August 30, 2018

I'll take 'know your time zones' for $100!

The Friday feis was a black and white feis.  That is our favorite kind of competition.  It means that dancers can wear black or white shirts, shorts, or skirts.  No fancy costumes, no makeup, no wigs.  It is a streamlined system that we welcome whenever possible.

Trying to leave the house in a moment's notice, Mini was scrambling to find the black clothes we reserve for these competitions.  Maeve’s level of competition wasn’t offered on Friday, so she would only dance on Saturday in her dress.  

Our Irish dancing cabinet. 
Tape, socks, leg tanner.  Note the curly wig
on the bottom shelf.  Our of style for several
years, but still comes in handy for Halloween
last minute costume ideas. Reason #264 that will
 make me excited when the girls are both
 done dancing.  I can reclaim this cabinet.
I called to a frantic Mini:  ‘I keep your black skirt in the dancing cabinet in the laundry room.’ (Doesn't everyone have a dancing cabinet full of retired wigs and extra sock glue in their laundry room?).  Her black shirt was in the laundry.  I grabbed one of mine.  

I told the girls to load their stuff in the car and I raced up the stairs to throw my clothes and toiletries in a bag.  I waddled out to the car dragging my bag, the dancing dresses - because the girls needed them for the Saturday competition, and the dancing dresses that we are currently trying to sell.  I took one more look around the kitchen and bolted out the door.  

I put the location of the competition in my google maps before we were even on the expressway. Now, I know the basic direction to Indianapolis, so the GPS wasn’t necessary just yet.  The fact that I did this on autopilot was instrumental.

My phone estimated our arrival time as 5:15 pm.  My heart stopped.  What the what?!  
Then it hit me.  There was a time change.  Duh!  I had just attended my 25th college reunion in Indiana.  I KNEW there was a time change.  I had totally blanked on it.  

I shared the bad news with the girls.  Mini freaked out.  I hesitated as much as is possible in Chicago traffic on a Friday afternoon.  I was hosting a party for Mini’s graduation on Sunday.  I had PLENTY to do.  Should I bail on this crazy road trip?

August 28, 2018

not without a car!

I tried to busy myself preparing for Sunday’s party.  I wanted to take a nap since I woke  up crazy early with gluten issues.  Eddie wanted to know who was going to drive him to basketball camp.  I gave up on the pool party being postponed or cancelled.  I told him to just take the car, and then I went up to bed.  

I was in my bed still unable to sleep despite being crazy tired.  Damn gluten.  After I laid there for about 15 minutes, I heard the garage door go up.  I was only wearing a huge t-shirt, but I jogged down the stairs and opened the garage door.  I got Eddie’s attention just as he was backing out of the driveway.  He stopped and looked upset.

I told him to hop out of the driver seat, so I could drive him to basketball.  I was not about to get out of the car in just a t-shirt to switch seats at the high school.  I explained while we drove that since I was still awake, I thought I may as well just drive him.

Eddie hates being driven somewhere.  He likes to know he can walk out of the building and drive away.  Heaven forbid that he have to wait for someone to come get him.

I mumbled about the fact that I realized I should have a car to drive Mini to this party anyway.  I knew she could get a ride from a friend, but both ways?  That was pushing it.  I just couldn’t get my brain to clear.  

I dropped Ed off at basketball practice and headed home.  I put the garage door up and there was Mini standing in the door.   Her mouth was moving but I didn’t know what she was shouting at me.  I rolled down the window:  ‘The party is cancelled.  We are going to Indianapolis!’  What?!  

In my rush to stop Eddie from driving away in the car, I had forgotten my phone at home.  Mini told me that one of the moms hosting the pool party had called my cell to let me know they were cancelling the grad pool party.  With the party cancelled, we could try to make it to Indianapolis for Mini to compete in the Friday Irish dancing competition (feis).

This photo is a recreation. 
I absolutely did not take the time
to snap a photo of
me loading my cooler.  Had I done that,
 this picture would look a bit more like a
grocery cart being dumped on its side
in my kitchen as I tossed food into
 piles on the floor in front of the fridge.  
It usually takes me a few hours to pack up the car to leave for a feis (Irish dancing competition).  Now it was almost noon.  The competition started at 4. It was 3 hours away.  I had no time to think about how crazy this was.

I started to call out orders.  ‘Girls pack your bags.  Grab a cami (worn under dancing dress).  PJs.  Toothbrushes.  Clothes to wear when you aren’t dancing.  A book for the car.  Run!’

I opened the fridge and ordered Reg to get me the cooler on wheels. I planned a meal for later that night and breakfast for the next morning and lunch and snacks for the drive home (let’s hope we would be driving home by lunch the next day).  Bringing our own food.  Tradition.    

