December 30, 2018

Life as a basketball junkie turned letgo junkie

This is a screenshot of Letgo.  If you want
 to give it a try, I will warn you that the most
 annoying part is that you cannot see the
price of the item or the location until you click
 on the item.  This makes it a tad time consuming.
  Until I figured out how to use the 'favorites'
button, I was clikcing on the same damn
items over and over again.  Still worth it.
So, now you know just how trusting I am.  I meet strange people in mysterious places or I invite them to my house - um, if you haven't read the previous post you oughta or you're gonna think I am a nut job!  I assume they will give me items that I have paid for weeks in advance.  This guy could have just blown me off, kept my money, and never showed. 

Too lazy to look back at my previous post?  OK fine.  I am talking about my new Christmas trend of buying used items off of Letgo and wrapping them up for Christmas.

The beats guy couldn't meet at 3:00 on Sat. Dec. 22nd, my preferred time.   All along, I updated the nano shuffle seller to see if she could still coordinate her meeting time with his.

As you know, the Shenanigan family is a basketball junkie family  Tank's Christmas tournament schedule was about as clear as mud.  I cornered the coach one day as he wheeled a cart full of balls to the equipment closet.  I was prepared to box him out.  (People, it's a basketball term!)  I needed to know what time he played on the 22nd so we could plan out how to get to the family party.  Two cars, someone show up late?  The party was at 3:00 - 30 minutes from his game.  Originally he said noon.  A few days later, Tank came home from practice and informed me that it was really 1:15.  Did you know that high school basketball player parents are not allowed to have lives or make plans that they intend to keep?

The morning of the 22nd I was at Reg's b-ball game.  The nano seller sent me a message and eventually her phone number.  We chatted.  Turned out she was going to be in my neck of the woods - kind of, at a brunch.  I was on a tight b-ball mom schedule.  I was trying to figure out when and where I could meet her.  My day was:  workout, Reg's b-ball games, run home and shower, load the kids in the car, and head out to Tank's b-ball and go directly to the family party.

Hard to see in this tiny pic, but this is the ipod
 nano I bought for $40 from a nice lady on Letgo.
Nano lady offered to come to my home.  Was I comfortable with that?  Hell, yes!  I shooed Curly away from the door when nano lady rang my bell shortly after my shower.  Me:  'Curly go get some socks on (or soak your head or whatever it takes to get you away from the door) we are leaving for Tank's game soon.'  I was so tickled that my afternoon meet-ups near the north-side family party had dwindled to one that I handed the woman our family Christmas card complete with lengthy poem about our adventures over the course of the year.  She had breathed a sigh of relief when we spoke on the phone earlier.  Was glad I was a female and not a predator.  Relieved that I was normal.  Now that she has my Christmas card and my blog address that I scribbled on the outside of the envelope, she knows I am not a predator, but normal?  Well, there's a stretch.

If Tank's game ended at 2:15 that would give us 30 minutes to meet the beats guy at the time he preferred:  2:45.  The meeting place was 28 minutes away.  No wiggle room.  If that didn't happen, I was going to leave the family party to meet him.  Guess what?  The game started 30 minutes late.  We regrouped and I set up a new meeting time with the guy.  Coach and I (this marks the ONLY time this season that Coach was remotely involved in any gift buying - um, share in my comments if you are in the same boat!) excused ourselves from the party in order to meet at a nearby grocery store to get my pre-paid, second hand, never-used beats.

Of course now Coach's siblings were learning about the kind of crazy wife their brother had (there were signs previously, so shouldn't be a total shock).  Buying things from strangers?  Meeting randomly?  They begged Coach to accompany me, which he had already agreed to do.  I didn't really need him to come with me except for the fact that I had already downed one Mike's Hard Lemonade.  I am a lightweight.  His relatives wished us well and said that they hoped they would see us again.  Hilarious.

We were back in a flash and as I type this on Christmas Eve I realize that I still have to get the beats from their hiding place under the front seat of the great-white van.  I promise I would have realized that I was shy one pair of beats when I was wrapping.  Hoping I get to that before midnight!

December 28, 2018

When the great-white van MIGHT be suspected in drug trafficking

Oh how I love a bargain.  I started using an app called Letgo over the summer.  We had a dishwasher, a microwave, a gas grill, and a kitchen table to sell.  This app was designed to help people sell their stuff/buy used stuff.  I sold all of the above items and a few bikes.  Once I had this thing figured out nothing was safe.  I wandered around the house calling out:  'Is anyone still using this?'

Ed wanted new beats for Christmas.  His wireless, Bluetooth beat headphones died in the fall.  He is very practical. 

He had an Amazon gift card from his birthday and he thought he would give that to me so that I could use it towards the purchase of his beats.  Then I hatched a great plan.  'Let's shop on Letgo for beats and get them for a good price.'

Game on.  Ed and I started scouring the Letgo website.  We also checked out Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, and a garage sale group I am in on Facebook.  No stone was left upturned as we also scoured the Nextdoor website.  I figured out how to 'save' items to my favorites, and eventually I figured out how to relocate my 'saved' items.  My rookie status was now a thing of the past.

This is one of the pairs I ended up buying.
 Some people were offering new beats still
 in the box for $150.  How is that a deal?
  Hell, Amazon sells them cheaper for that?
I needed two pairs of beats as I decided to give Tank a pair too.  He has never owned beats.  I would  never pay full price for these costly things for Tank since we all know he will lose them in a few months.  Anyone out there care to make a friendly wager about how long till he loses his beats?

I ended up bidding on two different pairs.  Both new and in the box.  I got both pairs for almost half off of the Amazon price.  Sweet.

Picking the gifts up was a little tricky.  Neither seller lived terribly close to me.  One guy agreed to meet me at a mall that isn't too far from my regular Irish dancing chauffeuring gig.  He asked me to meet him at the men's fragrance counter at Macy's.  He would be in a black coat and carrying a small Nordstroms bag.  He ran late, but I purchased a gift for my godson while I waited.  This one transaction reminded me why I HATE Macy's.  I digress:  Beats.  Done.  The eagle flies at midnight.

The other guy lived near my sister in law - not far from O'Hare airport.  I got caught up in the excitement of buying a new pair and figured I could just ask her to meet this stranger and pick up the item.  Um.  The next morning I was rethinking this master plan.  My sister in law was not going to want to meet this guy.  This was my problem.  She wasn't a Letgo user.  She didn't 'get it.'
This is the ipod nano I ended up buying.
 See the 'sold' label at the bottom of the
screenshot.  That's because I bought it!
Reg was thrilled.  I did NOT want an
 ipod touch and they don't even sell these
 things anymore unless you want refurbished.
 This woman had this new in the box for 2
years and had never used it. 
She sold it to me for $40!  A great deal.

