September 30, 2019

yay jello-to a point, not my first rodeo, seeking truth

I thought we could play a
 little game of see how
 many things of jello I made in
 preparation for my jello-eating day.
I once again interrupt my Vancouver stories to share pressing news.  Trust me here - the airbnb stuff is coming soon and you must tune in.  It is pretty comical.  Especially after the fact.  To be honest, I think a few of our other yet-to-be-told adventures are somewhat unbelievable too.  Enough about that peeps, because I am a little slap happy from consuming an all liquid diet today.  Let's roll with it. 

I know you will find this exciting, but Monday Sept 30th I am having a colonoscopy.  Hot diggety - just what you wanted to hear about on your Monday morning!

Unfortunately this is not my first rodeo.  For years, like before I was even married, I saw a doctor who could NOT figure out what was wrong with me.  Turns out he was looking at the wrong angle.  It wasn't until 2015 that I was diagnosed with celiac disease when a different gastro dude bothered to perform the more appropriate-for-my issues endoscopy.  Since the prep is much easier, I would sign up for one of those any day over the colon-nasti-oscopy.  

GoLytely (compliments: WellRx) - this stuff is
the worst possible thing to consume.
Reflecting back on my first colonoscopy, I must admit that the stuff they made me drink that first time was paramount to torture.  It was called GoLytely.  I just googled it and was surprised that it still exists, because I am following my doctor's orders and going with Miralax, Dulcolax, and your tough to swallow because it is so CRAZY sweet -Magnesium Citrate.    No need to go with GoLytely people, and anyone who is still suggesting that drink as a prep for your procedure should be shot.  No exaggeration there.  

I was gagging on it back when I lived on my own in 1995 and was forcing myself to gulp it down.  The memory lives.

That first colonoscopy resulted in this fun little post about me being a bit groggy and misunderstanding what was on the news.  As long as we are poking fun (and poking other long tubes) at colons - you may as well check it out.  It is short - unlike my colon.  This is too easy, friends.

All this jello ingesting has reminded me of college dining hall and the cafeteria style restaurants at rest stops my folks used to stop at as we drove to Ohio to compete in Irish dancing competitions.  I thought there was nothing more exciting than a little glass cup of jello cut into squares and topped with cool whip.  Am I right?  Of course red jello is the best, and for whatever medical bull shit reason red jello is banned from my prep.  How dare they take all the fun out of my jello-only diet.

I have been at this clear diet thing all day.
  A moment ago I got some hunger pangs
 and I thought:  'Oh, great.  I get to have
some more jello.'   I almost wept.
Am I the only person who went away to college (or entered adulthood) completely (and I mean completely) clueless when it came to eating right?  My mother does not like much besides meat and potatoes, so that is all I was accustomed to.  I had never eaten a taco (Mom also does not do spicy) or a green pepper or a vegetable that didn't come from a can for that matter.  I didn't know that cheese was fattening.  Sugar - what was wrong with sugar?  It made everything better?  Donuts - two on a plate as I scooted my tray through the self serve line.  Now we're talking!  I thought salad was a head of iceberg lettuce still wet from being rinsed, sprinkled with some shredded cheese and maybe a bite of hard boiled egg after having been divided up between about 5 of us and then drowned in French dressing.  

I made an abundance of jello in preparation for the test and I lost track of the number of times I practically had to arm wrestle one of my kids to fight them off as they tried to sample my jiggly stash.  Note to self:  next time I want them to clean their rooms, make jello!

Tomorrow (because today is Sunday -writing this while I still have strength) is the day.  I hope to get answers.  As in, why oh why do I often wake up hours before my alarm writhing in pain - in the same damn place?  Do I need to start eating dinner at 2:00 in the afternoon so the pipes can be cleared out before I crawl into bed?  Unless they decide to keep me on a liquid diet, how am I supposed to keep the pipes ultra clear?  

I have heard from the doc many times that it could just be that I eat too much fiber.  Perhaps.  I do eat a lot of fiber now that I am gluten free.  I do not eat fake gluten free food (ie:  pasta, bread, cereal, cake).  I prefer food to be naturally gluten free, so that leaves me with oatmeal (which does have to be a pricey gluten free brand), eggs, a kick ass cobb salad, meat, yogurt, certain protein bars, and fruit.  Repeat.  

Anyway, I hope for answers.  I also hope that said answers do not come with any kind of awful information.  I look forward to it being over, because I am starving and the test is not until 12:30.  That's a long wait.  I also am feeling drained.  Literally.  OK, OK, enough of the bathroom humor.  Speaking of the bathroom . . .   

