February 28, 2019

who's on first? (thank goodness we don't have a baseball player)

I wonder if this video clip will work.
 Ed's varsity team pre-game dance thing.
Mini's basketball season just wrapped up about 2 weeks ago.  There were only 7 girls on the team, and she was the tallest.  She never sat.  Whenever there was a conflict and I had to choose a team to watch, I factored in her playing time.  'I know if I attend Mini's game, I will see her play.'  With basketball over, Mini is contemplating trying out for the badminton team in the spring.

Tank's senior year water polo season. 
I lived for those games.  So
exciting, and the other teams did not
 expect us to be any good.  We
beat our cross town rivals, the
 'Entitled' school, twice that season. 
Oh, the glory days!
Tank's b-ball season ended yesterday.  He didn't see much playing time, but he did get to play for about 5 minutes in last night's game - and it was a close one.  Even though he would  have preferred to score points from the court, his quick wit had him 'winning' with the team and the coach as he supplied constant laughs all season.  Tank plans to stick it out and play water polo again in the spring.

The reason I refer to his spring sport as a 'stick it out' decision, is that his brother, Eddie, is NOT planning to play water polo -even though this is his senior season.  He made this announcement before Christmas.  Knowing that it would not impact his decision, I shared with him that this news caused a bit of my soul to die.

Historically this is the only
 volleyball playing we do.

By 'we', I mean my 
family minus me.  
I suck at volleyball.
None of Ed's friends play water polo.  The team has not been successful since Lad's senior year when they had a remarkable and very uncharacteristic (for our school) team/season.  Ed was part of that team and loved every minute of it, but he has not enjoyed it since.  He was chosen as all conference  last season.  Most of his teammates don't take water polo seriously though.   The commitment level tends to lean towards:  'Hey, this might be fun!'  It is tough to throw a pass knowing the kid you threw to will probably turn it over.

So, Ed plans to play volleyball.  He has several friends on the team.  He is 6'3" and the volleyball coach has big spiking plans for him.

Translation:  I will be following 3 different high school sports this spring.  The nice thing about having multiple kids play water polo was I could attend one match and not have to choose which high school kid I was going to watch.  I am bracing for mayhem.

Min playing b-ball and the fam watching
in the stands.  Can't miss Curly, right?
Ed is trying to convince Tank to try volleyball.  Tank, who is 6'2", can be crippled by the fear of the unknown.  Can't we all?  Like Ed, his buddies don't play water polo, but they don't play volleyball either.   As for me, aka the biggest water polo fan ever, I partly wish that Tank would switch to volleyball because of the convenience factor.  This surprises me too!  Shame on me for not being all 'Do what you enjoy!  It doesn't matter that you are all going to have different practice/game schedules!'

This is just the high school sports agenda.  Now consider that Reg is thinking about doing track at the junior high and Curly has hopes of making the practice squad for soccer.  Reg wants to try out for another season of travel basketball to liven up our evenings and weekends.  It makes my head spin.

I assume this was in the cards for me because of my 5 year old aspirations:  to be a cheerleader.  I was NEVER remotely a cheerleading prospect.  Trust me.  Meanwhile, my brother, Pat, used to tell people that he wanted to be God when he grew up.  In certain circles, there are those that believe he can walk on water.  As for me, cheering for several teams is what I get for aiming high.

February 26, 2019

An in-your-face moment in reverse

This minuscule video clip
of a water polo game
 will either work or will serve as a
 still photo of a water polo
 game played at Annapolis.
This draft somehow got lost in the shuffle.  This is one of the many college visit adventurers I have had with Ed this year.  The awesome part about this one is that we killed one bird with two stones and we got to see Lad play water polo - right before he was injured and out for the season.  Hey, the picture below makes me happy I am waiting until now to post this.  Perfect photo to look at and think about nicer weather!  

I ate dinner over Labor Day weekend at a barbecue place called ‘Red Hot and Blue’ near Annapolis.  Lad’s team was eating there after their second water polo game at the Naval Academy.  Some of the parents went to the same restaurant to hang with all the players, their sons, and one another.  Lest you think I was posing as a helicopter parent.  

Honestly, the team provides the players’ dinner, so it seemed silly to have Lad miss a FREE team dinner just to spend time with him.  Traveling to a game is expensive enough!

Besides, making fun of mom over dinner is the best kind of entertainment imaginable.  Free dinner, awesome entertainment.  Recipe for a perfect evening.  An excerpt . . . 

Eddie:  Lad, Mommy talked to the Airbnb host for like an hour when we arrived last night.

Me:  Um, whatever.  It was like 10 minutes.  Maybe.  Nothing wrong with being friendly.  This woman noted in her Airbnb profile that she likes to get to know her guests.

Lad:  Like what were you telling her?

Me:  I was just describing how our travel to Philadelphia was brutal (flight majorly delayed - went to visit Villanova).  Then I talked about taking Ed to college visits.  

Eddie:  (clearing his throat for effect) Lad, it was her life story.  (In an exaggerated feminine voice, Ed began to mock me) ‘And THEN when I was little my Dad wrote my name on a napkin and the waitress thought it said Ernie, so the whole restaurant sang happy birthday to Ernie while my dad howled with laughter while pounding his fist on the table.

Me:  Stop it!  I did  NOT tell her that story!  You are exaggerating. 

Lad and Ed then took turns imitating my voice and pretending to pour childhood stories out to Lisa, my airbnb host.  

My phone:  (AS IF ON CUE) ping . . .  signaling a text message arriving.  

Text message from Lisa, my airbnb host:  One of my girlfriends is in town and we are chilling with some wine if you want to join us.

Me:  Ha!  Check this out boys.  This is what you get for being friendly!  Lisa at the airbnb has invited me to join her for a glass of wine.