I headed in one direction to grab something before I stopped myself and remembered something else I needed to get in the other direction.  The kitchen was a flurry of me shoving food in the cooler and barking at people:  ‘Dance shoe bags!  Remind me to get the dresses we are selling out of the front hall closet.  Reg grab my running shoes from the front hall closet.  Unplug my phone charger and throw it in my purse.’  

We rallied.  I kept telling Mini it was all going to be fine.  The competition didn’t start for another 4 hours and it was a 3 hour drive.  We had this!  Right?

August 26, 2018

deviating from the original plan

The ORIGINAL plan was for us to drive to Indianapolis very early Friday morning.  I was done babysitting for the school year on Thursday.  Hooray.  We planned to take Eddie with us.  We would tour Butler in Indianapolis.  Drop Eddie off at a bus station so he could take a bus back home.  He was registered to take the ACT Saturday morning.  Not that he wouldn’t totally love to hang out at a feis like the good ole days and watch his sisters compete.

After getting Eddie on a bus home, I would take the girls to the Friday night feis.  Only Mini would dance, because Curly’s level didn’t compete at a Friday night feis.  Dance again Saturday, and return home to prepare to host Min’s graduation party.  Sound hectic?  I do have a habit of trying to do a bit more than what seems humanly possible.  Why would this weekend be any different?

Now we came up with a new plan, because of the pool party on Friday.  No Eddie.  No Butler.  Just dancing on Saturday.  And fingers crossed, we would come home with a first place!  Fingers crossed even more that the mostly family party we were hosting would be a cinch.  

I have tried and tried to insert the weather forecast here
for Friday, June 8th.  This is all that will copy. 
But it pretty much sums it up. 
As Friday the 8th approached, I noticed that the weather didn’t look promising for a pool party.  The evite didn’t mention anything about a rain date.  I waited.  

In my spare time I drove the girls to the mall to get a new bathing suit for Mini.  I tried to stay on top of the housework.  I paced myself.  What could I clean and organize far in advance that wouldn’t require a redo before the party?  

Wednesday night I met Coach and his staff out at a pizza place.  We had a celebration to commemorate his office manager’s last day.  She worked for Coach for 12 years.  WE were so sad that she had accepted another job.  It made sense, because upper management refused to pay her what she was worth.  

I arrived at the party hungry. Big mistake for a person with celiac disease.  Coach had promised that he would order a tossed salad.  The tossed salad offered at this pizza place included a head of iceberg lettuce barely separated.  A few tomatoes and cucumber chunks.  The end.  That wasn’t the kind of salad I considered a meal.  I ordered a gluten free pizza.  

I should have known better.  Never order gluten free pizza from a regular pizza place.  Imagine how much flour gets tossed around in their kitchen!  I didn’t sleep well that night.  I started to feel like I was in a fog.  By Friday I still wasn’t 100%.

I continued to watch the weather.  It was like 90% chance of rain.  I checked my email.  
No evite updates.  Crap.

August 24, 2018

choosing a party

Mini wanted to register for three more competitions before her 4th of July finale at National Championships in Orlando.  Three more attempts to hopefully bring home her next first place - one one necessary for Mini to retire at the highest level of competition.  Open Championship.

The first two competitions were held the second weekend in June in Indianapolis.  Curly’s foot had healed.  She was ready to compete.  

There were two more competitions the following weekend in Chicago.  Only 20 minutes from home.  Mini only wanted to sign up for the Saturday one.  The Sunday feis landed on Father’s Day.  She preferred to skip that one.  I didn’t blame her.  It was a new competition.  I had noticed a recent trend.  Irish dancing competitions being scheduled on Father’s Day.  This was the first one to land near our house.  Pass.

The new trend must be in response to the nutty, competition-crazed people over involved in Irish dancing.  Where would they draw the line?   (Yes, this might be a bit of the pot calling the kettle, but honestly, my kids were the last to wear wigs, etc.  Promise.  I fought the good fight.  And lost).

A few weeks after I registered the girls for competitions in Indianapolis, I opened an evite sent to my email address for Mini.  It was an 8th grade graduation pool party invitation.  Guess when the date was?  That’s right.  The party was on Friday, June 8th. 

The other new trend in Irish dancing is for a group to host a competition Friday night and then follow it up with another competition the next morning.  A Friday/Saturday competition was even better than a Saturday/Sunday competition.  If you could make the Friday work, then Sunday was left untouched.  A whole day on a weekend unaffected by an Irish dancing competition.  Beautiful.
You know in cartoons, when the character's eyes bug out . . .
imagine me doing this when I saw this invite. 
Summer kick off/ graduation party -
 a mom-who-has-paid-dancing-competition-fees
worst  nightmare!

Anyway, I gasped when I saw the date of the party.  I shared it with Mini.  She gasped too.  In an effort to not be labeled ‘dance mom’ by Mini’s brothers, I gulped and then told her that it was up to her.  If she wanted to attend the party, then I was fine with it.  We would drive to Indianapolis Friday night after the party and she could dance on Saturday only.

