March 30, 2019

taco sauce vs salsa, plus a 'thank you' request

My solution to hating my longtime grocery store?  I now shop at a recently built grocery store - a brand new ‘Pete’s.’  The store is enormous, and I am still trying to get a handle on the layout, but there are always checkers ready and waiting when I push my huge haul to the register.

I also use the tiny grocer that is very near to our house.  Last week, the night before I started to hurl, I was desperate for 6 things.  I pulled up to the store and assigned Tank and Mini each three items.  I waited in the car.  One item was salsa.  I had not made Chicken Tortilla Soup in ages, and I forgot about the salsa ingredient.  I needed it to toss into the pot before I served dinner.

I usually buy about 5 bunches of bananas
 for fruit smoothies, my kids and then
 to feed the kids I sit for.  Running
low on bananas when we start with
 such a high inventory is mind blowing.
Mini came out and admitted that they couldn't find the salsa, so they asked a guy.  He pointed to an isle and Mini insists that they pointed her towards something called 'taco sauce'.  Did the guy have a lazer in his finger that singled out this weird looking taco sauce?  Did they force her to buy it and insist that she not shop for anything else?  I made them march back into the store to return the bottles of taco sauce, and BUY SALSA.  Mini tried to argue that they didn't have any.  Amazingly, they returned with salsa.  Go figure.

While we drove home after the grocery store stop, which the kids moaned about and found very inconvenient (welcome to my world), Mini requested that I say 'thank you' to them.  Now, I think that my grouchiness was impacted by my impending stomach bug, but I was really ticked off.  They wanted me to thank them for running in and grabbing a few necessities.  No one EVER thanks me for the time and energy and planning (which I admit to sucking at recently) I invest in grocery shopping for our family.  I wanted to make her walk home, but again maybe that was the impending puke talking. 

I took this photo to illustrate another
 interesting little family snafu regarding
this gallon of milk and this here fridge
 drawer, but it works here too.  I promise
 to share the fun little tale about this
 particular gallon of milk in another post.
 I know, I know.  My posts just keep getting
 more and more hilarious.  rogue gallons
of milk?  What will I come up with next?
The kids were thrilled that I chose to reintroduce this Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe, but now that this was the last meal before I was ill, you get the picture, - I informed them that I will not be able to bring myself to whip up a crockpot full of it for quite some time.  

When Coach texted from the store last week, I texted back and said ‘2% milk’ then my next text was: ‘if time, Cucumber and avocado.’  Then about 10 minutes later I texted again, ‘still there?  Bananas’. (Which literally meant: if you are still there get bananas, not 'are you still there. I am bananas.' But you can see where that can be misinterpreted)

Coach came home with 2%, a cucumber, and an avocado.  He admitted to the biggest grocery faux pas in the books . . .  he got to his car and realized that he forgot to get garbage stickers, so he spun on his heel and returned.  

He didn’t get me bananas, because he never saw my last text.  Dang, even my new plan is not fool proof.  I may be destined to visit the damn grocery store every other day. 

March 28, 2019

Anti grocery store manifesto

Grocery shopping more than once a week is now against my personal manifesto.  I declared this 2 weeks ago, so I still don’t have all the bugs worked out.  Like, what happens when we legitimately need something?  Am I comfortable with Coach or one of the kids running into the store to get the necessary item?

Sure, other family members can purchase stuff for our pantry and fridge, why not?  So long as I don’t find myself running in and out of stores SEVERAL times a week.  I mean, it really is insane.  I take the blame for allowing the grocery issue to spiral out of control.  I just haven’t been great about carving out enough time to complete a full grocery haul this school year.  Gathering vitals for the fam has been limited to:  ‘Oh, I have a few minutes now, I can run in and get this and that.’  

Inevitably I get home and discover that we are out of cereal, or apple juice, bagels, apples, or men’s deodorant.  All items that I don’t use.  All items that no one requested from the store, but items that they are DESPERATE for.  Seriously.  

Last week, Coach worked out before work and had enough time to come home before going to work.  (The health club is in the same building where he treats patients, so it is usually a workout/shower/then go to work scenario).  On his way home, Coach decided to stop and get garbage stickers (we have to buy garage stickers and attach them to our garbage cans in order for our rubbish to be collected-not sure all cities do that).  He texted me to ask if we needed anything quick, like a gallon of milk.  I froze.  A minute later, I had already amended my personal manifesto.  

It doesn’t help that the grocery store I use the most, that is closest to our house is driving me crazy.  Their inventory has become unreliable.  Like, ‘Oh, no heads of lettuce today.’  Or the unpredictable and limited Yoplait yogurt flavors they offer.  Imagine the verbal abuse I survive from the peanut gallery.  ‘Why don’t you get (insert Tank’s favorite flavor here) yogurt?’  He does not believe me that they don't necessarily stock the same yogurt options from one week to the next.

This pic of a 'mini'haul' will have
to suffice seeing as I have
 not been successful at clicking
a photo of a checker
 or a bagger who is repulsed
 by my large order.  
This grocery store that insists on taking my money AND testing my patience has cut back on how many checkers they staff.  They often keep their pared-down staff limited to ONE bagger.  One!  This is bad news for a shopper who typically drops between $350 and $500 on an all-in grocery run (a little different from my latest $225 ‘quick’ runs, but still).  All those cutbacks have led to long lines and lots of frustration.

Since I am not shy and I have no time to wait around in lines, I have been known to call the store from the line and instruct them to open another flipping register.  This is not a guarantee, but it is always worth a shot.  In my humble opinion, the store should have one register open with my name above it in flashing lights.  Who else spends as much as I do at the grocery store?

By the way, have you ever seen the look on a checker’s face when they see a customer coming with a mammoth load of groceries?  I cannot figure out the grumpiness factor - what difference does it make if they ring up a big load or 10 mini loads?  Maybe you haven’t purchased two of everything in a store before, but take if from me - it is not always well-received.

