November 29, 2018

what? no 4 leaf clover shoved up my arse?

Late Thursday night (as in Thanksgiving), Mini appeared in the girls' room sobbing.  I was sitting on the floor in their room helping Curly pack.  The girls and I were leaving on Friday for Louisville.  This was the weekend that I always dread.  Midwest championships for Irish dancing.

'I don't think I can go tomorrow.  I think I have a fever.  I have felt lousy all day,' Mini sputtered.

Oh my GOSH!  What the Hell?  Mini was not dancing as she is a newly retired dancer.  (Yes, this was cause for celebration because it cut my Irish dancing bills in half).  Mini wanted to be involved in activities and sports in high school.

Of all the errands I needed to run the morning
we were going to leave town - I never would
 have guessed that a thermometer was going
 to end up on that list.  Damn it.
 What happened to the luck of the Irish?
For those of you who are new here, or if you need a refresher:  I JUST FLEW TO ORLANDO IN JULY FOR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS OF IRISH DANCING AND MINI HAD A FEVER.  Then, because I forgot to insert my lucky 4 leaf clover up my ass, Curly came down with a fever the night before she was going to dance.  People, it was a nightmare.  Who gets a fever in July anyway?

So, here I was.  Thanksgiving (which to my unfortunate-self always delivers a Pavlov dog kind of 'oh shit, dancing stress' reaction.  I do so hope that my 'yummy-turkey' mindset will return once all of my dancers have retired).  My brain couldn't even think about the weird math problem necessary to calculate what the crazy-ass chances would be that Mini would once again have a fever as we were preparing to depart for another wig-infested, Irish-dancing-cult-like weekend.

My thermometer broke recently and I hadn't replaced it.  Coach said it didn't matter.  She definitely  had a fever.  She was crushed.  I told her to take some Motrin and get to bed.

Ways to stay awake for a long drive: 
chat with my equally talkative mini-me:
  aka Mini, or chew a bunch of candy.
I stayed up later than I wanted to considering I had to drive the next day.  I packed.  I shined shoes.  I wrung my hands.  A lot.  What to do?  Curly didn't want Mini to contaminate her.  Who did?  I also didn't want Mini to miss the competition.  She loves to watch Curly dance.  She's her biggest cheerleader.  Mini was excited to see her dancing friends, minus the stress of competing.  What good is it to hang out with friends if you feel anxious about dancing?  That's no fun.

From a practical standpoint, I wanted Mini in the car to converse with me and help me stay awake.  Not to mention, Mini often helps Curly tape her shoes.  She has a cell phone and can communicate with me if I need to run a dancing-related errand.  Plus, she is taller than me, strong like bull (OK, that last part is bull.  She ain't very strong), and she can help me carry some of our shit.

I was awake for a few hours during the night worrying about what to do.  What if we left Mini home and she ended up being fever free the rest of the weekend?  Coach texted me Fri morning from work:  'What if she feels fine Saturday and I drive her half way to meet you.'  Now you know it was a big deal if Coach offered to bend over backwards.  I ruled this idea out because I didn't feel right pawning Curly off on someone for 5 hours while I drove halfway to meet Coach.

So, I know what I ended up doing . . . and I will reveal that in my next post.  But I am curious, what would you have done if you were in this tight spot?

November 27, 2018

Where have all the big puffy coats gone?

Coach has been wearing the same winter coat since before Curly was born, and possibly Reggie.  This antique weighs more than I do, and the zipper hasn't worked for a few winters.  We live in Chicago.  Hello!  No zipper?  He just pointed out the zipper debacle, or believe me, I would have mandated a new coat purchase long before this.

I suggested that we pick out a new coat for him for his birthday last week (at least I remembered!).  The man doesn't believe in receiving gifts unless they are practical.  He and I carved out some time to shop for a coat.  This was almost as hard as staying warm and cozy in a coat without a zipper.

We dropped Curly at a private dancing lesson, and scooted to a nearby Nordstrom Rack to see what we could find.  I love Nordstrom Rack, but it is challenging to shop when you have specific merchandise questions because the employees aren't always up to speed and trained in certain brands, etc.  For example, does anyone else struggle to purchase a winter coat if it isn't big and puffy?