I admit it.  I hoped she would choose dancing.  Because 1.  I hated to toss the registration money out the window.  2.  And the other part was the true dance-mom part who is somewhat addicted to these silly subjective competitions..

Mini chose the party.  Duh.  That was fine.  Really.  I couldn’t blame her.  It stunk that I had already paid.  It also stunk that by skipping this competition, she would only have two chances left to win a first.

August 22, 2018


This was May and only Mini’s second weekend of competitions for the year.  Mini's results after the competitions back in early March were less than impressive.  Since then, Mini had worked hard to correct the issues those judges had pointed out.

Knowing she had qualified for National Championships and knowing that she was going to retire before high school, Mini had chosen not to race around to a million competitions on weekends in 2018.  Time to secure two first places was running out.

So, a 2nd place was definitely worth getting excited about.  So close though.  Again.

Before we left the party I looked up the competition results on my phone.  When the results were posted to the website, they included individual judges' comments and points.  Three judges adjudicated the contest.  
     Of the 27 dancers, one judge gave Mini a 1st overall.  
     Another judge gave Mini a 2nd overall.  
     The next judge gave Mini 19th place.  19th. What?

Had that judge removed his head from his ass, then he would have known that Mini did NOT deserve 19th place.  I watched every dancer.  I knew she was no where near 19th place.  Even if the suckie judge had given her a 3rd, there was a good chance that she would have landed in 1st overall.   This one guy skewed the results enough to keep Mini out of 1st.  Mind blowing.

Curly opted to hop in Coach’s car after the party.  She was headed home.  Mini and I settled into the hotel room in Milwaukee and prepared for the next morning.  Curly called my cell.  She was stuck watching basketball with her brothers.  She was not happy.  She was wishing that she had chosen to stick with us - even though that meant sitting around watching dancing competitions unable to compete because of her injury.  

The next day we woke up and repeated the routine of wig, makeup, leg tanner, and nerves.  Mini once again appeared to dominate the competition.  She danced phenomenally.  We waited an excruciating amount of time for the results to be announced.  

They started with 14th place and worked their way up.  As they announced the placements, I nodded.  These three judges (different from the day before, thankfully) seemed to have gotten the placements right this time - so far
Unclear picture of the top 14 of 28 dancers.
I think I was clutching my phone so tightly
that the camera got fogged up.
 Mini in orange.

.  I held my breath as they announced 3rd.  2nd. And at long last Mini Shenanigan, 1st place

I’m not going to lie.  There were tears.  

My sister, Marie, lives in the Milwaukee suburbs.  She was in the city for her daughter’s piano recital.  Her daughter is Mini’s age.  As much as I enjoy bolting for home after a back to back weekend feis, I agreed to meet them for a celebratory ice cream outing.  
Don't get me wrong, we've treated ourselves to ice
 cream as a consolation prize when the
 points didn't fall our way MANY TIMES
This time the ice cream tasted much sweeter!

It was a long time coming.  

August 20, 2018

unpredictable in more ways than one

The biggest bummer about Irish dancing competitions is that the timing is COMPLETELY unpredictable.  Oh, the stories I could tell.  Stories when we thought for sure, based on the stage assignment schedule (um, yes there IS a schedule - laughable), that we would be done by such-and-such a time, but alas we would end up being the last people left in the building.

When Curly had struggled to decide if she should join us in Milwaukee, she had tried the ‘can-I-have-a-friend-over’ angle.  The usual.  Curly’s thought process always includes:  ‘Hmm, if Daddy is working and we aren’t leaving until after lunch, then will I have time to have my BFF over?’  I pointed out that without either parent home, and the older brothers caddying, she wouldn’t be hosting any friends.  

She also hated to miss Mini possibly win a first.  Again, no guarantee.  

Fearing that Daddy would be later than me to the party, she opted to hop on the heading-to-Milwaukee band wagon - aka the great white van.  

Guess what happened?

Mini danced later than we thought she would.  Of course.  With the competition wrapped up, we gathered our stuff and headed to the awards area.  I looked at my watch.  If we left right away, we could get to the 1st communion party fashionably late.  We waited a bit.  The dry erase board listing when a group's award would be announced posted that Mini’s under 14 group would be at 1:30.  
Posing during the 1st communion
party:  a tall Reggie with a younger
cousin wearing matching
cool b-ball t-shirts
that I bought them. 
Oh, yeah. 
Coach beat us to the family party. 

Mini shrugged.  'Let’s go to the party and ask someone else to text us if I won anything.'  Well this was unchartered territory.
     A.  I don’t want to inconvenience anyone else who doesn’t have a kid in the same competition.  No one wants to stand around unnecarily at an Irish dancing competition.
     B.  I also don’t want to ask a mom with a kid in the competition to deliver Mini an award if that mom’s particular dancer doesn’t end up placing.  Awkward.  Imagine the non-winning-trophy-delivering dancer exiting the building and having to contend with:  ‘Oh, look at your trophy!’  Forced smile:  'No, it is Mini’s trophy.  I just picked it up for her.'  