March 26, 2019

my biggest fears and life's most frustrating experience

It seems a little silly to me to put in a hood
 that doesn't have ANY detail on it - like no trim.
 Shouldn't this be done BEFORE the hood gets
 installed?  It also needs to be painted.  I have so
many hesitations about this.  Why wait for
all of this time and then not like what they
 have made?  I have no idea
what it is going to look
 like, and if it is unfinished - will they
ever come back to FINISH it:  paint, trim????
Back when we had 'Self-taught' as our kitchen designer (daughter of first crappy contractor - want to be caught up to speed - read these links), they started to construct a cabinet for the hood insert to go into.  I hated it.  My only hood criteria was, 'don't make it look like another cabinet.  Nothing boxy.'  I have lots of cabinets, so lets break it up a bit.  What they were building was a huge box that we were bumping our heads on.  That is when they realized that the insert that they ordered was going to be too large for our hood.  We are a family of tall peeps, so we couldn't have the hood jut out into our head space.  They swapped the insert out for a smaller version.

Luigi is now claiming that when he asked for the specs for the insert that was sitting in my flipping dining room for the past year, that I inadvertently gave him the specs for the original over-sized insert.

Let's pretend for a moment that Luigi is correct.  He keeps claiming that he had to rebuild the hood so many times because of the wrong specs.  If the specs were incorrect, then he would not have realized it until he came to install the hood and tried to shove the insert into it.  That never happened.  He never came out here to install jack (until January, and then it didn't fit because of the wall not the insert - BY THE WAY - WHO BUILDS A MOTHER _ _ _ _ _ _ _ HOOD WITHOUT KNOWING IF IT WILL FIT ON THE WALL???).  So, he just woke up one morning and thought 'Hmm, I bet these are the wrong measurements.'

This has got to be the most frustrating experience of my entire life.  I call Luigi multiple times a day.  He either doesn't answer, doesn't respond, or tells me that they are almost done building my hood.  What?
This is Luigi on the far left - watching as
he and the innocent guys he hired tried to
figure out why the hood this guy made without
 ever visiting my house or measuring
 anything wouldn't fit.  Duh!

When Luigi and Hood-maker guy attempted to leave with my  expensive insert that day in January, I told them that this made me uncomfortable.  I was unsure if I would ever see Luigi again.  I told him this to his stupid face.  Luigi said in his Italian accent, 'Oh no, we bring back.  Next week.  It OK.'  I looked at Hood-maker guy and asked him when he would be done fixing it (of course they weren't about to rebuild it, just take a little off the top, etc - so the 'we almost -a done rebuilding it' is all more lies).  Hood-maker guy said 'Tuesday.'  Then we had the polar vortex, so nothing.

My biggest fear is that I will not like what they make - after all this!  There was a Property Brothers on last night as I was making dinner.  Coach was like, 'Oh look.  They have a nice hood.'  He was trying to be funny, but I had to try really hard to not cry.

My other biggest fear is that I will never see my insert again or the money that I gave Luigi back in July to finish my kitchen.  At this point I hope to just get enough work out of him for me to feel like we are even.  Then I will find someone else to finish the odds and ends.  (No phone jack, no light in the pantry, no vent covers, missing recessed lights, etc.).  My sanity hangs in the balance here.

March 24, 2019

a hood of apparently epic proportions

My unfinished kitchen.
Hoodless kitchen - been
 about a year in this state.
     *  I don't even know if I have the energy to describe the latest, or the lack of the latest, here.  Luigi (the 2nd contractor after 1st contractor was dismissed for trying to cheat us out of our hard earned money) always has an excuse.  He showed up about 4 weeks ago with the hood.  Actually he showed up 10 minutes after the guy who built the hood.  I utilized my time alone with this hood-builder wisely.

A little background:  Hood was supposed to be done in August.  Luigi brought me two options.  I picked one.  Luigi never said, 'I cannot make this hood.  It too difficult.,' in his broken English.  He is Italian.  He brought the option to me for Christ's sake!    Instead, he told me that it was so hard to make, that he had to have it made in Italy.  He told me late November that my hood was finally shipped from Italy.  I asked for the packing slip.  He could not supply.

This is the guy I accustoed about whether or not
he (and my hood) hailed from Italy.  He seems
like a nice hard working man.  To do
work for Luigi - the kiss of death.
So, in walks hood-maker guy.  I asked him, 'You make this?'  Affirmative.  Then I ask him, 'You from Italy?'  No, he looks confused now and slightly scared.  I believe he was of Mexican decent.  I told him, 'Oh, funny because Luigi told me my hood was being make in Italy.'  Hood-making guy has a quivering, weird smirk on his face.  Then I ask, 'Hey, when did Luigi ask you to make this?'  Hood-maker guy in broken English, 'Ah, I don't want to say.'  I assure him I will not harm him, that it is OK to tell me.  I already know that Luigi is a liar.  'Oh, he ask me to make it earlier this year.'  I ask him to clarify because it is January, 'Like earlier this year, as in the year 2019?'  Hood-maker guy nods.

There it is.  Luigi commissioned this guy in January to make a hood for my kitchen that he kept insisting was being worked on for months and MONTHS, since I signed a contract with him in July.

The hood that they brought didn't fit - like id didn't fit on the wall in the space that is ready for it.  Of course.  Luigi opened the box for the insert that goes inside the hood.  The mechanical pieces.  He decided to take this main piece with him, because then they could be sure that the insert would fit.  They also took many measurements of the wall to be sure that it was going to fit there too.

He actually tried to say that it was my fault that he had to remake the hood so many times.  WHAT?  As in SERIOUSLY, WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

March 22, 2019

perking up thru positivity (mostly)

Positive thoughts related to my 'Heavy' post and the other recent 'woe is me' posts :

Ah, laundry.  I will miss this one day, right?
1.  This too shall pass.  I know that the weather and the crazy schedule will improve, and spring break is right around the corner.  I hope to enjoy some nicer weather in Tampa along with a break from dirty diapers.  Laundry and meal-prep follow me like a dark, bothersome cloud.  Sorry, supposed to be positive - right!

One of the places Curly danced.  The teacher
 took pity on me and allowed Curly to dance
 with her regular curly hair for the performances
 rather than putting a wig on her.  There is a God.
2.  Someday I will miss having the kids all living under our roof and therefore I should enjoy their laundry and meal prep.  (Does that arguement sound convincing to you?)

3.  With improved weather, I will be able to hop out of bed and go for a run before tots get dropped off.  This saves time driving to the club and back.

