May 31, 2019

other memorable Mini moments

I recently shared with you that when someone has a brain fart or a momentary lapse of brain function, we refer to it in these here parts as a 'Mini moment.'  They happen on the regular, and I thought I would share a few that stand out.

So, you know she left her coat at a babysitting job the other day, and didn't even realize she left it there.  The mom brought the coat to my house the next day, because I babysit for her little guy on Mondays.  That seems to be the most popular of all issues:  forgetting stuff.  

Mini got a phone after graduating 8th grade in May.  By the time Christmas rolled around, I could not deny the importance of including her phone forgetfulness, misplacement in the annual Shenanigan Family Christmas poem, where all embarrassing moments are fair game and whether you have been naughty or nice, your shit is going to be shared and aired (along with wishes for a very Merry Christmas, of course) with all of our friends and family.  
Part of the Mini stanza as seen in our 2018 Christmas card.
Nothing is scared.

Another Mini moment:  I randomly found a flower on the floor of my room.  It had a ribbon tied to it displaying our high school's mascot, but it is hard to see the ribbon in the pic.  The next day, Mini commented on the fact that she liked my flower that was now enjoying a spot on the kitchen table, where did I get it - she wondered.  

Me:  'I found it on the floor of my bedroom, oddly enough.  I assume it came from your last badminton practice.'  

Mini:  'Oh, yeah!'

Then it all came back to her.  As if she receives flowers so consistently, that this time it was hard to recall.  I didn't even ask why or when or how she dropped it on the floor of my room - yellow petals scattered around it.  

I sometimes wonder if she is a suffering from a vitamin deficiency or something.  Maybe too much team-building candy.  Who gets a flower, drops it on their Mom's floor, and doesn't recognize it the next morning when it is in a vase on the table?  She is a bright girl.  Gets great grades.  The spaciness is a mystery.  

I must add here that Ed (possibly Mini's biggest critic) recently raced downstairs after getting his fleece vest out of the wash.  He was struggling to work the zipper.  His face was concerned.  He caught himself a split second before he asked me if his vest had maybe been ruined in the washer.  The zipper pull was all the way at the top of the zipper - not where he expected to find it, at the bottom.  

Ed:  'Oh, wait.  Never-mind.'  Nervous laugh.  

I realized what the problem was and I called him out on it.  

Me:  'You thought the zipper was wrecked, didn't you?  Wow, Ed.  You almost had a Mini moment.' 

He couldn't deny it, but he kept repeating as he walked away:  'Yeah, but I caught myself!'

May 29, 2019

love taps, bumpers, and heavy duty transport

This happened a while ago, but I just came across this picture and realized I never shared the story with you, my sane, faithful readers, who have experience parking cars.  

Nothing to see here.  I could
 not wait for Becky,
 my other babysitting friend,
 to show up to
story time so I could describe
 the nuttiness to her.
I was taking the kids I sit for to the library for story time.  Whoopee!  It is a chore.  And I mean a chore to crawl in the back rows of seats in my big-ass, 12 seater, former-airport shuttle Chevy Express van to buckle the tots in their car seats.  

I am the queen of let-me-just-get-one-more-thing done, so I run late.  (me throwing my hands up with this proclamation like I am Italian, but I am not Italian).  Not to mention, I am working with eating, pooping, crying machines, so . . . they contribute to the lateness issue.

I pulled into the parking lot at the library and I pulled into a spot.  There was a car in the spot opposite my van, but the driver had chosen to drive thru the spot so that when said driver had to leave there would be no backing up involved.  Pull away to exit.  My front bumper was facing the driver's rear bumper, get it?

Let's be clear.  I drive a big ass van.  I need all the space I can get.  

I inched forward so that my ass (aka my van's ass - not my actual ass) would not dangle out of the parking spot.  I let my foot off the break.  Again.  Again.  A-g- . . . and I eventually touched, TOUCHED-so that we are clear, barely made contact with . . .  the bumper on the car in front of me.  No big deal, right?  This is why God created bumpers, or Henry Ford, or whoever.

I focused on grabbing the kids from the car and unloading the monstrosity stroller, Big Bertha, that I bought used last year- this thing makes me happy I married a physical therapist, because it is a killer.  It messes with my shoulder, my back, my patience, etc.

Before I walked to the rear of the car, the driver of the car in the spot in front of me hopped out of  her car.  She happened to be sitting in her car on this Valentine's Day when I gave her a love tap.  Swell.  

Just sitting.  I do sometimes get jealous of people who just sit.  She gave me a look.  Then she stood between the two cars and stared.  She looked too old for story time, but hey - so do I.  She had no kids with her.  She wasn't rushing like I was.

I KNEW that there was absolutely no damage done to either car.  I barely touched her, and bumpers function this way.  They touch.  No problem.  Right?

I hopped down from my big rig and said, 'Sorry about that.  I was just inching forward.  I barely touched you.'  I proceeded to unload Big Bertha- the stroller that serves a purpose but secretly hates me.  

'Hi.  I'll behave now,' said my people-mover,
cow of a stroller Big Bettha.
Notice a plethera of straps.
Just no strap to keep it closed.
This was the exact moment that Big Bertha decided NOT to unfold.  Understand, this stroller does not have a little latch that you snap so that it stays compact when folded.  The first several dozen times I used it I just assumed I was missing something.  Nope.  There is no strap or lever or latch that holds the damn thing closed, so usually when I unload it, Big B just opens.  Since she weighs about 175 pounds, it is a slight challenge to unload her and manage her unfolding into ginormous status in a crashing, back-breaking flash.  

Today one of the straps was stuck on another part of the stroller and I could NOT open the thing.  I knew I was being waited on to discuss possible but improbable damage, so I was just pleased as punch to be wrestling with Bertha who insisted on staying closed up and bitchy.  Eventually I discovered the strap with the snafu, untangled it, and she popped open while secretly laughing at me. 

Woman-who-likes-to-sit-in-cars was still standing there when I came around the passenger side (dripping in sweat in a Chicago winter) to unload the booger makers.  