Despite my hesitations, I asked a mom of one of Mini’s competitors, if she would mind collecting a trophy for Mini if she ended up placing.  I explained our 1st communion party dilemma and the fact that Curly had used the Milwaukee Feis as her ‘fastest’ ticket to her little cousin’s 1st communion party.   The mom took pity on me.  She said, no problem and we bolted.

I was desperate to beat Coach to the party, or deal with Curly's wrath. 

We were a mile away from the party when I got a text from a friend who was still at the feis.  My stomach did a flip.  2nd.  Again.  Mini was excited.  I was too.  Later when I looked at the results online my frustration overshadowed my excitement.  

August 18, 2018

win a first, or bust

Who says you can't look
stylish in a boot?
In early May we headed to Milwaukee for a full weekend of Irish dancing competitions (called 'feis' - pronounced 'fesh').  Both girls were supposed to dance.  Curly was registered to dance in her open championship competition, but for the second consecutive spring Curly landed in a boot with a stress ‘reaction’.  Translation:  almost a stress fracture, but not quite.  It was her body’s way of telling her to slow down.  Really?  Asking Curly NOT to dance is like asking a leprechaun not to look for gold.  

Because Irish dancing is so economical, eating Curly's competition fees was no big deal.  Sigh.  

There were two days of competitions in Milwaukee (which is less than an hour and a half from our house):  one Saturday and one Sunday.  The competitions were unrelated to one another.  Organizers often piggy back on one another in order to split the set up/take down energy.  I suspect that they get a break on the venue rental space, but I can’t confirm.  

I always like to sign the girls up for back to back competitions when we don’t have a conflict, because it makes me feel like we are getting more bang for our buck.  With 2 sets of registration fees PLUS the often added hotel cost, I guess the ‘bang/buck’ theory is a pretty bad analogy.  To put it another way:  as long as I pack up all the stuff and put forth the energy, I am all about the two birds one stone concept.  

Honestly the best thing about back to back feises:  being done on Sunday with back to back feises.  

Mini, non-dancing Curly, and I left early on Saturday morning for round one. Curly had been on the fence about whether or not to tag along to Milwaukee.  Should she attend the Milwaukee feis in her boot, or should she stay home with Coach?  She wanted to sleep in and chill out at home instead of coming to the feis on Saturday morning.

To complicate the weekend, we hoped to attend my nephew's 1st communion party after Saturday's dancing.  His fam lives in a northern suburb of Chicago, so I figured I would drive to his house - halfway to our house from Milwaukee -and then head back up to the hotel in order to dance on Sunday.  Sound fun?

Curly didn’t want to arrive late to the first communion party.  I was happy to haul one less body out of bed early Saturday, but I had to point out a few things to Curly.

1.  What if Mini finally won first?  Would Curly be OK if she missed it?
2.  Daddy had to work on Saturday, so there was a chance that Curly’s fastest route to the 1st Communion party might be via Milwaukee.

Curly opted to wake up early and sit and watch dancing.  What's a dancer to do if she can't dance?  Watch dancing, I guess.

Mini danced beautifully on Saturday.  I have learned not to get my hopes up for that illusive first place, so I hoped for the best but tried to keep my expectations low.  

August 16, 2018

Subjectivity, occasional lack of 'A' game, 17 times

In the 17 competitions Mini danced in last year, (called feis - pronounced ‘fesh’) she never won a single first place, let alone the two she needed to advance to Open Championship.  Handful of 2nd places.  Loads of thirds.  Plenty of other placements.  Sometimes we would return home completely empty handed.  Sometimes we left a feis scratching our heads about the subjective judging.  

OK, I admit, I did more than scratch my head.  I seethed.  With my background in dancing - I danced for 8 yrs as a kid -I know more about dancing than a lot of moms.  I often disagreed with the judges’ final placements - whether or not I thought they should’ve placed my kid higher.

I often witnessed other competitions followed by the corresponding awards ceremony (because sitting around waiting for my girls to dance often left me sitting at a stage watching other dancers).  At times I knew the judges got it wrong, and the body language of other dancing families that I don’t even know made it clear that I wasn’t alone in my thought process.  Imagine the frustration for parents footing the dancing bill, who have no recourse.  Subjectivity at competitions is almost as horrible as the money pit of dancing dresses.  

There were also times when we weren’t surprised by the outcome at the podium.  Mini didn’t always bring her A game.  She ran out of steam.  Her arms flapped at her sides instead of staying cemented in place.  A pitfall for a tall dancer.