September 27, 2019

phone malfunction badly timed, great dancing, good to be DONE!

I know I don't normally show faces, but I don't
 really think this looks like Curly.  Here she is
 getting her makeup on before she danced.  Least
favorite thing in dancing is the
 wig/makeup component.
In the middle of the night before Curly was going to dance, I woke up to pee.  Thanks goodness I looked at my phone.  It was not working.  No!!!  It was giving me messages about memory issues.  I worried that the alarm for the next morning would not function.  I sat in the bathroom for the next few hours deleting photos and text messages and rebooting the phone to try to reassure myself that it was going to function. 

Because there is a God, Curly’s competition was not the first competition of the day.  There would be no 4 am wig and makeup appointment.  Still, I needed to get some sleep and I could not believe that my phone was acting up at this particular moment.  

The next day all ran smoothly.  Curly danced her hard shoes well, but was not going to be at the top of the pack.  She has excellent foot placement but seems to hold something back rather than pounding the snot out of the floor.  She still places well because her timing is excellent, her steps are advanced, and her mechanics are spot on. 

I told her she danced great, but I wished she could have infused a bit more attack in her steps.  Soft shoes are a different story.  There is a panel of 6 judges.  One of the judges ranked her in the top 5 (out of over 100 girls, these scores we do not see until the day is done).  Her soft shoes made me weep - just beautiful!  After points are tallied from the first two rounds, the top half of the girls earns a recall.  Curly recalled, and danced once more.  Before we headed back to our hotel to eat dinner and chill out until we needed to return for the awards ceremony, we left some of our coats and things on a few chairs to save us some seats. 

We decided not to hang out at the hotel too long, because we didn’t want anyone to mess with the stuff that we left to save our seats.  We were in high spirits, because Curly was done dancing and she had done a great job.  Now we just needed to wait and see what the judges thought.  Across from the hotel we stopped and got our customary, celebratory ice cream at McDonald's.  A few steps outside the McD’s, Mini let out a shriek.  ‘The dress!’  

We had left the dress in the hotel room.  An Irish dancing dress is not the kind of item that one leaves behind to save a seat, so we hauled it all the way back to the room and then we forgot to bring it back with us.  Curly only wears the dress to dance and strips it off moments later.  We lug it around with us all day.  There is no ice cream eating in the dress, etc.  

I told the girls not to worry.  I would go back and grab the dress and then I would jog back to the venue.  We had plenty of time before the awards would begin.  I ordered the girls to get to our seats and I would see them there.

This was a no brainer - much easier to recover from than a bag left in a cab like my snafu at last year's National Champs.  

September 25, 2019

girl drama, tears, rebooting with HGTV, & prepping for the big day

Curly danced great in Vancouver . . . (yes, this happened July 3rd.  There has been much to report, so just getting around to this.  The airbnb experience from Hell will be posted soon.  Promise.  You won't want to miss.)  

 . . . There was minimal drama - unless you count the afternoon after we ate out with our friends, which was the day before she danced and a few hours before we learned that Coach was contemplating building an ark to compete with the rising waters back home.  

The girls went to the room ahead of me after lunch.  When I stepped off the elevator on our floor 5 minutes later, I heard my girls screaming.  At first I thought they were laughing at something - loudly.  I shook my head thinking I had to tell them to settle the Hell down.  We were not at home where our noise levels are off the charts at times.  

Nope - definitely not joking around.  Our room was a few doors down from the elevator and I distinctly heard them SHOUTING at one another.  I ran to the door and swiped my key-card.

Oh my goodness - it was ugly.  My girls rarely fight, but this was like something they had been saving up for forever.  They made it count.  I cannot even remember what the issue was.  Maybe an off the cuff remark to the other’s friend during lunch.  Like a ‘you’re just a little kid’ remark, or maybe an eye roll and an implied something or another.  The word ‘lazy’ got tossed around.  There were also lots of ‘you always’ and ‘you never’.  I stood there in shock.  I waited for a moment when I could interject.  I told them that this was all nonsense.  They were both upset.  

Just the day before the massive sisterly fallout. 
This is the way I prefer them.

At the venue in Vancouver. 
(I mean I prefer them home with me,
 but you know what I mean!)
Then I got upset.  I sat on the bed and told them how proud I was of them.  Mini never enjoyed the success that Curly has achieved in her dancing days.  Part of that had to do with switching schools a few times because of horrible dancing school circumstances (all covered in my future bestselling book).  A dancing school switch slows down a dancer’s progress due to a 6 month suspension after a switch.  Anyway, I told them how much joy it gives me to witness Mini’s genuine happiness when Curly dances.  