4.  The St. Pat's parties that Curly performs at are kind of a pain.  Wigs and makeup for a few minutes?  Have you seen Curly's real hair, and do you have any idea how hard it is to detach a wig from her noggin?  BUT (yes, here comes the positive part), I do enjoy the opportunity to socialize with some of my other dance mom friends.  I even suggested to Coach that we invite some of our friends to a few of the shows (the ones that are not held in a church basement for a fish fry, but are at a real establishment) so we can sit and be real people with real social existences for one night.

5.  There will always be teachers in need of childcare.  The drama teacher at the kids' high school told Mini the other day (when he was trying to convince her to join speech team because he has heard that she is very funny and animated -she was flattered but still plans to play basketball next school year which is smack in the middle of speech season) that he has heard good things about me and might need me full time next school year for his 2 year old.  It will all work out.

Hey, teachers - bring me your sweet, cute babes.
  Babysitting them is nothing but fun (this kid's cold
went on for close to 3 weeks - do people just not
believe in going to the doctor and
 requesting an antibiotic at some point?)
6.  There are bound to be some relaxing weekends in the future.  Once summer hits, I will inevitably find myself camped out on a lounge chair at our local pool soaking up the sun and free time.  Patience is what I need here.                     

7.  We have a new water heater.  Well, there's something to be excited about.  We won't have to replace the water heater for many, many years.  Woo-hoo.  I am banking on the little things like this to get me thru the dull-drums.

8.  The kitchen hood situation - now that is a whole other ball of depressing wax!  I can't be positive here - just can't do it.

March 20, 2019

rice and apology

I have found myself more frustrated with Mini than her brothers when I find her dirty clothes on the bathroom floor - still with the underwear inside of them.   The laundry room is one step to the left of the kids' bathroom.  How hard is this?  Tank is the number one offender of this, but with his executive functioning issues this sort of goes without saying.  Still, I should not get more upset with her than I do with him.  Right?

Imagine my shock when a missing b-ball uniform
 was discovered in a draw string bag in here?
 A few weeks ago, I asked Mini to be in charge of the mashed potatoes that were about to boil on the stove top.  I reviewed:  'Turn them down, and tilt the lid when they start to boil.'  I never told her to turn them off.  She gave me a 'yeah, yeah, I know how to do potatoes!' response.  I was driving Curly to dancing, and I planned to mash them when I returned.  I got home and found that Mini had turned them off a few minutes after she had tilted the lid and turned them down.  Why?  I swear these kids call me for the silliest of questions, but this time -crickets?!

I occasionally send Mini to switch a load in the laundry room.  It never fails that she does not know what to set the dryer to.  'Casual?  Normal?' she will call to me.

Mini (and Curly's room) - but Mini is responsible for
most of the disaster.  This is honestly on a good day.
Mini's bedroom.  Not enough space here to detail how frustrating it is to see her floor littered with clothes.  Like littered.  Nothing is ever put away, and she can never find anything.  One day she started yelling at me that I never washed her b-ball uniform.  Was she looking for it the night before school?  No, it was right as Eddie was yelling at her to get in the car for school.  The uniform was later found in a drawstring bag in her mudroom locker.  I asked her to apologize to everyone that she yelled at.  The inflection she spit the apology out with made it less than genuine.

One night I was bound and determined to sort 4 baskets full of laundry in my bedroom.  I told Mini to make rice for dinner.  I told her to pour the rice in once the water boiled and to cover it and turn it off.  I demanded that all the kids come to my room to help sort.  Mini was a no-show.  I kept yelling at her to get up to my room.  'I am making the rice like you told me.'  How long does it take to dump in a cup of rice and cover it?

Mini, who kept insisting that she understood the directions, had NOT turned off the rice.  She was standing in the kitchen stirring the rice while we were all sorting laundry.  I lost it.  I yelled at her.  When would she start to figure things out and pitch in more and act like, like . . .  a daughter?

No exaggeration:  laundry room directly
 next to the kids' bathroom.
  Oh look, two Mini's underwear under
that towel by the door.  Grrr.
Oh, brother.  Now I had done it.  I was turning into the very kind of double standard mother I did not want to be.  Mini was reduced to tears and I tore out of the house to drive to dancing feeling awful.

When I came home, I apologized.  I told her if she didn't know how to use a can opener, or make rice, or potatoes, then it was my fault for not showing her.  (In my defense, when I tell her things, she isn't always paying attention - claiming she already knows, etc.)  I asked her to pay closer attention to my directions in the future and to not say 'I know, I know', but I also admitted that it was my mistake for holding her more accountable than her brothers.  She broke down and cried again about how she was tired of them teasing her about stuff like the can opener.

I got all of the lunkhead brothers attention and announced that Mini's lack of can opener experience was a reflection on me and not on her and that they weren't to tease her again.

Eddie agreed to lay off because he is reasonable and he understood that I hadn't been fair, and that is all that matters because Tank is a known knucklehead in these parts and Reg could care less.

Is it just me, or do you subconsciously require more of your daughters when it comes to domestic issues?

March 18, 2019

birth order, can opener, and burned muffins

A few weeks ago, I caught myself slipping into the double standard pitfalls that I hated as a kid.  I am ashamed to admit it.

First of all, we were blessed with three boys before we welcomed Mini into our lives.  That was the explanation I used when my mom would come to my house and ask why it was such a mess.  I had 3 boys first and she had 3 girls first.

There was no waiting around for Mini to unload or load the dishwasher.  With three able-bodied boys ahead of her, the boys had to participate in the regular tasks at hand.  They carried laundry upstairs, cleared places, washed the kitchen table, helped with the dishwasher, swept the floor, etc.  (this is when they were really young, the chores became more age appropriate as they got older).

I never considered letting the boys off the hook a few years later just because Mini was finally ready to pitch in.  They still were expected to do things.  I had a job chart when the kids were a bit older and the jobs rotated.  They emptied bathroom garbage, stripped beds, sharpened pencils for homework, dusted the family room, Windex-ed the sliding doors, swept, unloaded the dishwasher, washed counter-tops, sorted laundry, dust mopped the stairs, vacuumed, etc.

Now that Mini is in high school, I admit that my expectations have shifted.  Slightly.  A few occurrences cropped up recently that left me dumbfounded and frustrated.