I love this pic (looks great in my
 phone but I
can't print it because it is grainy
and I don't know who took it!) and
while I try to hide my kids' identities,
I think the weird wig
look does that for me here. 
I can't bring myself to cover up the face.
 Mini:  orange dress, back stage,
 reacting to the moment she realized
that she qualified for the National
Championships for the first time ever.
Ultimately we decided that all those competitions helped prepare her for the midwest Championships (Thanksgiving) when she smoked many other dancers who had already achieved Open Championship status.  Mini was still in Preliminary Championship, but qualifying for National Championships was a huge achievement.

Mini planned to retire from dancing (something she has done since kindergarten) before she starts high school in the fall.  She didn’t want Irish dancing commitments to hinder her from being fully involved in high school sports and activities.  While I left the decision up to her, I did agree that high school was a decent stopping point.  I must admit that the prospect of having my Irish dancing bills cut in half had me dancing a jig.

National Championships in Orlando would officially be Mini’s final competition.  The end was in sight.  I didn’t want to stress the kid out, but I kept thinking:  ‘When is she going to get these 2 first places, so she can end on the top?’  I began to casually mention local feises and ask her if she was interested in registering.  

As I signed her up for the ones she opted for, I wondered would this be the feis when all the stars aligned.

August 14, 2018

Home stretch

Mini’s Irish dancing career wrapped up this summer.  She qualified at Thanksgiving to compete at National Championships that are always held 4th of July week.  July marked her first time competing in solos at Nationals.  Aside from that exciting accomplishment, she hoped to bump up to the highest level of competition before taking her final bow.  
The girls have been well-decorated, but Mini just
needed two first places to achieve her goal. 
Really the last thing we needed was a
 few more trophies to stick in their room.

Without writing a tutorial on Irish dancing levels, and how you get there, let me just say that in order to move up a level she needed to win two first places at a regular, run-of-the-mill competition.  Advancing to Open Championship from Preliminary Championship was a completely separate endeavor than dancing at Nationals.

All dancers in the same age group regardless of their level compete in one competition at National Championships.  If you do well, you might qualify for World Championships - but it wouldn’t impact your dancing level.  Most of the dancers at Nationals were already competing in Open Championships.  Mini was close to being in Open, which is why she qualified for Nationals.
Oh, look - we found more trophy storage
above the desk.  Yeah, us!

So much for skipping the tutorial.  My apologies.

Last year I entered Mini is about 17 weekend competitions.  If that sounds like a lot to an Irish dancing non-guru bystander, then let me clarify.  17 is a ton of competitions.  

Knowing what it is like to grow up in the shadow of a younger, more talented sibling, I felt for Mini.  Curly is an Irish dancing natural.  She has a gift.  Mini is Curly’s biggest fan and is genuinely thrilled for all of her success.  As the Mom of two great dancers, I wanted Mini to walk away from dancing with her head held high.  I didn’t want her to look back and feel unaccomplished.

I admit that at times I wondered if I cared more than Mini did about her Open Championship goal.  These were the times when it stung me when my former dancing sons Tank, Eddie, and Reggie liked to call me ‘dance mom!’ 

August 12, 2018

watch out Tom Curise AND 9 ounces

Days before our trip to the beach, Coach watched ‘Top Gun’ with the kids, minus THAT scene, of course.  Coach is better at fast forwarding than I am.  I tend to panic and then the scene that is completely inappropriate becomes paused or zoomed in or something.

The pole dancing scene with Jennifer Aniston in 'We're the Millers' is fairly memorable around here.  I fumbled around with the remote and played it in slow motion before I froze it and turned the volume up - all while TRYING to fast forward it.  Meanwhile the kids were all begging me to stop subjecting them to such awkwardness.  Ever since the 'incident', I am never allowed to be in charge of the remote.

The rest of my fam proving that while we may
not be volleyball studs, none of them are
scarred for life after being humiliated in
junior high gym class on more
than one occasion.  
Anyway I was tied up in the study when they watched 'Top Gun', but I could hear much of the dialogue and the soundtrack.

Lad brought his portable speaker to the beach  We brought a volleyball.  I don’t play volleyball.  Hate it, in fact.  Maybe I will describe my embarrassingly pathetic volleyball efforts during junior high gym class in another blog.  Tall, but useless.  Sad, but true.

Anyway, I wandered over off of the blanket with my phone to video the rest of my family spiking, volleying, and laughing.  The SAME EXACT song ('Playing with the Boys' Kenny Loggins) that plays in the ‘Top Gun’ volleyball scene randomly started playing on Lad’s speaker.  I quickly got in position next to the speaker to video, so that it looks as if we are reenacting the. ‘Top Gun’ scene.  

Coach told the kids he wished he had on his jeans like Tom Cruise did.  Always better to play beach volleyball in jeans.  I captured the best volley of the day with the theme music playing in the background.  I think everyone touched the ball.  The volley ended by Tank taking a clumsy step backwards and to the side.  He turned backwards and rotated for the ball, which was really more of a trip.  Missing the ball, he fell flat on his face.  It was classic.

