August 21, 2019

my Scarlet O'Hara twist on things and what is left behind

When asked how I handled dropping Ed off at college, I told my friend that I am focused on what happens next and keeping busy with the daily tasks that lie in wait for me.  Tuesday is orientation for Reg and Curly at junior high complete with laptop pickup, supply drop off, and school pictures.  We will have 3 tots that I babysit for in tow.  

Translation:  I am pulling a Scarlet O’Hara here.  Not familiar with her coping mechanisms?  ‘I will think about that tomorrow.  Tomorrow is another day.’  Call it avoidance, if you will.  That is how I am dealing at the moment.  Maybe I will fall apart later. 

Back when Lad first went away to school, it was an adjustment.  He had been pushing the envelope and testing us on the regular in high school though.  College was a welcome change.  

Lad turned 21 this summer.  Lad:  'Treat me like I am 21!'  Coach and I:  'Act like you are 21.'  Nuff said?    Already since he flew back to New York Monday, we have had multiple phone conversations and there were no doors slammed or harsh words exchanged in the process.  21 year olds should not live at home.  

I know Ed will come home for visits, but I also know that it will never be the same.  He will only be a visitor not someone living under our roof.  He will be focused on seeing friends.  To prepare us, he was singly focused on his social life all summer.  ‘So and so leaves tomorrow.  We are all going over there tonight.’  Me:  'You will see these peeps again and you HAVE been seeing them all summer.'  He was hardly home -always racing off to caddy, to workout, or to see friends.  Meanwhile I whiled away the hours leading up to the day he would leave for college by ordering things on Amazon or interrupting school supply shopping with Curly to grab toiletries for him at Target.
And I am left with this . . .
Tank's sense of humor.
  He sent this text as I drove
home.  Ed does
 not cook and he is not one
 with nature, so
 I was like, 'huh?'  then the
followup text came. 
Wonder if I should start bracing
 myself now for
 the absence of Tank's sense of
humor when he
goes away in 2 years.  

Lad may have left a trail around the house and we would wake up unsure of where he slept the night before:  the basement couch, Coach's family room recliner, his own bed, or maybe he never came home, but I will miss his sense of humor and the stories surrounding the encounters he had with golfers while he caddied.  

I will miss conversing with Ed, because we used to talk and joke about things like school or his sports teams or my babysitting or whatever was happening.  My concerns became his concerns and he was a good guy to have around when I was stressed about something.  

Meanwhile I am left with:  Mini, who likes to talk to me, and Curly, who has a velcro attachment to me, so I have that going for me.  Tank has a few more years to eat entire packages of things and leave his belongings EVERYWHERE before he goes away to college.  He is a one-word responder when asked about usual things like school and team practices and friends.  If Reg is not careful he is going to inhale a basketball while he is living and breathing all things basketball, and I may struggle to remove said basketball from his airway.  A switch was recently flipped from 'good-kid' to ‘teenage-kid’ in Reg and he now has an answer for most everything and a sneer for everything else, so my jaw is often clenched.  

At least the two college kids left their room in a TOTAL state of disarray so I can busy myself fixing that up as a distraction from my 'where the Hell did everyone go?' feeling, which was so thoughtful of them. 

August 19, 2019

where to begin, from 6 to 4

I had a post all set for this morning, but I decided to write about the weekend instead.  Then I was not sure what to say.  Where to start?  It has taken me all day.  Kinda in a funk.
This picture is my shoe vertical -
should have flipped it horizontal.
 Sorry.  Small move-in injury.  I kept
bumping my right foot shoe into my
left shoe ankle bone.  Ouch.  It is like
biting the inside of your cheek and
 then re-biting it multiple times,
which I always attribute to stress. 

This has been the busiest, most hectic, chaotic, stressful summer on record for us.  Now these busy days and weeks have dissolved with one downsizing swoop.  We went from having six kids at home to just four.  

I dropped Eddie off for his freshman year of college yesterday - complete with a 4 hour drive there and a four hour drive home.  All this driving took place in one day on less than 6 hours of sleep.  Not my favorite way to drive.  We were at a 50th b-day party the night before and I wonder if I ate something that had pesky gluten in it.  I didn't feel great.  

Ed and I left the house at 7:30 am.  I warned Ed that if I heard Lad and Coach get up and leave for the airport before 4 am for Lad to catch his 5:55 am flight back to New York for school, then we might have to bolt at the same time.  Once I am awake I have to start driving before major drowsiness sets in.  I woke up at 5:35 am - happily had not heard the earlier college departure (I said my good-byes the night before).  I showered, gathered lunch and snacks, and then dragged Ed out of bed.
I drank the 3rd coke bottle which also had
a college logo on the label. 
One of these may or
 may not be where Ed ended
 up going to school.

Curly was supposed to accompany Ed and I.  She was excited to see Ed's room and help him move in.  I had sold the move-in idea to her, because she would end up being alone all day if she didn't come with us.  Coach was assisting in teaching a class thing (WHY DID HE OFFER HIS SERVICES ON THIS DAY?) and Mini is in Ireland (more on that later) and then Tank and Reg would be caddying.  At the last minute a friend invited her to attend an extra Irish dancing class, hang at friend's house, plus a sleepover.  Sleepovers always win with 11 year old girls - besides I reminded her that as fun as it was to see Ed's room, it would still add up to 8 hours in the car round trip.  Sleepover it was.

