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July 14, 2019

ugly family secrets & I will not be bought, oh - did you say steak?

This has nothing to do with anything:: not my recent Vancouver trip or the post that was already scheduled to appear here.  It is just TOTALLY relevant at this exact moment, so I am going to share - and as the spirit moves me, over-share.  Brace thy-self.

And this.  This was also in the pile
of caddy laundry.  Tank's shorts.
  I noticed when he caddied yesterday
 that he must have spilled water on
 himself and it had not dried yet.  Of course
 I teased him about it, because I am
 a grown up.  'Looks like you wet
yourself, Tank.'  When he came home
 today I noticed that the 'water' mark
was still looking as if it had not dried.  Oh.
  Grease.  How peculiar and unlikely that
 Tank could have leaked grease from
some unhealthy food item.  He tried
insisting that this was not the case, and
then a realization.  'Oh, yeah.  I spilled
 chick fillet sauce there.'  Mystery solved. 
I soaked it in Dawn.  Waiting to see
 if it comes out or if he has to
caddy again tomorrow
 looking like he soiled himself.
We are back from Vancouver.  I have so many stories from that trip- I might be posting about it until Christmas.  Hope you are interested in insane airbnb stories, freezer not freezing, flooding, assorted siblings tiffs, risky mountain climbs, a suffocating bus fiasco, and as Tank would say:  'rationing'.  More on all that later - get excited.

This is an un-Vancouver tale.  Last night there was an outburst within the Shenanigan home that I cannot even bring myself to detail.  Suffice it to say:  1.  ugly.  2.  21 yr old vs 13 yr old bullying that has Coach and I at our wits end.  3.  Same old, same old.  Lad cannot 'own' his behavior.  Heavy, frustrated sigh.

The rest of the clan receives high marks for being considerate and thoughtful, and - well, um - accountable.  It has always escaped us that we parent them all the same, but one struggles immensely to navigate a world with other people in it.

This is not just a teenage ordeal (dear God, he just turned 21 - but maturity level has yet to catch up to his age).  It also has nothing to do with being re-introduced to family life after being away at college.  It reaches far beyond dirty socks and missed curfews.  The kid is plagued by a version of reality that no one else sees.  It is baffling, and at this point very concerning.

Coach and I were not feeling like we were on the same page after last night's drama (and that, my friends is putting it mildly) so he just took me out to a steak dinner to circle our wagons and regroup.  We drew up a contract for Lad.  He complies or his phone is cancelled.  The end.

While I did scarf down that filet (we do NOT eat out often), I admit that I was opposed to the shared meal.  I was still hurt about how things were handled not only last night, but all summer.  Imagine me as Sipowicz on NYPD Blue requesting backup REPEATEDLY and instead crickets.  My hands were tied.

I swear, I cannot be bought -but there is something about filet.  Cooked just right.  I digress.  We are back on the united front here, and we are hoping for better results.

Anyway, I entered the house to fiddle music.  On steroids.  I gathered caddy towels to wash because we are in the middle of the club championship.  27 holes today and another 18 tomorrow.  A load of smelly green caddy shirts sits waiting for the towels to be done.  I returned to the kitchen and thought I heard Mini sniffling.  Oh, brother (and I mean this literally - as in, not her brother-easily could have been him considering the current climate -  but no - my brother . . . more later - sorry)


July 12, 2019

last minute party panic, enlisting offspring help, painful party foul

Is it only me, or do other people feel like they are on pace to complete all tasks necessary to host a big party UNTIL suddenly go-time is in less than an hour and they find themselves racing the clock?

If this isn't you, please tell me how you pull it off?  No, really, I am listening!  What is your strategy?

If you categorize yourself in the 'where-did my-time-go/why-am-I-not-ready?' category, then you know what it means to shove stacks of paperwork ANYWHERE and then be late to pay bills for weeks.  Coach hates it when I dart up the stairs to shower just as guests are about to arrive.

I really felt like I was going to pull it off for Eddie's grad party.  I had my list.  I stuck to it.  My kids weren't home, which I have decided works out better in the end.  It makes me insane to see them sit around and do nothing (especially because they are responsible for most of the messes I am attending to), so I start hollering at them to do things.  Then they carry a load of laundry upstairs . . . apparently into the great abyss, because THEY NEVER COME BACK.

Exhibit A:  This toy roller coaster got moved
 off of the deck before the party and tossed
 onto the rocks under this tree when the boys
 mowed the lawn.  I MEANT to set it up so
the little party guests could enjoy it.
 Never happened.  Nice sloppy look.
That's right.  In my moment of need, my offspring hide from me.  I think this means I can look forward to years confined to a nursing home in my old age when they can finally HIDE ME.