After a competition (like hours after because Irish dancing peeps are not expected to have a life outside of dancing), Mini and I squeeze each other’s hands and hold our breath in the huge crowd in front of the stage while we wait to hear the results of Curly’s competition.  Meanwhile, Curly is backstage waiting for her number to be called.  It is very intense, and we go crazy when Curly is announced and she walks across the stage to get her award.  

On the other hand, Curly was always super supportive of Mini when she was still dancing.  I love that they danced together and shared the experience with one another.  While there are many aspects of dancing that drive me bonkers, the times these two spent together enjoying the world of Irish dancing was nothing short of awesome.  They are 3.5 years apart, so they were never going to be on a sports team together.  Attending dance classes together and giving each other feedback and sharing laughs about what happened at class seemed to minimize their age difference.

I broke down and cried in the middle of their spat about God knows what, and I think they sort of forgot to be mad at one another.  Curly apologized to Mini while I was in the bathroom rinsing the salt off my contact lenses.  Mini later asked me if I told Curly to apologize, and I told her I did not.  I really didn’t. 

Living the dream.  HGTV plus snacks.
Still full from lunch, we nibbled a bit at dinner time while watching HGTV with red, blotchy faces and hoped that the emotional outburst from left field would pave the way for smooth sailing the next day.

Then we leg tanned, wig prepped Curly’s curls, and organized our bags for the morning.  We called Coach and learned about the basement water debacle.  All in a day folks, all in a day!  

September 23, 2019

did you say 'eat out with friends?' & video chat drama

The night before Curly danced in Vancouver a few interesting things happened.  Nothing as interesting as losing a dance bag.  I am getting lots of mileage out of last year's intense drama, but thankfully I have no intention of repeating the performance.

First, I treated the girls to lunch.  I know this is not extraordinary for most people traveling out of the country, but I miscalculated and ended up not bringing enough food for the girls and I to eat three home-cooked dinners before the boys arrived with reinforcement food.  Does it sound like we are rationing while at war?

I admit that I stole that gem from Tank.  Once he arrived he wanted to ingest most of the food that I had packed.  Stuff I intended to last for several days.  He threw his arms in the air and hollered, 'WHAT ARE WE DOING?  WHY ARE WE RATIONING?  ARE WE AT WAR?'  Trust me here.  There was plenty AND I MEAN PLENTY for him to eat - just not all at one sitting.

Two other moms and their daughters were eating lunch out.  We had just seen them at the dancing venue where we bought our program and scoped out which room Curly would dance in- basically we got acclimated.  I started calculating our lack of vitals, and thought lunch out was in order.

This was taken after I returned home. 
This is the Irish dancing stage area.  That
 window overflows every few years in an
extremely heavy rain.  Fortunately we have
 been home and discovered it every time. 
The stage is surrounded my mirrors on the
bottom half of the wall and cute photos
from our 10 years of dancing - plus some
 oldies but goodies of me dancing.  What you
 see here is the stage propped up and the
stage's underbelly reflected in the mirror under
 the window.  There is carpet in the
 basement and it is typically under the stage,

but Coach pulled it back here. 6 weeks later and
 it still looks like we are waiting 
for a tsunami in our basement.
My stupid phone only worked in WiFi, so we bolted back to our hotel so that we could place a 'what's app' call to one of the moms staying at a different hotel and ask if we could join them for lunch.  I was not 100% I knew what restaurant they were meeting at, so I needed to verify the details.

If you ever want to see a Shenanigan family member move quickly - suggest a meal out at a real restaurant.  The girls were moving like their hair was on fire.  I feared suggesting a meal out WITH FRIENDS NO LESS, and then not having the details to deliver on the promised land - I mean promised meal.  So I too ran back to the hotel at lightening speed.  Call placed, details shared, lunch with friends.  Priceless.

Later that night, Coach texted me while we were in the midst of our pre-dance prep.  Leg tanning - crazy, but true.  Sticking Curly's hair in little tiny pony tails while wet in order to be wig-ready (do not get me started on putting a curly wig on a curly kid) in the morning.  Seriously, I embarrass myself by admitting to this goofy regiment.

Coach's text: 
 I tried to video chat you but it didn't work.
Here every bucket and garbage bin is positioned
 to jump in and catch more water as needed.  It
looks like twice as many buckets, but there is a
 mirror on the wall.  Mirror, mirror - will Coach fix

 the issue this time around?

Once our rituals were complete, I video called Coach so that Curly could say good night.