This is a picture of the heat coils. 
Don't heat coils exist on ancient
 stove tops and inside of ovens? 
He tried on a bunch of coats.  Some were so thin, that we weren't sure if they were considered fall coats or winter coats.  We bought something, but he admitted that he might look around a little before choosing to keep the Nordstrom Rack coat.  When we got in the car, he had a moment of clarity.  'Oh, hmm.  A patient gave me a $200 gift card to Cabelas like two years ago, and I have never used it.  I wonder if they would have a coat there.'

This caused me to chuckle, but only slightly  - because WHAT THE HELL?!  Why were we shopping at Nordstrom Rack if he had 'free' money to burn at a store we have no need to shop at?

Not sure if you have a Cabelas in your neck of the woods.  There are two in our vicinity, but not close enough for us to actually shop there.  Apparently, Cabelas sells mostly outdoor type stuff.  We haven't been in the market for a new tent or more camping gear, so the gift-card was kind of over looked.  Coach wondered, would a coat shopping experience there include only bright orange, full-length body suit, zip-up deals (or maybe that is more of a prison offering), or something in camouflage?

This is a photo of my hand pinching the
 thickness or lack thereof of the
Columbia Bugaboo coat.
Since Cabelas owns Bass Pro Shop, he could use his gift card at the Bass Pro Shop near our house.  I attended the sports awards night at the high school the next night, and Coach opted to go coat shopping solo.  'Solo' is the operative word here.  I think you all know where this is headed and I can probably end this post right here.

He came home with what I consider a glorified fall coat.  It has a light fleece jacket with a water-proof wind breaker zipped over it.  What in the world?  Tell me there has to be something in-between 1. a coat that tips the scales at over 100 pounds and 2. a lightweight new-wave coat like this.

Coach insisted that the employees told him it was warm.  It has these heat coils that reflect your body heat to keep you warm.  My question:  What if your body heat is non-existent because you are outside in a flipping Chicago winter?  Riddle me that!  What to do?  I turned to the web, where I discovered a review of the coat by some fool who had purchased it and worn it.

Mr. Frigid-Reviewer explained that he has always worn Columbia coats, but that this one is not warm.  On really cold days, he digs an older Columbia coat out of his closet.  He scoffed at the heat coils.  I took a screenshot of the review and texted it to Coach.

This was a mistake, because Mr. I-don't-shop texted back:  'That's it.  I'm done.'  I now see coat returning and coat shopping in my near future.

November 25, 2018

wait, whose fault is it?

Coach's birthday was Thursday, November 15th.  It was posted on the huge dry erase board . . . the one that STILL isn't hidden by the barn doors because lousy contractor #2 is, well, lousy.  The kids KNEW about the birthday.  Um, they just forgot.

Since it was a Thursday, the birthday boy was home, briefly- in the morning.  I wished him a happy birthday before I hopped in the shower.  Kids start to get dropped off here around 7 am sharp, so not a lot of down time.  I don't attend a crazy early workout class on Thursday mornings, so I had not set foot downstairs until after my shower.

When I came downstairs about 10 minutes after Coach, the three high school kids were in various stages of getting ready for school.  Tank wanted to get to school early, and Coach had agreed to drop him off on his way to workout before he started to see patients.

How do you miss a size 15 pair of fire-engine
 red shoes?  See how they compare in size
 to my hand?  Gi-normous by my standards.
Tank is almost never ready for school on time, so it is something of a small miracle when he gets himself ready early.  Of course he texted me later to say that he forgot his red basketball shoes - how can you forget something so gi-normous?  And he wanted me to bring him a signed permission slip that I swear isn't due for a week, but I was happy to clear it off my counter.

I texted him back that I would bring requested items, but that I would be charging him a $10 delivery fee today and every day in the future.  Get organized, damn it.  I also pointed out that had I not been planning to attend library story time at the library directly across the street from the high school, then I would not in a million years be hauling 6 kiddies in the car just to deliver his forgotten stuff.