We woke her to say good-bye.  It was not pretty.  She leaned out of her bunk bed as Ed whispered, 'Don't get out - we want you to go back to sleep, just give me a hug.'  And hug she did.  She would not let go.  My own eyes welled up watching her little chin quiver as she cried and clung to him in the longest sibling hug in our family's history.  
While in the stupid parking lot I
spotted this licence plate from
 CALIFORNIA!  What?!  Why would
 a water polo player from California
 go to school in the Midwest at a
 school with no water polo team.
I guess it could be a Dad's car and
maybe this kid doesn't play water polo.
 Mr. California, have you
 not heard about our winters?

There were move-in frustrations.  Why oh why did they instruct us to move our cars to the stadium lot after we unloaded?  It was 92 degrees out and I chose to walk back to his dorm about 3 miles because I saw no shuttles or people waiting for shuttles or signs that said 'shuttle here.'  A third of the way to his dorm, I turned and walked back to my car.  'Screw this.  I will find a closer place to park.'  I had no intention of being there all damn day.  We had no dinner plans and elaborate redecorating schemes.  I drove back in my sweat soaked clothes and parked in an academic lot across the street.  What college move-in day would be complete without a painful trip to Target with 5,000 other people?  A trip that I later decided was unnecessary.  Sigh.

Our good-bye was awkward because his roomie was saying good-bye to his folks on the other side of the room.  I dreaded this moment.  I hugged Ed, got choked up, and ran like lightening out the door.  His roomie called after me, 'Bye Mrs. Shenanigan!'  

August 16, 2019

decisions: funds, kitchenettes, & how to accommodate excessive teens

We knew Curly was dancing in Vancouver, but we had yet to decide who we would assemble as the tag-along cast-of-characters.  Before hammering out our decision, the block of rooms opened.  
I have no photos to accompany this somewhat
boring saga setting up the ensuing room-booking
drama, so I decided to toss this your way.  This
 is the scale aka my nemesis in the locker room
of my health club.  I believe the visible appendage
 is my arm.  I did not mean to take photos in
 the locker room at the club.  Imagine how
 incredibly grateful I am (and now in turn
 you are) that there were no naked women
milling around in the background.  That would
have been embarrassing - especially if these
 imaginary women THOUGHT I
 was taking their photo.  Lawsuit or
club expulsion dodged.  Phew.

Really the decision amounted to this:  spend a gross amount of money and travel as a family to do touristy things when Curly’s dancing duties were complete, or invest enough to still make my dance-mom head spin and just take Curly the dancer and Mini the supportive-sister as my faithful travel companions and do very few touristy things.  Decisions, decisions.  Or more simply:  funding, funding. 

Booking a hotel in the Irish dancing block for these competitions is nothing short of stressful, aggressive, and frustrating.  Opting out of the reserved block results in paying a penalty.  Missing the initial offering means choosing from a hotel in a subsequent block once extra hotel rooms are scraped together.  Been there, done that.  

Again:  irrelevant photo.  Tank this morning
(clutching a wad of cash in his fist)
after a rather muddy landscaping instillation
 of a new garden for some new client.
  He netted over a grand, so he was muddy
AND happy and since he is opening the
fridge here:  HUNGRY.  What else is new?

So, it makes sense that I began my research into what hotels bragged about what amenities the night before the damn block opened.  I am nothing if not ill-prepared and frazzled on the regular.  What can I say, the last minute lifestyle such as mine leads to an often miserable existence, but I am rocking it.  Sort of.  

Namely I longed for:  kitchenette, or just a microwave, or just a fridge, or all of the above in some kind of glorious combo.  These details rank as the most important for a goofy, budget conscious, celiac suffering mom who travels with as much food as physically possible.  

I was also moderately interested in how close the hotel was to the venue.  Last year’s dance-bag-left-in-the-cab nightmare is still painfully fresh in my memory.  Had I been awarded my own reality TV show weeks before the lost-bag incident, I would be writing this from my new digs in some exclusive island resort where I would now reside with my family as millionaires.  Sadly, Irish dancing schools are barred from said island, and Curly has retired.  Wink, wink.  Yes, the ‘incident’ would have come across as THAT entertaining had it just been captured by some seedy, go-for-the-jugular TV producer.

I discovered in my I-just-want-to-go-to-bed research hours when I cussed myself out for not investigating earlier, that one hotel had a kitchenette and separate bedrooms.  Apartment style.  This would be ideal to let teenagers sleep late or allow them to stay up later than those family members who are not nocturnal.  Of course I was still not 100% sure excessive teenagers would be in attendance.  Since it was clear as mud, and not about to get clearer - I went to bed ready to try for a room the next day.

August 14, 2019

a new use for deodorant, & funniest text from Coach EVER

I was racing to get out the door to have Ed's wisdom teeth pulled.  My master bathroom toilet would not stop running.  I am not a plumber.  Not even close.  I bravely lifted the cover off the back of the toilet to see all the bells and whistles in there.  Fun.  I jiggled a few things.  Isn't that what one does?