Dramatic pause of 3 minutes while I rub my chatty-success story in their barbecue-stuffed faces.

My phone:  (AS IF ON CUE AGAIN) ping.

Text message from Lisa, my airbnb host:  I’m sorry, that message was meant for my neighbor, but you are more than welcome to join us.  

Annapolis.  So incredibly picturesque!
That must have been quite the bottle of wine, if airbnb Lisa mistakenly texted me an invitation.  I was literally preparing a response to the 'misfired' invitation from my new pseudo BFF when her ‘oops, I didn’t mean to send that message to you' came thru.

Yes, in case you are wondering, the boys (and I) laughed our butts off.  Cost of Airbnb for 2 nights- $215.  Laugh at my expense delivered unwittingly by airbnb host - PRICELESS.  

February 24, 2019

get out the landing pad, or not?

I don't consider myself a helicopter parent.  I may have whirled above my kids here and there over the last 20 years, but for the most part - I keep my distance and let them figure stuff out.  

I am counting on you to weigh in on this situation.  Should I make a phone call?  Send an email?  

Eddie received an email the other day that he was a finalist for a scholarship.  I don't know how much the scholarship is worth.  Eddie was pretty excited..  

Good afternoon,

I would like to extend a warm welcome to you as a new member of the University of Wisconsin-Madison family and also extend my sincerest congratulations to you for making it to the final round in our selection process of awarding the Chicago Alumni Chapter’s 2019 scholarships to a select few incoming freshmen.  This final round is a round robin-style interview night with Chicago area UW alumni, which will take place on Tuesday, February 26 at Plante Moran, located at 10 S Riverside Plaza in Chicago on the river and directly above Union Station.  **Please confirm your attendance no later than February 19**

 The problem is that the interviews for this scholarship are held on Tuesday, Feb. 26th in the city in the evening.  Um.  Eddie is a captain and a starter on the varsity basketball team.  His team plays on Monday.  They are expected to win that game and advance to the second game, which will be held . . . you guessed it, on Tuesday in the suburbs.  NUTS!

He emailed them to let them know that he most likely would not be able to attend the interviews.  'I am very excited about the scholarship opportunity.  Unfortunately I will most likely have a basketball playoff game at the same time as the interviews.  Please let me know if there is another option for me to still be considered, if I am unable to attend.' 

The answer was:  sorry, but no.  (it was written nicer than that, but you get the gist).  They informed him that because the interviews are round robin style, they cannot hold them again another night.  They wished him the best in his Monday game, but if he didn't win and ended up being able to attend on Tuesday, then he could get in touch with them. 

WHAT!!!  How do you penalize a kid who is committed to his team?  It's not as if he is saying he cannot attend because he would rather hang with his buddies.  As Eddie pointed out, the application for this scholarship was lengthy.  I have urged Ed to reach out again and ask for the opportunity to conduct a phone interview or a Skype interview.  I mean, come on!  Ed won't do it. 

My kid is 18.  He has his act together.  He doesn't need his mommy calling someone to demand they fix this broken system,.  While I refuse to launch my helicopter, can we all agree that this is messed up?

February 22, 2019

Load this!

After reading a post on Swistle's blog about who likes which dishwasher, I decided to write about my dishwasher 'issues.'  This has nothing to do with brand, filters, loud sounds, or third silverware racks. That is a whole different post.  Believe me, I've had a lemon.  Like, officially was deemed a lemon.  I've had pricey brands that didn't perform.  I've had manufacturers tell me not to call them again.

The focus of this blog post though:  dishwasher loading.  Is it an issue for you, if the dishwasher is not loaded properly?  I sometimes wonder if there is a medical term associated with my problem.

In the new, not-quite-finished kitchen (don't get me started), we included two dishwashers.  It seemed a bit extravagant, but I am glad we did.  Our plumber friend was like, 'why not?'  He pointed out that if one broke, we would still have one.  He also asked who uses their dishwasher more than us?

5 of the 6 kid cups - note the yellow one
 full of protein shake aftermath.
 Load that puppy and start fresh is what I say!
Coach aka 'kitchen Nazi' struggled with the concept of two dishwashers.  Our offspring are not allowed (OK, 'expected', because they do it all the time) to use more than one cup a day.  He wants the kids to find a place on the counter to 'save' their cup until the next meal.  This is a great idea, but not realistic.  If a kid drinks a protein shake, he is not going to want to use that same cup to drink water or milk later.  There will be bits of fruit and yogurt and protein powder residue floating around in the subsequent beverage.  Not to mention, I am no neat-nick but I do NOT want random cups parked all over the counter top.

I did order colored cups on Amazon.  These have been an awesome addition to our kitchen.  Now the kids have an assigned cup color (which helps), but they still end up using more than one cup a day.

Two side by side dishwashers
 compliments of 'Self-Taught' -
 kind of silly looking, right?
After a particularly frustrating Coach rant about 'who used this many cups today!', I called the first-awful contractor and said, 'I have made up my mind. Include two dishwashers in the design please.'  Remember the 'self-taught-kitchen designer?  The two dishwashers were supposed to be on either side of the sink, but in one of her many 'self-taught' mess-ups, they wouldn't fit.  With the cabinet fronts, I don't think it is all that noticeable.

Now that I have two dishwashers, guess what?  It is my secret daily mission to fit everything into one!  I know.  I know.  Nuts.  Believe me, there are days when we run both dishwashers because I have baked a ton, or cooked a ton, or hosted something.

Other days, I enjoy the challenge of 'Well, well, well, we can get this all to fit, right?!"  The idea is that the kids load their own stuff.  Of course.  They are old enough . . .but capable?  They do load - at times, but do they load it RIGHT?  Hardly.