I asked the guy if I could pay him online and pick the item up in a few weeks (on Dec 22nd) when I was up at my sister in law's house for the Shenanigan Christmas party.  He agreed.

I ended up getting crazy and searching for an ipod nano shuffle or something for Reg.  Found an unused set and agreed to meet the seller at the same time that I was going to meet up with the second  beats guys near my sis in law's house.  I envisioned a line forming at the great-white van in this designated grocery parking lot.  Would authorities come and investigate to rule me out as a drug dealer?  This could get interesting.

December 26, 2018

a Christmas re-gift creates lasting memory

I posted this gem back in 2015, but I don't think many of  you saw it.  It sums up a unique Christmas morning Shenanigan style . . . Christmas 2015 marks the first time the Shenanigan children chose to purchase gifts for each other.  A few years ago, I shared a couple of shopping adventure stories from my childhood, so this year the kids decided to embark on their own quest for a sibling gift.  Nothing like a new tradition to create lasting family memories.

When I was a kid my four siblings and I exchanged gifts by partnering up and pooling our money. Not only did this joint effort increase our purchasing power, but it also doubled our brainstorming efforts.  The result was the ability to deliver an amazing gift.  The nearby K-Mart provided ample affordable items for our shopping pleasure.  This annual ritual kicked into high gear once we requested that my mom drop all five of us at this popular bargain paradise.

We frequently recount the year that Pat wanted to purchase a panda bear stuffed animal for our youngest brother, Mike.  An employee climbed a ladder to inspect the price tag on the toy at Pat's request.  Pat's disappointment that he couldn't afford it was short lived.  A moment later as if on cue an announcement bellowed over the loudspeaker:  'stuffed toys hanging from the ceiling now on blue light special.'  Oh, the excitement.  Of course while all of this unfolded, one sibling was assigned the task of keeping Mike occupied in another part of the store.  Once our mission was complete, we hurried to the register, paid, and stuffed our bags inside our coat or behind our back in order to maintain the element of surprise.

Fast forward 32 years:  Mini requested that all of the Shenanigans exchange gifts this year.  Although the suggestion was made in the eleventh hour, everyone was on board.  Moments before Coach whisked them all to Target, we laid the ground rules.  Names were drawn from a hat, secret Santa style.  A ten dollar limit was set, and those with cash flow issues were guaranteed a parental loan despite shaky credit history.  Laddie decided to shop on his own time.  No one objected, since he enjoys driving privileges.

The kids rushed into the kitchen a little over an hour later.  Each whispered to me what gift they had chosen for their brother or sister.  A few nights later on Christmas Eve they scurried around scrounging up spare scissors, tape, and wrapping paper.  This new tradition seemed to be taking shape until the unexpected happened.

Every year our youngsters hurry into our bedroom when they wake up on Christmas day.  Our room serves as a holding cell.  Extra bodies crawl under the covers and we search for a Christmas show to watch while we wait for the sleepy heads to wake up.  With a growing number of teenagers under our roof, the wait has grown lengthy.  I sacrificed my cozy spot in bed and raced downstairs to get a jump start on the breakfast casserole that I make each year.  With time to spare, I showered and finally welcomed the older guys into our room.

A few of the kids retrieved their secret Santa gift from their room as we prepared to go downstairs and check out the tree.  Before we even left the master bedroom, Eddie and Lad exchanged words in a heated outburst.  Eddie moved away from Lad at my command and mumbled something about how ridiculous it was that Lad hadn't bought anything for 'her'.  Laddie wasted no time in demanding that Tank find 'it.'  I remained in the dark until I cornered Laddie and asked for an explanation.  He reminded me that a few weeks prior he had found a Hello Kitty camera when he helped me move Curly's bed.  I vaguely remembered what he was referring to, but was fuzzy on why this was relevant on Christmas morning.  The camera, actually functioned and had been left behind by a playmate.

Lad's master plan to regift the camera to Curly backfired when he discovered it wasn't where he had hidden it.  The next thing I knew, Lad was holding Tank hostage insisting that he produce the camera.  Tank was digging thru drawers in his room under Laddie's watchful eye.  Eddie offered his two cents once again- reprimanding Lad for not actually shopping for his assigned sibling, Curly.  Lad, frustrated that he might be the only sibling without a gift, started punching Ed in the gut.  Sine Lad is 6 foot 2 and over 200 pounds, this was no laughing matter.  Instead of calling out 'ho, ho, ho', I was hollering, 'no, no, no!'

Eventually Tank involved his roommate, Reggie, in the search.  Hello Kitty resurfaced, Laddie wrapped his re-gift, and our bumpy Christmas morning smoothed out.  Curly was thrilled with the camera.  She started snapping away capturing moments on her 'new' Hello Kitty camera.

This is the new camera that Lad ended up
'buying' her - translation, Mommy funded
most of the camera because it was a
bit above the typical sibling grab-bag budget.
Curly approached me later and showed me some of the pictures she had taken.  Then she skipped back a bit farther and stumbled upon a photo of an extreme close up of a child's face.  Neither of us could identify the kid.  Another picture showed a slightly hunched over grandmother, who we didn't know.  Curly asked me who I thought the camera belonged to before her.  I had no idea.

Later at my folks' house, Curly solved the mystery.  'This is my friend Mandy's camera,' she declared.  She pointed to a photo in the digital display.  It was a man with long hair.  Because Mandy's father has long hair, it was impossible to deny his image.  Curly was crestfallen knowing that she had to return the camera to her friend.  I assured her that Lad would take her to the store to select her own kid's digital camera.

Creating family memories thru a sibling gift exchange seemed like a great plan.  While the Hello Kitty camera may not have been the most legitimate of gifts, it will certainly be a memory stand-out for years to come.

December 23, 2018

lightly giving energy to the lights, get it?

Coach typically hangs the Christmas lights.  I did hang them one year when the weather was nice and Coach was super busy at work.  I went to great lengths to highlight a huge, very tilted, ugly evergreen tree in our backyard at the edge of our deck.  We are on the corner so most people who approach our house see the back of the house first.  It took several extension cords but it was, well, different. 

front of house - featuring weak front porch lights
This year Coach called me while I was in Louisville for the dancing championships over Thanksgiving.  He couldn't find the lights in the storage room.  I insisted that they were there. 

front of house and side entrance with
 half moon floating bush lights visible from front.
Don't be confused.  He wasn't trying to hang the lights because he was being on the ball.  There is no set schedule for the Shenanigans when it comes to preparing for Christmas.  We are more of the fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants type.  The weather was mild, so he thought, 'Hey, why not?' 