Getting ready to whip up batch #2.
Mini invited friends over the the Superbowl.  I told her she could help make the 7 layer taco dip.  I have made the same dip for the boys when their friends have come over, and I don't think that I required them to help make the dip.  (although, I have made them help chop the vegetables for the dip in the past - I cannot say if it was necessarily when their friends were coming over or when I was making the dip for a family party).  Note:  Mini enjoys helping prepare food, particularly baking, so this wasn't a punishment so much as it was - hey, pitch in.

Can I interest you in a rock corn muffin,
or would you prefer a softer variety?
I asked her to open a can of refried beans, and she could not work the handheld can opener.  There were brothers standing around to witness this embarrassing moment, so that sucked.  She shoved the can in Eddie's direction.  'I bet you cannot open it.'  Ed opened the can in 10 seconds.  Ouch.

Before the girls arrived, I told Mini that she could make the corn muffins from a box.  Not an involved process.  I was Hell bent on getting some writing done that day, so I returned to the study.  When her friends started arriving, I jumped in and make the muffins myself because she forgot.

The muffins cooked for over an hour vs the required 20 minutes, because in my haste to get back to my writing I never set the timer.  Maybe the apple doesn't fall far from the tree?  (I am the tree in this scenario - a corn muffin burning tree!)

March 16, 2019

double standard living (with 5 star photos!)

I never intended to be 'that' mom.  The one that raised my kids by following the all-infuriating double standard.

I grew up the youngest of 3 sisters, followed very closely by 2 younger brothers.  I don't think my sisters were as impacted by the double standard lifestyle that my parents practiced as much as I was.  My sisters were programmed to 'do it all', because they were 'older.'

I admit that I often stepped back and allowed my sisters to handle tasks that I was perfectly capable of.  They didn't want me to wear something wrinkled to church, so they made me de-robe so that they could iron it.  Wink, wink.  Yep, I was that lazy, younger sister, who knew if I didn't - they would.

Marie, 2 years older than me, was an early riser.  She embraced that role.  Yuck.  You wouldn't catch me out of bed before my alarm for anything unless it was mandated.  As a result, Marie made our lunches starting in junior high.  She probably unloaded the dishwasher each morning too, I was sound asleep so I don't recall.

Me @1986. Not sure why
I didn't date in high school?
 'Jammers' were in, but these
were cheap knock
off Hawaiian
shorts.  Shockingly
there are no
photos of my unloading
 the dishwasher.
Ann, who was 2 years older than Marie, liked order.  Anytime my folks left the house, she made us clean up.  My folks' house was almost always in perfect order, but heaven forbid someone left a book in the family room or someone had pulled out a pile of coloring books.  Ann made us put them all away.  If there was a cardigan, a stuffed animal, or other miscellaneous item left on the first floor that technically belonged upstairs, then she ordered us to assume the position:  the stairway.  We had to line up on the stairs in age order.  The person at the bottom would hand up the items that needed to be put away in our bedrooms.  Our human chain handed the items up -and the person at the top of the stairs would place the items outside the bedroom doors.  Shazam - just like that, order was restored.

Ann is the same sister that stopped by my house when my kids were really little and 'tsk, tsk-ed' at me for leaving my baking sheets in the sink vs having them scrubbed and put away, and for having smudges on my refrigerator.  She was very pleased with herself when she taught Mini how to get out the 'squirt' aka Windex, and spray the fridge and wipe it down with a paper towel.  Mini was about 4 years old.

Why would Pat and I be fighting for car
 privileges if we drove this '76 Chevy Impala
station wagon?  Well, that's all there was.
 This is the photo of the fake funeral
 my mom and I held for 'ole Betsy in '91.
 It was days after my sister's wedding. 
We put the flowers on the roof of the car
 and I wore my black dress and posed for photos
feigning emotional distress.  You can see the guy
 there hooking up the car to tow it away.
  I am sure he thought we were nuts.
By the time I was a sophomore in high school, both sisters were away at college.  I was left to do all the things they enjoyed doing as mother's helpers.  My brothers were expected to do nothing.  Literally.  They didn't load or unload the dishwasher.  They didn't know the washing machine from the dryer.  They sure as Hell never ironed one of dad's shirts.

They were close to my age and I saw the tasks at hand more as age appropriate vs. gender specific.

Well, here I am in high school with my friend
who reminded me of Prairie Dawn
 from Sesame Street.  My nickname 'Ernie'
was also somewhat related to Sesame, so we made
 this sign and snapped a photo - you can
see the straw to my milk carton behind
 the sign.  I wonder if I was
still financing my own milk?
There were other issues.  Pat, the first born son, was given car privileges before me.  For real.  I was older, but he was favored, more trusted.  If he wanted the car, particularly because he wanted to take a girl on a date, he got the keys ahead of me.  I did not dating in high school, and that was frowned upon.  Mom was the eternal Irish match maker mom.  Her heart skipped a beat when her son was dating a girl.  It was nauseating.

My sisters and I bought our own milk at the cafeteria in high school.  The minute Pat - followed the next year by Mike, started attending high school, our folks started to give them milk money.  They were 'boys' after all.  They were athletes.  They needed their milk - and one carton was never enough for them.  They also didn't work during the school year, because of sports.  I guess the girls were expected to have milk money on hand, because we held down jobs during the school year.  All three of us babysat in addition to working fast food or grocery store jobs.

Is your blood boiling yet?

March 14, 2019

concerned about crazies, weekend blurs, and a plea for comments

What weekend?  February (and one March) weekends all blew (some blew chunks).  
This was Saturday, march 1st. 
Don't get me started on
putting wigs on kids for
 dancing - PARTIUCLRLY girls
 who have gorgeous curly hair.
     *  The girls and I headed to Lake Geneva, Wisc this weekend for an Irish dancing competition.  It was just a one night deal.  Curly danced early Saturday and then we raced home to make her b-ball end of season party.

     *  Ironically we stayed in the same hotel that the three of us stayed at Feb. 8th for Curly's b-ball tournament.  That was a one night deal too.

      *  Last weekend (Feb 22nd) I was hurling on Friday and feeling lousy on Saturday and doing Curly and Reggie's playoff games solo both Sat and Sun since Coach was teaching a class.