Sitter was exasperated.  I humored her, but I made sure she knew I was not happy about wasting my time.  I bent down and got close to her car.  There was not even a bit of displaced salt on her fricking bumper.  

I should thank Big Betha for putting me in a don't-mess-with-me mood.  I just looked at her.  'That's what bumpers are for.  There is not even a mark on your car.'  

Then I pulled my own personal germ-fest out of their seats and marched into story time all drippy and pumped up and ready to do more than love-tap something.  

May 27, 2019

my name here on out: the reluctant candy shopper

Here I was just using Joann's to cover all of my needs for the evening.  B-day gift, team candy, and art project supply.  Things started to unravel when the checkout line was lengthy.  I had ventured further from dancing than I usually do for errands.  This might not end well.

At the front of the line, the young checker dude saw me fumble with my phone and he pointed out that the only way to call a coupon up on my phone was to download the Joann's app.  Shame on Joann.  I don't want an app to Joann's on my phone (yes, I am 80 - thanks for asking), plus my battery was almost dead.

This is the better wood that we
get at Micheal's. It's hard to see here,
 but it has some bark on
 the sides, which makes it look cool.
Kudos to this dude who kept trying to find a coupon that would work to no avail.  He never begged me to complete my order and get the Hell out of the store - even though I wish he would have.  People were sending me hate mail with their eyeballs in the line behind me and I needed to get back to dancing.  I opted to make a return trip to the store with the receipt once I found a coupon at home on my messy counter-tops.  Just what I love, another trip on another day.  I ended up putting some of the astronomically priced checkout candy back and left the store at 8:27.  Dancing would end in 3 minutes and I was about 10 minutes away.  Drat. 

I arrived at the studio to see the lights out and Curly waiting outside with a teenage assistant teacher.  I apologized profusely out the window as Curly hopped in the van, which was pretty much still in motion.

Then I sped away and instructed Curly not to talk to me.  I was now officially grouchy.  At stop lights I texted Mini to say that the candy crap was out of control.  I would be alerting the athletic director of my frustration.  Mini was good enough to point out that I was insane.

Mini did not like the wood pieces from Joann's.  I agreed with her.  They were lame and not like the ones we prefer from Michael's.  Oh well, I knew I was making a return trip.  Just leave that bag of wood to return on the counter with the rest of life's messes.

The next day at dinner Ed called out to Mini:  'Sorry about the candy.  Did you get it?'  Mini kind of mumbled something inaudible and I could tell she was flustered.  I was only half listening, but then a light-bulb went off in my dizzy-from-chasing-my-tail-around head. 

me:  'Mini did you forget that freaking candy at our house after I bought it last night?'
Mini (unable to look at me):  'Thanks,.Ed!  I told you in my text not to tell Mommy!'
Ed:  'Oh, sorry, I didn't see that part of the text.'

Mini had inadvertently pulled what we, her loving family members, refer to as 'a Mini moment.'  she babysat for a baby I sit for over the weekend.  When the mom dropped off on Monday, she brought along Mini's coat that Mini left at their house.

I just found Mini's bag of candy from her
badminton big sis.  Ridiculousness!! 
Am I right?
Mini had to be at school early the day after the candy buying emergency.  When she got to school she realized that she forgot the bag of big sis candy and texted Ed to bring it.  Ed didn't see the text in time.

I, the reluctant candy shopper, drove right past the school on the forgot-the-candy day with the tots.  I could have stopped and dropped the candy.  OR - I could have purchased not-ridiculously-over-priced candy at the grocery store, which is where I was going with the tots, and returned the other candy later at Joann's since I had to go back to Joann's anyway to do the coupon thing and return the yucky wood.

If looks could kill, Ed would not stand a chance.  And, if girl team-building could include colorful hand drawn notes/posters taped to lockers from well-wishing teammates, then I would stop threatening to embarrass the Hell our of Mini by voicing my disgust to the athletic director.

May 25, 2019

I will take a kitty gift, mega candy, and a wood board

I texted Coach during my down-the-street-from-volleyball away games to see if he could pick up from dancing.  Nope.  So, after watching some (not all) volleyball I ate my dinner in my car while reading emails, etc on my phone.  Then it was time to get a few things done.

I sent this text to Mini.  I bought the no-sew
blanket and the kitty coloring book and
passed on the weird key-chain making crap kit.
  Underneath the coloring book in the center
 is the weird wood that Mini did not like. 
The corners were sawed off
in a failed decorative attempt.  
You know I babysit in my house during the school day, so these after-hours are precious and I don't take get-things-done lightly.

Curly needed a birthday gift.  Can I tell you how tired I am of birthday gift buying?  Lad is almost 21.  You do the math.  I'm too tired.  My gift-buying instructions were:  cats and art projects.  Yikes.  I searched on my phone for a Michael's.  Not close enough.  I decided to go to Hobby Lobby.

Mini texted.  Her badminton 'big sisters' needed a gift by the next day.  She hoped I could buy some candy for them.  After having 3 boys play high school sports first, I cannot adjust to the team building mentality of high school girls' sports teams.  Call each other big or 'lil sis and then deliver a bunch of candy about 4 or 5 times a season.  These candy drops are always scheduled at the last minute, which does not align with someone who doesn't go to the store that often (anymore).

I wish this picture
 could convey my
inner frustrations that
they were closed.
My phone was almost dead.  I kinda knew where Hobby Lobby was, but I saw a Joann's first.  I pulled in the lot and almost went in, but I googled Hobby's location and pressed onward figuring they had a better selection.  I got out of my car as an employee left the building to gather carts.  She called over to me, 'We closed at 8:00.'  It was now 8:01.  Oh, it was going to continue to be one-of-those-nights.  Damn it.

Gift that Mini made for Lad since he goes
 to college in New York.  She used photos
 from images printed off the internet to spell
 out Chicago (captain obvious? not
 sure you could tell in this picture).
I booked back to Joann's.  Grabbed a cat coloring book, a cat no-sew fleece blanket, and a junkie art kit, texted a pic to Mini (I couldn't communicate with Curly at dancing).  Mini weighed in, and I told her I would do the blanket and the book and hope that a coupon would work to make it an acceptable birthday gift total.  Then she rattled off the candy I could grab that was available in the checkout line.  I told her that I was getting a few wood pieces for her.