Eddie eventually went into the storage room and found the lights for Coach.  Hate to say I told you that's where they were, so I kept my mouth shut.  So Coach hung the lights, but since we are not the kind of people who prepare for Christmas that early he didn't turn them on for weeks. 

Then he turned them on, and I must admit they should have been left in the box in the storage room.  Mini has expressed her disgust at our lights.  She has suggested that we just take them down.  I have to agree that our Christmas lights probably cause most people to cringe. 

View from side of our bush lights - with
 Mary Ann's lights in view across the street.
Apparently the white icicle lights for the front porch did not all work, so he hung those that did.  Our house is on the corner.  So, we have some lights along the top of the porch.  Then as you drive up along the garage where he usually hangs lights framing the garage (because: hey, a garage is a beautiful thing and should be highlighted), he put one of those mesh bush light things over a bush.  The lights for above the garage doors didn't work, so he skipped it. 

The view as you drive down
 the street.  Lone bush mesh light.  I should
mention that when utilized properly I think
the mesh lights on bushes looks lovely.  One
 bush, covered at the wrong angle. 
Not very impressive.
The bush light-mesh thing looks positively silly.  No idea why we have just one bush light contraption.  Coach claims that I bought it.  I must point out here that Coach rarely remembers what happened yesterday or what day some of our offspring were born on, so his memory should not be trusted.  I am postivie that he ran out and bought the sheet of lights once when we didn't have enough. 

This is the view of the bush light from the
 front of the bush.  The only people that see
 this view are those that are pulling into our
driveway though, because
 the half moon floating
visual is what most people see as
they drive down the street.

As you approach the house the bush-lights look like they are just floating out there in a half moon sort of way.  There are no other lights on that side of the house.  It just looks like we gave up, which I think is basically what happened. 

Mini pointed out that our neighbors across the street from our garage side of the house (Mary Ann - if you haven't read about this sweet heart, well - I have just provided you with several links because she has given me quite a bit of material over the years.  Yes, 'sweet heart' is sarcastic in case you didn't pick up on that) have utilized lights that match our lone bush-mesh deal. 

Translation:  it looks like we ran across the street and snagged the bush light blanket thingie from Mary Ann's house and tossed them on our bush.  Then we slunk back in our house to sit back and continue to be lazy/horrible neighbors.

Not to worry.  Mary Ann doesn't suspect that we actually stole her lights, or she would have marched her butt over and verbally assaulted me. 

December 21, 2018

I am an angry elf - you won't believe why!

Our high school is ranked very highly.  I am too lazy to look up exactly what the rankings are, so you will just have to trust me.  Our district is split into two buildings.  The building, where three of my kids attend currently, happens to be the less desirable of the two, because we share the same boundaries as some government subsidized housing residents.

Let me clarify.  This 'undesirable' building is not at all undesirable to our family - in fact, it is exactly where we want our kids to attend, because we are good with diversity.  The other alternative is to live on the 'right side of the tracks' in a multi-million dollar home and have our kids park in the school lot full of luxury cars and walk thru halls overrun by entitlement.  Don't get me wrong, there are still wealthy people at our school - but just a decent mix of various backgrounds.

Several years ago when Laddie was my only high school kid, I attended a board meeting because other parents informed me that it was important.  It turned out to be explosive and long and important.  It didn't end until about 1 or 2 am.  I am the first to admit that I barely knew what was happening.  If memory serves, I believe we had a lousy board who made some bad choices and compromised our kids' school's future.  They voted down some fund or chose to take money out of something prematurely.  While the details are fuzzy, I do remember grasping how important it was to vote in better board members.  Fortunately, we did that.

Fast forward to present day.  Our school district (and the better board we voted in) has been trying for a few years to get a referendum to pass, because the crappy board of years ago screwed things up.

The first referendum was ludicrous.  It favored the entitled building.  Heavily.  It basically promised to build them an entire new wing so that they would have more classrooms.  Enrollment at the diversity building has decreased, while more people are moving (I cannot wrap my brain around how) into McMansions on the 'right side of the tracks'.  That referendum didn't pass.

There was a board meeting last fall where people were all fired up, because the board was contemplating changing the zoning boundaries.  Translation:  instead of the entitled school getting a new building and wasting all kinds of money, many entitled residents would end up living in a house with a plummeting home value because of newly appointed school boundaries.  It was hard to sit and listen to people try to be creative when they said out loud how they couldn't possibly send their kids to our high school (full of diversity:  um, they didn't SAY that, it was just implied and gross).

The referendum was revamped.  This time both schools would receive much needed repairs.  My kids school was supposed to get a new MUCH NEEDED library.  The board needed to raise 5 million dollars.  The referendum was put on the ballot in November to see if it was OK with tax payers to increase their taxes to raise the money.
  Both schools offered tours so that people in the community could visit the schools and learn how the tax dollars would be spent.

People living in a $500,000 home were looking at about $300 in increased taxes annually.  Of course the alternative was to vote it down and deal with decreased property values as our awesome high school became less awesome.

The referendum didn't pass.  I believe that there are too many voters without high school kids anymore (ie:  elderly) along with people who associate referendum with the nonsensical version.

I wanted to go to a board meeting on Monday.  A friend was trying to get more parents to speak up from our undesirable building.  I agreed to do it, but I needed to scrounge up some rides for my kids since Coach was working.  I called my mom.  She agreed to drive Reg to basketball.

While I had her on the phone, I decided to ask her the burning question.  'Mom, did you vote for the referendum?'  I knew I had to catch her off guard.  Mind you, I had invited my parents to vote for it.  I forwarded them emails about the importance of it.  She sort of hesitated before she said, 'Um, no.'

I was not surprised, but I was ticked off.  My parents have 22 grand-kids.  Nine attend or graduated from Catholic High Schools.  All of the grand-kids except for my offspring also attend or graduated from Catholic grade schools.  My parents write checks to all of the Catholic schools.  I told my mom that this referendum was the equivalent of the financial support that they offer to those schools.  I wanted to tell her not to set places for my family at her table for Christmas.  I am THAT angry.

Merry Christmas, Mom!
I told her that the board was deciding whether or not to increase class sizes, which would mean that many teachers would be let go.  (I babysit for one of the teachers who doesn't have enough seniority to relax, so one of my charges might not come next year?!)  Also in question is whether or not they eliminate sports and activities.  She sneered.  'These are scare tactics.'  Um, hello!  No they aren't.  Changes are coming and it isn't pretty.