I was so tired during this
event -I was bummed
that the auditorium chairs
 didn't allow for me
 to put my head back and snooze
 - just for a few minutes.
     *  Feb. 15th at 9:30 at night, Eddie and I left to drive to Indiana University - a little 4 hour jaunt.  We attended a direct admit day for the Kelley School of Business.  We were very impressed.  Then on very little sleep, I drove us 4 hours home.  Bottom line:  I AM TIRED!  I feel like I haven't had a weekend in, well, weeks!

     *  Guess what?  Next weekend Coach flies to Omaha to teach a class.  Me, solo again.  Well hey, then it is March.  Time to escape the nonsense of February.  Right?  Well, then Curly starts going to shows to perform for St. Pat's parties and events.  Blah, blah, blah

Looking for sitting jobs is frustrating.
This is a job posting from a person on  This person is
looking for someone to
watch their kid apparently every minute
 of every day.  I want to tell them,
you are not looking
 for a nanny you are
 looking for a replacement! 
See, there are
 crazies out there. Some are less
 obvious than others, unfortunately.  

     *  I had hoped to find someone to replace the crazies who left before Christmas.  I just met with a family who seemed VERY interested in having me watch their 2 kiddos two days a week for the remainder of the school year.  We were talking logistics, details, the whole she-bang.  They didn't need anyone right away, but that was almost 2 weeks ago.  I texted the woman Thursday at noon.  'Just touching base to see if you have made a childcare decision.'  Crickets.  That text is now like 5 days old.  I find that rude.  If you have decided to continue to have your mom who has some physical limitations watch your kids (even though you admitted to wanting someone who could get on the floor with the kids and do stairs without a problem, etc), then so be it, but for God's sake just let me know.

     *  Another family who is looking for part time care for their baby for next school year met with me that same day two weeks ago.  They said they would let me know the end of Feb, still no word.

     *  It is a drag to line up  new families to sit for next year.  It makes me anxious.  Will they be nuts?  Will they be demanding?  Will it be a good fit?  Will they be normal and appreciative and thrilled with my care (which is the majority of my families, but all it takes is a couple of wack-a-doodles to muck everything up).  Will I have to spend most of my summer arranging my sitting schedule for next year, or can I sort it out soon-ish?

Who would dedicate a table to all of their
writing 'stuff' in the corner of their living room,
if there wasn't hope of getting the
 damn thing published?  me.

When am I supposed to write?:    *  I admit that all of the busy bits of life often make it hard to find time to write.  Well, that is frustrating.  Am I meant to change diapers forever?  Prepare meals?  Handle the laundry?  I put Coach thru physical therapy school.  Then I continued to hold down the fort while he added more and more letters and designations to his name, like Fellow.  Well, when will I get to be a Jolly Good Fellow and get my book published?  Or even carve out time to blog?

     *  Add to that, the hopeless feeling I have at times that I may never get my book published.  I know, I know, put your mind to something and it will happen.  There are all kinds of inspirational stories out there and words of wisdom.  I cringe when I step into the library.  It knocks my confidence to see all of those books that actual authors have written.  Who am I to think I could join the ranks of becoming a 'real' author?

This is not a pic of me while sick - but it
IS Tank who is currently lying on the living room
 couch.  Ed puked on Sunday last week
 (right after me) and today was
Tank's turn.  Tank also had a
 stomach bug during one
of the polar vortex days
and didn't miss any school.
  Guess who doesn't want to hear
 about getting enough
sleep and eating fruit, etc so that
 he stays healthy? 
I wanted
 to fit this pic up near my description of my
 awesome weekends of late, but it wouldn't fit.  
     *  This hopelessness becomes less pronounced when I have the time to work on my manuscript.  At those times, I am reminded that I do have a story to tell, and what I am writing is good, and it gives me hope that I will get it published.

Christmas gift unrecognized:
     *  This goes along with the above 'writing' issues.  I gave my dad the first 39 pages of my manuscript for Christmas.  He has yet to say one word about it.  Not 'I don't have time to read it.'  or 'I hope to read it someday soon,'  or 'I am enjoying it.'  NOT ONE WORD.

I could use more comments:
     *  Of course hearing from blog readers in my comment section helps boost my confidence and makes my damn day.  Harmless plug here, but go ahead and leave me a comment if you have taken the time to read my gibberish.  It would make my day, and we are having an endless Chicago winter, people- so I could use a pick-me-up!

March 12, 2019


Coach left for work this morning and asked that I find a new attitude by the time he returns.  This might be tough.

I have no idea why I feel down in the dumps, grouchy, and just 'heavy' in general, but I have a few suspicions:

I feel like I am doing the same ole, same ole without a break.
     *  I grumbled about facing another sea of dirty diapers this morning.  Comes with the babysitting territory, but holy crap - literally - I am tired of it.  Especially the guy who poops before breakfast.  (And after breakfast, and after lunch, etc.)

     *  Then there is dinner.  What will we eat?  Who will complain about what we eat?  Will the meal I prepare be ready for the first round of eaters - those who bolt out the door to get to dancing or practice?  One thing is for sure, I will be the one preparing whatever it is we are going to ingest.  Yeah, me.
My couch after I have sorted a couple of loads.

I sometimes ask the kids to help sort, but really -
I can do it in lightening speed and while I do make
 mistakes, I have a better handle on who wears what.
  Less stuff goes missing, and let's face it - peace is
 a good thing vs. 'why are you wearing
 my socks/pants/shirt?!'
     *  Will the laundry ever become less overwhelming?  Will our kids ever learn to wear something long enough until it actually needs to be laundered (this does not apply to the kids who are not capable of applying deodorant)?  Will we ever figure out a better system for our dryer vent.  It used to vent out the side of the house, but it must snake longer to reach the side of the house since our addition.  Coach has to drag a ladder to the side of the house and clean out the vent like once a week.  I am washing towels today, so that means he has to empty that damn vent again even though he just did it.  Sometimes it takes 3 cycles to dry shit, which is a waste of money and just mind boggling frustrating.  I constantly go to change the laundry and find stuff that is still wet or damp.  Good times.

The weather.
     *  It is March, yet the temperature on Monday in Chicago was

11 degrees.  What the Hell?!  I can't take it anymore.  Don't get me wrong, loading tots and babies who are all bundled into puffy coats into the many rows of seats in the great white when we leave the house is a relaxing experience and all, but come on spring.  Get here!