Mini made a gift for Lad at Christmas and I suggested that she do some personal graduation themed boards in a similar fashion.  Maybe someone would buy them as gifts if I posted examples on Nextdoor.

I admit that I was feeling great.  Three birds with one stone.  What could go wrong?

May 23, 2019

evening chaos, thermos, and perpetually late me

My weeknight evenings are rarely calm and serene.  There's typically dashing in and out the door, dropping a kid here or there, squishing someone's dinner into a thermos, and trying to catch some part of someone's sporting event.  Thursday promised to be no different.

Coach worked late.  Curly had dancing class from 6-8:30.  Coach sometimes picks her up from dancing on Mon and Wed when class ends at 9:00.  Ed and Tank had away volleyball games not far from the Irish dancing studio.  Score!  Meanwhile, Reg walked home from track practice.  My mom agreed to pick up Mini and her BFF from badminton.

At drop-off in the morning, one dad said that they wouldn't be there to get their kids until after 4:15, which is fine - it just meant I would not be able to see Tank's whole volleyball game.  For some reason that escapes me, I cannot be ready to walk out the door the minute all of the kids are collected.  The dad ended up getting his kids before 4:00, so if I had my act together - well, I could have been ready to go.  In theory.  I spent the whole 25 minute drive to Tank's game frustrated with myself.  Why can I not be ready when the kiddos vamoose?

Problems?  1.  Dinner -rarely started early enough.  2.  Me being me.  3.  Messy counters that didn't start to tick me off until 4:00 when I noticed how gross they were.  4.  Inability to wave my magic wand and make time stand still.  .

Have I ever shared a picture of this Irish
 dance bag?  I made it for Curly.  It is like
 a duffel bag with a letter 'M' on it - her
real-life initial.  I even sewed a zipper
 in it - no easy task any non-sewing
types out there.  Plus here is her regular
thermos and my ceramic dish with a lid that
doesn't really keep food warm, but
 I'm a mom - so I am accustomed
to eating cold food.
Curly, her dinner thermos and her dancing shoe bag, and me and my dinner and my iPad (in case I had time to write something.  Someone might wisely call my 'iPad at the ready' - ironic, or foreshadowing or something)  raced to the away game, leaving the house at 4:45 - his game started at 4:30.  We missed all of Tank's game.

And then?  We watched Ed's team warm up forever, which would have been a perfect time to run to dance class but it was too early and no one would have been there.  Instead, we had to leave Ed's exciting game to drive to dancing.  I returned a bit later, but missed the end of that set where Ed scored the point to put us in extra points.  (Not sure how you say that.  I don't speak volleyball, ask me stuff about water polo- now that is my forte).

So my down-the-street-from-dancing-class night that seemed so aha-the-stars-have-aligned-and-life-isn't-totally-inconvenient was not turning out to be so 'oh I will just get there, see that, drop her there, and be back to see that - ish' at all . . . which was frustrating - (how long is this sentence, or are we calling it stream of consciousness) but so as not to be long-winded, even though that too is my forte, I will leave you hanging until I describe the next chapter in my oh-so frustrating evening.

May 21, 2019

metamorphosis into a teen as witnessed on a road trip

Something else happened on our drive to Florida besides Coach going all granny on me and my driving.  Reg became a teenager right before our eyes. No, it was not his birthday.  He turned 13 in January. You remember, the no gift birthday?

CLUE #1 of how I could tell my little boy had shed his little boy-ness:  His voice changed somewhere between when we backed out of the driveway and when we hit the palm lined expressway in Florida.  Like in the blink of an eye!

not sure if you can see the odd coloring
of Mini's legs.  Bright red mixes
 with swishes of lily white
Me, waking up from a little snooze in the car: 'Who got in the car while I was sleeping? Who is that talking like that in the back of the minivan? I do not recognize that voice. What just happened?' I mean, I was a little groggy, but his voice change was that sudden and drastic.
CLUE #2: Reggie's appetite is now bottomless. Some background: Reg is a kid that is known to throw up pretty regularly after parties or sleepovers - so maybe his appetite has always known no bounds, but he could not handle overload initially. Or, we are in deep denial and he really has celiac disease. That would suck, so we are better off in denial. I cannot cut a 13 year old off of sheet cake and mountains of cereal. I admit that his fixation on food has been ramping up a bit lately- not just on the trip (not the eat till I vomit ramp up - that was mostly reserved for parties). It became more obvious on the road when our well-stocked pantry was back home in our unfinished kitchen.  

CLUE #3: Reg's sense of humor slapped us in the face with a steady stream of wise-ass, goofy remarks - the kind that only a teenager would make.  Half the time we shrugged and looked at each other like, ‘What?’ At times our 'what' was in reference to Reg acting stupid, the rest of the time it was because Reg has a new marble-in-my-mouth form of speaking.  His comments and jokes consisted of a confusing mumble jumble of nonsense.

I was anxious for Eddie to arrive home from Europe thinking he would literally stop dead in his tracks and say, ‘What happened to Reg’s voice?’  It is that dramatic of a difference. Ed has not commented yet. Jetlag? Fixation on choosing a college?

CLUE #4: This one might not be a teenage thing, but based on Reg's sunscreen issues, I think I am on to something. Reg put on sunscreen. Coach applied it to his back.  Reg claims to have reapplied. This 13 year old with the new voice spent more time in the water than the rest of us, because we don’t all appreciate the adrenaline rush supplied by hypothermia.  (Each day the water got a little bit more tolerable as the days became warmer). Anyway, we wonder if maybe he hopped in the surf too soon after slathering himself with sunscreen? Or, is it a telltale sign of a teenager?
What happened to this guy?!
(update - he recovered after a few days)

The first day, Mini suffered some oddly shaped burns on the back of her legs. Results of lazily rubbing sunscreen (or maybe rubbing is too generous a term) haphazardly across her legs. She's a teenager too, so maybe their frontal lobes just isn't developed enough to focus on SPF.