It makes Coach lose his mind to watch me re-load the dishwasher just as I am about to go to bed.  If there are dishes in the sink, and it is not enough to warrant running the 2nd dishwasher, then why wouldn't I spend 5 minutes making them all fit?  If the bowls are all loaded using the next set of prongs rather than skipping a set of prongs, then more bowls will fit.  It is elementary, right?

I guess this falls into the 'it will only get done right, if I do it myself' category.  Anyone else out there with a similar mindset?

February 20, 2019

'Welcome other-side-of-the-tracks students, not sure how you got here!'

Eddie is in his 4th year of Latin classes in high school.  The foreign language students were invited to go to Europe over spring break.  It is not cheap, but it is a great opportunity.  We agreed to send Ed.  My mom gave him some money for the ticket, he is paying part of the ticket, and Coach and I are paying for the majority of it.

I think I have mentioned before that my kids attend a high school that is in a split district.  There is the entitled school with mostly excessively wealthy students, and there is our diversity rich school complete with a variety of economic backgrounds - including kids who live in government subsidized housing.

This Europe trip is open to the entire district.

Ed and I attended a mandatory information session last week.  This meeting took place in the entitled building.  There are several chaperones.  The Latin teacher that Ed has had for all four years is one of the chaperones.  The woman in charge of organizing the trip teaches at the entitled building.  She goes by Frau Brady.

Ed and I walked into the meeting about 1 minute late.  Before the meeting, I drove 30 minutes south to one of Mini's away freshman b-ball games.  As luck would have it, the game went into overtime.

A woman directed Ed where to sit while I tossed my envelopes and paperwork into the appropriate piles on the main table.  Then, I crouched down to walk in front of the speaker to follow Ed to where he was sitting.  The same woman that had directed him told me that the parents were sitting on the other side of the room.  Swell.  Now I had to retrace my steps, walk back in front of the speaker, and find a seat in the sea of parents while Frau Brady was mid-stream with her presentation.

I saw an open seat - not easy to come by.  A woman had her purse on the seat, so I assumed that she was holding the seat for her spouse.  If she was closer to me, I would have asked her if someone was sitting there.  I ended up crawling over one lady who had an extra seat next to her.

Ed, here's your passport, better pack
some special potion to make you
 tolerant of the 'Oh, you're from
 the Diversity school' mentality, too.
The lady with the purse on the seat was NOT holding the seat for anyone.  Turns out her husband was sitting on the other side of her.  I guess we can assume that it was a Prada bag, and therefore it was special enough to require its own seat.  In a crowded room with very few spare seats!

I assumed that most of the students going on this trip would be upper class-men.  Based on some of the behavior and youthful faces, I assumed incorrectly.  A woman, who I will call Try-Hard, sat directly in front of me.  Her hand shot up when Frau Brady asked for a volunteer to start the phone tree should anything need to be communicated. 

Anyway, Try-Hard kept spinning around rubber-necking her daughter and her little group of chirpy friends.  These chirpies could not be upper class-men.  While I intended to sit with my kid, I could tell that Try-Hard wished she was sitting with her kid so she could revel in all of the excitement.  Even from the other side of the room, Ed found Try-Hard's spinning maneuver obnoxious.

It was all I could do to not lean forward and whisper, I hope my very mature, no-drama son can tolerate your kid and her selfie-taking posse or it is going to be a very long trip.  I can only imagine the Facebook post she concocted later:  'Seems like just yesterday they were going to preschool, now they are world travelers!'

Wow, do I sound bitter and jaded?  Sorry, these types rub me the wrong way as does most anything that takes place in the entitled building.

Then Frau Brady said the unthinkable:  'If you forgot your forms, you can bring them to me in room 103, and students at the 'diverse' (insert actual school name here) building, you can give your papers to Mr. Latin.  Oh by the way, we have 34 students traveling to Europe this year, 
and 12 of them are from the 'diverse' building!'

This comment sent a wave of squeaky oohs, and aws and perhaps a bit of applause thru the crowd.  Ed and I compared notes when we got home.  We both wanted to puke at that point.  Why was it necessary to mention/congratulate the 'diversity building' kids for participating in a trip that was open to them in the first place?  I don't think it is a stretch for me to imagine that the applause translated into:  'Hey, that's great that some of you folks can afford to join us on our trip!'

I wanted to tear my hair out.  And Frau Brady's hair.  And Try-Hard's hair.  What the Hell?  Why didn't she say, 'Hey, there are 22 students from the entitled building joining the diversity crew this year!'

Better yet, why did it need to be mentioned at all?

February 18, 2019

thank goodness for baby-stress eating, I guess

Do you feel for my friends? . . . they deal with these long, drawn-out stories regularly.  This was supposed to be one post - and rather then score points with all of you for the longest post ever, I have broken it up into 3 posts (you're welcome).  Lots of ground to cover, I guess.

Just before I ran into the grocery store, Coach called to see what was for dinner.  A bit of pizza casserole leftovers and the leftover pulled pork.  Here's where it gets complicated (apparently):  'If it doesn't look like there is enough, make a few chicken patties.  The kids love those and I have buns that need to be eaten anyway.'*

groceries:  half of my half load as the first half was
 already put away by the time I realized that
I needed a picture to share with you.
You know damn well that I did not just buy lunch-meat.  $225 later, I had collected a few things to feed us for a few days.  I cannot get my act together lately to buy enough stuff to last us a week - shit, I would take 5 days.  Instead I am running to the store for this or that every other day.  I mean at least the weather is delightful.  On Sunday night I freaked out because I realized I hadn't gone to the grocery store all weekend.  Coach ran out to get a gallon of vitamin D milk for the babies.  In his haste and in my distraction, we never checked on the milk supply for our family.  The next night I was out at the store on my way to get Reg from travel b-ball (not down the street) in a serious ice storm because we had NO MILK.  At all.  Who does that?   I kid you not, I was the only one in the store.