Anyway, Coach was busy taking the garbage out so when he wasn't in the room I suddenly had a thought.  'Hey, did any of you say happy birthday to Daddy this morning?!'

Ed's mouth fell open.  Yes, there was food in it.  Mini's hair was still in a towel, she was making her lunch.  She cringed.  Tank groaned.

I have no idea what Tank was doing but he must have been productive because he and Coach were about to leave.  Tank typically needs someone to stand next to him and shout 'stop messing with the babies, get some socks on, what do you want in your lunch since I am sure you are not making it yourself!'  I think he was going in early to review for an AP Euro test.  This is the only class he cares about.  He actually tries hard in it, because he LOVES history.  The other classes, well - let's not go there.

Coach reappeared in the kitchen and our high school nit-wits wished him a happy birthday.  After Coach dropped Tank at school, he forwarded me a text that Tank had sent him.

November 23, 2018

things I am thankful for: the not-so-obvious list

Note that base of shower is now different. 
They also added a granite piece when you
step in.  I was ready to tell the kids to just
 dump a bucket of water over their heads in their
bathroom.  I stopped caring.  I just wanted
Besides, when Tank uses our shower
he manages to get so much water on the
 floor one would think that he had
attempted the bucket variety shower.
Happy Thanksgiving!  Before I share my thoughts with you, let me assure you this list is my secondary list.  I am truly thankful for my kids, my husband, friends, family, health, yadda, yadda, yadda . . .

I am also thankful for the little things.  The things that I don't really realize until they slap me in the face:

#1.  Having a kids' bathroom shower functioning after a 10 week repair that was supposed to last 3 days.  Thank you, crappiest of contractors, for reminding us of just how happy we are that the kids have their own bathroom.  Thank you for allowing us to trip over their towels and deal with their clepto tendencies as they 'borrowed' hair products, razors, and previously-used-byCoach-or-me towels from right off of our towel rack in our master bathroom.  Thank goodness that they have no more excuses to leave their towels pel-mel all over the house because they can once again utilize their own shower.  I mean, not that they will use their assigned towel rod.  It is so much easier to forget to bring your clothes to the bathroom and then race to your bedroom in a wet towel that you promptly toss on your carpeted bedroom floor.

#2.  We believe that only one of our children seem to suffer from laundry-related dysfunction.  Maybe Tank's laundry nonsense is a genetic disorder that skips like 5 generations, but we have never heard of a kid who would bother to wrap laundry (clean or dirty) in a spare comforter and hide it in a different bedroom behind a college sibling's unused bed rather than put the damn laundry away.  Imagine the pandemonium if all 6 kids operated like this.

#3.  A few days after Thanksgiving Curly will dance in the Midwest championships for Irish dancing and my nervous system can relax again for a few months.  It will help if I avoid misplacing the most important dancing bag in a cab the day of the competition.  (If I pull this off, it will be just one more thing to be thankful for!)

And this is the space behind the cedar
 chest in the study.  I was looking for my
camera charger, and all I found
was evidence that my kids are pigs.
#4.  Putting my mind at ease . . . while I might worry a bit about whether or not Lad is going to mature, I am super excited that he seems to be pulling things off that I would never dream of . . . for example:  he may struggle to keep money in his checking account, but then why should this be a big concern if he manages to score a free plane ticket from legendary Rudy of Notre Dame to visit ND for a weekend?  The kid is making connections and engaging people.  And he doesn't feel compelled to tell me about his adventures that will undoubtedly cause me a great deal of anxiety.

I just discovered this today. 
What is it, you ask . . . well, it is
behind the end table
in my living room.
 A room used for reading
 and music practice,
for Tank's snacking.
A candy wrapper randomly
 left on the piano.
#5.  Halloween candy has almost been completely consumed.  In other words, I am hoping that by Christmas I will be done finding candy wrappers in odd places where the kids (OK, mainly Tank) hide them all over the house.