The girls were both jealous of Reg after that first day claiming that he has better tanning capabilities.  

Well, the next day is when Reg either rubbed the protecting layer off with a towel after swimming or dove in too soon. His nose skin started oozing a strange orangish gel. His eyes swelled up. Now my deep-voiced teen started to resemble a puffy faced helpless infant.

May 19, 2019

said no wife ever

This post about our spring break is still totally relevant and awesome, but I kept pushing its post date back to accommodate pressing topics, like college decisions.

On the drive to Florida, I drove a stretch on the second day. Long drives might bother some people, and while at times it drove my sciatica crazy (literally a pain in the ass/down my legs to be specific), I embraced it. I was excited to read a book. To just sit. To nap. To edit my manuscript. To snack. I had an agenda here. Of course, at some point I knew I would also be expected to take a shift driving the car.

about as scenic as the drive got
I am a lousy long distance driver. I fall asleep so easily. In fact, I do not even consider myself a strong short distance driver. I used to explain it away by blaming Celiac disease. (Before I was diagnosed, I was just frustrated and clueless) Unable to absorb my nutrients, I was dog tired. ALL THE TIME. That issue has mostly been remedied with my gluten free diet (that I hate). So no idea why it is still SO VERY HARD for me to stay awake while driving.

Coach drove Thursday night when we left home. He drove for about 5 hours. It was beautiful. After sleeping less and less the closer the trip got because I had so many reminders constantly running thru my head, I napped almost instantly. I was so happy to wake up feeling human again.

The next day was Friday. I drove the first leg of the trip. No one was paying attention to the terrain that we were approaching. If we had been map reading, on-the-ball types, I would NOT have volunteered to do what turned out to be the dreaded mountain bit.

This is what my dining room looks
 like before we head out of town.
 No coke, but EVERYTHING else.
After exactly one hour behind the wheel, I started to nod off. Coach was exasperated with me. I, in case this is not clear, do not become sleepy intentionally! I asked for a few pieces of licorice and that helped me perk up. I am not a huge fan of caffeine, and while I plan a ton of meals and snacks for the trip - I rarely remember to pack Coke, because I don't keep it in the house. All this world needs is Tank on caffeine.

There I was driving along and the road started to get pretty damn steep. Coach morphed instantly into an old woman who decided that I was a 15 year old with my permit and could not handle the steep road. He kept yelling at me not to ride the breaks.

Well, what in the Hell do you suppose I do then? Ram into this dude's ass? I mean, I really didn't have many options. A car naturally speeds up when driving on a steep incline. Why is this even a conversation right now?! I was not happy. Neither was he. Most importantly though, he did not have a response for my very specific question: What should I do if you would like me to lay off the breaks? Hmm, I'm waiting. And while I wait we gather speed and prepare to crash. Crickets? OK then, brakes it is.' Honestly.

Other fun moments with my granny co-pilot included:

1. Reminders to not get a ticket. Obviously not my strong suit, but as luck would have it - I did not get ticketed.

2. Coach: 'You should not drive in this lane.' Me: Aren't you ready for a nap or something?

3. And then he argued that I should not check my email while I was driving, which I would normally agree with but we were stopped in bumper to bumper traffic thanks to construction. This tip from a man who insisted on searching for a hotel on his phone while he was driving like 80 down the expressway the night before.

We were mostly driving on level ground here.
 Coach was displeased that I took a pic while driving.
 I knew I would need something for this blog post
 - sorry I couldn't caputre the steeper part,
but there was some stress to contend with.
I managed to drive for 4 hours (and on the way home I even pulled off a 5 1/2 hour stretch- we had picked up some Coke by then and it did not just make me almost wet my pants but seemed to help me stay awake) that day. No problems unless you count marital strain.

I texted my friend Becky while I was safely back in the passenger seat (where I gave no pointers, and was only slightly irritated to be required to hold the GPS and alert him about the next set of instructions . When I drive I do both . . . drive and navigate and manage not to punch him in the nose). I described the 'helpful' hints Coach was giving me while I drove.

She texted back: 'Road trips with a husband are the best . . . said no wife ever!!!'

So true. Me: Keep your eyes on the road, Coach. No need to concern yourself with why I am splitting a gut over here in my comfy passenger seat.

May 17, 2019

How'd ya like them apples? with a Barbie arm

We next find our super hero (yes, that’s me - duh) driving home from Luigi's shop on a crazy adrenaline high.  It occurred to me that this meeting Luigi was hosting under the premise that he was an actual contractor and not just a crook with an Italian accent was quite possibly still going on.  (If you didn't read the last post:  this is the meeting that I barged into and shared with his clients aka 'the blinkers' that he sucks).

I marched into my kitchen and invited Mini to join me as I returned to Luigi's.  I actually hoped to snag Tank as my impulsive yet comedic heavy, but I forgot he was out on a driver’s lesson.  I threw my dinner and a piece of paper and a sharpie in the car and we were off.  When I described our mission, Mini moaned a little that she feared I was going to get in trouble.  Me:  bring it!

I had her text Eddie instructing him to call me when he finished up at volleyball practice in case I needed backup.  Luigi’s place is fairly close to the high school.

On the paper, I had Mini write my name and number along with the name and number of the saleswoman, Kat, at the appliance store who highly recommended Luigi.  Kat, who so regrets this recommendation now, can fill the blinking dudes in on the elderly couple who was swindled out of $150,000 by Luigi if they want more info.

My big master plan was to slip this paper to the blinkers as they exited Luigi’s office. 

Hmm, I wonder whose car that is?  
I parked far enough away from Luigi’s place so that he could not see my ever so inconspicuous great white van.  After 10 seconds of sitting there, I saw a blinker standing in the window in the store front next to Luigi’s place.  The window is connected to Luigi’s showroom window, but it is separated from the main room by a wall.  Sir-blinks-a-lot was standing in front of this other window making a phone call.  

