July 30, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


July 28, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 26, 2019

why avoid Sox game, video clip YOU WILL LOVE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 24, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dad:  Oh. Yeah.  I think I read that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dad:  ‘Oh, I don’t want that.’  

Direct hit. 

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

July 20, 2019

double whammy text, Sox, an un-deliverable promise

After all the food sharing and plane seat juggling, we landed back home from Vancouver.  I could not return text messages while in Canada, thanks worlds-worst-cell-phone plan, so it didn’t really matter that I wasn’t overly tuned in to the text message I initially missed the day we were making our embarrassing journey home. 

The next day I realized that I had missed a group text from my family.  Group text.  My family.  Double whammy.

My sister, Marie, wondered it anyone would want to attend a Chicago White Sox game Aug. 10th- Saturday night.  Or the 11th.  Coach will be out of town teaching in Rhode Island.  If that location is close to you and you want to hear someone talk endlessly about various muscle groups and rehab procedures - maybe you can sign up. 

I have zero interest in attending a Sox game (almost as much as I would in attending a physical therapy lecture).  I grew up attending Sox games regularly.  We could only take advantage of these opportunities when we had a night off from watching Pat and Mike’s little league baseball games.  Translation:  constant baseball.  Big leagues or little.  bug spray and sweatshirt always at the ready.  

This is a pic from years ago (me with better
 hair than my current self, Tank when he
 could still fit in my arms, Ed when Lad was
 still taller than him, and Lad
on the far right)- sorry for the
creep-out factor, but Coach is overly
paranoid about us being identified.  He
worries that our neighbor Mary Ann will
catch wind of my blog and see the
 stories that I have penned about her. 
I could care less, but it is a small
 price to pay for the joy of blogging.
 BTW Mary Ann and her fam
are Cubs fans.  Go figure.
Coach and I took our kids to Sox games when they were younger.  Sometimes we were able to sit in the fancy boxes when we got tickets thru Coach's work.  In case you were wondering - yes, I am one of those born and bred hate-the-Cubs Chicagoans.  It is a real thing.  My family were die hard Sox fans, so NO - we never took the kids to see the Cubs play.  Coach could root for either - but that goes against my religion.  

There was a time when I felt bad that my kids lost interest in baseball.  I felt disoriented.  What would I do with myself if I wasn't hanging out at a ball field?  It was all I knew.  

Then it happened.  I discovered the joy of indoor sports like water polo.  I became addicted to the fast paced game that ended in under an hour (UNDER AN HOUR!) from when it started.  No weather issues to contend with.  Who needs baseball?  

The parenthesis part of the text message from Marie to my siblings and I left a taste in my mouth worse than stale ball park popcorn (not like the random prized white cheddar shit I stumbled on in Vancouver).  From Marie:  'I promised Dad as part of my Father’s Day gift that I would organize a family White Sox game.  

Shit.  Seems like this might have been a big error on your part, Marie.  Not sure you can deliver on this promise.  

Maybe I am just envious of her carefully considered gift that Dad will love.  An area where I have struggled.  Yes, that story is up next.  I am working backwards here.  Not sure why.  Blame my left handedness. 

July 18, 2019

PASS the popcorn, I will NOT sit next to _____, & oh, Mommy made a funny

At gate.  Tank trying to force Reg
 to hand over more of the coveted kernels.

The day we were leaving Vancouver I saw a text pop up, but I didn’t read it.  It might have been just as I was switching to airplane mode. In all honesty, it might have been when I was trying to keep my (almost grown) children from killing one another over the food that we were passing around at the gate.  We had been ‘enjoying’ food that I packed on the trip and some items we generously picked up at the pricey downtown grocery stores to fill in the gaps. Before getting on the plane we were feasting (OK - fighting) over what was left.  

The white cheddar popcorn bag from the local rip-off grocery was a very popular selection.  My people can inhale a costly bag of snack food, such as white cheddar popcorn, in under an hour.  Rationing is mandatory.  Unbeknownst to us, we might be raising future competitive eaters.  Feeling proud.

Anyway, this was my second bag bought on the trip.  We cannot rely on the honor system or manners when it comes to food.  That system might work for well-bred children, but for us it is almost always going to lead to bloodshed. 

Other passengers at our gate tried to sit and read or eat their purchased fast-food in a civilized way.  They were in awe of the animals that we were permitted to bring thru customs without cages.  Most of these people tried to avert their eyes or pretend to be unaware.  I saw the looks.  I felt the judgement.  To be clear, I was offering more than popcorn.  There were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches- enough that I could not give the extras away.  We also had apples and peanut butter, and a pile of various protein or granola bars.  It was the desperation for popcorn that almost went to blows.  

 Wonders never cease -
one isle of just us
(with 2 seats behind this
row too).
 without any disputes.  

Maybe we should
just keep them 

in seat-belts more often.
So, that was a long way of saying I wasn’t overly tuned into text messages while traveling.  Don’t get me started on the discussion about who was going to get the two coveted isle seats allotted to us and who would get to sit next to so and so, and who would be stuck sitting next to so and so.  Let’s make this fun:  any guesses on who the so and so peeps were?  Who in my fam would you NOT want to sit next to?  