Holy Hell.  Reggie answered the phone.  Somewhat hysterical:  'Mommy, there's water EVERYWHERE!'  Coach took the phone from him.  His shirt was off.  He ran his fingers thru his hair multiple times.  I could see from the background that he was in the basement.  I heard things like, 'more towels, grab the bigger bucket.'  He sort of barked good night/good luck, after telling me that the window well had overflowed into the basement.

It was an oh-shit kind of video chat.  Not at all the 'Good luck Curly!  We love you!  Go get 'em!' kind of phone call I had anticipated.  It was unsettling, but I am not gonna lie.  I was happy to be in a luxury hotel having eaten at a nice restaurant.  With a long day of dancing ahead, I opted not to stress about a wet basement and I went to bed.

September 20, 2019

Curly's future as a smuggler, & ear-won't-pop Hell

I think I mentioned that I hoped like Hell that the airline didn’t lose the two checked bags where I had stashed enough food to sustain the girls and I for three days.  Who does that?  Me.  Enough said.  

People asked me while I was plotting out my menu creation/storage/packing how I planned to sneak food into a foreign country.  My response:  Freeze it, pack it, check it.’  Secretly I wondered if the airline would have an issue with it, but it is food.  You know what it is NOT:  food vaporized and stored in an aerosol can, stuffed carelessly in my bag, threatening to explode and jeopardizing everyone’s safely.  It is also NOT:  soup, or some liquid disguised as soup, in larger than 4 oz containers stowed in my carry-on.  

People eat in other countries, right?  I was traveling to Canada, and I did not believe any of the food I was packing was on a do-not-enter-our-country list.  But I was too busy grocery buying, cooking, baking, reorganizing the food in my freezer, and sweating my ass off in the kitchen to google it.  What did we do before google?  Anyone old enough to remember?  

We landed in Vancouver.  Mini's ear would not pop.  She may be 15, but apparently if her ear hurts she is going to become a retro 4 year old.  She REPEATEDLY pointed out to me that her hear hurt.  I told her that I understood.  I suggested she yawn.  Beyond that, I had nothing.  I was travelling with 2 kids and I had lots to attend to.  We needed to get currency.  Go through customs.  Get our bags.  

The ear was not anything I could fix.  

Customs:  we walked up to a computer station thing and followed the directions.  It took our photo.  Curly and Mini read prompts over my shoulder.  Had I brought raw eggs into the country?  Curly almost swooned in a 'Holy-Hell,-the- are-watching-us. -They-know-about-the-food' eleven year old moment.  I was focused on getting through this step but I assured her the eggs I brought in were hard boiled, not raw. 

I had to laugh when I
found this little love
note from the TSA saying they had
checked my bag.  I was sure
 to show it to Curly:
 'See, they dug around in my bag and
 there was nothing naughty
 in there, so they left it alone.'
We collected our bags.  Well, most of them.  One of our large food bags did not show up.  All the other peeps collected their bags and wandered away.  There was maybe one other family still staring at the empty conveyor belt.  Airport workers explained to us that a few bags fell out of the plane when being unloaded.  Encouraging.  The employees were just now returning for them.  Swell.  

Curly can NEVER be a smuggler.  She almost wet her pants insisting that the real reason our big-ass bag of food was not showing itself down the conveyor belt was because it had been confiscated for 'food.'  I kid you not, she would not relax and trust me.  On my other elbow I had ear-pain girl.  Pleasant.

It took about 45 additional minutes for our abandoned-on-the-tarmac-to-be-run-over-by-another-airplane bag to show up.  We got in a cab and headed to the hotel.  For the entire motion-sickness cab ride, I stared straight ahead trying to calm my stomach and felt Mini's face staring at my profile 2 inches away repeating:  'It won't pop.  It hurts so much.'  OVER AND OVER.  

September 18, 2019

resting near Ringo, oversold- how? & NOT checking the dress

A bit more about Vancouver, from JULY - I know, I know - the end is in sight, but there is more to tell.  Fun fact, I cannot sleep if I leave a party and realize I have not finished telling someone a story.  Shock, I know. . . 

At last the girls and I arrived at our gate.  I plopped down on a seat with a few other available seats adjacent to it for the girls.  I could not keep my eyes open, so I slept a little while surrounded by my girls, carry-on stuff, passports, & the fancy-ass Irish dancing dress.  Happy to be rid of the two  just-under-50-pound food bags being loaded under the plane (hopefully our plane).  