I hopped out of the van and grabbed my informative paper.  The guy nodded at me a bit and then ended his phone call.  There was no way to get him the paper without going thru the showroom on the other side of the wall.  Not that I was afraid to do that, but I sensed that Sir-blink-a-lot- also now obviously a Sir-nods-a-lot type of guy- didn't want to be public in his acceptance of info about Luigi.

Me:  (pointing at the paper) Take this!  You can call me or Kat for more information.

Sir-Blink-a-lot:  more nodding.  (maybe I haven't mentioned that these fellows were most likely middle eastern.  I wondered if the language barrier was an issue). 

The other foreign blinker from the initial table meeting that I busted in on entered the room and the blinker who nods a lot pointed at my paper and I guess he told him to take a picture of it.  Maybe Sir-Nods-a-lot's phone is only for important calls.  He walked away and the other blinker nonchalantly took his phone out and snapped a pic of my informative paper.

At this point I wanted to imitate Matt Damon in 'Good Will Hunting' and holler:  'How'd ya like them apples?  I got her number!' - but I think ending with:  'I'm sharing numbers to fill you folks in on that pathetic man next door' would have been more appropriate.
from Giphy
I hopped back in the car while pumping my fist to Mini.  We stopped to get gas and Eddie called.  I was shoveling my dinner in while the gas was pumping and I was trying to update him on how I had entered a phone booth while he was in volleyball practice and exited with superpowers.

Ed:  Stop shouting, and are you eating something?!  Stop it - I cannot understand you.  What?!

Ed's friend in the background:  Dude, who are you talking to?

Ed:  My mother!

So now Ed's friends know that their suspicions are true and that I am a nutty lady.

I swallowed my bite of sloppy joe's because I am nothing if not a gourmet - hey, I make them from scratch and they are crowd-pleasing delicious.  I filled Ed in on the details and let him know his services were not necessary.  I pulled up next to him at a light with sloppy joe's smeared on my face and I demonstrated my boxing moves despite the fact that I am stricken with a Barbie arm.  I know my Rocky moves really impressed him because he flipped me off.  Mini just sat there shaking her head.

I came home and started kick boxing around the kitchen, which made the kids think I had really flipped my lid.  I workout daily, but I DO NOT take kick boxing class.  As a retired Irish dancer, I am still able to kick my feet up . . . it just isn't very pretty.  Never really was in my case, but that is another story.

So much adrenaline and no more meetings on my agenda to interrupt.  Barbie arm cannot be relied on to knock anyone out, so best that I reign it in.  This tennis elbow injury (and no, I don't play tennis OR kick box) makes me walk around without moving my arm past a 90 degree angle, so fixing hair and inserting a contact lens is a painful process.  Luigi is damn lucky that I wasn't fully functioning.

May 15, 2019

this just in - epic Luigi encounter: think 'Good Fellas' carpool mom style

I have a post that I keep bumping from the queue because of more pressing topics like college searches/decision, Easter invitations, and kitchen/Luigi updates.  The next post after I update you on the latest is titled 'said no wife ever' - the post is growing old, but no worries -the subject matter is timeless.  So if you find yourself tiring of my kitchen disaster, hang in there.

Or, you are new and want to review?  here or here or here or here or here or here where cops were really called, or here  or here or here or here (this is the post from Monday, so there you are all caught up). 

old news, but my view
 in my hoodless kitchen
On Monday I drove Curly to dancing and on my way home I stopped to pick up Reggie and his two buddies from a basketball clinic.  I always fear that I will forget the b-ball players because I drive to and from dancing so much, pulling off of route 83 interferes with my autopilot mode.  I have only forgotten once. 

Monday I remembered.  And I remembered that I keep meaning to pop into Luigi's store front - ya know to just say 'howdy' and maybe also mention the fact that he owes us money and he still has our brand new, still-in-the-box hood insert for our kitchen.

I drive (or fly by, as it is a busy street.  Me, speed?  You must have me confused with someone else) past his place often.  I sometimes glance to see if his car is there.  His car was NOT there Monday night, but I saw people sitting in the huge window of his storefront place.  I decided to stop. 

If I was feeling cute, I would come up
with a fun contractor joke:  how many
contractors does it take, etc? 
I got nothing though.
'Hey boys, I am just gonna pull in here really quick and see if Luigi the world's worst contractor (I think he might have claimed the #1 position ahead of our first horrid contractor.  Tough call as they are both crooks) is in his office.'  Three boys sporting BO nodded. 

Well, Luigi must have gotten a different car, because while his car wasn't there - he WAS.  Timing was perfect.  Well, it would have been more perfect if he had been sitting at the table with rolls of $1,000 bills out so I could have reimbursed myself and continued on my merry way. 

He was seated at the table with three individuals.  On the table:  architecture plans rolled out so they could all see what he was pointing at - my guess, these guys are building condos or something.  Luigi was surprised to see me. 

Luigi:  Hello.  What you want?  (thick Italian accent, think Good Fellas, I wasn't packing - only wishing I was)

Me:  Hello?  I want my hood!  And the money you owe me.  (me turning to wide eyed, blinking clients)  Whatever you do, don't give him any money!  He is a crook.  He will not show up to do the work.  There is an elderly couple in Oak Brook that is out $150,000 because he gutted their place and stopped showing up.  They live in a hotel and he TOOK THEIR MONEY!

Luigi:  You gave me the wrong specs!  (This is why I must take him to court.  What contractor tells the judge that they blame the customer for providing them with the wrong size of the hood insert?  I have all my emails where I sent him the correct invoice with the correct hood insert specs.  PLUS he had the code to my garage and could come in ANYTIME and measure the hole where said hood should in theory be, or he could look at the boxes holding the appliances that were parked in the dining room)

Me:  I did not give you the wrong specs!  #@$%!&@#

Luigi:  I spend so much. like $20,000 to make hood for you, it keep breaking.  (again with the nonsensical shit, why can't you make a hood?  why agree to make one if you can't?  I am not even being picky)

Me:  What contractor offers to make a hood, has customer pick from two hoods, and then says he cannot make hood AND REFUSES TO REIMBURSE THE CUSTOMER DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE DOESN'T DO THE WORK???!!!!  (turning to clients again)  GET OUT AND FIND SOMEONE ELSE.  YOU CAN THANK ME LATER!