It is totally counter productive for me to speak to them, let alone try to give them suggestions about how to, oh - I don't know - put dozens of mislaid shoes in lockers in the mudroom.  If they haven't figured that one out by now, it is a lost cause, right?

Another one of my favorites is when I ask them to do something SIMPLE like load waters in the fridge, or juice boxes in a cooler, and they leave the cardboard boxes/plastic wrap tossed around the kitchen floor once the drinks are loaded and call that a job 'done.'

I have stopped responding to their immediate questions when I ask them to pull something from the pantry or the fridge.  They do NOT spend more than 3 seconds 'looking' before they sigh and give me the old, 'Nope, can't find it.  I don't think you have any ketchup.' (or whatever my need du jour is).

Definitely better when they are not home and I can mumble to myself and race around in a constant sweat in order to be ready - or at least try.  One positive for Ed's party was that I did NOT fall onto a high-backed stool in a straddle position after trying to clean kitchen light fixtures over the island.  That was a painful last minute pre-party foul from Mini's graduation last year.

Please share your worst or funniest party foul, and don't forget to inform me how you classify yourself:  always ready and showered well in advance of guests arriving, or panicked and frazzled to the last minute stuffing a bag of ice inside your undergarments because of a step-off-the-island fall ending in an unfortunate straddle.




July 10, 2019

An interesting Easter-y discovery

This is the oozing-in-frosting Easter
cookie, on Easter, in all its fresh glory.


A few days before Ed's grad party, I cleared the dining room table.  Also known as my catch-all.  It wasn't too bad, because I hosted Easter.  So, the stacks were minimal.  I wanted to wash the tablecloth.  I crave things to do in advance to keep the last minute stuff manageable, which is funny because no matter what, my last minute erupts out of nowhere into:  oops, someone lit my hair on fire.

Not what one would expect when pulling
out a dining room chair.
Thank goodness I
 opted to wash the tablecloth
.

I pulled the chairs out from the dining room table when I was trying to straighten the freshly cleaned tablecloth.  That's when I saw it.  Something that I am convinced would never be discovered in someone else's house.  An Easter cookie thing - like a giant cookie to celebrate something.  This kind of cookie is not for the diabetic- cruelly decorated with enough frosting to make someone go into a diabetic coma from just inhaling the air around it.

It took me a minute.  My mind:  'Huh?  How . . .?'  Then life becomes clear again and I remembered that I am the mother to Tank:  my third son who weighed in at 10 lbs 3 oz BEFORE his due date, and who hasn't stopped ingesting anything since that day.
Maybe frosting preserves
 well, because it didn't
 LOOK moldy or anything.
I left in on the kitchen
table so that the kids (aka Tank)
would know
 I had uncovered this hidden gem.
 This backfired
 when I realized later on the way to
put it in the trash -
that someone ATE a piece
 of it.  Lad fessed up claiming that
it didn't taste bad.

Moments after he was born, they took his blood sugar and said they needed my permission to give him a bottle.  I had birthed a few boys prior to this monster-sized newborn, so I was like, 'What?  I plan to exclusively breastfeed.  Bottle . . .?'  The nurse assured me it would be fine, but that he needed a bottle.  Of course I wanted to remind her that they had starved me all day, and I was pretty sure my blood sugar was low too.  What Tank wanted was more than a bottle or a breast.  He wanted a cheeseburger.

When we took him home, all he did was nurse.  Literally.  My poor body was tricked into thinking I had just birthed a litter, not a baby.  My milk came in ten fold, and for the first time in my life I made Dolly Parton look like she wore a training bra.  I could not button a shirt.  Don't worry, I have no photos to back this claim up.  You will have to trust me, or choose not to ever imagine my misery.  Either way.

Anyway, my 16 year old son swiped the remnants of the Easter frosting (with a dab of cookie attached for shits and grins), and stashed it on a chair in the dining room so he could go back and enjoy it at his leisure.  Or whenever his blood sugar dropped.

I guess he ended up forgetting about it.  Maybe he was in a bit of sugar shock and it erased his memory, because there was still cookie left on the plate thing.  Typically my dining room 'finds' are empty plates and dirtied, discarded silverware.  Jealous?

Yes, we do have an ant problem.  Go figure.

July 8, 2019

last minute switch-a-roo & kick a girl when she's down

Ed and I were scheduled to attend his orientation June 18th.  Coach emailed me an invite he received from the owner of the company he works for.  Owner invited all local partners or managers - or some official criteria that would include Coach - to attend a get together at his house.