The day after our beach trip, I reached into the deli meat drawer in my fridge for the ham.  I came up empty.  Coach was working on his computer in the family room on this switched-with-the-day-before ‘get stuff done’ day.  

‘Coach ,where is the rest of the rest of the lunchmeat you bought yesterday?’ 

‘Oh, I only bought one package of ham,’ he responded.  

And there it is.  My husband bought 9 ounces of lunchmeat.  NINE.  OUCNES.  Lad eats almost 9 ounces on his sandwich daily.  

I didn’t really want to start a fight, but I was hoping to correct the situation from EVER happening again.  So, I asked the burning question:  WHY?

He just thought we needed something for yesterday.  Perfect sense.  Who cares about tomorrow?  Back to the grocery store for me.  

August 10, 2018

tears only shed once

Just a little update on our summer fun.  

Coach took a few days off in mid July.  We were tossing around the idea of going to the beach.  Decided we would go on Thursday while the 3 oldest caddied.  They probably wouldn’t want to be bothered going to the beach.  Kid stuff.  Wednesday was going to be devoted to getting things done with maybe some early morning golf thrown in.  
Nothing like a day at the beach
in downtown Chicago.  Bucket hat:  a must!

Turned out the 3 oldest WANTED to go to the beach.  Who knew?  Certainly not us, because
1.  we are never in the same place at the same time.  Those teenage boys keep weird hours.  Toss a caddy schedule on top of that and forget about it.

2.  teenagers are unpredictable.  Once  you think you know what they like, they get all, 'What?  Why wouldn't we want to go to the beach?'

3.  They also struggle to communicate with Coach and I because we are not on snap-chat.

On Wednesday late morning, we reversed our days.  Switched gears.  Opted to do the beach that day.  Coach was on the golf course with a few kids.  I had some kid at an ortho or the dermatologist or some other regular occurrence.  The moment I was home I announced something along the lines of ‘stations everyone’.  

I started directing people to pack towels, load outdoor games in the car, dig out the big picnic blanket.  Of course my focus was food.  No escaping it.  Coach bopped in from doing some par 3 golf with Tank and Lad.  Ed had some basketball weight lifting or something.  

Despite my incredibly clean and well organized garage, we are missing the Frisbee that goes with our can jam game.  Coach announced that he would run to Target to buy a Frisbee.  

‘Freeze’, I hollered.  ‘There is no Target trip unless I have assessed what else we need.’ Lunchmeat.  That was what I came up with.  Impossible to keep it in the house.  Grab some packages of lunchmeat.  I usually get it at the deli, but pre-packaged stuff would work fine.

Our impromptu beach day was a success.  The weather was great.  The kids played a ton of games together, and we only looked partially ridiculous in our bucket hats.  Um, I don't wear a bucket hat, therefore I can make fun of them. 
All 6 kids played, so we knew that wouldn't
 last long.  I don't know how to play, and
 by the sound of the scoldings that were launched
at one another, neither do some of the kids.  But
 it looks cool, right?  The object is to bounce
 the little green ball off of the little net. 
I'm guessing there is more to it than that. 
The gang tossed a Frisbee in the water, dug a hole in the sand, built a sandcastle, played volleyball (more on that and the big laugh we had in my next post), snacked, played can jam, and snacked some more.

There was a spike ball tournament.  Tank hollered: ‘Another Mini moment!’ every time Mini missed the ball.  That game ended a little prematurely when Mini finally broke down and cried.  Stupid brothers.  

August 8, 2018

I got this! or, not

When we arrived at the high school this evening, Ed raced off in his half dressed up apparel to go to his photo shoot.  I started to weave my way thru the various stops for registration.  When we got to the health form table, the ladies asked for my freshman's physical.  Well, send me to detention.

I had health forms for Ed and Tank.  Mini's physical is scheduled for later in August.  She still goes to the pediatrician, so hers is at the same time as sports physicals for Reg and Curly.  Oops.  Big time.

I couldn't get her schedule without the proper forms.  The ladies at the health form table suggested that I run to the nearby clinic and get her a physical for $20.  Nope.  I would keep my scheduled appointment at the pediatrician.  These health table ladies admitted that they had records of her up-to-date immunizations.  Just not an updated physical.

I knew she needed a physical.  I knew it needed to be done before school.  It just fell off my radar that it needed to be done before registration.  Oh, damn all those emails I ignored.  I thought I had this.

At the next table, I got schedules for both boys.  Mini was steamed.  She couldn't stop muttering phrases like 'figures' and 'I can't believe you did this' under her breath.  After I reminded her not to have a meltdown because she was technically a high school student, I leaned across the table and explained to the ladies that I messed up.  Her physical was scheduled.

