  It is my great-grandmother's recipe.  I know a lot of Irish people, and none of them have ever eaten Irish soda bread as moist and delicious as this recipe.  It always gets rave reviews.  I can't remember ever messing it up.   

I always double the recipe.  In our house, we can never have enough Irish soda bread.  Besides, I often share.  Two large mixing bowls were positioned in front of me.  I was counting 3 teaspoons of baking powder into each bowl.  

One (normal, whispered tone to myself) . . . Curly entered the room and started to talk to me. . . TWO (slightly louder, as if I was conversing with someone), . . . THREE (a modified shout).  

Coach scoffed at me.  'How hard is it to count to three?'  The rest of our offspring heckled me a bit about my need for silence so I can concentrate on my craft.  Hey, we all have our 'things', right?  My mind is always running.  There are always things I am trying to remember to do.  I have to block out my own remembering in order to give my full attention to baking. 

I felt a bit like the little red hen.  In my version, I am not asking anyone to help me thresh the grain into wheat.  Instead: 'Who will shut the Hell up, so I can bake some Irish soda bread?'  After being heckled, my little-red-hen-self pretends not to share the bread with them . . . that doesn't last long, because I can't even eat the heavenly bread anymore.  Damn celiac disease.   

When I poured it into the pans, I started to doubt whether or not I had messed it up.  It seemed too dry.  My two different one cup measuring cups were in the dishwasher.  Rather than open the dishwasher mid-cycle, I opted to use the large measuring cup that is really more for measuring liquids.  I prefer to dip the cup, and level the flour.  Instead I dumped the flour into the big measuring cup until it was at 3 cups.  

Now I wondered if it the flour was too packed into the cup.  Coach assured me that it would be fine.  If I thought it was too dry, why not add a bit of buttermilk?  What?  Why would I listen to him?  What does he know about baking?  Desperate times, call for desperate bakers to do stupid things, I guess.  There was only about a tablespoon of buttermilk left in the container.  I drizzled a bit in each of the pans and stirred it into the batter just before I popped it into the oven.
OK, I admit.  This picture doesn't
portray the 'messed up' look. 
I need a photo of a good batch of Irish
soda bread to prove how weird this
batch turned out.  I will add a photo of a
 perfect batch when I make more . . .
 in the meantime, use your imagination.
Coach's sister arrived for Easter dinner with her kids.  Her husband was stuck at home working on taxes.  I had teased him the day before while trying to entice him to join us.  I texted:  'Does warm soda bread speak to you?'  The oven buzzer beeped.  The bread was done.  I felt like someone punched me in the gut.  My bread was ruined.  It looked like albino raisin bread.  What the Hell?  

I tried to think back.  I couldn't recall putting the baking soda in the batter.  Had I skipped an ingredient while being heckled?

The bread was edible.  I couldn't sample the weird results.  Coach and Eddie insisted they liked it very much, maybe even better than the original.  Whatever.  I still sent a small plate of the colorless bread home with my sister in law.  With a note attached for her husband:  'Enjoy the sub-par soda bread.'

I wish my little-red-hen self had the last laugh, but I don't find baking mishaps funny.  'Do you want to make fun of me for concentrating on making YOU bread?  Do you want to help me eat the bread that didn't turn out?  Well, go right ahead.'