See that damn yellow-ish hose would not stop
with the over the top water supply.
There were teeth to be pulled,
damn it.  STOP!  There is nothing
 gross here, promise.  Clean water, folks.
 Lots of bubbles from the
 constant flow of water.  
I figured out that by holding this one piece up high enough the water would stop streaming out of this angry white hose thing.  All the while I kept reminding myself:  clean water, clean water.  While channeling my inner MacGyver, I thought of Duplo legos.  You know - the chubby ones?  Doesn't everyone think of Duplo legos when the toilet won't stop running?    I know.  It is times like this that my babysitting mind prevails.

With no time to jog down to the first floor and build a lego tower to hoist up the piece, I frantically looked around.  Mini's deodorant, abandoned since our return from Vancouver almost a week ago, was on the counter.  No idea what she has been using to avoid bad BO, but I cross my fingers that she has a spare.  I am way to sophisticated and concerned with my general health to step foot in the kids' bathroom and investigate who has what deodorant.  Trust me, if I ever posted a live action, uncut photo of the kids' bathroom at its finest - we would stop being friends.  Guaranteed.
Note the white Dry Idea bottle perched under
 that black thing sort of middle/ bottom
of the photos.  Also note that the yellow-ish
hose stopped running water.  

So, since tidiness is not the name of the game here, I never removed her Dry Idea from my bathroom.  Now Dry Idea gave me an idea.  I propped it up under the need-some-support part.  I kid you not, the bottle of Mini's under-utilized deodorant fit PERFECTLY.  And I have photos to prove it.

Well this must be your lucky day, because this reminds me of another toilet story.

Before we left for Vancouver, I entered my bathroom to a gruesome discovery.  Someone, overfilled the toilet with toilet paper.  And then didn't flush.  All other evidence had thankfully been flushed away.  Just mountain of TP remained, which I managed to flush.  I ran around the house scolding the general public.

The next day, same thing in the kids bathroom.  We were not so lucky this time.  The toilet made horrible gasping sounds when Mini (who was not the culprit) tried to flush.  Coach had just left the house for Home Depot.  I opted for a text to deliver the time-to-plunge news.  Seemed like he might need a warning before walking back into this.  I do a lot of shit (no pun intended, but it works!), but I don't plunge.

His response text made me unable to move air for a while.  I was laughing that kind of silent laugh that can be misunderstood to think that someone is struggling.  Mini was sitting on my bed as I packed and she kept asking me:  'What?  What?  WHAT?!'  I finally showed her the text from her Dad.  She joined me in basking in the hilarity of it.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how my kids didn't think their golfer actually knew their dad because he described Daddy as 'funny.'  Well, if you wait around long enough you get the much-awaited laugh.

August 12, 2019

hole in 1, new shoes, career woes, & a hole in 1 at my workplace

Last week the guy Lad was caddying for made a hole in one.  I do not golf, but I get that this is an exciting moment in the life of a golfer.  Fortunately, it is also an exciting moment in the life of a caddy.  The golfer paid Lad $500 for the day.  HUGE!  GENEROUS!

This is a FEW of the shoes in the
mudroom.  I opted not to spend
 my entire morning
walking around the corners
of the kitchen and
 the front hall taking pics of all the
shoes abandoned there.
Apparently a golfer scoring a hole in one typically purchases new shoes for his caddy after such a monumental event.  I know, I don't get the correlation either.  Laddie is excited to get new shoes.  Our mudroom groaned a little at the prospect of ANOTHER pair of shoes being tossed around in there.

Not sure my kids believe me, but when I was growing up we each owned a pair of shoes for Catholic school - known as 'school shoes' - very creative title indeed.  They were leather Mary Jane's or Sperry's that we referred to as top siders in the '80s.  Then we owned 'gym shoes' which were sneakers suitable for gym class.  In the summer, the girls owned a pair of sandals.  The end.  And my mother wonders why my house is such a disaster.  It is the shoes.  They are going to overtake us.

Anyway, lately I have been grappling with career woes or  job insecurity/questioning.  Not sure what else to call it.  Similar feelings have crept up on me in the past.  Like:  why don't I get a 'real' job?  I have a degree, why can't I find a way to use it?  (oh, that's right my experience is diapers)  Why didn't I go back and get a teaching degree back in the day?

I would like to think that this real-job-where-art-thou thought process will subside, but I will be honest I only foresee that happening if my book gets published.  Then I will be all 'You see, I have just been carving out time to write during naps.  Writing is also an excellent way to avoid cleaning house.  And look here - now I have a book to show for it.  Piece of cake!'

I am not holding my breath.

What I should do is write a book about potty training, because WHY ARE THERE KIDS OUT THERE WHO ARE THREE YEARS OLD STILL WEARING DIAPERS?  Come on.  It is an area of expertise for me.  The family I started babysitting for when I was 12 yrs old, paid me extra when the folks went to Europe (by now I was 16 because leaving kids with a 12 yr old for Europe probably didn't fly back then even though seat belts were considered decorative devices) for a few weeks and came home to a potty trained kid.  Shazam!

It got me thinking that the families I sit for should perhaps offer me a similar $500 hole in one bonus.  Potty training is a similar concept.  Ready, aim, fire -in the hole preferably - not on my floor.

I will pass on the new shoes, because I am really particular about my shoes and because my house cannot accommodate another pair.