Across from our seats at the gate sat a woman maybe a little younger than me.  She was utilizing all of the charging station plugs within a close proximity to her seat.  She would have gotten tangled in all of her cords had she made any sudden movements.  

Laptop open.  Headphones in.  She was bopping to her music.  At one point she stopped using her laptop to search for a spot that her hand could jam out by extending it and tapping on the back of her neighbor’s chair.  Only no one was sitting next to her.  Who would?  
I inserted an orange arrow here to point out
the feet in purple socks no longer wearing shoes.
  Strange days indeed.  Most peculiar, Mama.  

I was too tired to move all of our stuff in order to avoid her, and there weren’t that many seats for the three of us, so I simply glanced at my girls.  Hoping they understood my ‘don’t-ever-behave-like-this-moron-in-public’ look.  Ringo propped her foot up on her carry-on.  For real.  She had her socked foot resting in the air, mid-isle.  Not far from my personal space.  People are strange.  

I was enjoying one of those naps where I don’t feel like I am asleep.  Just closing my eyes.  Then I sat up and felt the 'just-napped' nap feeling, and I knew I was zonked out for a few minutes.  Hoping of course that my snooze was less offensive than Bono’s body-rocking-to-her-tunes.  I would think so.  My appendages (still shoe wearing) were not protruding into the isle.  By the time I was awake from my nap, Cher was no longer sitting across from us.

I ordered the girls to eat the sandwiches that we packed and I inhaled my salad.  Between bites, I checked my email.  Thank God I did, because United had emailed me.  Gate change.  I rushed the girls to finish their lunch so we could gather our crap and walk a few miles thru O'Hare to our new gate.

I telepathically begged the airline not to lose my enormous checked bags of food (and paper plates, Tupperware, cereal, bagels, and various homemade baked breads).  Meanwhile, Curly’s Irish dancing dress that cost four times as much as my wedding dress, was tucked under my arm as we hauled ass to our new gate.  

The airline had impolitely over sold our flight.  I don’t get this?  How do they get away with charging me an arm and a leg to fly, then charging me a fee to check a bag (is there a way to fly without bringing your shit with you?  I mean I get the carry-on option, but how creative should people have to be to travel?  Isn’t it hard enough to travel without trying to pull it off with less than what you want to bring?  ‘Hope the weather doesn’t change on me, cause I can’t pack a sweater and pants!’), and then selling more seats than the plane offers.  INSANE.  

I had Mini snap this pic of me.  I wore some ugly clothes for the flight because I was trying to pack layers.  We were going to be hiking, so loose dry fit pants and a dry fit shirt seemed right.  The poop-brown and yellow colors were not my fave, but it made sense.  The reason for the pic was not to show you how awful the color combo was - check out the cover of my book, 'Flower Net' by Lisa See.  Same color scheme - I matched my book.   Am I good, or what?  FYI:  I do not recommend this book.  Liked her other books.  Not this one.  They say don't judge a book by its cover, but in this case I should have seen the ugly colors and assumed the book was not good, and then not dressed to match it.  
At the gate they demanded that all luggage (even carefully packed carry-ons) be checked.  This irks me.  I scrambled while standing in line, holding the boarding passes for me and my girlie traveling companions in my mouth while I yanked Curly’s dance shoe bag and my camera bag out of our carry-on/soon to be checked luggage.  No way in Hell was I gonna let those items be tossed under a plane operated by people who cannot count seats.  

I tensed up anticipating a flight attendant instructing me to put Curly’s dance dress worth more than its weight in gold in it’s oddly shaped triangular bag out of my sight under the plane.  Not happening.  (That sound? me weeping remembering how much this garment that she will soon outgrow cost us).   

No such request was made and I managed to slide it on top of the carry-ons that WERE SOMEHOW ALLOWED on board in a nearby overhead container.

Vancouver here we come! 

September 16, 2019

this JUST happened, in real time- LOOK WHO WE MET!!!

Curly and I flew to Princeton, NJ painfully early Friday morning.  Laddie was playing in a water polo tournament there, and I currently have Fridays off.  Lad's first game was in the late afternoon Friday followed by two games on Saturday.  One night in a hotel plus cheap flights.  Priceless.  
I decided Curly could miss school.  6th graders can make work up, right?  Then it turned out to be a half day (I never looked at the school schedule when I booked the flights).  I was like 'Swell, you won't have any homework!'  

Curly ended up being a bit disappointed, because half days are fun days at their school.  Team building and so on.  This half day was for the annual school run.  Oops.  Curly is a speedster.  I told her she could beat all the boys in 7th and 8th grade.  This half day our team building time would be spent cheering for Lad.  