I asked Mini the other day what she thought I should get Nana for Christmas.  'A support our school button.'  Great idea!

December 19, 2018

crown this

OK, so I am switching away from the lengthy list of crazy behavior exhibited by the nutty people I sit for.  It is your lucky day . . . I am picking up where I left off with more Irish dancing stories.  The crazy thing is after the dancing competition end of November, I always go home and enjoy life with very little stress.  So much for that - my 'door slam' incident set off a whole shit storm.  Trust me, there is more to tell there, but I thought you might need a little change up.

It was about 700 degrees in the venue where the awards for the older dancers were being announced.  Yuck.  I urged Mini to keep her distance from people as much as possible - although it had been almost 24 hours since her fever had reared its ugly head.  No Motrin all day.  Fingers crossed that she would stay healthy and not infect anyone else.

You will have to take my word for it, I am not the mom that ignores protocol and brings a kid out in public if they have recently had a fever.  Needless to say, I couldn't wait to escape this sauna and get back to our spacious room and crawl into bed.

Before we even made it into the awards area, we stopped by the vendors.  They were just about to close up shop.  Clusters of little booths lined the halls selling everything from sock glue and bloomers to new dresses and dance shoes.  Curly's new dress had arrived a month before but the people had failed to include her crown.  I emailed three times.  They were in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  I needed them to ship it over in a hurry so that I would have it in time for the competition.  The last thing I wanted to do (well, besides travel with a girl with a fever) was to have to shop for a pre-made headpiece upon arrival.

The first option we stumbled on.
Guess what?  Despite an email about 2 weeks in advance letting me know that they would be sending the headpiece that they forgot to include in the original shipment, it never arrived.  Mini and Curly and I now scoured the first booth we came to for a headpiece that would work.  We chose an orange one that would compliment the colors in her dress.  I wanted to run it past Curly's teacher first, so I asked the lady if she would set it aside for me.  Oh, and I asked her how much.  100 bucks.  For real?  It didn't look like it should be that expensive.  Of course I knew that buying a dancing necessity at the last minute was not going to be cheap.

Curly's teacher was helping at the awards stage.  When she had a second, I showed her the picture of the 100 buck beauty.  She suggested that I take the picture the next day to a different vendor.  This guy was her friend and she suspected that he would make something nice and charge me less.

This was what we selected, but the guy at the
booth was going to work with it to make
 it look a bit more like a crown.  Hard to see
in this pic but it had black behind the orange, which
 would look nice with the black background color on
the dress.  And to think some people
visit malls on Black Friday and do normal stuff.

On Saturday we had a short list of errands to run at the venue.  We needed to get our book that lists all of the competitors, finalize Curly's headpiece deal, buy a number holder for the new dress, and drop off the two dresses that we brought at the used dress room in hopes that we would be traveling home with money in our pocket and no more used dresses.  (Um, yeah - it didn't work out that way.  Nuts).  We also walked around and identified the stages Curly would be dancing at.  Once the lay of the land was complete, we headed back to the booth where Curly's new headpiece was being created.

Teacher was right.  Her friend agreed to make something for Curly that was far more fabulous than our first find.  He would charge us 40 bones.  Done.

Now the only thing we needed to do was go back to the hotel and lounge around in the comfort of our bonus room, continue to remain fever free, and wait for the big day.

December 17, 2018

'You might want to tell them that life isn't fair' #14-24

I hope you are playing close attention, because I want you to vote on which 'non-normal- behavior you found the most ridiculous in my comments.  You can do it.  Come on!  Inquiring minds want to know.

14.  'Running a cold, so they can't go to the zoo.':  One day Narcey texted me that she would send her kids to her mom's house unless I agreed to move my zoo day to a different day.  I had already hired my assistant/friend to come and help me take the 6 kids I sit for to the zoo.  Narcey was concerned because her kids were running colds.  What are you 80?  Who even says that anymore?  Um, all the kids had colds.  Nothing drastic.  I assured her that we would be parking and walking to two buildings very close to the parking lot.  It was like 55 degrees out.  One of our stops is an indoor, hands-on play zoo.  She thought I was going to reschedule my entire day because her kids had slightly runny noses.

15.  'We're walking.  We're walking.':  Narcey's mantra when she tries to corral her her kids to walk to her car. 

16.  Unwilling to get to the bottom of the puking kid. :  When I told Narcey that Zach probably needed to see a specialist, she just took him back to her pediatrician, who had already told her he was unsure what the issue was.  They did blood-work.  Then the problem persisted, I asked her if the blood-work ruled out reflux.  She flipped out a little.  'No it didn't, but I am not doing an endoscopy.  The blood-work was enough for me, Ernie.  You have no idea how hard that was.  They took so much blood.'  She sort of implied that it was my fault that her kid was subjected to a blood draw.  Even Mini was confused about why Narcey wouldn't try to solve his issue.  'But Mom, he's suffering.'  Yep.  Even my 14 year old gets it.  This may come as a shock, but being a mom for the last 20 years, I have indeed had blood work done on my children.  Not pleasant, but then again - only done when necessary.

17. no such thing as a short text message:  Every time I saw that Narcey sent me a text, I cringed.

18.  constantly alerting me that she is just so type A:  This came up in conversation regularly.  'They should be good at cleaning up.  It's all we do.  We're just so type A.'  I think she wanted an award for her personality type.

19.  Nacrey could be heard screaming at her husband thru his Bluetooth by my kids while they were shooting hoops on the driveway at pickup:  Narcey was taking Zach to the doctor after pick-up.  She had Arrogant pick up the other kids from me after school, but Zach had to wait until Narcey got there.  Arrogant was confused.  I was pretty sure I knew the plan, and I told him to leave Zach with me.  He went to his awesome Tesla and called Narcey.  Narcey often complained about how her husband didn't know anything.  My kids heard her thru his Bluetooth - she was berating him for not remembering the plan. 

20.  permissive parenting:  'Zach doesn't want to go to your house without his sister.  He wants to come to the eye doctor with me'.  Why not just tell Zach that he is going to my house regardless of what he wants?  Who is in charge?

21.  no warning:  fails to tell me that her kid goes into the bathroom to throw up when he cries, so on his 2nd day here I think he has given himself a concussion because he bumps his head (slightly), cries about it and then goes into the bathroom and says, 'I am going to throw up now.'  Then he does.