August 9, 2019

common courtesy, who drinks my catsup, & that pudding won't last


I have been actively interviewing new families for my in-home daycare as I still have several openings for the fall.  I meet people on a Mom's Facebook page,, and the NextDoor website.

I have lost track of how many people I have met with or messaged back and forth.  There was the one woman who swore she could taste her own breast-milk when she got full.  So, yes - there are people I am relieved have not called me back.

Honestly though, I have never encountered so many people who fail to get back in touch.  To me it is simple:  'We selected someone closer to home, thanks for your time' or 'We are still deciding, thanks for meeting with us.'  or 'My mother in law decided to watch little Junior, but thanks anyway.'  I could not live with myself if I did not message people back that I had interviewed.

One woman messaged me while I was in Vancouver and asked if I could chat in an hour.  I explained that I was in Vancouver but could we talk in two days time?  'Yes.'  I have messaged her several times.  No response.  How about:  'Sorry, I found someone.'  NO BIG DEAL.  Basic manners.  Speaking of manners . . .


Lad came home from college with an aversion to certain meats.  No rhyme or reason.  I think he doesn't like how some chickens are fed.  I serve up what I serve up.  Feast of famine, people,  Coach laughed one morning.  Lad had ingested most of a bottle of castup with a big bag of potato chips while the rest of us slept.  Evidence was right there on the island.
Trust me, there is a shadow in the pic
 that makes the bottle look like it has half
 a portion in there.  Not the case.

Coach was like:  'Well, he is clearly concerned with what he puts in his body.'  We are a sarcastic breed over here, so be cautious when you show up and decide to be inconsistent with your manifestos.

We were at the dentist early this morning and it was crappy caddy weather.  Ed had his wisdom teeth out yesterday.  They suggested pancakes for his must-eat-soft-food palate, so I whipped up eggs and cakes for an early lunch.  Ed would never eat a pancake normally because he really only eats healthy food (meat works for him when his mouth is functioning).  I urged him to eat a pancake so I could be sure he wasn't messing with his stitches.

I got that whole mess cleaned up and then got out stuff to load my crock-pot.  Catsup, sugar, onions, etc.  I noticed early in the summer that I had overbought catsup.  This morning:  NO FRICKING CATSUP.  Oh, I mean unless you count the half a capful that was in the container in the fridge.  How on earth can one college kid inhale that much catsup?

Is this picture too dark for you to see?
 Pudding on the left and cool whip
on the right.  The stuff dreams are made of.
Maybe catsup lover could mention:  I just opened the last bottle in what was once your very impressive inventory.  And, hey - sorry to be quirky, but DON'T PUT IT BACK IN THE FRIDGE IF IT IS ESSENTIALLY EMPTY!!!


I had Mini make some chocolate pudding and thaw cool whip from the freezer for Ed as he hopes not to lose weight while healing (such a problem to have!).  Well, look who is enjoying a bit of pudding and cool whip?  Yep.  Of course there is sugar involved so Ed has barely touched it.  Why is my genetic pool so lacking in willpower?

August 7, 2019

towels in lock-down, wisdom teeth, & excess of skinny pop

Just a few short notes:  I know I have mentioned this before, but THE TOWEL SITUATION IS OFF THE RAILS 

Our children are missing the use-a-towel-hang-up-wet-towel-on-rod chip.  What the H-E-L-L?

My Amazon cart at the moment.  I am
bummed that the large Rubbermaid container
that is intended for a patio will add no aesthetic
value to my upstairs hallway, but maybe I should
 leave it outside on the deck and make them go
 out there to fetch a towel -
that'll teach them, right?
The situation has escalated.  I have devised yet another new system, because they tune out my badgering, AND embroidering their name on their towel is not a deterrent for children who will grab any towel regardless of ownership.

This time:  a child can only shower when I am home.  Child wishing to shower, hands me a $10 towel deposit.  The deposit is returned when the SAME towel is hung up after the shower on that child's assigned towel rod AND I witness it.  Hard?  I wouldn't think so.  I feel like all I do is collect damp or crusty towels from bedroom floors and other odd places.  Like the formal living room furniture, or in front of clean laundry piles in my bedroom - where some people like to take their chances of having a family member surprise them and enter the bedroom while they are mid-dressing.  That would be awkward.

When grilled, no one knows anything about towel displacement.  It is all shrugs and head shaking and blank stares.  They plead the 5th.

I might make the entire lot of them fork over $10 when I discover a mislaid towel.  That would equate to $60 per towel discovery.  My hope:  they join forces with me and start to pay close attention to their goofy siblings.

The problem here is that this crew of rule-breakers will snag a beach towel from the beach bin or a high end towel from my bathroom (my towels are not REALLY high end, but they are a tad thicker than kid towels).  Solution:  I am currently shopping for a lockable container where I will be forced to store ALL TOWELS.  That's right.  I am kicking ass and taking names towels.  Keep you posted.

totally unrelated:  SKINNY POP

This stuff is delish.  Am I the only one that has my head halfway in the bag chowing down on it before I realize that it can probably no longer be referred to as 'skinny' anything?  Once I swallow half so many handfuls in one standing (I almost never sit), it is not adding to my skinny-self. 