Oh, so thankful.  Now, off to finish packing for the dancing competition held in Louisville.  I have many plans in place so that I don't get sleepy on the long drive.  Here's hoping that they work!

November 21, 2018

Yes, that Rudy!!!

I don't mean to track my college kid's whereabouts, but technology just functions that way nowadays.  I promise I am not trying to snoop.

Lad has been consistently overdrawing his bank account.  First of all, can I explain what a pain in the ass it was for him to have a cash card this school year?  As he walked out the door to the airport back in August, I called after him, 'Oh, yeah.  I will put some cash in your account in the next few days.'  He left home with some cash on him, so this plan was supposed to work fine.

Well, his bank account had a negative fifteen cent balance all summer.  Lad didn't use it all summer, and I didn't pay any attention to it.  So the bank, being a bank, decided to close out that college cash card account, because it had a negative balance for over 30 days.  Oops. 

I understood the mix-up, but was a tad frustrated when they couldn't just re-open his account.  They could not link his current cash card to a new account either.  Lad was in New York and he had no functioning cash card.  He did have a credit card, against our better judgement.  This credit card is supposed to be used in emergencies.  We differ on what qualifies as an emergency.  Example #1:  crazy parents that we are, buying beer . . . NOT an emergency. 

Eventually Lad was able to visit a bank chain out east and show his ID AND his passport.  He signed something.  They opened an account for him and then sent him a new cash card in the mail.  I swear there had to be an easier way.

A tailgater at Notre Dame back a few years back.
Well, that account is where I transfer cash when he gets low.  Now, mind you, I have invested a decent hunk of money on his food card/school ID that he can use to eat on campus and at select area eating establishments (doesn't it sound fun to be a college kid these days?) . . . so in my book, he shouldn't need a heck of a lot of cash on the cash card.  Ya follow?

Well, he overdrew the account again today.  I sat down and opened up the account to see what the heck he is spending his money on.  Well, well, well.  Guess who recently visited South Bend, Indiana?  Good guess.  My son, Lad, who is in school out in New York. 

I cornered Ed, my senior.  He played dumb.  He 'knew nothing' about Lad going to a Notre Dame game in South Bend on November 11th.  I pressed him further.  I knew that Ed knew, because when I said, 'So, did you know Lad was at Notre Dame last weekend?'  Ed froze, and stumbled, 'Wait, how did you know?  I mean.  I didn't know that.'  Aha!

When I was a student at St. Mary's, the movie
 'Rudy' was being filmed.  They filmed
some of the game scenes during half time
 of real games.  Whenever that movie
 comes on, I like to remind the kids that they
 may not be able to see me, but I am
 in the movie.  They held up signs and
 we all cheered 'Rudy, Rudy', etc.
Lad has mentioned to me that he was recently put in contact with Rudy.  As in 'the' Rudy, from the movie:  'Rudy.'  There was a connection between an alum from Lad's school, who lectures in Lad's classes at time, and Rudy.  Lad being a big ND fan, this alum (who is also hosting my kid for Thanksgiving) set up a time for Lad to meet Rudy over the phone. 

Ed spilled the beans.  Rudy flew Lad out to the game (Rudy was not in town, so they didn't actually meet).  Rudy paid for his flight.  Lad traveled solo.  Met up with his two cousins that are at Notre Dame and Saint Mary's.  Hung out with an alum from high school.  And apparently ate at a few places in South Bend.  That last part I know about because his cash-card-paper-trail told me so.

I think it is great that Ed cannot figure out how I know what I know.  I refuse to reveal my source, because this digital fingerprint (is that what you call it) can come in quite handy!

I mean, maybe this post should be more about the fact that Rudy flew my kid from New York to an ND football game.  Is that crazy, or what? 

November 19, 2018

All I want for Christmas is for them to keep their teeth!

Remember how Coach left for Reno on Wednesday straight from work?

I am accustomed to juggling the driving on the nights when Coach works late.  Wednesday, though, is typically awesome.  No juggling act required.  USUALLY.  Thursday Coach grabs Curly after dancing at 8:30 on his 'long-way' home.