I was hating everything.  My burning eyes.  (wishing I had thought to take contacts out before I hopped in the car).  The grocery store.  The jeans I was wearing that I really love, but something about the waist makes my belly fat fall over the top of them and jiggle more than other jeans.  And hey, I admit the longer I sit in my damn house with screaming babies, the more I stress eat - or panic-eat, like 'not sure when I will be able to move from the couch.  No sudden movements if Scary starts to eat his bottle, better stock up on some serious calories now.'  Yes, that is a thing.

Shit.  Didn't mean to make this so lengthy.  'And the Oscar for the best digresser goes to . . .'  I came home.  At last.  Gave a 'be home in 3 minutes - need grocery help' text to Coach.  He had several warm bodies ready to help and he seemed confused afterwards:  'Is that it?'  Yep.  That's all I have energy for people.  A half a load of groceries.  Have no fear, I am sure I will be back at the dreaded grocery day after tomorrow.  Sigh.

Do you know what a bunt-ette is? 
Do you have
Nothing Bunt Cakes where you live? 
If you don't, you should.
I looked around.  Novel concept - someone had put away the dinner options?!  Ed swallowed hard as he pulled the remaining pulled pork out of the fridge.  He apologized.  I am sorry that I didn't think to photograph the three bites of pork that were left for me before I devoured them with the few remaining green beans and a healthy stack of mashed potatoes (we are Irish -there are always potatoes in the fridge).  Why did I not snap a photo?  It was after 6:30.  I guess I was hungry.  Fortunately my afternoon baby-stress eating saved me, because my fam forgot to save a portion of food for me. 

That's right.  All of this (three blog posts) to inform you that my people, the ones that I haul my ass to the store for multiple times a week, did NOT save me a sufficient portion of a gluten free dinner.  The suggested chicken patties 'if it looks like there isn't enough'* were never made.  I cannot eat a chicken (covered-in-gluten) patty.

Don't you worry though.  Remember that my mom dropped off a cake for the family for Valentines Day and she brought me a gluten free bunt-ette (I almost auto-corrected that to 'Brunette'.  I am that tired.  If my blog post announced that my mom brought me a gluten free brunette when I was hungry, you would have had questions - which might have required yet another post to explain). 

I dove right into my individual sized cake after my dinner-less meal.  As I was eating the cake, Lad called.  Sigh.

February 16, 2019

traffic or groceries, tough decisions like this keep me energized

After school on Wednesday, Coach picks up Curly from school.  They rush in and grab the clothes that Curly is supposed to lay out for b-ball and Irish dancing.  Plus:  food.  Curly either inhales something in the kitchen or I toss something to her as she races out the door.

Basketball practice is about 17 minutes north of our house, but it starts at 4:00.  Curly doesn't get out of school until 3:30.

In case you were wondering where I spend my time.  Riveting stuff, right?  And by the way, that 'not drawn to scale' bit was meant to be humorous.  OBVIOUSLY this is not drawn to scale.
Coach usually comes home, but I instructed him to go straight to another school after dropping Curly off.  Reg is the 8th grade team b-ball manager.  This translates into him being invited to practice with the 8th graders.  His 7th grade season already ended.  The 8th grade class is a weird group.  Not many know ANYTHING about basketball.  This might have killed Reg, who wishes he could play but you only get to play on one team.  The saving grace is that the 8th graders who have no idea what they are doing keep Reg entertained.

In the first game, the coach told a kid he could sub in.  The kid knew nothing about subbing in, so he stood up off the bench, and ran right onto the court.  In the middle of the game!  Reg was busting a gut laughing when he relayed the story to me.

Anyway, Coach had to go to that school and watch the end of that game and then bring Reg home.  Easier and faster than getting him later after he takes the team bus back to school.  He has travel basketball from 7:30 - 9, so the sooner he gets home the better.

Meanwhile back on the baby-screaming ranch, I handed kids over to their parents as they arrived to collect them.  My eyes were burning because of my earlier sob-fest.  I could not wait to take my contact lenses out.  I insisted on accomplishing SOMETHING, so I started to mix a batch of these awesome protein balls that are gluten free while Mini told me about her day.

Just as Scary's mom left, my mom walked into my kitchen carrying a Nothin' Bunt Cake box and a little gluten free bunt-ette box.  Woo hoo!  I chatted with her for a few minutes but kept looking at the clock because I had to get Curly.

I used this time to casually mention that I did not think we were going to Yellowstone this summer.  'Um, I haven't told dad yet.'  Mom:  'Oh, I think he kind of knows that already.  Didn't you tell him that?'  Well, I mentioned the conflicts, but hadn't decided yet.  (I could almost feel myself standing taller as that weight was lifted).  Mom insisted that skipping Yellowstone was not going to be a big deal.

Um, I hadn't shared our final decision, but we are most likely going to take the kids to Vancouver.  Now, if Coach and I could just converse in the same room long enough to buy the flights.  Big deciding factor:  not liking our reservations for the dates we could travel, and not knowing how many more all-in family vacations we would have with our gang before they all grow up and do their own thing.  Plus, whale watching!

Anyway, I didn't have enough quinoa cooked for my recipe, so I tossed some on the stove top, instructed Mini on how to finish cooking it, and bolted to scoop up Curly.
This is before I roll the protein balls into balls.  I love this stuff and could easily just scoop some out of the bowl in the fridge.  Forming them into balls is safer, so I don't get carried away.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I can easily devour several protein balls at once.  I am limited in what I can eat, damn it.  Why should I deny myself here?  Right?  Of course it didn't dawn on me when I ran into the grocery store to buy more quinoa -even though I finished the last bag.  WHY DO I TORTURE MYSELF SO?  There's always tomorrow's grocery stop.  Grrr.