Luigi:  I gonna call the police!

Me:  Go right ahead.  I will be happy to talk to the police.  (turning to clients who appeared to be having a blinking contest to see who could blink more in the span of our spat).  My lawyer doesn't even think I should bother suing him, because he is most likely uncollectable. 

A woman came out of her little receptionist office or whatever and offered to have me removed.  I looked at her and laughed, but didn't budge until I had said my piece.  Here I repeated a few things while I watched Luigi fumble around wishing he knew where his phone was so he could call the cops.

I had kids to drive home in my smelly car, so I looked at the blinkers once more - 'I hope you have not given him any money!'  And I left. 

NEVER.  FELT.  BETTER.  Well, having my kitchen done and not having to deal with this would feel better.  Because this is already longer than I intended, I will tell you more next time.  Poor little 'said no wife ever' post, bumped further out. 

Oh, the boys in the car - they could see me thru the window and they were pretty pumped up/impressed.  Turns out I am a bad ass carpool mom who can do more than just weave thru traffic in a 12 seat, white, looks-like-a-painters, far-from-a-sports-car van. 

BIGGEST REGRET:  That I didn't make Reggie come in and video the confrontation with my phone.  It was epic.  Just saying.

May 13, 2019

itigate, mitigate, alleviate, or punch-in-the-face-igate?

The end of my rope was reached so very long ago in regards to our kitchen addition/renovation that BEGAN in June of 2017.  That’s right . . . ALMOST 2 YEARS AGO!

If you have followed this unbelievable saga, then you know we rid ourselves of the first contractor who was robbing Peter to pay Paul.  He didn’t pay his subcontractors - maybe they weren’t named Peter or Paul.  Fearing a lien could be taken against our house, our neighbor sent him a letter to put an end to his nonsense. 

Next Luigi entered the picture.  That IS his real name-too perfect to change.  He was recommended by the woman who sold us our appliances.  She now regrets recommending him.  Supposedly he did beautiful work, but by the time he landed in our lives he had transitioned to a thug.  This we figured out AFTER we paid him $5,000 -a percentage of overall amount to finish up the kitchen.  Mostly just bits and pieces.  The biggest issue -we needed a hood.

That contract was signed in July.  He agreed to complete the work by mid-August.  Other highlights of our Luigi experience:  gave me 2 hood designs to choose from.  Chose one.  Then he struggled to make it, or didn’t bother to try.  Who knows.  He tried to convince us that he was having the hood made in his homeland of Italy- thus the long-ass time it was taking to make it.  In January, he brought a hood to install and the non-Italian dude who made it, and it didn’t fit.  He left my house with part of my mechanical hood insert (that had been sitting in the box for over a year in my dining room).  And that was the last time I saw him AND my $550 hood insert.  

After a very embarrassed me admitted to our kind lawyer neighbor that we found ourselves  in another contractor nightmare, he offered to once AGAIN send a letter.  This letter gave Luigi 10 days to finish the work, or return the money and the hood insert.  It was sent about 4 or 5 weeks ago.  No response.  Crickets singing in Italian, of course.  

This is a short snippet
of Luigi suggesting
 how they remade the
 hood so it would fit.
 Why create a hood
 and measure
 afterwards?  Seems
bass-ackwards to me.
Kind lawyer neighbor has advised us that we can pay $271 and take Luigi to small claims court.  Or, we can file a lawsuit and one of his associates can help us out to the tune of  $250/hour.  My fear, and kind neighbor agreed that this fear is valid, is that Luigi is uncollectable.  He did suggest that we could possibly recover some of our expenses thru the Home Repair Fraud Act or Consumer Fraud Act, but there is no guarantee. 

SO . . . what to do?  

1.  Try to find another contractor.  (this will have to happen regardless of what we do with Luigi) Demand that said contractor has 4 billion positive references and walk away from Luigi and our hard earned $5,500..  

2. file in small claims court and hope to collect from Luigi if when we win 

3.  file lawsuit and hope that we can recover our expenses AND hope to collect from Luigi.  WHEN we win

4.  contact the news stations and see if they want to knock on Luigi's door and embarrass him into giving us back our money (I did try this with the first awful contractor by submitting info to local new stations on their websites, but never heard back from any of them.  I suspect that our story is all too familiar and that the newsy-ones are those that have no running water, etc.).  My friend's sis-in-law is a reporter for NBC's news station.  Maybe reach out to her and ask what she thinks?

5.  (my favorite)  show up to Luigi's place with my tall, strong sons who happen to be carrying baseball bats and wearing sleeveless shirts (to show off the pipes) and threaten the shit out of him. 

PLEASE VOTE NOW BEFORE THE POLLS CLOSE, THANKS, signed:  all out of patience here 

May 11, 2019

humor vs punky plus a realization and a shock

Ed was irritated with me recently because a kid in Mini’s class came to the door selling coupon books to support his high school baseball team.  Ed would have preferred that I bought the coupon book from his senior buddies who are baseball players vs a freshman.

Coupons galore. 
Some softball players
caught me off guard AFTER
 I had already bought a coupon
book and I bought another
one from them.  My kids sell
crap too, so I felt obligated.
‘Isn’t that kid a punk?’ Ed snarled.  No. I didn’t think so. I turned on my heel and faced my other high schoolers who were snarfing down after school snacks. Was this coupon kid indeed a punk?

‘No, he’s hilarious,’ they both agreed.

Last year this coupon-wielding boy and Mini were voted the boy/girl most likely the be the next Jimmy Fallon in the 8th grade superlatives.  