With Coach at this conference for Physical Therapy, I braced myself to have no help on Wednesday or on Thursday (never-mind the entire weekend).

On Wednesday I picked up Reggie after basketball practice at school at 5:00.  I let Curly skip her b-ball practice because she was going to dance from 6-9 that night.  Enough is enough.  Reggie got in the car and told me that a kid 'who didn't even know where the ball was' ran full-speed right into Reg's mouth.  He bumped Reggie's front tooth.  HARD.

Before I could pull away, the coach came out to the car to be sure that Reg had told me about his hurt tooth.  'He seems OK, but his tooth got knocked pretty hard.'  Swell.  Reg assured me that he thought it was going to be OK, but that it felt a bit wiggly.  Not OK!

I didn't think to take a pic when we were in
the thick of it - this was after the fact,
so no blood visible.
  The dentist asked him to try not to use
his front teeth while he eats.  I told the
 dentist that since Reg sort of has a Homer
Simpson thing happening with his teeth and
all, it didn't seem like his front teeth
were necessary to eat.  And yes,
braces are in his future.
Once home I switched into task-master mode.  I put dinner on the table for Curly and hustled her into the car so she wouldn't be late for dancing.  I got home about 50 minutes later (after driving right past the dentist office) and sat down to eat my dinner.  Coach texted to say that he had landed, and was about to get on his next flight.  I texted him about Reg's tooth.  While I ate, I googled what to do with a bumped tooth.  The advice:  get it looked at within the first 24 hours.  Swell.

Coach:  'get him to the dentist'.  Coach has more dental emergency experience than moi.  I called the dentist.  'Is there any bleeding?'  I told them 'no', but then I had Reg pull up his upper lip and there was blood at the gum-line.  Not dripping, but blood just there, looking alarming and all.

'Get in the car, Reg.  We are going to the dentist.  You will be late for travel basketball.'  The dentist office was now the wrong direction for my next stop.  While Reg was moaning and groaning, I shared with him the fact that his father's tooth issues cost us 10 grand.  Unfamiliar with Coach's epic tooth debacle?  I am going to re-post it after this post.  It is a quite the ordeal, with some humor tossed in - of course.

I ordered 5 mouth guards on Amazon the next morning. 
Three of them have arrived so far, but not the color
 I chose for Reg.  Ed laughed at me.  He assured
 me that he will never wear a mouth guard
 because he needs to communicate with his team. 
Incidentally, the dentist informed me that
 these puppies can also help prevent a concussion.  
In addition to the astronomical cost of losing a permanent front tooth (as Coach did), the process makes for lots of discomfort.  Reg got in the car.

The dentist, who told me before he touched the tooth, that he probably wouldn't need to take an x-ray.  He tapped the tooth with an instrument, and then said words that made my gut flip:  'Yeah, this is mobile.  We are going to take an x-ray.'  Dang.

The x-ray looked good, and he hoped that it would just heal on its own.  If there were any changes, then at least we had an x-ray as a baseline.

Fun fact:  when the dentist walked in, he shook my hand and said, 'Nice to meet you.'  I stopped him right there.  He is new to his dad's dental practice, but I used to babysit for him when he was a newborn.  No joke.  'Um, we've met before.  Phil, I was your first babysitter.'  He chuckled a little and admitted that his dad had told him that my family and I were patients.  I didn't expect him to remember me.

Can you believe that back in the mid 80's this trusting couple hired my 7th-grade-self to babysit for their 10 month and 1 month old baby boys?

November 17, 2018

re-configuring my dance-mom mission, yuck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 15, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did I not know this?

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

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

My private lesson mission did not die there.

November 13, 2018

that, by definition, is a preference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 11, 2018

Would you like a sticker for that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 9, 2018

Hey, how's Reno?

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

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

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

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

Swell.  One more thing.

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

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

Deep breaths.

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

November 7, 2018

want not, waste not, right?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 5, 2018

other uses for potato peelers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 3, 2018

bad timing - unforgettable vacay memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 1, 2018

Elmo's head in a pinch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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