We loved downtown Princeton.  Lad ended up staying in our hotel room because his school team is on a tight budget.  The coach (not to be confused with my Coach) was booking 4 kids to a room and then one kid was going to have to sleep on the floor.  With Lad at our hotel, then each kid got to share a bed.  Besides, Lad is no dummy.  He knew he would get a better night sleep in a hotel with us early-to-bed types.  

After Lad's last game, we said good-bye and decided we had enough time to eat a quick dinner before heading to the airport.  We parked the car - people, this is no easy feat in Princeton.  Like any busy downtown area, parking spots are tough to come by.  At one point, as I struggled to park my medium sized rental car, Curly whispered 'Thank God you aren't driving the Great White!'  Parallel parking is not my favorite thing.  I started sweating thinking the surrounding drivers were getting ticked as I jockeyed back and forth into the spot.  

Saturday at 5:00 pm, Curly and I - now totally familiar with Princeton - found a spot a few blocks away from the restaurant that we wanted to eat at.  The place, for all of those of you who might visit Princeton University someday, is on Nassau and it is called Tacoria.  Mexican fare.  Awesomeness.  Thus our 2nd meals there.  

We joked on the way to the airport that they might have to announce to our fellow plane passengers: 'Excuse us but Passenger Shenanigan in isle 8 ingested black beans two consecutive dinners.  Sorry in advance for the inner-flight turbulence.  You've been warned!'

As we walked up the street away from our rental car, I heard a familiar voice.  A man was leaning into the barber shop that we were passing (AT EXACTLY THE RIGHT MOMENT, MIND YOU).  He announced:  'Hey guys, I am moving here in two weeks and this is where I am getting my haircut!  See 'ya!'  

His back was not two feet from my elbow.  I stopped in my tracks and turned around.  As he popped out of the doorway to face his girlfriend, I gasped.  Loudly.  

'Hey!  You have NO IDEA how often your show in our house!!!  Can I take a picture with you and my daughter?'  He said 'Sure,' and his girlfriend stepped out of the way.

Curly stood next to him and I held my phone up.  Then I gave him a brief Shenanigan life story.  'So we are in town to watch my son play water polo.  He goes to (insert school in New York) and we are from Chicago.'  People, I am a long-winded type (collective, 'No!  Not you?!' from my readers.  Kari, go ahead and weigh in here.  I have thick skin).  I managed to refrain from saying anything else.  Just 'Thanks!'   

He responded with, 'Cool!', (which Coach later translated for me in case I was confused, to 'I don't really care.  Leave me alone.')  And then he and his girlfriend waved good-bye and Curly and I wandered star-struck to the Tacoria restaurant.  

I am curious to know if any of you recognize him.  Go ahead, take a stab.  Use my comments below - you can do it, even if you have never commented before!  Do you know who this guy is or what show he is on?  

By the way, Curly has NOT recovered.  She keeps saying, 'I mean, when I woke up yesterday, I didn't know I was going to meet ____!'

September 13, 2019

checking everything BUT PASSPORT DATES before girl power flight

Ed went to Costco to get me a few things, including
 catsup.  I shared with you in the comments section
 that he went overboard.  Now you can see.
 I was NOT exaggerating.
On July 1st Mini, Curly, and I were finally off to the airport to fly to Vancouver.  Ed drove us to the airport.  While I tend to run incredibly, inexcusably late for most things in life, I favor arrival to the airport on time, or in this case -  crazy ass early.

I was traveling with a passport.  There would be customs.  Shoe and belt removal.  Frozen food sweating in my bags.  Why take any chances?  

I miscalculated though.  I was not aware that traveling to Canada from the States did not even involve being routed thru O’Hare’s international terminal.  Canada is a different country though, right?  Thus ‘international.’  

UPDATE:  I worried I had not left them
 enough food.  These boys can eat.  They ended
up cracking open some packages of make your own
pizza.  Packacge states clearly: 
refrigerate after opening.
The night before the female family members departed at least one of us worried about how the male members would manage for the next three days.  Would they forget to pack items before joining us in Vancouver?  Had I left them enough food?  Would they follow all of my lists of instructions?  Welcome to the innards of my mind.  

Anyway, night before girl-power flight I studied my checklist CLOSELY.  