August 5, 2019

donuts overdone, fessing up

Empty boxes as evidence.  I was APPALLED!
Saturday night I brought Curly and Reggie to the grocery store at 9 pm on our way home from a graduation party.  We were out of milk and break.  I tried to remember what else was on my list.  While I waited for my mind to recall groceries, Reg and Curly stared with 'please let us be done here so we can go home now' faces.

There was a woman in the produce section listening to them pester me to BE DONE.  I glanced at her and enlisted her support with my:  'Isn't it funny how they are always happy to eat the food, but they would rather I bring it home and not involve them.  They don't mind if I grab groceries on my time!'

My new produce friend gave me a knowing nod and rewarded me with a chuckle.

I in turn rewarded Reg and Curly with the opportunity to pick out a few boxes of donuts because they were buy one get one free.  Total of 16 donuts.  36 hours later . .  . they were all gone.  I requested that everyone fess up so I would know who overdid it on the donut front.
This is my tally sheet.  I have celiac disease, so we all know it wasn't me!

Me to Coach.
I even texted Coach at work to see if he could claim donut consumption.  He and Mini had been out of town for the weekend, so I knew Mini hadn't eaten any.  Coach admitted that he took one with him to work early Monday morning.  He is not typically a donut eating guy, but I was slightly relieved that he had at least ingested one.  Otherwise the math was downright frightening.

If everyone was telling the truth, then Tank had scarfed down a whopping 8 donuts between Sunday and Monday mornings.  That, in my estimation, is GROSS.

Ed, the health food nut of the bunch, took it
upon himself to give Tank an idea of what calorie
 and fat he took in.   If only Tank cared.
 He's a skinny tall kid, but not for long.
Tank is learning to drive.  I was going to make him walk to the store to buy another box of donuts, but I ended up having him practice-drive his way to the high school with me to pick up Reg.  He bought weak replacement donuts and I demanded that he drive around the corner to Dunkin Donuts.

He had control of the car (interesting because he clearly has no control over his appetite), so he drove back to the grocery store and upgraded from plain cake donuts to cake donuts with chocolate frosting. 

And my kids wonder why I don't buy donuts very often.

August 3, 2019

O.O.O = out of order

I apologize for the dark, grainy
yearbook photo of Mrs. P.
In a recent post, I tried to upload a 3 second video clip.  When it FINALLY worked, it was after I enlisted the service of You Tube, and I was forced to start my post with the stubborn clip.

I explained all of this already (sorry to repeat), but I admitted to feeling a bit out of order.  That term caused a high school flashback circa 1989.

My high school math teacher used to have a place on the board labeled 'O.O.O.'  Translation:  out of order.  If you were chatty, or not following along, Mrs. P stopped teaching and said, 'Ernie Shenanigan, you are out of order, please go write your initials under the O.O.O. on the board.'

One of my classmates appeared
in the yearbook drawing a geographic
 shape in the board.
If you didn't get your act together, I think you might have ended up with an additional homework assignment.  I honestly don't think Mrs. P ever followed thru by punishing the O.O.O. list.  In May of senior year, she did once have me drag my desk to face a wall in order to curb my conversation.  Late May, folks.  Senior year. 

Imagine a class
full of girls swinging
our arms to match the lines
of the above hyperbola.
My initials were an O.O.O. staple, as were a few of my friends.  It was a great class, full of friends, and laughs, and of course math.  Mrs. P was top notch, and it was the last class of the day of my senior year.  Other favorite memories:  when we managed to crack up Mrs. P.

My high school was the all-girls Catholic school variety.  I, for one, felt more comfortable in a class where there were no intimidating boys.  I was able to come out of my shell a bit.  Perhaps a bit too much, because that landed me in O.O.O. on the regular.

On the first day of class, Mrs. P asked us what we preferred to be called.  For example, if your legal name was Josephine, but you preferred to be called 'Jo' give a holler during attendance.  My friend, Sara, randomly requested that she be called 'Sabrina'.  From then on, Mrs. P called her Sabrina every day of class.

In order to explain a hyperbola, Mrs. P instructed us to stand up and sway our arms in the shape of the hyperbola.  I admit that I have never needed the hyperbola formula since that day, but I can still demonstrate one with my limbs, if that is ever required of me.

Mrs. P died too young (maybe late 50's) of an asthma attack not long after I graduated from college.    Now when I create a post filled with issues that are causing me to feel O.O.O., and I label it as such you will understand the terminology, and that I am honoring one of the greats.

Do you have a favorite teacher memory you can share?

August 1, 2019

1 minute read: random parts of my life (out of order)

After my shower today, Curly slid this dancing hamster singing birthday card under the bathroom door.  She found it on her desk.  It is not my birthday.  Just trying to illustrate how random after-shower entertainment might crop up at any moment around here. 

I have been trying forever (embarrassed to admit how long) to upload this dancing hamster video with the regular blogger tools.  But it would just show up as a picture with the 'play' arrow as a fake-out tease in the center.  I succeeded using YouTube, but bossy You Tube won't let me move the clip to the middle of the page, so my post is all out of order.  Now I feel all out of order.

I saw this from a distance while I was working out at the health club.  It is a TV screen that flashes messages about the health club and what they offer.  I was a marketing major, so I recognize this as marketing, but first I recognized it as something different. . . .I initially misread this - I will blame the mesh curtain that surrounds the basketball court where my class was for screwing with my vision:  
Can't help it.  It just makes me laugh to think of a health club possibly writing that on the wall.  