22.  'But I was sick!':  After the door slam incident, Narcey describes what happened at her school while she was sick.  While at a meeting that her principal attended, he called to her 'See you tomorrow,' and she was so surprised that he didn't tell her to stay home after witnessing how sick she was.  She told me that she felt like saying to her principal:  'Don't you see this?  Can't you see how sick I am?'  Um.  No.  Usually if you are sick it is your responsibility to tell your boss.  Right?
Inflatable crayon and baseball bat. 
Literally taller than Zach and Suzie.  Who
 in their right mind shows up
at a sitter's house with
these in tow?  Is it me?

23.  inflatable toys:  the rule is that the kids need to keep their toys at their house.  I do not want to be responsible for tracking their stuff in my house.  One day Narcey showed up with Zach and Suzie carrying big-as-life inflatable toys.  I assumed it was a preschool show and tell deal.  Nope.  When I realized that they just brought them so that they could keep them from the other kids, I just told them that the toys would have to stay in the garage until pick up.  At pick-up I reminded Arrogant of my policy.  He informed me:  'Oh, they wouldn't get in the car without them.'  Was he confused?  This was not my problem.  So, leave the toys in the car - or better yet, pop the inflatables when your little darlings wouldn't listen to you about getting in the damn car and say, 'Oh, no more blow up toys.'

24.  Who is sitting where?:  Narcey always looked overwhelmed.  She was always repeating the same phrases: 'No thank you, we're walking, we're walking'.  One day at pick up her kids were all badgering her about where they were going to sit in the car.  She explained to me that she let them switch which booster seat they sit in- like once a week.  I was dumbfounded.  'Why?'  She explained that otherwise it wouldn't be fair.  I looked at her and said the words I am most proud of:  'You might want to tell them that life isn't fair.'

December 15, 2018

sorry, have these sweatshirts inconvenienced you? #6-13

This is the locker that is technically
 Lad's.  While he is away at college I keep
the kids sweatshirts and diapers in here.  Can
you imagine ordering me to find another place for
 the other families' things because her husband
couldn't be bothered with details.  The nerve.
Bear with me - this is saving me lots of dough because I am venting here rather than heading to my therapist's office.  It's them, not me, right?  Work with me here, people.  I would love to read your comments about Narcey and Arrogant and the behavior they find acceptable:

6.  'Can we just put these sweatshirts somewhere else?':  In the fall when the weather is chilly in the mornings, but hot as Hell in the afternoons, most kids I sit for show up with a sweatshirt.  Arrogant reached into the mudroom locker where I keep all of the babysitting kids' stuff and grabbed all of the sweatshirts and brought them home.  Regularly.  Narcey would show up the next morning and replace the sweatshirts that didn't belong to her kids.  One day she hollered, 'Can we just keep these somewhere else?'  Other people's stuff was confusing her husband and inconveniencing her.  Exhibit A of how the world revolves around Narcey.  Um, maybe you need to tell Arrogant to look at the label and see if his kids' names are in there.

7.  'I will bring his food.'  Narcey and I brainstormed one day about ways to try to get Zach to eat better.  Maybe he would prefer lunch from home?  She agreed one day to pack his lunch.  The next day she showed up and told me that she didn't bring his lunch, because 'it really isn't a texture thing'.  Eventually when the puking persisted, she did bring his food . . . and Suzie's.  Why?  Because she said, 'it wouldn't be fair.'

8.  'What do they eat for breakfast?':  Out of the blue Narcey asks me this after the door slam incident.  Weird?!  Like suddenly what I was offering (a bowl of cereal and a banana) wasn't sufficient.  Hello,  microscope!

9.  'You can't believe anything they say' with a laugh rather than a correction.:  Narcey asked me one day in October if they were eating OK for me.  (I apologize that this is out of order, because the #8 breakfast comment happened long after this issue.  I am operating on a stream of consciousness mindset).  I pointed out that I only offered them breakfast on the mornings when they told me they hadn't eaten at home.  Most mornings (starting in the middle of October - when they were just picking at their breakfast) they told me that they had already eaten breakfast.  She laughed and said she NEVER fed them in the morning and that I couldn't believe anything they said.  I was confused about why she was laughing.  They are 4 years old.  Don't you want to tell them that it isn't OK to lie?  I also suspect that they did eat a little something before coming to my house, because I don't think they were making it up.  I think she just wanted them to be offered more food.

10.  wardrobe malfunction -the over-sized shirt under the tiny shirt:  I am all about being on a budget.  My kids wore hand-me-downs from cousins and friends for as long as they were offered.  My kids never, ever looked silly.  Narcey regularly dressed Suzie in a super-big, over-sized Disney t-shirt in the fall.  She also wore leggings and a teeny-tiny long sleeved shirt over the short-sleeved shirt.  If Arrogant is driving a Tesla I am guessing that they might be able to budget for some clothing that fits the kids properly.  Not to mention, why would you layer clothes that don't layer well?  Put her in a sweatshirt of a sweater.

11.  doesn't teach them to wipe or wash hands:  about 3 weeks ago, I alerted Narcey that her kids needed to be able to wipe themselves.  They are 4.  I assume it is a requirement at the preschool anyway.  Narcey agreed.  I told her that I showed Suzie how to wipe that day.  Last week, Zach was pooping with the bathroom door open.  I poked my head in and asked him if he knew how to wipe.  No.  He didn't.  Why hadn't she shown them this?  Suzie failed to flush in the basement bathroom one day last week.  After school, I asked the kids who pooped in the basement.  Suzie admitted it was her.  There was very little toilet paper in the pot.  Had she washed her hands?  No.  I didn't think she could wash her hands on her own and I had told her multiple times to come and find me so that I could help her wash her hands whenever she pooped.  Why in the world would Narcey not have drilled that into her too?  Gross.
OK, I know..  My sketches don't look
like 4 year olds.  Maybe that is because
 they are sporting huge crucifixions around
 their little spindly necks?  Ever think about that? 
I know, I could have spent  more time on the
sketches, but God knows I have some Christmas
 prep to do too.  Tree is undercoated.  Gifts are
not wrapped - not all of them are bought yet
either.  Work with me here.  These idiots have
 thrown me into a frenzy.  AND it's Christmas time.

12.  undershirts in 90 degree weather:  No idea.  I would strip their undershirts off of them when we were out at a park.  Why????

13.  crucifixion wall hangings tied around their necks with a shoestring:  I am all about religion, but I fail to understand why Narcey sent her kids to my house ince wearing a small crucifixion tied around their neck with a shoestring.  (6 inches by 3 inches -small for a wall, but enormous for these 4 year olds who wear like a size 2 or 3T)  She once asked me not to let the kids play on my swing-set unless I was outside.  I adjusted my rules and said they could only play on my gated deck unless someone was outside with them, even though I could see everyone at my swing-set clearly thru my kitchen window and they were 4 not 2!  Anyway, if she is so interested in their safety how was she not concerned that they were not going to jump off my toy castle in the basement and get their wall-hanging caught on the turret and impale themselves?