Yippee!  I really like Owner.  His wife is equally awesome.  This incredibly successful, wealthy couple continue to be grounded, inclusive, conversations, engaging, and generally interested in what is going on in our lives.  It is a gift.

Back in the day, when the company was smaller, invites to their home for work-related parties were as commons physical therapy stretches.  That isn't the case anymore, since the business is now enormous.  So, I was super excited.

My eyes scanned the invite - I feared that I would have to beg Lad or Ed to handle driving Curly to a dancing practice.  Worse.  It was as if someone delivered a quick kick to my gut.  The date of the soiree:  Tuesday night, June 18th.  Noooo!  My sucky social existence CANNOT catch a break.

All along Ed wished for an earlier orientation time slop.  He hared that since students register for classes during orientation, early attendees get first dibs on classes.  I asked Ed to look at the website for a cancellation.  Before he opened his laptop he shook his head.  'It's booked.  There's no way.'  a minute later he was telling me to hurry up and check to see if I could swing the 13th-14th.

These are the notes I jotted on my calendar
so I knew what camps I enrolled the kids
 in at the high school.  Clear as mud?
I wiped the cookie dough off my hands, because this is back when I was still preparing for Ed's party.  My calendar overflowed with basketball camp driving commitments, but I knew I could get a few friends to help me out.  the baby Molly sits for I sit for was getting tubes.  The hotel had availability.  All the stars aligned.  Hooray!  Switch-a-roo it was.  Ed was happy and I was excited for my upcoming Coach-work party.

On Monday, June 10th the day after Ed's grad party, I got some disheartening news.  This is a VERY long story that is gonna take some 'splaining, so I will save that for another post.  Plus, I want to have all the info before I share it with you and that could take months (this was the gist of the disheartening news:  the newsy timeline suddenly became potentially a lot longer)/  so, stay tuned?

Coach walked into the study with a blank expression.  I had already texted him 'disheartening'.  'I don't know how to tell you this, because I know you have already had bed news today.  Them made a mistake when they shared the work-party info with us.  It is only for employees.  No spouses.'

Kick a girl when she is down, why don't ya?  The work thing ended up being a 'big' announcement about the owners' role in the company.  Boring.  Ed was still psyched to orient early.  Who knows how many slots would have been available for the History of Rock and Roll class he ended up getting into had we waited?!  Since when is Ed morphing into Jack Black?

July 6, 2019

GF sucks, plus bandwagon, a soapbox lecture, and a better dinner

So, I was forced to hunt down my lunch at Ed's orientation like some caveman who has a language barrier AND an aversion to the only item on the menu:  spicy, rubbed dinosaur wings with a side of dirt-flavored water.  My GF wrap came with sides, but the server apologized because she was busy and uninformed about what was safe for me, so I had to skip the sides.  She ended up having no southwest wraps as promised, just Cesar.  Bummer, but you know beggars/choosiness don't mix.
Maybe you can't read
this, but the
 afternoon sessions
 included things like:
 housing and
 getting to campus,
 partnering for
 student success,
business of being
 a student:
 family edition.

I got in another lengthy line to checkout with my $9 voucher in hand.  The checker charged me the full $9 for the wrap and tacked on the side salad.  When she said '$6.50', I thought she was saying that my total came in at under the $9, so I grabbed a coke.  Then she asked me for even more money than the $6.50.  I was confused and people were doing balancing acts with their trays in line behind me.

'I gave you my voucher, right?'   She clarified that I owed another $9.50 on top of the $9 voucher.  I explained that I only got the wrap, because I couldn't eat the sides.  She could not ring it up separately.  She apologized.  I put the salad back because it wasn't GF anyway.  I still owed her money.  I think it was $9 for the wrap- that I didn't want, and a then a few bucks for the coke- that I hoped would keep me awake in what looked like boring afternoon sessions.  I would have paid more money if I found a few different things to eat- I am not THAT cheap, but I wasn't even offered good options so I was ticked.

I found a table where I could sit alone.  I had planned to seek out someone to sit with and be friendly towards.  Change of plans.  Now I was beyond grouchy, HUNGRY (knowing this wrap would not fill me up), and honestly a little tearful.

Exhibit A:  GF food.  Skinny pop.  I try
 to stay away from it, because I am
confident that if I shovel it in at the rate
 I am capable of, it no longer has
 anything to do with skinny.
I hate eating gluten free.  Navigating eating out causes me anxiety having been given something wrong in the past.  I did not want to spend my night ALONE in a hotel yakking up my over-priced, unsatisfying lunch.