B-ball ends at 5:15.  Dancing is another 10 minutes north, but doesn't start until 6.  I bring Curly's dinner in the car.  This time the lights were on in the studio early and I sent her in the minute she was done with her dinner.  We needed lunch-meat.  Sit in traffic, or kill time buying lunch-meat down the street from dancing?  Such are the exciting decisions of my life.  Traffic or grocery shopping?  Two of my favorite things.  Stay tuned, again- for the conclusion.  Promise.  You won't be disappointed.

February 14, 2019

setting the Wednesday scene

Coach comes home early on Wednesdays, which is a lifesaver considering what goes down on a Wednesday.

Before I bore you with details about who goes where on a Wednesday, let me set the scene for this particular Wednesday:

Scary, on a better day, playing on a play
 mat and Mack helping him find the toys.
FIRST:  I have a new baby I sit for whose blog name is Scary, because he was born on Halloween.  His mom reserved a spot in my home back in the summer, (lest you think he is a replacement for psycho Narcey's kids).  I had high hopes for a chunky, easy-breezy, three month old. 

Scary has reflux.  He has a milk protein allergy.  His formula expires after one hour.  He needs to gain weight.  To that end, he NEEDS to eat.  Guess what?  He struggles to drink a bottle.  Can you hear those soft sobs?  It's me whimpering.

His folks have been thrilled that I could get him to drink his bottles better than anyone.  They asked me to ramp him up to 5 ounces from 4.  Me:  'I got this.  Hey, this is my domain.' 

Wednesday:  Scary arrived with a cold (thanks to Joey who came with a really nasty cold last week, which earned him free-play, solo in the basement playroom each day.  No germ sharing on my watch).  Damn germs spread anyway- I must've blinked.  Scary WAS IMPOSSIBLE.  It took me 2 hrs to feed him 3.5 ounces.  After he had a huge blowout, I suspected that it was more of a tummy issue than his cold.  Coach thinks I'm crazy for blaming everything on poop, but I am rarely wrong. 

THEN:  We believe the novelty of being far away from home at college has worn off for Lad.  He calls home daily- sometimes more than once a day.  If I was in a joking mood, I would ask my readers if they remember how impossible he was before college?  Rants about 'I am never coming home to visit during college!' are a distant memory. 

My non-joking manner stems from the fact that Coach and I have been quite concerned.  We don't dare say, 'Why are you calling home so much?  Do you miss us? (bust a gut laughing because that COULDN'T be possible).  If we ask why he is calling home so much, and he needs to feel a connection to us - then what happens if he is embarrassed to call home, who does he reach out to? 

Anyway, it has been weighing on my heart.  Then Wednesday:  Ed texted me during school to say that he is worried about Lad.  My weighted-down heart sank.  Ed was all:  'Talk tonight' - I was all: 'No you tell me what is happening right now!'  Apparently, Lad texted Ed reminiscing about childhood.  I called Coach who was all:  'I have patients.'  And I was all:  'No God damn it, your patients can wait!'

So we decided to contact Chip -therapist who worked with us when kids had issues related to ADD.  I still see him a few times a year when I need to sort shit out.  I highly recommend this to anyone.  Well worth the money.  Stigma, pigma.  I, for one, am over it. 

Chip calmed me down.  He believes that Lad reaches out to us when he is overwhelmed or stressed.  Initially he thought it could have been because he was lonely, but I pointed out that he 1-has a girlfriend.  2- is thrilled the crappy assistant water polo coach quit.  3-had the whole team over to his apartment for the Superbowl.  4- seems to have friends and says he likes the school. 

Chip admitted that all of his kids went thru a phase in college where a flip was switched from 'I am going far away from you' to 'Can you visit me every other weekend?' 

Chip's advice was for Coach and I to call Lad a few times a week to check in with him.  Make sure he feels our presence.  Good advice, especially because then I can control when I call him.  Don't get me started about my kid's ill-timed phone calls.  Never fails.

Well, now you know what was stressing me out, I will need a whole other post to tell you about the perfect ending to my day.  Come back!  Promise?  I am vulnerable, are you not getting that?!

February 12, 2019

Lulu who?

For Christmas one of the moms I sit for gave me a red Lululemon quarter zip.  Mini gasped when I opened it.  I have never owned a Lulu.  It was a very nice gift, but red would not work with the majority of my workout wardrobe.  I decided to exchange it for something in the gray or black family.

I almost fell over when the cashier told me how much money I had to spend for my exchanged item.  I started to feel like maybe I should buy something more like real clothes, because why spend so much on something you just intend to sweat in?  Remember me?  I am SUPER practical!  I had sworn that I would not spend much time in this store.  Get in.  Get out.  No chance.

This is the kind of store where the employees act like they want to be your friend.  I want to whisper to them that I do not have all that much money to spend relative to their usual customers, so they probably don't need to bother with the buddy routine.  I tried not to feel self conscious about the fact that aside from a pretty intense workout schedule, I did not feel like I belonged there.  I am not a regular.  Could they tell that?  I did not have money to toss to the wind.  Was that obvious?

exhibit A:  super warm coat
Side note:  I was wearing my very expensive winter coat.  I LOVE the fact that it is super warm and that it zips to the top of the hood.  I purposely spent a lot of money on this coat, BECAUSE I wanted warmth and I didn't want to have to shop for a winter coat AGAIN any time soon.

Well, I have had it for 3 years, and the seams on the insides of the arms are coming undone for no reason.  (see photo).  So now it looks like I am wearing a cheap coat.  I bought it at Nieman Markus, a place I don't normally shop.  When I called recently, they told me to find my original receipt and then they could have their tailor do something with it.  They no longer carry that brand.  Really?  An original receipt from 3 years ago?  What is the tailor going to do?  A friend suggested that I color the white parts with a sharpie.
See what I mean?
 This should not have happened!
 The coat is by Duvetica. 
Other than this - I lovve it!