This pic looks like pita bread.  It is really
remaining pizza bases left in the bag
IN THE PANTRY.  Hello, mold!
‘Coach, do you have the boy passports somewhere so that you won’t forget them?’  Then, my mind took a temporary pause from worrying what the guy-group could screw up and a HORRIFYING thought occurred to me about something I could have totally botched

Kid passports expire sooner than adult passports.  Duh.  Reggie and I got our passports BEFORE the rest of the family.  Mine was a renewal.  Getting his initial passport was a nightmare.  Several trips to the post office.  Once I didn't bring him.  Rookie mistake.  Once I didn't have a letter of consent signed by Coach.  

You see, Reg and I were forced to travel to Montreal for Irish Dancing World Championships.  Lest you are confused about 'forced to travel somewhere' just hold tight, because my tell-all book of Irish dance drama details will follow, at least that is my life mission.  

Anyway, in typical Ernie fashion I opted to cause myself a massive stoke just before bed.  I raced from the study where I had been calling reminders to Coach who was two rooms away (he LOVES when I holler important info from two rooms away) for the thousandth time.  Reminders that he was no doubt tuning out, which is why I covered the island and the fridge in boldface, sharpie notes before I left.  Just in case. 

With my hands in my hair like a mad scientist and inaudible curse words tumbling from my trembling lips and my mouth drying up as all my bodily fluids threatened to exit dramatically in a matter of moments, I ordered Coach to hand me the stack of penis-only-passports.  I flipped open Reg’s.  His passport expires in February.  Folks. February.  2020.  That was close.  Well, I guess it could have been a lot closer, but for me in that panic moment-it felt scary close.  How could I have forgotten until the night before my flight that his passport could have expired sooner than everyone else's?  
While it isn’t totally necessary for me to take on full responsibility of, well, EVERYTHING - I lean that way.  I was handling:  the food prep, the dancing details, the minimalist wardrobe packing, the purchasing of suitable kids’ sneakers, the mail/paper vacation holding, the accommodations reserving, and the like (cause there is more -but how boring).  At least:  Coach planned our tourism stuff - running a few things past me.  My variety of responses included:  nod, shrug, OK, kids won't like that one, and sounds great. 

I hoped that it would be great, because I was EXHAUSTED!

September 11, 2019

fudgsicle walls, utter confusion, we will never know

While I inhaled some ice cream, Coach drove over to my parents' house with a laundry basket of mostly bags of frozen veggies.  (Just joining us?  Our freezer started to defrost a week before we were going out of town).  I left a message for the appliance lady because the freezer was less than 2 years old.  It is a Thermador.  Hello - not a cheap-ass appliance!

Later than night we noticed that the freezer had begun to freeze things again.  The spoonful of sherbet that I stuck in a baggie was now frozen solid.  What the?

The technician was able to come out a few days later.  I did not cancel even though the situation felt less emergent because now it seemed to be less drippy and more chilly.  Go figure. 

The bummer -he found no issues.  Come on, give me something!  I started using the freezer again a bit, but I was hesitant.  I did not want everything defrosting right before we left - especially the meals that I made and froze for the trip.  Not to mention, what if it started to defrosts while we were away? 

I told my mom that I would try to send one of the boys over to get my frozen veggies from her before they left for Vancouver.  Frozen vegetables that do not belong to someone but are seeking a cold shelter can apparently heighten anxiety levels for the cold-environment provider. 

The boys never ran that errand for me.  I honestly preferred not to use the freezer anyway until we got back from Vancouver so I could keep an eye on it, so I hadn't reminded them or threatened their lives if they didn't do it. 

As with every other millisecond of the trip, we landed back in Chicago (don't worry, I still promise to flash back to details of the trip) and one by one my offspring started to grill me about what I was serving for dinner.  I was like:  'I am standing next to you in an airport.  I didn't start my crockpot remotely, so I DON'T FRICKING KNOW.  CHILL OUT.  YOU WILL NOT STARVE.'

We stopped at the grocery store on our way home from the airport.  Coach grabbed dogs to grill and milk and I scooped up some fresh fruit, bread, and yogurt.  While they waited for the grill to heat up the kids switched into ransack mode.  Reg opened the freezer to see what he could stuff in his face while he waited MINUTES for dinner. 

He gasped.  I peeked in and found the walls covered in brown grossness.  I could NOT for the life of me figure it out.  I stood there for a minute thinking the freezer thawed again.  I had a couple of huge-ass frozen containers of Italian Beef in there.  Even if they had thawed, how would they have gotten shaken up and spilled all over the walls of the fridge?  Someone had some 'splaining to do. 

Blue arrow is pointing to frozen Italian
Beef.  See how the color of the walls
 resemble splashed beef juice?
I could NOT have been
more confused, because the
 beef was still frozen.
  Like did a small elf come
 in there, thaw the
 beef and then shake the Hell out
of it?  I know.  Far-fetched.
 Utter confusion.  