December 13, 2018

defining normal by example of NOT normal

Before I had even responded to Narcey's text message, I looked at  Were there any normal teachers out there in search of a sitter mid-year?  What to my wondering eyes did appear . . . a job posting by someone named 'Narcey' looking to hire a nanny for in her home.  Aha!

First of all, her text message requested that I call her.  I didn't think there was much to talk about in the first place.  Now, why would I call her when I knew that she was already looking for a nanny to come to her house?  She posted her job listing 3 hours after her rant in my kitchen AND before she ever texted me requesting to talk.

I was in disbelief.  I turned other families away over the summer because I had no more space.  I had to wonder if those other families were more mainstream than these wack-a-doodles.  It is hard to know when offering to babysit for people whether or not they will be 'normal.'  While everyone defines 'normal' differently, the other 4 moms/dads I sit for are classic 'normal'.  Thank God.

These moms give me a heads up if I need to know anything about their kids, which is rare.  (ie:  Didn't sleep well, must be getting teeth, etc.).  They appreciate my care.  They chat about what we did during the day at pick-up.  Ask me if I need more diapers.  Let me know in advance when the baby/tot won't be there because grandma is visiting, etc.

Here is what I found NOT normal about Narcey and her husband Arrogant:

1.  'No thank you':  They say this over and over, but not when they are uninterested in eating a food.  'No thAnk you' for unacceptable behavior.  For example, one kid hits another kid.  Kid that got hit:  'No thank you.'  I find it bazaar.  They never say, 'Please don't do that.'  'Stop it.'

2.  sock removal:  The kids started here in the summer and the parents would arrive and have them take their shoes and socks off in my mudroom.  Whenever we wanted to go outside, which was often, I had to help all of them put their socks back on.  So strange.  The kids said it was so they could climb things better.  I told them to keep their socks on.

3.  kid is a puker:  Zach has struggled to keep his food down.  I could write an entire post about it.  He would sit and eat lunch and suddenly puke on my table.  He started out in August eating at the same pace as the other kids, then he lost his appetite and would vomit - not everyday, but sometimes.  His folks said it was nerves.  He did it at home too.  On days when he didn't puke, it would take him FOREVER to eat.  I had to start lunch so early so that he could eat something before the preschool bus. 

4.  'My dad's car is nicer than yours.'  Arrogant drives a Tesla.  He usually picks up.  He stands on the driveway and opens the trunk where two of the kids sit.  He makes a big production about opening the hood, the doors.  It's like a car show every day.  The 6 year old, Matt, told one of the other moms once, 'Is that your car?  My dad's car is nicer than yours.'

5.  sideways glances while loudly commenting on child's advanced mathematical skills:  Nacrey told me when we met that her oldest, Matt, is very good at math.  The first few days that Matt was in kindergarten, she would ask Matt questions about whether or not the kids on the bus or the teachers had noticed his math gift yet.  All the time she grilled him, she would glance to the side at me to see if I was picking up on it.  'So, did the teacher give you more 4th grade math sheets to do?'

AND THAT'S JUST THE BEGINNING, you go ahead and think holiday thoughts.  Don't mind me - I will just continue to share this family's weirdness
. . .

December 11, 2018

Narcey Cissim's text message

This is our home.  It is not a commercial building that houses a daycare complete with a vestibule.  In the warmer weather, I would occasionally reach into the mudroom past Arrogant (the triplets' dad) or Narcey as they stood their getting kids' shoes on/off, etc.  I would say, 'Just going to close the door, so we don't get a ton of flies in here.'

Hello, McFly?!  Figure it out!  Between our quest to keep the air conditioning/heat  circulating inside and our attempt to keep the swarm of flies outside zipping around the garbage cans in the garage, a propped open door is counter productive.   

The family I no longer sit for drove me nuts.  Coach rarely witnessed the real nitty-gritty nonsense.  He believed me, because he saw their ridiculous parenting style take shape frequently over the three years I cared for their kids.

But this was different . . . a true unwarranted parental explosion.   

We sat there for a moment after Narcey's rant and dramatic exit.  Coach chose to use her behavior as a teaching moment.  'Did you see that?  She was being inconsiderate by leaving the door open.  Mommy basically pointed it out by closing the door.  Then Narcey's statements all started with "I".  "I have been very sick."  "I had a bunch of people staying in my house."  Apparently the world revolves around her.  This is a very selfish person.'

The kids continued to eat their cereal, but nodded in agreement.  I just kept saying:  'Wow!  Did that just happen?'  I assumed at the end of the day, she would walk in and mumble something like:  'sorry about this morning.  I haven't been feeling well.'  Arrogant is usually the one to pick up, so I wasn't even sure she would be there to explain herself.

Instead she texted me at noon.  It was long and wordy and insulting.  Now there were more fingers to point.  It wasn't just that she was sick.  (By the way, she is a teacher working with young kids.  If she was really as sick as she insisted, why was she not calling herself out?  Staying in bed?  Keeping her crazy-ass self away from us?)  Now she lashed out at me for my cluttered entryway and more . . .

I was a tad rattled by this.  Treating her like a child?  Insisting that we needed to talk about this?  How about the blow by blow of which of her children were stepping where?  To me it was so much simpler than that.  I CLOSED THE FUCKING DOOR BECAUSE IT WAS FUCKING COLD.  I thought my response would simmer her down.  'Not an intentional door slam.'  Nope, she wasn't done (see above).

Coach read it and laughed.  'She definitely doesn't want you to treat her kids like they were your own.  If that was our kids, you would have grabbed them by the hood of their coat and launched them into the mudroom.' 

I was confused by the 'treat my kids like they were your own' comment.  Was she requesting my help in getting her kids into my house?  Was it really worth trying to get into her head to figure it all out?  As always with these kinds of situations, there is more.  MUCH MORE . . . 

December 9, 2018

to slam the door, or not slam the door

There are a lot of nutty people in the world.  As luck would have it a decent, random-sample of them manage to cross paths with me.  More specifically, they hire me to watch their kids.  

This morning, I was trying to conduct a makeshift workout in my family room.  I didn’t have much time before the tots started to get dropped off.  Coach was home, so I could have gone to the health club early.  There weren’t any classes that I wanted to attend, and I have not recovered from running 4 miles last weekend.  I opted to stay home, workout a bit in my house, and be here when the kids got dropped off vs. have Coach handle the babysitting kid drop off.  