An elderly couple became wedged between some of our family members - our clan was divided by those of us who found our boarding passes and those that took some time to located theirs.  So while we were in the gangplank tunnel thingy people walk thru to enter the plane, seat selection conversation became louder and more argumentative with every step.  The tunnel was backed up, so progress was slow.  Fortunately, Gram and Gramps found the abrasive dialogue entertaining.  Eventually I turned to them and informed them that they shouldn’t worry.  Next year we plan to drive to Yellowstone, so all of this plane boarding would be avoided.  

Behind them my monkey-ass comedian sons (Tank, Ed, and Lad) quietly feigned laughter and displayed doubled-over posture at my little ‘ha ha’ moment with the old folks.  They turned to one another and swatted at each other and cupped their hand in front of their mouths like older ladies do when they are dismayed.  They acted as if they just could not stand the funny I had made.  They are a regular kick in the pants.  

My mind processed the following thought:  Mockery of this sort will be remembered.  Good luck getting me to spring for white cheddar popcorn again.

OK, so I never described the annoying text message that I initially ignored- but this tale clearly needed to be told. 

July 16, 2019

oh 'that' brother, 4 letter words, request backup, almost rogue

(We left our frustrated protagonist rolling her eyes about her brother, Pat.  Yes, the same brother who once informed me that Mini should be quitting dancing in order to focus entirely on fiddle playing.  Famous quote:  'We (leprechaun wife and my egotistical-self aka your younger, worshiped brother) have found that one can't be successful at both.' 

Really?  Define success, because my kid likes doing both and I don't give a shit what you or your leprechaun fucking wife think.  No, I DID NOT say those words.  Just wish I had.  Damn it.  Why do all those sensible things come to me on the drive away from the scene, when the only words that were available to me DURING the scene were four-lettered and primarily started with the letter F?

Like how I protected the innocent here?
 Yeah, I am a real peach.
Fast forward about 3 years.  Mini continues to learn fiddle from a Skype lesson - although her lessons with Aunt Leprechaun did not cease directly after 'the incident' where her middle-child mother (me) littered the atmosphere with foul language and stormed out of their house.  It wasn't until Aunt Leprechaun decided she didn't have time to teach lessons anymore a year or two later that Mini and Curly and Reg began taking fiddle and concertina lessons thru the computer.  Much less cussing.  And driving.

Pat invited Mini to participate in a ceili band competition this spring.  She did.  They won.  Now the band (including Mini) is travelling to Ireland mid August to compete.  I am not going.  Mini is travelling with Pat and two of his kids, one of these cousins is Mini's age (in fact I babysat for her for 3 years when she and Mini were babies and her mom, the leprechaun, was doing her residency - so they grew up together, like twins).

Pat leaves for his annual family trip to Ireland in a few days.  Aunt Leprechaun is from Ireland, so they go every summer for 3 weeks.  Yes,that equates to two trips to Ireland in one summer for half of Pat's family  Yes, they have a money tree in their backyard.  Pat's upcoming trip and our recent Vancouver trip that caused Mini to be away for 10 days has apparently stressed him out.  He fears that she is going to be ill prepared for thte competition.  So . . .

Well this is boring - I basically
already inserted this
text in the body of the post.  I really
 wanted to
have a clip of Mini playing
her fiddle while crying, but imagine how
 big that would have gone over.  Me
 recording her less than happy moment?
 I mean I think she sounded great, but I am
 hardly the trained musician that Pat is.
 Our folks would only invest money
in my Irish dancing career, NOT music
despite how I begged.  Pat was chosen. 
Yeah, dancing - that was money well spent. 
I was like a new born colt threatening to
 kick a judge in the face with
 all of my lack of control.
Me:  Are you crying?

Mini:  Uncle Pat is being crazy.  He wants me to record my tunes and send them to him every night.  He keeps saying, that string better be in tune.  You better not move that finger once.  I am so tired.  No one else (in the band) has to do this.  I just caddied 27 holes (in 85 degree heat).  He thinks I'm not ready.  Why can't I just practice?  I don't want to keep trying to record it perfectly.  I keep messing up when I get to the end.

Me:  Mini, you are tired.  Text him and tell him you are tired.  You worked all day today and you have to babysit directly after you caddy tomorrow (the implied message I thought should be sent to Uncle Pat:  unlike your kids, I work.  A lot).

I refrained from texting Pat.  Instead I texted Coach, who is once again on my team.  He was picking up Curly at dancing after our dinner out.  I requested backup in the form of:  Can I text my brother and say:  My kid is tired and she is practicing a ton and if that isn't good enough for your self-righteous self, then you can go fuck yourself.  

Coach felt Mini should text him herself if she felt like it.  Despite his sensible response, I still almost disregarded his advice and went rogue- in part because of unrelated recent family passively obnoxious issues.  To be shared subsequently.  When will I get to share my Vancouver adventures???

Why does this post look so long?  Intended to be short.  Please comment and tell me how great this post was and that you wouldn't have shortened it at all.  Thanks in advance.

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,

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).