I came home and discovered that Curly had ACTUALLY sorted the laundry in my room.  Or at least most of it.  For some crazy reason, her brothers occasionally remove their socks or other dirty garments and leave them in my room -beware the sorter.

I was elated that when I left to workout -where whales gather in the spa - that one of my kids listened to me as I called over my shoulder, 'THERE IS LAUNDRY IN THE BASKETS IN MY ROOM.  SORT IT PLEASE!'

All hail to Curly!  She might be due an ice cream cone tonight after dancing.

July 30, 2019

laminated tickets, losing battle, when in doubt-label it

Coach has been losing his mind lately (well, probably longer than 'lately'-maybe the last few years).  The culprit  . . . socks.  More specifically:  Tank's wearing of Coach's socks.

Coach's preferred socks.  Most often found
 on Tank's feet.  Coach also wears dress
 socks to work, but Tank doesn't touch
 those.  Go figure.  All this sock talk is
 riveting stuff, I know.  Is there a sock
 epidemic of some sort in your house
 or am I alone on this one?
The kid does not put his own socks in the laundry, so how can he expect to find any of his socks in the clean laundry pile?  Trust me, I have explained the concept.  'Do not leave your dirty socks on the basement bathroom floor.  Or in the living room.  Or between the couch cushions.  Or in the car.  Or in the garage.  Or on the deck.  BECAUSE I DO NOT COLLECT LAUNDRY FROM THOSE SPACES!'

If you ever doubted my insistence that our house is in a constant state of disarray, then perhaps the above sentence clarified that for you. 
I used to have 'movie tickets' scattered everywhere.
 I was shocked that I could not find one to photo,
 but I did find these magnets labeled with
 chores to complete in order to
earn coveted movie tickets.  When did this
system stop motivating my crew?

Tnak's new approach to my hounding him:  look at me all sincere and concerned.  Head tilted to one side.  Slow deliberate nod.  Raised eyebrow.  Pursed lips.  A few thoughtful 'hmms'.  As IF he is wrapped up in my 'get your shit together' talk.

Eventually he breaks out of his insincere pose and bursts out laughing, but all the time insisting, 'Yeah, yeah.  I know.  OK.'  It is aggravating to no end, but impossible to curb when his sibling audience applauds his goofiness.

Tank never puts anything away, which is why there are usually a minimum of 3 towels on the floor of his room ranging in degree of grossness from wet to damp to crunchy.  Why should socks be any different?

Here mixed in with a gnome, a measuring tape,
and childhood photos under glass on his dresser
 are a few of the pairs of socks I bought Tank.
 'E' - Tank's legit initial.  Tough to see on the
 black socks, but worth the eye strain to correct
this kid's issue before his future wife
 asks me why I never bothered.
'Systems' I have tried over the years:  my 'movie ticket' motivational system.  Kids who completed  chores got a homemade, laminated movie ticket.  A certain number of these gems were required in order to lounge around the family room on a Friday night and watch the family movie.  As a bonus, whoever collected the most movie tickets chose the movie.

My latest gimmick was inspired by my Dad's day gift to Coach.  I bought him a few packages of socks.  Mixed into the bag were additional socks that Coach would NOT wear.  He pulled a pack of crew socks out of the bag and gave me a funny look.

'Those are for Tank.  I bought him new socks that look different from everyone else's so we will know if he is sporting his own socks or 'borrowed' socks.  You're welcome.'

I wrote Tank's initial on the bottom of his new socks too, so I will know who is leaving socks on the kitchen island.  As if I didn't already know


July 28, 2019

No, I don't peddle Hello Kitty wares, try Mary Ann

A few hours before Ed’s grad party the doorbell rang.  I wasn’t expecting anyone - yet.  I answered the door to a heavyset, sweating, bald man.  He looked at me like I should have been anticipated his arrival.  I just raised my eyebrows, like:  ‘Yes?’  

‘Hello Kitty?’  He asked me.  In all seriousness.  He spoke those two words in a questioning tone.  

Nothing could have been more unpredictable to me unless maybe if he said, ‘Go ahead and rub my head for good luck.’  I needed some luck at that point because we were expecting just shy of 100 peeps and the weather was promising to punish me for something, even though I cannot ever recall pissing off the weather and deserving a forecast that was like 50%, 60%, 70% chance of rain -increasing every hour as the party time drew closer.

I did NOT rub his head, or supply him with any Hello Kitty products.  I did point out to him that the house right across the street from us has the same house number as ours.  (The ultimate in stupid when planning a neighborhood, if. you ask me - place a house on the corner of a culdesac with the driveway facing the perpendicular street and then assign it the same number as the house directly across the street).  
So I should have made the writing on the mailbox larger.  My address:  1614 Positively Awesome Ave. - on the culdesac.  Across the street:  Mary Ann's house 1614 Poop Street.  See how our houses are situated.  Nuts, right?

So, maybe he was looking for my buddy Mary Ann’s house?  Yep, she’s the sweetheart who is anti-carpool, who asked me to sew her kid’s sweatshirt, and who once pumped a then 4 yr old Mini for reasons why Lad might not like her family.  

She’s the one I am delighted to share a house number with.  Don’t get me started on her college kid’s Wall Street Journal landing on our driveway each day one summer and how well Ms. Pleasant Pants tolerated that one.  