So, while I was shopping at this pricey, wealthy -people magnet store, I was trying to peruse the racks without showing my white seams - which is to say that I was trying not to move my arms all that much.  Not an easy task while shopping.  It didn't take long for the employees to decide that they didn't want to be my friend.

I took some things in the changing room and decided that I looked like an old lady with my granny, cheater glasses (which are necessary if I want to see the mind-blowing price tags) and my damn thinning hair.  The lighting in these places (and the strategically placed mirrors so that you CAN see all the angles whether you want to or not) just kill me.  The angles I hate most are the ones where I can see my scalp from the side of my head.  Before I can try anything on I end up fluffing my hair to hide the sides of my exposed head.  To other people, it probably isn't that bad - but I am sensitive.
This is the one that is
gray but has a lavender
tone to it.  It got pretty solid
reviews from the fam.

(Not sure why I look
 jaundice here).
This is the quarter zip. 
Also high marks from
 the peanut gallery -
that included Coach. 
Found out later that he
didn't know I had an item to
 exchange at the store,
 and he thought I just decided
to start shopping there.
  Interesting though, because he
didn't complain. 
I was like, Have we met?
Family members
 voted this one down.
I ended up buying three different things.  Um, yes - this means that I spent more than my allotted over-the-top, exchanged-item budget.  I decided that I needed the girls and maybe (if I am feeling like his opinion matters) Coach to vote.

One is a black, quarter zip.  I don't typically like quarter zips, because I only wear them before and after my workouts.  Pulling things over my head when I start to get sweaty is rough because I always workout in a baseball hat.  But this quarter zip was very flattering.  Who can say that about a quarter zip?  The other is a full zip workout jacket.  It looked gray in the store, but maybe it is a little lavender?  And a gray sweater kind of thing.  Decisions.

The whole thing left me looking around my classes wondering, how do these women afford to almost exclusively workout wearing Lululemon?  (Not to mention, how do they know how to get the dang strappy tops and bras on?  Notice, I steered clear of those.)  And why did I not create a silly-sounding, brand name that would be comfortable to workout in and super stylish, that I could charge ridiculous prices for?

Then I remember my former zoo-member t-shirt days, and I answered my own question.

February 10, 2019

fact: my wardrobe once included a free zoo t-shirt

I just added this shirt
to my workout wardrobe.
I work out every day -almost without fail.  With the horrible cold weather and the warnings to stay  indoors, I didn't even travel to the health club.  I cleared a path in my house that included a flight of stairs.  I ran that path about 35 times, which took about 30 minutes.  Maybe 3 miles?  Then I did some floor exercises.  I totally prefer classes where someone barks at us what to do and keeps us motivated.

My workout wardrobe has improved along with my cardio commitment since my early workout sessions.

I cringe now when I think back to the first workout class that I attended shortly after Mini was born.  I showed up all decked out in my finest, over-sized, free, Brookfield Zoo t-shirt.  The zoo gifted zoo members with these giant cotton keepsakes, and I wore mine.  To the gym.  I assume that I wore baggy sweat pants, too.  Mercifully I am unable to recall that wardrobe malfunction.

Not sure if I have described where I workout, but it is a very pricey establishment.  The kind of members it attracts are typically quite well-off.  Coach's physical therapy clinic is located in the same building, just down a hallway with a separate entrance at the rear of the building.  The health club gives us complimentary memberships.

This is a photo of me wearing one
of my zoo t-shirts.  This was one of
the more reasonably sized ones.  I
 was pregnant with Ed here (but not really
 showing yet), so I wore the zoo t-shirt
when we took Lad to the St. Louis Zoo.
  How I remembered that and
 found this photo in an album? - no clue.
I cannot tell you how much I enjoy this perk.  Remember, Coach works crazy hours, and I often feel like a single parent, so I will take the occasional, life-altering perk.  Damn it.  If Coach starts to talk about bucking the system and going opening his own clinic, I break out in a cold sweat - unprepared to kiss away my membership.

For years I walked on the tread mill a few times a week when Coach was home with the kiddos and the weather kept me from walking outside.  The first class I tried was a step aerobics class on a Saturday.  I attended it while wearing the cringe-worthy free zoo shirt.

That class made me anxious, because I didn't know the moves.  I thought I was smart when I selected a spot in the back of the room where I could hide.  Oh, that was an epic fail as the regulars spun around to face the back of the room multiple times.  They ended up facing me.  Me, with a confused look on my face, and a baggy-ass t-shirt.  I kept at it though, and became a regular, front-row participant for about 13 years until they cancelled the class last year.
These 3 year old outfits are a bit too
colorful for me nowadays. 
Seemed like a good idea at the time.

When Curly and Reg were old enough to tolerate the playroom without crying, I ventured into a class during the week.  Gradually I added more classes to my favorites.  When I was without a drivers license for 7 weeks (don't act so surprised, you know this story, right?), I tried out a few crazy early classes with a neighbor who offered to drive me when she worked out - crazy early.  Folks, I got hooked.  I now LOVE getting my workout done before 6:30 am.

Gradually I invested in a dry fit workout shirt now and then.  A pair of black stretchy shorts.  Staples.  About three years ago, I went to Marshalls and bought enough stuff so that I didn't feel like I was wearing the same thing to every class.  After 3 years though, I am not in love with some of my Marshalls choices.  Some were just down right jazzy.

Then Christmas came, and I stumbled into a whole new, dangerous, workout-attire arena!

February 8, 2019

'I am not trying to cook a turkey, just my damn oatmeal!'