My makeshift workout includes things like jumping rope, ‘stair’ stepping on the fireplace hearth, skaters, and putting a towel under each foot and doing a mountain climber on the hardwood floor.  Let’s not forget lunges, bicycles, planks, and bridges.  

I should have included some boxing moves, so that I was prepared.

One 18 month old was in the family room with me when I started to wind down.  I could hear the mom of the triplets arrive.  The mudroom opens to the kitchen.  I couldn’t see the mudroom from the parallel family room.  The 3 high schoolers were eating at the kitchen table.  Coach was making breakfast at the island.  The triplets entrance seemed to be delayed.  Eddie shot me a look.  He mouthed to me that he was freezing and motioned to me to close the interior door to the garage.  We live in Chicago.  It was COLD.  My kids were in their pajamas.  

This photo is a recreation.  This is the back
 of Eddie sitting at my kitchen table -
 right where he was that fateful morning.
  In front of him is the family room where
I had no view of the mudroom.  To the far
left is our mudroom and the white door
that you can partially see is the door that
was unintentionally slammed.  Missing is a
 small, frazzled woman dealing with two four
 year olds who typically enter crying because
 they want to get their way and she struggles
 to figure out how to make them
 happy vs. just telling them that life isn't fair.  
What to do when people are freezing and a door is left open?  In my book, you close it.  I leaned into the mudroom.  The triplets mom was standing in the garage dealing with her two 4 year olds that she was about to drop off.  It is always something with them.  They enter in tears because they want to carry a backpack, or had hoped to unbuckle themselves from the car seat, or thought they might open the door themselves.

I said, ‘We have to keep this closed.’  And I closed the door.  I admit the door slammed shut.  Not really my intention to slam it in their faces, but I don’t do anything in slow motion in the morning.  I keep things at a pretty quick pace.  

Narcey (rhymes with Marcy and is short for Narcissism) entered the house a split second later.  She hollered, ‘Really!?’  Then she huffed about how that was not a ‘good morning’.  I just looked at her and said, ‘My kids were eating breakfast and they were cold, so they asked me to close the door.’  

I think she corrected me further.  Then Narcey said, 'I am VERY sick.  I had 12 people sleeping in my house over Thanksgiving!'  Then she said something about how it was only like 30 seconds (that the door was open).  Then, confident that she had shared adequate irrelevant information, Narcey stormed out.  I spun around and faced my family.  They were all frozen in disbelief- maybe a little frozen with the climate of the room, too.

What just happened?

December 7, 2018

why leave it up to a retainer-less, laundry sabotager?!

I assumed Tank failing the rules of the road test was a joke.  Had to be, RIGHT?  Even when Mini texted to assure me that it wasn’t a joke, I envisioned Tank, Mini, and Coach all yucking it up in the car having a good chuckle at the fast-one they had just pulled on me.  

No such luck.  He really had NOT PASSED the ‘Rules of the Road’ test.  He tried to throw me under the bus, (maybe a transportation related joke isn’t in the best taste here) by insisting that I had told him he only needed to know the signs.  Gross misrepresentation of what I said. 

Coach dropped the kids off at home after his nightmare afternoon at the DMV.  Then he drove away.  Where he went?  No idea.  Apparently he needed some space.  I would say that he needed to let off some steam, but Tank assured me that Coach had practically lost his voice yelling at him in the car after the incident.  (And by incident I mean nightmare.)

Mini walked into the house and looked dazed and confused.  It was 4:15.  Her half day all used up  She had wasted it hanging out in the waiting area of the flipping DMV.  Her aggravation was palpable.  

I would never say this to Coach - like EVER, because I suspect that sitting in a waiting room at the DMV for 2.5 hours and having the afternoon end in such frustration was probably punishment enough, but why (WHY?!)  did he not review the material with this kid while they sat there?

Coach did inform me - like much later when he had regained the power of speech - that he HAD asked Tank if he needed to review and Tank said that he didn’t.  Not to beat a dead horse, but who would believe this kid who hides entire laundry rooms full of clothes in order to not get busted for not putting his laundry away?  Long story, but - yes, that happened.

Just went up in Tank's room to snap a photo
of his retainer.  Not in the case.  Shock.  But hey,
 the dirty laundry littering the room in the
 background adds a nice touch, don't you think?
When I asked Tank, and by ask I mean SCREAMED, why he didn’t review, he told me it was because he didn’t have enough space on his phone to download the info or something.  My response:  borrow Daddy’s phone or better yet, ask the people at the desk for a hard copy to review while waiting.

Tank:  ‘Because the lines were crazy long.’  Well, there you have it.  Why wait in line, while waiting?

Tank didn’t originally have an ortho appointment.  A small perk that I enjoy as the busy babysitter that I am is that Coach now drives the kids to their ortho appointments.  Coach said to me one day, 'I don't think Tank has been wearing his retainer!'  Unfortunately, this was true.  Tank needed to be fitted for a new retainer.

Anyway, that's when I realized that I didn't even know my son had a retainer.  It seems twisted, but believe me when I tell you that I celebrated my lack of knowledge here.  LIFE IS GOOD!

December 5, 2018

Will we laugh about this someday?

I interrupt my Irish dancing saga to share a not-so-delightful moment we experienced with Tank before Halloween . . . maybe we’ll laugh about this someday.  According to Coach that won’t be possible.  

Tank turns 16 today.  December 5th.  In case you are interested, he arrived a few days early in 2002 - because the doctors pulled the plug on his womb time that had clearly become a feeding frenzy.  They thought he was going to be big.  No one thought he would be 10 lbs 3 oz though.  Except me.  I knew he was gi-normous. 

Anyway, fast-forward to present day:  he hounded us all summer to register him for driver's ed.  He can't take the preferable class at the high school, because of his schedule.  Tank has to take two math classes because math is a struggle for him.  Imagine how much he loves that.   

Coach and I have dragged our feet on having Tank out on the roads.  I would start to search online for private places to enroll him for drivers ed, but I would switch gears.  Those of you in Illinois, you’re welcome.

When I finally did the math in the fall, I realized that Tank had to hold a permit for at least 9 months before getting a driver's license.  I may be crazy, but I am not crazy enough to screw up my life by having NO teenage driver positioned to assume Eddie’s roll when he leaves for college.

I did my part.  I gathered paperwork.  In excess.  Having taken a kid for a permit with  insufficient paperwork, well - let's just say:  that’s a mistake you make once.