I noted that mom had returned my frozen veggie bags, so I called her to see if the fridge looked like a fudgsicle exploded in there while she restocked.  For the record, I did not have fudgsicles in the freezer.  Sounds yummy though.

Me:  Hi, we're home.  Thanks for returning the veggies (insert eye-roll).  Did my freezer look . . .

Mom:  Oh, so you saw IT!  Yes, I came over there the other day and the inside of the freezer was a MESS.  Someone put a pop in the freezer and left it there.  It exploded.  (lots more details and chit chat about this event).

Me:  (Insert more eye-rolls because of the unspoken:  'yeah Mom, I know.  Our kids are slobs'.)
See my very artsy double arrow -
 it is pointing out the veggies still
in the grocery bags that Mom delivered,
 so while the kids are panicking about
 what to eat - I was like,
 'Well, who wants veggies?'

Me:  Tank did you put a pop in the freezer and forget about it?

Tank:  Sure. (inconclusive, as this is his code word for stop accusing me of stuff and leave me alone)

Translation:  clear as mud.  It was either Tank, Lad, or Reg.  The girls would never.  Ed  doesn't drink pop.  No one fessed up.  The next few times Tank or Reg got in trouble I made them scrub the inside of the freezer just to cover my bases.  I must admit that I was super relieved that the freezer had not defrosted again. 

What are the chances that the freezer malfunction would coincide with the one (but probably not the last) time my kids ever explode a pop in the fridge?  

(Part of the issue is we never have pop in our house, but I overbought for Ed's grad party and certain children have a tough time keeping their mitts off of taboo items no matter what we say).

September 9, 2019

freezer snafu, hold the cool whip and frozen veggies

Before we ever left for Vancouver we ran into a little freezer snafu.  I had been gradually cooking up dinners and freezing them in large zip loc bags to pack for the trip.  We planned to feast on sloppy joe's, turkey (that was the only meal not frozen), chicken cacciatore, and leftover mostaccioli from Eddie's grad party that had been in the freezer since June.  I also whipped up enough additional servings to feed the male family members who would be home for a few days before flying out to join us.

One night while I was making dinner, I noticed water dripping out of the freezer every time I opened it.  As with most debacles, I blamed Tank.  (group moan:  'oh, poor Tank').  I suspected that when he returned from landscaping in the heat he emptied his cooler, rinsed his freezer packs in the sink, and then stuck them in the freezer.

Me:  'Tank your freezer packs are still dripping with water.  Next time dry them off.'

Tank:  'Sure'  - he responds this way for most things just to get me to stop talking to him.  Yes, you are right to assume that this can be very irritating.  Silly me.  Once he paid attention to what I suspected him of, he was like 'I didn't rinse my freezer packs off.'

After dinner, I got out ice cream.  It was Lad's 21st birthday and the kids were eating cake, but I celebrate with ice cream.  The spoon plunged deep into the ice cream way too easily.  Oh shit.

Our freezer was defrosting.  My to-do list was lengthy so I was frustrated that I now had to clear out  the freezer in a hurry.  I tossed some stuff.  I set stuff that didn't have to stay frozen aside like Nestles chocolate chip morsels.  I loaded laundry baskets with food and ran down to the basement to see what I could fit in that freezer.  The answer:  not much!

Laundry basket appears overflowing in the bottom right corner.  The bonus is lots of ice cream got eaten last night, and no one got in trouble for it.

I emptied out the basement freezer.  I eliminated cardboard boxes with one or two items remaining to conserve space.  I juggled and maneuvered and prioritized and utilized the freezer door space differently.  In the end I realized that I may never again need to purchase cool whip or frozen bags of vegetables.  Oops.

I called my mom and she agreed half-heartily to accept some of my freezer goods into her freezer. My folks have a freezer in the kitchen and another one in the basement and maybe one in the garage.  There are two of them.  Space was not an issue, but Mom does not like things out of place.  Reason #437 why I must have been adopted.  I wanted to ask her when the last time was she even opened the mostly-empty freezer in the basement.  She uses it to stock pile cookies near Christmas but THIS WAS END OF JUNE!

Now what was I going to do with all of the meals-to-travel-with that were supposed to be frozen until we left the following week?  For the moment, I shoved the dinners that I made that day in the fridge thinking I would just have to keep them there till I could freeze them in a few days.

Then I helped myself to another scoop of ice cream.  There is more to this story, and I wish it involved more ice cream eating, but sadly no.