Sometimes I go thru my google photos and I find a little gem that was taken specifically for the blog, but then I neglected to write about it.  How could I have glossed over this?

I wonder if there is any video surveillance footage of me melting down in the hotel in Louisville over Thanksgiving weekend for the Irish dancing championships.  Ironic to label it 'melting down', because my fit of rage stemmed from a microwave.

Let me back up.  You know I travel with my own food whenever feasibly possible?  Thank you, celiac disease - you stupid, shit head.

I called the hotel in advance.  'Can I request a microwave in my room?'  The rooms did not come equipped, but I could request one.  They made a note of it.  I stressed the importance of it since I had dietary issues that sometimes made it difficult for me to eat out.

When I checked into the room, I asked about my microwave request.  This is when I learned they don't have microwaves. At all.  Who took my request?  Now, if you recall, we were given a party room with an extra bathroom next to our regular hotel room - on the top floor, overlooking the river, so I hate to be picky.  Crazy thing is the woman at the concierge desk who checked us in had the same first name as me, AND. . . she also had celiac disease.  What are the fricking chances?!

Well, the other Ernie explained that they didn't have microwaves because they were fire hazards.  She gave me a key to the room a few floors down from mine that had a microwave in it.  (How is that room OK to not be fire proof?)  It didn't thrill me, but I have had to go to a lobby before to use a communal microwave.  No biggie.

The next morning I woke up and ran 4.5 miles on a tread mill.  I was famished and I needed to eat.  I grabbed my special key card and headed down a few floors in the elevator to cook my oatmeal.  Only, there was no microwave room there.  The room number didn't exist.  BECAUSE, the microwave room was in the other tower.  Humph.
Still don't get how this room would somehow
 manage to not burn the entire hotel down
 if the microwave malfunctioned.  What gives?

I found the room that held the microwave, but the key would not work.  A housekeeper called the front desk for me.  She said they would send someone up.  Her key wouldn't work for that room.

Minutes went by.  She called again.  I called the front desk.  I called the front desk again.  I was SHAKING.  My body was in need of calories.  Something always goes wrong at these dance competitions.  I wondered if this would be the thing.  I would pass out in front of this random room in the neighboring tower and not be found for hours. maybe days.  Why the Hell was NO ONE coming to open the damn room for me?

I am not proud, but hunger can make people do nutty things.  I tried to kick the door in on this empty conference room.  To no avail.  During my last phone call to the front desk (not as in the last phone call before I was arrested, it didn't end that badly, thank goodness), I uttered these words:  'I am not trying to cook a turkey, I just want to cook some oatmeal!'  This was sort of fitting, it being Thanksgiving weekend and all.

I do not think the hotel management realized
 that they were more at risk of having
someone do damage to their hotel by keeping
 my hungry-ass self out in the hallway then they
 were if they had just equipped my
 damn room with a microwave.
Eventually security came - to open the door, not because they had seen my feeble, weak-ass, malnourished attempt at kicking the door in on some hidden camera, but because they had finally decided to meander up to open the damn door for me.  No exaggeration, I waited over 25 long minutes.  Don't get me started on my disappointment that my namesake couldn't have hooked me up with a functioning key card in the first place.

The real question when I finally got in the empty conference room is why on earth is it even locked?  It was nothing special.  Unless of course you are on the verge of passing out.  Then, and only then, would this room be like a heaven on earth with a beckoning, run-of-the-mill, functioning, f-ing microwave.

When I got back to the room. the girls were like, 'What took you so long?'  Don't ask


February 6, 2019

Good riddance & Eddie to the rescue

I had all of Arrogant’s kids in their coats and shoes by the time he arrived.  Their car seats were set at the edge of my garage.  The rest of their stuff was gathered up in a bag in my mudroom.

Arrogant walked in and started to lead the kids out the door.  ‘OK, have a good weekend guys.  Bye!’  I called after them.  Arrogant just herded the kids into the questionably-dangerous garage.  ‘OK, let’s go.’ he said to the kids.  No ‘thank you for everything’.  Nothing.  I was flabbergasted.

I stood in the mudroom at the now infamous garage door watching them walk away.  Then I called into the garage, ‘You’re welcome!’  And then, my friends, I did slam that damn door.  

I turned to Eddie who was working on a college application on his laptop at the kitchen table.  ‘I wish your father was home.  He would have said something to that guy.  I can’t believe he just walked out of here and didn’t even thank me!  I have done nothing but bend over backwards for them and take excellent care of their kids’  

Coach should have been home, but he was running late.  Eddie stood up, ‘I’ll do it.’  He put on his coat and shoes and went out to the driveway where Arrogant was loading his kids into the Tesla. 

I stayed in the house but I could hear Ed’s voice.  He told me afterwards that he just looked at the guy, who was kind of surprised to see him standing there, and said:  ‘Hey Arrogant, you have some good kids there.  I suggest at your next place you show your sitter some appreciation though.  My mom has worked hard for you.’

I am down to one preschooler now -
but these three one and a half year
 olds are a hoot.  I like to call this
prizewinner 'babies playing babies.'
Arrogant got all worked up.  (Eddie pointed out that he managed to maintain his composure and keep his emotions in check, but that Arrogant started losing his shit.  I have suggested to Ed that he might consider becoming a lawyer.  He told me that after this encounter he was actually thinking about the lawyer route).  ‘She’s so violent.  We cannot have her sit for the kids,’ Arrogant hissed in his Lebanese accent.

‘Oh, you are talking about the door thing.  Yeah, I was here.  You weren’t.  That was just a misunderstanding.  That’s all.  My mom is not violent!  Well, good luck!’ Ed called as he started back to the house.

Arrogant desperately wanted the last word.  He kept calling after my 18 year old, ‘She’s violent!’  Ed just kept wishing him luck louder and louder drowning him out.  