As an aside, (because I specialize in those) I was shocked when Mini came home and told me about the vote. My response, ‘You mean you talk at school? Like other people hear you speak?’  I had no idea that she came out of her shell at school and spoke loud enough for kids outside of her circle to hear.

I believe that birth order is to blame for why our family rarely associates Mini with having a strong sense of humor.  Tank was born 16 months before Mini. From a comedic standpoint, he is a tough act to follow.

Coach and I rotate taking a
different kid to breakfast
 each month so they all score
coveted alone time
 with us - really, they are in
it for the food.  This
 stuffed caramel french toast
is what Tank
ordered last weekend at a place
where we used a coupon.
At our dinner table, you have to be pretty aggressive and quick witted to get the floor and score a laugh. I literally stood in my kitchen and froze in a state of total surprise when my kid told me she was voted the funniest girl in her class.  I guess that’s better than discovering that your kid is on drugs. Still, I felt kind of lousy. How did I not know my kid was funny?

Ed was confused when Tank and Mini insisted that coupon kid is indeed funny and not punky.  

‘He is? His brother isn’t funny at all. He’s my age and he is pretty serious . . .’ Then Ed's voice trailed off.  ‘Oh, well,’ he shrugged.

I had never considered this before, but a parallel example occurred to me and I shared it with Ed. ‘Well, imagine what people say about Tank - and how he is your brother, and  . . . ‘

‘Yeah, I get it.  I just realized,' Ed understood where I was going with this.

Enough said.  Ed has a sense of humor, but he is known as being very dependable and straight as an arrow.  Tank is known throughout the school as being an unpredictable joker who would do anything for a laugh - a trait that frightens his family members who care about his well-being and our family reputation.  

My coupon booklet purchase was forgiven and Ed had a self revelation.  Everyone could support contributing to a character - just not a punk. As a mother, I knew the difference.  Come on Ed, give me some credit.

May 9, 2019

misconstrued text, late to the party, why not morph?

Why oh why did Eddie choose X University?  Arriving late to this discussion:  check out the background and come right back over here.  Do it now, it will just take a minute!  We're waiting.

I think Grid joined the party a little late.  He was 99% sure he was going to X.  He envisioned himself there.  Then Grid started to throw tuition money and scholarship offerings at him - um, in late APRIL.  It was hard to change his mindset.  He knows people going to X from his class and he knows kids that are already there.  After poling several students, he learned that they all really liked it.

He has also gotten lots of feedback from people involved in the Full Ride Scholarship (the one that he didn't get this year, but he could apply for again next year).  The advice:  should our finances go back to normal (aka:  suckie), which they did - then he should try again.  He knows he may not get the scholarship, but he liked that the business school ranks so highly and he is confident that even without free tuition for the last 3 years, he will be glad he chose to attend X.  It may cost more, but the graduates tend to earn higher salaries upon graduation than those from Grid.

I'm not gonna lie.  It was tough.  It was totally his decision.  Thank the good Lord, because I could not have decided this one.  Coach did a great job or not swaying him towards Grid even though it was his alma matre.  He did suggest to Ed that if he was that uncertain, he could go back out and take a second look at Grid - 8 hours away and all.

Busy, busy time of year.  At least
 it finally stopped raining and
the sun came out for the
prom picture extravaganza.
Coach said last minute offerings were no reason to turn them down - go visit!  Ed passed on going out there again.  It IS a busy time of year - prom, volleyball tournaments, AP exams.  Not really the easiest time to peel a senior away from his 'stuff' to go look at a school.

The student at Grid, who served as the intern to the man who gave Ed the awesome scholarship, was so incredibly impressive.  She blew Ed away.  In the end, he kept leaning towards X but he felt BAD turning down what Grid was offering him.

He and I texted back and forth about college choices a few weeks ago while I was at the zoo with the tots.  Texts, as you may have experienced, can be easily misconstrued.  So, I asked Ed to clarify one of his texts.  He texted back:  'I am not thinking about X anymore.'

I was like, 'WHAT?'  But, I didn't type anything close to that.  I turned to Becky, my fearless babysitting compadre, and said, 'I think I am going to go throw up now.'

I did not know that I felt that strongly about which college Ed went to, but apparently I cared more than I knew.  Ultimately he chose X and that didn't sit right with me either, even though it was my top choice.  I hated to see him walk away from a college that clearly valued him.  Ed thought I was rooting for Grid all along.  Not true.  I finally told him that I just wished he could take the best components of each school and morph them into the perfect college.

I think he will be very happy at X.  Now, getting used to not having him around in the fall . . . another story ENTIRELY.  (soft sobbing)

May 7, 2019

psycho babel, and a very tough decision

Before Ed decided to major in business, he thought psychology was the path he would follow.  He is taking a psychology class and he is really, really liking it.  He loves to ponder why people do what they do.

definition that really means: 
I think my kid is all that.
This class has allowed him to come up with little labels for people in his life . . . namely - me!  The one I find most interesting is that he thinks I am suffering from 'false uniqueness' as it applies to his college search.

I am curious to know if anyone else suffers from this issue, so allow me to describe.  Eddie believes that I feel like no college is good enough for him.  Well, . . . not exactly - but close.

Let me preface this with:  I am not one of those nutty moms (at least not in this way) who thinks her kid is perfect and he can do no wrong and everyone should see that he is the best.  He is a good kid, a good student, a hard worker.  I did one college search with Lad, who has lots going for him like water polo awesomeness, but his school work wasn't really his thing.  So, I thought this time around the search would be . . . different.  

I thought Ed's college search would be FUN!  An adventure.  Where would he end up?  What school would be lucky enough to have him?  I figured it would be exciting.


His initial top choice school, Wake Forest, was so expensive that he opted to not even apply - even after we invested time and money to go look at it.  Ouch.  Other schools fell in that same category.  A few he applied to in case he got that full-ride scholarship, because that scholarship can be applied at certain select schools that were too pricey to consider without the full ride deal.  Then he didn't get the full ride.  Ouch.  (see, not fun.  Too many 'ouch' feelings).