I miss my workouts.
     *  I was on a really great schedule.  My stupid health club will no longer allow me to bring the kids I sit for to the health club when I workout.  Trust me, I was never bringing all of the kiddos, only on the occasion that I had only a few kids tagging along.  Anyway, I workout really early in the morning at the club on Tues and Wed.  On the days when I don't workout crazy early, I workout in my house before the tots get dropped off.  I do some cardio and then I do many of the same exercises that we do during classes.  But, then I got sick and I have been allowing myself to sleep in.  AND, while I love my weekend workout time - that has been nonexistent because of the out of town February stuff, and the sick weekend.

Eddie and a few teammates chat about the
 game during a break in the action.
Basketball season is over.
     *  I wonder if deep down I am saddened by the fact that Eddie's basketball season is over.  As crazy as our basketball season was this year, I thoroughly enjoyed having Ed start on his varsity team.  I remember feeling lost and very emotional when we left the high school after Lad's last high school water polo game.  Tears streaming down my face.  He ended up playing water polo in college of course, but I don't expect Ed will go that route.  Ed did have a coach from a tiny school in Chicago (Concordia) come and talk to him after his senior night game.  The guy wanted Ed to play for them.  Ed was flattered, but wants to attend a bigger school.

This is just the tip of the 'heavy' ice burg, as so often is the case with me - there is more . . .

March 10, 2019

now that's cold

For some reason, reintroducing food to my germ-ravaged system (after the losing battle I fought vs a gross stomach/intestinal bug) was no easy task.  I ate little bits and it seemed like my insides wrapped my intestines around each bite in a painful little knot to inspect it fully before allowing it to progress any further.

I was writhing on the couch in pain when Coach resurfaced after the social time he forced himself to bask in while dropping Mini off at his sister's house.  He ran down to the basement fridge for something and when he entered the family room, he said these words:  'Ernie, we have an emergency!'

She's a beaut, right?  Nothing like spending
 over a $1,000 on something that offers
 no aesthetic value to the house.
 Add to that the $875 for the teen car's
misfiring engine/spark plug issue,
and the mega bucks we spent
 on flights to Vancouver, and you
will start to feel my pain.  Ouch.
Oh.  I thought I WAS an emergency.  Like, eating is something I enjoy - when was my body going to reinstate that past-time as a function again?  And when would we declare that an emergency?

This was apparently not all about me, so Coach continued, 'The water heater is leaking.'  He called our plumber.  Our plumber is amazing, and promised to be there in the morning.  Coach reviewed the garage door code with Plumber so he could let himself in and not have to deal with Puke-zilla (me!), who hadn't upchucked in like 10 hours but was not quite 'over' it.

Coach had to teach a class on Saturday and Sunday, so I needed to be a function again by morning to assume the single parent role.  Coach invited Reggie and Curly to shower right away, while there was still hot water.  Me?  Well, I am a morning shower kind of person, so my must-feel-better-morning just had another component added to it.  Coach was planning to shower at the health club on his way to his class.  That might work for me too, if I felt well enough.

Saturday morning arrived, and the storm in my gut had subsided.  My head had a slow throb that increased as the day went by, but I was ready to drop Curly off at a 4 hour St. Pat's show-team Irish dance practice and then attend four basketball games.  Two for Reg in one direction and two for Curly in the other direction.  All a decent distance from the house.  And by 'ready' I mean - I wanted to shower!

I went down to the basement and asked Plumber when he was going to be done /when could I shower.  Plumber said, 'Oh, like 40 minutes.'  Perfect.  I could drive Curly to the studio and then return and shower before driving to watch Reggie's game.  Another teammate was driving him to the game.  I didn't really want to add an additional 'shower-at-the-health-club' step, so this would work well.

I was ready to hop in the shower, and was waiting for the water to get warm.  And waiting.  That's when I realized that I just could NOT catch a damn break.  The water heater may have been officially installed, but it was not going to heat up our water in the blink of an eye.  Why had the plumber not mentioned that when I asked him about when I could shower?!  I really can't complain because this man had gotten us out of many jams in the past.  Like my uncanny gift at clogging the kitchen sink each and every time we are loading the car to head out of town.

No one was home when I took my tortuous icy cold shower (at this point I had no time to head to the club in the wrong direction).  I did my best imitation of Florence Jenkins in the movie featuring her awful opera singing.  I could not help but release guttural hollers as I doused myself in the frigid water.  Nothing like a cold shower to ramp up an after-puke headache. 

March 8, 2019

syncing calendars: not dry erase board friendly

Friday night, Feb 22nd,  Coach and I were supposed to drive Mini up to his sister's house - about 30 minutes north.  Near O'Hare.   Mini was going to be her cousin's Confirmation sponsor the next morning.  (Confirmation = a Catholic sacrament). Coach and I arranged for Mini to spend the night so that we could get where we needed to be on Saturday morning without making her late.

As an aside (my specialty) Ed (my high school senior) and I attended a direct admit day at Indiana's Kelley School of Business the weekend before (Feb. 16th).  Originally, he signed up to attend the admitted student day on Feb. 23rd.  He caught me off guard in early Feb. when he asked me to commit.  It was late at night.  (No one should be allowed to speak to me late at night, at least not about important matters).  My brain was still fixed on January, so I was not wrapping my noggin around upcoming Feb. events.  I glanced at my dry erase calendar.  I failed, however, to consult the calendar in my phone.  Do not ask me how I have managed to function and get people where they need to be with my current system.  Clearly, not rocking the calendar thing.  A day or so later, it all started to hit the fan.

Coach was set to teach a class on Feb 23/24.  Mini had confirmation.  Reggie had b-ball games.  And, while I started realizing all of the conflicts, I decided to email Curly's coach and ask if Curly had a game that weekend.  Why would there still be travel b-ball practice, but no games?

See this grenn app:  team manager. 
Works great,
so long as the coach includes
the PLAYOFF dates.  Seriously!
I must pat myself on the back here- since I am not an app guru.  I downloaded and learned to use the app for her team.  Calendar, directions to games, messages, all of it.  I found it a useful tool, until . . .  Oh, there were games the 23rd. Playoffs.  Apparently because the time was not known for the playoffs, it didn't get added to the calendar.  My suggestions:  playoffs:  TBA in the app vs. leaving it blank and fooling me into thinking it was a wide open weekend.   