Could we just peek at her schedule?  They were VERY accommodating.  They were after all, moms.
A portion of Mini's schedule. 
She admitted later that she
accidentally snap-chatted her
schedule before removing her
locker number and combination.
  This is what we get for waiting to
get a kid a phone as high school begins. 
So, Mini's schedule was photographed, and life continued.  Until . . .

Ed texted me.  'You paid for a full photo session and I am not wearing any pants.'  Well, there you have it.  That's not the kind of text a mom gets everyday.

Signing up for a senior picture session online was different than what I did a few years ago for Lad.  At least I think it was.  I really have no recollection of it.  Over a month ago, I had fumbled around trying to figure out what I was signing up for on the website.  It was late at night, or not that late, but I was very tired and it FELT very late.  I was trying to get one more thing off my list before I collapsed into bed.  The photo place was closed, so I couldn't call and ask for clarification.  Check this box.  Plug in credit card.  Move on with life.  Go to bed.

I texted Ed back.  'I don't care what I paid for.  I just want a head shot.'  My phone rang.  It was Ed.  Did I get his text?  He does that.  Calls me after allowing insufficient time for me to have responded to his text.  I think they call that a lack of patience.  I think the photo shoot peeps took extra pics of him in his cap and gown instead.  Pics I won't order, but I don't care.
I stayed up late to write this, and guess what
 I found on the bathroom floor when I went
 to bed?  That's right.  Tank's Hawaiian shirt.
  He is a barrel of laughs,
 but impossible to live with.

I stood there trying to make sure I took care of everything (other than the need to come back with Mini's physical form when the ink is still wet).  Tank kept asking me sarcastically if I wanted to spend a little more time milling around doing nothing.  He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt.  Thankfully he had chosen to button the shirt.  On the drive over, he tried to get Mini worked up by pretending that he was going to walk into registration and call out 'Wha's up?' to any available staff members with an open Hawaiian shirt.

I was definitely on my A game and outshining all of the other moms standing in line with their physical forms and correctly filled out senior portrait online ordering pages.  I was just glad I remembered my checkbook. 

August 6, 2018

high school kids' August focus, any guesses?

Today was the day I was taking the 3 high school kids to registration.  This is a big day in the life of a high school student, because (drum roll) they get their class schedule for the year.
Priorities:  lake house vs keeping
high schoolers happy. 
Lake house wins out every time.  Honestly
 no one complained that we weren't
 going to be the first
ones to know our schedules. 
Not until I really stepped in it.

Registration actually opened yesterday, but I was at my friend's lake house for a few days this week with the three youngest kids.  Translation:  my kids were not able to snap chat their schedule to all of their friends.  There was no 'guess-who-is-in-my-lunch' discussion yesterday.  No celebrations or heavy sighs about what teachers they have or which friends they will get to see in their classes.  All that was postponed until today.  Our appointment was NOT in the morning, it was this evening.  Oh, the drama.

Eddie was scheduled to have his senior portrait taken today.  It just so happened to overlap with registration.  He didn't need to be present at registration.  I was the rock star at registration, because I had the checkbook.

Eddie drove with us wearing his sport coat, tie, and dress shirt.  This formal ensemble looked a bit out of place, since it was paired with his shorts and sneakers.  He was just sitting for a head shot, so the full suit wasn't necessary.

If my math is correct, this is my 7th registration process at the high school.  It has changed so much over the years.  We used to bring proof of residency documents with us.  The lines used to be longer.  There were more stops to make.  Lots of waiting.  Nowadays, most of the process is done in advance online.

The only downside to that is the volume of emails I get from the high school.  Some info might get lost in the shuffle - especially since I often get the same info 3 times now that I am going to have a senior, sophomore, and a freshman.

While we were at the lake house, my phone wouldn't get any reception.  Mini's phone couldn't call or text either.  Mini's friends were trying to figure out what lunch Mini had, and they couldn't contact her.  I had received an email the day before with details about my freshman's lunch period.  I hadn't bothered to open the email.  Imagine?  Had I opened it Mini would have been able to tell her friends (via snap chat or something new age that worked with wifi despite our lack of phone service) that she had 9th period lunch.

Uh oh.  Prepare to eat a protein bar between classes, girlfriend.  That is a LATE lunch.  Not only do I feel for my high-metabolism daughter and her impending hunger issues, but I am confident they made the 'Hangry' commercials with her in mind.  Watch out high school population.  If you don't feed her, she might bite.

August 4, 2018

the end of the longest school year EVER

Over the next few weeks, the only 'we-hate-nap-time' parents to ever walk the face of the earth had some other creative ideas for me.  Me, mother of six.  Babysitter extraordinaire.  I mean, remember I was babysitting back when things were weird for my 7th grade self and handling it like a champ.  Give me some credit, please. 