I never found out if he got the Hello Kitty stuff he was trying to buy from some hee-haw who gave him the wrong address.  I was too focused on getting ready for the party.  In fact, I was so busy that I suppressed the Hello Kitty memory until much later.

I promise you that I did not rub his head, but the rain during the party was minimal-  kids of all ages played outside - volleyball, bags, basketball.  Phew.

In case you were wondering, we did not invite Mary Ann.  

July 26, 2019

why avoid Sox game, video clip YOU WILL LOVE

(to say I am excited that this post has a working video is an UNDERSTATEMENT, so I hope you check it out.  It is Mini practicing fiddle for Ireland and it is 20 seconds long - stop it sooner if y ou want, but I am betting that you will want more)

The all-in family White Sox game that Marie apparently agreed to gift Dad for Dad's day would have been a no-brainer back in the day.  Back in the day, as in:  when I still cared.  When I still jumped thru hoops.  When I still thought spending time with my family was a first rate experience.  Or when I thought it was an opportunity to try to fit in, to try to be accepted, to try to NOT be overlooked. 

Yeah. The glory of getting old - I no longer anticipate any of those things happening in my lifetime. 

Example 1:  My sisters went to an Ed Sheern concert together - just the two of them - in the fall to celebrate Marie’s 50th birthday.  I only became aware of their attendance at the concert when they posted it on Facebook.  I guess my invite was lost in the mail.  Or, they just failed to ask me.  To clarify, I have zero interest in seeing Ed Sheehan in concert.  Not the point.

Example 2:  Marie lives in Milwaukee and Coach was taking a class up there in June, so Mini tagged along to hang with a favorite cousin.  (Favorite cousin aka ‘Cool’ is sisters with a cousin who drops the name of her prestigious college multiple times in every sentence spoken.  Literally.  It nauseates Mini.)  Mini is, on the other hand, crazy about Cool.  When Mini returned from Milwaukee she told me that she witnessed Aunt Marie spend close to a thousand dollars on Aunt Ann’s birthday gift when they visited an art fair.  That puts the little lazy $50 gift-card birthday exchange that my sisters and I gift one another in perspective, don’t ya think?

Example 3:  Mom has call waiting.  She absolutely cannot continue a conversation with me no matter how important, if a preferred sibling calls while we are on the phone.  There is no ‘let me click over and tell them I will call right back.’  Ouch.

Example 4:  Pat asked Mini to meet him at my folks house, which is near our house.  He wanted to visit Mom and Dad before leaving town and he wanted to review tunes that Mini needs to be proficient in for the upcoming championship competition in Ireland.  I drove Mini there and grabbed my camera so that I could share a few of our vacation photos.  Mini went off to play tunes with her cousin.  Pat and I sat on the couch and I showed Mom some pictures on my camera.  I got the gnawing feeling that Pat was annoyed that I was infringing on his scheduled audience with my folks.  

Before I knew if the video would post, I
decided to snap a photo of my poll about
 who wanted to go to the game.  The video
 is way more interesting.  I for one thinks Pat
 needs to get off her case about sending recordings,
who is with me?  That is what started this whole
 sequence of posts about my dysfunctional
 family:  Pat and how he made Mini cry.
 Mini rocks and Pat is poop.  It's
 what you already knew, right?
I realized a few years ago that Pat had a regular Sunday afternoon meetup at my parents' house, which has probably subsided as his kids schedules became busier.  His leprechaun wife stayed home when he drove to see the parental unit.  She got some alone time (as they say in Ireland, 'Fine for some!), and he brought his four kids over to visit with their grandparents.  Mom made everyone lunch and the kids played for a few hours.  Sound cozy?  My family was never offered this kind of deal.  Ever.  Not even once.  Nevermind weekly

Knowing this setup, I felt uncomfortable last week when I dropped in - like I was taking up what I am sure they all assumed would be uninterrupted time with son-who-walks-on-water.  After a bit, I left Mini there to practice and I went home.  Pat dropped Mini at home later and then began badgering her to record her tunes and text them to him.  

So, I think that sufficiently sums up why I could care less about the Sox game.  On top of weird sibling relationships and enough parental ass-kissing to make me puke, it will be hot and I no longer care about baseball.  Aug 10th happens to be our 23rd anniversary, but Coach will be out of town.  I could do something fun, like meet up with a friend and enjoy a girl's night.  (Kari - are you paying attention here?)  ANYTHING BUT A SOX GAME WITH THESE PEOPLE. 

I polled the children.  The two youngest expressed an interest.  Reg:  'only if certain cousin is going.'  I can probably get them a ride with my folks or Uncle Mike (father of the certain cousin).  I don't even think I will fudge an excuse about why I am not attending.  'I don't want to.'  The end.

July 24, 2019

gift gone wrong: Did you read it, or remember it, or MENTION it? Sigh

Coach and Eddie convinced me that Dad WOULD really like the stories regardless of what he said about only wanting them if I emailed him a copy.  The man is not a monster, but just short on thoughtful usage of the English language. And an inability to consider people’s feelings. I guess.

So, a few weeks later: 'Merry Christmas.  Here’s the stories you said you didn’t want.  Enjoy!' Dad reads constantly.  These 39 pages were an afternoon project.  No biggie.