Ed was NOT happy when I told him that we had to switch the Indiana Univ visit to Feb 16.  He is dating a girl that graduated from his high school last year, and she is a student there.  She would be home on the 16th, and he saw no point in going to IU while she was going to be home.  Really?

I shared the point with him in as calm a manner as I could muster as a mother with a million conflicts for the date he was registered for.  If Daddy was teaching, I had to be home to get everyone else where they needed to be.  It did suck, because the 15th was his senior night for basketball.  We would have to drive to IU (4 hours) after his last home game.  Leaving around 9:30 pm.  Plus a time change not working in our favor.

Well.  Guess what?  Kelley School of Business didn't have space for him to switch.  The 16th was full.  I called everyday asking about cancellations until they 'found' room.  Then they sent a weird email saying they would see me on the 23rd AFTER they had verbally switched me to the 16th.  More phone calls.  Enough said.  Back on for the 16th, but with elevated blood pressure and the possibility that my photo now appears on a secret 'parents to watch out for' bulletin board.

Fast forward to the night of the 22nd - I was ever so happy that we had managed to visit Indiana on the 16th, because in my current recover from vomit-and-other-grossness situation I wouldn't have been going anywhere!

I was looking forward to having a glass of wine with my sis and bro in-law near O'Hare, but my sudden bout of nightmare stomach bug that morning prevented me from going.  Coach bravely drove Mini alone, and while he insisted that he didn't really feel like hanging out with them and having a drink (without me- implied)- he certainly stayed long enough to indicate that he must have been 'talked into' hanging out and having a drink.  I surmised this from my position on the coach where I was writhing in pain for hours.

March 6, 2019

well-hidden silver lining

I woke up on Friday at 3 am.  I thought it was just gas.  I could not get comfortable and I could barely sleep.  At 5 am, I finally got some relief, um . . . how can I say this?  Well, I apparently had a stomach/intestinal bug.  Let's just say all exits were utilized SIMULTANEOUSLY!  The worst.

I would rather not revisit, and I am sure you don't want to hear details, so . . .  moving on.

It was the first time in 4 years that I have cancelled my babysitting services (verses taking a planned day off, which I have done).  It was so last minute.  I texted the moms and apologized, but explained that I was ill.
Rice rollers:  think rice cake, but minus
 the cake aspect, so less flavorful.
 Think food for people who don't take
 pleasure in eating.  Rice rollers help
those of us who enjoy eating, and still
want to feel the sensation of chewing even
 if it means crunching on something so
 boring as this because gluten
free living is not a choice but a hardship.

Next I used my cell phone to call my children on the landline.  'Get out the bacterial wipes, and wipe down handles and whatever else you can!  This must not spread!  Also, make sure all the food gets put away and the garage door goes down when you guys leave for school.'  The basics.

This was just so unexpected, because:
     1. no one else in the family had been sick.  and
     2.  I am a grown up - how could I be the one to go down with this?  Haven't I been exposed to EVERYTHING by now?

This was different from when Mini invited us to all puke along side her in a show of solidarity Halloween of 2017Remember?  If you haven't, this is a must read.  (floors being refinished, staying at my parents' house.  Oh dear God, it was Hell on earth).

All this available,
but most of it off limits.
 Am I playing on
 your heartstrings yet?
Anyway, I stumbled downstairs hours later after rotating a few hours of sleep with a few bouts or bathroom unpleasantness.  It strikes me as funny that in moments of crisis I manage to forget that I have celiac disease.  I was heading towards the kitchen thinking that it was time for toast and sprite (after stirring to remove the bubbles, of course).  Then it dawned on me.  No toast.  No dry cereal.  No saltines.  What would I nibble on?  A rice roller saved the day.

Food  normal people
 eat after hurling.
The kitchen was a mess.  I didn't care.  The food seemed to have been stowed back in the fridge.  That was a small feat.  I was debating where I would plant myself for the next few hours.  The couch or back up to my bed.

I needed a cup for the Sprite.  That's when I discovered a true miracle.  The dishwashers.  Both of them.  Had been unloaded.  And I had nothing to do with it. No reminders.  No texts.  No threats.  No sleepy-voice, raspy-from-vomit orders from the depths of my darkened do-not-enter bedroom.  They just did it.  If I wasn't so dehydrated, I may have shed a little tear.

March 4, 2019

TOP 10 things that make me go 'Hmm' at the health club

There are things one should avoid in a health club.  I decided to list some of the things I find offensive, especially after the latest club member started attending one of my favorite classes and leaving the rest of us disgusted (I saved this biggest offense for last, see #10)!

1.  Air quality:  If you opt to ingest large amounts of garlic . . . I suggest you don't sweat it out on a tread mill next to another exerciser.  Sending heavy duty garlic aroma into the air is bothersome.

2.  Locker room:  I know it is acceptable to be naked in the locker room.  If you like to lounge around in your birthday suit, remember not everyone wants to see you in all of your glory while you apply your makeup.  Some tasks are better handled WHILE CLOTHED.  Try to avoid leaning over the counter and letting it all hang out while you dry your hair.  Whether or not you are comfortable in your own skin, or if you have extra skin, or if you are a perfect 10 - consider that not everyone wants to see your tattoos, your choice in thong underwear, your piercings, your artistic bikini wax - get dressed in a timely manner, for the love of God!

3.  Sounds:  I once had an instructor who used to openly mock this woman, who always perched front and center during class.  I loved that he mocked her, but I was always puzzled as to why she did not choose to curb her sound issues once he had outed her.  I wanted to scream, 'he's laughing at you - not with you.'.  She was a shush-er.  She let out loud shushing sounds while we worked out.  Like LOUD!  This was a cardio class, not a yoga class.  Weird.

4.  Phone:  This goes back to treadmill use, but can really be applied to any equipment or the locker room.  Keep your phone conversations to yourself - save it for the drive home.  No one wants to hear your inside scoop or drama while working out.

5.  Excess sweat:  In the classes that I attend, we occasionally do stations.  If you tend to sweat in overdrive, wipe your sweat off the mat before you rotate to the next station, or better yet - carry a towel to each station.  Basic manners.