Suggestions from Geraldine and Simon included, but were not limited to:

Even a fun basement playroom wasn't
enough to keep a sleepy guy awake.
     1.  Maybe Theo could go in a different room in my house during quiet time.  Um, not every space in my house is available to your kid.  Particularly while I had workmen parading in and out.  Weird and presumptuous.  Towards the end of the school year I had him play in the basement play area during nap time.  He STILL laid down and went
to sleep when he was tired.  No joke.

     2.  Maybe I could set a timer so that he would know when quiet time was over.  Not sure how this differed from me waking him up to insure he hadn't slept too much, except they possibly didn't believe that I was waking him up.

     3.  At one point right before Christmas despite my rule of no outside toys, Simon showed up with a plastic bag holding a transformer toy that came with a zillion pieces.  It was Theo's favorite.  For sure he won't fall asleep if I offer this to him during nap time.  This dad didn't get it.  Your kid isn't bored - HE'S FREAKING TIRED!  I envisioned many pieces getting misplaced in Tank and Reggie's very messy room.  I wasn’t interested in tracking missing  pieces to a favorite toy (thus the no-outside-toy rule's roots)
This is Tank and Reg's room on a good day.

Bouncing back to the dilemma in mid-September . . . I finally admitted to Geraldine that I saw that she was hiring a different sitter on the website.  A website that still sends me job alerts.  I had a mom on maternity leave and occasionally checked it to see if someone needed a temporary sitter, especially when I couldn't sleep.

I had struggled with what to do for 2 weeks.  Limbo sucked.  Would she cut me loose before I found a replacement family?  What teacher would need a sitter to start late September
?  One friend suggested that I apply to her online job posting so she knew that I had seen it.  I loved that idea, but I really wanted to see her face when I told her that I knew she was shopping around.  

Geraldine dropped off her boys one morning and when she stepped outside, I followed her.  I told her that I was going to just put an end date on our time together because it looked like she was busy making other plans anyway.

Not sure if you recall my description of her over-the-top, dramatic way of speaking.  Well, she was all apologies for having done that.  She rained down compliments about my care and not wanting the boys to go anywhere else.  This online nanny search was just a knee jerk reaction to my insistence that there would always be a nap time or a quiet time in my house.  

We agreed to continue for the rest of the school year.  It was perhaps a good decision financially, but the remainder of the school year was insufferable.  I hated most of it.  Geraldine and Simon and their strange fixation on keeping their tired kid tired until they could get him home so he could sleep as soon as possible for them was irritating.  Her kid’s need to be the first to open the door and their insistence on fixing his disappointment was grating.  How she dealt with the boys and spoke to them made me nauseated.  

All of this babysitting fun combined with a kitchen no one would finish and my celiac disease dietary struggles and I am telling you - NO ONE WAS HAPPIER TO SEE THE SCHOOL YEAR END THAN ME!

August 2, 2018

a need to snooze, is a need to snooze!

Fast-forward to the morning that I happened to see that Geraldine had posted on CARE.COM that she was trying to replace me.  Me, the woman who had stopped her in her tracks as she almost purchased a toilet topper.  Not to mention the countless other ways I tried to coax her towards mainstream parenting.

Her husband, Simon, showed up to drop the kids off.  I was bleary eyed from a crappy night sleep compliments of celiac disease, AND still shaking from my shock at seeing the CARE.COM post.  Simon occasionally dropped kids off, but usually it was Geraldine.

This was the view from my dining room's
makeshift kitchen into my ripped up
 old kitchen until they covered
 the opening with heavy plastic.
My house was under construction and our fake kitchen was setup in the living room and dining room.  A normal drop off includes literally getting the kids in the door and then leaving.  I was hustling around getting lunches ready for my kids when I became aware that Simon hadn’t left.

He was following me into the dining room where I was digging around in my fridge.  AWKWARD.  He tried to peek thru the heavy plastic that covered the dining room entrance to the construction-zone kitchen.  Claimed he wanted to check on the progress.  I was baffled and growing more and more irritated.  I needed to get Curly on the bus.

This is where I stood making lunches
when I felt confused by
 Simon's presence.  He really
 had no business following me thru
the front hall, the living room,
and then finally into my dining room.
Something was up
I think his plan was to lure me into the construction zone away from the children, but the heavy plastic was running interference.  I let him know that I needed to get Curly on the bus.  He finally got to the point:  Well, I just wanted to make it very clear that we DO NOT want Theo napping anymore.’

I so wanted to say, ‘Hey, Mr. Napoleon-complex-sufferer.  Take your kids home, put on your tap shoes this afternoon, and do a little dance to try to keep your kid awake.  A tired kid is a tired kid.

Instead I told him thru clenched teeth that I understood.  Knowing that they were trying to hire someone else made the whole situation even more INSANE.  The audacity!   

Enough said?
That afternoon I put Theo in the same room I always put him in for nap time.  I spread out the sleeping bag and made a pile of quiet toys and books that he was interested in.  5 minutes later I returned.  Face-plant.