I had done my due diligence, right?  This was unexpected in a world full of gluten free eaters - even if many of them don't really NEED to eat gluten free.  Bandwagon jumpers mess things up for legit celiac disease peeps, because restaurants get lax assuming most people don't HAVE to avoid gluten due to a medical condition.  Please wait while I tuck my soapbox back under my desk.

In this afternoon 'family edition' session,
 they passed out envelops and paper and
 invited us to write our student a letter.
 They passed around Kleenex
and played sappy music.
 Was that really
necessary, to get us all emotional
 months before the kids even pack up?
I was wishing I had my family nearby.  Things would have gone differently.  Coach would speak up and inquire about food availability up ahead of my spot in line while I held our spot.  Or my kids would offer to ask someone something, or promise to share their bag of chips.  I was embarrassed that I had all these people staring at me.  I imagine that they thought  I was being difficult, or that I didn't know how the voucher worked.  I sniffled thru lunch, but as we all now know - I soon met another same-middle-name, same-taste-in-shoes Ernie, so the afternoon brightened.

My favorite part of the day:  being reunited with Eddie, and dinner:  huge improvement.  They handed each of us a map for the dining hall where they bussed us.  The map displayed the layout for the various food-court type options, and what food contained what allergens, and there were real live chefs/cooks standing by to answer questions.

After diner I dropped Ed off at the dorm he was going to stay in and I went back to the hotel and changed into workout clothes.  Then I walked the campus.  It's big, but I think I get the lay of the land now.

July 4, 2019

free food, the search for GF, a fiasco

My collection of food that I hope to pack
 for our upcoming trip to Vancouver. 
It is a CHORE!
I bring my own food/the family's food when we travel.  The plan is two fold:  budget boost and stupid-ass celiac disease.

Before I drove to Ed's orientation (hoping you didn't just moan, 'Oh, not orientation again'), I called the school to ask about food during my visit.

I was excited to learn that we would have a lunch and a dinner included for one of the two days (free food excites me more than complimentary buttons).  Great.  Then I asked about gluten free menu items.

The phone answering lady asked someone else:  gluten free options available.  Sweet.  I eat salad at home everyday for lunch, and I gravitate towards salads when I go out because it is not a dish that restaurants typically cross contaminate.  I have been on my fair share of college visits, and most have a salad bar area.  I did not anticipate any issues.
I didn't take photos during my
herded-towards-God-knows-what experience,
 but this is what lunch looks like at our house - for  my kids. 
I snapped a picture of  this because I was
making the PB&J sandwiches, which is
something they do themselves - obviously,
 because WHY ARE THERE LIKE 5 BAGS OF
 BREAD WITH ONLY A FEW
PIECES IN EACH BAG?  

When it was time to eat lunch, I had no idea where my car was.  I was glad I didn't have to race to find it, eat, and be reunited with Mr. Temper and the rest of the parents, who practically all hail from the same damn state.  I assumed all systems were go after my advance research, so I followed the crowd to the place where we were guided to eat.

That was all the guidance offered, unfortunately.  Swamped by hundreds of parents, the place was up for grabs in minutes.  The cafeteria was divided into various kinds of food (sandwiches, sushi, hot dinner food, etc.) - kind of like the food court at the mall, but no one told us what line was for what kind of food.  Their lines were deep enough and the signage misleading enough, that I had no idea what line I was in and what I was waiting for.  I hated to give up my place in line to get in another unclear line.

I grabbed a side salad from a free standing cooler- but the label described it as having been prepared in a place that also handles wheat.  I held on to it just in case, but I typically don't take chances.

A gaggle of pre-teen, camp attendees were unleashed on the scene moments after the hundreds of orientation parents.  I have no idea what the camp was for - my guess:  gifted kids lacking social skills.  I heard a few of the boys scold orientation folks for not lining up correctly.

When I got close enough to the front, I realized that I couldn't eat the sandwiches.  I got out of line and passed the sushi option.  I hesitated at the hot food line but there was so much gravy on everything I figured it too would be a waste of my time.  Why the Hell did they not have a salad bar?  Or a clear gluten free designated area?

The last stop boasted a line brimming with at least 50 people.  I was positioned at the front because of having gotten out of the other line after moving up front, but I was NOT in the line.  Looking lost, I just leaned across this made-to-order-panini counter and asked the server if she knew where I could get gluten free food.  She suggested a pizza place in another building or part of the same building.  I do NOT eat gluten free pizza because the cloud of flour mixes too easily with the 'gluten' free offerings.  She said she had a southwest gluten free wrap.  Sold!  (oh, but there's more . . . going to save it for next time cause I don't want to bug you with a long post.  Please come back.  There are near-tears, embarrassing situations, and happier meals ahead).