6.  Equipment hog:  In some of my classes, we grab a mat and a few sets of weights or bands, etc.  The crowded classes get, well -  crowded.  Don't be a weight hog.  There are people who grab 3 or 4 sets of weights, when a light and a heavy set are all that are required.  Other people show up to the class a few minutes later and there are insufficient weights to choose from.  I have learned to be early to these crowded classes, but it still bugs me to see people grab stuff that they aren't going to need.

7.  Attire:  There is a young woman - and I emphasize YOUNG - who attends some of my classes.  She prefers to dress scantily while working out.  She has a very large chest, and she's not afraid to practically fall out of her clothes while bouncing around.  There are plenty of woman in my class who are my age who have hardly any body fat.  They could bare their six-pack abs if they wore cut off shirts, but they don't.  Because, why would they???  She sometimes bypasses the shirt and exercises in her sports bra.

8.  Gimmicks:  My health club now offers heart monitors.  Members can wear them and check out their heart rates on a huge TV where the heart rates are posted.  They pay a hefty fee for this.  I don't get it.  I know when my heart rate is going up without the aid of a monitor.  If I am working out hard, I sweat.  I huff and puff.  I know when a class is kicking my butt.  It doesn't bother me that these people find this tool helpful.  Really.  I feel a little like the scene in Bridesmaids when the main character is hiding behind a tree to watch a workout class that she didn't pay for, so she can imitate the moves on her own.  I may not be paying for a heart rate monitor, but if I am doing the same exercises as those wearing the monitor I can figure out that I am raising my heart rate too!

I know, it is a little blurry. 
I tend to give myself some

 distance when snapping
 a photo of a guy's crotch. 
9.  Track awareness:  I run on the track- sometimes 45 laps.  In that time people sometimes cross the track and are completely oblivious to the runners.  They block my path as they look at the heart monitors, or converse, etc.  Be aware people!  I do not run at a high speed, so usually they have time to get out of my way by the time they realize it.

Also blurry.  Your'e welcome. 
This week most
 of the regulars in this
class let out a little
 moan when he showed up
 dressed like this AGAIN!
 Like look around you - NO ONE
10.  You are wearing underwear!:  This infraction is the true inspiration for this list.  A new guy just started attending my Tuesday morning class wearing those underwear legging things that basketball players wear UNDER their uniform shorts.  He participates (jumping rope, doing lunges) with said pants - leaving his private area on full display.  There is stitching around the pee pee pouch that outlines his family jewels.  He is confused to think that this is outerwear.  It is downright offensive.  This morning, I pretended to be on my phone so that I could take a few photos of Mr. Pee Pee Pouch.  I think it is the club's responsibility to tell this guy that he needs to wear a pair of shorts!  But, since I am not shy . .  if they don't I might

March 2, 2019

'Get out of your heads!'

This will be brief.  At least that is my plan.  I need to get to bed, because my head is KILLING me.  I am convinced that marrying a physical therapist was part of the good Lord's master plan for me.  Otherwise where would I be?  (Here is where you try to imagine the joy that crosses Coach's face when he comes home from treating people for 15 hours straight and I beg him to fix me).

I know why my head hurts.  Three days a week I attend very intense workouts taught by the same fitness guru, who will stop at nothing to torture us.  It's a love/hate thing.  I hate it, but I love it when I am done.  Anyway, these headaches often come on because by the end of the intense-class-day the muscles up and down my back, in my neck, and my shoulders are so tight and whiney that it makes my head throb.  I use these back muscles to stand upright every damn day - plus I workout almost daily.  You would think these muscles would be accustomed to constant use.

Mini survived a headache of her own her during freshman basketball season that just ended (how is that for a segway?).  The coach was a little goofy.  Mini started the season back in mid November anticipating a fun season.  By the end, she was fed up.

During timeouts, the coach consistently gave the team of 7 girls the following advice:  'Get out of your heads!'  He ended games and practices with chatting sessions.  It was odd.  He was more about talking then he was about providing them with drills that would benefit the team.  Mini wanted to improve.  She is around 5'10" with noodle arms.  She needed instruction not psycho babble.

My kid with the ball and Curly, Reg, Lad,
 and my mom watching from the stands.
As the season drew to a close, Mini became more and more irritated by the coach.  He was a teacher's aid at her high school initially but left to get a full time teaching job at another high school.  Over time Mini figured out that he was immature and that Reggie had more b-ball knowledge than this guy.

While we did win some games, we lost to a team early in the season in overtime.  At the end of the season, we played the same team.  The other team mopped the floor with us and made us look silly.  I attribute that to the other team growing and our team remaining stagnant.

The coach invited the girls to a pizza place to celebrate their season.  Mini initially told him that she might not be able to make it due to a babysitting job.  At one of their last games, she told him that she could in fact go to the pizza party.

I was so confused when Mini walked in from the pizza place, because I was opening an email from her coach.  He was apologizing for the miscommunication and for missing the party.  I looked from Mini's face to the computer and back again, 'Huh?'  She burst out laughing, 'I know!  He never showed up!'

In his email to all the parents, he explained that he wanted all of the girls to make the party, and that Mini said she had to babysit so he never confirmed the party.  What?  How in the world did the whole team show up then?  Mini insisted that she told him she didn't need to babysit a few weeks prior, but she added, 'He is a child and he tends to not listen', so this didn't surprise her.

She said they ended up having a blast without him and every time the restaurant door opened, they cringed hoping it wasn't him showing up late.  Then last week, Mini bumped into him when she was returning her uniform.  She walked around the corner afterward and another teammate appeared to turn in her uniform.  Her lame-ass coach said to her teammate, 'You know it is all Mini's fault?'  Teammate:  'How?'

He did not know that Mini was around the corner within earshot.  I know I must be doing something right, because my kid went back around the corner and said to him, 'What?  Why didn't you just say that to my face instead of behind my back?  And I did tell you that the date for the party worked for me when we were at the LT game.  I can't help that you don't listen.'

And that is how my noodle-arm kid flexed her muscles and made me proud- although how fitting would it have been if she told him 'Get out of your head!' (Incidentally her teammate sent a snap-chat to the rest of the team describing how Mini told him what for after overhearing him throw her under the pizza-party-mishap bus, which Mini found positively hilarious).