Cover of the book Dad gifted each
 family member Christmas 2017.
I waited.  Months flew by and he made no mention of ‘the gift’, which sure as shit beat the book he produced the year before that ruined Christmas, remember?  Simultaneous groan from readers.  

So, just before Father’s Day I finally casually brought it up.

Me:  Dad, did you ever read what I gave you for Christmas?  

Dad:  Oh, I don't know.  Maybe. I read so much.  What book was it? Remind me.  

Me:  Dad, it wasn’t a published book.  It was stories that I wrote. Remember?

Dad:  Oh. Yeah.  I think I read that.

This is the note that I included in the bound copy
I have him for Christmas.  I taped little photos to
 go along with the stories about Joey's family and
ours, because I know how to freeze frame pictures
 from video footage, etc.  This is not much of a picture
because it is just more copy.  Don't worry if you don't
 read it, it just basically says:  Hey, you said you didn't
 want to read something that I wrote but
I think you will enjoy this.
To clarify, Dad is not suffering from dementia. He has not lost his memory. I unerstand he might not remember what book I have him for Christmas, because each Christmas he puts together a book-wish-list and requests that people shop off of that. My gift was not on that list.

So, here is my question for you, what’s worse:  

the fact that he read it and didn’t remember reading it,

the fact that he read it and didn’t call me or mention it in person (my folks live within walking distance to us and we see them almost weekly at Church), 

or the fact that he did not even remember that I gave him something that I personally wrote and was a bit fuzzy on whether or not he read it? Remember these were light-hearted, sweet, funny memories. I was not asking him to read some complicated novel with multiple characters.

Or am I just a fool for giving him something that he said he didn't want because it couldn't be attached to an email? Maybe this means he wanted to read two pages or less attached to an email. He has loads of time on his hands, and reading is his favorite past time, so mind-blown over here.

Now about that flipping White Sox game that Marie promised to gift Dad for Father's Day . . .

July 22, 2019

I would like a copy/NOT, blurred sleepover lines, direct hit

Maybe my sis Marie had cracked the code on how to give Dad a gift. Maybe I was just frustrated because my most recent gift sort of blew up in my face.

Remember my Christmas gift to Dad? I printed out 39 pages of my manuscript and gifted it to him.  He had previously told me that he was not interested in these stories from my childhood, but I questioned that thought process. Because he ALSO told me that he wanted to read them (until he found out that it was 18 pages long - which was the length of the original doc.) Clear as mud? 

This is a photo circa 1975 of JB and I playing
hot potato in my Davenport basement at
 my birthday party.  Mom is dressed in
 her best polyester in the background holding
my little brother, Mike.  I froze this clip from a
home movie reel that we made digital. 
JB was my first best friend.
Several weeks before Christmas Dad said, ‘Oh, you sent JB stories from when we lived in Iowa?  Can you email those to me? I’d like to read that.’  JB is my childhood friend who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a 10 year old after a biking race accident and lives with his parents in Colorado. We were told in November that his health was declining. I printed out stories from before the accident that I thought he and his family would enjoy. Stories told from my young perspective.
In 2013, Coach and I stopped to visit Joey
 and his folks between touring the Grand
Canyon and Rocky Mountain National
 Park.  This is Mini hugging Joey when she
 said goodnight. My kids had never met Joey.
 His folks were thrilled with how easily
 my kids warmed up to him.  Some kids
shy away or are frightened because of Joey's
 spastic limbs and the difficulty in speaking clearly.
 The kids took turns writing to him weekly
 after this visit.  Those letters went on for ages,
and sometimes even now if I discover a bored
 kid I invite them to write to Joey who never got
 to enjoy half of what they are physically capable of.
 They never complain.
 Joey's family was there the
 night I received my 'Ernie' nickname.  Other
 than all of you, they are the only ones
 who continue to exclusively call me Ernie.

One of my favorites: I slept over at JB's house when I was 4 or 5 years old. He was the youngest of 5 boys. After the sleepover, I walked home - two doors away. Once home, I promptly got in trouble or was scolded for something. The lines of when the sleepover ended felt blurred to my young self, so I re-entered JB's house. Lots of commotion there, so entering their house was a no-brainer. JB's older brother who was about 7 told me a bit later that I wasn't supposed to still be hanging around. Joey and I ignored him. Jerk. Hours later Mom came looking for me. Then, I really got in trouble for being rude, etc. JB's folks laughed at the whole ordeal. I did no wrong in their eyes.

The actual written account has much more detail, but it speaks to how I really thought I was part of their family - or wished I was. I was doted on there - NEVER got in trouble, etc. Anyway, the stories are mostly a collection of humorous memories. Both our families were transplanted to Davenport and our families became very close. We celebrated holidays together, etc.

Back to my phone conversation with Dad about JB's health and the stories I had mailed to his fam:

Me‘Oh, yes.  I did send JB and his parents stories from our Davenport days.  It is the beginning part of my manuscript. It is 18 pages (pause) I can get you a copy.’   

Dad:  ‘Oh, I don’t want that.’  

Direct hit. 

People, can you even?  What difference does it make what form the stories come in?  Manuscript or attachment to an email? What difference does it make how long it is - to a man who reads and reads and reads? Ser-i-ously?! Christmas happened, and as always - there is more . . .