I asked Coach if he would take Tank to the DMV one of the mornings when he doesn't do patient care.  Tank could be late for school.  After attending parent/teacher conferences, I am confident that Tank just wanders the halls or samples the water at various drinking fountains.  Arriving late or ditching his PE class wouldn’t throw off his educational progress by much.  

Coach brought up a good point.  Had Tank studied the Rules of the Road?  I reminded Tank about this minor detail.  I told him he could probably look them up on his phone.  I consider myself fairly organized, but do not ask me to locate a hard copy of the ‘Rules of the Road’ in my house after the booklet hasn't been used for two years.
This is the hard copy that Tank borrowed
 the next day from his golf coach,
 who teaches the class at the high school.

I assured Tank that the test isn't that difficult, it is a lot of signs, etc.  'Etc.' is key here.  If this were a high school English class it would be an example of 'foreshadowing.'  About a week later, he told me he was familiar with the material and that he was ready to go to the DMV.  Coach was taking Mini and Tank to the ortho on their half day, so  I suggested that he take Tank to the DMV afterwards.  

I thought Coach might bring Mini home after the ortho so that she wouldn’t be stuck going to the DMV.  He didn’t.  He opted to go to the DMV located north of the orthodontist office instead of the one that is west of our house.  

I got a few text updates that afternoon.  ‘This place is a zoo.’  ‘Waiting forever.’  And at last, I got a text from Mini:  ‘He failed.  I am so mad right now.’

Wait, was this a joke???

December 3, 2018

keeping the bonus room under wraps

It took a few minutes for Ernie to find a room for us.  I found this a little nerve racking.  Love a little rush of adrenaline. 

'Hmm, not seeing any available rooms.  Are you sure you won't take a room with a king bed?'  Nope.  I wanted two beds.  Mini was prepared to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag, but I reserved a room with two beds, and I really didn't want to share a bed.  Sometimes I don't sleep great the night before a competition.  I did not want to worry about whether or not I was keeping Curly awake.  At last she spoke words that were like music to my ears:  'Oh, I have a room for you.'

Bonus room!
I asked if I could get a microwave in our room.  I had called in advance, but they had only agreed to put in a request for one.  Turns out they do not have microwaves.  What?  They don't wheel one in from housekeeping even if you have Celiac disease and bring your own food.  Why in the world did the guy that answered the phone a few days prior agree to put one on hold for me.  Where was the one he was holding for me?  Best Buy?

In my desperate attempt to score a microwave, before I realized they they literally do not offer them, I discovered that my name buddy not only shared my name, but she and I both had Celiac disease.  Seriously?!

Regular room.
When the bellhop followed us into the room, I noticed that it appeared that the door to the adjoining room was open.  I was only paying for one room, but I didn't want him to close off the door.  I mean two rooms!?  Come on, how awesome would that be?   We don't have that much space when we travel with the entire family!

View - if you look down you can see a riverboat.
Mini did not pick up on my 'let's keep this our little secret' vibe.  'Oh, what is this over here?  Do we get this room too?' she squealed.  Real subtle, fever girl.  Bellhop boy seemed as surprised as we were.  We soon discovered that this extra room was bigger than our actual hotel room, complete with a wet bar, an additional bathroom, a pullout couch, a TV, AND a walkout balcony overlooking the water, the city lights, and the river boats.  It was nothing short of AMAZING!

Bellhop boy admitted to being terrified of heights - our room was on the 24th floor.  The tower went up to the 25th floor, but the top floor was a restaurant.   He asked if we minded if he peeked out on the balcony.  We were happy to share our new bonus features with him.  He kept one foot firmly grounded inside the room while he checked out our view.

Old picture - taken on my
 old pukey counter tops.
I dished out homemade chili from my favorite travel companion:  my Stanley Thermos.  We celebrated our good fortune at landing this room with a party room attached.  Perfect place for fever girl to sleep.  The space was so big, we decided that Curly could also practice there if the spirit moved her. 

Curly announced that we could have our dance friends back to our room after she danced on Sunday  night, 'If she danced well'.  I corrected her:  'WHEN you dance well.'

December 1, 2018

Black Friday decision: tougher than which mall to hit

I didn't sleep well the night before Black Friday.  My Black Friday would be black for different reasons than mall stampedes.  My mind was racing.  Should I bring Mini to Louisville knowing she had a fever the night before, or should I leave her home?

After I worked out and ran a few errands (including buying a new thermometer), I came home.  Mini had just woken up after sleeping about 12 hours.  She said she felt fine other than a stuffy nose.  Her temperature was normal.  Realizing that often a fever doesn't pop back up until the afternoon hours, I was still not planning to bring her to Louisville to watch Curly compete in the Irish dancing Midwest championships.

At my workout, I had run into a friend who urged me to bring Mini along.  Her kids used to Irish dance, and she knew what a big deal the weekend was.  I explained that I was concerned that she would get Curly sick right before she had to dance on Sunday.  We discussed keeping the girls apart, but how do you do that on a long car ride?

What kind of message is this to give a driver?
 Like your car might blow up because you
 have a faulty gas cap?  I ignored it.  Like I
said, this would be a Black Friday for very
different reasons than those
 shop-till-you-drop types.
A few hours later, it was about time to head out the door.  Mini still had no temperature.  Her appetite was fine.  I borrowed a few masks from my mom, who keeps them on hand for my dad.  He has Leukemia and often tries to avoid germs.  I told Mini that she was coming but that she was going to sit in the back of the minivan.  Curly sat in the front next to me with the window rolled down 2 inches administering fresh air - and by default a cold breeze!

Mini initially tried sit in the row directly behind me.  No way, not the deal I struck.  She wasn't thrilled with sitting in the way back.  She claimed it was gross back there.  Not really an issue I cared about at that moment.

This was not my favorite way to travel, and even with the cold air I still found myself fighting sleep.  I am also not partial to traveling with the 'gas cap' light on.  No idea what my car was trying to tell me, but the gas cap was on good and tight.

This is one of the two
towers of the Galt.  Cool hotel that
consists of two towers that are
 connected by this little
atrium hanging over the road thing.

We checked into the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville, and I decided to valet the car.  We were in a hurry to get over to the venue, so we could watch the awards ceremony that evening.  Some of the older girls that dance at our studio were competing and we wanted to cheer them on.

The bellhop, who helped us with our bags told us he was very new to the hotel.  He scored points right off the bat though by signaling me over to the concierge desk.  He said rather than wait in the long line at the front desk, the concierge would check me in.  The concierge asked for my name.  Before I could answer, Curly noticed that according to her name tag, she was also named 'Ernie'.  How crazy?!