I felt like the college search was long and drawn out and complicated by so many factors.  Initially I envisioned a school being blown away by Ed and being excited to have him at their school.  If he chooses Grid School, then that will be the situation.  BUT - 8 hours away?  No fun.  Plus there are layers - like if he goes to Grid he will not be able to apply for the full-ride deal next year.  They have reduced tuition substantially, but it is far from free.  Well, technically he can apply for the free ride even if he is at Grid, but if he was to be awarded it for the last 3 years - he would not want to transfer to a school that accepts that scholarship.  

The real bummer is that while we didn't have the financial need component necessary for the full ride, he hit all the other marks:  leadership, strong character, great work ethic, etc.  I admit that it is a tad frustrating that a few other kids that we know got the scholarship, when they may have had some financial need, but they lacked the leadership aspect (quite the opposite in fact).  One recipient did not really even appear to have a financial need issue, but of course I cannot say that for certain.  I do know that he is an only child, so the family's resources could be called upon to stretch whereas our resources often just scoff at us when we beg them to stretch:  'Are you kidding?'

Lad plays water polo at college.  Division 1.  That is cool.  (Not terribly helpful with tuition, because water polo does not generate enough income to build scholarship funds, so school is not cheap).  I thought the full-ride deal would be Ed's 'thing.'  There I was, all focused on something that was unique, but apparently falsely.  

Anyone else struggle with false uniqueness.  Anyone want me to stop posting about this college search?  OK, I heard that.  I will move on.  Oh, but first - he chose . . . . X.  Not Grid as some of you thought he should.  There are valid reasons. 

May 5, 2019

pass or commit, borrowing a crystal ball would be ideal

Without boring you with more boring details than those already supplied:  Ed came home from school - literally reached for the phone to call X University and ask if they might have more scholarships he could apply to (suggestions per his counselor who I happened to see that morning at Tank's IEP meeting - timing).

Well, the phone RANG.  It was (drum roll) Grid College.  The Grid Guy was calling because he wanted Ed to know that he was not just nominated for the scholarship - he was getting the leadership scholarship.  Not much money, but tons of opportunities.

Ed:  flushed cheeks.  Spent all of Easter weekend calling impressive Grid intern and comparable students at X.  Mind blowing.  Teetering on the fence.  He kind of felt like Grid was showing up to the party a bit too late.  His focus was on X.

Coach urged him to go visit Grid again, but commit day is May 1st and this was all happening last week of April.

OK, so this is not really a crystal ball.  It is a
Peter Pan snow globe thing connected to a
 pirate ship.  Because if I really had a crystal
 ball, I would be begging it to shed
 some light.  Both good decisions:
  but where will he be happier,
 will he get the full ride
deal next year?  Peter Pan
 isn't telling me jack.
The good news:  either option will be great.  I did point out that Grid seems to value him.  Does he want to go to a school that doesn't value him, where he can be easily replaced by the next kid in line to accept his spot?  This thought process comes after Ed did eventually call X and ask about additional scholarships he could apply for.  He was told:  'oh, try the financial aid office.'  Translation (I am doing this a ton lately):  giving him the brush off.

Grid:  small school.  Incredible program.  Internships galore especially for a kid in the leadership program.  $26,000/year tuition with his discounts.  8 hours away from home-sweet-home.  Internships start as early as freshman year.

X College:  very large school.  Very competitive.  $39,000/year tuition.  Great opportunities, but need to compete for them.  Great name that takes you places.  4 hours from home-sweet-home.  Internships can happen sophomore year, but not likely and competitive.  The full ride scholarship for 3 remaining years still a possibility.

With  no crystal ball to know if he is gonna get the full ride scholarship at X, or to tell us where he will ultimately be happiest, what to do??!!!

WHAT TO DO!!!  Thoughts?  Better yet, does anyone have a crystal ball with a proven awesome track record that we could borrow?

May 3, 2019

dilemma, decision, pot sweetening, HELP!

Just before Easter, Eddie's college options became slightly more interesting.  Then, gut wrenching.  Followed by total confusion and uncertainty.  Brutal.

A while back I may have mentioned that Ed was applying for an amazing scholarship.  The full-ride variety.  We found out just before Christmas that he did not get it.  That was rough.  Really rough.  He had received lots and lots of feedback that he was a strong candidate.

Well, there is a financial-need component to that scholarship.  The financial info that the committee requested included two years worth of documents.  During one of the years they examined, Coach's company was sold.  He is a partner.  Can you say financial windfall?  Well, it was a great thing.  But this 'great thing' ended up making us look financially stable - like 'rolling-in-dough' stable.

What's that they say about timing?  That it is everything?  Um, yeah.  So true.

Ed has narrowed his options down considerably over the last several months  He ended up being very impressed during a direct admit day visit at 'X' College -its business school is ranked in the top 10 in the nation.  X also happened to be one of the schools that he could have attended for free if he received the full ride scholarship.

Ed and his cousin, who is a freshman at X, checking
 out a lecture hall while we toured back in Feb.
He is able to apply for the same full-ride scholarship again next year- when our financial windfall year will not be visible to the full-ride committee.  If awarded, the scholarship would cover his remaining three years of school.  Well, that would be amazing.  Right?

He was pretty confident in his leaning-towards-X plan, BUT then off-the-grid school, where Coach happened to go, popped up on the radar.  Ed had visited Grid, and he liked it a lot.  Grid started sweetening the pot (not endorsing legalized pot or anything, silly).  They chopped quite a bit off of his tuition.  That made life interesting.

On Holy Thursday, Ed texted me from school.  Grid nominated him for a leadership scholarship.  He wanted to know if he should just email back and say, 'Thanks, but I am going to another school (X).'  I suggested he check out what the scholarship equated to.

By the by:  Because Coach attended Grid, he would love it if Ed goes there.  Coach is being a grown up and not applying pressure.  For reals.  So, that's good.  But Ed is not stupid, he knows Coach would be thrilled if he opted to commit to Grid.  I wondered if Ed was trying to dismiss the Grid scholarship before Coach caught wind of it.

Is this complicated enough?  Oh, just wait.