So, I am violent?  Me?!  This from a guy who screams so much when simply getting his preschoolers into his car that other moms I sit for shuttered when they witnessed it.  

I turned other families away in August because I couldn’t take any other kids.  In the middle of the school year, it's tough to find a teacher in need of a sitter.  My income took a direct hit.

While the parents that interview me often want references, I find myself wishing that I could ask them a few questions . . . like:  'Are you a jerk?  Are you crazy?  What kind of parent are you?'  You know, just the basics.

The other interesting thing is that had Lad been home instead of Eddie, and if I had asked him to handle Arrogant -he might have grabbed a golf club from my ‘dangerous’ garage and knocked out a few of Arrogant’s headlights on his coveted Tesla.  Dare to dream.

February 4, 2019

when does that fake promotion start?

On Friday, December 7th Arrogant texted me just before pick up:  ‘I will be there in 30 minutes.  Have all of the kids things packed up and their car seats out of your car.’

just call me Sherlock Holmes
Wait a minute, when does the fake promotion start anyway?  According to Narcey, they were hiring a nanny for their house because Arrogant's new promotion was going to make it difficult to pick the kids up on time.  I guess she forgot that I could see her job posting on - there it clearly stated that one parent would always be home by 4:15.  Oops, then I guess Arrogant's promotion was not legit.  It left me wishing that Hallmark made a card for fake promotions. 

Now, 30 minutes is not a lot of warning to ask me to crawl around in my big van to remove car seats.  This is when babies are waking up from naps and other parents are arriving at my house.  I often need to be on hand vs. rolling around in the back of my car AND it was FREEZING out.  

I was shaking.  The nerve.  No two weeks notice - not even a few hours notice!  I raced around and gathered the potty seat and the pull-ups and the extra stuff in the designated locker in my mudroom.  Then I braved the cold and crawled over two rows of seats to unbuckle and un-tether their seats.  

This is the kind of stuff that
 gets created in my basement
 where a bazillion toy bins
 for preschoolers reside.
Arrogant’s kids were playing in the basement.  I went down and supervised clean up.  I told them that they weren’t coming back to play at my house again.  I don’t think they really understood, or they weren’t really processing the info.  After the older brother and Suzie went upstairs, I turned to Zach.  ‘Are you going to miss coming to my house, Zach?’  He tilted his head and said ever so sweetly, ‘You know I like you, Ernie.’  

Two other moms came to pick up their kids and I shared with them the last minute text from Arrogant.  They both had already heard that the triplets’ family was planning to leave after Christmas break.

One mom shook her head.  ‘Well, she isn’t the friendliest person.’  It’s true that Narcey often plays the ‘I have triplets’ card.  Hard to explain but it is something in her attitude, everything is a chore.  Then this other mom added something that she had observed just the day before while Arrogant was loading his 4 kids in his car.  When this mom realized that lotion had fallen out of the diaper bag, she got out of her car to pick it up.  That’s when she heard Arrogant screaming his head off at his young children on my driveway.  She said she had NEVER heard anyone talk to kids in such a mean way!
This is a glimpse of the homemade ornaments
that Curly and Reg and Mini and I made
 for the kids I sit for.  Even though I knew
they planned to leave after Christmas I was
 still planning to make ornaments for Narcey
and Arrogant's kids.  Well, when notice
shrunk to 30 minutes, I did not
 have their ornaments done.

The next day, another mom said that the way Narcey and Arrogant spoke to their kids made her uncomfortable.

Now I know you are just reading my blog, so you don’t really know me.  You will just have to take my word for it.  The other moms I sit for are really very happy dropping their kids off with me. They have offered to act as references anytime I need it.  Even Geraldine who I parted ways with last year wrote me a very nice card on her last day stating that it would be hard to find a caregiver that could measure up because I had raised the bar so high.

This whole ordeal really upset me.  What the Hell!?  Oh, it gets way more interesting.  Of course.  I think the ending will blow you away.  Tune in next time!

February 2, 2019

life on eggshells

The next few days rolled along like normal.  Of course I knew that two hours after she exploded in my kitchen.  She had posted that she wanted to hire a nanny to come to her house on  So, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.  In the meantime, I took the kids to the library and made them laugh and coaxed Zach into eating his lunch.

One morning out of the blue she asked me what I had been feeding her kids for breakfast.  ‘A bowl of cereal and a banana and sometimes cinnamon raisin toast or oatmeal.'

So odd to ask that question NOW, right?  After she had a fit in my kitchen over a simple misunderstanding, after I saw that she was looking to hire a nanny for in her house, after I had been taking great care of her kids for months?  NOW she suddenly decides to investigate what I feed them?

She forgot to pay me that week.  Families pay me using Quickpay.  I gently reminded her late Sunday night.  She apologized and texted that she would pay me and would also pay me in advance for the following week.  I started to think that maybe she wasn’t going to jump ship.

I have no picture for this post, but here's a
 fun one.  This is a photo of some of the kids
 I sit for and their friends (who my girlfriend 

sits for) enjoying lunch out at
 the choo-choo restaurant where the train
 delivers meals.  Just one of the fun perks the kids
I sit for look forward to when
we celebrate a birthday!
On Wednesday, December 5th, Tank’s birthday, Narcey texted me.  Arrogant was offered a promotion at work, which would mean that he would be working later and would no longer be able to help her pick up the kids.  They were going to need to hire a nanny for the new year because she couldn’t always get to my house in time to pick them up.  Well, there you go.

I texted her back and said that seeing as I had seen her nanny posting on the week before, this didn’t come as a surprise to me.  Not to mention they just didn’t seem happy.  She texted back, oh- it wasn’t a matter of being unhappy.  That wasn’t the case.  She knew about the promotion for a while and posted the job because she wanted to see what was out there.  Bull shit.