July 2, 2019

another Ernie, not stalking, oops - wrong wife, middle name sameness!

Yes, in my blog life I am STILL at orientation, hope you are enjoying the campus as much as I am:

We were waiting out front for the bus to take us to eat with our long lost kids and I noticed that the lady also known as one-who-chuckled-at-the-button-gatherer had a name-tag on that read:  'Ernie, Chicago'.  Even though Ernie is not my real name, my name is not incredibly popular in my age group (recently-wearing-cheater-glasses-age-group) except in Irish circles, so I did a double take.

I tapped her and she recognized me from my close encounters of the way-too-close-kind to the odd couple who almost let themselves go to blows over the button thing.  I introduced myself as another Ernie from Chicago.  I wondered if she was from Chicago, as in the city.  Nope, she is from a suburb about 20 minutes from the Chicago suburb where I live.  Come on!!!

We chatted for a while, and got acquainted.  She and her hubby, Bert (wink, wink) admitted that they didn't buy any gear in the bookstore because they were worried that their son won't be able to withstand the academic rigors of the school.  I don't have that same concern with Ed, but I have another college son whose fake blog name shall not be mentioned here.  I think he has moved beyond that academics-aren't-my-thing trend, but there are moments.

We had a few notes to compare there.  Also, this Ernie was wearing a pair of shoes that I too own.  Mine are navy.  I didn't tell her 'I have the same shoes as these cute silvery ones you have on' because I felt like she might need to move her seat on the bus for space.

Same name.  Similar oldest child academic issues.  Same state.  Same shoes.  Too much?  After a long day of idle chit chat about how we were bogged down by pamphlets and fliers, I welcomed real conversation.

Let's just say, I like to converse.  I admit I enjoyed some people-watching, because I felt kind of like I do at an airport:  when am I going to see these people again?  At the end of the day though, I LIKE to make connections.

The bus ride to dinner was short, and we were busy trying to locate our respective sons once the bus pulled up.  We parted ways without taking the opportunity to exchange anything more than names.  I did meet their son, Rubber Duckie, who came over to claim them for dinner while I was still searching for Ed.

The next day I bumped into Ernie and Bert at the business school presentation.  This presentation should have been offered the day before.  It would have made so much more sense.

Initially I walked into the lecture hall and glanced around for them, since they were officially the only parents I knew with a business major kid.  I took my seat without having located them.  Imagine my surprise when Bert, walked in and took a seat in front of me next to a woman in a blond pony tail.  Oh, look at that.  I was sitting right behind other-Ernie the entire time, but I didn't recognize her with her hair up.  Plus I having barely been familiar with her face, I had failed to memorize the back of her head.

About 15 minutes into the talk, Bert turned to tell Ernie something AND HE REALIZED THAT HE HAD CHOSEN TO SIT NEXT TO THE WRONG WOMAN.  THIS BLOND PONY TAIL WAS NOT HIS WIFE.  HE HAD EVEN CRAWLED OVER HER TO GET IN THE SEAT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF HER AND HAD NOT NOTICED THAT IT WAS NOT THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE.

Same shoes - great taste!  These are mine. 
I did not photo her feet.  I also did not take
 a pic of Bert perched next to blond pony
 tail, because I did not know it was going to
 end in a hilarious way.  Besides, creepy.  I
 could have pulled it off pretending to photo
 the overhead as one does
 in orientation lectures.
I knew then, we would be friends.  That is totally something Coach would do.  After the lecture, I informed Bert:  'I did not realize that I was sitting down right behind Ernie, and then I realized later that you didn't realize it wasn't Ernie either . . . because it wasn't.'  Well, we all enjoyed a good hearty new-college parents laugh over that one.  We did talk some more, but it did not occur to me to exchange contact info.

I am not a huge Facebook user.  I did admit in a previous and recent post when I wasn't trapped in orientation land that I am OLD, so now you know that was no joke.  I tend to be the old fashioned type, which is why I came home and googled Ernie Sesame from Chicago suburbia and I found her.

You know what else?  According to 'white pages', she has the same middle name as me.  When I do meet someone who shares my name, I usually ask what her middle name is.  I have never found someone with the same middle name as me.  Ever.

I jotted down her address so I could send a note to her mailbox (fear not, I would not mention the middle name bit - way too 'hey-I'm-in-your-business'), and when I told Ed my drop her a nice-meeting-you-note his eyes bugged out like he was morphing into a cartoon character.  Then I ran it by Coach.  I offered Facebook as an alternative.  Coach balked at either and categorized me as a stalker.  Ouch.

That's when I polled all of you.  Facebook message it is!